Friday, November 27, 2015

Deer Rubs Explained

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. In continuation of my hunting posts I have decided to explain buck rubs in a little more detail.

Rubs are great for gathering information about those big bruisers (you hope) that are hanging out in your hunting area. Rubs serve two primary functions for deer. First is to help rub off velvet from their new set of antlers. Normally this happens earlier in the season, late September and early October in most places, and seasoned hunters know that these marks are not necessary territorial. They are generally just good for the deer for getting that velvet off.

Second, bucks have forehead glands which they use as territorial markers for other deer. Rubbing is one way that these bucks mark their territory for other bucks in the area. Field & Stream has a good article on deer glands.

I really enjoy seeing rubs, especially big ones. As the season progresses you can really being to estimate the size of a deer based on the diameter of the trees being rubbed and the larger length of the antler marks. A little forkhorn buck is not going to rub a huge tree but may hit small saplings. A 10+ with a heavy rack will definitely hit a big tree. When you find a rub on a tree and the tree is at least 6 inches in diameter, chances are it is a big buck hitting it.

Bucks tend to rub trees in the same area one year to the next. It is not uncommon for them to rub the same tree. As long as that buck is still alive you actually have pretty good chances of being able to ambush him when he comes back to refresh the rub.

I would not pay too much attention to the rubs until the third week of November, when activity picks up again from velvet shedding. This happens when bucks are looking for hot does following the peak of the rut. These new rubs are normally found on the downwind side of thick brush where does like to bed down. So you can plan accordingly.

You can use rubs to pinpoint where bucks eat and sleep as well. The shiny side of the rub facing dense thicket? That is likely where breeding is taking place. The shiny side of the rub faces a food plot? That is probably where he goes to eat.

There are normally several kinds of rubs. Rubs that seem random in your hunting location are an indicator of a buck's home range. A rub line (20 to 30 yards apart each) indicate a common travel path for a buck. I would be careful not to constantly sit on the same rub though as that will quickly let a buck know of your presence. They are smart enough to start avoiding that rub. So rotate out how often you sit that rub. Every 3rd hunting trip is a good way to keep that buck guessing.

That is all for this week. Again, hope you had a great Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoyed the article above.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Winter Hunting is Coming

Well, Ned Stark got something right, winter is definitely coming. Especially for us dedicated hunters who will sit all day in the woods or fields. So how do you stay warm when you are determined to bag that big buck? Here are some tips I follow which tend to work well for me staying warm even in single digits.

Core Heat
The human body is itself a fuel combustion engine. Depending on the type of fuel you provide it depends on the quality of heat that engine puts off. For example, if you drink cold liquids the engine cools down. Hot liquids the engine heats up. You do not need me to tell you the obvious.

Some people do not realize though that certain types of solid foods work best in cold weather. Start your hunting day out with whole grains before you leave for your stand or blind. A breakfast with oatmeal is a great way to start filling the fuel tank. You can later snack on high calorie, good fats foods. Such as various types of nuts. Energy bars and granola bars are a good choice too. The digestion process generates heat. Try and stay away from candy bars though.

As I mentioned earlier, hot foods like soup, coffee or hot teas are beneficial. You should also make sure you drink lots of water but try to avoid cold water.

We have some pretty cool and high tech clothing options available to us when it comes to keeping warm. With proper layering and using the right fabrics at those different layers you can really do a lot to stay warm (as well as scent controlled).

There have been many times I could not have possibly stayed on the hunt without having proper layering on. Single digits, snow and ice last year would have kept some people at home on their couches in the warm. But not me. As the old saying goes, "You can't shoot one from your sofa.".

Let's talk about the different layers for a moment...

The Base Layer | The Outside Layer | The Middle Layer

Water transfers heat really well. So when you are sweating (which you are always sweating moisture even if you think you are not) you are allowing water vapor to pull heat away from your body very quickly. For your BASE LAYER you should stick with fabrics such as merino wool, polyester and even silk. Avoid cotton. Polyester blends such as nylon, polypropylene, spandex and rayon are good choices as well.

You can wear all the warm layers you want but I can assure you from experience that the wind does cut like a knife. For your OUTER LAYER you should consider windproof fabrics. There are a ton on the market that are silent and comfortable. They are even waterproof while allowing moisture to escape from underneath. Again, love technology.

The best MIDDLE LAYER choices include down, chemically treated down, fleece, wool, and man-made insulators like Thinsulate and PrimaLoft. Your mid-layer should be light and insulating. But, still needs to remain breathable to let moisture escape. Your middle layer is the best place for making adjustments when the weather or situation (long walk vs. short walk, cold morning vs. warm afternoon) calls for it.

No single garment is perfect for every situation so you will need to mix-and-match over the season to adapt to the situation.

Also, do not forget your feet, hands nor head. When your core body temperature drops your body will actually start diverting heat from those regions in an attempt to save the core. So your best defense against cold limbs is to keep your core warm. Wool socks, gloves, and hat are gold. I am a big fan of hand warmers as well.

So in conclusion I wanted to just say that not every situation is the same. If I have a long walk in warmer weather then my interest turns more into moisture prevention. If I have a short walk in extreme cold then maybe warmer insulation is best and not so much wicking. Also there are a ton of toys on the market. Chemical hand warmers, rechargeable warmers, scentless heaters for your blind, and much more.

Stay warm m'friends.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Meat or Horns? Why not both?

I have been away from my blog for quite some time. I have decided to start blogging again so I could share some of my own thoughts on Google+ and some of the other media sites I am a member of.

So I decided a great topic to start back up with is a hunting related one. Reasonable since we are in the midst of hunting season here in Virginia. I believe I have a cornucopia of friends who hunt. Some only hunt during rifle season, some only on Saturdays so they do not miss out on football on Sunday, and some who only help their buddies out who are hunting (not actually hunting themselves in the common sense of the word) by cutting wood or helping check cameras.

I have found a couple of different camps when it comes to the reason why folks hunt. Some folks hunt to fill their freezers up while some hunt just so they can throw some bones on the wall. I say "Why not both?".

Antlers are never more important than the meat in my opinion. Do not take me wrong. I am not saying I would not love to shoot a big (mileage may vary, big to me vs. big to you) buck so I can get him mounted on my wall. I am just saying I get just as excited when I see a doe walk or any other wild life for that matter.

There are a ton of articles and TV shows that focus on herd management and how to grow the biggest bucks. But, I think you will find that most whitetail hunters who are able to take antlered or antler-less deer during the season are pretty happy getting either. Whether I personally see a buck come in or a doe with her babies in tow, I consider it a good hunting day because I got to come close to the wildlife in our area.

If you are a seasoned hunter who is showing a new hunter the ropes. Do not make the emphasis on getting the biggest buck ever the only goal. I think the new hunter would be in for a sore disappointment with expectations set so high.

In conclusion, my answer for my fellow hunters is that you are not more of a sportsman if you just go out to shoot a big buck. It is possible to feed family AND try for that big buck. So why not both?