Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

Stay up-to-date on hunting, fishing and camping products, trends and news.

Barnett Hyper Raptor- Great Bow at a Modest Price

Here’s the skinny: Hyperflite arrows penetrate greater than any standard arrow.  “You better shoot the corner of the target,” said Tim Gordon, owner of Keystone Sports archery shop in Hagerstown, Maryland.  “Even then, you’ll probably need an arrow gripper to remove it.”  Sure enough, barely three inches of shaft protruded from a commercial grade target designed for heavy crossbows and compounds.

Big Bull Down

In preparation for a crossbow elk hunt in Idaho, I chose the Barnett Hyper Ghost specifically because it shot .204-inch diameter Hyperflite arrows.  Since shots on elk can be longer than for whitetail deer, I wanted as much penetration and as flat of a trajectory as possible.  The Hyperflite passed completely through the mature bull at 50 yards and downed the animal in seconds.

Hyper Raptor, The Next Generation

I explained many of the features of the Hyper Raptor in a previous post yet wanted to cover a few more.  The Hyper Raptor has a step-through footrest which shortens the bow and makes for a much surer cocking procedure.  Most crossbows have a metal cocking stirrup that extends beyond the riser and attaches with screws or bolts.  These can come lose or make noise due to vibration, a problem eliminated with this bow.

Easy Rope Cocking

Due to the narrow silhouette of the Hyper Raptor, it cocks with a rope and a sled, a common device for contemporary crossbows.  Despite its speed, it cocks with a single pull and since the step-through foot stirrup shortens the bow, it allows you to use more of your leg muscles.  Additionally, the rope snaps under a red ball behind the trigger mechanism for a perfect cock on the first try.  By containing the cocking rope, it can’t slide up or slip off as with a small notch.  You will quickly like it.

Crank Cocking Device

The Hyper Raptor is available with a Crank Cocking Device (CCD) that operates with a silent crank.  Personally, I struggled with this application, so I’ve attached the video explaining it.




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Whitetail Deer Rely on Quality Winter Habitat

Come April, white-tailed deer in the northern states have gone through their worst hard time. Prolonged severe winter weather is the most taxing time in a whitetail’s life, particularly at the edges of their northernmost range. Does will soon give birth—if they haven’t starved.

To get through this demanding period, whitetails “yard up” or congregate in unique deer winter habitats. They gather in groups, not for food but to escape biting winds and deep snow. In Vermont, for example, it is not uncommon for the winter mercury to drop below zero for more than 50 days throughout the season. Add a foot and a half of snow on the ground with piercing wind chills, and one can see that winter habitat management is critical.

 

Taxes paid by firearms, ammunition, and archery manufacturers via the Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson), fund state fish and wildlife agencies’ scientific population surveys and habitat management. That means ensuring the existence of robust stands of softwoods in sufficient size and frequency and proper locale to shelter white-tailed deer through the coldest part of the year.

“During winter, whitetails migrate to important habitats for relief from deep snow and cold temperatures,” said John Austin, Land & Habitat Program manager with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “Stands of softwood trees such as eastern hemlock, red spruce, balsam fir, white pine, and white cedar, particularly on south-facing slopes where the sun creates favorable microclimates, provide critical habitat for deer to survive winter conditions. Softwood tree branches capture snow overhead, making it easier for deer to get around, find food and avoid predators. Their reliance on this important winter habitat concerns energy conservation rather than energy consumption. Deer in the northern part of their range depend on conserving energy stored during the summer and fall when food is abundant.”



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Shed Hunting: A Spring Ticket to a Great Fall Hunt

Few things spark a hunter’s imagination more than finding a huge, shed antler.  It’s a signal that a mature buck or bull survived the winter and may be in the same area next hunting season.  Barring an invasion of predators or a massive spring snowstorm, you can begin the scouting process in late spring and, with a bit of luck, locate an even larger bull or buck in the fall.

Scouting Suburban Areas

In suburban areas, shed hunting can land a special hunting spot.  Jeff Harrison, the man holding the sheds in the lead photo, used shed hunting as a means of securing new hunting properties.  He searched for large suburban home sites that abutted a creek, park, or wooded sanctuary where deer were likely to congregate and bed.  He carried a small antler and knocked on the homeowner’s door asking if he could search the back of their property for shed deer antlers.  Often, suburban dwellers don’t know that deer lose their antlers which usually resulted in a friendly chat.  Once permission was granted, Harrison searched the wooded areas and stopped to thank the landowner, especially if antlers were found.  This led to a friendly conversation about the ability to hunt the home’s back section in the fall.  Since a deer herd can eat $1,000 of shrubbery in a single night, he often was welcomed to help control the population.

Is it Legal?

As innocent as finding a shed antler seems, it may be illegal to collect them on certain public and Federal lands.  If you will be searching a park or state game lands, don’t risk getting a citation that can spoil your future hunting privileges.  Always check pertinent regulations first. Also, in Western regions, shed hunting is illegal at certain times of the year due to animal health concerns.  Deer and elk can be at the point of starvation by spring and allowing shed hunters into their habitat can cause their demise.

10 Shed Hunting Tips

 


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Barnett Hyper Raptor: Big Performance for Small Potatos

Barnett has packed their 2024 flagship crossbow with many features that hunters and shooters will like.  This year’s new bow will be available soon, so I field-tested last year’s model with many of the same features.  Here’s a list of the Raptor’s goodies; there is plenty to like.

Easy Assemble, Easy Travel

At a speed of 410 fps and 142 ft-lbs. of Kinetic Energy, this bow is a powerhouse which does not include the added benefit of slender Hyperflite arrows. Unpacking the bow, I hoped it came in two parts, and sure enough, the riser assembly separated from the stock, allowing the bow to be assembled with a single bolt.  This bow is destined for a South Dakota turkey hunt in April and can be disassembled and flown in a suitcase, saving nearly $100 in baggage fees.

Triggertech Option Built-In

Whether a rifle or a crossbow, one of the best ways to increase accuracy is to install a custom trigger with no creep and a light trigger pull and the Hyper Raptor has this benefit built in.  When I look for a crossbow, the Triggertech logo attracts me every time.  It has enough resistance to be safe at the moment of truth but less than “Will this thing ever go off?”  Even the most expensive crossbows now include Triggertech, so it’s a major plus on a modestly priced bow.

 

Righty or Leftie

The Barnett Hyper Raptor has an ambidextrous safety that allows you to shoot with your dominant eye, even if it does not coincide with your “handedness.”  The safety switch is large enough to work efficiently with gloves, and the “fire” and “safe” positions are well-marked for extra safety in low light.






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Whitetail Buck Suvivors

Keep your game cameras clicking.  Bucks are still in their winter pattern and now is the best time to locate “survivors.”  When spring arrives, whitetail deer will change their feeding and travel behaviors, possibly taking them from your home range until next fall.  By analyzing deer pictures, you can learn which deer to plan for when the season rolls around.

Three Buck Parade

The above photo was taken from my box blind Friday evening.  As you can see, it shows a 2.5-year-old 8-point with one antler dropped, a button buck in the center of the picture and, I believe, a mature buck to the left.  If you look closely, you can just see two pedicles where its antlers were shed.  I experimented with Osage orange fruit, commonly called hedge apples, late last fall yet neither deer nor squirrels ate them.

Predator Patrol

Deep snows were devastating to deer populations in parts of the Rocky Mountains last year with up to 90% mortality is some areas.  Luckily, the mid-West and East have been spared that tragedy with recent mild winters, yet coyotes, bobcats, and bears are at record numbers in most areas and a trail camera is your best means of keeping track of them.

Territorial Coyotes

Research shows that coyotes are territorial in late winter and early spring.  This means if you kill one or more, another roaming coyote will not move into that territory until summer or fall.  Since most states have no season or restrictions on coyote hunting, reducing their numbers can dramatically improve the health and survival of this year’s fawn crop.

Of Bears Beware

Do you have black bears in your deer area?  This picture of a mature sow and two cubs was taken on Christmas eve, a time when all three should have been hibernating.  Biologists suggest that mild winters allow bears, especially boars, to shorten their normal winter nap.  Instead of “denning,” some curl up in a deadfall or sheltered pile of leaves.  Research from Pennsylvania studies have shown black bears to be significant predators of fawns.




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Bonus Points or Preference Points: Which are Better?

Big game licenses are in high demand, and knowing the point system can help you get one.  Some states offer “preference points” while others offer “bonus points” to applicants not accepted for a license.  Knowing the difference is important and should guide your application process.  Here’s a look at each one.

What is a Preference Point?

I took this nice muley buck in the Medicine Bow region of Wyoming using an over-the-counter tag.  In Wyoming and across the West, big game tags are increasingly given by lottery, due to high demand.  In states with a preference point (PP) system, a hunter who is not drawn for a specific animal is given a PP as a consolation.  If that person applies again, his PP will put him ahead of all first-time applicants in the lottery.  Each year the applicant is not drawn, a PP is awarded increasing the chance of a positive draw because he is chosen ahead of those with fewer PPs.

Disadvantages of PP

This system was established to provide some certainty of drawing a license.  I had four preference points for my last elk hunt in Wyoming and everyone with four or more PP drew a license.  I’ll have five in 2025 and hope to draw a license, yet demand is so high that I may still not be successful.  For species such as moose, sheep, mountain goat, and select deer and elk regions, a person may never have enough preference points to draw a license because so few tags are allocated.

The Bonus Point Option

The bonus point option allows any person to draw a license at any time.  Although some see this as a fairer system, it also means that a person cannot plan a hunt with any certainty.  Many outfitters book hunters a year or two in advance and clients must count on luck to get a tag.  Unsuccessful applicants receive a “bonus point” (BP) each time they apply, and their name is not drawn.  The second year of an application, the person has his/her name in the “hat” twice, then three times, and so forth.  This system relies on probability and the more BP a person has, the greater the probability, yet that small advantage many make little difference among thousands of people.

Buying a Percentage

Sometimes, paying more for an application can boost the probability of drawing a license.  Wyoming offers a dual price structure.  A regular elk license for 2024 costs $692, however, a “Special elk” license is available for $1268 and both categories have their own license pool.  The theory is that fewer hunters will pay the extra cash and therefore a person can compete with fewer applicants in the lottery by paying more.




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Crazy??? A Gun that Shoots Arrows

Traditions Firearms sells the Crackshot XBR (Crossbow Rifle) that fires an arrow up to 385 feet per second with 94 ft-lbs of kinetic energy at 30 yards, making it very competitive with today’s modern crossbows.  The gun is a basic .22 caliber rifle with the barrel section specifically modified to launch 2216 Firebolt Arrows.

How it Works

An arrow would wobble in an open rifle barrel and the fletching would be destroyed by the compression.  The XBR solves this problem with a narrow tube that fits inside the 2016 arrow and the larger outer barrel allows for fletch clearance.  To load the arrow, the shaft fits over the inner tube and slides down the barrel.

A Bow with a Bang

Once the arrow fully encases the inner tube, the rifle is primed with a .27 caliber Powerload as shown above.  To fire, the shooter switches the safety to “off,” cocks the rifle by pulling back the hammer, and squeezes the trigger.  I examined the rifle at the Great American Outdoor Show so I could not fire it inside.

Is It a Bow?

At a price of $599, the Crackshot is comparable to mid-priced crossbows and delivers arrow performance in that range.  With a stock, forend, scope, and trigger it has many crossbow components, yet it uses a percussion launch system which sets it apart.  It’s marketed to “adults, youth, and anyone who may be disabled.”  Generally, “bows” don’t go “bang,” but I’ll let you decide.  www.traditionsfirearms.com



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Shore Bet for Big Whitetail Bucks

“Maryland’s Eastern Shore whitetail hunts are a bargain,” I said to my poker buddy as he complained about the high cost of Mid-Western deer hunts.  “Instead of $3,000 and up, a quality hunt with a good chance for a P&Y buck is half that price.”  I used to write for Mid-Atlantic Game and Fish Magazine, where my job was to write about the big deer taken in Maryland.  Continually, those “best-of-the-year-deer came from the Eastern Shore.

Maryland is Super Hunter Friendly

A Whitetail deer tag in the Mid-West can cost $300-$500 and one of the areas I hunt in South Dakota, tags go for $1,000.  Those are just tags, plus you must buy a general hunting license, conservation stamp, archery, tag, etc.  The price of a Maryland Nonresident Hunting License is $160.00. For those aged 65 and above, Maryland offers a Nonresident Senior Hunting License at a cost of $65.00. This is available for purchase in the year a nonresident hunter turns 65. For younger enthusiasts under 16, a Nonresident Junior Hunting License is available at $80.00.  This is a full year’s license and includes up to four bucks, 10 does, two wild turkeys and small game. Such a deal!

Why Shore Bucks are Big.

Maryland’s Eastern Shore is blessed with rich, fertile soil that grows excellent crops that are bordered by dense pine growth, swamps, and an impenetrable plant called phragmites.  This weed grows prolifically on the Shore, is 8-10 feet tall and as thick as dog hair.  Additionally, this region is known for waterfowl hunting and many farms are leased specifically for waterfowl.  As a result, these landowners don’t welcome deer hunters because they compete for lucrative leases, making them sanctuaries for excellent age structure.

Pick Your Season

Jeff Harrison took this big Maryland buck on September 15th, the usual opening day.  Recently, Maryland has moved their season to the first week of September giving you the chance for a velvet buck.  Lush croplands are visited regularly in early season, but hunters must prepare for mosquitoes and warm weather.  November 15th is the typical rut peak, and the two weeks prior are dynamite for rut-style hunting.  Maryland’s archery season closes on January 31, giving archers great late-season opportunities.  Crossbows, recurves, and compounds are legal in all regular archery seasons.

What’s it Like

I hunted with George Hopkins a few years ago and visit each February at the Great American Outdoor Show to catch up.  He and his son operate in Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties, known for big deer, and spread their clients over a series of farms in a huge area.  They plant corn, soybeans, clover and sunflowers to entice deer and baiting is allowed.  They offer archery, muzzleloading, and shotgun hunt from 3-6 days, ranging from three to six days costing $1200 to $2,000.  The Eastern Shore is known for hospitality and it’s easy to combine a hunting trip/family vacation in the area.  Known as “The Land of Pleasant Living,” great restaurants abound.  A web search will turn up numerous outfitters on the Shore or to contact Hopkins Deer Hunting, click here.  Good Luck!




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Tim Well and an “Impossible” Desert Ram

“I got lucky, said Tim Wells, demonstrating that noting is out of reach.  “My first desert bighorn ram thousands of feet above the Sea of Cortez.  It’s been a test.  I was having a grueling week trying to close the distance on what seemed an impossibility.  Suddenly, things turned in my favor.  Beneath a baking son I glassed a mature ram on a distant ridge where it guarded a small group of ewes.

Wells and Grim Reaper “Got This.”

Sneaking on the big ram, Wells and a camera operator climbed to an elevated point within range of the sheep where “The Slock Master” sent a Grim Reaper through the magnificent beast.  “I’m thankful for such and experience and hope you enjoy the video soon to come.  And yes, there will be a Go Fund Me page to help pay for the trip.”

 

A Grim Reaper Fan

I met Tim Wells at the 2024 ATA Show in St. Louis, and he was gracious enough to share a photograph.  If you have not seen Wells in action, his shooting skills are magical, as in ducks and geese on the wing.  He shoots Grim Reaper Broadheads exclusively and is equally successful with a spear and blowgun.  Tim Wells has a host of videos on YouTube, often under “Relentless Pursuit.”  Despite today’s advanced hunting technologies, Wells hunts with an Oneida Eagle recurve.  Follow us for more Tim Wells adventures and videos.

 


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Scent Thief- A New Concept in Scent Control

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Snag a Snakehead

Deer season is over; we lament the long wait until opening day, so why not plan a spring bow fishing trip to put great eats in the freezer and provide a new celebration of spring? I spoke with the Working Class Outdoorsmen at the NRA Great American Outdoor Show and was surprised to learn about the variety of fish archers can “catch.”

Monster Catfish

Blue and Flathead catfish are invasive species in many areas that have wildlife officials concerned.  These predators of the deep are like moving vacuum cleaners capable of consuming all but the largest sportfish.  In Maryland, Fish & Wildlife Official ask that anglers not put these fish back in the water to reduce their impact.  Imagine the fight needed to land these monsters.

Action Aplenty

Bowfishing is not like sitting in a cold tree stand waiting for a deer to walk by.  Often, bowfishing is non-stop action; you don’t have to be quiet, and you can do it with friends.  The Working Class Outdoorsmen crew will clean your fish at the end of the evening so that you can take them home, sell them, or donate the harvest.

No Equipment Needed

Like most charter boats, you can bring your gear or use theirs.  For beginners, boat tackle eliminates the need for up-front expenses and assures that the gear you use works for the species you seek.  Shooting at fish underwater takes a bit of practice, but you’ll get plenty of that and quickly become proficient.  To email the Working Class Sportsmen, click here.

Here’s the Scoop



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Saddle Hunting: Is it For You?

Saddle hunting has taken the bowhunting world by storm.  At the recent NRA Great American Outdoor Show, there were numerous demonstrations going on throughout the day.  These vendors were so busy, I couldn’t interview them.  Instead, I took pictures and want to give you a sample of what’s involved.

Why Do It?

The above picture tells it all.  Every hunter’s goal is to get above an unexpecting whitetail buck and get this perfect quartering away shot.  The beauty of saddle hunting is mobility.  A hunter needs only a tiny platform, like the one shown, several climbing sticks, a saddle which supports the body, and a series of support ropes and straps to keep in the tree.

Thanks to this Volunteer.

As you can see, hunting by this method is a little like playing Spider Man.  The saddle supports the seat and allows for motion around the tree even when not standing on the base.  Most hunters use a screw-in device to hang their bow allowing both hands free to maneuver into position for an oncoming deer.  Because you can hunt from almost any tree, you need not worry about overhunting a stand because you can move to the freshest deer sign in the area.  As deer move, you can move with them.

What Does it Cost-

For comparison, a good ladder stand cost $200 or less.  Saddle hunting isn’t cheap, and you don’t want to skimp on materials that will support you 15-20 feet above the ground.  The Harrisburg Farm Show Building was completely enclosed, yet vendors had posts anchored to the ground and prospective customers hanging from them throughout the day.

Saddle Hunting Magazine

Tree Saddle Hunter is dedicated to this new approach to hunting, an indication of its popularity and success.  The editor of the magazine was among the many visitors to the archery arena and professes a love for the tactic.  The gear shown above can be found from Tethrd.  For their website and to join the Tethrd Nation, click here.  Good luck and be safe up there.




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Compass Carts- A Deer Device Your Wife Will Love

The Compass Cart is perfect for deer hunting and many other uses.  It operates like a standard deer carrier that attaches to the trailer hitch on an SUV or pickup truck, but it carries more, has wheels for getting that big buck out of the woods, and a handle.  As you will see in the video, it slides onto the mounted receiver so that one person can load a deer.

 

Multiple Uses

“Each time I’m at a show, someone comes up to me to tell me of a new use for the cart,” said the owner.  “It can be pulled behind a bicycle, as shown or used to carry beach chairs and towels for a day at the ocean.  Parents and coaches love it for getting all their sports gear to the sidelines, and it keeps things organized.  When finished, everything goes in the cart.”

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Don’t Miss the NRA Great American Outdoor Show

“Exciting,” “Adventurous,” “Thrilling,” “Inspiring,” “Educational,” are just a few of the words attributed to the annual outdoor pilgrimage to Harrisburg Pennsylvania.  It’s like the opening day of the next hunting season, where every game animal in the world can be seen, and the details worked out.  I’ve been attending the show in Harrisburg for 40 years because it’s informative and downright fun.

Forget Online, Talk to the Experts in Person

Joey Lane killed this great Canadian black bear on a hunt he booked at GAOS.  Instead of looking at pictures and “references” online, you can ask questions directly of outfitters, look at their photos, and compare options in real time.  Often, I have to stand in line to talk to a guide or outfitter and learn from the conversations others are having.

Book a Combination Trip

How about an Alaskan halibut and black bear combination?  Above, I stand with Frank Stelmach, owner of Island Point Lodge that is advertising a spring or fall bear hunt that can be done from his lodge.  I have hunted and fished at Island Point Lodge several times and it’s a great experience. The advantage of talking with outfitters in person is the ability to ask about combination game or secondary animals.

Unique Species

The sika deer of Maryland and Virginia, technically the Asian elk, is one of the least expensive exotic animals to hunt.  For the price of a whitetail deer hunt with most outfitters, you can challenge this monarch of the marsh.  Access is easy, unlike the challenge.  These creatures rut in mid-October, make a whistling bugle, and are known for outstanding table fare.

Shoot the Latest Gear

You can not only see and purchase the latest archery and hunting products but use them as well.  Several manufacturers have shooting lanes set aside with staff members to walk you through the features of the latest bows and crossbows.  It’s one thing to see a bow online, but a whole different experience to handle and shoot it.





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Redneck Blinds on Display at The Great American Outdoor Show

The Great American Outdoor Show will take place from February 3rd to 11th this year in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This iconic outdoor show has been taking place for decades, and every year, outdoorsmen from across the Midwest and East Coast head to the show to buy new gear, book hunting trips, and listen to seminar speakers share hunting tips.

One well-known outdoor brand that will have a booth at the show this year is Redneck Blinds. One of their top dealers, Esh’s Storage Barns out of Chambersburg Pennsylvania will be representing Redneck Blinds at the show. Redneck Blinds will be at booth number 933.

A Totally Different Perspective-

Buying a new blind can be overwhelming. A new deer blind is expensive and knowing what blind to choose can be a daunting task. There are deer blinds with just horizontal windows, some with horizontal and vertical. Some blinds are insulated; some are not. The goal of Esh’s storage barns is to help hunters choose the perfect blind for them. “We love talking to potential customers about what type of deer blind fits their needs,” said Bill Barling, Manager of Esh’s Storage Barns. “We have almost every model of Redneck Blind in stock. We bring a wide variety of them to the Harrisburg Show so hunters can see the different options.”

Probably one of the best reasons to purchase a new Redneck Blind at the show is because Esh’s offers a lot of show specials. Customers will receive $200 off any Redneck Blind they buy at the show plus free accessories. “The specials we offer at the show are really good and often the best deal of the year!” Barling noted.

If you are in the market for a new deer blind this year, stop by booth 933 at the Great American Outdoor Show and check out all the specials on Redneck Blinds. Learn more at www.eshhuntingblinds.com



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Donald Trump Will Attend the NRA Great American Outdoor Show on Friday

I killed a bull elk in Idaho six weeks before the 2020 election, and my grandson volunteered to pack out the 100 pounds of meat and antlers you see on his back.  Several of those who helped quarter the elk had Donald Trump signs and used the antlers as appropriate flagstaff to show their support.  I didn’t publish the photo then because I thought mixing politics with the outdoors was unethical.

Make Your Own Decision

Former President Trump will speak at the NRA Great American Outdoor Show on Friday, February 9th.  Here’s the information from the GAOS website: Join President Donald J. Trump and other leading Second Amendment supporters for the NRA Presidential Forum on Friday, February 9 at the Great American Outdoor Show. Free admission with the purchase of a Great American Outdoor Show ticket. Event starts at 5:00pm – Doors Open at 3:00pm. You may not line up until 2:00pm.

 

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Insane Alaskan Bear Hunt

The NRA Great American Outdoor Show displays some of the best hunting options in the world, but none is crazier than the bear hunt offered by Tony Marchini and his Hidden Alaska hunting operation.  “We hunt a predator area, where the state wants to reduce the bear population and we have lots of them,” said Marchini.

Multiple Tactics for Brown Bears

Stalking a 1,000 pounds of teeth and claws in alders so thick you can barely see your broadhead is heart-pounding action, while some would say suicide.  The Hidden Alaska crew offers float trips through bear county in the fall.  You can catch salmon and Dolly Varden until your arms ache while drifting silently on huge bears that roam the shoreline in search of salmon.

Baiting for Brown Bear is Legal

Hunting a black bear over bait will challenge your nerves, especially as evening falls and you know that a 400-pound meat-eater is roaming nearby.  How about half a ton of brown bear cruising under your stand?  This type of hunting is much safer than stalking and allows the hunter to be selective about the harvest.  Even though bear numbers are high, selecting a large boar is the quest of most archers.

Multiple License Hunts

Traveling to Alaska and getting into the bush is a significant portion of the cost of the hunt.  The beauty of this quest is the ability to take two or up to five black bears on a single trip.  In addition, you can make it a combo with a brown/black bear combination.  I interviewed Tony Marchini at the NRA Great American Outdoor Show.  In the following video he explains the details of this incredible hunting opportunity.



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Lancaster Archery’s Top 3 Products at GAOS

Lancaster Archery is one of the leading archery vendors in the country, and when I noticed PJ Reilly at the GAOS booth, I had to ask.  “What are your top three products?”  “That’s easy,” he said, reaching for the bow rack.  “Number one on the list is the Mathews Lift:”

TenPoint Crossbow-

“We knew that TenPoint was discontinuing this model, so we bought a lot of them and are offering this great crossbow at a special price.  They are only available at the GAOS, so if you want one, you must buy it here,” said Reilly.

HyperLite Ultra-Light Saddle Hunting System

Imagine a climbing system and platform that weighs just 6.5 pounds and can get you 15-20 feet above the ground.

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A Velvet Whitetail Buck- The Trophy of a Lifetime

A huge whitetail buck in full velvet is a special trophy that many hunters seek for a host of reasons.  In central and northern regions of the US, whitetail deer usually shed their velvet by mid-September, some even sooner.  Instead of waiting for the rut, a hunter can begin his scouting in earnest in mid-summer and actually hunt the first week of September.  The weather is mild, and days are long, making for a very comfortable sit.  Joe Guthrie from Alabama took this huge velvet buck in Montana while hunting with Eric Albus in the Milk River region of Montana.

Look a Lot, Pick a Spot

Bucks in early September can be patterned, especially if they feed on alfalfa, the prominent feed in the Milk River area.  I had the privilege of hunting this region 20 years ago at the invitation of Bill Jordan.  For the first two days, we watched hayfields morning and afternoon from distant vantage points until we could predict the travel of several great bucks.  I had never taken such a patient approach to deer hunting, but the wisdom of this approach soon panned out. My first evening in a stand, I missed the first buck that came buy but connected on a larger one an hour later. It was not quite the size of Stan Pott’s deer, shown above, but a 140-class animal.

 September 7, 2024

Montana opens its archery season on September 7 this fall which means that Leap Year give hunters a shorter window of opportunity.  The key to succeeding is pre-scouting knowledge.  The first evening of my Milk River hunt I watched a bachelor group of seven bucks walk through an open gate instead of passing near an established tree stand.  I remember lamenting this travel route when the owner of the ranch suggested, “Why don’t you close the gate?”  Duh!  We did and the string filed by my tree stand the next evening.

Montana Licensing

Aside from “Big Sky” beauty, a deer hunt in Montana can offer the whitetail hunter a trophy of another kind- mule deer.  Whitetail deer in Montana thrive in thick river and creek bottoms, just like in the East, while mule deer prefer open country where their eyesight keeps them safe from predators.  Both species love alfalfa.  A general deer license is good for a whitetail or mule deer.  Bill Jordan and the Realtree Team have hunted with Milk River Outfitters for over 15 years hosting many celebrities, pro-athletes, outdoor writers, and hundreds of hard-working hunters from across the U.S.

 




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Idaho Elk and Mule Deer with Guaranteed License

Walking the halls of the Great American Outdoor Show presents a cascade of mounted big game heads; however, one phrase caught my attention among the giant deer and elk antlers: Guaranteed License.  “If you book the hunt, we’ll get the license,” said owner and outfitter Inga Cabral.  “We hunt the rugged part of Idaho where most hunters won’t go, which suits us just fine.”

Benefits of Idaho Licensing

I’ve drawn one elk license in Idaho in the past five years and may never draw another due to the lottery system.  Outfitters are allocated permits so that clients need not count on lady luck.  An elk tag in Idaho costs $650, one of the cheapest for non-residents in the West.  A deer tag is $351.75 but can be used for a bear, whitetail deer, or mountain lion.  I once encountered a large chocolate boar in the Seven Devils Mountains, but hadn’t purchased a deer tag, making for a difficult pass.  Guaranteed licenses allow you and your friends to plan ahead, maybe a year or two out, and know that your dream hunt will become a reality.

Lions, Bears, and Wolves

Idaho doesn’t get nearly as much elk hunting press as Colorado, Wyoming, and Southwestern states, yet hunting in its majestic mountains will soon become a passion.  Humans are the apex predator in Idaho, and the state does its best to protect deer and elk populations.  Wolf tags are just $35; hunters are encouraged to buy several and fill them completely.  Idaho has a fall and spring bear season with two tags available in some units.  Mountain lions are abundant, and you may see one on an archery hunt with the ability to take this giant predator on a deer tag.

 

 



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