We are looking for skilled outdoorsman to enlighten the hunting world with tales and tactics from the whitetail woods. The door is wide open along the lines of article content as long as it is original and applies to hunting. We are not looking for the next Hemmingway, just some insight from our customer base.
Share your stories, tips, and tactics to win free gear. A few subjects to get the ball rolling:
-Tips from your hunting experiences
-Stories of hunting a particular animal or memorable season
-Your insight/outlook on hunting and the industry
-Tactics to become a better hunter
-What you love about our sport
Tip: If you have pictures that apply, send them with the article.
What’s in it for you? Good question. If we publish your article on the THLETE blog, you will automatically receive a free THLETE Guide Hat. All submissions will automatically receive a one-time promo code for 20% off an order. If you blow us away with your writing style and hunting insight, we may contact you to discuss becoming a contributing writer, in turn, you will receive free gear upgrades in exchange for your content.
You get the idea; if you find it interesting, we want to hear about it! You will be given full credit for your insight and the article will be posted on the THLETE Blog. If you are interested, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info, or you can submit an article for immediate review. Correct spelling and grammar are a bonus but are not mandatory for article submission. We will proofread all submissions before publication on the THLETE Blog.
Today’s post is not about hunting camo or even outdoor gear for that matter; instead, it is about comfort. When it’s cold and miserable outside, there is one product that is a true luxury and believe it or not, it’s affordable. Scrape the change from under your car seat and cup holders, march into a Walgreen’s, Target or CVS and pick yourself up a pack of ThermaCare Heat Wraps. Initially, this ingenious product was designed for pain relief, but when applied to cold weather hunting conditions, the benefit of this simple product far exceeds curing a backache.
ThermaCare wraps pump out a substantial amount of heat and when placed over the vitals they will keep you quite comfortable when the temps dip below freezing. Heat increases blood flow and therefore stimulates core warmth. At $3 per wrap, there is not a less expensive alternative to maintain a proper core body temp for extended periods of time, up to 14 hours in my experience. On extreme cold weather hunts, the neck/shoulder version is a great option as an add-on to the lower back wrap. Using both wraps simultaneously increases blood flow throughout the entire body. It should be noted that this product is not reusable, when the heat cells run out, toss the wrap in the garbage.
Back Heat: $3.50 for 1, $9 for 3
Neck Heat: $3.25 for 1. $7.49 for 3
There you have it, a simple trick to staying warm on late season hunts. I tend to stock-pile ThermaCare wraps like an autumn squirrel stocking acorns knowing that once the temps plummet, I will go through them quickly. Give ThermaCare heat wraps a try and you will not be disappointed. $3 for a full day of comfort in cold weather is well worth the cost.
All too often, late season hunts are cut short due to foul weather. Cold December temps cause shivering and excess movement, a major no-no on late season hunts. By adding an insulation layer to your arsenal, you can combat the effects that cold weather has on your body and stay in the field longer.
A quality insulation layer is essential for late season hunting for a few reasons; most importantly, because it is very warm. The air that is trapped inside the insulation filaments is heated by your body and creates a buffer between you and the elements leading to greater thermal capacity; the loftier the filaments, the higher the thermal capacity. Second, most quality insulation layers are not air permeable meaning that wind will not penetrate the fabric and pull heat away from your body. Third, they are lightweight and easy to stuff in a pack. The Tailwind Puffy utilizes a Toray polyester face and Primaloft Gold fill which is regarded as premium synthetic insulation. Quality components and USA manufacturing combine to create a top-tier hunting shell that is perfect for cold weather hunting scenarios. Our premier insulation jacket, the Tailwind, keeps you warmer and more comfortable in the field.
Tailwind Specs: 42g Polyester Rip Stop Shell
Primaloft Gold 133g Insulation (Body)
Primaloft Gold 100g Insulation (Sleeves)
Very high warmth to weight ratio
YKK Coil Conceal Zippers
We recently received our second shipment of Tailwind Puffy Jackets and need to move some before the end of the season. We are offering the Tailwind at $119.95 ($70 off) through Thursday 11/30.
The 2017 season is quickly coming to an end; we would like to thank all of you that supported our limited inventory brand launch in this year. We had a great response and received a lot of valuable feedback which allows us to improve our product line as we move forward into 2018. This week, we are offering the Basecamp at 20% off to all of our customers, followers and Facebook fans. The Basecamp Crew was our top selling item in 2017 and now is an excellent time to save a few bucks on our USA made merino baselayer. Check out the specs below:
PROMO CODE: Basecamp20
The Basecamp Crew is a mid-weight 100% merino that is designed for the active hunter. The crew neck design is cut to be very comfortable when worn under other garments. Merino wool is also an odor-resistant fiber meaning that you can wear the garment for long periods of time and have minimal odor saturation. The Basecamp 260 Crew is an excellent weight for everyday wear.
Specs: 100% New Zealand Merino
Shoulder panels eliminate seams for added comfort
Warm when wet
Naturally odor resistant
TMC New Zealand Merino
100% designed, stitched, and made in Benson, MN USA.
Again, we thank all of you that supported our brand this past season and we look forward to advancing our camo brand to offer top-notch apparel and gear. We anticipate a full inventory launch by March of 2018 and will update you as more apparel arrives from our various manufacturing facilities. Happy Holidays.
Today, I am taking the day off from hunting. Despite a dismal start to the 2017 season due to a brief stint of the flu and a fractured rib, which I will detail in a future article about treestand safety, I am still optimistic. Although I have experienced spotty action, the majority of sits have not met my expectations of what a typical whitetail rut with below average temps generally measures up to. I have drawn back on one buck that caught me by surprise, but I opted to let him walk after a quick analysis of his age. Aside from that, no “shooters” have graced my presence in the deer woods thus far in 2017. Last night, after an uneventful evening sit in a great metro location, I will admit that my mind began to wander a bit and the walk out in the dark had me questioning the strategy I had in place to kill the buck that I was in there after. Did I move in too early? Is he bedding where I think he is? Is he even still alive?
We have passed daylight savings and the clocks have been set back meaning that we must rise earlier to get to our stands before daybreak and the same goes for cutting out of work in the afternoon. Frankly, it can be easier to find a reason not to go at this time of year; the comfort of a warm bed can seem more logical than rising at 3:00 a.m. to brave the harsh November wind and cold. On top of that, many firearm seasons have already begun, or are about to, adding to the anxiety of what will become of the bucks in your area. I received a call from a buddy in Northern Missouri this morning who has been hunting for ten straight days. He reported that brief bouts of rutting activity are followed by long sits with little to no action at all. The tone of his voice told me that morale was low in the “Show Me State.” Oddly enough, the conversation that we had this morning mirrored a call from him at roughly the same time last season. We were both sitting on unfilled tags in multiple states and agreed that although the action was slow, time in the tree was the only way to punch a tag. Two days later, he killed a buck that grossed in the upper 160’s. I think that this a lesson to us all on the mysteries of the rut and its intensity, or lack thereof. Persistence pays off.
So today, I am taking a break and regrouping. I am reorganizing gear that has been hastily strewn throughout my garage and truck. I am untangling the ball of calls and gear in my pack that loosely resembles a cluster of tangled Christmas tree lights and returning all my respective archery equipment to its rightful place in my pack. I am going to wash all my clothing and look over maps to draw up a new game-plan and get ready for the next phase of the whitetail rut. But most importantly, I am going to shoot. Our equipment is more vulnerable right now than it is throughout the entire off-season. Dawn and dusk walks to and from the stand, bouncing off of branches and tree-pegs and general travel make an unforeseen incident that alters a bows accuracy all too possible. So today I am going to shoot…a lot.
This phase of the season can be tough. We are approaching lock-down and dropping temps make sitting still for long stints a chore. Spotty action allows one’s mind to drift and a small acorn of doubt begins to form of what the remainder of the season will bring. But right now is the time to grind it out. The rut is a tricky beast and can shift quickly from one day to the next. A hot doe can trigger raw pandemonium just as quickly as it can coax rutting bucks a half mile in a different direction.
So, for those of us with unfilled tags, stay focused and grind. Hunt smart and remind yourself that it can still happen at any time. Amid the lack of sleep, mental exhaustion and minor malnourishment that goes along with hunting season, we wait all year for these few magical weeks of hunting with high hopes of catching a glimpse of a bruiser cruising the timber. It can happen in the blink of an eye, expunging that small acorn of doubt that filled your mind only a day earlier.
We posted an article in Late September detailing our thoughts on the moon and its overall impact on the rut. In that article, we went against the idea that the moon triggers the timing of the rut. However, we left the door open to a few significant dates when the moon will have a more substantial influence on whitetail movement and one of the dates we discussed is set to fall on November 4th. This Saturday the full moon will be rising in the evening and if you want to test our theory, try to be in the field that day. Studies have shown that when you have a full moon rising in the evening, you will see increased movement during daylight hours. If the weather cooperates and temps are cold, action should be very good. Not to mention the pre-rut should be firing on all cylinders.
Weather still trumps the effects of the moon but if we have below average temps on the 4th, the moon could be a contributing component to generate increased whitetail activity across the Midwest. If you are looking for that one magic day where it all comes together, where all influences combine to create raw havoc in the whitetail woods, November 4th has the potential to be just that. Granted, the majority of predicting whitetail movement is purely speculation, but that is what makes it intriguing; trying to crack the code of when mature deer are killable.
It is hard to deny the concept that the moon influences wildlife behavior. After all, the words lunacy and lunatic stem from luna, the Latin word for moon. It is believed that people and wildlife were more likely to show erratic behavior during a full moon. Whether you buy into the moon theory or not, November 4th is a great time to be in a tree waiting for a bruiser to come cruising by.
The latter part of this week will bring the first significant cold front of the season and the timing could not be better. Pre-rut activity is rapidly increasing, and with each passing day, bucks are ramping up there activity during daylight hours. Rut ready bucks will be triggered to move more frequently as the front proceeds to sweep east. The days of swatting gnats have passed, break out the cold weather gear and get into a tree.
As far as timing goes, the impending cold front is near perfection. Pre-rut activity should break wide open as the cold front moves across the Midwest and eastern portions of the country. As a hunter, if you are not excited by now, check your pulse. We are on the front edge of what looks to be a solid stretch of rut activity inducing weather.
What to Expect:
We are still a few of weeks from peak breeding. Anticipate an increase in rub and scrape activity and some chasing will begin shortly. Most bucks have not yet begun to venture far from their fall range. If you have a target buck that is considered a home-body, now is the time to go after him. He will still be close to his core area, but his daytime movement should increase dramatically once the cold front arrives. Now is an excellent time to bust out the rattling antlers. Bucks that are hopped-up on testosterone with no receptive does are agitated and looking to establish dominance. This is not the time to “tickle” the antlers together, let ’em rip and do your best to act out a knock-down buck brawl.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.