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Ambush Tactics for Trophy Toms

“Would you like for us to videotape your bow hunt in the morning?” asked TV personality Jimmy Houston.  I was hunting with El Halcoun Outfitters in Mexico for Gould’s turkeys and Houston happened to be in camp.  I hunted from a blind the next morning while the camera operator sat outside.  My guide called a big tom close to the blind when it suddenly acted spooky.  I had to shoot through a tiny opening at an awkward angle and missed the gobbler at eight yards.  For the rest of the morning, I was hazed repeatedly, “How close was that turkey?” “Would five yards be good enough?”  On, and on!

An arrow to the base of the neck is an instant kill.

In the early afternoon, I went back to my blind while the rest of the group hunted with shotguns.  In the late afternoon, I saw two hens pass by in the same spot about 100 yards away.  Believing that a gobbler might follow, I bailed on the blind and stood in some thick cover with a small shooting window.  Within minutes, I saw a huge gobbler walking along the same route.  I raised my bow and when the tom stepped into my window, pucked with a mouth call and the bird raised its head.  Aiming at its neck, the arrow dispatched the gobbler immediately.  When Houston and his buddies returned empty-handed to the blind, I hoisted the monster turkey and made them pose for a picture with me.  Oh, the sweet revenge.

Mobile hunting works, even in open hardwoods.

Abandon the Blind

Maryland has a two-bird limit on spring gobblers and I can usually take one bird from a blind on the small farm I hunt.  Unfortunately, after the first week of the season, birds become pressured and don’t enter fields as readily.  If toms won’t come to you, go to them.  In the picture above, I moved from my blind in the late morning and slipped quietly into a wooded area where turkeys often feed.  I posted a jake decoy at 10 yards and then sat at the base of a small tree, as the area had been timbered.  After calling several times, I saw two gobblers approaching and raising my crossbow.  The birds got about five yards from the decoy and became suspicious, alarm pucked, and began walking away.  I aimed at the center of the back and the right gobbler died instantly.

Once gobblers become educated by hunters, you may need to change tactics.

Un-callable Gobblers

Hunting from a blind offers scouting and intelligence that can lead to future success even if pressured turkeys avoid your setup.  The biggest bird on the farm held back on opening day and I managed to arrow his buddy.  In succeeding days, the big tom skirted the field I hunted but passed through a small opening 50 yards inside of the woodline.  As the season progressed, vegetation grew so I placed a single alert hen decoy in the small opening and sat in a patch of honeysuckle 25 yards away.  As usual, I heard the tom gobble deep in the woods and called sparingly to entice it.  The old bird took more than an hour to travel 100 yards, but a peek at the decoy in the tall grass closed the deal.

By late morning most gobblers have bred nearby hens and become easier to call.

Late Can be Great

Many turkey enthusiasts hunt before work which can lead to crowded conditions early in the morning.  However, as the day progresses, they head to work or become discouraged by a lack of success.  Mid-to-late morning is an ideal time to hunt, especially if you are an archer and have the patience to succeed.  Calling to a gobbling and strutting turkey is every hunter’s dream, but many toms will walk in silently.  If you are covering the woods, make sure that you stay in position for at least 30 minutes.  Choose a large tree to sit against and post a decoy at 20 yards where you have visibility for safety.  Naps are acceptable and sometimes seem to attract turkeys.  Blind tactics should be your go-to method for success, but like every hunting situation, it’s great to have a plan B.

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Fred Lutger’s Alex Rutledge Interview

One of the highlights of the NWTF convention is the presence of Top Turkey Hunters. Here is Fred Lutger’s interview With Wild Turkey Great Alex Rutledge.

Fred Lutger is the writer of this article as well as the owner of Freddie Bear Sports pro shop and Online Store

One of the highlights of the NWTF convention is the seminars. I interviewed Alex Rutledge, National Pro Staff member for Hunter Specialties, after he did a seminar for turkey hunting guides. Alex gave tips and pointers about wild turkey hunting and about guide/hunter relations. His tips are also useful when buddies are hunting together.

Alex suggests hunters should separate when using locator calls. This will give both of you a better chance to hear a distant gobble that the other person might not have heard. Also you won’t miss a gobble if the other person makes a noise that will cover up a faint gobble.

When setting up, Rutledge reminds guides to sit close to the hunter to be able to better control what the hunter does. Verbal communication is important. Let the hunter know if he moves too much. Cue the hunter when to get his gun or bow at ready. Most of all, let him know when the bird is in range and when to shoot.

“Gobblers don’t always respond to a hunters’ calling with a gobble,” Rutledge said. “But they respond in other ways. They will strut, they will look towards the caller and some will at times run to the caller silently. These are all things we know and the reason hunters must keep still.” Alex again emphasized the need to coach the hunter. “Keep the hunter calm.”

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Can’t Miss Blind Tactics for Trophy Toms

Patience and Pop-ups are two key factors in taking a spring tom with a bow.  Years ago, a Mississippi turkey guide made me sit by a powerline near a posted decoy.  We had tried unsuccessfully to get close to a roost, so I bit my lip, listened to turkeys gobble in the distance and by 10:00 am, a Southern longbeard was flopping on the ground.  Waiting was torture, but it showed me the secret to setting an ideal trap.

Concealing a blind is helpful but not necessary.

Pop-Up Blinds are Critical-

Whitetail deer will spot a blind in a field in an instant unless it’s disguised with brush and leaves and even then they will be wary.  Turkeys are dumb as stones about blinds so you can place one in an open field the day before the season and have success.  As in the picture above, I post mine near the treeline at least two weeks prior to the opening day so that deer get used to it.  A snorting deer will scare a turkey and they often live in the same habitat.

This mature longbeard will be target number one on opening day.

Scout for Turkeys like Deer

Posting your blind in a turkey travel area greatly increases success.  An old friend lets me hunt a field on her small farm.  Although other people hunt the property, my blind sets a marker of sorts and they don’t interfere.  Turkeys often travel across this field between woodlots and when they see my decoys and hear my calling they walk into range.  My camera is already posted and lets me know the age class of birds using the field.

Taking a gobbler with a bow or crossbow requires shooting with pinpoint accuracy.

Decoys Usually Attract Toms

I’ll discuss the hows and whys of deploying decoys in the next blog, but for now, it’s important to realize how advantageous a decoy can be.  First, they attract hens and gobblers to the exact spot you want to shoot.  Blinds are usually spacious such that you can sit in a comfortable chair with your crossbow on a tripod that will allow you to shoot exactly where you aim.  I take all of my gear to the blind the day before the hunt so that I can sneak into the area quietly in one trip.  I store the decoys in the blind and quickly set them up at first light.

Decoys will usually attract turkeys, yet calling can lure gobblers from a distance.

Call as Much or as Little as You Choose

If you are new to turkey hunting, you may be unsure of your calling skills.  By being patient and using decoys, you can call as much or as little as you want.  Sometimes, hunters can call too much and your goal should be just to lure a gobbler within sight of your decoys.  I’m an experienced caller with a box, slate, and diaphragm, yet for the past two years, I’ve had the farm’s boss gobbler within 20 yards of my blind.  Despite my best efforts, he’s too wary to step into the field and I hope to get a shot at him again this spring.  Box callers are ideal for new hunters and can be mastered with just a little practice.

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QuietKat Electric Bike Gets Bowhunter Two B&C Bucks

Getting To Your Stand Without Spooking Deer Is This Bowhunters Key To Bowhunting Success. Adam Crumrin talks about getting to and from his hunting stands with his QuietKat e-bike. Plus, come along on the two exciting hunts where he arrowed 2 Booner bucks on the same day.


   Deer and Deer Hunting

Deer and Deer Hunting

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New Finnish Study Comparing Whitetail Hunting With Rifle Vs Bows.

The initial results from a study in Finland were presented last week and confirm that hunting with a bow and arrow is just as effective as using a rifle. The detailed scientific study, which was conducted over a period of four years from early 2019 to early 2023, analyzed the comparative aspects of harvesting whitetailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with both bullets and hunting bows.

The study was presented at the 2023 wildlife seminar in Jyväskylä, Finland, and it revealed that modern hunting arrows and bullets have similar, if not the same, effects on harvested deer. The project was led by veterinarian Mikaela Sauvala, who performs the analysis as a part of her PhD study.

The study, where 130 deer were harvested with the bow and arrow and 100 animals with a rifle, found that the average flight distances of non-immobilized deer differ by less than one meter between rifles and hunting bows. The results of this study demonstrate that hunting with a bow and arrow is not only effective but also in line with modern animal welfare standards.

The study’s lead project manager, Antti Saarenmaa, said in a statement, “Our preliminary results show that these findings are similar to our experiences that hunting with a bow and arrow is comparable with other hunting methods.”

“This is an important step towards the understanding of the use of bow and arrow in hunting. I am looking forward to analyzing the rest of the data and will answer many of the questions asked about hunting with bow and arrow and perhaps will encourage game managers to consider including bow and arrow as a valid hunting method in modern game management programs.”

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Big Buck Pictures In March

When March comes, not many days remain until the bucks are bald headed and their racks, the big ones and small ones; are laying by a fence or trail, or are  partially hidden by dried leaves, grass or weeds.

By Robert Hoague

One thing I believe is that perseverance in my deerhunting and deer-picture-taking-life, along with my insistance on staying-in-the-game, has enriched my life and enlightened me in many more ways than just in hunting.

For example, a few mornings ago I was lucky enough to see a ‘Big Buck.’

So I started waking up earlier and watching the woods where I’d seen him. It took 4 mornings before I got lucky again. A slight movement in the trees caught my attention! I used my camera to zoom and focus on the area. Seconds later a deer’s head and fanny appeared and I took its picture.

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It’s March: Here Is What To Do!

Small Parcels of hunting land can have an advantage if you handle the habitat correctly and hunt right. Jeff Sturgis shows you how.

Whitetail Habitat Solutions

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Tips To Cook Venison Better

Make your venison meals taste better. Follow these TIPS and Learn how to eliminate any ‘gamey taste.’ Find out how to cook venison so people aways love your venison meals. The Orange Huntress Shows ya!

The Orange Huntress

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Wild Turkey Hunting Is Coming On Fast

How can you find and locate wild turkeys for hunting?

To find and locate wild turkeys for hunting, you can do a few things. First, research the area you plan to hunt in. At the “On The Ground Level” look for signs of wild turkeys, such as:
Tracks.Droppings.Scratching.Feathers.and Wild Turkey Sightings
You can also look for areas where wild turkeys are most likely to be found, such as roost areas, open fields, pastures and wooded areas. You can also talk to local hunters and game wardens to get more information about the area and the best places to look for wild turkeys. Finally, you can use turkey calls and decoys to attract wild turkeys to your hunting spot.

When is the wild turkey breeding season?

The wild turkey breeding season typically occurs between March and May each year. During this period, mature male gobblers compete for mates by displaying their feathers, posturing, and gobbling and other making vocalizations.

What is wild turkey hen behavior during their breeding season?

During the wild turkey’s breeding season, the hen’s behavior is typically focused on nesting and mating. The female will spend time searching for a suitable nesting spot and will lay her eggs in a shallow depression lined with leaves and other vegetation. She will then take responsibility for incubating the eggs, which she will do for about 28 days. The hen will also spend time foraging for food and protecting her eggs from predators. She will also be aggressive towards other hens during mating season in order to protect her territory.

What is wild turkey gobbler behavior during their breeding season.

During the breeding season, wild turkey gobblers exhibit a variety of behaviors. They strut, fan their tail feathers, and make gobbling noises to attract a mate, and of course, they mate with hens, multiple hens if possible. They also engage in competitive behaviors such as chasing and pecking at other males to establish dominance to establish and enforce their position in the wild turkey hierarchy. Gobblers can sometimes be aggressive towards humans if they feel threatened or encroached upon.

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Hinge Cuts: And Now The Types Of ‘Hinge Cuts’

Closed Edge Hinge Cuts

The trees in the picture above were hinge cut parallel to the edge of a food plot to block deer travel. This is an example of a “Closed Edge Hinge Cut.”

A “Closed Edge Hinge Cut” is a section of trees that are Hinge Cut in a row, all hinging in the same direction. Whether it is along a field edge or confined within a woodlot, this technique is an effective way to encourage predictable deer movement patterns with the intent of getting deer within range of your stand.

Hinge Cutting in a Bedding Thicket

Whether it is it a bedding thicket, a micro clear-cut, or a temporary forest opening, it is the same thing. A change in forest structure encourages sun-loving species to establish and increase the stem density to break up the monotony of the woodlot.

This is accomplished by opening up the canopy, allowing sunlight to penetrate the forest floor. When executing a bedding-thicket cut, in my opinion your goal should be 80% sun exposure. Of the trees that you cut, no more than 25% of them should be hinged.

The reason for the handicap on hinged trees is two-fold. These bedding thickets will mature as time passes. They should be maintained every couple of years by treating invasive species, selectively felling trees that begin to shade the site, and observing how much deer use has occurred at the location. The more trees are hinged, the more difficult it is to maneuver within and maintain the site.

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When Do Bucks Shed Their Antlers?

On February 25, 2023 one of my game cameras took a picture of the first buck that had shed it’s antlers after the 2022 deer season in our area.

So now, I have an eye out for more shed buck  pictures.

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Should You Hinge Cut? Yes or No? Part #1

What is a Hinge Cut?

The purpose of hinge cuting is to get the tree canopy to the forest floor without killing the tree. After cutting most of the way through the trunk, you leave a portion of the trunk intact to act as a hinge as you push the tree over.

What used to be 15 feet in the air is suddenly 3 feet off the ground. You now have browse, food and cover in a spot that previously possessed neither.

Once hinge cut, a tree stays alive because the cambium layer, which is responsible for nutrients and water transfer within the plant, remains unbroken. You get immediate cover on the ground, and you now maintain new browse where deer can reach it.

The Drawbacks of Hinge Cutting

Many forest stand improvement (FSI) projects are difficult to undo. Whether it is a thinning, a bedding thicket, an edge feather, or a hinge cut, it can take years to regenerate a poorly executed cut.

I see it often with hinge cutting. The landowner completes a hinge cut along an access trail and then jump deer every time hunters to access their stand. By creating horizontal structure, which is often absent in mismanaged woodlots, they have conditioned the deer to loiter in that location. Unless heavy equipment such as a forestry mulcher or bulldozer is used, the landowner is stuck with the mess until the trees finally succumb to their injuries and are shaded out by the remaining standing timber.

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Huge Florida Wild Hog Bowhunt

Florida bowhunter Ryan takes us with him via Video on a bowhunt in a wild hog infested Florida swamp and arrows a huge wild hog.

   It’s A Wild Life

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What Do Wild Hogs Eat?

An adult wild hog’s stomach holds 5 to 8 quarts of food, and they consume 5% of their whole body weight each day.

Wild hogs are omnivorous opportunists. This is because they eat both plants and animals. They eat lizards, wild mice, bird eggs, rodents, insects, or snakes as well as wild acorns and planted crops.

They frequently adjust to being nocturnal during the summer. Once the summer weather heats up wild hogs begin searching for food at dawn and at dusk in order to avoid the intense rays of the sun.

One reason the heat bothers wild hogs is they do not have sweat glands, so they can not cool off from naturally from the heat. So in the summertime they they sleep during the day’s heat and hunt at night.

Here is a list of some of the plants, fruits, and crops a wild hog consumes:

GrassWild OnionsWild GarlicAcornsRootsBulbsFungiPeachesPersimmonsWheatOatsPotatoesCantaloupeRiceCornMyloCloverWatermelon

And these are the animals wild hogs eat:

EarthwormsBirdsSnailsCarrionDeer FawnsInsectsCrayfishReptilesFrogs

At times wild hogs will consume tree bark if usual wild foods become limited. Wild hog soil disturbance by aggressive rooting and foraging accelerates the spread of invasive plants. Although it does not happen often, there has been at least one recorded case of a pack of wild boars attacking, killing, and eating an adult, healthy female axis deer.

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Number Of Feral Hogs Per State

Feral Hog Numbers in All 50 States

Here’s a list of the wild feral hog populations by each state for all USA states:

Alabama: 250,000Alaska: noneArizona: 1,000Arkansas: 200,000California: 400,000Colorado: noneConnecticut: noneDelaware: noneFlorida: 500,000Georgia: 600,000Hawaii: 400,000Idaho: noneIllinois: 20Indiana: 1,000Iowa: 1,000Kansas: 400Kentucky: 2,000Louisiana: 750,000Maine: unknownMaryland: noneMassachusetts: noneMichigan: 5,000Minnesota: noneMississippi: 200,000Missouri: 100,000Montana: noneNebraska: noneNevada: unknownNew Hampshire: unknownNew Jersey: 1,000New Mexico: 500,000New York: noneNorth Carolina: 100,000North Dakota: noneOhio: 2,000Oklahoma: 1,500,000Oregon: 5,000Pennsylvania: 3,000Rhode Island: noneSouth Carolina: 450,000South Dakota: noneTennessee: unknownTexas: 3,000,000Utah: unknownVermont: noneVirginia: 3,000Washington: unknown but sighted in eastern countiesWest Virginia: 1,000Wisconsin: 1,000Wyoming: none

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How Destructive Are Wild Hogs?

Wild hogs are omnivorous and eat both natural fauna and planted farm crops and also wild animals of all sizes and species. Wild Pigs have heads and shoulders designed for plowing up the ground with their snouts and sharp tusks to unearth roots of plants with dirty, but apparently tasty, tuberous roots.

Hogs are perfectly equipped to dig up the burrows of ground-dwelling animals. They locate, kill and eat tens of thousands of small and young animals that succumb to their violent attacks when they are caught unawares. Ground-nesting birds are a wild hog favorite; wild hogs of all ages attempt to kill or run off the adults. They eat the eggs, and trample the nesting grounds.

They compete with deer and wild turkeys for some of the same food sources, causing them to migrate out of the area when food becomes scarce. Studies have shown that the biodiversity of lower vertebrates in forested areas infested with wild hogs is 26% lower than normal.

They also trample, root around in, and wallow in natural and stock ponds, streams, and springs;  polluting them for fish or for other animals to drink. Another invasive spinoff is introducing disease-bearing bacteria into the water that can go far downstream. In fact, feral pigs can host up to 34 diseases that livestock, wildlife, or human beings can catch from contact with them, or even eating their meat or being bitten my them.

Wild hogs also do tremendous damage to farmland and other private property. They uproot and trample valuable crops in fields, destroy gardens and landscaping, and can break down or root under fences, allowing other animals to escape. They can be quite aggressive and are able to inflict serious injuries with their tusks and teeth.

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What Are Wild Hogs?

Today’s Wild hogs are descendants of Eurasian wild boars and sows brought to America by explorers from Europe and Asia to be released as a food source for colonists. Once released in America these wild pigs bred prolifically.

It is interesting to note that the original Pigs were first brought to the ‘New World’ by Christopher Columbus and were released to multiply on islands of the West Indies to provide a food supply for future colonists. This practice continued with the Spanish and other explorers in the 16th-17th centuries arriving who arrived at the West Indies and southern parts of what is today the United States.

These domestic pigs periodically escaped from Farms and joined the ever growing feral (wild) pig populations of nearby areas. Now, 500 years after their introduction to the Americas the feral numbers today are estimated to be as high as 9 million, just in the United States.

Wild hogs are an invasive species that has multiplied across the United States for 6 centuries and now numbers close to 10 million. They do huge damage to the environment in 40 states of the U.S.A. Their damage brings economic and ecological damage to thousands of farms and rural area homes. Also they carry many different diseases that can spread through populations of both domestic and wild animals as well as humans. Furthermore they can be aggressive toward people and domestic animals.

States are using a variety of methods to attempt to get them under control, including hunting, trapping, poisoning, and sterilization. Humanely decreasing their numbers is vital to preserving the diversity of the natural environment as well as valuable farmland and other private property.

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Do Whitetail Deer Freeze?

Following the rut and entering late winter, all deer voluntarily reduce their daily activity, including basic moving around and even feeding, to slow the burn of those fat reserves until the first green plants emerge in spring. As crazy as it sounds, faced with extreme winter weather and having already lost weight, deer eat less. Even captive deer with unlimited food available reduce their daily consumption and continue to lose weight during winter.

Why? If you think about it, from a survival standpoint and proliferation of the species, relying on the best winters when temperatures are mild and food is abundant doesn’t make a lot of sense because those conditions are rare occurrences. So, deer have adapted to live through the worst winters possible. It’s probably one reason they’ve survived for so long.

However, there is a limit to this strategy and the supply of fat reserves that carry them through winter: time. Researchers have shown that a typical healthy doe begins winter with a 90-day fat supply. Deer can survive almost anything Mother Nature throws at them during those three months. The ticking clock begins winding down in March and is the reason why weather patterns in this month often play the biggest role in winter deer mortality.

If you’re concerned about deer survival, the best thing to do to help them get through the critical last days is break out the chainsaw and provide more of the food they are adapted to eat in winter.

Deer Behavior During Severe Weather

People avoid severe winter environments by simply changing locations to get away from the cold. Even though deer don’t have the ability to go inside or fly south for a few months, they in essence do the same. In general, deer will move to and congregate in areas that provide the best protection from the weather when conditions aren’t favorable, such as seeking shade when the mercury rises.

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TenPoint’s Beefed Up Flatline 460

Thinking about a new crossbow?  TenPoint has beefed up its flagship bow for 2023 with special bracing to thrive in tough hunting conditions.  At 460 fps, it sends a sizzling arrow to the target and can be cocked and uncocked with the turn of a handle.  Check out what’s new for ’23.


Don’t forget support gear like a custom bow case to keep dust and dirt from cables and cams.  TenPoint offers broadheads in fixed and expandable models. 

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Eastern Shore Deer Hunting

Maryland has one of the most liberal deer limits in the East.  A non-resident can buy one license and take up to four bucks, two turkeys, and small game for less than $200.  The swamps and thickets of Maryland’s Eastern Shore have long been the haunt of big bucks using this dense terrain to grow old.  The Hopkins family offers hunts for all seasons as Brad explains in this video:

Check out the Hopkins website at or email them at

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