Tracking Whitetail Deer – Know When To Back Out

In a perfect world, every shot on a game animal would cause a quick demise, but as hunters, we know that is not always the case. We all strive to be as ethical and humane as possible. However, most of us have experienced an imperfect hit on a game animal; it just happens. No matter your skill level or experience, you will miss your mark at some point. Tracking whitetail deer takes patience. Distinguishing and evaluating the evidence left after the shot is crucial to locating the animal.

After a poor shot is made, knowing when to back out can play a significant role in tracking and recovery. By taking up the trail to soon, the odds of bumping the animal are much higher than if you lay low and allow the animal to expire. A liver or gut shot whitetail can live for hours if not days, so it is necessary to take precautions towards the search and recovery.

Know when to back out. Below is a short list of scenarios when you should allow additional time.

  1. Paunch (Gut) shot: If you are confident that the shot missed the vital organs (too far back), leave him be. A gut shot animal can take over 24 hours to expire. You can easily distinguish this type of hit because the animal will hunch its back and typically walk or trot away slowly. Blood can be sparse, but if you are a bowhunter, your arrow will likely tell the story. More often than not, you will get a clean pass through with a gut shot because you missed the rib cage entirely. A lack of blood and green or brown undigested food on the shaft likely means that the hit was in the paunch. The arrow will also stink. The deer’s tail will often be up after a gut or liver shot. Once you have determined it is, in fact, a gut shot, the next decision is simple, back out. Infection from toxins will set in and body temperature will rise increasing the need for water. Also, blood loss and septic infection increase dehydration. The water theory is not always the case, but it is not uncommon to find a gut shot animal close to a water source. It is not unusual to see a number of beds close to one with small amounts of blood. A gut shot deer can travel for miles if pursued to soon. Wait a minimum of 8 hours before taking up the trail (weather permitting). 12 hours is better.
  2. Liver shot: Similar to the gut shot, a liver shot is further back than intended but lies in front of the intestines. You can distinguish this type of hit by the color of the blood which is dark red. A buck will often hunch its back similar to a gut shot and move off relatively slowly. A liver shot deer will die, but it will take longer than a heart or lung shot. Expect less blood during tracking. Waiting 6-8 hours is a safe bet. Liver shot animals will typically not go far before bedding down. Often, less than 200 yards.
  3. Single lung shot: The single long is less frequent but occurs on steep angle shots or shot impacts that are high on the body cavity. The single lung is tricky when it comes to tracking. This shot can be lethal but does not guarantee death. If you catch one lung, you will only see blood on one side of the trail which will be frothy and bright red. Give the animal at least 6 hours to expire.
  4. Leg/Shoulder hit:  A leg or shoulder hit impacts further forward on the animal and is typically not fatal. The determining characteristic of this type of impact is a loud, distinguishable thwack. Best practice is to give the animal a minimum of 8 hours and expect a long tracking job with minimal blood.
  5. Unsure of the hit location: If you did not see the impact or it was too dark to see how the animal reacted, back out. Low light shots are very common and often it is difficult to tell if the shot was in the vital organs. The key to this scenario is the arrow. Bright frothy blood means you caught the lungs. Bright red/thick blood implies a heart shot which will put the animal down very fast. If the animal runs off with its tail tucked, it often means heart or lung. Tail up can mean a liver or gut shot.
  6. Didn’t see/hear him fall: This will vary, but waiting an hour will not hurt anything. If you get a clean pass through, your arrow will tell the tale.
  7. You jump him from his bed: This is a no-brainer, but if you jump him, he needs more time. Mark the spot and back out right away. Give him another 6 hours to expire.

 

(10) Heart (8) Lungs (5) Liver…everything behind that is paunch territory.

If the tail is up or he doesn’t take off like a bat out of hell, use your best judgment and back out. By observing after the shot, the lethality of the hit can often be determined by the animal’s reaction. It is important to remember that a wounded deer will not go far unless pushed so err on the side of caution.

The downside to leaving a poorly hit animal is that you are risking meat loss to predation or spoiling. If temps are above freezing, the meat will begin to spoil quickly and although the venison will not be inedible, the taste will be tainted. Coyotes will find a wounded or dead animal very quickly. If you have left the animal for a reasonable amount of time and are unable to locate it, wait until dark. Often the coyotes will yip and holler once they find a free meal. Marching into a pack of howling coyotes is an uneasy feeling, but if you want to save the meat, you better “John Wayne it” and get in there fast.  I have mentioned before that if given a choice I prefer to hunt mornings during the rut. A contributing factor to my rationale, aside from a laundry list of others, is that it gives you adequate time to allow an animal to expire before nightfall sets in. Tracking a deer in the dark is no easy task and is exponentially more difficult after a liver or paunch shot.

Know when to back out, patience is essential and will have a direct impact on recovering a poorly hit animal. Waiting has drawbacks, but the benefits heavily favor waiting and allowing the animal to succumb to its wound.

 

 

Spring Rain and Antler Growth

It was late July and I had a free Sunday, so I decided to head to our farm in western Wisconsin to hang a few stands before a summer storm was set to roll through. Bill, a second-generation farmer and legendary deer killer met me at the gate of our Wisconsin ranch to catch up on the summers happenings and deer sightings. He said, “well, we had a wet spring so antler growth ought to be good come fall.” Bill is an old school bowhunter that knows our stretch of timber better than anyone else around. When he talks, you better listen up because a golden nugget of knowledge often accomanies his soft, almost subdued speech.

I took what he said in stride and didn’t think much of it, after all, I had stands to set before the storm. Spring rain and antler growth? Doesn’t genetics, mineral content, food and age dictate a deer’s headgear? What does an abundance of spring rain have to do with it? A few weeks went by before his words resurfaced in my memory, so I hit the internet to do a little digging and discovered that Bob was dead-right, spring rain plays a significant role in a whitetails physical health and summer antler growth. Obviously more rain equates to abundant lush food but it is the timing and amount that dictate the overall potential growth in a given season.

Antler growth is an extension of a whitetails physical condition and overall health. Velvet covered antlers are one of the fastest growing tissues on the planet. A healthy whitetail may add up to 3/4″ of growth per day in July and early August. For peak antler growth to occur, many components have to come together. A whitetail needs to consume a minimum of 20% protein forage during the summer months to reach optimal growth. Protein-rich crops such as soybeans, clovers, and cowpeas are prevalent when rains frequently blanket the landscape. However, during drought conditions, protein-packed food sources struggle to grow and are replaced by leafy forage that contains high levels of fiber meaning reduced nutritional content.

Whitetails rely on these protein-rich food sources to jump-start antler growth, and for that to happen, spring rains need to be on time and plentiful. Studies show that substantial spring rains account for up to 65% of year to year antler growth variations. Do not confuse this statistic with numerical antler growth; instead, it is the primary contributing factor that can alter yearly antler fluctuations in a particular herd. As for the numerical aspect, studies have conclusively shown that rain, or lack thereof, can swing a mature (5.5 years+) whitetails antler growth as much 20 inches either way on the Boone and Crocket scale. This means that a wet, early spring can jump-start antler growth and add 20 inches of antler but during an unusually dry year, 20 inches may be dropped from his potential “average” score.

Soybeans are an excellent protein-rich food source during the summer months.

The months of March, April, and May are typically not on the whitetails hunters radar when it comes to growing big deer, but early spring rain is critical to maximizing antler potential. Mother Nature rules the roost in herd management and the elements dictate the survival, death, and flourishment of all wildlife species; too much or too little of any element has the potential to be catastrophic.

There are many factors that we as hunters can control but rain is not one of them. Without rain, crops do not grow, and deer are unable to digest nutrient-rich protein, the antlers core component. What this tells us is that in a given year, a bucks potential score can explode or reduce significantly, dependent on spring rains and the timing at which they arrive. This swing in growth is a powerful reminder of the strength and unpredictability of Mother Nature. Bottom line, more rain, better forage, bigger bucks.

Hunting the October Lull – Should you go?

We received a question a few days go on our Facebook page referring to hunting the October lull:

Dan Sprengeler Wrote: What happens to the bucks/deer in general during this lull? I have hardly seen any deer moving this past week and was in Nebraska hunting this weekend and it was the slowest I’ve ever seen. My thought was they may have moved to acorns, but I tried that and still didn’t see anything – cameras are a bust. What are your thoughts?

Dan,
The short answer to the “October lull” is that, yes, it exists. A lot of people attribute it to hunting pressure, but in my opinion, it is much more than that. As row-crops like corn and beans are harvested, the terrain and available food sources change dramatically. Mature bucks tend to lay low and preserve energy at this time and do not travel far from bedding areas which equates to less sighting from the stand and on trail cameras. Bucks are pretty much in preservation mode preparing for the pandemonium that will break open a couple weeks. Unless there is a significant cold front, I usually sit on the bench for the majority of this phase of the season because most of the movement is quite concentrated and at night.

The lull is a great time to tighten up loose ends around the house and get your gear ready. Unless you have a target buck that is slipping up during daylight hours, you can do more harm than good by hunting during mid-October. The more you educate the heard, the lower your odds are at killing a good buck when the pre-rut fires up around October 24th.

There are a lot of theories that vary on the lull, none of them are necessarily wrong. I am not saying that you cannot go out and kill a mature buck because you most certainly can; it is just more difficult at this time unless you have a dynamic understanding of the herd transition and feeding patterns. The key to the lull can often be a mast acorn drop; however finding an oak or group of oaks that yields the most acorns can be challenging as not just any tree will do. On an average day, a whitetail consumes 3 to 5 pounds of forage which equates to one heck of a lot of acorns. When you do find the right tree, the second factor is determining how to hunt it. More often than not, deer will bed very close to the tree/trees that are dropping the most acorns, many times within ear-shot distance. The close proximity bedding makes these locations very difficult to hunt for two reasons, getting in, and getting out undetected.

An oak producing a heavy crop of acorns can draw deer off of clover fields and back into the timber seemingly turning them into ghosts. As hunters, if we cannot see them, we assume they are gone. However, that is typically not the case; the deer are there, they are just more concentrated and are gorging themselves on carbs (acorns) to fatten up before winter closes in.

If you have any soft mass such as apples, plum, crab-apples, or pear trees, they can be a big draw at this time as well. Apple, plum, and pear trees need full sunlight to grow which is a benefit to the hunter. Most of the time, soft mass trees are out in the open meaning that you can access and hunt them without marching through the timber. Deer will seek out and travel to soft mass trees, the trails to and from will be distinct. Setting up on the wood-line near a trail that leads out to a fruit tree allows you an easy access route and high visibility.

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Unless you have solid proof that he is moving during shooting hours, opting to wait until the pre-rut fires up may be a better choice. Each scenario is different, but a lot of experienced hunters believe that a minimalist approach to hunting trophy bucks during mid-October is best. Many mature whitetails have a relatively small window when they are killable and educating them too early can put a permanent hex on the remainder of your season. Hunting the “lull” has only paid off for me one time, being the fall of 2014. I had a camera set in a stand of white oaks, admittedly unintentionally, that was picking up a significant amount of afternoon activity. In mid-October, I made my move and scored on a solid 150 class buck the first time I hunted the stand. Much like an estrous doe in early November, a red-hot oak tree with a large crown was my ticket to success that fall; he just couldn’t resist the urge for an easy meal. The fall of 2013 was the exception for me. Without the aid of a luckily placed trail-cam, I probably would not have been out that day.

2013 lull buck. A red-hot White Oak was the key to this kill. (Before THLETE came to be, ASAT was my go to, it’s a very good break-up camo pattern)

Like religion and politics, people will undoubtedly disagree with my belief on the lull and say that it doesn’t exist, and that is perfectly fine. A lot of guys rationalize by the saying, “you cant kill them from the couch,” and I agree, but I cant educate them from the couch either.  Perhaps it is the title “lull” that throws hunters off; a more appropriate term be the “October shift.” If your goal is merely to see deer, October is a great time to be in the woods. However, if you are after a mature buck, this time frame can be very frustrating. If you have extensive knowledge of the summer to fall transition pattern on your property, by all means, go get ’em, but too often throwing caution to the wind is a mistake and can cost you later on.

Believe me, I know how hard it is not to hunt after painstakingly waiting nine months, but it’s fall; the fishing is good, upland season is open, and there are still a  couple of ducks cruising the Mississippi flyway; albeit, my shotgun skills are sub-par at best. Sit back and hope for a cold snap, if you see a significant cold front, that will be the best window to get a crack at a good buck in mid-October and remember, the pre-rut will be here before you know it. In the meantime, there are a lot of things to do to keep your mind off of chasing whitetails.

*If the daytime highs drop into the upper 40’s or low 50’s during this time-frame, that is your window to hunt. Read our article on cold fronts here: Hunting Cold Fronts

 

Cold fronts are the key to killing whitetails

Time to burst your bubble; for the most part, the rut occurs at the same time in your area each fall, meaning that the full moon does not trigger the whitetail doe estrous cycle. Too many of us, including myself, get so carried away with rut indicators and moon phases that we forget a key influence on whitetail activity, that being weather.  I have used moon guides and seen varying results, but to date, the only foolproof method to get whitetails on their feet is a substantial cold front. I know, we all want to look online and see the “best days to hunt” each fall, but in reality, it’s a bunch of BS. The rut occurs at the same time each year, and while lunar phases play a role in whitetail activity, weather dictates daytime movement above all else. Experts do not completely rule out the effects of the moon because at certain phases it is believed that it does have an impact on whitetail movement, but there is no correlation between the timing of the rut and the full moon. Cold fronts are the key to killing whitetails.

Every five years or so, we experience a rut that seems to be weaker than years past. Much of the time the lack of daylight activity is blamed on the moon phase, a hot doe a few farms over, or hunting pressure. However, the decrease in activity is typically not a result of the moon or a dwindling population; it is that the temperature is above average and activity has shifted to after dark. Want proof? Last year was “one of those years” in the midwest. Rumors of the worst rut in a decade were being spread across the Midwest, and while some good bucks were taken, a lot of hunters were left scratching their heads. Last years temps are pictured in the graph below, you can see that the first three weeks of November were unusually warm. Above average temperatures could explain why whitetail movement was below average and the rut appeared to lack its typical intensity. This data is from an area that I hunt in western Wisconsin, and I will agree that deer activity dwindled to a frustratingly low level. The average temperature in Wisconsin during the first two weeks of November is typically around 45 degrees, last falls temps soared into the mid to upper 60’s.

On the contrary, the fall of 2015 brought below average temperatures and the activity was explosive during the typical rut time frame. That fall, I shot two mature bucks within a 5-day window at the end of October. The first on the evening of October 25th and the second on the night of October 30th. If you correlate the dates with the Weather Underground graph below, you will notice three identifying weather characteristics, the temperature was below average, barometric pressure was high or rising, and wind speed was very low on the evenings of both kills.

It was no fluke that these two bucks were up and moving on those dates. The weather played a major roll in my success that fall and I was tagged out in two states before Holloween.

 

Late October of 2015

Here are three weather conditions that will influence deer movement. When 2 or 3 of them occur, whitetail movement will typically increase:

Temperature drop: 10 Degrees is good, 15-20 degree drops are great. If you see this in the forecast, hunt.

Wind speed reduction: When the wind speed is above 25 mph for over 12 hours, wait for it to subside, even if it is only a 10mph drop. Deer rely heavily on sight and sound to detect predators. When it is windy, a whitetail’s sense of sight, sound, and scent is limited; they will hunker down. After the front passes, they will be up and moving to make up for lost time, especially during the rut.

High pressure: Look for pressure readings in the 30.1-30.25 range. Pressure readings are not an exact science, but high barometric pressure tends to increase movement.

For most of us, the cold front theory creates a problem when deciding what dates to play hooky from work. We cannot predict weather patterns months in advance which makes it difficult to narrow down when to be in the field. On the bright side, a lot of weather stations can now predict fronts as far as ten days out. These forecasts are valuable to the hunter who plans to take time off of work around an impending weather system.

The chance to kill a big buck heightens between October 25th and November 15th, so wait to hunt your best stands until everything is just right. If the weather is ideal during this timeframe, it will be your greatest window to see a mature whitetail on his feet during shooting hours. Specifically, you are looking for days with colder than average temps, a high barometer, and low to moderate winds. Cold fronts can also be a deadly tactic in the early season. The first substantial autumn cold front is undoubtedly a time you should try to be near a food source.  If acorns are dropping and a cold front is sliding in, chances are deer will beat you to the oak tree.

For those of you that abide by the lunar calendar, experts believe that there is a connection between the full moon and deer activity. The full moon causes a lot of strange occurrences in nature, whether triggered by available light or gravitational pull, the moon does have a direct influence on wildlife and alters typical behavioral patterns. If we apply the moon theory to the 2015 and 2016 outcomes discussed above, in 2015 the second full moon of the fall equinox was Oct. 27, in 2016 it was on Nov. 14. The full moon may have had an influenced towards my success in the small window at the end of October in 2015. We have been compiling data for the past four years and plan to launch a moon application that better documents the influence it has on whitetail activity. To date, not enough data has been collected to show definitive proof that there is a direct correlation.

Bottom line, the rut occurs at the same time each year, but there are certain influences that affect the intensity that we see. Both the moon and cold weather play a role in daytime sightings, but the latter should hold greater value to the hunter. Simplify your hunting strategy this fall and watch the weather.  You can count on an autumn cold front moving through every 5-7 days and if you choose to hunt around the front, you will see a lot more whitetail activity.

The Weather Underground history tab is an invaluable resource. Weather Underground allows you to look back at weather history to better distinguish temperature, pressure and wind patterns. By documenting your hunts, you can begin to correlate certain weather “indicators” that increase or decrease whitetail movement.

 

Product Spotlight – Sound Barrier Buck Bumper

We ran across a fresh new product not too long ago, and after speaking with the owner, we decided to share it with our readers on the THLETE blog.

Buck Bumper and Buck Bumper Thick

Many great products are derived from an idea that solves a problem. Adam Lewis, owner of Sound Barrier LLC, designed a product that conceals the sound of metal on metal contact and can be used on a multitude of hunting products; the most common application being treestands. Treestands are notorious for squeaks, creaks, and clangs and Sound Barrier products eliminate unwanted sounds that occur all too often in the field.

One of the worst sounds that you can experience as a hunter is that of your treestand seat slamming down after it catches the back of your pant. Sound Barrier Buck Bumper is designed to eliminate that sound along with dozens of other metallic sounds. With an easy application and a multitude of uses, Buck Bumper is another product that should find a permanent home in your hunting pack.

By applying Buck Bumper to the underside of your seat and the edges of your treestand, you do not have to worry about sounds that spook deer any longer. More great applications are to your release and climbing sticks. If you have climbed into your stand with your release on, you know the exact sound that your release makes as it clangs against your tree-stand base. Also, by wrapping climbing sticks in Buck Bumper, you can silence the sound that they emit as they rub against one another and brush against branches.

Sound Barrier currently offers two models of sound eliminating tape, Buck Bumper (3/4″ wide x 1/32″ thick) and Buck Bumper Thick (1″ x 1/8″ thick). Sound Barrier tape is simple, effective, and solves a problem; the making of a great outdoor product. Best of all, Sound Barrier products are made right here in the USA.

Check out Sound Barrier here:

Sound Barrier Hunting

Basecamp Merino 260 Crews are going fast!

To date, the Basecamp 260 Crew has been the best selling baselayer in our 2017 line-up. The Basecamp is a mid/heavyweight 100% merino baselayer that is both warm and durable. Remaining inventory of the Basecamp is running low and we will not be restocked until late October. Take a closer look at the Basecamp 260 specs hereBasecamp 260 Merino Crew

We will keep you updated as new items arrive at our warehouse. The Phantom Softshell Series will arrive shortly and is expected to be a top seller. Custom designed in-house, the Phantom has some unique features that are sure to impress. Once a solid arrival date is distinguished, we will open the Phantom Jacket and Pant to pre-orders.

 

Whitetail Buck Fall Transition

It happens each fall, in fact, it is going on as I write this article. No matter how hard you work and strategize to hold bucks on your property, some simply up and vanish overnight. But where do they go and why? You built an oasis of whitetail habitat, and it just wasn’t enough. Don’t take it personally, there is a reason whitetail bucks up and leave, and it is out of your control. As August fades to September, anywhere from 25-40% of your bucks may re-locate to their breeding range. Autumn is a time of change in the deer woods, and we as hunters need to transition with it. Temps are dropping, bachelor groups are breaking up, velvet is being shed, and testosterone is causing minor skirmishes among the bucks that spent the summer months as best buds. Now is the time to scout smart and keep close tabs on the bucks that are using your property as the whitetail buck fall transition happens.

There are a couple of theories as to why whitetail range shifts occur. It is hypothesized that yearling bucks are pushed off of properties each fall by mature does to prevent inbreeding. Aside from that, they are being forcefully pressured to leave by the mature breeding age bucks. A 5-year-old testosterone filled breeder doesn’t have a high tolerance for a yearling fork-horn and will not hesitate to give him the scare of a lifetime. So these young deer are in essence kicked around like a soccer ball until they find a secure area where they can establish themselves and spend the fall learning the ropes of the rut. As the rut winds down and testosterone levels decrease, these young bucks often return to the ground where they were born and will spend the following spring/summer months at “home.” This range shift can occur each fall; bucks may move to their fall breeding ranges to re-establish themselves as the king of their new domain.

Another reason for fall shifting doesn’t have as much to do with the deer hierarchy but rather the change in preferred food sources. As bean fields and clover begin to turn, bucks will relocate to areas that have high concentrations of food and thus does. A food source shift is typically not as dramatic as an all out breeding range transition and is often a half mile or less. If evening bean field sightings dramatically drop off, the culprit is often a mast acorn drop and the deer are in the timber, less visible but still in the area.

As frustration sets in and your dream buck migrates to a neighbors farm down the road, remember that you too will have some new visitors. By maintaining a healthy deer herd and offering adequate food, water, and cover, you are sure to attract a few stud bucks that will stick around through the rut.

In my personal experience, relocating a buck that has made a fall shift and can be very difficult; especially in a landscape dominated by private parcels. Sure, if you have a lot of spare time and unlimited resources, you can spend evenings driving back-roads attempting to relocate him and gain access but all too often efforts will fall short. For many of us, spare time is a luxury, and it may be best to utilize the hand that we are dealt rather than playing timber-detective and trying to track him down. A little luck can go a long way in the deer woods and who knows, maybe a giant whitetail from the neighboring farm will appear in your bean field this week and become your new number one target buck.

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Shoot Your Broadheads!

Making the transition from field point to broadhead should be done well before you plan to hunt. To ethically harvest animals, you need to be as accurate and confident with your hunting setup as possible. There is only one way to check arrow flight, and that is to shoot your broadheads.

Being that broadheads have more surface area than a standard field point, there is added drag during arrow flight causing minor, or major, arrow impact differences depending on how well your bow is tuned. Out of a properly tuned bow, broadhead flight should maintain a similar point of impact to within 3 inches of practice points. That doesn’t seem like much but apply that to the vital area of a deer, and it can easily mean a clean miss or non-lethal hit. As long as you are still grouping arrows with broadheads, the correction should be relatively simple. If you are not getting consistent groups, you may have a timing issue or your bow is not properly tuned.

There are a few important factors that apply to arrow flight that should be addressed before you hunt. Be sure that your bow is properly tuned and you have the correct arrow setup for your rig. Your arrow weight and fletch configuration can have a significant impact on arrow flight as well.

Consider an arrow with a helical for added stability and forgiveness for hunting.  Also, consider using an arrow spinner to test shaft straightness and point alignment. If you see any wobble at all, try a different shaft until an effective arrow/head combo is found. A spinner can be purchased for about $30. This is also a good time to look over arrow shafts for any fractures in the carbon that may have been incurred during summer practice. If you find a fracture, get rid of the arrow right away.

Arrow Spinner

Another often overlooked aspect of arrow flight is FOC or the front-of-center balance point.  FOC determines the percentage of the arrow’s overall weight that is located in the front half of the arrow. The more weight that is located in the front half of the arrow, the further forward the FOC. An arrow’s front of center (FOC) location is critical in attaining optimal flight at longer distances because if the center of balance is too far back, the arrow will become unstable in flight. Ideally, you are looking for the weight to be front of center (FOC) on the arrow shaft to get optimum flight. For an arrow to fly true, you need an FOC point that is 10-15% forward from the true center of the arrow. There are a lot of FOC calculators available for free online that can make the process relatively easy. If all else fails and you are are ripping your hair out, swing by an archery shop and they will make sure you are shooting the correct arrow configuration for your setup.

Last but not least, some arrows just flat out fly better than others, and that is often due to how your vanes align with your blades. Obviously, this is more prevalent on fixed blades than on mechanicals, but perfect vane/broadhead alignment doesn’t always mean perfect arrow flight. Some setups just shoot better than others and by trying all your arrows with a broadhead set-up, you can pick your top 3 “best-flight” arrows for hunting.

The Block youth GenZ Target is perfect for broadhead testing. The GenZ can be purchased for $30 and it will take over 150 fixed blade broadhead penetrations without letting an arrow slip through. Will you destroy a target if you shoot a fixed blade broadhead, eventually yes, but it is well worth the money to get some solid practice from home before you hit the field.

Block GenZ Youth Target

You will also dull the blades on broadheads if you do a lot of target practice. By purchasing a set of replacement blades, or full broadhead practice set, you can switch over to a fresh set when you hit the field. Rage Broadheads have become very popular in the past ten years and hate ’em or love ’em; they make practice a breeze. The low profile design means that you can shoot them into any target and better yet, they come with a practice head. Personally, I have been shooting the Slick Trick Standard 100grn for the past three seasons and have had great results with them. The downside, I need to have a separate set of practice blades and I burn through a Block GenZ each fall.

The main reason that we practice is to be ready for making ethical shots on live animals. For $50, you can ensure that your arrow flight is true and also build the confidence that you need to effectively place your shot in the vital area of any big game animal.

Take the time to practice with your hunting setup before you hunt. It may make the difference between a clean kill and a clear miss.

Check out our line of hunting apparel at:
www.THLETE.com

Hunters Liability Insurance – Do you need it?

Hunters liability Insurance is prevalent in the hunting industry but it is mainly geared towards hunt clubs and outfitters to protect them should an unforeseen accident occur. But what about you, the hunter? Do you need additional insurance coverage to protect yourself while hunting leased land? Hunting activities carry substantial risks & liabilities that hunters and landowners should address before any hunt takes place. The answer is an individual decision, but for the most part, additional liability coverage will fill the gaps that your home owners policy and medical plan do not. A typical homeowner’s liability policy will cover legal damages and defend a lawsuit should you accidentally shoot someone or cause them bodily injury while you are on leased hunting land; barring that the shooting was not intentional of course. Outside of that, coverage is relatively slim. Hunters liability insurance broadens the list of possible higher-risk accidents that may occur to include trips, falls, ATV accidents, drownings, fires, and explosions (cabin).

Hunting remains a remarkably safe sport considering that there are over 20 million participants each year. Although accidents are rare, having additional coverage should an accident occur on leased property is an excellent idea. No-one expects to be injured but it does happen, and if you have a policy in place, you will be much better off regarding protection and compensation.

Many of the injuries that are reported each year stem from tree-stand related falls. Climbing in the dark, falling while climbing, losing balance and faulty equipment make up a large portion of accidents that occur each year but they are not the top claim related incident. To date, the majority of claims filed pertain to ATV related accidents when it comes to hunting activity. The rising popularity of ATV use for accessing stands and hauling game animals significantly increased the number of injury related claims and surpassed tree stand injuries nearly 15 years ago. On the flip side, tree stand injuries are declining among hunters due to the use of safety harnesses and higher quality tree stands.

If you lease land for hunting purposes, chances are the majority of accidents will not be covered on your current homeowner liability policy. By purchasing a hunting liability plan, you will be protected should an accident happen. By obtaining additional liability insurance coverage, the landowner will also be protected which will put his/her mind at ease. Hunters liability insurance can be used as a bartering chip when trying to obtain new leases. If you tell the landowner that you have an additional policy through a provider such as QDMA, you can gain leverage and increase the odds of gaining access to the property. More land owners fear a lawsuit than are willing to admit and the reason they turn down requests for access is just that. By stating that you are insured, you are lifting the liability and risk from them and also showing that you took the initiative to protect both them and yourself. Having an insurance plan in place carries weight when contacting prospective land owners.

We looked at all the policies, and many of them are done through the same agency, Lloyd’s of London. As for which individual policy is best, that depends on the amount of land you lease. As far as we can tell, the QDMA policy is a pretty sound option and has a lot of positive reviews. We had a conversation with a representative for Outdoor Underwriters, Inc. and they recommended QDMA for individuals that are leasing smaller tracts of land. Under the QDMA plan the hunter can obtain coverage for as little as $210 and then write the landowner into the policy for an additional $47; well worth it for reliable coverage through a reputable organization. That fee also includes a year subscription to the QDMA magazine as an bonus. In our opinion, it is a small price to pay for coverage that protects all parties.

I recently opted to sign up for the QDMA plan to get a better handle on the benefits that are included. For $250 I am covered from 8/1/17-8/1/18. Here are the details.

My Current Plan Details for 200 acres: $210 + $47 (for landowner coverage) = $257

  • $1 Million Per Occurrence General Liability Coverage
  • $2 Million General Aggregate
  • No Deductible
  • $100,000 Fire Legal Liability
  • Member-to-Member Coverage
  • Guest Liability Coverage
  • Liability Coverage for firearms, treestands, ATVs, mobile equipment, limited watercraft, hunting dogs, and more.
TOTAL ACREAGE RATES through QDMA:
Less than 250: $210
250-499 : $220
500-749: $235
750-999″ $252
1,000-1,249: $267
1,250-1,499 : $285
1,500-1,749 : $300
1,750-1,999: $315
2,000-3,499: 16¢/acre
3,500-4,999:15¢/acre
5,000+:14¢/acre

 

The least expensive plan we ran across was through the American Hunting Lease Association which is $175 including landowner coverage. The AHLS policy seems to be very similar to the QDMA policy and is $82 cheaper. While we did not contact anyone at AHLS to verify that the coverage matches the QDMA policy, it does cover the two big claims being tree-stand falls and ATV accidents.

  • $2,000,000 Aggregate
  • $1,000,000 per occurrence
  • Coverage includes ALL members of the hunt club listed on the lease agreement
  • Member-to-Member Coverage
  • Guest Liability Coverage
  • Fire Damage Liability ($100,000)
  • Medical expenses ($5000) – accident coverage unrelated to Liability
  • Liability from tree stands and ATVs for hunting is covered
  • No Deductible
  • Liability certificate mailed to landowners and hunters within 5-7 business days on active policies
  • Immediate email confirmation with purchase details

TOTAL ACREAGE RATES through AHLS:
1-499 acres                $175
500-999 acres            $225
1000-1499 acres        $275
1500-1999 acres        $325
2000-2499 acres        $375
2500+ acres                .15 cents per acre

There are cheaper plans out there, but I felt more comfortable with the coverage options that QDMA had to offer. I spoke with QDMA on the phone, and there were no gray areas left open to interpretation which made me a lot more comfortable. Other options are available from NWTF and Outdoor Insurance Group, Inc.

Bottom line, hunters liability insurance is a good idea for both hunters and property owners. Nobody anticipates an accident occurring but when it does, having a plan in place for protection against unforeseen events will ease the minds of yourself, your family, and landowners. Is hunters liability insurance mandatory, no, but it is a necessary precaution that will benefit both parties for a relatively small cost.

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