Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles
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This hunting gear review details the Bora Vest by Kryptek. High country hunter Scott Reekers tests this lightweight core layer on a high country deer scouting trip. Just like all the layers in Kryptek’s Altitude line-up this vest features a DWR finish and Schoeller’s C-Change membrane. The C-change membrane responds to your body’s needs, whether you need to cool down or warm-up.
Learn how to judge antelope in the field while out hunting for a trophy buck. Pronghorn antelope can be one of the toughest big game animals to score on the hoof. Mike Eastman shares his tips to maximize your next trophy antelope hunt and help avoid ground shrinkage.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a mule deer master, a man who in his lifetime has forgotten more about hunting big mulies than I’ll ever know. Mike Eastman has spent decades studying and hunting big mule deer bucks from the high alpine basins where September dreams are realized to the bitterly severe winter range of southwest Wyoming. What I took away from our conversation has changed the way I look at hunting mid-fall mulies and made me itch for the chance to get out and put some of his thoughts, theories and strategies to the test this fall. So, follow along as I walk you through my conversation with a mule deer buck’s worst nightmare.
Q: What is the #1 thing you look for when searching for bucks in the “mid-fall?”
A: Wow, that’s a broad question… we are going to have to narrow it down to where we are hunting – mountains or sagebrush/arid country. But the one thing that bucks in both areas have in common is the need for cover.
For most die-hard western antelope hunters, an antelope buck is considered of trophy quality when the score hits near or around the 80’ mark. This buck will represent a mature animal in the top 10% or better for the species in both genetic makeup and nutritional health.
The total score of a pronghorn buck consists of four evenly spaced circumference measurements, representing roughly 50% of the total score of the buck, along with a total length of horn measurement (about 40% of the total score) and a length of prong measurement which is only about 10% of the total score when all is said and done on average. From this we can easily make the assumption; that just like all horned animals, antelope are no different when we conclude when it comes to score, mass is king. Needless to say at this point, the first rule of judging antelope on the hoof is: if you find a buck that lacks mass, move on and keep looking. A relatively thin-horned buck would need to be insanely long to even begin to score well, probably in the 18-20” class for starters. These kinds of bucks do in fact exist, but are extreme rarities and mostly in Arizona and New Mexico.
I nearly always focus my initial search for a buck that is very heavy, particularly on the base, followed by top-end mass. The top-end mass is usually the toughest buck to find as we go north. This portion of the horn is typically grown in the months of December and January, which are very, very tough months for antelope bucks in the northern regions of Montana and Wyoming. Shortcomings in the prongs and length can be compensated for by excessively heavy mass, particularly up top, while the contrary is generally not true.
While long prongs look good on the wall, they are of the least concern when looking for a high scoring buck. After mass, the second criteria I check off is the overall length of the horn and finally the prong. There are bucks in the records book with 13” horns, but they are rare, and the mass for this type of buck to qualify has to be beyond exceptional, almost unearthly.
Horn length can be a very tough measurement to judge. The really heavy bucks will tend to look shorter in length simply due to their mass. I once passed up on a buck initially because I honestly thought he was less than 14” in length. After my dad talked me into shooting the buck back at camp, we ended up putting him on the ground that night, only to find out his length was over 16 ½” and he grossed nearly 89” B&C! How could I have been so wrong? The buck was so heavy that he looked incredibly short. One of the biggest mistakes of my hunting career… almost.
This review details the new rangefinding binos, the Geovid 3200.com by Leica. These binoculars with a built in rangefinder are not only packed with technology, but have a unique design making them super comfortable in hand. Scott Reekers tests the clarity and accuracy of these optics at long distances in the high country while scouting for an upcoming hunting season. Combined with the new app from Leica, you can customize these to your rifle setup to really dial in your accuracy.
It’s upon us, by the time this issue comes out elk season will be going hot and heavy. Big bulls will be getting fired up, and start making noise. These days and trips to come for us elk hunters are going to be heaven on earth. Hopefully they will be filled with encounters, and the opportunity to try to arrow one of the big bulls we all dream about. I know you die hards have been practicing religiously, and can close the deal If given the chance. The key to that phrase is getting a chance, and to earn one you have to be good at locating elk. The more bulls you can locate during your hunt the better you odds of killing one.
Do your homework
Spend as much time as you can studying the country you will be hunting. I swear I should be getting royalties from how much I mention Google earth. It’s just such great program for us hunters to utilize. It’s truly second to being there. Along with this you should be looking at maps of roads, and topo maps. Make yourself plan for where you will access country and where you will hunt. Give yourself multiple options of places you want to check out. Learn and memorize the country you want to hunt, and it will give you a leg up when you get there.
When I am looking for new elk country I like to find big drainages or ridge lines that separate two different drainages. I like to look for big country that connects to other pieces of big country. I like to look for possible feeding meadows both on south sides and north sides of the mountain. I look for water, as that is a huge reason why elk live where they do. Elk need water daily, and it plays a big part in the rutting activities.
I will also look for the flow of the country I am hunting. What I mean by this is how the elk will move through country. How the elk access water and feeding, and how they move to different drainages. Look for saddles or dominate ridge lines, and try to paint a picture of what the elk are doing. Plan to move along your flow of country if you are not seeing elk, chances are they are within a couple drainages.
Dan Pickar is bow hunting mule deer in Idaho on this web episode of Eastmans’ Hunting TV. This is a DIY open country hunt. It takes days of glassing and patience to turn up a good stalk opportunity.
Calling elk on public land can be the most difficult task for any bowhunter. It is rare to see a 330 bull come in to calls like you see on TV, especially on public land.
The easiest bulls to call are satellite bulls. The only problem is these are rarely the biggest bulls in the area. Big, mature herd bulls with cows are the hardest to kill simply because they are surrounded by a lot more eyes and they won’t want to leave their cows.
Remember, all of the calling tactics listed below work best if the person calling is back 50-100 yards from the hunter, depending on cover. You can call solo and be effective, you’ll just have to be more careful using the terrain to hide your calls and direct your calls back behind you.
The post Deer scoring – the easy way! How to Field Judge Mule Deer with Mike Eastman appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.
If you’re anything like me you are searching for the perfect hunting arrow. The deal is, each and every archer is different, which in turn makes each arrow different. Everyone’s draw length, poundage and performance is different. Also, every bowhunter’s needs are different. Do you plan on hunting Elk or moose, or are you a deer and antelope guy? Do you hunt where there is a lot of wind or in the timber where it’s fairly calm? You see, each arrow is archer- specific. Ultimately, you want an arrow that is going to fly true and penetrate deep with hopefully a pass- through, leaving a good blood trail. Follow along as I break down the components of a hunting arrow and give you the information to build your ultimate hunting arrow.
Spine—a shaft’s lateral stiffness— is the most important factor when building your arrows. Your spine is the flex in your arrow flexes as it absorbs the energy from your bow. A properly spined arrow bends back and forth as it’s released from the bow, creating perfect arrow flight. Your spine needs to match your setup or you simply are not getting the best performance out of your arrow or your bow. When you have the correct spine, your arrows react to the bow and create the most forgiving setup.
There are a couple of ways to match your spine to your setup. All arrow manufacturers make a spine chart with poundage and length. This works, but there are so many factors that affect spine. Say you have a 70-pound bow;, well, a lot of times that bow is pulling 73 pounds,; thatwhich makes a huge difference in your spine. Also, if you shoot 125- grain heads on the front, that affects spine as well. Now you can always adjust your spine by cutting your arrow. The shorter you go the stiffer the spine needs towill be. I like to use the shortest arrow I can. The reason I do that is the shorter the arrow the less wind drift will affect it. Okay, I am getting off topic here, but you want to find the perfect spine for your bow. You can test this by shooting different length arrows through paper to find the most consistent paper tear.
When it comes to hunting elk, the classic scenario you see on TV is calling a big bull into 20 yards, nostrils flaring and spit flying, all to make an easy shot. Any seasoned elk hunter knows it rarely happens this way, especially on highly pressured elk on public land. Calling in a big bull is harder now than ever on public land, so the odds are stacked against you. And a lot of times those smart old herd bulls are rarely in the mood to fight off a bull and instead just push their cows away and leave. Heck, many big old bulls won’t even bugle! So what do you do? Obviously, there are a lot of different paths you could go down here. Sitting wallows might work, or maybe a well-used trail. Some guys set up tree stands over wallows, which can be effective. Or maybe you’d rather call elk and don’t mind covering a ton of country to find a bull that wants to play. All are effective methods and everyone has their own preference. My style changes based on the area and state I’m hunting, but I mostly rely on spot-and-stalk tactics. I’ve found a lot of success over the years, and the areas and habitat I hunt dictate how and when to stalk elk. What follows are techniques I’ve learned over 15 years hunting elk; they’ve proven effective and they’ll work for you too.
The most important component to putting together a successful stalk is the wind being in your favor. There’re just no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Of course, you often have thermals to consider in the mountains, but sometimes you don’t because of prevailing winds. In the summer and early fall, most of the weather we get here in the West comes from the southwest, west, or northwest. That said, I prefer to hunt west-facing slopes if possible, especially when I’m in the mountains, where the wind can be the most squirrely. Of course, changing weather patterns and game movement can nix that reasoning, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re hunting that will give you the edge needed to seal the deal. I love hunting in a strong wind to cover my movement. I can count the number of times on two hands that I stalked in windy or rainy conditions and filled my tag, no matter what species I was hunting. I always consider good wind as a prerequisite to a successful stalk, acting to cover some if not all of my movement.
Stalking the “Thicks”
As you can imagine, stalking elk in thick brush and timber is challenging and not usually recommended. Most of the type of forest I’m talking about is found in northwest Montana and northern Idaho. Alder, devil’s club, huckleberry brush, mountain maple and moderate forest canopy make for a tangle that no sane man likes to walk through. Stalking through this stuff is just not realistic and will not increase your odds of success. In the very odd case that conditions are right, still hunting with a bow in the “thicks” can be productive. A scenario that comes to mind is if you can locate a bull that’s very vocal to move in on and have some favorable weather to work with; that could work. Strong/gusty winds or rain, or both, are two factors I look for, and prefer, that can give you the edge while stalking in close for a shot. Obviously, if the winds are swirly, you’d better sit tight and not try anything. Stalking near moving water as cover noise can also be your ace in the hole. Anything you have to work with to cover your noise is necessary to make a successful stalk in these conditions. Take the path of least resistance. Many times that means walking on game trails. If you’re in a zone that has solid elk numbers, there will be some freshly beat-down elk trails with soft dirt to walk in.
Learn how to judge trophy elk before you make a stalk or shot. Mike Eastman shares his strategy to field judging elk. Taking these tips to the field could make the difference on the next time you go trophy elk hunting.
The post Easy trophy scoring on the hoof! How to Field Judge Elk with Mike Eastman appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.
In this review hunter, Todd Helms tests out the Lochsa, the first hunting boot made by the legendary White’s Boots. White’s Boots has been a go to boot for wild land firefighters for decades. They’ve applied their experience to build a comfortable and rigid boot specifically for hunting.
Public land elk rut action! Go elk hunting with Eastmans’ Brandon Mason. The rut turns on and makes for some heart-pounding bow hunting! Then Brandon returns during rifle season to hunt for his son’s first bull!
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This hunting gear review breaks down the features of the BRAND NEW Mountain Optics Harness made by Sitka Gear. Ike Eastman runs through all the features that make this harness more comfortable and versatile than ever! This harness has pockets for days and molly webbing to make it easy to add and remove accessories. The removable bino straps make it easy to share optics between hunting partners.
Weather is arguably the single biggest influencer on hunting success or failure. In the short term, it determines how we dress for a hunt, what gear we’ll take along, where we’ll choose to hunt, and even whether or not we even can hunt. Even the most prepared hunters would be foolish to venture out into a blizzard to fill a tag on opening day. But weather has already been at work this year to affect the outcome of our hunting experience this fall. From late-winter snows to spring and summer thunderstorms, the moisture die has been cast to determine where browse will be plentiful and where it will be scarce. The overall long-term weather patterns have been setting up to reveal which areas will have early or late snow, and if cold winter temperatures will arrive early or late.
This is my 40th year working in meteorology. After 20 years in broadcast meteorology, I spent eight in forensic meteorology and two in fire meteorology before working at Cabela’s headquarters for a decade providing long-range weather outlooks and short-term weather threat analysis to help guide decisions about what hunting and fishing gear would be needed where on a seasonal basis. As an avid hunter and angler, I understand the importance and impact of timely weather information on outdoor recreation. I also authored a book in 2008 called “Trophy Bucks in Any Weather” to explain how weather influences big-game animal behavior.
The purpose of this article, which I wrote in June of this year, is to set the table with the meteorological and climatological “lay of the land” as we enter fall hunting seasons in the U.S. Information was gathered from multiple U.S. and global weather agencies to ascertain what hunters may encounter in the field this fall as a result of weather across the U.S. over the last several months, and probability that the pattern will shift into a La Nina configuration during the fall.
Montana: If you’ve drawn a Montana tag, you’re fortunate. From a water and browse standpoint, Montana is faring better than most other western states this year. Rainfall in most drainages and basins is near or a little bit above where it was last year. But the forecast calls for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation through August across the state.
The areas drying out the fastest are in the southern part of Montana extending from Custer National Forest in the southeast, west through Gallatin National Forest north of Yellowstone, to Beaverhead National Forest in the southwest. These areas along and south of Interstate 90 will be the driest parts of the state. Fortunately, browse conditions entering the critical antler-growing period were still pretty good across most of Montana, so there should be no shortage of decent bucks and bulls to harvest this year….