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Field Judging Bears 101

By Tracy Breen

Bear season is upon us.  Soon hunters will be heading into the woods hoping to shoot a big bruin. For many hunters, knowing what a big bruin truly looks like can be a challenge. My dad was a full-time taxidermist my entire childhood. Most hunters who dropped off a bear to be mounted swore that when they shot the bear it was 400 pounds only to be in complete shock to find out when they walked up on their bear that it was only 125 pounds. This type of scenario happens all the time because judging the size and age of a bear while hunting is extremely difficult.
 
Bernie Barringer is a full-time outdoor writer based in Minnesota and the bowhunting columnist for Bear Hunting Magazine. Over the years, he has killed over two dozen bears. He believes the bear is the most difficult game animal in the woods to size up. “Deer have horns on their head; other animals have distinctive features that a hunter can use to estimate the size and age of an animal. A black bear, on the other hand, often just looks like a large black blob and if a person hasn’t hunted them much, the first one they look at will look huge.”  Many bear hunters shoot the first bear they see. This can be a huge mistake. Below Barringer will provide a few tips to help bear hunters field judge black bears.
 
One of the easiest ways to determine the size of a bear is by looking at the bear next to a bait barrel. Most most barrels have a ring around the middle of the barrel. You can use this ring as a size estimator. “If a bear walks next to a barrel and it only measures up to the middle ring on the barrel, it is a small bear,” Barringer said. “If the bear walks by and it is as high as the top ring or higher as it walks by, it is a big bear. If a person really wants to shoot a big bear, this is a great way to determine their size.”

 


 
The size of a bear’s head is another thing to look at when judging the size of a bear. “A small bear often appears to have large ears and a smaller head. A large boar will often have a large blocky head and smaller ears. A sow, on the other hand, typically has a long narrow face.”
 
According to Barringer, a big boar will also have large blocky shoulders. “A big male will have a large chest and shoulders. A sow usually is shaped more like a pear. She will have a smaller, narrow chest and a large back end. Sows can be big, but if a hunter is really looking for something special, they should hold out for a large boar.”
 
One great way to determine the height of a bear is by putting a Wyndscent vaporizing unit five or six feet above the ground in a tree near the bait when hunting. The vaporized Donut Shop scent will draw bears in and when they smell the scent up in the tree, they will likely stand on their hind legs to see if they can reach the unit. When they stand up, you will be able to easily judge their height.
 
According to Barringer, if you want to kill a big bear you must be patient. “The more bears you see in the wild, the better you get at accurately judging their size. I tell people they should visit a zoo and look at a few bears up close before they leave on a hunt. This will allow them to study the size of the animal when their heart isn’t racing.”
 
The average size of the bears my dad mounted over the years probably averaged 175-225 pounds. If you want to kill one larger than that, plan on being patient and using the tricks above to field judge the bears that visit your bait site.

5 Prep Items For This Summer That Will Make Filming Your Hunts Easier This Fall

Image Courtesy of Game of Inches TV

By Joe Coy

 

Clear Shooting and Filming Lanes

If you hunt out of stands that usually stay in one particular spot, it is a good idea to make sure your main shooting lanes are clear of branches that block your view or the camera’s view. This is a very important step if you are hunting with a bow. We all know that a deflected arrow is almost never a good thing. It is also important for filming. Make sure you clear away any branches that block the cameras view or might get in the way of your camera arm. A little bit of trimming might just save you this fall.

Make Sure You Have A Camera Arm That You Are Happy With

Hopefully you already have this one taken care of. If you don’t have a good camera arm yet, do yourself a favor and get a camera arm from fourtharrowcamearms.com. A good, lightweight camera arm that is stable can be a HUGE asset to you this fall. Fourth Arrow offers a variety of options depending upon your needs. A huge advantage of the Fourth Arrow Camera Arms is they level on any tree. That’s right. It doesn’t matter what angle you mount the base at, you will be able to level off your camera arm.

 

Image Courtesy of Flatline Whitetails


Put A Base In Every Tree

Its all about the base. One of the best advantages of using Fourth Arrow Camera Arms is the multi-base system. Fourth Arrow Camera Arms have 3 parts: the base, the shoulder, and the arm. The base is what you strap to the tree, the shoulder is the leveling mechanism, and, of course, the arm holds the video head which holds the camera. Fourth Arrow has made it affordable to put a base in every tree. If you have a lot of different “permanent” stand sets, this is huge! You can set up the base in the tree ahead of time. This saves pack in weight and makes it so you don’t have to make a ton of noise with a ratchet strap when you arrive at your stand. All that means, less pack in weight, less noise, and faster setup time. Win. Win. Fourth Arrow offers special base pricing when you buy a 4 pack. Setting up a base ahead of time this summer can really make things easier come the fall.

 

Image Courtesy of November Bowhunter


Make Sure You Have A Good Backpack

Having a good backpack is very important to filming your hunts. You need to make sure you have a good pack that fits all the filming gear you need as well as protects your camera. A comfortable backpack is always nice as well. Fourth Arrow offers a backpack that works very well for filmers. It is designed with self filmers in mind. It has 2 large compartments. In the main compartment is a padded section that you can use for storing a medium sized camera. The pack also has a smaller front section with different pocket sections (perfect for small accessories). The pack also has 2 hip pockets (a great place to store a base and shoulder). Another benefit of the Fourth Arrow pack is it has outside compression straps for strapping on a bow, gun, or camera arm. Having an efficient and comfortable backpack can make your life so much easier in the woods this fall.

 

Image Courtesy of Respect the Game TV


Practice With Your Camera

The more familiar you are with your camera, the more prepared you’ll be to film your hunts. Don’t neglect using your camera this summer. Take it on vacation. Play with it in the back yard. Make sure you understand all your camera settings. There are a ton of videos online that can help you learn more about your camera and camera settings in general. In the moment of truth, you don’t want lack of practice with your camera to hurt you. Get used to using your camera and it will all be second nature to you.

Being ready to film your hunts this fall boils down to having the right equipment, getting that equipment set up ahead of time as much as possible, and getting as familiar as possible with using your equipment. If you accomplish those few things, you should be well on your way to producing great hunting videos this season. So, go out there, film your hunt, and show your story.

Common Turkey Hunting Mistakes That you Must Avoid

Image Courtesy of Game of Inches TV

By James Nelson of huntingresearch.org

 

If you are an experienced hunter, you know that turkey hunting can be one of the more difficult hunts to carry out successfully. This is because turkeys have exceptional eyesight and hearing ability, making them a challenge to hunt. Turkey hunting does offer a lot of different challenges. Make sure you don’t fall prey to common turkey hunting mistakes. Below are some common mistakes that you should avoid during your next turkey hunt.

Lack of Practice in Turkey Calling

If you are going for your first turkey hunt and it is going to be your first time using a turkey call, you should practice turkey calling before going on your hunt. Creating the perfect call will really help lure that gobbler into shooting range.

Having the correct calling technique is often difficult and requires a lot of practice to get the hang of it. By constantly practicing, you will eventually be more comfortable with your calls and you will understand what they do and the different varieties of sounds that can be made.

However, do not practice at your hunting location as this will educate your target on that specific calling. Bear in mind that being able to achieve the right rhythm is more important than hitting the right tone or sound of the call. Therefore, practice well before the hunting season begins.

 

Image Courtesy of Bowhunting.com


Overcalling

This scenario illustrates the saying “too many cooks spoil the soup”. When you are performing a calling, you are basically mimicking as a hen reaching out to track down a male turkey and letting it know your whereabouts. A turkey will respond to your calls by gobbling and waltzing around waiting for the hen to find him.

However, as we are the one mimicking the calling, no hen will be going instead we are trying to attract the turkey over. This requires your target to go against its natural instincts, thus requiring more time to persuade it. You have to understand the difference between communicating with the turkey and over calling it.

Since it will be difficult to persuade an animal to go against its natural behavior, you should avoid calling every 30 seconds. If you realize that you are not receiving any response from your target, try not calling more than every 15 minutes.

If he is answering your calls and heading towards your location, start to call faintly and not as often. This will eventually force your target to look for you making it move closer to your area.

Not staying still

When you are hunting animals such as deer and moose, making a slight movement or fidgeting might not create that huge of a distraction in your target’s eyes. But when it comes to having turkeys as your target, it will most probably be gone in a blink of an eye.

Turkeys are well known for their amazingly tuned sense of vision and hearing that is probably twice as good as yours. Making any tiny movements like scratching your face or adjusting your posture will catch your target’s attention.

Therefore, try your best to minimize your movements whenever you have a turkey close to your proximity. Patiently wait until your target has its head hiding behind a rock or tree that blocks its vision and your spot.  

Not Enough Scouting

Scouting can be very tiring and time-consuming to carry out but it is necessary no matter what critter you are hunting. Proper scouting can result in favorable outcomes as you will understand the pattern of movement and lifestyle of your target.

A hunter who goes into the field without the proper amount is much less likely to be successful compare to the prepared hunter. Therefore, it is important to carry out some scouting to have an upper hand.

Before the season of turkey hunting begins, it is recommended to head out to the field before dawn time to discover the location where turkeys are roosting and where they go during the day for resources. Just by attaining this important and simple information, you are on your way to a successful hunt during the season. Knowing where your target will be is the endmost goal of scouting.

Using Unsuitable Decoys

Using a decoy is highly beneficial when it comes to turkey hunting. However, it takes years of understanding to strategically place your decoys at the right time and position. The most common mistakes made by hunters while using decoys is using the wrong kind, placing the decoys too far away or even having it right in front of them.

There are a wide variety of decoys sold in the market. The issue is knowing which decoy to use at what time. Usually, a big strutting turkey decoy is only successfully used during the beginning of the season but will scare off your targets at the end of the season. A hen decoy is essential to have in your hunting strategy as its efficient throughout the season and it's your best chance at attracting toms.

Besides that, hunters have the tendency to install their decoy out of their shooting range. Your decoy should be placed at least 15 to 20 yards away so that when your target approaches the decoy, you will have a close enough range for an accurate shot.

Another hunting mistake that hunters make is placing the decoy right in front of them. Your target will definitely spot you when approaching the decoy if you are directly behind the decoys. Ideally, you should place your decoys at a comfortable shooting distance and at a 45 degree angle from your non shooting hand.

 


Image Courtesy of Bowhunting.com

 

Conclusion

Turkey hunting may sound difficult and easily done wrong when you are not aware of the underlying concepts. However, you can have a ton of fun turkey hunting when you do it right and everything comes together. All of us make mistakes sometimes no matter our experience level. Learn from your mistakes and keep hunting. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Animals are never completely predictable, but the more experience you get turkey hunting the better you’ll be at it. So get out there and have fun!

Taking a Tom With a Stick and String

By Tracy Breen

 

Hunters who want to make turkey hunting a little more challenging this spring should consider bowhunting them. Bowhunting longbeards raises the level of difficulty significantly. Getting a bow to full draw and making a good shot can be near impossible at times so if you plan on bowhunting turkeys this spring you will need a lot of patience and a little luck. Below you will find a few tips to help you succeed this spring if you decide to chase longbeards with a stick and string.



SHOT PLACEMENT


    1.    Shot placement is everything when it comes to turkey hunting with a bow. You might be thinking that is the way it is with all animals you bowhunt, but turkeys are a little different. If you gut shoot a deer and the arrow enters the body a little high or low, there is still a decent chance you will recover the animal. That is not the case with turkeys. The vitals on a turkey are about the size of a softball. That isn’t very big. If you hit the bird an inch high or low you wont kill it because you will just take out a little flesh and feathers. Often what happens when bowhunters turkey hunt is they make a marginal shot that hits a small portion of the vitals. The bird is mortally hit but won’t die right away. The bird flies away or runs away after the shot and is never seen again. Turkeys are great at running away and hiding. I have shot birds that actually cover themselves with leaves under brush. Finding a wounded bird is extremely difficult. The way to solve this problem is by shooting the bird just above the legs. The reason I like shooting a turkey here is because it takes out the back of their chest cavity and it breaks the muscles going to their legs. When the legs are broken the bird cant run or lift off and fly. Shooting the bird a few inches above the legs often results in the bird dropping in it’s tracks or only going a short distance. Some bowhunters prefer a head on shot, a head shot or shooting them right up the hind end. Taking out their legs and putting the broadhead through their chest cavity at the same time is my favorite shot.

 

Fixed Vs Mechanical for Turkeys

    2.    Some bowhunters like using fixed blade broadheads on every type of animal they hunt. I like using fixed blade broadheads sometimes to, just not on turkeys. Mechanical broadheads are perfect for turkeys. A large cutting diameter head will quickly bring down a turkey. Best of all if your shot isn’t perfect the odds are still pretty good that you will recover the bird if you are using a head with a large cutting diameter. The first turkey I ever killed with a bow I made a marginal hit on and I only killed the bird because one blade on my 2-inch cut mechanical head hit the vitals. If I was shooting a smaller broadhead I would have went home empty handed. Can you kill a turkey with a small fixed blade head? Yes you can but we all can make a mistake when shooting so I prefer using a mechanical head with a large cutting diameter it increases my odds of success.

 

Decoy Tactics

    3.    When bowhunting turkeys I always use a turkey decoy. Some bowhunters don’t like to use decoys because they can spook gobblers as they approach the fake decoy. I have had this happen but more times than not the decoys bring the birds in close. I typically put place my decoy 12 steps in front of me. I make sure the decoy is facing me. Regardless if the decoy is a jake or hen decoy, an incoming tom will always want to face the bird he is trying to interact with. This will most times than not cause the tom to walk around and get in front of the decoy. When he does this he provides you with an up close shot. Best of all as he comes around the front of the decoy his attention is on the bird not you giving you time to get drawn without being noticed.


Turkey hunting with a bow is both exciting and challenging. If you are looking for a way to spend more time in the woods turkey hunting this spring take a bow instead of a gun. The odds of filling your tag on opening day are much smaller than they are if you hunt with a gun. Your odds of spending more time in the woods and having more fun in the process are much higher with a bow.

If you have never bowhunted turkeys before below you will find a couple broadhead options that will help you put a longbeard in the freezer.


GRIM REAPER CARNI-FOUR


One broadhead that is worth mentioning is the Grim Reaper Carni-Four. This mechanical broadhead comes equipped with four blades. Two of the blades offer a 1-1/2 inch cut and the other two blades produce a 1-1/4 inch size hole. Combined that is a 2.75-inch linear cut.  The devastating hole created by this head will quickly bring down a tom. Learn more at www.grimreaperbroadheads.com




Slick Trick RaptorTrick

Another great broadhead is the RaptorTrick from Slick Trick Broadheads. This 2-blade mechanical broadhead comes with a 2”-inch cutting diameter, a 4-edge blone splitting tip which will easily penetrate the feathers and flesh of a big tom. Broadheads that offer a 2-inch cutting diameter are perfect for turkeys. Learn more at www.slicktrick.net.

Deer Reaction Study - Best Shot Placement on a Deer

 

Grant Woods and the Growing Deer TV team recently did a study on how deer react to the sound of a bow shot. The results will help you determine when to take a shot and where exactly to aim. You can watch the full video by clicking here.

How Far Can Deer Drop?

Below is a chart that the Growing deer team created based upon their research and testing.



Head Down or Heads Up?

Grant and his team dug into their archive of shots from over the years, and they noticed something interesting. They found that deer can drop more quickly when they have their head down than when they have their head up. So why is that? Grant theorizes that it is because deer that have their head down can throw their head to help force their bodies down.


Aim Low

Most deer drop at least a little at the sound of the shot. Some deer drop a lot. It is impossible to predict how far a deer will drop. So, your best option is to aim at the lower third of the vital area. That way you’ll be covered if the deer drops quite a bit or if the deer doesn’t drop at all.


Grant’s research reminded us about a bow kill here in Michigan a couple years ago. Check out the video below. Pro Staffer Rob W. shot at this buck and he really dropped, but, if he really wanted to survive, he didn’t drop in the right direction.



Growing Deer’s research gave us a little different perspective on how we will evaluate shot opportunities in the future. You want those deer up close with their heads up and you want to aim at the lower third of the kill zone. If you have’t watched the full Growing Deer video, watch it now by clicking here.

Much of Grant’s research was possible because he had so many shots on film. Filming your hunt is really fun because you can share your experience with others. In addition, being able to review your shot is a huge bonus that comes with filming your hunt. Knowing exactly where you hit a deer can help you determine how long to wait before you start on the blood trail.

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