The Painful Truth About Crossbows

It’s time we have a serious discussion about crossbows. This is a sensitive subject for both sides of this argument, if we’ll even give it that much credit. Some bowhunters feel they have to share archery season with people wielding a device they don’t consider to be archery – as if they have to forcibly interact with crossbow hunters. Because of people’s views towards them, crossbow hunters may feel shunned or looked down upon. But we’re going to defend our crossbow buddies and end this debate and debunk a few myths from both sides.

First, let’s start by saying that we, as bowhunters, are pretty much considered elitists. And we kind of are, aren’t we? We make a conscious decision to hunt in a way that is proven to be less effective than other methods but justify it because we consider it to be more rewarding. So, we can’t really shake that title. But we make things worse for ourselves when we act like snobs towards the way other people hunt. That’s the kicker. That’s where we create divisiveness.

Secondly, crossbow hunters need to start standing up for themselves. You don’t have to apologize or feel ashamed of what you choose to legally hunt with. You don’t need to explain that you have a bad shoulder, or even that you just want to hunt in October… But, on the flip side, with the massive rise in crossbow sales across the country, not everyone has a torn rotator cuff or can’t draw 50lbs. As of 2017 physically restricted hunters have become the minority, with an overwhelming number of converts coming from rifle hunters simply looking for more hunting opportunities. Just because you, your dad, or your uncle has a physical restriction does not mean that they represent the majority of people hunting with a crossbow. It’s time to stop using this as the reason why you want to buy a crossbow and begin defending your decision that you just want one –  and that’s ok. Crossbows have been legal in Louisiana for 10 years – since June of 2008 – so it’s time we start accepting them as a legal and effective form of hunting and remove the stigma that they’re just for physically challenged hunters.

This sentiment is not new, either. There are a lot of old timers out there that remember when compounds were introduced in the late 70s and became extremely popular in the 80s. But the same negativity bowhunters currently have towards crossbows is exactly the same as when traditional hunters had to start “dealing with” compound hunters and their bows with let-off, over-draws, sights and release aids. Want proof of this? Go to any traditional bowhunter forum or Facebook group right now and just say the word “compound” and see how that goes for you. Their disdain towards anything other than traditional archery is alive and well and still very ugly. We need to use this as an example of how not to be.

So how do we solve this on-going cats vs dogs disagreement? First, let’s stop acting like the sky is falling. The most common reason people buy a crossbow today is because people want to be able to take advantage of the longer season. That in no way means they will be in your tree on public land every time you go or are going to hunt every single day of bow season. People look at a crossbow and they see options. The option to hunt ethically even with their time constraints. The option for a way to get their wife involved or for a guest to hunt one of their stands that doesn’t bow hunt. In addition, it allows children to hunt ethically and be given the chance to take an animal before gun season and long before they have the physical ability to hunt with a bow. And lastly, many people choosing a crossbow may have tried and failed at bowhunting and are looking for something that can boost their confidence and make them a more ethical and effective hunter. How can we get mad at that?

To put it simply, a crossbow hunter in no way, shape or form threatens the way you like to hunt. There are still major fundamental differences between the two groups to where you can both be proud and supportive of each other’s choices. We need to look at crossbow hunters as potential recruits into the sport we love so much and it is illogical to believe we can admonish someone into wanting to bow hunt. You cannot push a string – you can only pull it.

For those that do not have a physical restriction, it is very possible that their crossbow could be a gateway to compounds or even traditional archery one day and we should encourage people to follow that path. The thing that all of these weapons have in common is close proximity to our prey. No matter what weapon you’re wielding, your heart is going to start pounding when that buck comes in to 15yds. That is the middle of the Venn diagram for all hunters. And as people new to the sport will learn, easy isn’t fun forever. Bowhunters are driven by the challenge – by the chance that we’ll get busted by our target buck – by trying to replicate the feeling of our first kill – by wanting to constantly set the bar higher for ourselves. It’s a natural progression for people to want to continue forward momentum. So those choosing to get into archery through crossbows as their first weapon may very well buy a compound next.

Lastly, we have to consider the future and accept the fact that hunting is in major decline across the US. The baby boomers that historically made up the majority of hunters are fading and we need the next generation of hunters to take the reins and do their part for conservation. It seems like every week hunters are being attacked or treated like irresponsible murderers by anti-hunter groups. Let’s support each other rather than cut each other down and learn to accept our crossbow brothers and sisters and their desire to get out and hunt. As hunter numbers continue spiraling downward, we have to become more open about the way people join us in the outdoors. Pushing people away because they don’t do things exactly the way we do is like is only going to hurt us in the long run. So, the next time you see someone in an archery shop eyeing that crossbow, go introduce yourself and offer some advice. The future of hunting just may depend on that kind of camaraderie.

Louisiana Turkeys 101

“One of the chief attractions of the life of the wilderness is its rugged and stalwart democracy; there every man stands for what he actually is, and can show himself to be.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

I think, for most hunters, the initial draw to turkey hunting is that it’s so much more challenging than hunting other game species. In my opinion, it demands a lot more initial effort from the hunter, but that makes the payoff from a successful harvest so much more rewarding. You need to scout more strategically, learn the different calls they make and what they mean, learn how to call for yourself. Just selecting a call itself can be intimidating. There are so many different types to choose from and it is easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole when talking to the “experienced” caller about types of materials, glass, slate, types of wood, etc. Even gun selection, choke selection and shot load can get overwhelming. Then when you throw in the idea of taking a bird with a bow you have a whole other can of worms to deal with. Are you considering a body shot or a head shot because your broadhead selection might change drastically between the two. Also, you need to consider posture of the bird. The vitals are obviously a lot smaller than that of a deer and they change position drastically depending on the position the bird is standing. Knowing the anatomy of the bird is going to be key in having a successful harvest.

I’m going to try and stay above water here and just focus on scouting tips for a successful hunt. Keep in mind that I am a biologist and I get easily geeked out when it comes to certain aspects of wildlife biology, as I’m sure you’ll see as this progresses.

The two most important things to think about when considering a turkey’s location are that they need somewhere to eat and somewhere to sleep. So when scouting, consider good roost tree availability and food source for that time of year. A bird’s diet changes drastically with the seasons. In the fall and winter months, hard mast is a key part of their diet. However, as these things become less and less available, their home range might shift as they search for other food sources. And then all of a sudden green up hits and they can shift again. I like to compare this to crawfish season. My mother-in-law has a real nice slew behind her house that we like to crawfish in and I spend a significantly larger amount of time at their house in the summer than any other season. Anyways, I digress…
During the spring, a male turkey has only one thing on his mind, where the girls are at. Likewise, a female turkey has one thing on her mind, where can I lay this nest. Most studies in Louisiana indicate that females are actively searching upland areas to avoid flooded areas while still maximizing food source. Keep in mind that she is laying one egg a day and foraging between each lay so she probably doesn’t want to stay too far from the nest as it leaves them quite vulnerable, so proximity to both quality forage and good nest concealment is important.
Because these home ranges can shift so quickly, you can keep scouting to 2 or 3 weeks before the season opens. There’s really no sense in going out a month before the opening day because depending on the weather and habitat, the birds are probably going to move on you.
The next thing you want to look for is food plots, fields, logging roads, power lines, ridges, or any other kind of open habitat that birds can use to feed, gather, mate, fight, etc. Birds like to use these areas so scouting areas that include these features as well as proximity to good nesting areas will increase your chances of having some interaction with these birds.

Now that you have a lesson in biology let’s get to actual boots on the ground scouting. When you scout, do your best not to educate the birds before the season starts. Camo up as best you can, get there early, sit still, and be quiet. You’re only there to observe! In the afternoons, you can walk around looking for signs and tracks and scratching and feathers and poop. Some people get overly excited about these things. Keep in mind that these are only signs of where the birds have been, not necessarily where they are.
Speaking of getting overly excited about turkey sign, did you know that males and females poop different because of their anatomy? Birds have a one-stop-shop when it comes to reproduction and excrement disposal. Because a female’s internal “situation” needs to wrap around an egg, their poops have a chance to curl up like the emoji before exiting. Males have a lot less wiggle room up there so their poop comes out long and skinny and sometimes curls at the end making a “J” shape. How exciting, right?

My point is that you can get really involved in scouting. There’s a lot to take in and sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference between turkey scratching or a really ambitious armadillo. My biggest suggestion is to get out there and put the time in. There is no substitution for experience, and with a little bit of knowledge about preferred seasonal habitat selection and a willingness to put the time in, you are more likely to increase your changes of interacting with this incredible bird.

-Betsy Dutoit LABH Contributor/ NWTF Regional Biologist

Start Planning Yesterday- Why You Should Take Notes and Scout Now

Deer season in Louisiana can be grueling for bow hunters. Most of us start in late September and early October only to tag out, give up, or burn out sometime in late January or February. After multiple conversations with other bow hunters this year that all started with, “I just don’t know where the deer went”, or “I’m starting to doubt myself”, I’m reminded that a few extra hours spent right now will save us a lot of headache next year. The time when we are just ready to pack up and start thinking about turkeys, spawning bass, or hog eradication is the most valuable time to begin executing our strategy for next year. Deer move in patterns: early season, pre-rut, rut, and post rut to be general. That’s not news. We experience these year after year. The problem is we don’t remember the details. We go into each season as if it is a new beginning, a clean slate full of brand new information, another chance to learn how to do this thing we call bowhunting better than we did last year. You’ll find that we’ve done ourselves a disservice by leaving the past in the past.  You can jump next season’s hurdles today by ensuring you recount what occurred in the past!

Take Notes

On my trip to Kentucky earlier in the season I took detailed notes on deer movement, weather conditions like temperature, wind direction, speed and barometric pressure. Also noted was certain trails deer were using, which oak trees had been hammered and rut activity dates and behavior. Why? Because I only get 1 week there a year. Because next year I won’t be so worried if I go a few days without seeing much. Tracking info like this from year to year allows you to see patterns that you wouldn’t have discovered without the data collection. Plus it adds to the detective work, the process of outsmarting and attempting to checkmate that one buck on your hit list. That is what draws so many of us to handicap ourselves with a bow, the challenge! We often forget what last year was like. We forget that we went through a lull, that there was a time that we just weren’t seeing much. This year on the property I hunted in Beauregard parish the rut happened the week before and after the weekend of the rifle opener. I rattled in a good buck the week before and shot a decent 8 point the week after. Note taken! Looking back at last years notes on certain dates I could see that for 2 weeks not a single deer showed itself in that same location. So whats the verdict? Put your attention in a different location or use a different tactic there. The point of the notes is to record data over a period of time to be used in the future to make your decisions more purposeful, and less of a roll of the dice. We learn tons of new things every year… so we think. More than likely some of those “new things” have been experienced before, we simply forgot about them. Taking notes maximizes your efficiency and makes your decisions much less of a guess, and more of an optimal opportunity to achieve your targeted outcome. Whether it be only to see the deer you’re after in daylight, or bring him home in a cooler.

Your notes can be as general as logs of dates you saw good movement with correlating weather conditions or as defined as a timeline of particular buck sightings in person and on camera and the locations of such. Make your notes your own and log the information that will help you the most. Keep your notepad with you  so you can log important events during the hunt and then complete your summary once you reach your truck or camp. Doing them the day of the hunt will get you the most accurate depiction of that days events.

Scout Now

Too often we put off scouting to preseason, which results in us putting all our money on the movement and sign we find in the late summer months. This is a recipe for disaster due to the summer feeding pattern being a thing of the past quickly after the season begins.  Scouting now will give you the opportunity to 1, do it without sweating a ton, and 2, see and note what the deer are doing on the back end of the season. We often forget what they did in December and January when setting up in the heat of the late summer. Take inventory of the sign you see now and go back to it next year when you are having trouble getting on a buck. Some other obvious benefits to scouting now is the lack of snakes, bugs, you may pick up a shed or two, and trails stick out like a sore thumb with the lack of browse that survived the deer rumen and recent snowfall. Which brings up another point: Identify where the green browse is. Find those woody vines, briars, ivy and other native plants that can survive and thrive in cold weather. Thats’ where you want to be well after the acorns, crops, foodplots and grasses are gone.

Earmark Big Bucks

Like that one page in many of my QDMA magazines I save for later reference, the buck that got away deserves an earmark. Take good notes now of where he was early season or when he showed up mid or late season. Note what he fed on, what bucks he hung out with, when you caught his movement and where. Plan your intrusive activities for next year around that data you collect. (foodplot additions, hanging stands and clearing lanes) If he feels safe now, he will likely feel safe next year too if you are lucky enough to have him on private land. If that’s the case stay out. Get a cell camera, keep him fed, and leave him undisturbed throughout the spring and summer. A happy buck is a dead buck. He will have no reason to leave his core area and he will feel less threatened by coming out in daylight.

Success for next year began yesterday. Take good notes of your attempts, successes, failures, and the environment in which you accomplished both.  Each deer is an individual. The sooner you learn to treat them as such, the sooner the one you’re after will be on your wall and on your table. What do I mean by that? Stop applying deer hunting generalities to Louisiana deer that are arguably some of the most wary and uniquely adapted deer in the country. Use what YOU learned about the deer YOU were after this year to hone your skills and pin point your strategy for next year.

 

– Justin Lanclos    Sulphur, LA

Essentials for Public Land Success

Having the right gear when hunting public land can be the difference in having a season of successful hunts or a season of short hunts because your feet are freezing and you’re tired of only seeing squirrels. Growing up, I lived on Turkey Creek which spoiled me to some of the best public duck hunting around. As a result, I was never too interested in going with my Dad and Grandpa to sit in a cold tree and freeze to death to probably see nothing. Finally, 8 years ago after a friend kept insisting that I go bowhunting with him, I reluctantly I went. Needless to say I can count on two hands how many duck hunts I have made since that first deer hunt.

A Little About Me

I was fortunate enough to have some early success and have been hooked ever since. I never thought anything could beat a group of green heads working into a cypress break. Boy was I wrong! Nothing beats the rush of drawing back on a whitetail buck and hearing the shwack of the arrow passing through.  Then the sound of him busting through that palmetto and crashing is enough to give me chills! A passion for bowhunting began to grow in my soul. Being alone in the woods just me, God, and His creation chasing after one of the most elusive big game animals on the North American continent. I even love the countless hours shooting in the heat of the summer getting prepared and the time spent with family and friends. I loved it all.

Gotta Start Somewhere

For the most part I had to start from scratch when it came to hunting whitetails. There where a lot of things I didn’t know about bowhunting public land. I learned a lot of them the hard way, by doing them myself and figuring out what worked and what didn’t. At first, I thought I didn’t need any fancy equipment, just my dad’s old Mathews Q2. His old heavy climber and my duck hunting camo would surely make me good to go too. That was enough to get me started and is what I was using when I killed my first ole’ slickhead. That being said you don’t need much to get started or even to put together a successful hunt or two. To be your most efficient year after year and able to walk long distances and sit longer hours, which you’ll find are the life blood of a successful hunt on public land, many of my tactics and equipment had to change.

Public vs. Private

Hunting public land is very different than hunting a lease or club. There is very limited ATV access. You can’t use permanent stands or cut shooting lanes. Not to mention the added hunting pressure which forces you to sometimes walk up to 3 miles or more just to get away from other hunters and previous hunting pressure. I’ve had several friends who are good bowhunters on private land come hunting on public with me and by the time we got to the stand they where panting in exhaustion and ringing wet with sweat because they had made one or both of these mistakes: they had on the wrong clothing (usually cotton) and they were packing a heavy stand and tons of gear. A lot of extra work and forethought goes into hunting public land. To me it’s well worth the reward when you finally connect with the buck you’ve been looking for.

The Evolution

In my early stages of bowhunting I didn’t feel like I needed special clothing just to hunt in. For warm weather just any old camo shirt and pants with some boots would do. For cold weather basically the same thing but just layer up as much as I needed to stay warm. When bowhunting on public land it is extremely important to be able to stay dry and comfortable while still being able to draw your bow. The more comfortable and the better prepared you are to battle the elements, the longer you will be able to sit in the stand. Thin, breathable,non cotton layers are key to this. Most people who are consistently successful at killing mature deer on public land have one thing in common: They put in extra time in the tree. You can’t kill them if you’re not there. You also can’t kill them if you are there but shivering profusely or have been sweating like a pig and stink to high heaven. A lot of you are probably like me and get to hunt mostly on weekends. Regardless of the forecast you have to be in the woods.

Increasing your odds is the name of the game. Pack the proper gear, light and easy to carry. Wear the right clothes to keep your body temperature regulated and sweat to a minimum. Soon you too will find yourself out of the stand and taking photos behind a big Louisiana public land buck, no matter the weather.

 

Chris’ Equipment List

Bow– Mathews Chill-R

Stand– Summit Viper Elite/  Millenium M100 with Wild Edge Stepp Ladder Stystem

CamoSitka Optifade Elevated 2

Essentials- Thermacell, Garmin Alpha 100 GPS, Face Paint (non oil based), SafetyHarness

 

 

Chris Williams- LABH Contributor (Winnsboro, LA)

The Safe and Smart Way to Hunt Elevated

We spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars every year on the latest and greatest hunting equipment. We dream of the day our local shop gets in this year’s thousand dollar bow. We buy stands that cost hundreds of dollars and camo suits that are even more! We are obsessed with technology and new things. I have a very simple question for you. If you are willing to spend thousands of dollars, or maybe just hundreds every year why have you not spent $40 on a lifeline? Ok, you got me. Another hunting article trying to sell something. But I’m not trying to sell you on a gimmick, or something you don’t really need. I’m trying to save your life! Hopefully after reading this article you will have a better understanding of just how easy it is to set up and use a lifeline.

Have you ever seen a lifeline logo in a profile picture? Have you ever seen one of the safety companies decals in 345 font on the back glass of a jacked up pickup truck? Why not? Because it’s not flashy. It doesn’t tell people you have enough money to blow on awesome new things every year and or up your social media status. But it’s one of the only items on the market that can and will save your life! A high percentage of falls happen during transition in or out of the stand. Mine did. A harness alone won’t save you there! Nor will it save you if you’re climbing up or down your steps. A lifeline in addition to your harness will!

I wasn’t wearing a harness when I fell while setting up a stand last July. That’s the first question I get asked. I wear them religiously during hunting season but for ignorant reasons I didn’t while setting up stands. But we are asking each other the wrong question. Do we ask hunters if they took their bow to the stand? Do we ask them if they took their release? Of course not. We shouldn’t have to ask about a harness either. That should be a 100% given! The focus of our discussions needs to become the lifeline and being attached from the ground up! Once I finished my setup last July I began climbing out of my stand. At that point I would have unhooked my harness. It’s a fact that a harness alone wouldn’t have saved me from my 20′ fall. But the design and intention of a lifeline ensures that you are secured even at your most vulnerable times.

Initial Setup

How do you get it up there the first time safely? Easy! You use it as a climbing belt. You will need 2 carabiner clips for this. You should already have 1 on your harness and another on your lifeline. This is something I personally recommend upgrading to the High Strength Aluminum ones. Not only do they weigh less but they will hold under more force. Essential if you’re over 200 pounds.

Step 1: Attach a carabiner to the loop end of the lifeline.  Now clip it to a loop on your harness at either side of the waist. Don’t have loops on your waist? Get a new harness! Those loops are made for climbing. You can’t use a climbing belt, or a lifeline in this way without them.

Step 1

Step 2: Attach the other carabiner to the loop created by the prusik knot on your lifeline. Wrap the line around the tree and secure the second carabiner to the opposite loop on your waist.

Step 2

Step 3: Slide the now attached prusik knot up the line, towards the tree, until the line is tight around the tree and allows you to rest against it. This process keeps you secure on your initial ascent and will keep you from having to purchase a separate climbing belt.

Step 3

Best part about this set up is if you are setting up climbing sticks and a lock-on you can tie in your sticks at different lengths along the lifeline and your stand to the bottom. This will allow you to safely hang them without having to make multiple trips back down! Once you have reached your final elevation secure the lifeline a little above your standing height. Next, secure the carabiner on the prusik knot to the back-strap of your harness for normal wear. Slide the knot down the line so it is semi tight at your sitting position. There will be a little trial and error to get it right. Ensure it is loose enough to let you turn and move as needed while sitting, and tight enough to catch you before you lose your balance while standing. On your initial descent slide the prusik knot with you until you reach the ground. After you safely have your feet on the earth tie the bottom of the line to the bottom of the tree or the base of you sticks, ladder, or stand. That will make the line tight and the knot easy to slide on your next climb!

There is never a reason to unhook once you are secured to your lifeline. You stay attached the entire time you’re climbing up, hunting, and coming down. It is a full-proof life saver when used properly. So why doesn’t everyone use one? You got me! A lifeline is the best solution for lock-ons, climbers, and ladder stands alike.  They also make tandem lifelines with 2 prusik knots to keep you and your little hunting buddy safe. The transition from the platform to the first step in a blind, tripod or stand can be tricky and scary for little hunters. Please keep your little ones tied on! One scenario that may call for a different solution would be if you hunt public land and never hunt the same tree twice. If this is the case, especially with a climber, a lineman’s climbing belt would be the right solution for you. They’re lighter and will take up much less room in your pack. No matter what your particular scenario or hunting style is, staying attached from the ground up is the life saver.

If you have any question about treestand safety or would like to learn more a great resource is the TSSA (Treestand Safety Awareness Foundation). The Hunter Safety System website also has a ton of good information. Lastly, if you would like to read my fall story you can click here.

 

Justin’s Equipment List

Bow- Elite Option 6

Stand- Hang10 Treestands 

Camo- Mossy Oak Country and Bottomland

Essentials- HSS Ultra-Lite Harness, Lifeline, LABH Grunt call, White Icing Honey Bun

 

Justin Lanclos- Founder LABH

 

 

 

New App Takes Scouting to Next Level

There are a ton of apps that put a simple map on your phone. There are also quite a few that attempt to simulate GPS functionality. Once we discovered OnX it drastically changed the way we scout, hunt, and use our phones in the woods. OnX is the only mapping solution that 100% turns your phone into a fully functioning GPS with more useful tools, layers, and options than you can shake a stick at. No service, no problem. New property, no problem! Download the free Hunt App trial on your app store and let OnX guide you to a successful hunting season! 

As hunters, we know the key to success is hours spent with boots in the dirt exploring hunting grounds. Sometimes that is just not possible. Work schedules, travel time, and budgets do not always allow for multiple preseason trips to a hunting area, especially when hunting out of state. This is when using mapping solutions such as onXmaps can be a saving grace by bringing your hunting landscapes to your fingertips using your cellphone, tablet, and computer.

onX has many different avenues to explore to access to a new era of GPS  You can access their entire collection of layered maps via their onX Hunt app or their website where you can access the onX Web Maps. Once you have downloaded the app and logged in with your onX Hunt Membership, you have access to many different mapping options.  They also offer GPS chips for Garmin devices. Using a variety of base maps, layers, and map tools, you have a variety of scouting and navigation tools at your fingertips

Basemaps are available in three different views. The Aerial Basemap provides actual photographs of the terrain taken by satellite making it easy to orient yourself and find roads, cities, and other major landmarks. The Topo Basemap provides the best way to view elevation changes and landscape contour. The third is a hybrid of both the Aerial and the Topo Basemaps. The Hybrid Basemap shows the topographical information over the satellite imagery to give you a clear understanding of your surroundings. 

To enhance your use of the Basemaps, onX Hunt provides well over four hundred layers of specific national and regional information.  The Private Land Parcels layer shows private land ownership, property boundaries, parcel divisions, tax addresses, and acreage. The Government Lands layer shows subsidized lands including local, state, and federal owned lands and GMUs.  These two layers alone can help know your hunting boundaries and acreage of hunting lands. You can also use the Private Land Parcels layer to possibly gain access to new hunting lands with permission.  The Trail Slope and Trail Mileage layers indicate steepness of every trail to the highest detail possible and mileage between trail junctions. Each state has a variety of layers available specifically designed for navigation of that particular state.

Other layers can help you determine the quality of area you are hunting. The USFS Timber Cuts layer provides areas of logging operations since 2002, acreage of the cut, name of the project, and the year it was completed. The Historic Wildfires layer uses a color-coded map  to represent how recent fires were and can give additional fire information such as fire name and acreage burned.  A new innovative layer is the Randy Newberg’s Roadless Areas Layer that uses a heat map coloration to show areas of terrain furthest away from the roads to allow hunters to “get away from it all”.  onX even offers a layer in partnership with the Boone & Crockett Club that appears as a color-coded heat map of high quality game animals.  A portion of the sales of this layer goes to support the mission of the Boone & Crockett Club. Just a few other layers offered include Points of Interest, Species Activity Data, and Weather. 

Once you’ve used the layers to explore the area, onX provides map tools to help you further. It provides you with longitude and latitude coordinates for the center of the map, scale bar, and current location marking. The Draw Lines Tool allows you to draw straight lines or a series of straight line and measure distance between them. The Draw Shapes Tool allows you to draw a shape of at least three points and the area inside of it will be displayed. This tool is especially helpful when planning out food plots. They also offer a variety of Waypoints you can drop on the map to help locate stands, cameras, animals, etc. The onX search tool allows you to search for map features, locations, and landowners to quickly locate items on the map.

Using all of the aforementioned features, you can navigate through your preseason scouting, planning, and land access, but once you are out in the field, onX goes a step further to help you even in the most remote locations. They have an option so save your maps to your phone to use when cell service is unavailable to load your maps. Using the Off-Grid Map feature allows you to save either a high resolution map with maximum detail, layer visibility, and zooming capabilities or a lower resolution map that allows for a larger area to be saved. They also provide a Tracker feature allows you to record a visual representation of your path as you travel. It records time, distance traveled, average speed, and elevation gain also for later reference.

While no digital scouting is a true replacement for time in the woods, having a game plan will be a true time-saver when you are in a crunch and need to knock out preseason work. You’ll save time and sweat by knowing right where to begin by pinpointing areas where deer are naturally funneled through. Get right to the spot you choose to put a trail camera and stand. Know exactly where and how large you want to set up your new bean crop food plot, and have the confidence that you won’t get turned around in the thick woods because you will have the navigation tools of onX right at your fingertips.

 

Sarah’s Equipment List

Bow- Mathews Halon 6

Stand- Muddy Outfitter

Camo- Sitka Elevated II, and Subalpine

Essentials- Thermacell, Vortex binos, OnX Hunt App

 

Sarah Akers- LABH Contibutor (Schriever)

Deer Movement Lull = Fake News

Every year there is an initial change in a deer’s behavior that throws some hunters for a loop. You’ve most likely heard the term “October lull” used to force the blame on the deer. Multiple gps tracking studies have shown that there is no such thing as an October lull. Deer don’t move less right before the rut. In fact studies show they actually increase their movement during this time in both daylight and after nightfall. What has changed is they have adjusted their patterns from the previous months and for some reason we refuse to make that move with them. Let me explain. Over the summer months you probably enjoyed daily photos of bucks eating in your food plot, regularly using the same trails, and entering and exiting fields in the same location. Once the velvet comes off, POOF! They disappear. That’s because the hardening of their antlers by the higher levels of testosterone building in their bodies can technically be considered the first phase of the rut that triggers a plethora of changes in a buck’s body. A few examples of other changes taking place:

  • Bucks that have been friendly and huddled together over then summer will start to lose interest in each other’s presence and begin searching for the doe groups they’ll soon be chasing.
  • Their food sources are changing. There are undoubtedly dozens of feeders staring to fire off within the boundaries of your lease and acorns of certain types will begin falling soon. The deer know that!
  • There is more activity in and around their core, home area. Hunters are taking to the woods to set stands, clear lanes and plant fall food plots. The deer take notice of that. While the doe groups may not mind the old mature bucks sure do.

So how do I adapt you ask? Easy, move your cameras! Get them off the food plots, feeders, and mineral sites and near acorn trees. Get them on trails leading from known bedding areas to hard wood bottoms that will soon be full of their absolute favorite snack, acorns. Get them to an area you haven’t been this summer or where no one else goes. Seclusion is a big wary buck’s best friend and it will be yours too if you are careful about going in and out.

Something that is also an option with recent advancements in technology is taking an Ozone generator to the woods with you while you’re checking cameras. If you are searching for big bucks you will agree that every drop of scent you leave in the woods matters. Ozonics has developed a back pack that carries the HR-300 and allows it to eliminate your “scent tracks” while you’re checking cameras. A cutting edge tool to ensure you’re leaving no trace of your presence.

The Ozonics Kinetic Pack allows you to get in and out completely undetected.

Another helpful tool that will save you time and gas is the recent price drop in cellular trail cameras like the Spypoint Link -Evo. I put mine in the middle of a sanctuary area in May and have been able to hold bucks in that area ever since due to not having to venture in disturbing them checking that area. Both game changers for those that like to have the latest and greatest.

Using cellular cameras keeps you out of the woods!

So before you blame the deer for the October lull, or in parts of southern Louisiana the “September Lull” change your tactics up. Cover your scent and noise tracks while you’re preparing for the season and move those cameras. Where did you find them last year at this time? That would be a good place to start!

 

Give Ground Blinds a Try

After falling 20′ while setting up a stand last summer my hunting strategies have changed, to say the least. While I used to thrive hunting from a lock on, ladder stand or climber, now I find myself being satisfied on the ground. Shocker, I know! While I am no stranger to ground hunting I used to do so without the constraints of a blind so I could move around, be aggressive, and find my own cover. However with limited mobility those days are long gone. So this year I already have 3 ground blinds set up. Yes, they are already out there and in position waiting on a last minute brush in. Why so early you ask? Here’s why:

This doe has been coming to a protein feeder just out of frame for the last 6 months. Every day, every night, no issues. But something changed that has her on high alert; my ground blind. I placed it 35 yards in the woods nearly 24 hours before these photos from my Spypoint Link- Evo were taken and guess what she’s staring directly at? You got it. She refused to eat from the feeder that day and didn’t come back until nightfall. Deer are extremely observant, especially the older ones. They are highly aware of changes, even the subtle ones. If someone snuck in your house and moved your couch, your tv, and your recliner in the middle of the night would you notice? You bet you would. That’s why when it comes to ground blinds the earlier you get them out the better. Most importantly make sure to take your time brushing them in. The less obvious the intrusion, and longer  it’s there the more used to it they will be by deer season. The last thing you want to get into on opening day is a staring contest.

Another major strategy change while hunting from the ground is the increased importance of scent control. You had better take it up a notch or just plan on enjoying the day watching young immature deer and squirrels. One thing I won’t go in a ground blind without in my Ozonics. When it comes to scent control I don’t take any shortcuts. If you are after the dominant buck on your property you can’t afford to either. Having a careless entry and exit path, or being lazy with your scent control is the easiest way to ensure you’ll have a nice quiet uneventful day in the woods.

Being eye level with your target buck is an adrenaline rush on the next level.  It takes extra care, caution and preparation. What’s he worth to you?  It’s an addiction all over again like you first experienced when bow hunting all together. Give it a try this fall.

 

 

Justin Lanclos- LABH Editor/ Founder

info@louisianabowhunter.com

Calm Your Storm- Preparing for Buck Fever

Bow hunters go to extreme measures to ensure a successful season. We run trail cameras for months to keep a close inventory on our herd even naming some of the more dominant bucks and iconic does. We plot their movements day and night categorizing trail camera pictures into galleries featuring the same bucks or any deer using the same pattern of movement. We prepare soil for months in advance to grow nourishing plots of forbs and grasses. We work out, lift weights, run, pack heavy objects around the neighborhood, shoot thousands of times in the back yard all to prepare for that one moment. The moment a Pope and Young buck walks within range and stops broadside is what all this preparation is for. But then it stops abruptly. The preparation that is… we usually don’t prepare for the moment of truth. The deer is there, and ready to be shot; our blood pressure through the roof. You draw your bow and hold it. Inadvertently your stand, shoulder,elbow or any other arthritic prone joint pops, squeaks, cracks, or knocks. Or better yet, you suddenly feel the shifting breeze on the back of your neck. Your dream buck is now staring you down! Now what? Have you prepared for this moment? Probably not. Your first instinct is probably, “Oh crap. I’ve got to shoot now!” Which is not the answer you’re looking for. Here’s a few tips to ensure you don’t do everything else right only to fail at the absolute most important moment of your endeavor.

Practice Holding

One thing most hunters do before the season is shoot their bows. That is a given. Some shoot a lot. But most are focused on where the arrow hits. This year I want you to focus on holding your bow at full draw. Bow manufacturers already know how important this is. The proof is in the 70%-90% available let offs available in today’s bows. At the beginning of August, at the latest, begin your new shooting regiment.  Late in the summer evenings is best to simulate to the actual time you’ll be making your early season shot. Not to mention the heat index will hopefully be below 100 at this point. Shoot 6 arrows and make sure your group is good. Now the fun part! 7th-12th arrow I want you to begin lengthening your hold time. Start at 10 seconds. Your 8th arrow go to 20 seconds. Keep adding 10 seconds to your hold time until you cant hold it anymore. Don’t worry about where you’re hitting at first. Just make sure that you can hold your bow at full draw and continue to stare down a solitary spot on your target- through the shaking, jerking, and grunting.

Make Yourself Nervous

An old school way to give yourself simulated buck fever is to do some sort of physical exercise immediately prior to shooting. All this accomplishes is to make you weak and breathe heavy. Kind of like buck fever but not really. You get buck fever because the moment you’ve been waiting for has finally presented itself and you don’t want to mess it up. I can remember times where I’ve been screaming in my head as I begin to draw, “Don’t screw this up. Don’t screw this up!” Buck fever is the acknowledgement that YOU are the only thing that stands between going home empty handed and going home feeling like a million bucks! To adequately prepare yourself for this situation set yourself up to lose something important. Sounds scary doesn’t it! An arrow is important isn’t it? So what if you shoot at the center of a dumbbell? If you miss, your arrow is toast. I have an aluminum buck that will make you shake like a leaf. Not only does it let out a loud, “GONG”, if you miss the vitals, but it will obliterate any arrow burying the field tip deep into the shaft. A few other ideas are shooting into the holes of bricks, drilling out a hole in plywood, or anything else that can damage an arrow or just leave you feeling like a dope. Trust me. The more arrows you break , the more nervous you will get shooting into your chosen targets. It has worked wonders.

My dreaded “Iron Buck”

Visible battle scars

 

Have a Countdown

Make a mental checklist of vital form procedures to go through before you release that arrow. Mine is:

3. Anchor– Knuckles behind jaw, nose tip on string.

2. Identify– Check peep and sight housing alignment, check the bubble in your level, check for proper grip.

1. Make a Hole- Pick the tiniest spot to make a hole in. Don’t just get your pin on brown. I’m guilty. Early on in my bow hunting daysI would think, “Ok. Pin is on the lungs… somewhere”, and release. This will 9 times out of 10 result in a longer than necessary blood trail, a total miss, or worst of all a wounded unrecoverable animal. Pick the hair, the crease, or the wrinkle in the skin and bury that carbon missile!

A.I.M. before you shoot. Hopefully using these practice tips and remembering this simple saying will keep you a little more calm in the heat of the moment this fall. Feel free to share any other useful tactics you do to Calm Your Storm.

 

 

 

Justin Lanclos- LABH Editor/ Founder

info@louisianabowhunter.com

 

No Tag No Problem Over the Counter Dream Hunts

If you have spent any amount of time on social media in the past few weeks you have undoubtedly noticed the hoards of ecstatic or enraged “Out of State” hunters who were awarded or yet again denied that illusive western tag or an Iowa or Kansas archery whitetail tag. As for myself this is the first year I didn’t apply for a Non resident tag. Kansas used to be my destination of choice as I enjoyed success there and witnessed more rutting activity than ever before. But after being denied 2 years in a row I have given Kansas the perpetual “deuces”.  Why pay anywhere from hundreds of dollars just to apply for an out of state opportunity that will have to be refunded on their time table if you’re not drawn? Sure Kansas, and Iowa hunts are what dreams are made of but there are a number of states that offer us non resident hunters OTC tags (over the counter). Just walk into Wal-Mart, buy your tag, and hit the closest public land or outfitter ready to slock! (I had to pay Tim Wells a royalty to say that… so worth it!) So do not fret or fear or cry any longer over missing the bus on an out of state lottery drawing. Here is a list of the top 3 Over the Counter states in the country for hunting whitetails on a budget!

3.Arkansas 

PC| North American Whitetail

Our neighbor to North has many similarities to Louisiana. But its the striking differences that set it apart. While south Arkansas is an already popular destination for many living in the I-20 corridor, central and northern Arkansas is a different story. Let me tell you why you should keep heading North!

South Arkansas is close. Its land feels and looks familiar and with the antler restriction in place it feels goods to hunt somewhere where at least the yearlings are being passed. Deer density is slightly higher in the southern counties than most parishes in Louisiana and the bucks are arguably bigger for one reason or another. But what I consider the crown jewel of Arkansas lays quietly in the Northwest corner counties bordering Oklahoma and Missouri. There are state parks and Game Management Areas that litter this section of the Ozarks just waiting on anxious bow hunters. Having hunted this area many times before, I have seen more deer in one day here, than in any other state I’ve hunted. “America’s Best Kept Secret” is what I consider Washington and Benton Counties to be. Whether it be the nostalgic sunrises in the scenic mountains or the snow covered hill tops in late winter, NW Arkansas is a destination hunt you won’t soon regret.

Non Resident Hunting License – $225

2.Oklahoma

PC| Facebook OK Bowhunters

If you have ever hunted Kansas you already know why Oklahoma is #2 on this list! There are a hand full of public, Walk-In properties just across the southern boarder from Kansas. Driving north on I-35 gives you plenty of reason to stop and hunt before venturing across the boarder. If the deer lining the shoulder of the turnpike wasn’t enough to make you pull over, a quick glance online at the amount of hunters joining together in the state to let young bucks walk lets you know the best is yet to come for the Okie State. Oklahoma features upland prairie in the West and panhandle which also offers Pronghorn hunting, a nice bonus hunt. While the Southern features a Texas feel of brush country and rolling hills with lots of sandy soil and mesquite trees. Eastern Oklahoma is thick hard woods and pines covering the Ozark foothills and Northern Oklahoma is a plateau of big buck heaven with agriculture galore and narrow hardwood creek bottoms running though rolling hills. This great state has a little something for everyone!

NR Deer Archery- $280

1.Kentucky

PC| Snipe Creek Hunting

Ah, Kentucky. The reigning Pope and Young king! If you’re a fan of monster velvet bucks then Kentucky is for you. With a season opening the first weekend of September your chances of snagging a velvet buck here are as good as your shot placement. With gun hunting only allowed a short period after peak rutting activity begins in the central and western parts of the state you are sure to have plenty of time to hunt the buck of a lifetime until mid November without the bucks going nocturnal from hunting pressure. Kentucky features a mixture of mountain ridges, and farmland spread in the valleys between them and is some of the most beautiful land I’ve been fortunate enough to hunt. Kentucky also boasts a massive amount of public land available to camp, and walk right in to your next dream hunt. Kentucky is also a great place to get your feet wet at rattling and calling in big bucks during the pre breeding season.

NR Hunting – $140 + NR Deer Permit $120

 

To be on the safe side always be aware of game laws in your destination state AND the states you are driving through. If you do kill a deer out of state it is now Louisiana law that you must cape the deer and have it quartered in an ice chest. The skull plate must also be removed and cleaned.

Honorable Mention States:

Illinois While it used to be the undisputed champ of monster bucks Illinois has suffered considerably from over hunting, disease, and well its just a really long drive! Illinois also has some of the most strict game and gun laws in the country. That alone kept it out of our top 3.

Texas It’s close, convenient, and pretty easy to kill. But if you’re like most bow hunters I know, you may not enjoy this trip as much. South and West Texas are the hunting hot spots but mostly because of the hundreds of high fence ranches and easy picking down the sandero watching deer eat from the corn feeder. Texas is a hunters dream if your young, bloodthirsty, or using a gun. It’s a little less appealing for bow hunters unless you find a quality free range,bow specific outfitter or secret public land hideaway.

Nebraska A state overlooked often probably because of its distance from Louisiana. But it shouldn’t be. If you don’t mind driving all day you can have an experience very close to Kansas or Iowa. Both limited draw states.

Missouri The only reason the “show me state” didn’t make the list is the flood of “Orange Army” during the lenient gun season that dominates the woods before during and after the peak of the rut. Also the fact that you must drive past Arkansas to get there is troubling. If you have to go through Arkansas you might as well stop and hunt there!

 

 

Justin Lanclos/ info@louisianabowhunter.com