Deer Hunting Funnels: How to Find Deer Funnels & Hunt

Deer Hunting Funnels

I’m going to assume that you haven’t lived under a rock your entire deer hunting life. However, even if you have, I’ll briefly describe what a deer funnel is.

A deer funnel is basically anything that causes deer to pass through a narrow or restricted area. Think of the tiny midsection of an hourglass and you’ll get the picture.

Deer funnels are great places to take your Buck or any other Game animal for that matter.

Deer funnels can be nothing more than how the land lays. Game animals normally follow the lay of the land so anything change in the lay of the land that causes them to pass through a restricted area can be considered a funnel.

Beaver dams can create great deer funnels if the terrain permits. A Beaver dam may be the best crossing over a creek that there is for hundreds of yards. Deer will naturally walk across a Beaver dam before they will swim. So will Hunters!

Man can also create funnels. Fence lines, Ponds, cleared fields, etc. can all create deer funnels.

Below are a few of the popular funnel areas. I’m going to attempt to help you identify deer funnels in your area.

Classic Mountain Saddle Funnel

A saddle in a ridgeline creates the classic funnel. Here is a snapshot of an area I bow hunted quite a bit in the late season. As you can see, it is a perfect funnel. There are two red X’s, each is next to the saddle. When you see deep saddles in ridges like these two, sharpen your hunting knife!

deer funnelBoth of these spots were a long walk unless you wanted to walk straight up from the road below. I prefer a long fairly straight walk as opposed to a straight up walk!

These saddles produced deer year after year. As you can see, these saddles are on a State PHA. I’ve only seen hunters twice in those saddles in all the years I’ve hunted there. I’m not sure why more people don’t hunt them, but they don’t.

The best bet to hunt funnels like these are in the mornings as the air heats up, the mountain thermals will cause your scent to rise. Deer will normally be coming from the valleys to bed near the top or cross over to the other side.

Deer Funnels In Bottomlands

This next funnel has also been a great funnel area for myself and others.

One funnel is created by a Wet Weather slough pinched up against a river. The red “X” indicates the funnel. This funnel is about 50 yards wide and is great for Bowhunting (as well as Muzzleloader and Gun). There are big open Red Oak flats on each end. During dry times, the slough has thick growth in it. When it rains, it holds water. That’s an old Beaver dam that dissects the slough just above the “X” (our treestand is actually at the end of the Beaver dam you can see in the photo).

river funnels

The Yellow “X” also represents another funnel. Not quite as effective as the Red “X”, the Yellow “X” has big woods on either end. This about as far away from the Public parking area as you can get. We get into our stand well ahead of daylight and let Hunters push deer to us when we hunt the Yellow “X” funnel.

Man Made Funnels – Fencelines

Ahh fencelines. Not many hunters realize what a great funnel fencelines can make.

The aerial photo below shows one area I’ve hunted for over a decade.

fenceline funnel

We hunt the 80 acres in the center. To the West, there is open pasture with a scattering of Pecan and Oak trees. To the North, there is a National Wildlife Refuge with overgrown pastures. To the East and North East, private property and a Agriculture field to the South East.

Deer go back and forth between the West field and the woods on the East side. They also come out of the heavy underbrush on the grown up NWR to the North.

The Red “X” represents one of our stands. We’ve taken 3 – 8 pointers scoring over 130 points out of that stand as the deer follow the fence line.

The Yellow “X” is where an Oak tree fell on the fence about 2 years ago, creating yet another funnel. The NWR fence is a stout fence and it didn’t offer the deer many areas to get across at. When the tree fell, I assume it didn’t take them long to find it as they now have a path beat down across the fence…15 yards from another Red Oak with my stand in it! (on the private land side obviously)

The green line represents another fence running North and South. While not a strong deer magnet, every once in a while a buck will be following it, either going to, or coming from, the Ag field.

You’d think the fence line on the West side, (yellow line, left side) would be a great funnel. But it isn’t. It never has panned out. One reason is that I believe that the fence line is so thick you can not see through it. There are a couple place where coyotes and other critters crawl under the fence, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find any deer sign there. I believe it’s because they can’t see over or through it.

Subtle Deer Funnels

Subtle Deer funnels are areas that you’d normally overlook because you don’t notice the slight change of the terrain. A topo map helps out with this.

This funnel here is a low spot on top of a very wide ridge. So slight we at first overlooked it when we started hunting the property over 20 years ago. If it hadn’t been all the deer tracks in the old road, we’d never set up a stand there.

Luckily we did because this was a “Guaranteed” stand if there ever was one. I can’t remember how many deer we killed out of that stand, but it was many. About 8 years ago the landowner sold the land and that ended our hunting on the property.

subtle funnelsNotice how there is a slight rise on each side of the X? Basically this is a saddle, but you’d probably not recognize it if you drove down the road.

Deer would come from the right, cross through the saddle and down the point of the ridge and into the fields below.

In the Mornings, they be coming back from the fields.

During the rut, or when a front approached, it was an all day stand because you never knew when deer would show up!

So break out your topo maps and aerial photo’s and find those Funnels! Just remember not all funnels are created equal, some good looking funnels are never used by deer for one reason or another. While subtle funnels like the one above can produce deer year after year.

Places To Find Aerial Photo’s Online

Check with your state’s game dept. Many states are now putting up aerial photo’s and topo grids for popular WMA’s.

A great resource for Aerial photo’s is the Microsft’s TerraServer. It’s free and covers many areas of the U.S. On many of these maps, you can switch from Aerial Photo to Topo Grid. This makes it sweet!

I’m told that Google Earth has some fine Aerial Photo’s and not of people on the Beach! I’ve never tried it though. Here’s the link if you’d like to try Google Earth.

Take the time to search out funnels in your hunting area. I’ve never seen a hunting area that didn’t have them!

.243 Performance on Deer- Is 243 Winchester Good for Deer Hunting?

.243 PERFORMANCE ON DEER

Okay, I know I’ll probably get flamed for this, but I think it’s something that needs to be discussed. I know it’s discussed every hunting season by at least one Outdoor magazine and in every Gun Shop and in every Deer Camp.

The topic of these discussions/heated arguments in deer hunting circles is…

Is the .243 A Good Deer Rifle?

The simple answer is Yes…and…No.

First of all, the 243 is a necked down 308 that uses a .24 caliber bullet (6mm). As everyone knows, the 308 is a great round for Deer and other Big Game. That doesn’t make all of its offspring great Deer rounds though!

I’ve owned a .243 and a 6mm. The 6mm was a Ruger 77V and was without a doubt the most accurate rifle I ever owned. But I only used it for Varmints and never once tried it on Deer sized game.

I overheard some folks ask, how far will a 243 kill a deer? Well, I did use a 243 with 100-grain bullets one year to take a small buck at about 60 yards. He was feeding along, calm and perfectly broadside. Without a doubt, it can go as far as 180 yards.

The shot was perfect double lung and he leaped forward at the shot and piled up 50 yards later. Not everyone has had the same experience with this round.

In the past, the 243 suffered from poor bullet construction. Sometimes the bullets blew up on impact, sometimes they didn’t expand at all while other times they did exactly what they were supposed to do.

Bullet construction has come a long way over the years, but I still do not consider the 243 an ideal Deer cartridge, especially for beginners. Deer hunters can improve the performance of the 243 by reloading the round with premium bullets.

Sadly, the 243 Winchester is what beginners are handed a lot of the time as their first Deer rifle.

When the 243 Is Not Right For Deer Hunting

One of the problems I see now is beginners headed out to the field with the light 55 to 85 grain loads for the 243. Most of these loads have fragile bullets as they are intended for thin skinned varmints, not a tough old ridge running White-tailed Buck Deer.

Part of the problem is that so-called ‘experts’ behind the ammo desk and Gun writers are pushing these rounds on unsuspecting Deer hunters because they think lighter and faster is the way to go.

Read: 5 Military Surplus Rifles for Deer Hunting

Another problem is that if you’re not practicing regularly, you may not be as familiar with the rifle as you should be. Many beginners (okay, most) will get a terrible case of “the shakes” when it comes down to the moment of truth when that buck deer comes into view. Heck, even most of us old-timers do! The difference is, those of us who have hunted for years and are experienced, have learned how to control “the shakes” and focus on the shot.

A poor hit on a Deer is made even worse when using a small bullet in a round like the 243. The extra damage caused by a .26 or 7mm caliber can mean the difference between finding a marginally hit animal or not.

In my opinion, the minimum caliber that should be allowed for Deer hunting is the 243 with a 95-grain bullet. I can’t believe the States that allow 22 calibers to be used for Deer.

Yeah, I know they’ll kill a Deer but so will the 22 Rimfire and even the little 17’s. Why not allow them to be legal rounds to hunt Deer with? Having said this, it doesn’t mean I think the 243 should be used by beginners.

To me, the 243 is to Deer rifles what the 410 shotgun is to wingshooting. Sure, it will get the job done, but it’s not for beginners!

How many of you that consider the 243 the ideal rifle for beginners would consider the 410 ideal for beginners to use Goose or Turkey hunting? Even though the 410 is used every year to take both, I don’t know anyone who would put 410 in the hands of a new hunter when going after those two birds.

The fact of the truth is that the margin for error is nil when using a small caliber like the 243. Everything has to be just right and everything, including the bullet, has to do its job. There are other low recoil rifle rounds that give you extra “knock down” than the 243 Winchester round. (FYI: this is no measurement of “knock down” power, just of .ft .lbs of energy)

Speaking of bullets again, if I were going to be hunting Deer with the 243 Winchester, I’d choose either the 95 and 100-grain bullets in a strong design like the Nosler Partition.

Forget about using fragile bullets like the Ballistic Tip, even in the heavier bullets, for Deer sized game. A hit on a shoulder blade or other bone could cause the bullet to explode on impact.

When the 243 is Right For Deer Hunters

In the hands of an experienced and seasoned Rifleman, the 243 is more than adequate for Deer sized Game.

I once read an article by an Outdoor writer, I think it may have been Jack O’Connor or Jim Carmichel, that told a story about a man who used the .243 for Elk. He killed Elk every year with his rifle, everyone being a neck shot. He saw no need to buy a “real Elk gun”.

Does this make the 243 an ideal Elk Rifle? Methinks not!

However, in the hands of that Gentleman, it certainly was.

And so it is for Deer Hunting. I know a guy who kills 2 deer a year for his freezer. It doesn’t matter what they are as long as they’re legal. He has used a 243 Winchester for over 20 years and it’s the only “Big Game” Caliber rifle he owns.

Every deer that I’ve seen him kill has been a neck or head shot. He’s hunted out of the same two stands year after year for the last 20 years. His shots range from 30 to 300 yards. In his hands, the 243 is the perfect caliber for Deer.

A seasoned hunter knows how to control his/her excitement when they see their buck. The seasoned hunter has the patience to wait for the “perfect” shot placement opportunity. The seasoned hunter knows which bullets perform best in his/her rifle and they can put those bullets where they need to go at the moment-of-truth.

Many new hunters cannot do these things due to a lack of experience. They don’t have the experience to wait and to recognize when a Buck is nervous and about to bolt. They haven’t learned how to control their breathing when putting the crosshairs on a Buck. Look out for the 7 mistakes deer hunters make.

It’s for this reason and mainly this reason alone, that I do not consider the .243 Winchester an adequate rifle for Deer hunting in the hands of a Beginning Deer Hunter.

As I stated above, there are other great choices of low-recoiling rounds for deer hunting that pack a bigger punch than the .243. Check ’em out before buying your potential new hunter a .243.

Nothing’s worse for a new hunter than to shoot a deer and not be able to recover it because of a marginal, or a poor, hit. Put the odds in their favor by using a larger round! If you must give a beginner a 243, then, by all means, make sure you use premium ammo like Fusion 243 ammo. It’s a reliable bullet and one that will work well as long as the shooter does his or her part!

Also Read: Hunting Weapons List- The Must Have Weapons for Serious Hunters

In the following video, watch and listen to GunBlue 490 expert advice on why  .243 wincheester still rules in deer hunting.

Deer Baiting: Is it Legal, What Are the Potential Ramifications?

DEER BAITING: IS IT LEGAL,

When I talk about baiting all of you hunters know what I’m referring to. For those of you who don’t, baiting would mean using the distribution of some sort of food attractant (corn, apples, carrots, etc.) to bring deer to a certain location in order to be able to have a clean shot and ultimately kill the animal.

I know baiting is a controversial subject and also a subject that gets plenty of time on numerous hunting forums and other hunting-related websites.

I just basically wanted to touch on the already widely debated issues of baiting and also get into another area that maybe hasn’t been hit upon yet.

First, I have to say that I don’t have a problem with baiting at all. I can’t honestly look at anyone and tell them that I’ve never hunted over some sort of bait pile before. I have and I will admit to it.

In recent years though I haven’t used baiting as a means for bringing animals into my setup. It is just a personal choice for me.

I would rather outsmart a deer by figuring out its route to and from food sources and bedding areas, sitting up on that area, and outsmarting them at their own game.

Now I have hunted a couple of setups this year that did have bait at them, but not bait that I put there.

My brother is a baiting fool and the bait was already there before my arrival. I have to be honest though and say that it didn’t keep me from hunting there, but I would not have put in the effort to bait that location. Again, my personal choice.

There were a few reasons while talking to a friend, that baiting was brought up as a topic. One was that it was a hot topic on a local outdoor forum that we frequent. This, in turn, got his mind wandering to a different area of the baiting controversy that hadn’t been really touched upon yet.

How Does the Non-hunter View Deer Baiting?

I’m not talking about an anti-hunter.  I am speaking of the person who supports hunting but does not participate in the sport.

With the amount of discrepancy between hunters about the ramifications of baiting, how does one that doesn’t hunt perceive baiting? I would think not positively.

Most would deem it as an unfair advantage and point to the fact that it is taking “the fairness” out of the chase. They would point to the simple fact of using a necessity that all animals have to fill their bellies, to legally kill game.

Do I agree with that viewpoint?

To a degree I do. Do I think that baiting should be banned? Heck no. I think baiting increases your chances for scoring, but by no means is a guarantee for a kill. Trust me on this one. I can say that from first-hand experience. I have never shot a deer over a bait pile before. It hasn’t happened yet.

I know what is coming next. “I haven’t shot a deer over a bait pile before?” you say. What about a cornfield or a bean field? This brings up the next baiting argument. To that argument, I say this.

Agricultural fields such as corn fields and bean fields can be acres in size and are not in such a concentrated area like a bait pile is. The two can’t be compared as the same thing. They are much different, with a lot more odds against you, if you’re hunting an open bean field then if you’re sitting in a woodlot over a bucket full of sugar beets.

See what I mean?

So I think baiting definitely has a place in the hunting world, but not one that I normally choose to participate in. So my question to all of you is this. What do you think of baiting and do you think it is ammunition for the anti’s, and more specifically, do you think the general population that supports hunting views it in a negative light? Let the comments and the discussion begin. I can’t wait to see all the different viewpoints.

Top 7 Mistakes Deer Hunters Make: Deer Hunting 101

Top 7 Mistakes Deer Hunters Make

This subject came to mind when I received an email from a reader asking what mistakes he should avoid when starting out deer hunting.

Geez, talk about a loaded question (no pun intended)! After a little thought, I’ve come up with the 7 most common mistakes I believe new deer hunters make.

While it’s obvious that most of these mistakes are often belong to a beginning deer hunter, I’ve seen veteran deer hunters also make some of these mistakes (myself included).

If you see one that should be on the list, drop me a line. So, here are my top 7 mistakes I see deer hunters make. In no certain order.

1. They fail to scout

Now when I say scout, that’s exactly what I mean. I don’t mean lollygagging around the woods taking potshots with a .22 a few days before the season. I mean getting out weeks before the season opens and scouring your hunting area real good.

Even if you’re familiar with the lay of the land, you’ll be surprised from time to time by what you find. Lots of things can change from season to season, that’s why it’s important to get out and scout!

2. They fail to become proficient with the weapon they’re using

The funny thing is, the definition of ‘proficient’ changes from hunter to hunter. Some may believe it’s being able to shoot a 2″ group at 100 yards.

Others think if they can hit a 12″x12″ piece of paper at 50 yards, that is all they need. When I was a kid, my dad used to hang a one-gallon paint bucket on a limb at about 50 yards. If he could hit it with his open sighted 30-30 Marlin, then his gun was “sighted in” and he was perfectly happy.

And he killed a lot of deer with that gun, few were rarely shot past 50 yards though.

I think most of us would agree that a scoped modern rifle should be able to put at least 3 rounds inside 3 inches at any range up to 100 yards. If the gun can do that, then the shooter should practice proper breath control and trigger squeeze.

For bowhunters, I believe they should be able to keep all their arrows inside a 5 or even 6-inch group out to 40 yards. Obviously, I’d like to see them also keep at least 3 arrows in a 3-inch circle out to 40, but I had trouble doing that at 40 yards with my old compound.

Only when I started shooting instinctively did my accuracy improve greatly. I just could never develop the form to shoot accurately with sights out to 40 yards.

3. Lack of Patience

Over the years I’ve learned that many times I found that a lack of patience was really a lack of confidence in most cases. Funny that you have no trouble sitting in a blind until noon if you’re seeing deer, or if you think you’ll be seeing them.

But a lot of people have a problem sitting still even an hour or so before they get up and start walking around. Which by the way, is another mistake beginners make!

I can’t tell you how many deer I’ve watched impatient hunters spook because they were out of their blind or treestand by 8 or 9 and started walking around.

If you’ve done your scouting properly, there should be no reason for you to be out plopping around the freakin’ woods at 8 or 9 a.m. You’re better off going back to camp and making coffee for everyone else who will be filing in a few hours.

4. They call too much

I think beginners and even some veterans should have their deer calls taken away. I’d bet that the majority of deer hunters have never heard a real deer in the woods.

And of those hunters, the majority of them have never listened to a pro on a CD or DVD call deer. They may have seen one of the TV show cowboys do it, but few have taken the time to hear real deer call in the woods.

Even if you’re using an excellent grunt call like the MAD Grunt/Snort/Wheez call, you can easily over call and spook deer!

Usually, one of two things happen”

  • The hunters will go out and call long and hard for a few days and when nothing shows up, the proclaim to everyone they meet from here on out that deer calls are jokes and do not work.
  • Or, they use the call a few times and when a big buck doesn’t magically show up, they lose interest and leave the call at home or back in camp.

I’ve been deer hunting for nearly 30 years now and I’ve heard deer vocalize only a few dozen times over the years. Of course, I probably spend a lot more time scouting and deer hunting than the average Joe as well.

Deer make soft subtle sounds, even a buck trailing a hot doe doesn’t grunt near as loud as many commercial call sound. Plus, deer don’t make a continuous sound every step they make!

5. They use too much scent

Like over calling, a lot of deer hunters are relying on that magical deer in a bottle to produce a buck for them. Many deer hunters subscribe to the theory that more is better. That just isn’t true!

I dearly loved to watch the late Ben Rogers Lee. I use to have nearly all of his deer hunting videos and I learned a lot from watching them.

However, I cringed when he would pour a whole bottle of his deer scent on a tarsal gland or rag and say something like “Now you can’t get too much of this scent on the ground, use plenty so the Buck can really smell it”.

I know he was just selling deer scent, but then again the guy didn’t have a problem killing deer. He knew them just as well as he knew the habits of Turkey. But beginners thought his ‘secret to success’ was all that deer scent he was pouring out!

Deer can put bloodhounds to shame. If you’re going to use scent, use only a few drops. I think the majority of deer hunters would do far better without scents than with them. Most don’t know how to use them properly or when to use them.

I personally don’t want a deer to know I’m anywhere around when he comes by my stand. Sure, I’ve had scents work and I’ve had them spook deer, especially when using a Doe in Estrous scent during the rut.

Many small bucks that have had their butts whipped will spook. So will does. They know that if a Buck is present, it’ll be cold nosing them and pestering them for a long time. So they will avoid another doe who smells like she is ‘in’.

That’s why most of the time you’ll find me using a deer scent like Wildlife Research’s Trails End #307. I’ve used it for many years and it doesn’t seem to spook deer in my area during the rut. I’ve also seen it attract several deer that I know of, including a few bucks.

6. Fail to plan

There’s a saying in the business world that goes something like “If you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail”. The same could be said about deer hunting.

Do you have backup stand locations for different wind directions? What if there are hunters in your area, do you have an alternate plan? Have you ever went hunting and forgot your weapon at camp or home? Have you ever forgot your release or shells?

You should have alternate hunting stand locations mapped out and know which wind directions they are good for. Plus, a simple checklist that you check before heading out will keep you from forgetting an important part of your gear.

Over the years I’ve heard of more than one story about a deer hunter who went ahead and sits in their stand even though they had forgotten their weapon or ammo only to have a buck walk by within range. I bet you’ve heard one or two stories about unprepared hunters.

7. The use cheap equipment

When I say ‘cheap’, I mean poor quality equipment. I can’t tell you how many people just want the cheapest piece of equipment they can find. Whether it’s the cheapest bow, treestand, game camera or rifle, it seems their only requirement is that the equipment is cheap.

How many times have you seen someone ask a question in the forums like “What’s the best and cheapest bow?” or “What’s the best and cheapest cold weather hunting clothes?”

It’s okay to save a buck (no pun intended), but simply being a cheapskate because you’re tight is a whole different matter.

Poor quality hunting equipment can come back to bite you when you need it the most. Like scopes, rifles, bows, clothes, boots and other deer hunting products, sometimes it’s better to save up a little while longer and buy the good stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. Although I see beginners make most of these mistakes, making these mistakes don’t seem to know the difference between a beginning deer hunter and someone who’s been hunting for decades.

The only thing I can see is that serious deer hunters make fewer of these mistakes than the weekend warriors. I believe it comes down to how serious you are about deer hunting. The more serious you are, the more you’re likely to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them.

Late Season Deer Hunting Tips & Tactics From The Pros

Late Season Deer Hunting

Okay, be honest, how many of you that live in States or Provinces that have late deer hunting season have forgotten about deer hunting?

If you’re like I used to be, you’re probably thinking about the upcoming fishing season or you’re hunting Small Game and Waterfowl.

But you could be missing out on the best time to take a good buck.

The truth is most hunters give up deer hunting after the second weekend.

When I hunted in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, they had something like a 21 day gun season the best I recall. After the second weekend, the woods were empty! It’s like I had them all to myself.  If you saw anyone during the late bow season, they were probably lost!

When I lived in Oklahoma, ‘back in the day’, there was a 9 day rifle season at the end of November. December was a late archery season.

It wasn’t until I started hunting in the late season that I found the deer easier to pattern and easier to kill.

Here are some late season deer hunting tips I learned along the way.

 

Sleep in

I spent many a frozen morning in my stand waiting on deer. Most of the time, this was wasted time and there were times I was so cold I had to call it quits. I once read an article by the late Ben Lee where he said deer bed up until mid-morning because they don’t like to feed on frozen vegetation. I think that’s true!

Also, the mornings are cold and deer know if they wait, it will warm up. They know they can reserve body heat by waiting to feed later in the day. Besides, these are the best excuses I can come up with for sleeping in!

Practice shooting in your winter clothes

Whether you’re shooting a bow, muzzleloader or modern rifle(or shotgun), practice in the clothes you’ll be wearing. Bulky clothes can make you shoot differently than the same clothes you had on when you sighted your weapon in.

Bowstrings are notorious for catching on bulky clothes and guns seem to get snagged on the extra clothes as your raising them to shoot.

You may also want to think about reducing the poundage on your bow. It’s hard to pull a heavy poundage bow when your muscles are cold!

Don’t forget your rutting techniques

During the late season there is a “secondary” rut. Not as noticeable as the first, but enough to make the bucks go bonkers. The secondary rut is for the Does who did not get bred the first time around.

From what I can tell, the secondary rut is also drawn out. So you may see Bucks chasing Does anytime during the late season. Give your rattling antlers and deer calls a try this time of year.

It’s all about the food

In late season, Deer need food and lots of it to maintain their body heat and survive the Winter. Bucks will be trying to put on some fat before the hardest part of Winter hits as will the Does. This is why it’s the easiest season to hunt in my opinion.

Find a good food source, find the trails leading into these food sources and sit back and wait for the right Deer!

The South will rise again

If you’re into still hunting or stand hunting bedding areas, look on the South slopes or areas facing South. These areas warm quicker and sooner than in other areas.

You’ll find your Deer here working on their tans and staying warm.

Hunt the fronts

Cold fronts seem to affect Deer movement more in the late season than at any other time in my experience. Deer will really be up and feeding heavy a few days prior to the arrival of a cold front and the days following a cold front.

Also in my experience, it seems the amount they’re up and moving is also dictated by how severe the front is. Weird, but that’s been my experience. They seem to “sense” whether or not the approaching front is a “weather maker.”

Dress for success

When the temperature plummets, it’s time to break out the cold weather clothes. I still prefer wool clothing on those days with the exception of my Windbreaker coat.

I have a friend who swears by the Arctic Shield line of clothes. Whatever you wear, remember to dress in layers.

One December I was hunting before the arrival of a major front. The day was really, really cold. It was one of those days when the Sun was out, but you’d thought that it had lost all the heat.

It was like the Sun was just making an appearance for the heck of it. No warmth was coming out of that big orange ball on this day!

I had taken my camo sleeping bag and put it on while in my treestand. It was one of the warmest late season hunts I’d ever had! (I don’t recommend this, however, if you do use it, make sure you use a safety belt if you’re hunting from a treestand)

Fuel the fire

On late season hunts, I bring along some water, sometimes Coffee and high energy snacks. Keeping your tummy full will help you stay warm during the day.

Think safety

Before climbing into your stand, make sure there is no ice. Ditto for treesteps if you’re using them. I take a piece of carpet and lay over the seat and platform to keep the snow and ice off of these areas.

Use lighter colored camo

Remember, there are few leaves on the tree now and you’ll most likely be outlined against the sky when a Deer looks up. I switch to either a Winter camo pattern or an Urban-type camo as both are not as dark and stark.

Muzzleloaders only

If you plan on using a muzzleloader, keep it outside. Taking a muzzleloader from a nice warm home or vehicle into frigid air will cause condensation to form in the barrel. Even if you snap a few caps the moisture is likely to come back.

This affects those who are still using traditional blackpowder more than those who are using modern primers and black powder substitutes.

There you go. You State’s Deer season may still be underway. Get out there after them! It’s my favorite time to hunt deer!

 

Scouting for Deer in the Summer

SCOUTING FOR DEER IN THE SUMMER

I have to admit, as I get older, it’s getting harder and harder to think about scouting for deer when it’s 100 degrees outside.

I’m usually thinking of my next fishing trip or how high my electric bill will be! I’ll bet that many of you are the same way, whether you’re old or young!

Advantages To Scouting for Deer in the Summer

There is pretty much two worlds of thought about scouting for deer in the Summer. Some believe that it does no good, believing any bucks you might see will be long gone come October or November.

Others believe scouting for deer in the Summer is helpful because it will show you what quality of bucks you’ll have come fall.

In my opinion, both trains of thought are right and wrong. Allow me to voice my opinion.

In years past when I scouted heavily for Deer in the Summer, I knew that most of the Bucks I saw would be gone by early Fall.

Bucks just will not hang out in bachelor groups all year long. Especially the younger ones. They seem to wear out their welcome among the other Deer pretty quick!

So they disband and go their separate ways. Many will not see each other again unless it’s in one hunter’s freezer.

I’ve found this to be especially true if there are a lot of Does around. It seems the Does know that these little Bucks will be pestering them relentlessly in a few months and they try and run them off.

In areas with few does, I’ve found that the little Bucks will hang around longer, sometimes right up to the gun Deer season.

Big Bucks are a whole ‘nother story.

Simply put, they’re unpredictable year round. If you see a large buck in your back yard all Summer long, chances are he’ll be gone in Sept. or October.

Other times, I’ve watched big Bucks in fields and pipeline and power line right-of-ways and those bucks were still hanging around the general area come to the rut.

Many hunters who hang out scouting cameras wonder where the big Bucks they see in the Summer have gone when it comes hunting season.

Truth is, they’re out partying with the girls! Or trying to find girls to party with.

It seems that the more remote the areas I scout and find big Bucks, the more likely it is they’ll be hanging around when Gun season rolls around. But when you’re talking big Bucks, nothing is written in stone.

They may get hit by a car or die of natural causes. They may get whipped by a stronger buck and be forced to leave their core area. They may wake up one morning and feel pressured to leave by who knows what and they beeline out of the country. Big Deer have a mind of their own.

I’m always amazed at how cautious the big Bucks are even in the dead of Summer. They’re generally the last ones to exit cover and the first ones back in. It’s like they never relax entirely. The bigger they are, the more cautious they are. They didn’t get those big ole racks by being smart only during hunting season!

Where to Start Looking For Summertime Bucks

You have to remember one thing when looking for Summertime Bucks. They’re carrying around antlers on their heads that are covered with velvet that has millions of nerve endings and blood vessels in them. They know they have to protect their velvet from bugs and things that might scuff up their headgear.

They prefer to stay in semi-open terrain where there are breezes to keep the bugs and branches to a minimum.

I find many bucks in the same general area as Does during the Summer. Fields are a great place to glass in the mornings and evenings.

My favorite places to search for Summer Bucks are pipeline and power line right of ways. This is true especially if I’m scouting a new area or want to see what quality of Bucks the current area holds.

In some states, you can actually spotlight Deer at night. Just be sure to check your local regulations before doing this!

Summertime scouting for deer also gives you the chance to pattern the Does. Chances are they’ll stick around the entire year. It helps to try and learn their patterns as well.

Of course, as the food sources change, so will the patterns. In agriculture areas, those patterns don’t seem to change as much as they do in Deep Woods. Keep that in mind when you’re scouting your hunting area.

Don’t overlook watering holes. Although Whitetail Deer don’t water like Cattle, in arid regions, especially as the Summer temps rise, they’ll visit watering holes a lot more often than people think.

I’ve actually watched Does playing in an old Slough one year while Squirrel hunting. So expect the unexpected.

Is Summer Time Scouting Worthless For Hunting Season?

I’ve heard some people say that you’re wasting your time scouting in the Summer. This isn’t exactly true. If you only hunt the Gun Season or Late Season, then there might be some truth to this.

In States that have early hunting Seasons, Summer scouting can allow you to pattern and kill a Buck before some Hunters even start thinking about putting stands out.

The bachelor groups will still be around in August and even early September in most places. This gives early Season Hunters a chance to pattern and take the Buck of their choice before he goes bonkers and heads out to parts unknown.

The more you get out and learn what the Deer are doing in your hunting area do under certain times and conditions, the more you’re likely in the right place at the right time. Don’t ignore scouting for Deer in the Summer, it can be a great time to get out before the Season and see what your hunting area has to offer.

Best Low Cost Trail Cameras and Game Cameras for Hunting

Best Low Cost Trail Cameras for Hunting

How do I pick a Trail Camera?

Our #1 goal is to help you pick the absolute perfect trail camera for your particular situation. Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, a sportsman, a wildlife researcher, or just trying to catch a vandal; we are here to help.

This “First Time” Trail Camera Buyer’s Guide will provide a quick overview of what to look for in these trail cameras. If at any time, you have questions and want to talk to someone in person, feel free to Contact Us. We look forward to helping you with your trail camera needs!

The first thing you will need to know is there are tons of cameras out there. Many of them excel in one area but under-perform in another. Knowing the situation in which you will place your camera can play a crucial part in picking your “perfect” camera.

After reading this guide, I would highly recommend going through the Trail Camera Selection Guide. It will walk you through, step by step, the different criteria you may or may not be interested in. At the end of the test, it will give you the camera (s) that matches your criteria. It essentially finds the perfect camera for your needs.

Detection Circuits

The detection circuit of a trail camera is what detects the animal. Cameras detect based off of a combination of heat and motion. The better detection circuits will produce more pictures of wildlife or people, the poor detection circuits will miss a lot of activity and produce minimal pictures.

Detection circuits consist of:

  • Trigger Time Detection Zone
  • Detection Width
  • Detection Range
  • Recovery  Time

Trigger Time

Trigger time is the amount of time a camera takes to snap a picture once the object has entered the detection zone. In general, quicker trigger speed is an indicator of a higher quality camera.

However, not every person needs a quick trigger speed. If you are putting the camera on a feeder or bait station, where the animal is expected to hang around for a while, a quick trigger is not necessary.

Conversely, If you are putting the camera on a game trail, or using for security, you need a quick trigger speed in order to snap a picture before the animal/person leaves.

We use a device called The Triggernator that scientifically and accurately tests the trigger speeds of any camera trap. If you would like to view the trigger times from the different cameras, read the Trigger Speed Showdown.

Detection Zones

Every camera trap has a Detection Zone. A Detection Zone is an area in front of the camera that the game camera is “monitoring.”

When an animal or person steps into the detection zone, a picture will be taken shortly thereafter (how long depends on how fast the trigger speed!).

The two factors that determine the detection zone are Detection Width and Detection Range.

Detection Width

Game Cameras have anywhere from a 5-degree beam up to a full 90-degree detection zone. At 30′ this varies anywhere from narrow 3′ horizontal detection width all the way up to a monstrous 60′ wide detection width.

Detection Range

The furthest distance at which a scouting camera is able to detect motion. Distances range from 30′ on the low end to out past 100′. If you want to put a camera on a food plot and cover a huge amount of area, you need a game camera with a wide detection width and long detection range.

For comprehensive data on Detection Zones, please review our Detection Zone Test.

Recovery Time

Recovery time is the amount of time a camera takes to capture a photo, store that photo to memory and then re-arm itself for the next photo opportunity.

Some cameras will only take a picture every 30 or 60 seconds. These cameras will work on a feeder/bait station, but not on a fast moving game trail.

If you want to see everything that is walking down a game trail, you need a camera that recovers quickly. If you want the best recovery time, Reconyx trail cameras recover in just 1/2 second.

Conclusion on Detection Circuits

Every year, we do our trademark test to determine which cameras have the best Detection Circuits. The test combines trigger speeds, detection zones and recovery time.

If you would like to see which camera companies scored the highest, you need to review the Trail Camera Shootout.

Quality of Picture

The first thing to know is that megapixel ratings are the LAST thing you should look for in a camera. Many companies trick you by listing a high Mpxl, but in reality they use an extremely low quality lens which makes the quality of the picture average or even below average.

The only way to define quality of picture is to look at sample pictures (and then decide yourself).

Picture Quality

Before you purchase a camera, you need to be aware of what the pictures from that camera trap look like. We obviously test and review nearly every camera out there and one of the biggest tests revolves around putting a camera in the woods and seeing exactly what it does.

Our collection of trail camera pictures will give you an excellent representation of the quality of picture to expect from each model.

You can also view our customer photos for both educational and entertainment value!

Infrared vs. Incandescent

Does the camera use a standard incandescent flash or infrared flash? Incandescent will give you color night photos, but is also subject to spooking some game.

Infrared is color daytime and black and white at night but does not spook the game (normally).

Flash Range

Flash range is the distance at which a camera’s flash is able to capture a discernible image at night. Some models tested were incapable of reaching past 15′ while others worked out to 80’+.

  • Good Flash Range (60ft)
  • Poor Flash Range (10 ft.)

To see sample night pictures, please visit the Flash Range Test.

Battery Life

Battery life is often overlooked until you have been using the camera for some time. If you make the wrong decision, your camera could cost you a small fortune in the future.

If you make the right decision, (buying a camera with good battery life and using rechargeable batteries) batteries will be the least of your concern.

We are huge advocates of NiMH Rechargeable batteries. Why?

  1. They save you bushels of money in the long run (check out this chart for proof).
  2. They increase your battery life in the cold winter months.
  3. Fewer batteries in the landfills = cleaner environment for you and your kids

We include battery life information in all of our trail camera reviews. You may also want to read our article about Nimh, Lithium and Alkaline batteries.

Security Options

When you go to retrieve your photos, will your camera still be there?

Much like batteries, this is something that is often overlooked until it is too late. If you plan on putting your camera in an area that receives traffic from anybody but you, do yourself a favor and lock your camera up.

To view security options for all the different camera traps, please visit Security Devices for Trail Cameras.

Putting it all together…

A great resource, if you haven’t already been there, is our Trail Camera Shootout. The Shootout gives you the raw data for determining which cameras have good detection circuits. If you want to read more on the different tests we perform, or to compare and see how the cameras stack up to each other, visit our Trail Camera Tests.

This will help explain many of our testing procedures and will have tons of information to familiarize yourself with how the cameras work and which ones outperform their competitors.

Also, if you would like to see which camera is right for you, complete our Trail Camera Selection Guide. Enter your preferences and find out which camera matches your needs!

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