Deer hunting. It makes our heart beat, blood boil and adrenaline pump. Sure, we partly do it for the thrill. But that's a small part. We also do it for the healthy venison, camaraderie with family and friends and memories made in the field. Here at Realtree.com, the content we create reflects that. And we strive to publish the type of content that you want to see. You're real. We're real. And the media content you find on Realtree.com is, too. Here were your favorite deer hunting posts of 2018.
How to Hunt the Phases of the Rut
A doe comes crashing through the timber and blows right by your treestand. Seconds later, a top-heavy, big-bodied buck trots down the same lane, hot on the doe’s trail. It stops mere yards from you, lip-curls, and belts out the gnarliest grunt you've ever heard. That’s what the rut is all about. And this is how you should hunt each phase of it . . . continue reading . . .
You’ve Been Hanging Your Deer Wrong for Years
A rope around the neck or a gambrel through the Achilles tendon — that’s how most hang their deer. Walk into any well-respected steakhouse locker, though, and you’ll see beef hanging completely different. The ideal way to hang your ungulate for aging is using a technique called the tenderstretch method. The tenderstretch method is done by placing a hook beneath the pelvic hip bone or below the ligament passing along the backside. When done properly, the hindquarters of your deer will hang at a 90-degree angle. So, why is this method superior . . . continue reading . . .
How to Can Deer Meat
For sportsmen across the nation, freezer space comes at a premium. You can walk into the average outdoorsman’s garage and find an ice chest full of harvests, like big game, waterfowl and fish. It becomes a game of Jenga each fall when you need to carefully remove a package of elk brats and bag of goose jerky just to access bricks of ground deer.
When my freezer hit max capacity a few seasons ago, I looked to canning meat as an alternative. Besides just saving room in my freezer, it’s opened up a bunch of new options for wild game meals. However, getting the end product isn’t as simple as just dropping some jars in boiling water . . . continue reading . . .
10 Reasons Why You Aren't Finding More Shed Antlers
Shed envy. It’s a common condition felt this time of year by avid whitetail hunters across the country and it has the potential to reduce productivity at work, spoil appetites and ruin an otherwise good day.
The cause? A lack of shed-hunting success, followed by frequent viewings of the monster sheds your friends are finding and posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If you find yourself stressing about the possibility of enduring another case of shed envy this year, we’re here to help. With the advice of a few expert shed hunters, we’ve compiled this list of 10 reasons why you’re not finding more sheds. Study up and then hit the woods . . . 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.
When I was a young man in the 1960s, many researchers felt that yearling spike bucks were genetically inferior, at least from an antler standpoint. Time has a way of changing people’s minds and we now know that it’s extremely difficult to tell a buck’s antler potential by the kind of antlers it grew as a yearling. The photos that accompany this essay help to illustrate and refute the old claim of “once a spike, always a spike" . . . continue reading . . .
20 Deer Hunting Lies Your Granddaddy Told You
Deer hunting is a whirlpool of beliefs, theories, facts and fallacies. Some ideas are right. Some are wrong. And others fall somewhere in-between. 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 . . .
15 Places Big Bucks Bed That Deer Hunters Should Hunt
Deer hunting is about three things: Food. Water. And cover. 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 . . .
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 . . .
The Day a Trespasser Tried to Kill Me
Big deer. Sadly, some people will do anything to kill them — including breaking the law. As you probably noticed, the title of this post was pretty inflammatory. But a few short weeks ago I was out checking some of my treestands and I found where someone had tampered with one of them.
The stand is actually a climbing stand that I’d locked on in a permanent position. I had the climbing cables attached to the stand. I also ran a ratchet strap around both the top and bottom sections, too. Needless to say, it wasn’t going anywhere. At least, that’s what I thought when I hung it . . . continue reading . . .
How to Age Bucks on the Hoof
Bucks really are a blank canvas. People often question what I mean. Simply put, every buck is different. Antlers are different. Attitude and behavior vary. However, one common denominator remains — body structure. Overall size (weight) will be different from buck to buck — even those in the same age class. But how proportionate a buck’s body is will follow fairly strict guidelines that apply to most all deer.
The first rule of thumb is to envision the buck without its head gear. Antlers can sway decisions one way or the other in a biased manner. As a deer ages, its body weight shifts in ways that make it easier to determine age.
Because of this, I utilize certain “visualizations” when aging deer in the field. I start by imagining the buck suspended in mid air. Then I visually “place” a two-by-four board underneath the deer, midway between the front and back legs. Whether the buck tips backward, forward, or balances without moving, helps to better determine the age of a whitetail. The secrets are revealed within the following list of age classes . . . continue reading . . .
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