It's about respecting the animals we pursue!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October Lull...Fact or Myth?

     Man, I love this time of year!!  The St. Louis Cardinals are playing in the World Series, the Indianapolis Colts are playing some good football, and the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball team is getting ready to kick off their season.  My favorite part of this time of year though, is bow hunting whitetail deer.  I live for it.  It's my biggest passion.  I love the cool temperatures, the changing of the leaves, and the pre-rut starting to pick up in the deer woods.  I just harvested my first doe of the year on Tuesday and donated her to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program through our state DNR.  This program helps families in need by giving them venison donated by hunters.
     The main point of this post is to talk a little about the October Lull.  Every serious hunter has heard this term and more than likely experienced it while bow hunting in mid October.  There seems to be a time in mid October that deer, especially mature bucks, seem to just up and disappear.  Deer movement seems to slow way down and sightings are at a minimum.  A lull is defined as a temporary interval of quiet or lack of activity.  Here comes the point that I would like to get across.  In reality there is no October Lull.  Deer are just changing their feeding and travel patterns.  Farmers are in the fields busy harvesting their corn so deer no longer have their safe bedding areas that they had in summer and early fall.  The lush, green soybeans that deer devoured during the summer have lost their leaves, become dormant, and have been harvested.  I have several acres planted in clover, alfalfa, and chicory and the deer hit them really hard during this time, but do let up a little for a couple of weeks.  Even with these lush, green food plots, deer are still sometimes a little scarce in mid October.  There is only one other food that deer prefer over everything else this time of year...acorns!!  Acorns, acorns, acorns...that's where you will find your deer and especially the mature bucks.  Bucks need to put weight on as quickly as possible in order to be able to survive the rigors of the rut in November.  Acorns are high in fat so deer will abandon everything else and feed back in the woods on oak flats, ridges, and groves.  While many hunters think the deer have moved somewhere else, in reality, they are still there, they have just changed their feeding and travel patterns.  Trail cameras should let you know the bucks are still around, you just don't see them as much if you are hunting field edges or over food plots.  This only happens for a few weeks while the acorns are available.  Once the hard mast is consumed, it's back to the cool season food plots.  As late October/early November arrives, you should see a lot more bucks in the open.  Bucks are more visible during the day because they cruise the woods and field edges looking for does.  This is when they become the most vulnerable because they let their guard down.  Hunting the rut is a topic that we'll tackle another day.
     Now that we have established that there is no October Lull, get out there and find those oak trees and hang a stand to hunt there in the future.  Oaks don't produce acorns every year so you'll have to check to see what years they are dropping and then hunt there when you get the perfect wind.  Remember to set your stand up on the predominant downwind side between the bedding area and the acorns.  Hunt here in the middle of the day and in the afternoons.  NEVER hunt a stand when the wind isn't right or more often than not you'll have some tags to eat at the end of the season.  You will rarely get a chance at a mature buck if he smells you, and if he does, you probably won't see him again this year...or maybe ever.  Good luck!               

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone is having a great start to the new year! We finally got our Thunder Chickens back from the taxidermist. Speaking of that, now that deer season is over, Spring Turkey Season is right around the corner. I have some rabbit and coyote hunting to do first though. Dad and I took Cammy out for the first time a few days ago and took 3 big cottontails. We had a blast! It's always great to spend time hunting with dad because we don't get the chance to do that as much anymore. It brings back a lot of memories from when I was a kid. Hopefully we get some more snow soon so we can get after them again. I am also going to dust the calls off and break out the rifles for some "yotes." Coyote hunting is one of my favorite things to do in the winter, plus its a necessity to keep the predator population in check. They are the only natural predators here in Indiana and they are way over-populated. So after you are done reading this, get out there and do some varmint hunting!! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hearing Loss and Firearms (re-posting for a fellow blogger and outdoorsman)

I am posting this article for a fellow blogger and outdoorsman named John O'Connor who saw my blog, contacted me and asked me to post this.  He is passionate about preventing hearing loss, especially while shooting firearms.  This has impacted me personally as my hearing has been slightly impaired from shooting firearms without hearing protection.  It has also impacted my dad and he now has hearing aides.  There is a link at the end of this article to visit John's blog, please do so.  Thanks!  Here is the article...

Hunters Beware of Hearing Loss

Hunting is a popular pastime for many people. However, guns are dangerous in more ways than one and hunters are not always careful enough when it comes to certain aspects of gun safety. Hearing loss is incredibly common among sport hunters and is caused by not wearing proper hearing protection when firing a gun.

My father started hunting before I was born.  I can remember as a child helping him load up all of his gear and pack it into the car.  I was always so amazed with everything he had; guns, ammo, camo, compasses, callers, but I never remember there being any hearing protection.  Often times my father did not wear any hearing protection and now in his 70’s he is paying for it.  Affected severely by hearing loss, my father now wears hearing aids to help him hear well.  He occasionally still likes to get out to the range but always remembers to have his hearing protection not only with him but on at all times. 

Firearms-Related Hearing Damage

Audiologists say that exposure to any noise above 140 decibels (dB) almost inevitably causes hearing damage. Noises below this threshold can also cause damage if they are repeated often enough. Most guns are well above the threshold with the average shotgun blast rating at 160 dB or more.

Hunters themselves are not the only ones who can damage their hearing during hunting season. People in the vicinity where guns are being fired can also suffer from hearing loss. Eventually these people may suffer sufficient hearing loss due to not being properly protected.

Preventative Measures

Most firearms-related hearing loss is preventable. There are a number of types of Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) on the market including some intended specifically for hunters. These specialized HPDs filter out loud noises like gunshots to protect your hearing while allowing softer sounds such as game moving through the trees to go after.

The simplest type of HPD is the earplug. These are cheap and readily available. Most of them will do a good job at preventing hearing loss but hunters may want to choose ones specially made for hunting if they want to be able to hear softer sounds while still protecting their ears. Earmuffs are also a popular choice.

Nonlinear HPDs are the cheaper, non-electronic version and may use a filter or a valve to reduce the intensity of loud sounds while allowing softer ones through. Those with filters are preferable because valves may not close quickly enough. Electronic HPDs are specialized pieces of equipment that increase the intensity of soft sounds and then shut off when a loud sound like a gunshot is detected.

Wear Your HPDs

Only about half of hunters wear hearing protection when target shooting. This number goes down when it comes to actual hunts. Yet, even a single loud shot can cause permanent and severe hearing damage for not only the hunter but also the people around him or her. Wearing HPDs anytime you are near a gun that might be fired is the smart thing to do in order to protect your hearing.

Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.  Check out my new blog at!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Blood Trails!!

Well, it's finally here once again, that magical time of year that us archers live for...Bow Season!!  We have waited almost 9 months to do what we love and now we can climb back in a tree, enjoy the fall colors and smells, and dream of seeing that mature buck pass by within bow range.  Bucks are starting to move more and have moved back to their core areas and can still be patterned by their food sources.  This time of year has us set up just outside of bedding areas in order to intercept a buck going from feed to bed of a morning and set up on staging trails just off of food plots in order to intercept a buck going from bed to feed in the evening.  Bucks are starting to make more rubs and scrapes during this time a year to mark out their territories and to let other bucks know they are there.  Sparring is starting to pick up as bucks start to prove which ones are the dominant ones in the area.  Usually this time of year finds temperatures on the warm side with mild nights so it can be uncomfortable on stand while braving the heat.  This weekend however, is going to be beautiful.  It will be cool during the day and chilly at night.  Morning hunts will be chilly with a couple of frosty mornings.  This is just what a bow hunter hopes for during the early part of the season.  A front is moving through and just after it passes will be the best deer movement of this short season thus far.  This is a perfect opportunity to catch a mature buck on his feet after he has been bedded down waiting for the front to pass.  Good luck to everyone and may your arrows fly swift and true.  Happy Blood Trails!!      

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Supporting a fellow hunter!!

I read an article today that really got under my skin. It was about a fellow hunter named Melissa Bachman. She is a professional hunter, outdoorswoman, tv show producer and co-host. She was on a National Geographic show called Ultimate Survivor Alaska that is set to air sometime next year. Anti-hunters started a petition and she was kicked off the show by National Geographic because of their uneducated, misinformed ignorance. Hunting isn't for everyone, I admit that, but to be against it for absurd reasons when you have no idea what you are talking about is just ludicrous. First of all, I have been a veterinary technician for 8 years and I am a pet owner. There isn't a single person that loves animals more than I do. I am also an avid hunter. Bow Hunting is my passion, but it's also a way of life for me. Every single person in this world has ancestors that hunted, including those of you reading this. As an educated professional, I understand that the only way to keep the wild animal populations in check in a cost effective manner is to hunt. Look at all the state parks that do not allow hunting that have had problems with in-breeding, disease, and starvation. National Geographic strives to show the predator/prey relationship between wild animals, but yet they neglect to show the most important animal of all...humans, and their role as predators. Also, think about the hundreds of thousands of hungry mouths that are fed because of hunters from the meat that God put on this great earth for us to hunt in order to eat and survive. Shame on you, National Geographic for not allowing Melissa Bachman to be on your show. You rank up there right beside PETA as a hypocrite.  I brought this up in my last post, but I will do so again to make a point...last year alone, precious PETA euthanized 95 percent of the animals in their "no kill" shelters across the country. But that is okay isn't it?! I would really like the mis-informed anti-hunters to please explain that to me!! How can you support an organization that lies to your face?!  At least as hunters, we give the animals we love a fair chance and 99% of the time, they win! I will never watch another show on National Geographic and I will fight to get as many people as I can to do the same, so please join me in banning National Geographic!  Please support Melissa Bachman by signing this petition to have her put back on the show...   If I were her, I wouldn't want to be on there anyway, but at least our voice will be heard.  Now, please excuse me while I go shoot my bow in preparation for the upcoming hunting season!!!  Thanks for reading!  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Drought and heat not only hurting farmers, but wildlife as well.

     This post finds me a happily married man and enjoying married life!  The wedding on June 9th was amazing and Michelle and I are so thankful for all of our family and friends that shared the special day with us.  After that we went on our honeymoon to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  It was the most beautiful place I have ever seen...other than a treestand during the rut of course! lol  Michelle just finished her Masters Degree, which is amazing, I'm so proud of her.
     The rest of the summer has been bad to say the least.  This is the worst summer drought and heat that I have ever seen.  All of the farmers in the area are hurting.  The crops look terrible and are burning up.  Not only has this summer been bad for farmers, it's also very hard on wildlife.  Ponds, rivers, and creeks are drying up and it's harder for wildlife to find water.  They get quite a bit of their water from vegetation, so that has been a problem as well.  There are three components to a whitetail buck growing big antlers...genetics, nutrition, and age.  Normally, a mature buck has no trouble getting the proper nutrition to reach its potential.  This year however, most mature bucks will struggle to reach their potential because of the lack of nutrition.  Food plots are struggling for most hunters and the crops are even worse.  Because of this, mature buck hunters might want to pass on some of their hit-listers and hope they make it another year.  My food plots are actually doing pretty well...the alfalfa is pretty thick, the clover is starting to fill in, and the chicory is doing amazing.  I've never seen chicory so big.  We just mowed and baled it for the first time this year and we got several round bales off of it.  The weeds were starting to take over a little bit, but the mowing really helped.  The deer have really been hitting it hard, you can see where they have been cutting the plants off.  The prairie grass hasn't germinated yet, but that's normal because it usually takes 3 months.  I am worried how it will fare with the drought though.
     The heat has had a huge impact on wildlife viewing because the deer haven't been coming out until after dark.  It's been a little bit of a struggle to see big bucks in the evening.  Fields that I normally see "shooters" in are only producing small bucks and does.  The big boys just aren't moving that much because of the lack of water and high temps.  I have however, been getting some decent pictures of mature bucks on trail cams.  I didn't at first, but I had some real nice pics when I checked the cams last week.  I can only hope that we keep getting some rain here and there to keep the food plots going through fall.  I am getting ready to plant my turnips this week and I hope that they grow well so the deer have a nice crop to eat during the winter.  I still have a couple of stands to put up and cut shooting lanes for.  Other than that, we are ready to roll for the fall.  I said "we" because I just bought Michelle a Hoyt Kobalt, so she will be bow hunting for the first time in her life.  I can't wait to get it down to Dead End Archery and get it set up for her so she can start shooting!  It's going to be great to spend more time together in the great outdoors.
     I really feel sorry for the people that live in cities or don't hunt because they have no idea what they are missing.  I take it for granted sometimes, because I've done this my whole life, but I can't imagine not being a hunter or outdoorsman...and I can't imagine living in the city.  You couldn't pay me enough to live there.  It's one of the single greatest things you can do to help the environment and keep wildlife populations in check, not to mention it's just good clean fun.  God put wild animals on earth for us to hunt...all of our ancestors did it at some point.  Organizations like PETA try to take our God-given right to hunt away from us, yet they don't do anything to try to help keep wildlife populations under control.  They don't even take care of domestic animals.  Last year alone, they euthanized 98% of their dogs and cats in "no kill" shelters because they couldn't find homes for them.  Uneducated groups like this are part of the problem with the world we live in.  That's all I will say on this topic...for now.  I think I will dedicate a post to this topic at another time...maybe during season.  That's the beauty of having my own blog...I can say whatever the hell I want!! lol  I hope everyone's food plots are doing decent and that you have all of your stands put up.  Keep shooting your bows and pray for rain!!        

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On to summer, a wedding, and bachelor groups

The turkey season has ended and the food plots are planted.  The seed has germinated and the first sprouts of clover, alfalfa, and oats have popped through the ground and are growing rapidly.  I killed my first ever turkey this year and it just happened to be on our new property.  It was a double-bearded tom with a 12 inch beard and spurs over an inch long.  He wasn't a huge bodied bird, but still weighed right at 20lbs.  I hunted hard and it finally paid off when three toms came to my calls and decoys on the morning of May 1st.  Soon after turkey season ended we had the land tilled and cultivated, then we seeded it with several acres of clover, alfalfa, and chicory, and the rest in prairie grass for bedding.  I'm also going to plant some turnips later in the summer.  We were lucky enough to get everything in just as the rains came, which really aided in the germination.  I was just out there a few minutes ago to check it and everything has really started to grow.  We definitely need more rain, which we should get later this week.  Now it's time to sit back, pray for rain, and enjoy spending the rest of the summer checking the cameras and watching the antler growth of the bachelor groups in their summer feeding patterns.  The highlight of the summer however, will be our wedding, which is less than two weeks away.  I can't believe it's here already.  Everything has gone by so fast.  I am really excited to marry my best friend and soul mate.  I'm lucky enough to have someone who loves spending time in the outdoors almost as much as I do.  The honeymoon is in the Dominican Republic, which we are both really looking forward to.  As hectic as everything has been, it's going to be so nice to just sit back, relax, and spend some time together away from our busy lives.  I hope everyone has a great summer.  Good luck with the food plots and hopefully you get some good pictures of mature bucks on camera!