December can be one of the hardest months to hunt deer, but if you know how to leverage the unique elements of this phase of the season to your advantage, you can be very productive! On this episode I talk about what you need to know to have success hunting deer in December. 

Come December and the rut is over, bucks are worn out from the rut and spend most of the daylight hours bedded down resting and eating. Does find themselves scrambling to put on pounds for the winter. Deer are behaving differently and are harder to hunt. If that were not enough, many states place their firearms deer season at around this time frame putting tremendous hunting pressure on these deer.

Cover is also changing and as grass dies and leaves fall, the places deer can hide well become more and more scarce. Couple that with shorter and shorter days and deer can much more readily wait out the shorter daytime in order to move and feed at night. They become food focused and cover obsessed. By the second or third day of the hunting season, the entire deer herd can seem like it has become nocturnal. 

This is the most difficult time of the year to hunt whitetails. But hope is not lost. If you know what to do and how to hunt you can still find success and maximize the time you spend in the woods to get the best odds for your hours.

The trick is to know when and where to hunt. Because going to an October or November spot or hunting at September hours will not produce results as well in December. Deer can become like a different animal at this point in the season, some of it is natures timing and some is the result human pressure and influence. 

Listen to the podcast episode to get the tactics and strategy you need to make the most of December hunts.

Jump hunting ducks can be tons of fun, inexpensive, and a great way to use the middle of the day to bring home some birds. On this episode I share 7 keys for being more successful hunting ducks on foot. 

Jump hunting is the practice of trying to sneak up on ducks to get “the jump” on them. It involves stealth with the intent to get into position and then ambush birds on the water or flush them and to shoot them out of the air. 

Hunting ducks on foot dates back to the dawn of duck hunting. It is both challenging and effective and enables you to bring home ducks while requiring only minimal gear and time spent scouting. 

Your goal is to get as close to the birds as possible before taking a shot, within 30 yards is the target. It is easy to underestimate the distance, in fact most people do. So, you must get closer than what seems necessary, especially since birds will instantly flush and move further away from you the moment you are detected.

Using terrain to close that distance is key, this will help you avoid being seen or heard by the ducks. Another key factor is wind. Wind creates noise and motion in the woods, masking you approach. Then if you move when the wind blows you can become nearly invisible. 

When shooting at birds on the water you want a long-range range setup, ideally with a very tight choke tube and denser than steel shot. I like to use an extra full choke with bismuth shells. Steel can work just great at short to medium range but it loses a lot of power at long range. Bismuth retains energy further out enabling you to hit harder at range. 

Similar to turkey hunting, your goal is to hit the ducks in the head and neck so you want a very tight pattern with a lot of pellets. Bismuth #4 shot is ideal. HEVI XII in #6 works even better but is much more expensive. Consider carrying a handful of high-grade shells and a tighter choke just for these kinds of hunts.

Note, you do not want to use actual turkey loads and chokes because then you will not be able to shoot birds when they flush. But that kind of setup can work ok shooting geese on the water or the ground due to their long neck.

Listen to the podcast episode for all of the tips.

 

Hunting deer during the rifle season should be easier and simpler than it is, but there are two big things that complicate it. On this episode I share tips and strategies to overcome the big hurdles of the gun season and help you become one of the 20% of hunters that take 80% of the deer.

One of the challenges of rifle season is natural, it is habit and habitat change. This time of year cover has become sparse, feeding and bedding patterns are in flux, and deer find fewer places to hide and eat. They are more alert and have fewer places they can be secure. Combine this will the end of the rut and whitetail bucks are tired, less active, and more focused on resting.

The bigger challenge however is the orange army. The woods fill with hunters, deer are overrun, pushed around, shot at, spooked, and disrupted.  Their paranoia is amplified and very quickly they will find themselves moving less and less, waiting for the safety of darkness. There is nothing we can do to stop this. But we can account for it, and even us it to our advantage.

Listen to the podcast episode to hear the 5 tips for overcoming these challenges to be successful hunting dear in the gun season. 

As the seasons progress so does duck hunting, in fact each period of the duck season requires different strategies and focus points to be as effective as possible. On this episode I talk about the different phases of the duck season and what is unique about hunting during each of them.

Duck season can be divided into three phases in many states.

  1. Early Season – This is when things are warm and green. You are primarily hunting local ducks or early migrators.
  2. Core Season – This is what you often see on TV, the migration is on, and birds are flying through on a regular basis looking for places to stop and rest.
  3. Late Season – The water is freezing up and ducks become more and more concentrated on open water.

Each phase of the season requires unique strategies to get the most out of it.

Listen to the episode for all of the details.

Everyone deer hunter needs to develop a basic and realistic ability to track a wounded deer. Some of it will come from experience but much of it can be learned and you do not need special powers or training to get proficient at it. On this podcast episode I share some basic principles for how to track a wounded deer for regular people.

Tracking a deer is all about looking for three main things, blood, tracks, and disturbed environment.

  • Blood: If you inflicted a mortal wound on a deer it will almost always cause a significant amount of observable bloodloss. There are a few exceptions, but most fatal hits will provide enough blood to follow.
  • Tracks: Deer have feet, no matter where they go, their feet will hit the ground, often leaving observable evidence they are there. And a running deer produces deeper footprints then a cautious or slow-moving animal.
  • Disturbed Environment: If a whitetail is fleeing it will often leave visible sign that it passed beyond footprints. It will disturb leaves and dirt, it will push over, trample, or effect grasses, weeds, brush, etc. Even on dry days with hard ground and no blood trail, it can be possible to see where a deer ran if you are mindful of what to look for.

Angles, sunlight, shade, and point of view all play into being able to notice these signs. If you see nothing, perhaps you need to look at things differently; get lower, get more light, use your nose, move more slowly, etc.

When all else fails, using intuition and a simple grid search can help you recover a lost animal. A systematic back and forth in a grid pattern can help you find sign and fallen deer when the trail has run cold. Not all deer are recoverable, but most are and with a little focus and some strategy you can often find your whitetail. You may also need a little courage to knock on neighbors’ doors and ask them if you can follow the deer’s trail onto their property as well. 

Listen to the episode for all of the details. 

November is the best time of the year to hunt deer! It is also the worst time… November is the stuff that dreams are made of in the deer woods. On this episode I talk about how November is unique and how to hunt it effectively, both the amazing first half of the month during the peak rut and the terrible last portion of the month which is the post rut lock down.

November has 2 main hunting phases

  1. The Peak Rut – This is the golden window when wonderful things happen. Deer are moving, bucks are searching for does, things can happen at any hour of the day, and in places where you have not seen much action before.
  2. The Post Rut Lockdown – This is worst time for hunting of the year. Bucks are exhausted from the rut and essentially bed down almost all day and eat through the night trying to recover their strength. Opportunities here are extremely limited and often hunting pressure extends this normally brief period of time. 

In November you can hunt deer effectively using almost any strategy such as ambush hunting from a tree stand or ground blind. You can also still hunt deer at almost any time of day during the early phase. Deer drives can be used effectively in the later portion of the month. And walking into the woods and sitting against a tree can also be effective.

The big key is identifying which phase of the hunting season is going on in your area and then matching the right strategy, timing, and location to it. In general, anywhere you can find cover and food is likely to be a prime deer area. However never go solely on habitat potential, you always want to hunt sign. Find where the deer really are or really have been and then select a strategy to hunt them there.

Listen to the podcast episode to hear the details of these two phases and what you can do to hunt each one most effectively. 

 

Are you at risk every time you walk into the woods hunting ducks, geese, doves, turkeys, and pretty much anything with a gun? Are you suffering irreparable damage to your hearing on every hunt? The sad answer is yes, but there is a way to stay safe and protect both your hearing and your future. We are going to dive into that and more on this episode!

Duck hunters know there are risks with firearms, deep water, and the elements but there are other dangers they face every time they walk into the woods. It is not just a danger of something that could happen, this is happening on every hunt to every hunter unless they do something to protect themselves. And that is hearing loss caused by firearms use.

To help me talk about the problem and the solution I have Bill Dickenson with me today, Dr. of Audiology, Lifelong hunter, fellow believer and founder of Tetra Hearing, a company that may be doing more than any other to change the lives of hunters young and old.

Hearing loss from hunting is kind of like radiation exposure, sometimes the ill effects are immediate but more often they are cumulative over time, slowly creeping up until you realize you have big health issues. And the issues go far beyond just not being able to hear as well, that is only the tip of the iceberg. 

This season I have heard of people making the same mistakes over and over when picking their deer hunting spot. Now that the rut is here, it is time to correct that error and pick much better and more productive hunting spots, be them on the ground or in a tree stand. On this episode I go in depth to explain this big mistake and the many ways you can improve your hunt by correcting it. 

Where you setup make a big difference when it comes to taking game. It is the single most strategic decision you can make. Picking a spot where you can see deer is not the same as picking a spot where you can take deer. You have got to focus 100% on the latter. Seeing deer does nothing to put venison in the freezer. 

Always focus on selecting stand and blind locations where you can take deer home. And as more hunters begin to fill the woods you need to also take into account how their activities impact deer movement and help or hurt you. Always work to leverage their activity to your advantage as well.

Listen to the podcast episode to hear the one huge tip!

The only good thing about a terrible hunt is when you can learn from it and help other people avoid what happened to you. On this episode I talk about the worst duck hunt of my life and how I wish I had known the answer to a very important question before I went into the woods: how do you humanely and quickly dispatch a live duck that makes it into your hands? 

No matter how much you practice, how tight your choke tube, or how good your ammunition, there will be times when you wound or cripple a duck that needs finished off. The hunter’s goal should be to kill the duck as quickly and humanely as possible to minimize suffering and ensure the duck does not get away for prolonged suffering. 

Not knowing how to do this led me through a traumatic series of events that became the worst duck hunt of my life. Had I heard this simple podcast episode first, it would have saved me so much trouble and saved a duck much more suffering as well. 

Here is the most concise document I’ve found with methods to kill a downed duck. The cervical dislocation is the main one I mentioned in the episode. Fact-Sheet-Dispatch-of-Duck-CD-Method-2019.pdf (gma.vic.gov.au)

How to prepare for a black bear hunt hinges upon how the battlefield is chosen. If you are hunting locally and you can pick the area, conditions, and weather then selecting gear is very easy. But if you are traveling to an unfamiliar battle ground, there are many unknowns and things you need to take into account. In this episode I talk about making bear hunting preparations for those newer to the sport.

Show Notes:

Most people do not start hunting bear as the first game they ever pursue, they have at least some experience hunting something else first, maybe deer, turkey, waterfowl or small game. Those skills can form the foundation of hunting knowledge you need to get started as you seek to add bear specific knowledge to your toolbox. I have done many other episodes focused on helping you build that knowledge base check those out.

The gear you need to hunt bear is almost entirely dependent on the location, weather, and strategy you use. Your deer hunting gear could be perfect. Or you may want gear more focused towards elk hunting. Alot of different types of gear can work if you know how to be resourceful and creative with your setup. Cheap gear can do a lot more than many people give it credit; however, you need to use that cheap gear differently.

For example, if you have cheap boots and cheap socks, you can get by better if you bring several changes of socks and two pair of boots. This will help keep your feet fresh, warm, and blister free. If you have cheap base layers, you can stretch their capabilities by bringing a second pair with you to rotate at mid-day to keep you dry, warm, and reduce chaffing.  

When it comes to firearms, a lot of rifles will work just fine. You want something that you can accurate shoot out to 150-200 yards and has enough power at that range to bring down a black bear quickly. For example, a 30-30 is just a bit light at range, but still just fine close up. A .308 is perfect, a 30-06 is just as a perfect, as is a .270, 7mm magnum, and many other chamberings. 

Listen to the episode to hear all the details.