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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!

Best Trail Camera Strategies for Your Summer

Trail Camera Strategies to Start This Summer

If you’re anything like us, you eat, sleep, and dream about deer hunting throughout the year. If there is a winter storm coming through, we’re thinking about the rut. If we’re sweating through a summer heat wave, we’re thinking about how to get ready for opening day. If that describes your lifestyle too, you probably also enjoy watching deer throughout the year by using trail cams. There’s just something special about trail cameras and how you can stealthily keep track of the deer herd on your property without them having a clue. Sure, you could start glassing fields or summer food plots in the evenings, but that takes more time than most of us actually have. Plus, you might not have any fields near you; maybe you hunt deer in a big woods setting where you can’t easily watch wildlife. These are the situations where having a few hunting cameras hung in key spots on your property can make a big difference to your hunting strategies next fall. Here are a few trail camera strategies to get you started this summer.

Top Trail Camera Strategies for This Summer

It’s not quite as simple as just throwing out a few trail cams in the woods and seeing what walks by. Sure, you could try that approach and you might get to see some wildlife eventually. But to get the most pictures, to get high-quality pictures, and to get information that will actually help you next fall, you need to focus on putting your trail camera in a spot that focuses deer traffic. Here are the best trail camera strategies for the summer.

Food Plots/Agricultural Fields

Food plots are great spots for getting pictures of deer for a few reasons. One, does and bucks alike need lots of calories in the spring to bounce back from the stress of winter. Throughout the summer, they need the food tonnage to build up their body weight and grow antlers to prepare for fall. This means high quality, protein rich forage! If you live in a forested area with very little agricultural food available, a single food plot is even more attractive to deer and your results will be better. Since it’s so critical for their survival, it’s probably the best place to hang trail cams on these locations.

For larger agricultural fields (e.g., corn, soybeans, alfalfa, etc.), the best location for game cameras might seem like the middle of the field where you can see the most deer. But since deer are creatures of the edge and will usually have set travel patterns throughout the summer, the best spot is generally along the field edge near a dominant trail. For smaller food plots (e.g., clover, cereal grains, brassicas, etc.), you can place a trail cam on a post in the middle of the plot without any issues. But really it comes down to just finding a spot that concentrates the activity and facing the game camera in the right direction. One thing to keep in mind is that facing cameras any direction but north will inevitably produce some glare in pictures at some time of the day.

Bedding Areas

Another reliable spot to capture deer pictures on your trail cams this summer is around their bedding area. After feeding throughout the night in destination fields or browsing in cutover areas, deer will shift to daytime bedding areas to chew their cud and rest. Often does and fawns will rest near or even within feeding areas, while bachelor groups of bucks will bed further away. Taking a quick scouting stroll from feeding areas and along main trails can lead you to bedding areas. They’re often easy to spot because of the oval depressions in the grass or weeds. If you’ve ever tackled a few habitat projects on your property, hinge cuts are great bedding areas to check out.

If you’ve designated some bedding areas as deer sanctuaries that are strictly off-limits throughout the year, try installing trail cams along trails on the fringe of the sanctuary instead. Be cautious about checking them too much towards the end of the summer when you want to really hold deer in-place. The bugs will likely be bad enough to convince you to only go once or twice the whole summer anyway. More than likely, you’ll find some small bedding areas outside of these sanctuaries too that you can set and forget until the end of the summer.

Travel Corridors

Of course, any main trails and travel corridors between the two areas above are also great spots to intercept deer movement. With a little desktop scouting, you can easily map these areas and find good potential corridors, but you likely have a few tree stands already hung in these areas anyway. Clear out the herbaceous vegetation in a spot along one of these trails so that you can get a clear trail camera picture. These small openings can also make deer pause long enough for a good picture.

When it comes to positioning your trail cams along trails, the common instinct is to place them so that the camera is off to the side facing perpendicular to the trail. Unfortunately, unless deer are really slow-moving, your camera will likely trigger too late and you’ll only get pictures of their rear end – hardly useful from a hunting perspective. Instead, try positioning your camera facing up or down along the direction of deer travel. Granted, you’ll still get pictures of deer moving away from you half the time, but you’ll get pictures of deer facing the camera the other half of the time.

Mineral Sites/Mineral Stations

Throughout the spring and summer, whitetails love to get an extra dose of minerals from the soil and plants around mineral stations. Lactating does need extra minerals to support their fawns, while Bucks need minerals to build their bony antlers. If you keep the station going for a couple years, you can easily train deer to keep coming back to it as a seasonal mineral source since fawns will be raised to use it. Eventually, the stations often become huge craters where deer have eaten the soil away. Luckily, you can easily set up a mineral site by scraping the debris away and exposing the soil in a given spot. Then you can incorporate some crushed mineral into the top inch of soil or simply place a block or rock on top of it. You can even place it on a semi-rotting stump, which will slowly absorb the minerals as well. But that’s about all it takes to set a station up.

If you’re installing one of these sites expressly for pictures, it’s best to locate it in a shaded understory area. Pictures from trail cams along fields and exposed sites often suffer from lots of glare, which greatly reduces the quality of the photos. But pictures within shaded areas can turn out crisp and clear any time of the day since light doesn’t interfere.

Water Sources

The final place that works great for trail cams are water sources, especially when paired with mineral sites. After eating something salty, we all crave a drink of water – deer are no different. Deer crave sodium due to the high amount of water they get in their metabolism during spring and summer. However, as the summer progresses and other waterholes or creeks go dry, a small water hole next to a mineral site will pull deer in. If you have natural wetlands, ponds, or streams on your property, you can easily locate mineral sites near them for the easiest solution. If you don’t have any water sources, you can easily sink a bucket, small rubber tank, or kid’s pool into the dirt to let it fill with rainwater. You can keep it cleaner by simply refilling it once you check cams. During hot summers or in southern, more arid areas, water sources can be the absolute best place for a trail camera setup, since it is such a draw for them.

How to Hang Trail Cameras and When to Check Them

 Once you’ve identified the spots and trail camera strategies you want to install this summer, it’s time to actually get them out. As already mentioned, pay attention to the direction you face your cameras, as south facing cameras will get lots of unusable pictures with a heavy glare. The one time you can get away with south facing trail cams is if you are in a forested or heavily shaded area. One of the best trail camera tips you’ll hear is to check the batteries and then recheck them to make sure they are fresh. You should also generally clear out some of the tall weeds, grasses, and even some brush in the area so you can avoid lots of false triggers. It’s a really deflating experience when you check your camera to find 1,000 pictures and 900 of them are of swaying grass. You can change the sensitivity level on many cameras to reduce this problem, but it still doesn’t hurt to make a small opening in front of the lens. Bring a simple folding saw with you when you enter the woods so you can easily cut any obstacles down.

Depending on where you’re hanging trail cameras, you may want to leave a trail to get back to them. For new deer bedding areas in big woods spots, for example, consider putting out some trail markers or trail marking tacks to help you find them again. This isn’t a good idea on public land, obviously, as would-be thieves could follow your tacks/markers right to the camera. But it’s a nice option for private land.

As far as when or how often to check your trail cams, it’s a tough call. The less you check them, the less invasive it is and more discrete your spying will be. After all, if you set it and forget about it for a few months, you can basically guarantee that you won’t interfere with the natural deer movement on your property. On the other hand, if your camera malfunctions after only a week of being outdoors, you could miss out on an entire summer’s worth of intelligence, which is just a terrible feeling (we’ve probably all had it happen at some point). Besides, we all feel the temptation to check them weekly. It’s kind of like Christmas morning when you get your chip and start to glance through them on the computer. If you have fresh batteries and haven’t had any issues with your camera before, let it sit in the woods for a month or two at a time, if you can bear it. If you’re not sure about your gear or if the opportunity is too great, then you’ve got two options. You can either charge right in making lots of noise (e.g., starting a chainsaw once in a while, driving an ATV, etc.), which will push deer away well before you spook them at close range. Or you can stealthily sneak in with scent-eliminating clothing and rubber boots to be incognito. It’s up to you and how your property is managed.

Good luck with your cameras this summer. With any luck, you’ll get some great pictures of deer to help guide your bow hunting on opening day this fall!

Feeders, Flashes, and Feathers | Simple Turkey Scouting

Tips on Scouting for Turkeys

There is no doubt that spring has officially sprung across much of the lower forty-eight states, and as old man winter begins to loosen his grip it is only a matter of time until the predawn air is filled with the sound of gobbling long beards.  Spring turkey hunting is the favorite past time of many sportsmen and women across the Country, and although the open day of turkey season may still be several weeks away, the time to begin scouting for turkeys is now.

Turkey-ology

As game species, the wild turkey is often underrated by many and is perceived to be a somewhat easy target to pursue.  The term “bird brain” pretty well sums it all up, and with the art of “fanning” beginning to become popular, many hunters are beginning to subscribe to the notion that turkey hunting isn’t as difficult or challenging of an activity as many would make it out to be.

Now, you don’t have to be a veteran at turkey hunting to know that those who subscribe to the philosophy mentioned above are only fooling themselves.  Turkey hunting, aside from often being physically demanding, requires that the hunter uses every tool at their disposal to put themselves in a position to be successful and sometimes that still is not enough to get the job done.

Turkey hunting success can ultimately be tied to one simple thing, and that is scouting.  Scouting turkeys is the name of the game, and mid-march is an excellent time to begin to do just that.  During the early spring months, wild turkeys will often still be in their winter groups with hens and poults from the previous year comprising one group and gobblers and jakes comprising the other.  Both groups will often utilize the same feeding and roosting areas, however, they will not begin to disperse until later in the spring.  Although still in the bachelor groups, gobblers will begin to strut and gobble starting in mid-march, especially during crisp, cold mornings.  This is no doubt that hearing a gobbler screaming on the limb can help make scouting turkeys an exciting and fun activity for anyone, regardless if you are beginning turkey hunter or a veteran.  As the spring continues to progress, groups of gobblers will begin to break up into singles and pairs, with calling and displaying continuing to increase as well.

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Larry Ellis: Photo

Scouting Tips & Tactics

Turkey hunting is all about dedication and preparation.  You need to be able to understand the day to day lives of the gobblers that reside within the area that you will be hunting.  Determining where the turkeys on your property roost and feed as well as locating strutting zones are all important pieces of information that you need to have.  In addition, having an understanding of the overall number of turkeys in your area is also an important piece of information to have at your disposal.

While hitting the woods at dawn to listen for a gobbling long beard is an effective turkey scouting technique, it comes with its limitations.  Turkey’s move, and depending upon where you are, can move a great distance over the course of the day.  Just because a turkey roosts on your farm does not mean that he will be there later in the morning.  It is important to do your best to use all the tools at your disposal to help you when it comes to scouting for turkeys.

Believe it or not, a game feeder and a few trail cameras can really help you when it comes to scouting turkeys and getting set for your turkey hunting adventure.  If you use these tools to your advantage, you can begin to develop an idea of not only how many turkeys you have on your property, but what areas they are using and when.

Feeders | Game Feeder use for Turkeys

Wild turkeys love cracked corn.  It is a source of carbohydrates and is easy for wild turkeys to forage on.  Better yet for the hunter, cracked corn is relatively cheap and for the purposes of scouting for turkeys, a little corn can go a long way.  Before using a game feeder and cracked corn as a means for scouting for turkeys, be sure to check the local regulations in the state that you are in to ensure that you are legal; however, if the use of cracked corn is authorized in your state then you are well on your way to gathering some serious intel.

game feeder for the purposes of scouting turkeys is really an easy process.  The first step is to identify an area that you either know turkeys will be passing through or utilizing at some point during the day.  Try to focus in on areas that you feel turkeys may be utilizing later in the spring, during the turkey hunting season.  This will help you to rule out any unintended perception bias from the trail camera photos.  Once you have your location selected, you can set up your game feeder and get to work.  It doesn’t take much corn lying on the ground to get the attention of wild turkeys.  In fact, for the purposes of gathering trail camera photos, less is more as it will deter other wildlife such as white-tailed deer from staking a claim.  Check the game feeder periodically, however, use caution and do your best to avoid bumping any turkeys off the area.

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Flashes | Trail Camera Tips for Turkeys

When it comes to turkey hunting, and specifically scouting for turkeys, trail cameras are your friend.  Trail cameras, especially when live video is available, can provide you with some real-time information that will certainly help you to start developing your turkey hunting game plan for the spring.  When it comes to utilizing trail cameras to scouting for turkeys, the philosophy is simple, you want to have as many cameras out in areas that you feel a gobbler may use at any given time and you want to be able to check the cameras as often as needed without bumping birds.

This is, of course, easier said than done, however, your life becomes much easier if you are utilizing trail cameras that are enabled to stream live video to your laptop or mobile device.  Having the ability to check your cameras remotely allows you to avoid running the risk of spooking any of the turkeys on your property while still receiving valuable information.

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If you are utilizing cameras that require to manually check the cards, where and when you check your cameras becomes a little more important.  If you are setting your cameras up in areas such as strut zones or roost sites, the mid-day hours are an excellent time to check your cameras.  If you have your cameras set up next to your game feeder, things become a little more challenging as wild turkeys could be using these areas at any given time, so proceed with caution.

Feathers | Turning Scouting into Hunting

Though it is a simple method, using a game feeder and a few trail cameras to your advantage can really help your gain a better perspective on the number of turkeys in your area and help you to begin to pattern their movements. This is critical information to any turkey hunter!

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!

Ground Blind Hunting Tips Photo Credit: Trophy Pursuit

Ground Blind Hunting Tips for the Late Season

 

Ground Blind Hunting Tips For Late Season Hunting

The 9th inning has arrived and while to many hunters that sounds like we are the bearer of bad news, it, in fact, is quite the opposite. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it is your only opportunity at scoring a 9th inning buck. For the past several weeks our blog topics have been diving into preparation for the late season. It now seems to be a fit time to dive straight into the actual hunting tactics. For the last weeks of deer season, a ground blind stands as one of best tools a hunter can possibly use. The characteristics of the late season intertwined with a ground blind’s effectiveness is unrivaled during this time period. Take these ground blind hunting tips for the late season and apply them to your hunting strategy. The time period, the tool, these tips, and the strategy all come together to give you a chance at that 9th inning buck you are so desperately seeking.

With state’s firearms seasons closing, bucks are finally starting to feel the effects of relentless hunting pressure lifting off of properties. This godsend goes hand in hand with the arrival of cold temperatures and the attraction of late season food sources. These ingredients spell out a recipe for one of the best times to kill you hit-list buck, even when it is the 9th inning! The reason for this is not just due in part to the biology and behavior of white-tailed deer, but what tools have been made available that are so extremely effective during these last weeks.

Trail Cameras Tell the Story

In the past weeks, the relentless preparation and work to establish intel on late season food sources have been put entirely on the shoulders of trail cameras. In recent weeks we have provided countless trail camera tips, and trail camera settings for the late season in order to help you discover a “patternable” mature buck on these food sources.

 

 

For all practical purposes, trail cameras have started and are currently telling the story of the late season. With the help of both trail cameras on time-lapse mode, and trail cameras in late season funnels a mature buck cannot go unseen when entering a late season food source. Now, with the season running out of pages so to speak, hunters look for a hunting tool and tactic to finish and close the book on a hit-list buck!

Blinds Finish It

During this time of year blinds, in general, take precedence over tree stands. Whether you favor box blinds, elevated ground blinds, mobile ground blinds, or bale blinds doesn’t matter, the simple fact is that they are the best tool for the job. Why?

Whitetail 101 Episode 17 from Muddy’s Trophy Pursuit on Vimeo.

Bill Winke, the host of Midwest Whitetail and Muddy’s Whitetail 101, explains why blinds are the only tool for the job in the late season. The very nature of deer and the late season support this reasoning…

  • It’s Cold –Temperatures dropping beneath 32 degrees packs quite a punch, especially with a 10 mph wind backing it. Blinds offer a hunter a windscreen and ultimately provides a hunter with a buffer from the weather and late season elements.
  • Deer are FED UP with Movement– By now deer are extremely wary of the slightest movements. This can make hunting from a tree stand nearly impossible. Rather, a ground blind or elevated box blind allows you to conceal your movements.
  • Food Source– In this period of deer season, with the deer so heavily focused on food, easily mobile ground blinds can easily be placed and moved in and around the food sources according to patterns and wind directions.

While blinds might be the best tool for the late season, no tool is without a flaw. The simple fact is that you are at the deer’s level. This requires extra precautions from both their sight and sense of smell. Ground blind hunting in the late season requires special attention in the placement according to both the deer and the food source.

Ground Blind Hunting and Placement Tips

Trail Cameras Weekly’s Weston Schrank walk you through how to determine the perfect spot for the blind on your late season food source. It will depend entirely on these 5 features. Take a good look at these features not only when you are setting up the blind, but every time you hunt as they are constantly changing.

 

  • Food Source – Identify and take a good look at the food source and all of the features and characteristics of the area.
  • Bedding Area – Figure out where the closest bedding area is, also consider where a mature buck might bed.
  • Funnels and Runs – You need to identify the main funnel or easiest travel route for the deer utilizing the food source.
  • Wind and Thermals– The wind direction and more importantly thermals are the most important consideration in relation to your blind setup location, the bedding area, and where the deer will be.
  • Hunter Access -Your entrance/exit route must be safe during the day and night, In order to keep the food source pressure free.

 

By looking at a map and scouting the food source and surrounding area, the above 5 features will easily suggest the best location for the blind.

Other Ground Blind Hunting Tips for the Late Season

Remember, late season hunting is nearly always afternoon hunting. It is ideal for the late season as deer work their way out of the bedding areas on very cold days to feed on the food source early to avoid the frigid temps of the early morning. This feeding will occur in daylight for the most part as they simply need more time to feed! This means thermals mid-hunt to the last hour of light will begin to drop off the hills and follow topography like water. The goal is to set the blind up where we can access it without walking across where we expect deer for scent purposes, or allow deer in the bedding area to see us, and also needing to consider our exit in relation to deer feeding in the field. At the same time, you must make sure the wind direction and/or the falling thermals are exiting the field in a way that for the most part deer will not catch your wind.

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By reading these ground blind hunting tips, you should walk away with three key take home points…One, the 9th inning is not the time to give up on deer season. Two, you should be hunting out of a ground blind during the late season. Finally three, there is a lot more to setting up a ground blind that simply placing it for the shot. With ideal blind setups for late season hunting, observations in place, and required prep work from trail cameras and scouting, you will be setting yourself up for success in either this week or the cold weeks to come!

Stocking Stuffers for Hunters

Stocking Stuffers for Hunters | Muddy’s Stocking Stuffers

Stocking Stuffers for Hunters

To go along with our Christmas gifts for hunters, we thought we would go ahead and supply you with some stocking stuffer ideas! Stocking stuffers for hunters are easy to buy, as the hunter in your family always could use more hunting accessories and gear! These 9 stocking stuffer items will fill their stocking full with quality items that the hunter will enjoy for many seasons!

1. Telescoping Multi-Hanger


PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Folds Down to 8.75″ for Storage
Hook Arm Adjusts 360°
Leg Grip for Extra Strength
Easy Installation with Screw-In Steel Tip

PRODUCT SPECS

  • CONSTRUCTION: Aluminum and Steel;
  • SIZE: Ranges from 7.25″ – 21.5″ Length with Non-Slip Grip Rubber Coated Hook;
  • WEIGHT RATING: 30 Lbs

2. Short Hook Multi Hanger

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

2″ Single J-Hook with 40-Lb Capacity
Dual 6.5″ Non-Slip Grip Rubber Coated Hooks with 10-Lb Weight Limit Each
Hook Arms Adjust 180°
Folds Down to 8″ for Storage
Steel Tip Cover with Easy Clip-On Carabiner

PRODUCT SPECS

  • CONSTRUCTION: Steel;
  • WEIGHT CAPACITY: 60 Lbs Total – 2″ Single J-Hook – 40 Lb Capacity, Dual 6.5″ Rubber Coated Hooks – 10 Lb Weight Limit Each

3. EZ Twist Pull Up Rope

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Easy to Use Even With a Gloved Hand and Does Not Scratch Gear
Folds Up Flat and Small for Storage
Silent, EZ Twist-Tie, Rubber-Coated End

PRODUCT SPECS

  • DESIGN: 25′ Long Flat, Tangle-Free Design

4. Tree Stand Canopy


PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Guaranteed Protection From the Elements
Camouflage Underside for Natural Appearance

PRODUCT SPECS

  • CONSTRUCTION: Heavy-Duty, Water-Resistant Fabric;
  • SIZE: 46″ Wide x 60″ Long;
  • PORTABLE: Folds up to 27.25″ for Transport

5. Trail Camera: Pro Cam 10

deer hunting cold fronts trail camera tips | Muddy Outdoors


PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

10 Megapixel
2 – 6 Photo Bursts
Standard VGA (32 FPS)
1.5 Second Trigger Speed
Invisible Flash with 18 HE LEDs
Simple to Program
Backlit LCD Screen to easily navigate through settings any time of day

PRODUCT SPECS

  • SIZE: 4.75″ H x 4.25″ W x 2.5″ D;
  • SCREEN: Backlit LCD Screen;
  • FLASH RANGE: 50’+; LEDS: 18;
  • IMAGE QUALITY: 10 Megapixel;
  • TRIGGER DELAY: 7 Options: 10 Sec – 30 Min.;
  • IMAGE DATA: Camera ID, Date, Time, Temp, & Moon Phase;
  • VIDEO: 4 Options: 10 – 60 Seconds Length;
  • MOUNTING OPTIONS: Adjustable Strap with Buckle; Alternate: 1/4″ – 20;
  • THEFT DETERRENCE: Cable Lock and Padlock Ready;
  • BATTERY TYPE: 6 AA or 12V DC Alternate Power Option;
  • COLOR: Non-Reflective Brown;
  • MATERIAL: Molded ABS; Waterproof Housing;
  • MEMORY: Requires Secure Digital Card, Up to 32GB;
  • PRODUCT WARRANTY: 1 Year;
  • OPERATING TEMP: -10 Degrees F to 140 Degrees F;
  • DETECTION RANGE: 50′;
  • FIELD OF VIEW: 3 Zone + 50 Degree Detection Angle;
  • BURST INTERVAL: 2 Seconds;
  • BATTERY LIFE: Up to 10,000 Images

6. Trail Camera Support Mount

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

ORDER 6 OR MORE AND GET THEM FOR $6.00 PER

Can be adjusted to any direction or angle desired!
Easily screws into tree or wooden posts

PRODUCT SPECS

  • CONSTRUCTION: Steel;
  • WEIGHT RATING: 10 Lbs.;
  • USAGE: Screws securely into tree;
  • WORKS ON MOST CAMERAS WITH A 1/4″-20 RECEIVER;
  • FULLY ADJUSTABLE: Camera mount can be adjusted to any direction & angle

7. Long Accessory Hooks

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

The hook is designed for use in multiple stand locations securely keeps your bow and other hunting gear within reach. Coated hooks won’t scratch or damage your bow or other gear, while the sharp metal tip screws easily into any tree for a secure hold. Each individual hook has a ten-pound weight rating.

PRODUCT SPECS

  • Construction Extra Long Rubber Coated Steel Hook
  • Design Screws into tree; 24-count Retailer Pack for Individual Sale
  • Weight Limit 10 Lbs.

8. Xecute Scent Control Starter Pack

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Looking for an all-around scent control product pack for this season. We are featuring a Xecute Starter Pack to cover everything from Shower to Field.

The Xecute Scent Control Starter Pack Features:

  • Body Wash (8 oz)
  • Conditioner (8 oz)
  • Field Spray (16 oz)
  • Shampoo (8 oz)

9. Muddy Safe-Line

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

A Unique System that Allows the User to Stay Attached to the Tree at all Times!
Two Prusik Knots; Slides Easily Up and Down the Rope During Ascent and Descent and Stops You IMMEDIATELY Should a Fall Occur
Prusik Knots made of Reflective Material that Enhance Daytime and Low-Light Visibility

PRODUCT SPECS

  • CONSTRUCTION: Braided Nylon; USE: Stay Safe from the Moment You Leave the Ground to the Time You Return!; Length: 30’;
  • WEIGHT RATING: 300 Lbs.

These stocking stuffers will put a smile on the face of the hunter in your family, especially paired up with one of the many items under the tree from our Christmas gifts on sale right now! Any hunter would be ecstatic to unwrap any number of these items on Christmas day!

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:

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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:

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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.

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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!

 

hunting tips thanksgiving buck | Muddy Outdoors

Hunting Tips for Taking a Thanksgiving Week Buck

Hunting Tips for Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving week is here and it could not have arrived at a more perfect time. Let’s be honest there is not one hunter here that would take bickering over politics and catching up with family over a cold November hunt! Luckily the time off work aligns perfectly with an incredible opportunity. The rut is winding down, but that does not mean mature buck movement is. In fact, this Thanksgiving week could be one of the best times to kill one of your hit-list bucks. This might just be the perfect excuse to miss that overcooked turkey at the in-laws! If you find the time to hunt, be sure to take a look at these hunting tips for taking a Thanksgiving week buck!

Whitetail 101 S1 E14, “Crunch Time” | Second Peak of Rut Hunting

During this week, mature bucks rather than little bucks are on their feet. Young bucks that you saw nearly every day of the first part of November are now slowing down, while mature bucks still have enough energy to seek and chase the last does coming into estrus. This is a period that is make or break. Opportunities with a mature buck will exist as cold temperatures finally make their way over the Midwest. Cold temperatures with a few does still yet to come in creates a recipe where a hit-list buck can be harvested.

This is the back end of the bell curve of the rut, does are still coming in, and mature bucks are out trying to find them. Rut hunting strategies for this week include sticking to the bedding areas, but also keeping an eye on late season food sources. As hunting transitions into December, food sources become the focus instead of bedding areas.

Trail Cameras Weekly “Week 8” | Hunting The Backside Of The Rut

Mature bucks will start focusing on late season food sources later as we approach December and colder temps, but do not get ahead of yourself. For now, the best hunting tips for hunting the backside of the rut means stick with your rut hunting strategies, remember you trail camera tips for the rut, check trail cameras often, and grind it out until the end of the season.