Here at Realtree, we pride ourselves in the content we produce for Realtree.com readers. We not only tell the outdoor story but we live it, too. And we strive to create the type of content that both educates and entertains. Here are 15 of the most-read articles from 2018.
20 Deer Hunting Lies Your Granddaddy Told You
Now, I’m not saying your granddaddy ain’t a good deer hunter. Chances are he’s killed more deer with his open-sighted, lever-action Marlin 30-30 than all the local youngins hollerin’ “Smoked him,” “Pole-waxed that joker,” or my personal (least) favorite, “Just gave that ol’ slob a dirt nap” combined. But our past (and current) generations of deer hunters are somewhat responsible for a number of myths that deer hunters still believe today.
All joking aside, I’m sure your granddaddy is/was a great deer hunter. So was your daddy. And so are you. That said, there’s quite a few fallacies that have floated around the deer hunting wavelengths for far too long. And it’s high-time we snuff out the false flames. Here goes nothin' (everythin') . . . continue reading . . .
Photo Gallery: From Buttons to Booner
The process of getting a whitetail from the button buck stage to the Boone and Crockett category is a mystical journey that includes a complex assortment of variables. It takes four basic ingredients to produce a buck with a 170-inch rack: genetics, habitat, herd management and age.
Too often hunters feel they can tell a buck’s potential by the kind of antlers it grows as a yearling. I’ve been fortunate to have hunted whitetails from New York to Texas to Saskatchewan, with many stops along the way. I’ve also had the unique opportunity of raising whitetails and studying their behavior for a quarter century. My journey as a hunter, photographer and researcher has taught me a few things about the whitetail. And one is that the size of a yearling’s antlers is seldom a predictor of what its antlers it will be when it fully matures . . . continue reading . . .
North American Super Slam: 29 Big Game Animals You Need
For me, the true meaning of hunting is for food and adventure. It’s for sustenance of both the body and mind. And chasing big game animals has been a very large part of many lives across the world. Thus the Super Slam® of North American Big Game was born.
Grand Slam Club/Ovis (GSCO) is the official archive of the Super Slam of North American big game. They house the records and maintain records keeping. Contact GSCO to register animals you harvest.
I’ve never attempted the slam. Probably never will. It's a big thing. This feat takes years and serious dedication to achieve. Few try it. Even fewer obtain it. However, there are smaller slams you can attempt. But here are all of the animals needed to complete the ultimate quest . . . continue reading . . .
15 Places Big Bucks Bed That Deer Hunters Should Hunt
It’s that simple. Yet it’s so difficult to get up close to and kill deer — especially mature deer. It’s even tougher to do it on a consistent basis. Why is that? Oftentimes, it’s because hunters pay too much attention to the first two and not enough to the third — cover.
Habitat is crucial for deer not only for food availability but also because of the need for quality bedding cover. Find that and you’re in the money. But again, once that’s found, hunters often fail to either recognize or discard the fact that you must get close enough to that bedding area to catch that deer on its feet in daylight. Obviously, you don’t want to get too close. But you do have to get close enough to put yourself in the game.
Every buck is different. They all have their own personalities and preferences. That’s why each one chooses different bedding locations — of which could be any of the 15 following things. So focus on these places that big bucks commonly bed to get close enough to kill one. They all offer advantages to the deer that calls them home. And remember, once shed season rolls around, these are great locations to find white gold as well . . . continue reading . . .
10 Trees That Will Hold Deer on Your Hunting Property
Mention planting for deer, and most hunters automatically assume you are talking about food plots. While there is no doubt that a nice food plot will attract and hold deer in an area, planting trees and shrubs can also be an excellent way to improve the hunting on your property. I checked with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Joe Lacefield and USFW Wildlife Biologist Brad Pendley to get their top picks for wildlife-friendly trees.
Unlike annual or semi-annual food plots like beans, clover or alfalfa, trees and shrubs are a long-term project. How long? It depends on what you plant.
Short-term plantings consist of small trees and large shrubs that begin to provide fruit or forage in the years immediately after planting. Some plants start to provide food a year or two after planting, others won’t produce for as long as 10 to 15 years.
Unlike the soft mast and fruit production of the short-term plantings, long-term trees take longer to mature, often as many as 15 to 20 years, but will produce regularly for years to come after they start. The good thing about those long-term plants is that they will still be around to bring deer in for your grandchildren . . . continue reading . . .
15 Big Deer Hunting Secrets Exposed
I’m going to be up front and honest with you.
I’m not a biologist.
I don’t have a degree in wildlife biology.
And I don’t conduct peer-reviewed research on whitetails.
But I have dedicated a big portion of my life to studying and learning about the white-tailed deer. Throughout the years, I’ve gathered as much information about the species as I could garner. Furthermore, I’ve reached out to some of the leading biologists in the country to help debunk some of the world’s biggest deer myths.
Knowing there are so many myths and misconceptions out there about whitetails bothers me. Obviously, there’s no harm in not knowing what you don’t know. But some hunters continue to propagate these false ideas despite knowing they aren’t accurate or true.
Whitetails are my passion. They’re your passion, too. So here goes. These are 15 of the whitetail world’s hottest secrets and most commonly believed myths.
We’re here to help set the record straight . . . continue reading . . .
7 Ways to Not Get Invited Back to Deer Camp
Some of my fondest hunting memories aren’t of hunting at all. They center around deer camp. The camaraderie of friends and family, some distant and seen only for these few days a year. Watching sparks rise from a campfire until they blend with the bright stars of the night sky. The food cooked over an open fire that always seems to taste better than anything cooked at home. These are all parts of camp that make it special. While you might not always be successful when it comes to bagging your quarry, you can always have a great time in camp.
Whether it’s a camp you’ve been attending for years, or one you were just invited to, here are a few habits that will ensure you don’t get invited back next year and a tip or two to make sure you do . . . continue reading . . .
15 Deer Hunting Myths Even Experienced Hunters Believe
There are myths out there in every facet of the world. And the deer hunting realm is no exception. The number of myths out there are many. And the deception is real.
I’ll readily admit that I’ve believed in several of these at some point in my life. But education corrected my flawed perceptions, and I’m a better and more knowledgeable deer hunter and steward because of it.
So I ask you, have you ever fallen victim to one of these tall tales . . . continue reading . . .
How to Skin and Prepare a Rattlesnake for the Table
Let me start this blog post with a caveat. I hate to kill a snake. Any snake. I like snakes. Even the venomous speciels. I can’t count the times I’ve shared a western Kentucky fishing hole with a cottonmouth. Or squirrel hunted in a copperhead’s backyard. As long as I see them first, it’s all good.
That said, I’m a realist. I know that venomous snakes and small kids, or pets, or livestock just don’t mix. I know there are people who consider a dead snake to be the only good snake on the planet. From time to time, a buddy will call and report a recently deceased rattlesnake in case I want it. I usually do. While I might not kill a rattlesnake unless I have no other option, I’ll dang sure eat one if I get the opportunity.
Rattlesnake meat is white, tender, and tastes like a cross between frog legs and turtle. While there are a lot of rib bones, a big rattlesnake will have a backstrap like muscle that runs the entire length of the backbone. Once cooked, that muscle will peel out easily, giving the diner a boneless bite of goodness.
Think you might want to try one in the future? Here’s how wildlife biologist Joe Lacefield and I skin and process a rattlesnake for the table, T2T style. Save the skin for a hat band, a nifty wall display, or do like Joe and use it as a decorative backing for a self-bow . . . continue reading . . .
The 8 Best Deer Cartridges for This Season
If two years working in the retail gun trade taught me anything, it’s that anyone who has ever shot a firearm is an expert on the subject. Gun loonies know everything there is to know about rifles and cartridge ballistics and don’t require input from anyone, anytime. Well, at least everyone has strong opinions.
So, I understand deer-cartridge selection can prove a very personal and subjective matter (and let’s not start on rifle design or brands. So forgive me if I’ve failed to include your personal favorite. I understand the .30-30 Winchester has likely accounted for more deer than all other cartridges combined, but I do think it’s time to move on. I can appreciate the ballistics of the latest short or ultra-magnum or former wildcat, but I tend to view firearms from an entirely practical standpoint, largely impervious to whims and the latest fashions.
To follow are eight deer cartridges I feel have, or will, stand the test of time. Most are field-proven, yet a couple perhaps less mainstream than others (but fine designs). All said, there are literally hundreds of cartridges suited to deer hunting. Here are eight you should consider this season . . . continue reading . . .
7 Different Deer Taxidermy Options and Their Costs
Taxidermy has a rich history in North America. It’s been part of our deer hunting heritage for hundreds of years. Many people have had deer hanging on their walls for generations.
See, deer mounts aren't just trophies as some people falsely believe. They’re preserved memories. They’re something to spark thoughts of past hunts as we look back on days of years gone by. They’re encapsulations of hunts we shared with family, friends and adventures alone in the wild. They're a part of deer hunting.
Here are some options, what they cost, and how you can keep your adventures afield alive long after they’re over . . . continue reading . . .
8 Mistakes Rookie Coyote Hunters Make
Eichler and Zepp. They make it look so easy. No matter how many times you watch the coyote-killing team on video, you just can't figure out how to duplicate their success. While those guys seem to bring coyotes running to the gun every time they make a rabbit squeal, you've only managed to call in a few crows and one stray dog looking for an easy meal. You’ve spent a few months' worth of rent on rifles, lights and calls. You’re developing tinnitus from listening to the scream of a dying rabbit over and over. And, still, you haven't gotten a single 'yote to show for your efforts . . . continue reading . . .
10 Reasons Why You Suck at Turkey Hunting
Some folks just can't figure out the turkey hunting tradition for trying. Oh, they're good bass anglers, even deer hunters, but the little things you have to put together to kill a spring gobbler – or even a fall turkey where legal – are lost on them. Little things are big deals when you turkey hunt. Here are 10 reasons why you suck at it . . . continue reading . . .
First Responders Cut Dead Bear's Head Off to Free Man From Its Grasp
You've heard stories from bear-attack survivors before, but I bet you've never heard one like this. While walking his dogs, a New Mexico man was attacked by an aggressive black bear, which clamped its jaw around his leg. And, it stayed that way even after the man killed the bear.
Bears are common in the small city of Raton, but Bridger Petrini's encounter with a bear a couple weeks ago was anything but common.
"I got way too close, the bear was overly aggressive," Petrini told KRQE.
Petrini is a rancher and a big-game hunter. Last month, he was exercising his hunting dogs near his home just outside the city when he encountered the bear.
"When he saw me, he pinned his ears down and immediately made a big charge at me," Petrini said.
That's when the struggle began . . . continue reading . . .
7 Reasons Why Duck Hunting is Cooler Than Deer Hunting
OK, before I feel the collective wrath of America’s whitetail nation — or maybe just take heat from Realtree.com deer hunting editor Josh “Kentucky” Honeycutt — I’ll admit that headline is intentionally provocative.
Actually, I won’t try to convince anyone that duck hunting is cooler than deer hunting. Everyone has their thing, and that goes for waterfowl nuts and whitetail fans. Some live to watch the sun rise from a tree stand overlooking a hot scrape, but others prefer the smell of marsh muck and the feel of a north wind at their backs. A better title for this blog might be, “7 Reasons Why Many Hardcore Waterfowl Guys Choose Ducks Over Bucks.” But that’s boring.
Anyway, I digress, and there’s no time to waste, as Honeycutt might get his dander up and head north. Here are some factors that entice folks to hunt bills instead of antlers . . . continue reading . . .