The Most Affordable States for Bowhunting

Originally posted on SeanCarothers.net

In addition to providing a solid workout, bowhunting is also a great way to connect with the outdoors. For many hunters, though, finding the right location can be cost-related as well. Here’s a list of five of the most affordable states for bowhunting for nonresidents.

150922-M-AI083-046

Ohio

Annual Nonresident Hunting Fee: $141.50, Deer Permit: $41

What else would you expect from the Buckeye State? Ohio’s archery season runs long, from late September to early February. The one drawback is the state’s high percentage of privately owned land, with only about 5 percent open to the hunting public. Still, there’s also a high percentage of white-tailed deer, which makes the trade-off worth it.

 

Nebraska

Nonresident Habitat Stamp: $25, Deer Permit $242

Nebraska’s low population and abundance of untamed land makes it a hunter’s paradise. Generally, the fees cover the hunting of both whitetails and mule deer (see the state’s outdoor sport website for more information). Try your luck in the less-populated central and western areas of the state to get a leg up on the competition (though there probably won’t be much).

 

Missouri

Nonresident Hunting Fee: $225

Bordered by Kansas and Iowa, the Show-Me State offers a nutrition-rich habitat with relatively mild winters, both of which contribute to its thriving whitetail population. The fee allows hunters to tag two deer of either gender (though only one antlered buck is allowed prior to November 11 this year), and two turkeys (tom or hen) are also included in the fee.

 

Kentucky

Annual Hunting License: 140, Statewide Deer Permit: $120

With over a million and a half acres available for public hunting, Kentucky provides great bang for your buck (pun intended). Due to a brutally low deer population from the 1930s to the ’80s, the state may have fallen off the radar as far as hunting is concerned, but the issue has since seen a significant turnaround. Today, the area is home to over 900,000 whitetails.

 

North Dakota

Nonresident Fees: Fishing, Hunting, and Furbearer Certificate: $2, Game and Habitat License: $20, Deer License $250

To be perfectly blunt, there isn’t a whole lot to do in North Dakota besides hunt–something that won’t bother anyone who’s traveled there for the express purpose of bagging a buck.

Advertisements

Differentiating a Doe from a Button Buck

A confusing and somewhat frustrating aspect of bowhunting whitetail deer is being able to tell the difference between a doe and a young buck. Depending on what you are hunting for, mistaking the two can be surprisingly common, unlike hunting buck who tend to stand out with their large antlers. Though harvesting doe is a necessity at times, understanding the differences between them and a button buck is still crucial; something that is much easier said than done.

The physical traits of a doe and button buck are extremely similar, but there are a few key characteristics to look out for. For one, adult does are much larger than younger bucks. They are typically taller and longer with a slight rectangular shape to their midsections. Their snouts are almost always longer as well, compared to a young buck’s shorter snout.

Because of their smaller size, fawns have more of a square midsection, as they are equally long as they are tall. Additionally, young males will have flat, stubbier heads. This is why they are referred to as “button bucks.” The buttons atop their heads are budding antlers. Female deer, whether fawns or does, will have much more rounded heads.

Behavioral traits are much more challenging to catch, though they can give away a deer that may be difficult to decipher. Button bucks are much less cautious when it comes to being out in the open. This is evident when observing a popular feeding ground. Young males will confidently trot out to eat, whereas females of all ages are much more timid, coming off as nervous.

Their behaviors are also differentiated when you take note of how many other deer they are traveling with. Does will stick together going off of the notion that there is safety in numbers, but button bucks generally travel solo. Should you come across a small herd of just two, chances are the larger deer is a young male. Herds of three or more typically include a parent doe somewhere in the mix.

It’s important to note that deer are much more easily defined from a higher position where their pedicles are clearly visible. Always take advantage of some basic hunting gear to do so, such as binoculars and a field guide. Once you’ve mastered the art of identifying each type of whitetail deer, your bowhunting abilities will begin to improve tremendously.

5 of the Best States for Bowhunting Deer

Avid bowhunters often hunt for a variety of reasons, some of which being for sport or food. Regardless, having a successful hunt is rewarding for those taking part, and the first step in ensuring this is picking the right location. If you are one for traveling around the country, the following states are some of the best bowhunting locations in the U.S.

Mississippi

The state that I call home, Mississippi may be a surprising bowhunting hotspot given its southern location, but there are a surprising number of mature deer throughout the state. The only downside to hunting in Mississippi is that bow seasons tend to run a little shorter than others, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. Some of the largest herds of deer in the U.S. call this state home.

Wisconsin

Absolutely riddled with deer, Wisconsin is a well known hunting hotspot where bowhunters can flourish. However, it is important to note that there are a large number of hunters that visit the Badger State as well, most of which hunting with rifles rather than bows. If you get there early enough though, particularly during the beginning of the rut, you will encounter a great number of deer with fewer hunters. Wisconsin also has an enormous area of land upon which hunting is legal.

Ohio

Boasting one of the later bowhunting seasons in the country, Ohio’s season runs from late September to early February; perfect for hunters that prefer wintery conditions. Even better, gun seasons are not in line with the rut, leaving larger populations for the archers. Because of this, there are many more deer than there are hunters.

Iowa

Iowa is somewhat glamorized in the eyes of bowhunters given its scenic landscape and ideal weather conditions, but few actually take the time to visit this perfect location. Yet another state that allows bowhunters time to flourish before rifles start firing, Iowa’s wildlife is much less disturbed due to December being the first month guns can take the field.

Kentucky

Kentucky is known by most as the land of purebred horses and, of course, the Kentucky Derby. What some people may not know is that it is also a whitetail deer hotspot. Hunting season here opens early than most too, so bowhunters can set their sights on a prized buck before others. Because of the large patches of land throughout the state, there are plenty of acres to do your hunting on. Even privately owned properties are often lenient enough to allow hunters to perform on their land, so long as the homeowners oblige, of course.

For more, visit SeanCarothers.net!

Treestand Safety and Climbing Tips

Properly securing a treestand when bowhunting is a vital safety precaution that no hunter should consider unnecessary. Today, stands on the market are much safer than those of past decades, offering much more sturdiness, less weight, and more comfort. Using them correctly however, is something that should be well understood by those out in the wilderness.

Location is an important factor in finding a tree capable of holding your weight and that of your stand’s. For example, Northeastern states tend to have thicker, sturdier trunks that are able to support a great amount of weight, and also have fewer branches. These often come in enormous forests as well, stretching for millions of acres. The Southwest however, is typically the opposite. Forests are much more scarce, and the density of the trees that can be found tend to be on the thinner, more feeble side. But, that does not mean that the right tree does not exist. It may just take a little more searching for those that call southwestern states home.

Obviously, you’ll want to purchase a stand relative to your size. Hunters over six feet tall and 200 pounds should look for a top-of-the-line treestand made specifically for bigger-bodied individuals, while those on the smaller side need not worry too much about this. But, the bigger the stand, the more freedom of movement you have, which can make for optimal hunting conditions.

Take into consideration the gear you are bringing with you. This is added weight that the stand must support. Typically, a skilled hunter’s backpack and gear can weigh up to 50 pounds or so. Look into straps that can safely hang a bag or additional gear off the side of the treestand securely. This saves a great amount of room where you will be seated.

The height at which you choose to set up your treestand is optional, though higher is better. First, look for a tree with very few or no branches for the easiest climb, and always have a limb saw on hand to deal with pesky branches preventing you from reaching greater heights. However, going too high is always a risk. Trees become much thinner toward their towards their tops, and weak forks throughout make for even weaker branches.

Ensure that your stand is level once you’ve found your preferred height. Having it bent slightly upward away the tree is acceptable as well, as it will force you to lean back against the trunk. Pay close attention to how exactly your stand is built to hold onto the tree. Many stands today use metal teeth to securely grip the bark, while older models use rubber stoppers, which can be disastrous in inclement weather. Should you own a stand with rubber mounts, be extremely cautious when hunting in the rain, fog, or in generally damp conditions.

A safety harness is another essential part of a treestand, as you always want to have a failsafe. You are going to be hunting from a vantage point that could result in serious injury should you fall from it. Always wear a full-body safety harness. The cost of cutting corners when it comes to proper safety precautions can be life threatening.

While climbing higher obviously improves visibility, strategically planning where you climb in a forest can have an array of benefits. For example, setting up your stand in a tree that allows for space but is located directly next to another tree can hide your shadow from animals below. That being said, having some branches in your vicinity can be beneficial in terms of hiding so long as they do not hinder your sight or movement. An alert deer looking for signs of danger will almost always find the source.

Why Deer Move: Knowing How to Track Your Target

Getting inside the mind of a whitetail deer is the ultimate goal of every successful hunter, but something many are unable to do. Deer are highly unpredictable, but intriguing animals that are much more difficult to track than many people think. Because of this, knowing the best practices in finding them is the best way to accommodate, and knowing exactly why it is they move so erratically can help.

The winter season is upon us, and that means dropping temperatures and cold fronts. Typically, colder days translate to deer being more active while the sun is up to stay warm. However, extreme cold fronts can actually hinder activity, causing herds to stay put for extended periods of time.

Deer have been studied moving much more frequently during seasonal weather, i.e. hot summer days, crisp fall afternoons, or freezing winter days. Take advantage of these times. Take to the outdoors and study highly active areas like feeding grounds or rub/scrape lines. In more extreme weather, stay closer to bedding areas, as they will more than likely try and conserve as much energy as possible through minimal movement.

Speaking of weather conditions, storms can have a drastic effect on a herd’s movement as well. Following a heavy thunderstorm or rainfall, deer will be much more active in the nicer conditions that come afterwards, whereas they will begin to halt as a storm moves in. It is important to note however, that light rain and fog actually promote activity. Perhaps this is due to the added cover the fog provides and the lower temperatures that come with cloudy skies.

Barometric pressure is a surprisingly big factor in animal movement. As the pressure in the air changes, birds often wait for when it begins to rise to migrate, or communicate with one another. The same can be said for deer. As it reaches a certain point, they will begin to move much further and for longer periods of time.

Wind is an element that deer are extremely perceptive of. Because of their prey mentality, they are constantly on the lookout for predators; something that wind can either hinder or assist with. Strong, gusting winds may prompt a herd to lay low, as they have more trouble smelling predators in the area. This also poses an issue for hunters, as one’s scent may be picked up at random times. With that said, a steady wind in one direction can be used to a hunter’s advantage. It is much easier to know where your scent may be picked up in relation to this, and deer tend to be more comfortable knowing which direction the wind is coming from, prompting higher activity.

As many hunters know, the rut is the ultimate guide to deer movement. When mating season begins, bucks are often high in numbers. People have argued that phases of the moon and lengths of daylight effect when the rut starts, but as long as you are hunting within this timeline (early to late November), you are bound to come across several mature bucks seeking a mate.

While there is no way to predict exactly how a deer or herd will move, there have been studies pointing to a number of patterns they take part in. Consider all of those mentioned above before your next hunt in order to increase your chances of finding a target.

Visit SeanCarothers.net for more!

A Beginner’s Guide to Bowhunting (Pt. 2)

Welcome back, hunters. Following up with my previous blog on the types of bows you can use in bowhunting, we will dive into the knowledge required for success in the sport, as well as the best types of arrows. The more educated and prepared you are in the field, the better your chances are of leaving with a trophy.

Arrows

Choosing the right arrow to go with your bow can actually be somewhat daunting given the amount of products available. Beginners may be tempted to buy the highest quality arrow available, though a little research must be done beforehand. Understand that there is a steep learning curve with bowhunting, meaning the first couple arrows you shoot will most likely be lost. Look into budget-friendly arrows like those made of wood or carbon. Once you’ve proved your accuracy, promoting your arrows to aluminum shafts is the next logical step.

The broadhead of your arrow is perhaps the most important piece of bowhunting equipment, as this is the deciding factor in whether or not your target goes down. Broadheads can either be fixed blade or mechanical. Fixed blades are those with stationary blades, guaranteeing some degree of penetration when the target is hit. Mechanical broadheads on the other hand, have blades that expand upon impact; the argument being that these can travel faster and more accurately, but run the risk of the blades not expanding.

With that said, take blade sharpness and rate of accuracy into consideration when purchasing new broadheads, and try to find the closest one to those that you’ve been practicing with. However, make sure that it is as sharp as it can be. A broadhead with dull blades is completely useless out in the real world of bowhunting.

Field Knowledge

No matter what type of animal you are hunting, a basic understanding of how they operate and what their normal behaviors consist of is crucial. For example, diurnal animals (those that are active during the daytime) are biologically programmed to accomplish everything they can while the sun is still up. That includes finding food and shelter throughout the day. One important aspect to note is that most game animals are not capable of gathering and storing food, and thus spend most of their time out grazing. Squirrels and most rodents do, in fact, store food, and can be much harder to locate.

Finding a prime location to set up in requires much more thought and planning than one may think. Once you’ve studied your intended target, set up camp near a populated bedding or feeding area. Take advantage of any sturdy forestation around with tree stands, though ground blinds can be just as effective. Typically, you’ll want to establish a base adjacent to the trail that these animals use the most. However, be sure to never use that same trail to return to your base, lest you give away your presence through scent.

Attracting targets to your location is another trick in itself. Many hunters take advantage of animals’ heightened senses of smell by using urine or food scents to draw them closers. Others have perfected calls and imitations to gain a better shot. Regardless of what strategy you choose to implement, understanding the delicacy of the situation will help you find success out in the field.

A Beginner’s Guide to Bowhunting (Pt. 1)

While there are certainly many entertaining aspects of archery, there is nothing quite like the thrill of applying these skills out in the wilderness in an attempt to catch a living, mobile trophy.

Bowhunting is a great sport that teaches patience, appreciation, and responsibility, which are great moral lessons to learn as a beginner in this outdoor activity. But, one must first have a basic understanding of the nuances of this sport to find success.

Choosing a bow can be a little trickier than one may think. This should be approached with care, having researched all of your options to find the one that is best for you. There are four main types of bows typically used in bowhunting, those being a longbow, recurve bow, crossbow, and compound bow.

  • Longbow: This has the traditional crescent moon shape with a straight grip. Thinner than other types of bows but thicker in terms of depth, it may be difficult to bend the limbs when pulling back for the less experienced. However, its length allows for less friction on the fingers when drawing back, which makes it great for first-timers.
  • Recurve bow: When unstrung, this bow’s limbs curve away from you, thus allowing for more force when drawn back and released. Recurve bows are shorter than traditional longbows, making them optimal for navigating difficult environments. It is important to note however, that they are noisier than other bows; an aspect of bowhunting that spell the difference between failure and success. Drawing back and releasing creates much more noise than that of a longbow.
  • Crossbow: Typically reserved for experienced bowhunters, crossbows are considered the deadliest type of bow. Arrows released from these are much faster, and done so at the pull of a trigger. Crossbows are much more complex than other bows, and require a significant amount of knowledge and experience before they can be used in the field. This article provides a great in-depth explanation of their anatomy and function.
  • Compound Bow: This bow actually uses a levering system made up of strings and cables to bend the limbs back upon draw and release. Because of this, archers must set a draw weight, typically at least 45 pounds depending on a state’s requirements. The limbs of compounds bows are much stiffer than its bow relatives, which makes it more energy-efficient, and more accurate. Another bow with a complex build, compound bows do require a decent amount of maintenance in order to preserve their function, though.