Hello, and welcome to my Blog. I have started it to try to offer ideas and tips regarding archery and hunting related topics. I also hope to share other types of outdoor adventures from time to time. I may even get into sharing other people’s stories when I feel compelled to do so. The point of it all is to help people enjoy the great outdoors! I hope you will follow my Blogs and videos both now and in the future. It is always nice when you put in some hard work for others and they appreciate the effort. God bless you, and thanks for checking out my Blog!
You now have to buy or get the free PDF download of the Pennsylvania Hunting Regulation, Seasons, and Bag Limits book. Since they haven’t made it overly easy for people to find the 2017-2018 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, I wanted to provide if for my fans and followers. All you have to do is click HERE for the free PDF. Once you open that PDF you can save it to your computer or device. I personally saved it to my smartphone so that I can reference it at any time, even while sitting in the tree stand. Be safe out there, and God bless you all!
Turkey hunting public land in the spring is not always an easy task, especially if you hunt anywhere near where I do in Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland. The reason it can seem so difficult is because there are SO MANY PEOPLE doing it! The following ideas are my suggestions to help you be successful, and this comes after many years of being messed up by other hunters!
The first piece of advice is for you to have the right expectations. Sadly, this means, don’t expect others to respect your space. If you are working a bird, and he is fired up and on his way toward you, there are thousands of hunters out there who have no problem slipping between you and the bird to cut him off. Or, they will simply hear a bird gobbling and will start walking toward him and spook him off before the bird gives you a chance. I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me!!!
The next piece of advice I have is to put a lot of energy into “putting the birds to bed.” Go to the areas you intend to hunt and sit quietly listening from a distance. Very often, even heavily pressured birds, will gobble a couple times as they get on the roost. Carefully plan out your approach very carefully to get close to that location for in the morning. I personally prefer to go in without a flashlight in the morning and give myself a very long time to make it to that area. I also try to position myself on the uphill side of where the birds were, because they typically pitch down to the uphill side of their roost. The only time I have not seen this is when they get spooked off the roost and simply fly FAR away in the opposite direction.
If you arrive at a location during hunting hours, and you see another vehicle and hear a bird going, chances are there is someone working that bird. I try to respect their space and position myself in the best location in case they mess up. This happened to me a few years ago. I had spotted some gobblers during daylight a few days earlier but didn’t have the ability to get back and hear them roost the night before. When I got there, I set up where I had last seen them, but they had clearly moved to the next ridge over. By the time daylight hit and they started gobbling, there were two hunters between me and the birds. I then flanked way out around the side of the both of them and set up on the side of the ridge about 200 yards from the birds. I could hear that they had hung up on the ridge and the hunters in the valley were not getting them to come in. I knew I had a 50, 50 shot of them coming my way if I set up at the same elevation on the side of the ridge. Based on my map reading skills, I chose the side of the birds that also had a slight saddle, which is close to where I set up.
Within an hour, I heard the birds getting closer as they continued to respond to the hunters down in the valley. Before I even realized they were in my lap, they saw me trying to turn on my video camera. It was a challenging situation because the whole area was thick with laurel so I couldn’t see them as they got close. They ended up heading back in the opposite direction, and one got shot by a hunter about a quarter mile away from me on the other side of the two hunters who originally had the birds going. The point is, you don’t have to go between hunters, and you don’t even have to call in that situation. Just use the topography to your advantage and ask yourself, “If these birds decide to leave the area, what would be their preferred travel corridor and why? Then go set up in that area and wait. You just never know what can happen!
The last tip I have for hunting pressured birds on public land is to hunt them like deer. Very often the birds will have somewhat of a pattern or preferred feeding areas. Sometimes the birds become extremely call shy on public land right away after being pressured by so many people. If you just go to the areas they like to hang out, and you sit and wait, they just might show up and give you a shot. Admittedly, that isn’t nearly as fun as having one gobbling and coming in to your call, but if you are stuck hunting public land like I am, sometimes your best odds are to abandon the excitement and hunt them like deer!
Thanks for reading my article, and God bless you.
It may seem like an easy thing for some people to do, but for others, asking permission to hunt someone else’s property can seem like a daunting task! So how do you get started?
I mentioned in my last Blog that it is a good idea to start by asking around among your friends, family, and church members. I simply inquire if any of them know someone that has land and wouldn’t mind letting me hunt there. It is easy enough for you to ask someone you know and feel comfortable with, and then they in turn end up doing a lot of the requesting for you. However, what about a piece of ground near you that you have had your eye on but don’t know the owner, and you don’t know anyone else who knows that person? What is the best way to approach that person?
Some people start by sending them a letter, but I personally like to start off with a face to face encounter. The first thing I recommend is dressing nicely. This especially holds true for you ambitious teenagers out there who are filled with energy and want to get better spots to go hunting! If you present yourself cleanly and with respect, you have a better chance of gaining access to that piece of property. The landowner will see that you make an effort to take care of yourself, so you may be the type of person that will also take care of his or her land. You also have enough sense to look respectable. As part of this, and this goes for the adults especially, don’t show up with a load of chewing tobacco in your mouth. One of the first things many tobacco abusers do when they are nervous is reach for a cigarette or a pinch of chew, but you simply can’t do that AT ALL! The last thing you want is for that land owner to smell cigarette smoke on you or see the residual of that brown sludge on your lip from the chew you just threw out of your mouth just before approaching their door.
The next thing to do is go during the daylight hours. Don’t knock on the door in the dark. People are just less likely to want to address strangers in the dark. Also, don’t go during normal meal time hours for people. One of the things you need to do when getting permission is build a little rapport with the people. You basically want to have as much time available as THEY are willing to give you to chat.
Some people even join an insured group, or look for liability insurance specific to hunting on someone else’s land. You have to keep in mind that to let someone on their property puts an element of liability on THEM, so to remove that fear or concern by having your own liability insurance will greatly enhance your chances of gaining access. Additionally, if they seem to bulk at the idea of allowing you to hunt, you can propose the idea of a lease, where you pay a fee to gain access. You’ll need a good contract at that point, which is a separate topic. Sometimes you can simply contact an outfitter and ask what type of contract they use for a lease, and some have actually even given me a copy of theirs.
Also keep in mind that it sometimes is a numbers game. You may need to knock on 20 doors to get one or two permissions. In that respect, you need to persevere and not give up.
Lastly, think of practical stuff, such as where to park. Ask the land owner where is the best place for you to park when you come to hunt. Try to cover all of your basis in that way. Take as much or all burden off of the landowner, and try to be respectful and stay out of his or her way! I also ask if they would like any of the venison if I am fortunate enough to harvest one. Putting some steaks in their freezer is always a good idea for getting invited back. Even if they don’t want any, make sure you do something special for them by the end of the season. I often send out a hand written thank you card and maybe even a gift card to a local gas station or something like that.
Thanks for reading this Blog, and God bless you!
In all my years of experience, I have observed that your greatest chance of success of harvesting a nice buck, or even a deer in general, is the very first time you sit in a stand location. Why is that? It is because you haven’t been in there messing your own spot all up by leaving scent everywhere each time you walk in or walk out. You also haven’t been in there alerting all the deer that have passed down wind of you and pegged your location without you even knowing it and afterward avoided your area. Add to this the new people to hunting who go in there with a bag full of calls and scents and the problem gets even worse for alerting deer by calling at deer in the wrong conditions and wrong wind directions.
While these are all obvious points, there are also hunters who own their own land and strictly want to hunt on their own property. The problem with this is that some properties simply can’t be hunting in certain wind directions, yet some people go out there anyway and “hope they get lucky.” Once again, this can be devastating to a spot because you are leaving scent and letting deer wind you and identify your exact hunting location. This can even hold true in some suburban areas where you are literally hunting off your back deck or standing next to your neighbor’s garage. While those deer are certainly used to a lot of human activity, and can quickly return to their normal feeding patterns within a few days of being spooked, they still can begin to adjust their time of day that they travel into that area. The deer sightings on that property may turn nocturnal overnight even though they continue to come to feed at that location.
I have known people that own their own property that get frustrated all season because they insist on hunting their own land yet are not seeing any deer. The deer are there, but they are all nocturnal because of the factors I alluded to above. So what do I recommend you do about this?
The first thing I recommend is DON’T PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET. What I mean is, don’t just focus on one or two hunting locations for your hunting season. In the summer, before the season even starts, begin talking to friends, neighbors, and people at your church. Let them know you are looking for some backup spots to hunt. Ask them if they know of anyone who has land or a lot of deer in the area or if they allow people to hunt there. You’d be surprised at what kind of properties could begin to pop up to you just by this word of mouth floating around. Just like the old saying goes, “It’s not always what you know. It is who you know.” I’ve known people to get permission to hunt properties in which the land owner wouldn’t let anyone hunt that land for years. However, the people I knew who got the permission happened to talk to just the right person who was very close to that individual. As such, the owner couldn’t turn down that close of a friend… (I’ll write a separate Blog on asking permission to hunt someone’s property.)
Aside from that there is hunting public land. It really doesn’t matter what state you live in, there are thousands of acres of public hunting land and state forests in your state if you live in the United States. Get out there and scout it. Pick out your favorite spots and keep them as backup options for the days when the wind just doesn’t work for your other spots. In that way, you are more able to save your favorite spots for the perfect weather conditions.
I personally like to have as many hunting spots as I have days I plan to hunt that year. That way I am constantly bumping around to fresh stands where the deer haven’t been all spooked up or alerted to my presence.
Lastly, if you are reading this during hunting season, and you already are behind the game by not having enough backup spots lined up, then start still hunting on rainy days. Walk slowly through new areas and pick out hot spots. By doing this on rainy days you will give your scent a chance to be washed out right away. That way, if you want to hunt that spot in a few days, you have a better chance of it working out. As I said, your best chances of success are often the first time you are in an area to hunt it. Thanks for reading my article. Good luck out there and God bless you.
Especially with all of the hunting shows that are on TV and the Internet nowadays, there has become quite a craze with deer calling. It’s understandable. You see someone blow through a grunt call or hit some rattle antlers together on TV and then a few seconds later he or she shoots a giant buck.
Sadly, many rookie hunters go out and buy the same exact brand and model of calls thinking it will automatically bring them the same success. They then go to the woods rattling and grunting expecting to see a big buck show up just as it happened on their favorite hunting show. When the success doesn’t happen, the person begins to wonder why he or she isn’t seeing any deer or having any success. Or even worse, the person does get lucky, and so doesn’t learn all of the intricate reasons that make it clear why he or she got pretty lucky. In other words, he or she didn’t take time to find answers to the questions the unsuccessful hunter is now asking: why didn’t it work? What did I do wrong? The point is, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have great success on every hunt. Instead, view every hunt as an opportunity to learn valuable lessons, lessons that will make you that much better the next time you go out hunting.
So, as far as calling goes, the firs problem for most newbies (and even some experienced hunters) is that they don’t pay close enough attention to the wind, and I’m not just referring to what the weatherman predicts. In fact, if you live around mountainous or hilly terrain like I do, you can almost throw the predicted wind direction right out the window. The reason is that the wind constantly swirls off of and around hills, making it unpredictable and unreliable. Adding to the problem is the thermals that are created by the temperature gradients at the bottom as apposed to the tops of hills, and the impact that the sun and nightfall have on them. (Just writing the last two sentences makes me realize I should write an article on that topic too!)
Anyway, when you get to your stand, just get set up and sit still. DON’T CALL! Spend time paying attention to the wind over time. Is it constantly changing? Is it blowing steady in one direction? Will this wind direction be likely to stay in this direction over the remainder of this hunt?
As for me, if the wind swirls even one time in the direction I think the deer might be, I DON’T call at all during that hunt at all unless I see the deer first and it is upwind of me. I also don’t call unless it is a deer I definitely want to shoot. Some people want to call at every deer they see just to see if they can bring it in. This is a bad idea, DON’T DO THAT! The reason is that the deer will come and smell all around your tree and will very likely pick up your scent. This means they are already analyzing you and patterning you. The more they sense your presence and disturbance in that area, the more likely they are to avoid it during daylight.
If you are planning to do any blind calling, meaning, calling even if you don’t see deer anywhere, DON’T DO IT unless the wind is perfect and the deer can’t wind you if they get on the downwind side of you. A long-term reason why this is so crucial is that if you call in your favorite hunting spot, and the deer wind you (which can easily happen without you knowing it) then the deer will most likely avoid your stand location altogether from that day forward. That is why some guys will have all of their best bucks disappear as soon as the season starts, or they will only see them on trail cameras in the middle of the night. It is because the deer know that if they want to continue to live in that area, they have to wait until you (the hunter) are gone for the day. Related to this, I often get emails from new hunters who saw a nice buck or even just a doe at their hunting spot. They tried calling to it and didn’t get it to come in. They want to know if the deer will come back. While there is a chance the deer will come through that area again, I typically don’t hold out much hope for such a thing, especially if the deer looked in your direction.
Another don’t to deer calling is, DON’T get in the habit of calling every time you get bored. If you do, you will constantly ruin your spots. Instead, if you are bored, think about where the deer are and what they are doing since they clearly aren’t at your spot. Constantly push yourself to come up with even better plans for getting to your spot or of finding new and better spots. If I get bored, I often pull out my Smartphone or handheld GPS and begin studying topographic maps and aerial photos. In fact, it was partly through years of doing this that I eventually developed the skill set of map reading for finding good hunting spots.
In conclusion, a few take-home points are – don’t call unless the conditions are absolutely perfect (sure you can get lucky sometimes, but you will ruin your good hunting spots more often than you will harvest a deer). Secondly, if you are not seeing any deer, strive to push yourself and your skills by pondering what the deer are doing and why they are not in your area. The result is that you will be growing and improving as a hunter and will also be less likely to ruin your current spots, meaning, you will still have a good chance of harvesting something there in the future if you don’t tip the deer off to your presence now due to ill-advised calling. Thanks for reading this article, and God bless you.
For years now I have been helping hunters improve their skills when it comes to hunting. A large part of that involves helping them have the right strategy going into deer hunting season. A crucial element in that is when to start scouting and when to stop. What I mean by “when to stop” scouting is; you need to know when to stop entering the woods where you plan to hunt in order to avoid alerting the deer to your presence before you even start hunting there.
I hunt primarily on the eastern side of the United States, which is quite a bit different than hunting farmland in the Midwest. The challenge for a lot of new hunters is that they watch all of these TV shows that are filmed on these farms in the Midwest. Honestly, they seem to be able to get away with a lot more in the Midwest than we can on the east coast. In the states I hunt, PA, NY, MD, VA, WV, there are a lot of mountains and hills, which means constantly swirling wind directions and also a LOT of hunting pressure. You simply can’t afford to be walking in and out of the woods too often right before the season. If you set up a trail camera and check it every week like some people do out west, you will never see the bucks you are getting pictures of because they will have you patterned before the season even starts. This means that when you get close to the season, you need to stay far away from your hunting spots!
In a normal situation, scouting for me ends by the beginning of August and it begins while I am actually hunting in the previous archery season. When I walk into the woods, I am looking for new deer sign as well as what the preferred food sources are at that exact moment in time. I also like to exit the woods using different directions upon leaving a morning hunt in order to explore new areas. If I find a new hot-spot on the way out, I typically leave it alone for a week before going back, and I make sure that I wait for the right wind. I shot a really nice buck on public land in NY hunting this way. If you would like to see the video of me harvesting this deer, you can do so by watching it here.
That hunting area was a place several hours away from my house, so I was seldom there. I visited it once in the spring and picked my hunting spot. When I didn’t prevail on my first hunt in the fall, I walked a different way back to the car and found a bunch of fresh buck rubs and ended up scoring on that buck the following week.
A large key to my success was the minimal amount of times I was in that area throughout the year leading up to the hunting season. Another prime example of that is the buck I shot in Pennsylvania the following season. It gross scored over 143 inch. The way I scouted that spot was by studying the topo maps and aerial photos first, a skill I have spent many hours developing over the past 10 years. (I also have an instructional video I sell on my website that has transformed the way many people scout and hunt, and you can check it out too if you want by clicking HERE.) Knowing how the deer can sometimes use the topography and various natural funnels, I picked a spot on that property and sat in it one day the previous year during gun season (although I was hunting with my bow). Many deer came by me, but no legal bucks were in the group on that particular hunt. Since I knew the spot was an excellent area to funnel the deer to a specific area, I never returned to it until the afternoon I planned to sit it almost a year later. Sure enough, this big 11 point came out to the field following a group of doe just a few minutes before the end of legal shooting light. To see the full hunt, watch this video here.
With all of that in mind, I like to do quick, precise scouting trips while coming out from a hunt during the hunting season, and then I stay out of those areas for a long time before I actually hunt them. Outside of hunting season, my favorite time to scout is just after the season ends. Living in the north east, we often have snow in the winter, so I like to go out and walk around new spots to see where the deer movement patterns are immediately after the first bit of snow hits the ground. I continue to periodically visit places all the way up through August, but especially during spring turkey season. I actually spend a lot of time scouting during turkey season because the woods are already spooked up anyway. I will constantly be branching out and finding new spots. I will ultimately try to have so many spots in an area that I could literally sit one stand an entire season and not need to revisit it because I have so many other options to pick from. A lot of hunters burn out a stand, but that majorly reduces their chances of success.
Anyway, when I do my scouting in the spring, I look for rubs and scrapes that are left over from the previous year. This gives me an idea of how the deer were utilizing the area in the late season, but you need to be mindful that their patterns in the late season may not be the same as they are in the early season. The reason is that hunting pressure and food sources can dramatically change the way the deer behave throughout the season. Therefore, I am mindful that the information I gain from spring scouting may at times be more applicable to hunting in the following late season, and I stay out of the area as much as possible until I’m ready to hunt it. When it comes to hunting the early season, I will simply identify where the thick bedding areas are and where the primary food sources are. This typically means finding white oak trees (white oaks have rounded-edged-leaves whereas red oak have pointed edges. Red oak are typically more bitter tasting, so the deer leave them till the snow thaws in the spring). Knowing where the white oak are from my previous visit, I will then take ONE quick trip to visit that area during the summer to see if those trees are producing acorns that year. I do this by using my binoculars and carefully looking into the tops of the trees. I will then stay out of there until the season! However, if there are no acorns, I don’t hunt that stand location that year because there is no reason for the deer to be at that precise location on a daily basis. YOU NEED FOOD for the deer to have a good reason to be there. No food = no deer in many situations.
The more familiar I get with an area the more I know how to get the information I need with MINIMAL IMPACT on the land. What I mean is, I will wait until the last week of June the following year and hang a few trail cameras in the areas I have honed in on from the previous year while scouting during the season and during spring turkey. After hanging a trail camera at the end of June, I collect them a month later, which is also when I check to see if the oaks are producing acorns that year. I then “stop scouting” that spot until I am walking in and out of the woods on the one or two days I hunt that spot during the hunting season. By scouting this way, you are scouting smart and not giving the deer a lot of opportunities to pattern you. That is the mistake many rookie hunters make. They wait until the last minute, until just before the hunting season, and then they will go into the woods looking for rubs and scrapes. The smart bucks pick up on these rookies right away and immediately start avoiding the areas where the novice hunter has been.
Therefore, try to do your scouting in the late winter and early spring and STAY OUT of your hunting spots as much as possible in the months leading up to the season. Experience proves that your best chances of shooting a good buck is the very first time you sit that stand, and it is because you haven’t been in there a lot to tip the deer off to your presence. I believe that following the ideas I have suggested in this article, if you don’t use them already, will help you be more successful as time goes on. Good luck out there and God bless you!
If you would like a ton of tips for archery and bowhunting white-tailed deer, visit my youtube channel by clicking HERE!
I often get emails from people telling me how my videos helped them harvest their first deer, or simply helped them harvest deer in general. This page is for them, or any of my fans who want to share with everyone how they felt my videos benefited them in becoming more successful as a hunter. Please just keep your story brief. I reserve the right to shorten any story that I feel is too long. Thank you for sharing and God bless you! [UPDATE – You can now share pictures and stories on my Facebook page as well. Approval required before posts go live.]
This page if for my fans who have successfully stalked up on and harvested a deer or other big game animal. You can tell use where your hunt was, a few details, and what your score was. For instance – My hunt was in the state of Pennsylvania. I stalked up on and harvested a 10 point buck at 28 yards. He was a 3.5 year old, on public land. I got the shot on my POV camera and my total score was 185.
Click on Stalking_Challenge_Scoring_System to access the savable PDF document of the scoring system.
This page is for my fans who want to share their score from a successful harvest on a blind map reading challenge. Feel free to add your name and score, but keep your sharing brief. For instance, state – I harvested a 2.5 year old buck on hunt #3 of a blind map reading challenge in the state of Virginia. It was a heart and lung hit under 20 yards that I captured with my stand alone and POV cameras. My total score was 160 points!
Click Map_Reading_Challenge_Guidelines_and_Scoring to be able to print the score sheet or save it to your computer.
This page is set up so that my fans can share the scores they get when they complete a map reading challenge with a successful harvest. Feel free to add your name and score, but keep your sharing brief. For instance, state – I harvested a doe on hunt #2 of my map reading challenge in the state of North Carolina. It was a double lung hit at 20 yards that I captured with my POV camera. My total score was 100 points!
Click Map_Reading_Challenge_Guidelines_and_Scoring to be able to print the score sheet or save it to your computer.