If lead hunting ammunition is banned how big of an issue will it be in the hunting world? Are there viable non-toxic ammo options available? How can you keep hunting turkeys, pheasants, doves, deer, and everything else without lead ammo? What do you need to do in order to weather the storm? On this episode I talk about what is likely to happen if the ban occurs and what you can do to prepare so you are able to keep hunting without disruption. 

Will lead ammo be banned? I think so, at some point. I do not know if that is a month away, a year, or 10 years off, but I think at some point it will happen. The subject of whether or not lead ammo should be banned and all the politics and environmental concerns behind it is not something I am addressing in this podcast episode. I am focused on the simple practical things hunters need to know and do to transition from lead to non-toxic shot options to keep hunting.  

The solutions are different for every game species. For waterfowl hunting, we have been lead free for over 30 years, and finally the market has innovated some good alternatives. All other game ammo will benefit from this innovation, and waterfowl ammo can easily be adapted to hunt all game birds. The obstacle here is cost, since nontoxic loads are more expensive than lead hunting ammo. But I think eventually we’ll get used to the additional cost. 

The biggest issue with a lead ban will be the transition period. Reasonable and even good options exist with steel shot, bismuth shot, tungsten super shot, and copper bullets, among others. But if every hunter in America, or even just a handful of states has to drop their lead and pick up non toxic ammo, it is going to be very difficult and expensive to find legal ammo, probably for a few years as supply, demand, and manufacturing capabilities struggle to keep up and adjust. If you want to avoid this difficult eventuality, you need to make preparations in advance. 

Performance decrease for alternative ammo is a lesser concern, and in time I think it will not be a concern at all. For shotguns, TSS ammo is superior to lead already, for just about everything, it just costs a lot more. Bismuth ammo is very similar to lead’s performance capabilities and costs more, but not as dramatically more as tungsten.

When it comes to rifles, the copper bullets of today offer comparable performance to lead at regular hunting ranges for a little more cost. Where they lack performance is at extended range but this will not impact most hunters at all. And chances are, before long, new long range non-toxic bullets will be developed that have no performance deficit. 

I do not think it is a matter of if lead ammo is going to be banned, it is just a matter of when, and how suddenly it will occur. Ideally there will be a large period of time, maybe a five-year window given to transition over to alternative materials. This will give manufactures and hunters time to get geared up. But more than likely it will be more abrupt and there will be great supply chain issues as everyone tries to make the shift all at once. 

This is why all hunters should secure some non-toxic ammo now. Not cases and cases of it, but enough to last a couple of hunting seasons so you can weather any storm or shortage and be able to hunt without hindrance no matter what occurs in the hunting ammunition marketplace.

Listen to the whole podcast episode to hear all of the details.

People rarely ask this question at the right time and for the right reason. Hunting gear decisions are driven by marketing and wishful thinking instead of honest objective strategy. On this episode I am going to help you assess when you should upgrade each piece of gear you have, why you should do it, in what order, and how to maximize your budget and even improve your health! 

When it comes to hunting gear, I like to work to plug the lowest hole in the bucket. This means you look for the piece of gear that is the weakest link in the chain, causing you the most problems, discomfort, or hindrance. Then you strategically work to replace that piece of gear for something better. If something is holding you back, forcing you to end hunts early, causing you pain over the days that follow, or keeping you from being able to go out into the conditions you need to, that is what you focus on.

Marketing Is Not A Reason

Most people are led by marketing and gotta-have-it syndrome. They think they are being strategic; they talk themselves into it, rationalizing how great a shiny new piece of equipment is and how it will make them a better hunter and change their lives, but their expectations are unrealistic. They aren’t thinking clearly and end up buying things that don’t make much difference, do not enable them to do anything more, or maybe it really is a great purchase, but it is something they will just rarely use.

Strategic upgrades are done keeping the big picture in mind. They are not impulse buys and are not things you charge up on credit cards. They are items you plan for, save for, and wait for the right moment to buy. You may wait nine months for the right sale to come along, you may save up for the entire off season and then wait for the pre-season sale to that you have a hunch will come before you purchase. You may use these and many more strategies to get the right pieces of gear at the right time.

Take The Right Size Steps

Also, you do not need to upgrade straight from hodge podge improvised gear directly to expensive top-level equipment. Maybe you decide to upgrade you $5 bargain base layers to $50 Cabela’s base layers, instead of going straight for $150 merino wool First Lite base layers or Sitka Gear. It is not about brands; it’s about improving your setup and enabling you to hunt more and more comfortably.  

You always want to look for the weakest link in the chain, whether it’s your parka, pants, boots, gloves, hat, base layers, or any of the other many things used to hunt. Think about which piece should be upgraded next, why, and how often will you use that new piece.  Focus on items you use frequently and make the biggest difference. 

Here all the details by listening to this podcast episode. 

Do you want to take more game home? On this episode I am going to cover the single most important thing you can do to improve your hunting success rate. In short, I am talking about practice, specifically sporting clays practice, thought trap shooting and skeet can be helpful as well. This is mainly for shotgun hunters but there is also some application for rifle hunters as well. No gear you can buy will help you more than realistic practice. Skills will always trump equipment. 

In my experience, the average wing shooter takes home about 30% of the birds they shoot at. Some are better, some are worse. A better shotgun will not do much to improve this. Better ammo will only do so much. Better base layers, camouflage, gloves, calls, etc, will do almost nothing to help this average. The single biggest thing that will help is practice. And that just so happens to be the single most overlooked thing that hunters do and spend money on…

If you want to take more game, you need to practice more. That involves trap shooting, skeet shooting, and most importantly sporting clays shooting. All center around shooting at a clay disc out of the air, often referred to as a clay pigeon. These clay targets can be easily purchased at many big box stores for somewhere around $10 per 100. 

  • Trap Shooting involves clay targets that are launched away from the shooter at various angles to simulate a bird flushing and flying away. It gets its name from historical practice that was once done when the shooter would call “pull” and someone would pull the pin holding the trap door shut on a cage and thus allowing real birds to flush away from the cage as target practice.
  • Skeet Shooting essentially involves firing at clay targets passing or crossing in front of the shooter, similar to real birds passing by or being flushed by a dog or another party. The name “skeet” is believed to come from the Norwegian word “skyte” which means “shoot.”
  • Sporting Clays has some similarities to golf as it is a multi-position or hole course. No two courses are identical and often contain 20 positions with a total of 100 clay targets on a full course. Each position features multiple clays launched from various angles, and directions, all unique, simulating a wide range of real-world hunting situations from ducks to pheasants, grouse, doves, and many more.

Each sport is great fun and has great value. But I do believe that sporting clays provides the best hunting practice out there. And the variety of courses adds great realism and infinite shooting possibilities to simulate real hunting conditions.

Typically sporting clays courses cost between $40-$75 for a full 20 position course with 100 clay targets, plus the cost of ammunition. So realistically, you are looking at around $100 per outing. This is not cheap, but neither are the many highly marketed products that hunters pour money into every year for minimal benefit. 

I would recommend you toss $10 a paycheck into your sporting clays jar and go practice 2-3 times a year to start. The skills you gain will be valuable for a lifetime, and even if they dull some over time, picking it back up is a lot like riding a bicycle. This will do more to improve your percentage of shots fired to birds taken home than anything else you can spend money on. 

Get out there and get some practice. Listen to the full podcast episode for more!

No matter where you live, there are likely at least some species of upland birds available for you to hunt. Few areas have all of them in abundance but if you spend a little time to find them, you can locate some good game birds habitat near you! On this episode I talk about how to hunt pheasant, grouse, doves, and more. 

So how do you get started into bird hunting? First thing is you need to find some birds. You have to figure out what game birds live in your area that you can reasonably hunt. Then you need to find some hunting locations. Sometimes birds are stocked, in which case you should be able to find maps of where you can hunt them and even when they are stocked and how many birds are released.

You need to determine what kinds of tactics are ideal for hunting those birds. There are three main strategies for hunting pheasants, grouse, and other land birds. You can hunt with a dog, you can beat brush, or you can stalk the birds.

Hunting with a dog is the most common but it is also the hardest thing for a new hunter to do because you don’t likely have a trained bird dog. So beating brush the second options. This works best in groups but essentially you storm through an area trying to spook and flush the birds into the air. This does work, but it takes a lot of energy and time and you do not have the benefit of a dog’s expert nose to find the birds.

Hunting pheasants and other game birds by stalking is a less utilized approach but if you learn the trails, open areas, and corridors and perhaps learn a few calls, you can often find success sneaking up on birds. This takes less work than beating brush, but it requires more skill. And this rarely works in a heavily hunted area because if the birds are spooked, they will hunker down in heavy brush and you will not be able to see them to sneak up on them.

Doves require different strategies all together as they are a migratory game bird, but they can be the easiest of all of them to hunt if you live in the right area and can find an ideal location. This is all about finding an area where the doves want to land to eat or rest and setting up where you can locate good shooting lanes.

In terms of clothing, the two big things are orange and tough pants. You need to be safe, not all hunters are going to be as concientious as you, so wear lots of orange whether its required or not. If you are going to be breaking brush, you need pants that won’t break down and more importantly will keep you from getting beaten up. This is an area where having quality brush pants is worth the investment. That protection on your legs is key and so is the fact that these pants are engineered to not pick up burs and seeds. And DO NOT forget about hearing protection. I recommend the Tetra Alpha Shields.

Then lastly you need to determine the right guns and ammo to hunt with. A shotgun is primarily used. I cover gun and ammo options in depth in this podcast episode so go ahead and listen to the episode to hear more.



Hunting rabbits is a fun and challenging pursuit that is great for hunters of all ages, and it provides an opportunity to hone skills that you will use for other types of hunting. On this episode I talk about how to find rabbits along with the guns, ammo, tools, strategies, and info you need to get out there and be successful in the woods.

Like hunting anything else, rabbits require certain core fundamentals:

Finding Rabbits

Scouting is the first priority. To hunt rabbits you need to find them. A nuance with rabbits is not just finding them, but finding a location where they live and are huntable. Since they are small ground animals, you need low brush and good visibility to be able to take one.

So you need to identify rabbit habitat, food sources, cover sources, and open areas for hunting. Even large hairs can easily disappear in grass or brush that is just a foot tall. Realistically you want to be able to see the ground to hunt them effectively. 


Rabbits are primarily hunted with a few strategies like sniping, walking and spotting, walking and flushing, and with dogs.  There is no right or wrong way to do it. It depends both on your preferences and on the rabbit habitat available to you.

But contrary to popular belief, you absolutely can hunt rabbits successfully without a dog, A dog can help and make certain things easier, but unless they are well trained, they can also be a liability. 


The ideal weapons for rabbit hunting are a shotgun or rimfire rifle. People tend to debate if it should be a 12-gauge or 20-gauge shotgun. The truth is, you can load both shotguns to similar specifications for rabbit hunting, it makes little difference. Use whatever shotgun you have handy and focus on getting ideal loads for rabbit hunting.

Almost any rimfire rifle can also work. The 22 L.R. is the most common and works great, but you can use almost anything, just be mindful that you use loads that are not overpowered. Your average high velocity 22lr ammo is going be just fine. Ultra-high velocity is overkill, as are heavily loaded 22 magnum rounds. 


The main caution for rabbit hunting is to keep from using ammo that is overpowered. It can be easy to overly damage the meat at close to mid-range. It is also easy to spend way more money than you need. Light loads are often all you need. I recommend #7.5, #7, or #6 lead shot for rabbits. Often 1 to 1 1/8 ounce of shot traveling around 1100-1200 fps. That is all you need.

For 22 L.R. I think something similar to a 40-grain hollow point traveling at 1200 fps is plenty. There are rabbits after all, not coyotes. Higher power magnum loads are fine, but only necessary if you are taking long range shots. They can cause too much damage at 10 yards, but at 100 yards, they can be just fine. Knowing where you plan to hunt can help you make the best ammo decisions.  Even subsonic bullets can be enough, here is a video I did on the subject:

Cleaning & Cooking

How you clean and cook a rabbit is less important than having a plan to do so. Spend some time watching videos and reading articles on field dressing and cooking rabbits.  This way, when you bring home your first limit of rabbits, you will have an idea of what to do next.

This little step helps keep you from wasting game because you are not sure what to do and thus never get around to doing anything. Just having a plan can do a lot to help you take the next steps well.

Listen to the podcast episode to hear much more detail about how beginners can start rabbit hunting! 

Squirrel hunt is fun, the season is long, and there are many ways to go after these little critters. On this episode I talk about how you can get started hunting squirrels. This is a beginners guide to start squirrel hunting. 

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How can you start squirrel hunting?

The first thing you should do is figure out what you are going to do with the squirrels that you take. Read, study, and think first about how to dress, skin, store, and cook your game. You do not need to spend hours doing this but have a basic plan so nothing goes to waste when you do bring your first limit of squirrels home.

How do you find squirrels to hunt?

Sometimes it seems like squirrels are everywhere when you are hunting deer, turkey, and ducks. And that is for two main reasons. Those animals tend to be drawn to things that squirrels like, so there is overlap in habitat. Second, when you sit for half a day or a whole day motionless in one spot waiting for a deer, its common to see and notice a couple squirrels, but people rarely hunt that long and patiently for squirrels. So they go to the same spots hunting squirrels and it seems like there are none there, but the truth is, they are not just hunting as patiently.

To find squirrels you most typically are looking for large mast producing trees. Acorns, chestnuts, walnuts, almost any kind of mast or nut that falls from a tree will attract squirrels. The more trees and the older the trees the better. The squirrels will then spend their days looking for food, burying food, and digging food up.

How do you hunt squirrels?

There are two main strategies. First, go into an ideal location and sit down for an hour or two and wait for squirrels to move around. You hunt with your ears first and eyes second. The other strategy is essentially still hunting, walking slowly and quietly through the woods looking for movement in the trees.

What is the best time of day to hunt squirrels?

Typically the first two hours of the day are best, and the last two hours are second best. But squirrels move all day long and its possible to hunt them at all hours. But a sunrise hunt is most ideal. However, squirrels can move even more right after a big rain storm ends, it is also easier to move quietly at this time. But you also won’t hear the squirrels much because they will make less noise on the wet ground as well.

What is the best gun to hunt squirrels with?

People typically use rimfire rifles like a .22 LR or shotguns. Either work great but I much prefer shotguns due to safety. Firing a rifle into the air is very risky. Even a .22 Long Rifle bullet can travel a quarter of a mile or more. If you hunt with a rifle make sure you are able to shoot into a hillside or other safe area.

If using a shotgun, almost any shotgun will work. Squirrels are not hard animals to take. Light loads that are #7.5 shot or #6 shot are most typical, be it with a .410, a 12 gauge or anything in between. Cheap ammo is ideal to help keep the cost down. High velocity is not needed because you are not shooting birds in the air, these are relatively stationary targets. The best advice I can give is hunt with what you practice with. 

What is the most important element to hunting squirrels? Safety and stealth, hands down. 

Listen to the whole podcast episode to learn how to hunt squirrels! 

Hunting is more than just a hobby or a means to put food on the table, and I believe America needs it today like never before. On this episode I talk about the science, psychology, philosophy, and more about how hunting not only grounds us in the real world but also better equips us to overcome the complicated but very real problems our nation is facing as we grow more and more immersed in digital reality.

Here is the episode I mentioned in the show: Is Hunting Biblical? 

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Today we have both an experiential shift and a culture shift caused by technology and spending more and more time in the digital world. More and more of our pursuits, emotions, and relationships are being experienced digitally, in a type of synthetic reality. The way we feel and relate is very real, but the way we are interacting is unnatural to how we are wired to experience life. There are many consequences to this, and they are real consequences and real problems felt by real people.

We were created to interact tangibly. to invest ourselves in others’ lives over the process of time through sharing experiences, thoughts, feelings and more while getting real time verbal and nonverbal feedback that affirms and builds connection. When this is replaced with text messages, video messages, and avatars interacting over days and weeks instead of months and years, true problems emerge.

Our ability to process reality with proper context and safeguards is compromised. Emotional trauma, loneliness, depression, and even suicide rates are soaring in an age when we are the most connected, we’ve ever been.

We were designed to live in tangible, tactile, hands-on reality. And hunting anchors us to the real world, to nature, to a benchmark that is mostly unchanged for thousands of years. It gives us a pursuit, a challenge, and a reason to experience nature in a very focused and strategic way that is not preprogrammed with machine learning, odds, or manipulatable outcomes. 

Hunting also creates social structures and relationships based on shared experiences, time spent together afeild or fellowshipping around shared passions. Hunting also impacts our physical fitness, our diet and the quality of food we consume. It sparks creativity, inspiration and innovation.

Hunting also creates opportunities for reflection, introspection, and to simply sit and soak in beautiful moments for a day at a time. Something unheard of in the fast paced, instant gratification centered world of digital entertainment and social media relationships.

There is also no digitally induced equivalent to the to the physical and emotional high points that hunting can provide. The rush of adrenaline that causes hands to shake as you raise your rifle to take aim at a deer that has suddenly come into view after a season of waiting. The overwhelming satisfaction that flows for days, weeks, even a whole year of a big success and leaving the woods with not just a trophy but a supply of food that is untainted by the supply chain. 

In one sense hunting acts as a type of therapy, in another it provides context and perspective to help us remember what is real and what isn’t. It also forces us to exercise the most strategic parts of our mind and prompts tremendous focus around a positive and rewarding pursuit. 

Are there other ways to accomplish these same things? Yes of course. There are ways. But hunting is one way that enables us to do it all at the same time. Or at least it creates the opportunity to do so. Our nation needs hunting today like never both, amongst our youth but also in all age brackets.

Listen to the podcast episode to hear it all! 

The turkey tail mount is one of the greatest memorials of a turkey hunt, it can be done at home for virtually no cost and very minimal effort. It is the perfect beginner project. But there is a lot more you can do to make a turkey trophy, some things you can do at home and others require a professional taxidermist. On this episode I talk about most of the options available, what they cost, and what a brand-new turkey hunter with no experience can do for free. 

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When I take a gobbler or any turkey for that matter, after the meat, the tail fan mount is my favorite part. I think turkey tail fans are one of the most beautiful things God made in the animal kingdom. Did you know that turkeys are distance cousins of the peacock? It is no wonder they are so beautiful. No two turkey tail fans are the same, and each one tells the story of an exciting hunt that I will never forget.

Many people often mount the beard with the fan, and lots of modern mounting kits come setup for that. My favorite mounting kit that I buy season after season is the Taxidermists Woodshop Black Walnut Kit with Beard Plate. This kit is utterly beautiful, comes with everything you need, and even includes a packet of borax to help dry out the fan. There are cheaper kits out there but none I’d rather have on my wall. 

When doing a mount, you want to make sure you have salt and/or borax on hand. I typically just use salt and lots of it. I have used borax before and I cannot tell any difference. Some people mix them, I have also done that and noticed no difference. Borax is a laundry soap booster, it helps draw moisture out of the meat and fat and bug proofs it. You can buy it cheap at the grocery store, just make sure it is 100% pure borax and no added scents. Here is a good borax you can order online.

The most common turkey mounts include:

  • Tail Fan. Everyone should do at least this every turkey they take. I have two videos at the bottom showing you how to do this, both the easy way and the hard way for you over achievers out there. This costs nothing, except for some salt and/or borax.
  • Turkey Rug. This is the tail fan and the back feathers. These look amazing on a wall. They are more of an intermediate taxidermy project though, something I tend to leave to the professionals. But it can be done at home with a little time and care.
  • Whole Turkey. If you are new hunter, you probably are not going to be able to tackle a whole turkey mount at home, especially if you want it to look good. Professional taxidermists charge between $500-$1,000 for these and they can include many different poses. I recommend new hunters stick with the free tail fan mount, but this is always an option for a great bird if you have the funds. 
  • Beard. The beard is super easy and just takes a little salt, most people mount it with a tail fan. 
  • Feet with Spurs. Some people love foot mounts, I am not a huge fan myself, but more power to you if you like them. They are also very easy to do and just require salt and time. 
  • Turkey Wings. These look pretty cool when done well and are often mounted with a tail fan to make a very impressive mount. They can be done at home and are somewhere between a tail fan and turkey rug in difficulty. 

Listen to the podcast episode to hear all the details! In addition to looking cool, a mount is great to preserve the memory of the hunt. I can look at every mount from every turkey I’ve ever taken and instantly recall the hunt, the thrill, the details, how it all came together and what a great day it was hunting gobblers. 

The Easy Way

Here is the quick and easiest to mount a fan. I use pins on cardboard instead of staples on wood but either way works. 

The Hard Way

Here is the more exact, professional taxidermist approach. This is great if you have the time, focus, and tools. I never go this far and have never had an issue.

The end of the turkey season brings unique challenges. But you can still absolutely take a turkey, even on the last day. You will need to change your strategy and tactics, however.  On this episode I give you tips to adjust your hunting style for maximum late season turkey hunting success. 

Late season gobblers do a whole lot less gobbling than they do in the early season. But they are still out there, still interested in hens, and still huntable. You will have to break your dependence on gobbling to be able to hunt them successfully though. You will need to become more patient as well and be slower to move. The only way you will have the confidence to do these things is if you are reasonably sure there are gobblers around.

Scouting is the most important part of late season hunting. It is the only thing that will give you the confidence to sit and wait even when you do not hear anything. It gives you the mental fortitude and motivation to endure silent days and always be on guard ready to shoot at the first sign of a long beard. Late season hunting without scouting is like a role of the dice, you might get lucky but usually you will lose. 

For some hunters the late season is their favorite time of the year to be in the woods, and depending on what state you are in, that time can be more productive than others. But some like it because fewer hunters are out and because gobblers are often more lonely and more likely to come in to a call. In some states though the birds are past that point by the end of the season and the urge to mate has begun to fade and birds begin to start to flock back up into small groups. But even then, you can still hunt them.

Even post mating gobblers will come to check out a call from time to time. They are also looking for other birds to join up with. They likely will not do much gobbling, but they may still come in to take a peek. 

Regardless of where you hunt and what phase of the breading cycle your season ends during, you need to adjust your tactics for hunting quiet birds. But can absolutely still hunt them and take them home. Scout hard and hunt strong. 

Listen to the podcast episode to hear it all!

For more, check out this episode as well: How To Hunt A Turkey AFTER You Spooked It.

Turkey hunters often find themselves in situations where a gobbling tom will not come any closer. There can be many reasons for this, but an overlooked factor could be that they are faced with a subordinate turkey that will not behave the same way as dominant bird. On this episode I talk about how to recognize and hunt these turkeys. 

Subordinate turkeys want to breed, they will gobble, they may strut, they will show interest, but stop short. This happens when they are afraid of the dominate tom in the area. Turkeys have a pecking order, and the strongest more aggressive bird is usually at the top and may try to get exclusive breeding rights at times. These birds may attack subordinates if they try to breed a hen in their presence.

Subordinate birds may be afraid of the boss tom in the area and will not breed hens if they think the boss tom is around or if that hen sounds like one that usually comes to the boss tom.

However, there are still ways to hunt these turkeys, but they require different tactics. You will have to change what you are doing if you recognize you are face-to-face with a subordinate bird.

It should also be noted that subordinate turkeys are no less a trophy than any other bird in the woods. They may indeed be as big or bigger than the dominant turkey, they could be smarter or even order, they just may be less aggressive and are not interested in fighting against the dominate bird. Every turkey is a trophy.

Listen to the podcast episode to hear about how to recognize and hunt subordinate turkeys successfully.