The numbers prove it. Realtree fans north, south, east and west live and breathe deer hunting. These guys do, too. Hansen’s from Michigan, Brantley’s from Kentucky, and chances are their version of hunting whitetails is a lot like yours.
May 29, 2012 | By Will Brantley
This morning, I had to step away from my desk and stare outside. It was finally raining, if only for 10 minutes. It’s dry around here—western Kentucky was in moderate to severe drought conditions as of May 22, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. No doubt, many of you are in the same boat. In the Southeast, including Realtree’s home base of Columbus, Georgia, drought conditions ranged from “Extreme” to “Exceptional.”
A long-term drought can have big-picture effects on deer season, including severe EHD outbreaks. Kentucky and many other Midwestern and southern states lost thousands and thousands of deer during the particularly dry summer of 2007. Hopefully we’ll dodge the bullet on that this summer, but only time will tell. A similar outbreak devastated the Milk River herd in Montana last year.
My more immediate worry is the impact to my food plots. The areas we plant are rugged and remote, meaning they’re great for hunting, but a royal pain in the arse to plant and maintain. In the past, we’ve relied on the rain gods to get them to turn green.
But if this season’s weather trends hold up, some form of irrigation will be in order if I want my plots to live. Here’s my situation: a decent-sized creek winds along the edge of the fields where we do our planting. It’s within 50 yards of the closest plot, and a solid 200 from the others. Though it tends to get low and stagnant by August, I’ve never seen it run completely dry. So I’m thinking of investing in a pump and some hose to keep water on my plots. I don’t have the means to do anything on a bigger scale, and I have no idea how well this would work (but if some of you do, let me know in the comments section).
At the end of the day, I hate to be too doom and gloom about the drought. We have a little rain in the forecast for this week. Tropical Storm Beryl just dumped a ton of water along the East Coast. But July and August are still on the horizon, and history shows that droughts can be tough on deer. How are things shaping up in your neck of the woods?
May 25, 2012 | By Tony Hansen
In 2006, Wisconsin hunter Johnny King killed a huge 6X6 buck that could have challenged Milo Hanson's all-time typical record. But the buck has never been officially entered into the Boone and Crockett records because of controversy over how the buck should be scored. A point on the buck's right antler was determined by a Boone and Crockett official as being non-typical, dropping the buck's final net score from potentially eclipsing Milo Hanson's mark of 213 5/8 to somewhere in the mid-180s.
Deer and Deer Hunting magazine broke the story last fall and has been hot on its since. Today, they released a post on their site about a new video that shows long-time Wisconsin Bear and Buck scorer Marlin Laidlaw explaining exactly why the King buck should be scored as a typical.
This story just keeps getting stranger and stranger. Last week, according to D&DH, Boone and Crockett fired two of its longtime scorers because they spoke out against the Club's position on how the buck should be scored.
I'm not an official scorer for any organization. But I have to say that Laidlaw's explanation is very clear and convincing.
Looks like this story is far from over.
May 18, 2012 | By Tony Hansen
For this week's First Buck Friday story, we're going to break the rules just a bit. That's always fun.
While we focus primarily on first buck experiences, there's also something special about your first wall-hanger whitetail. I can remember every detail of mine. It was a very special morning and while I've killed several bucks bigger, that one remains my favorite.
Today, we share a story from Zac Dunkle of Pennsylvania as he recounts the tale of his first wall-hanger whitetail.
If you've got a First Buck story to share, we'd love to hear it. Send them to rackreport [at] realtree [dot] com --TH
Every year I get to take at least a few days off from school to go hunting. This was one of those days. It was the end of the first week of rifle season in Pennsylvania. All season had been horrible.
My uncle had just purchased 80 acres, it was a farm that had been abandoned for 75 years. All the fields were now saplings and tall grass. It was the type of stuff that seemed perfect for deer. We put about four tree stands up around the property. I had been fighting with myself on where to put mine. Finally, I decided to put it below all the fields on this ridge that looked down into the valley below. Everybody told me that was a horrible spot for a stand. That's all I heard about for days.
May 11, 2012 | By Tony Hansen
This week's First Buck Friday entry comes from the great state of Wisconsin. Home of cheese curds, The Pack and Milwaukee's Best. And some darned fine deer hunting.
This week's story got me thinking back to the times when my Friday nights were all about football. It was the best day of the week. The excitement of the game and the anticipation of knowing the weekend would be filled with time spent chasing whitetails. I'd love to go back there.
But, for now, we'll just join Lindsey Kemnitz on her first buck experience.
I was chosen for the Sand Hill Wildlife Area hunt, and I was able to go hunting on a Friday and Saturday. My dad let me get out of school that Friday. We'd scouted a couple weeks before, and I knew exactly where we were going to put my ladder stand.
From where my deer stand was you could see an old gravel road with a woods behind me, and a marsh in front of me and to my right. We hunted all day and around closing time, I saw a nice-sized deer walking down that gravel road. From where I was sitting in my ladder stand I could see the horns, but didn't get a shot. That was the end of the first day. That Friday night was the regional game for my brother's football team, and he was starting center for his senior year, so we couldn't miss a game! The drive to the game was two hours from where I live, and Sand Hill is another four hours. We made it to the game just in time, but that was only the start to the night.
We got back from the football game that night around eleven, and knew we needed to get to Sand Hill early Saturday morning so we could get our spot. I'm pretty sure that night we got about two hours of sleep. Our walk out to where I hunted Friday was a good 45 minutes. We were exhausted, so we decided to take a seat on top of this big hill for a break.
"You know we probably won't see anything here," my dad said.
"It's okay," I said. I was so tired. My dad and I were just about to fall asleep when all of the sudden we heard some noise. It was a doe running at us. My dad told me to wait and, sure enough, a buck was right behind the doe.
When it was directly in front of us, I shot at the buck with my Remington 870 Express and the buck didn't even flinch or move. I shot one more time, and the buck took off running down the hill. We watched it until it was out of sight and then looked for blood. Sure enough I hit it!
We started tracking the blood, and we got all the way to the bottom of the hill, there it was. My dad and I started screaming! That was the adventure of my first time ever deer hunting and shooting a buck!
Got a First Buck tale to share? Send it to us at rackreport [at] realtree [dot] com
May 8, 2012 | By Will Brantley
My climbing stand has been an integral part of my bowhunting since my first season in the woods. And if you think we outdoor writers always have fancy new gear on hand, you need to take a close look at my stand (pictured below). It’s an old Summit, likely older than I am, that was bought at a yard sale. It had a separate hand climber, but I found it to be an unnecessary accessory. I simply bear-hug the tree and pull the stand up with my feet. By the end of deer season, I can shimmy up a tree right now, although bark-calloused nipples are a minor side-effect.
Is this stand obsolete? Yes.
Ugly? Hideous, in fact.
But it works, and I've not had a reason to change it.**
I like a climber because I like to stay mobile. It’s the ideal tool for public hunting in this area, as we’ve got an abundance of straight trees around here. I hang lock-ons and ladder stands each year, and do plenty of hunting from them. They have their place. But day in and out, if the task is to kill something, I’ll pick my climber. Most bowhunters I know who live in the Southeast feel the same way.
But that’s not necessarily true in other regions. Midwestern hunters, especially, tend to be lock-on fanatics. The country is more open, and many times, there are fewer straight trees. Plenty of guys can set up a hang-on stand with climbing sticks in short order, too, as my buddy Dave Hurteau demonstrates in this video on Field and Stream’s site.
Hansen is a lock-on guy. He prefers having a stand ready and waiting so he can slip in, hunt, and slip out without carrying a lot of gear. Since he films many of his hunts for Antler Geeks, having two stands in place—one for him and one for a cameraman—is a near necessity. He travels to deer hunt more than me, and does quite a few “hang and hunts” when he’s in a new area, too.
So which do you opt for most of the time? Climber or hang-on, and how come?
** I did spend some time in my wife’s Summit Open Shot last season, and I liked it enough that I may upgrade before next fall. It's light, comfortable and easy to use. Then again, I'm guessing my old stand has at least another 10, maybe 20 seasons left in it. Maybe I'll just wear it out first.
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