Trail Cams and the SE Wind Credited for Success in Area 2

Adam Ponder of Quitman, LA has a history of knowing what to do and what not to do to score Bienville Parish bucks.

“This stand can only be hunted on a Southeast wind. If the winds not perfect I stay out.”

Adam hunted the spot where the buck was taken last night on opening morning with his 9 year old daughter. In fact, he set up a 2 man ladder stand there to be able to bring his kids because of the frequent action seen on trail camera footage showing many does and some smaller bucks.

“This particular buck showed up a few days before the season opened. I’ve had over 50 daylight pictures of him since then. I knew I had to wait until the wind was just right.”ponder-buck1

ponder-buck2“I got off around 3:30 pm. Ran home to shower and get my ScentLok and got settled into my stand around 4:45 pm. At exactly 6:00 pm,  a lone doe made her way into the food plot I was overlooking. Between that point and 6:45, 8 additional does joined her. The buck didn’t come in until after 7. It was almost end of shooting time and I could barely see. If I had been in the woods instead of a field it would’ve been too dark. I waited for him to turn broadside and I drew my Halon. ”

Ponder went on to describe the buck turning to face him at full draw. A shot no bow hunter should take.

“He turned back broadside and I let her rip.”

Adam sent his Victory arrow with the Wac’Em 4 blade broadhead straight through the middle of the bucks torso.

“I knew I hit a little back. It was in the dead middle. But man that Wac’Em blew through him like butter!”

Ponder checked the arrow to confirm liver blood and immediately backed out. He returned 2 hours later with reinforcements to find the buck had only run 60 yards. Step Dad Dan Johnston, wife Karen, and good buddy Nick Harrison compiled the successful search party.ponder-buck4

Adam made multiple great decisions when bow hunting this wary Louisiana whitetail. He didn’t over hunt his stand. He waited until the wind was right, and he backed out on a questionable hit. Congrats on a fine buck!

 

-Justin Lanclos LABH

If you or someone you know has a great kill story email us at info@louisianabowhunter.com

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Practice Pointless?

Call it what you will, but it’s important that your routine doesn’t become too routine; or it may become all but pointless. Mundane practice eventually becomes no practice at all. No routine backyard carbon slinging can prepare you for endless dusks and dawns in the confines of an elevated stand, or snug up against your favorite mound of concealment. Here are some tips that can not only be used in the preseason, but that you can make a part of your regime during the season. All of these suggestions boil down to one commonality, “train like you fight.”

Low-Visibility Lighting for Target Practice

This has always been something I have tried to do, unless I just really had the itch to get out and shoot. A majority of the time, an individual will take his/her shot during hours of limited (or low) light. Why not practice during those same times? A bright yellow and red target block perfectly measured out during peak light is a little different than a living creature with the ability to move and somewhat blend to its natural surroundings during hours of limited visibility. Get some coffee in you, wake up and get to shootin’. Don’t forget to send a few towards a target after work, before the sun goes down.

Stop, Wait a Minute

Chances are you have run across a situation where you pulled, were ready to shoot and the situation changed. Allowing a situation to develop, grasping the full picture and putting it all together (sometimes within a minute or so) can mean everything to obtaining a successful harvest. One method I like to use is holding my bow at full draw for at least a minute and then giving myself a few seconds to take up a good sight picture and make a shot. This will both prepare you for a potential hold-out as well as simulate the body’s natural shake (of varying extents) when the time of taking a deer draws near.

Draw n’ Shoot (Quick Shot)

The opposite of the above-mentioned, training to shoot quickly simulates those situations that are quick to arise.  Maybe a big buck swiftly moves into your area from a blind spot and you know you only have so long to make a shot. If you haven’t practiced putting everything together and delivering an arrow downrange with a quickness, there is a high likelihood that the only thing happening quickly will be your improper announcement as to your whereabouts. It’s as easy as it sounds. Preferably, you’d practice this in whatever “get-up” you’ll be hunting in but just getting everything together to make a quick shot will generally suffice.

Change Your Positions

You will more than likely not be in the perfect position (or the one you practice most) when an opportunity arises. Attempting to get into your favorite position when you have an opportunity could very well jeopardize a shot. Practice a variety of positions: sitting, standing, kneeling, sitting. Tailor what you practice to the positions you could find yourself in. If you ground hunt, what you practice may not be the same as your buddy in the stand. Also, try mixing in some foliage to shoot around; clear is ideal but ideal isn’t always what’s available.

angle shot

Harmon shooting from a probable angle.

Switch up the Angles

Almost everyone I know practices in the standing position, 20-40 yards straight back from a target block. Shooting is shooting, right? Except for it’s not, especially if you’re in a stand. Varying the angles at which you shoot during practice will only further prepare you to be confident with taking a variety of shots in the field. Start ripping down some barriers and truly hone in on the realistic shots you’ll expect yourself to make in order to harvest. “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” Meaning, how do you expect yourself to make a shot when it becomes available if you have never once practiced it? Don’t be the guy (or gal) that says, “if only I would have…”

Broaden Your Horizons

An often neglected part of most routines is shooting your broadheads prior to the season starting. Each individual minute detail is important if you want to be dragging something out of the field and towards the freezer. Flight paths change per arrow. Narrow down exactly what you are going to be taking to the field with you and practice tightening your grouping with those. You don’t want to get out there and put your trust in equipment you haven’t tested yourself.

We have tested our Wac'Em heads and they fly in groups with field tips.

We have tested our Wac’Em heads and they fly in groups with field tips.

Why so Close?

20-40 yards is the typical distance(s) individuals shoot at while practicing. There’s nothing wrong with that; however, if you’re comfortable there why not move on? By show of hands, how many have had opportunities to take something down but it was outside of your comfort zone? Hunting (especially with bow) is imperfect science and art. All deer are different and all situations different. Rarely will that big guy or stout gal line up perfectly at a range that ends in ‘0.’ Change things up and show those deer you are ready. Be advised, even small mistakes at greater distances become larger mistakes (ask LSU), so dial-in those groups. Don’t let this scare you, I know you can do it. GEAUX TIGERS!

Yo Buddy Booner Buck Target

Yo Buddy Booner Buck Target

 

Charlie Anable – LABH Contributor

news@louisianabowhunter.com

Opening Day Do’s and Don’ts

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re trying to save you from yet another year of opening day blues. I’d venture to say that more mistakes will be made on opening day than any other day of the year. Partly due to the fact that we have been waiting ever so impatiently for this day to arrive. But mostly because we tend to brush caution to the side and go for gold on the first day. Make this year different. You know what they say about doing to the same thing over and over only to expect a different result?

Apply What You Have Learned

Most of us have had cameras out for a good while now. I have seen picture after picture of bucks at night, and does, fawns and yearlings during the day. What does this mean? It means you have to decide what your target is. Let me help you with that. Night hunting is illegal! Obviously. Secondly, if the buck you are getting pictures of is arriving more than an hour after dark he is probably your neighbors buck. Look at the bright side, you’ve got something he likes! Don’t ruin it! If you have bucks frequenting a spot at night, every night, I would steer clear all together. Keep them coming until the rut or you start getting daytime pictures; whichever starts first. Now if you have daytime buck pictures that is an entire different story. Start planning your ambush now!

Sleep In

Ah…Opening morning is here. The cool breeze, the frost on the … whoops. I mean the hot, humid, soupy thick air and hordes of mosquitoes and biting flies swarming around your head. Buckets of sweat dripping from your face and soaked clothes ensure scent control a lost cause. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t really encourage a 4 am wake up call. I’ll enjoy reading the Facebook updates from the guys that are still “that mad at the deer”, sip on my coffee and prepare for the afternoon hunt. You may undoubtedly have fawns and young deer run by that could care less about your stink, or even your sporadic mosquito swat, but is that worth losing the opportunity at the buck on your radar? Maybe, maybe not. Meat in the freezer on opening day is a sweet, sweet luxury and its a long, long season. If you have morning pics of does or mature bucks however, completely ignore this section and GO GET EM!

Chancy Frith’s opening morning doe 2015.

Transition First. Food Second.

Your deer have been up feeding all night. Your trail camera pics are proof of that. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is going to a stand over a feeder or food plot on opening morning.  Instead, get between their food and their bed. By the time you get settled in they’ll be about ready to hit the hay. Cut them off. Don’t bother trying to slip in near your feeder or pretty new food plot unless you like the sight of white flags and the sound of blowing does for 30 minutes straight. Save it for the afternoon!

The afternoon is a COMPLETELY different story. The deer are still hanging on to their summer pattern of feeding in the evening and late into the night. Get to your stand at the food source before they do. If you have thought ahead your stand is probably North of where you think they’ll come from. A south wind is a high probability in September-early October.  This hunt is your best chance at success opening day. You didn’t spook anything in the morning, you’re down wind of the deer, and you can slip out undetected after dark before your eventual target buck visits for a midnight snack.

Just keep in mind that there is not a single deer tactic that is 100% accurate across the state 100% of the time. Not only that, but no two deer are alike. They all act and react differently. Treat them and your game plan as such! Looks good on paper doesn’t it? It’s up to you to apply and execute!

 

Justin Lanclos

-info@louisianabowhunter.com

Get Out of the Opening Day “Rut”

The rut. The infamous time of season that all hunters look forward to and sometimes literally drool over. I’ll admit, it’s a great time of year; however, opening day is not it. Opening day can be great. In some cases, it can set the overall tone for the season. Here are some tips that may facilitate lasting good-vibes for your season:

End of Summer Intel

The last bits of intelligence are key. What these creatures were doing a month or two ago may no longer be valid. Know where they live, how they get to and from and where they eat. Many individuals view the weeks leading up to opening day the same way they view the NFL preseason, unimportant and a waste of time. Take advantage of all the time you’ve put in and your determination will carry through to the “regular season.” Remain vigilant in your preparation and especially when you step foot into their dwelling. Take the same precautions you would on a day during the regular season. If you don’t think that they know it’s about that time of year, you’re wrong. Deer generally hang out in cliques and leave signs of their presence. Don’t dwell on an area with no signs of life. If there are no signs of anything, will it change between now and opening day? Put the computer to use, besides reading these well written articles. Break out the cameras and mini SD cards, track em’!

Staging/Water Areas

We have them in the military and they have them in the woods. As a human, you’re not going to be hot to trot directly into the thick of things. Much like us, deer are going to halt prior to the objective to bunker down and move under the cover of vegetative concealment and light. Staging areas can sometimes make for a great pre-dusk intercept point. Deer need water too; if it’s hot outside, chances are it is to them as well. Stalk those watering holes, catch one while it’s taking a sip.

PRACTICE and Extend Your Range

Practice your craft. It takes roughly 5-8,000 repetitions of something for it to become muscle memory. Everyone’s juices are flowing at the beginning of the season, making you more apt to push patience to the side and take that longer shot. Extend your practice range and start shooting past and breaking your current comfort-ability barrier. It will make it that much easier if the situation of a longer than usual shot should produce itself.

Take Some Stocking Stuffers

When a “normal” person thinks about hunting deer, they generally think of colder weather. If you’re a Louisianian, you know that is not the case. Bow season is rapidly approaching and the heat is not rapidly declining. Gloves/masks will only contribute to another safety concern, dehydration. Grab a chunk of coal out of the grill (I know they’ve been in use) and use that as camo. Charcoal also serves as an odor masker…some of you may need two chunks.

Stand or Stalk? That is the Question.

If every deer in the wild established a monotonous pattern, there would be a consistent dwindling of tag allocations. Deer change and they change often. Depending on your level of preparedness, you may not hold the title of, “Nostradamus of the Woods.” With there always being a certain level of unpredictability, some have higher levels than others. Maybe now is the time to get out on the ground and hunt.

Skeeters

Break out the ThermaCell. Nothing gives away your position quicker than smacking a selfish blood sucker off of your neck in the middle of a hunt. Save your cartridges, I know plenty who soak them in attractant and roast em’ later on in the season.

Patience

Everyone wants to tag something on opening day. I wish everyone (including myself) that luck, but it’s unrealistic. Be patient. It’s the first day of the season, there is plenty of time after opening day to fill the freezer. Besides, regardless of your location you can still go home and watch LSU whoop some in the gridiron hunting grounds. Depending on the opening day date in your location, it’s either Mississippi State or Missouri. Geaux Tigers!

Charlie Anable- LABH Contributor

 

 

Early Season Stand Hanging 101

It’s that time again. I’m starting to see tons of questions on forums and Facebook pages from people asking if 25′ is high enough. The part that really gets me going is the answers these hunters are receiving from their peers. Like this one I saw just today to the previous question, “The higher the better.” Really? You mean to tell me in every situation get as high as possible and that will increase my chances of killing a deer? Dumbest thing you’ve ever heard right? Probably not, but still pretty dumb. When you’re asking questions from people online and they don’t ask some questions in return, forget everything you hear. I’m going to cover some basics of where, how high, and what to look for when getting your stand hung for an early season sit.

Height is Relative

A few simple questions you must ask when trying to determine height of your stand is firstly,  How good is my visibility? If you’re in the middle of the thick stuff you’ll need to be higher in order see down into it. If your tree canopy is low, and the ground is clear then there’s no real reason to jack up 30′ in the nearest pine tree. Your level of visibility and your ability to make a clean kill without mowing a ton of brand new trails and shooting lanes is key, especially when it comes to old weary bucks. The next question you must ask is, What is the layout of the land? Is your ground flat or are their some major topography lines running through your spot? If a deer was to come out 20 yards on the other side of the creek you’re over looking you may need to be 25′ up in your tree to get out of his direct line of site. Creeks, hills, and sloughs can make the height decision challenging.

Lots of different scenarios come into play when determining height. Get high enough to where you won’t be the first thing they see. Stay low enough to keep from severely limiting your shot angle and kill zone to mere inches.

20150919_165808

Low Canopy+Edge of Bottom= Low Set

High canopy. thin undergrowth= high set.

High canopy+ Thin Undergrowth= High Set.

Cover is Absolute

You can be successful 1′ off the ground or 20′ off the ground. The trick is to use the natural cover to your advantage. Don’t expect to see much if you’re 15′ in a pine tree on a ladder stand with a huge burlap wrap around it. “But I’m covered. They cant see me!” Right, but now you pitched a tent in the middle of their living room and expect them not to notice. I like to find forks, parallel trees or isolated branch growth to hide not only my stand but my entire silhouette. The fewer changes you make to the appearance of their natural environment the better off you’ll be. Leave as many branches as possible around the platform of your stand, be it a climber or lock on. Rely on the natural cover already in place to mask your movement and only trim what is necessary to make your shot without bumping anything.

stand location

Can you find my lock on?

Ambush is Key

The deer are doing 2 things right now: Eating and Sleeping. If you want them to continue on that same pattern well into hunting season don’t hunt right on top of either of the locations these 2 activities take place. Find them , and get in the middle. If you set up directly over your food plot, guess what they now associate to that food plot the first time you get winded? Danger. Now guess when they will stop coming to that food plot? Daytime. See you’re getting the idea here. You definitely don’t want this to happen with their bedding area since all other movement is based out of there. It’s the place they feel most secure. Instead of putting an entire destination at risk, only put a single route at risk. Use your cameras and gps mapping info to find the route they’re taking most and hunt that one! You’ll want to make your best guest at wind direction that day and set up accordingly. If you get busted no big deal. They’ll take a different route next time to the same food source. Adjust accordingly.

Screenshot_20160722-103421

Stand location relative to bedding area and natural food source. Source: onxmaps Premium LA App

Lots of things to consider when setting up for early season. It’s why many hunters can’t seem to connect the dots until the big boys get love drunk. Use these tips to find early season success this year. Please remember to stay tied off the entire time you’re off the ground. Be safe, and good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

Take the Headache out of Trail Cams

Checking trail cameras is one of my favorite parts of chasing the elusive whitetail deer. My obsession has evolved from checking one old 8 D Cell battery camera to tracking down over a dozen spread all over my 1,100 acre lease in Beauregard Parish. It started out only hanging them during hunting season. Now I run them 12 months a year just to keep tabs on the herd and get a better idea of deer movement and seasonal patterns throughout the year. Trail cams provide unmatched recon on buck movement, trespassers, hogs and can also provide some pretty amazing wildlife shots we would never witness without them. With all the fun they provide they can also be a major headache if you approach the concept unprepared. Here’s a few ways to keep organized and prepared to avoid some common trail camera woes.

  • Always Carry Batteries

This is the easiest issue to fix. No matter what the battery level looked like just a few weeks ago it always seems one dies out of no where. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to leave a dead camera in the woods, or having to pull it to replace batteries. Know what kind of batteries you need and carry plenty with you. Most common are AA, and C.

  • Format or Label Your Cards

Another source of major frustration when checking cameras is finding you have no pictures after leaving the camera in action for weeks or months. Impossible! Well, actually its probably your own fault. Each camera has specific and unique folder names that it creates on your SD card. If you are constantly switching cards between multiple brands of cameras you will end up with a camera that “Can’t find the right folder”; resulting in zero pictures. There are two ways to remedy this. One is after each time you view your cards at home “Format” the card. Formatting will erase ALL information on the card and allow the camera to start fresh. The other easy fix is to label both your cameras and cards. For instance, if you have 3 cameras label your cameras 1-3. Then buy 6 cards. Label them 1A and 1B, 2A and 2B, 3A and 3B. Put all your A cards in their corresponding cameras initially. Then when you go check pictures pull your A cards and replace them with your B cards. Problem solved. No formatting required.

Another solution is get a camera with a built in viewer like the Spypoint Force 11-D, or carry a card reader or phone attachment to the woods. If there aren’t any good pictures simply delete, and leave the current card in it. Simple.20160709_165055

  • Keep Cards Clean

Getting quality pictures requires a quality camera, and a clean, undamaged card to store the pictures. The cards have metal contacts on the bottom of them that allow the transfer of data within the camera. If those contacts have corrosion or are broken you can say bye bye to you precious deer pictures. A cheap and easy to use case to store them in and for carrying back and forth from the field can make them last as long as you’ll need them.20160710_092913

  • Use a GPS

Don’t do what I use to do and rely on your failing memory to retrace your steps to your newly placed trail camera! I’ve ended up donating a few to Mother Nature this way. Get a good GPS, and mark the location of all the cameras. My GPS has a camera icon to make finding them easy. The way point # on your GPS can also serve as the camera # for easy reference and when talking about a specific location.

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Garmin 64ST with onXmaps Southeast Region Chip

  • Location, Location, Location

Bait piles, mineral sites, trail heads, heavily used crossing are all easy targets to capture your best trail camera content. That’s not all you need to know to get the best pictures. I have learned that mature bucks, at least in my area, don’t really care for obviously placed cameras. I place them high and angle down to keep them out of their line of sight and have less chance of disturbing them. This is especially important if you aren’t using an invisible flash. Some deer could care less. But I figure why take the chance! (Placing them above head level is also a good practice if rising water is a concern).

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Spypoint Force 11D

Hang your cameras facing North or South. If you face them East, you’ll get blank pictures in the morning. If you place them facing West, blank pictures in the evening; not to mention the awful glare. That pesky sun puts off heat! Heat just happens to be 50% of what the cameras need to trigger a picture. Another way to avoid blank pictures is trim tall grass or hanging limbs away from the field of view. If you have the presence of heat and the grass starts moving in the wind, you will collect a good 10-15 pictures of your nice green weeds.

Have fun with you cameras. Experiment with their locations and move them with the changing seasons. Learn to pattern you target buck’s movement with them and they can be a huge asset this fall instead of a huge pain in the head!

Get the Most Out of Your Crossbow

There are more crossbow companies on the market now than there has ever been. One trip to the annual ATA show will reveal seemingly dozens of new companies popping up every year. It seems like everyone wants a piece of the growing trend to take a crossbow into the woods. After all, a crossbow is perceived easier to shoot than a traditional or compound bow and can be shot from most gun setups unlike its counterparts. It makes the perfect crossover weapon for a seasoned gun hunter to extend his or her hunting season.

With so many different crossbows to choose from, and with a drastically large price range of $300- $2000 one must ask are they all the same? Simply the answer is heck no! Just like anything else, you get what you pay for in most instances. In some cases you can get a budget crossbow from a trusted brand, do a few small tweaks, and you will be just as happy with it as you will a $1500 purchase. That is a key phrase there, “Trusted Brand.” As far as deciding what makes up a trusted brand ask yourself these questions:

  • What does their warranty look like?
  • What is their reputation with products across the board?
  • Where was it made?
  • How easy is it to get replacement parts?20160430_122253

Once you’ve settled on a brand the next choice is your budget. Shoot a few different ones and pick the one that feels best; and gets you in the least amount of trouble with you know who! A few things you want to make top priority when purchasing a crossbow are safety, speed, weight balance, quietness, and a crisp trigger.

My crossbow is the BearX Fortus. It retails at $399 and shoots 350 fps out of the box. (We have found that most of them are actually shooting 355fps out of the box.) 20160430_122354At $399 you can see that it is at the bottom of the price range. I trust the Bear brand, was impressed by their warranty, and the xbow fit me well.  I’ve made a few tweaks that I’m going to share with you to explain how I’m going to push my Fortus to its maximum potential.

BOLTS

IMG_20160610_101101

One way companies can sell you a crossbow with a smaller price tag is to put a lesser quality bolt in the box. Now I’m not saying that all factory bolts are bad, BUT I am saying that you can make an immediate improvement in accuracy and KE by upgrading. I got a hold of some Easton FMJ bolts, 20″, and shot them in a group after shooting my factory bolts. There was a noticeable difference in sound from the shot and also in the size of my group at farther distances. The extra weight of the FMJ’s helped to quiet my Fortus and blew its KE through the roof. It did slow the speed down however from 355fps to 338 fps. A welcomed trade for the decreased noise and increased penetration power.

COCKING DEVICE20160610_183511 (1)

This topic is simple. If your crossbow did not come with a rope cocker of some design, buy one! They are cheap. They are worth it. They are essential to your accuracy and safety while cocking your xbow. Cocking your crossbow by hand is definitely doable. It’s also the free alternative. There is no way to be precise and consistent in where and how you grab the string and apply pressure while drawing it back. This can and will result in timing issues in your cams causing issues down range. Use a rope cocker.

SCOPE20160611_183843

Get comfortable with your scope if you aren’t able to make an upgrade here. You will notice in the picture that the vertical line is not perfectly perpendicular with the ground. The farther your target, the more left or right you will hit if you are holding you crossbow at an angle. Another item to address on your scope is the screws and the eye relief. Put Loctite on every screw once you have it set perfectly and make sure the scope is set so that you can see the entire field of view from your most comfortable resting position. This is adjusted by moving the scope forward or backward.

While we are on the scope something that needs attention is your form. My dad always told me as a youngster learning to shoot to, “Stay in the scope.” Pulling away to hopefully catch a better glimpse of your deer running off to its eminent death is enticing. It is also the reason for the majority of our misses. This is even more true with a crossbow. The bolt takes much longer to leave the rail than a bullet a barrel. So hold out. Stay in the scope until that bolt hits its mark.

TUNE

20160610_190515 (1)You have to tune a compound bow. You can also tune a traditional bow. So why wouldn’t you tune your crossbow? Most crossbows I come across have a slight to severe case of cam lean. What is cam lean? It is when the cams are not in line with the string coming off of it when locked in the drawn position. This can rob your xbow of speed, make it louder, cause more vibration and decrease accuracy. This is easily fixed by putting it in a press and making yoke adjustments to get them lined out. I also check cam timing while doing this as well; making sure the cams are both rotating equal amounts when fully drawn. (Take it to your local Pro Shop to have this done.) I don’t know many, well no one actually, that use a crossbow and tune it like this. It may be because I’m primarily a compound shooter and I like to get my equipment as near to perfect as possible. These changes may or may not be necessary for the xbow you’ve undoubtedly killed multiple deer with. It will indeed increase its ability. Even if only ever so little.

With hunting season around the corner don’t feel bad about getting a crossbow that does not tote a “top of the line price tag.” You can make it shoot like a high-end bow by simply pushing it to its maximum potential. Make sure to check out the Easton Full Metal Jacket bolts. They come in 20″ and 22″ and check out the new line of Bear X Crossbows.

fortus_0

stock photo: beararcheryproducts.com

 

 

Is a Bear Season in LA’s future?

bearfawn

Picture from unknown source

I’ve posted pictures of bears eating fawns and some have claimed that the fawns must be road kill. Hard to make that argument in this picture! With the delisting of the Louisiana black bear recently behind us, what do you think it will take to get a season developed on these curious and beautiful creatures? Black bear numbers are notably on the rise, especially in the Mississippi River corridor. They have no natural predators and are “opportunistic” omnivors much like the feral hog. But how high will bear density have to get and how much of an impact will they make on whitetail fawn mortality before we are allowed to control their numbers? We don’t hate black bears and we definitly don’t have issues with them being here. After all, they are a native species that was here long before we were. I credit the effort the state, and LADWF has put forth to see this nearly extinct subspecies of bear come back strong. As a bow hunter, and a deer manager, I just want a chance to hunt them once they reach a sustainable population. All questions and answers to which only Baton Rouge and Wildlife and Fisheries can provide insight and clarity to. Weigh in with your comments below.

black bear

Black Bear at Tensas NWR. Photo by Justin Lanclos

Find New Hunting Land With onXmaps

Two years ago I was in a predicament. I was on a lease that was mostly pine plantation with a small acreage private parcel located directly in the middle of our 1000 acre pine forest. Through miles of scouting on foot, dozens of trail camera pictures, and what seemed like hours of squirrels barking in the distance at what I  convinced myself was certainly deer traffic was this untapped honey hole in the middle of our property. It was assuredly the main crossroads, the back door, the Taj Mahal, the lair of the grand daddy of all of my local deer herd. I had to find out who owned it.

I had always heard you could go to the courthouse and get records of land owners. Or maybe I should just ask around. But I didn’t want to tip anyone off to my diamond in the rough. I walked the entire perimeter one steamy afternoon looking for a posted sign with a name, a number, anything to guide me in the right direction… nothing.xmap1

Then I saw someone talking about onXmaps on Facebook. I saw that they offered a layer that showed land owners. I thought to myself, “This is too easy.” But I figured the $29.99 for a yearly subscription was worth the risk. Boy was I right. So I downloaded the app in the Google Play store for free and purchased the LA Premium Map that contained the landowner layer among a ton of others inlcuding WMA ATV trails, Public Land boundaries and more. I quickly located the acreage I was looking for and BAM; a name!xmap2

A little Facebook stalking led me to the man who I assumed was the owner and the rest is history. A few small talk conversations, exchanging of some trail cam photos, offering to keep an eye out for his property and offering to help him get his son a deer led to me being the only legal trespasser on this property he has ever allowed. Not to mention now we have become good friends.

Now I can’t guarantee your story will have a happy ending like mine. I can, however, guarantee that trying the onXmaps app for your phone or card for your GPS will show you info you only dreamed you could have all in one place. The yearly subscription to the LA Premium Map give you public land boundaries, private land owners names, deer area boundaries and so much more valuable info when you’re in the field and hunting or scouting near boundaries. Find in-holdings in NWR’s or WMA’s with ease and immediately know the owner’s name. (Although I’m sure he’s already got a sign POSTED with the answer to your question).

Bad cell phone service at your favorite hunting spot? No problem. Download, mark up, and save your apps at home and access them anywhere, no matter the cell coverage!

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Actual Screenshot from my phone.

Sounds too good to be true? Try it out for FREE.  Simply download the free 7 day trial and give it a test run. If you love it, visit the LABH STORE and purchase the EXCLUSIVELY DISCOUNTED LA Premium Map. (The introductory price is available for a limited time and ONLY to LABH customers.)

The Secret to Success on Public Lousiana Part 1

chris gentry 2Decades upon decades have come and gone since Louisiana has opened more than a million acres of its land to the public hunter. Hundreds of thousands of hunters have tread the marsh mud, palmetto jungles, piney woods, and cypress swamps of these lush wildlife habitats. The Wildlife Management Areas and National Wildlife Refuges between the Sabine and the Mississippi Rivers have seen giant after dark horned giant fall to hunters young, old, primitive and technologically advanced. These hunters who have successfully filled tags year after year have one of 2 things in common.

I have already got quite a few undergarments in some pretty tight bundles over what the internet know-it-all think I’m going to write about.  “Problem with hunting public land today”, quoted one gentleman assuming that I’m going to spill the beans and lead someone straight to “his” deer stand.  He’s partially right. I’m about to tell you what needs to happen to kill record book Pope and Young bucks like you see on the cover of statewide magazines, or the argument starters in internet forums as to whether or not its been photo shopped… again!ward 1

Insert any WMA name here ain’t what it used to be”, said a hunter last season that has hunted Tensas NWR since its inception in the early 80’s. “The rifle lottery hunts and internet have ruined it. People get all excited because they see deer on the road and then expect to see them in the woods. Or the gun hunters come in here and shoot the first thing with brown hair and 4 legs they see.”

“I’m successful here because I’ve hunted it for nearly 30 years. I’ve walked hundreds of miles and sat in stands for days upon days.”

That’s the problem with the internet. No one posts about their bad hunts. All you are seeing is the few good deer that come out of these places. When thousands of people hunt a targeted WMA, and let’s say 10 good deer come out of it, the odds are NOT in your favor.

Any public land hunter that has been doing it exclusively since well before Al Gore created the internet will tell you he is successful for 1 of 2 reason. Probably a little bit of both.

1- HE HAS BEEN HUNTING THERE HIS ENTIRE LIFE

or

2- HE HAS SPENT MORE TIME WALKING AND SCOUTING THAN HE HAS SHAVING, SLEEPING, AND EATING COMBINED.

Being successful on a piece of public property is no easy task. Can you say you have done both of those things at the WMA you’re interested in frequenting this fall? In fact it’s much harder than on a lease or piece of private land. Not only do you have to fight the thousands of hunters that have been lead astray by the erroneous thinking that public land has tons of deer, but you’ve got to outwit the deer that have been spooked by them without the use of shooting lanes, feed, trail cameras and in some cases modern rifles.

What I’m going to suggest to you, the hunter that’s looking for a piece of free land to hunt, is find a land owner that doesn’t hunt. His property is your best bet. If you’re just starting the WMA chase the race is practically over. Just look at the increase of out of state trips booked each year. If our WMA’s were as good as you’ve been told we would stay here and not bother with Kansas, Kentucky, or Illinois. Don’t ask anyone for advice.(It will be a lie) And most importantly, do your own homework.  Scout, study and put in the time. The lie you’ve been told about the success rate on our public lands is far from true. It sells permits, magazines, and has overcrowded our public hunting lands to the point of what some would argue is no return. Most hunters use it because its free and there’s no other choice. And those that are successful have been hunting that property their entire lives.

If after reading these articles you do decide to give it a try keep this in mind. Keep what you learn and know to yourself or your circle of trusted friends, or you will have every Tom, Dick, and Harry in every tree around you for half a mile.  With that being said, it’s almost June. Time to do your homework!cameron 3