Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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Valhalla LS Zip

Valhalla – the hall where the god Odin houses the dead whom he deems worthy of dwelling with him.

The past couple of seasons I’ve gotten to put the Valhalla LS Zip from Kryptek through its paces across a wide range of conditions on a variety of hunts and I can say without a doubt that this shirt is worthy of place at Odin’s table. 

From sweltering August pronghorn hunts to chilly mornings grinding up steep slopes chasing archery elk, this shirt performed flawlessly. It kept me cool and protected from the sun on the arid plains and dry in the mountains after working up a sweat. I was amazed how well the Valhalla breathed and how effectively if wicked moisture, it was almost as if the sweat was evaporating directly off my skin instead of through the 88% Polyester, 12% Spandex fabric of the shirt. 

I’ve also pushed the Valhalla LS Zip into the late season. I used it as a baselayer under a puffy vest and softshell. I love how even in below freezing temps I could strip down to just the shirt and grunt my way up a ridge to a glassing point where I simply shrugged into the warmer layers and didn’t have to worry about my baselayer trapping moisture against my skin and robbing me of core warmth. 

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Don’t Be A Victim! Watch The Walther PPQ 45 Review

Family man and hunter Scott Reekers shares his experience with the Walther PPQ 45. Combined with Hornady ammunition, this compact pistol is perfect for concealed carry and packs the punch needed to handle threats, human and otherwise. Reekers travels with his from home to trailhead and all the way to hunting camp.

Scott’s ammo for the Walther PPQ 45:

Hornady Critical Defense 45 AUTO 185 gr FTX

Hornady Critical Duty 45 AUTO+P 220 gr FlexLock

Check out Scott’s high country deer hunt next: https://youtu.be/J92139sErcs

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The Final Act

For most elk hunters the end of the elk rut can be a very disappointing time to pursue bulls. With the rutting action winding down, the hunting can become unpredictable and downright frustrating at times. Fear not however, all is not lost; with the unpredictability comes some good opportunities at some of the biggest bulls in the area. 

When most of the breeding is finished the elk change their rutting behavior. The biggest, most mature bulls go from methodical herd managers to one-man, traveling clean-up crews. The name of the game is to find every cow that has not been bred yet and get the job done. It’s nature’s version of Slapjack – search the deck, find the missing jack, take care of business and move on to the next one, making sure that every single viable cow has a calf come June. 

The first order of business is to recognize that you have fallen on the later stages of the rut in the first place. The biggest keys to noticing your rut hunt has fallen on hard times are outlined in the sidebar below. Time of year, herd behavior and elk body language are the best ways to determine if you are in the cooling zone or not. 

Strategies for hunting big bulls during this window vary slightly, but for the most part, it becomes a spot-and-stalk endeavor and a patient ambush game. Because the big bulls are on the move, if you find one you have to either commit or ready yourself to possibly never see the bull again. Many times I have caught little more than a glimpse of a big traveling bull only to never see him again.  Once the big bull does find some cows to check he can sometimes get the job done in only a few hours or sometimes he can linger in the shadows beyond a big herd of cows for a few days, you just never know. 



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A Deer Beating and Property Rights

A friend of mine sent me this article recently and all I could say at the end of it was, “Dang!”  As you all know, poaching is a subject we are passionate about here at Eastmans’. A one word search on our blog for the word ‘poaching’ and a slew of results pop up that we’ve reported on over the years, and these don’t even include the ones that Mike Eastman wrote about in the early days of EHJ.

The quote from the article on this this heinous poaching incident west of Sheridan, WY makes me really scratch my head: “…they were infringing on his solitude on his property.” This wasn’t even a rancher that was at his wits end with deer overrunning his property. It is a property owner that was saying deer were simply infringing on his solitude. That’s one of the strangest comments I’ve ever heard regarding wildlife, and believe me, I’ve heard more than my share of reasons why people hate deer on their property from my years with a state game and fish department in dealing with big game depredation problems. I’ve been called every word in the book and have been in discussions that I wish I could forget.

No, this isn’t a simple poaching case where an antler fanatic tried to get away with shooting a giant deer so he could sell it or pass it off as his own legitimate harvest. This is a property owner losing his marbles and killing at least 113 deer, including one incident where he was seen beating a deer on the head with the buckle end of a tow rope! Again, my slack-jawed astonishment while reading the article from a Billings, MT news station had me shaking my head and thinking, “Dang! I’ve never heard of such a thing.” 

From a wildlife management standpoint, this further illustrates just how important hunters are to the landscape and in managing wildlife populations – especially big game. It also emphasizes the importance of private land access programs that various state agencies have so that hunters have access to private land to help control the harvest and also spread hunter pressure out across the landscape. If access is unattainable on private land and the hunting public is simply pounding every acre of public land, it is impossible to get a balanced harvest and problems like this tend to occur. 

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Hunting Late Season for Trophy Antelope

Hunting antelope bucks with a rifle in mid to late October is my personal preference. Many western states have hunting seasons that last well into that time frame. In fact, Montana’s antelope season sometimes runs well into November. A big advantage to hunting this late is that by the time October rolls around, most hunters have filled out or given up completely. After spotting a big buck in the final days of the season, the concern of other hunters competing with you almost becomes a non-issue. On most days, I can have the entire unit to myself! 

By mid-October, with the rut finally behind them the antelope will begin to group up for the coming winter. This scenario can be both good and bad. It’s good because sometimes a huge buck will show up for their winter gig. It’s bad because if you don’t know exactly where the antelope winter, you can find yourself looking at a lot of empty country. 

The key to finding bucks is to learn the antelope migration movements within your unit. This knowledge comes only from hunting during that post-rut period for several seasons or talking to the area biologist about where the antelope congregate when a late fall storm blows in. 

Now let me give you an excellent example of knowing your hunting area and the movements of antelope. In 2007, I drew a good Wyoming antelope permit. It was my third in a row – a record for me. If you look at the drawing odds for residents in that unit, it’s only about a thirty percent success rate. Those of you who watch our TV show know that I have hunted this particular area many times. I know it very well and the season typically runs from the second week in September until the third week in October. 


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The F-Word

Guest Author: Tim Hoffer

Adjusting the straps of my overloaded backpack for the hundredth time, I realized too late that I had too much gear, too many layers on and not enough sense to follow the lead of my two climbing partners, now 50 yards ahead of me breaking trail through shin-deep snow like a pair of mountain goats. I slogged on behind, feeling more like an anchor than a solid third teammate. I was not prepared, far from it. 

Comparing two passions of mine – alpine climbing and backcountry hunting, the similarities between the two when it comes to failures and setbacks are many. 

Flashing back to the full-day ice climb, I can now analyze where I went off course. 




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The Art of the Day Hunt

It’s getting into late season for us bow guys and if you are anything like me, you have probably burned most of your vacation and sick days. Now you’re down to maybe a free day here or there. With the limited time of a single day, you may wonder if it is even worth going out. I learned a long time ago you make your own luck and the more time you are afield the better chance you have, even if it’s only a day. A lot can happen in a day, especially if you hunt efficiently. If you make the most of your free day, it is amazing the opportunities you can have. It’s about going light, covering country and making something happen. It is the art of the day hunt. 

I really enjoy having a free day to hunt and go hard whenever I have the chance. In fact, I find that in day hunting, you are uber-effective. I find you can go super light with just a day pack allowing you to cover tons of miles without the weight. I also find you get right to the point, heading to your highest percentage spot putting yourself into critters. When I do get into animals, I never hunt recklessly but I do hunt really aggressively. I know I only have the day and push to try to get into range. If there is a chance I can kill that animal, you can bet I will roll the dice. 

The Plan

Okay, so you are freed up for a day and looking to hit the woods but where will you go? That is always the million dollar question and is a tough one to pin down. I will go back and forth on spots until I finally commit to where I will be headed. I will choose my location based on past days hunted or even past years hunted with similar conditions. I will give a call to my buddies I hunt with and see where they have been hunting and what they have been seeing. You have to be careful with this one because it does no good to chase one of your buddies’ vapor trails in country where he has blown out all the game. I always ask, “Would you go back in there if you had a day?” 



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What makes a 180" mule deer?

Back in the 60s and 70s, I spent the early winter months with my left eye plugged into a spotting scope watching mule deer bucks. It was in those years that I came up with a system to judge the rack size of a buck in the field. It came about after many hours of judging them on the hoof, and then in the spring picking up their drops and gross measuring them. While guiding during the same time period, I measured many harvested bucks. These two practices gave me the opportunity to develop a rack bracketing scoring system. The motivation came while I was guiding clients who required me to know the B&C gross class of the buck before they squeezed the hammer.

Let me go through my system for field judging a buck. You can start by using the ears and a few other simple rules to help determine if the buck is a 160, 170 or 180-class gross buck. This is my “Rack Bracketing System” for field judging a gross rack score. The system isn’t designed to give a net score, but with some practice you will be able to narrow the gross score down to high, mid, or low 170, 180, or a super 190- buck.

First determine the distance between a buck’s ears, ear-tip to ear-tip across the forehead. This measurement will be used to evaluate inside spread width. Unfortunately mule deer ears will vary in length from 9 to 10 inches depending on the unit or state. In addition some bucks in certain units will have bigger heads adding to the ear tip to ear tip length. In my experience Wyoming and Idaho mule deer, tip to tip, will vary from 21 to 23 inches. However in Colorado and Utah ear widths will be 24 to 25 inches. I guarantee that there will be exemptions to the rule in all western states, but this is a beginning benchmark. Saying that, you need to gather your own ground knowledge for the units you personally hunt.

My first rule for judging is what I call “good fronts will make up for bad backs.” The “fronts” include the three measurements:

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90%’er

Anyone that’s spent much time in the outdoor community has probably heard someone say, “He’s a 10%’er” or that “10% of the hunters kill 90% of the animals.” and with very little research you will find that in fact 10% of the hunters do kill 90% of the game.

So if 10% of the hunters kill 90% of the game, what are the other 90% doing wrong? I can’t say for sure, but my friends and I have a theory on this and have come up with a saying of our own. 

90%’er, NOUN, DEFINITION – Someone who spends 90% of the time buying gear, working out in the gym and hypothesizing on what he’s going to do in the wilderness from the armchair of his living room couch.

Now that you’ve read the definition, you may be wondering, am I one of these 90% guys you’re talking about? If this is the case, I’ll give you a list of things that will help point you in the direction of someone who’s a 90%’er. 



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174 Hits

Gettin’ Knotty

 

 

Knots, knots, knots. Growing up I learned knots at an early age. Tying knots is a habit I don’t think about now but I have found the majority of hunters out there don’t know how to apply a knot for a given application. However, if you were never educated on knots and their application, where would you learn them? 

Knowing knots and their applications makes your life easier. It makes you more efficient. And, knowing the right knot can even save a life. Here are six basic knots that are a must-know on any hunting or camping excursion. 

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Mule Deer – Early vs. Late

As the swelled-up buck with the cheaters and dropper was ingested by an aspen grove in tow of his hot doe, I thought to myself, “I will come back here next September 10th and kill this buck on opening day of the Wyoming deer season.” 

As you may have guessed, that day would never happen. Well, let’s just say September came and went to no avail. I never could turn the buck up during an open hunting season. Experience of 16 years will get you plenty of naivety and not much reality sometimes. It would be nearly 25 years later that I would only begin to fully understand the concept of mastering the art of the seasonal adjustment when it comes to deer hunting. The buck you hunt during August is not the same deer you are chasing in October, which isn’t the same deer you are in pursuit of in November. Deer change their behavior and sometimes even their location and habitat significantly through the three months of the fall season. Learning to key in on these transitions in your hunting area can increase you odds of success next season on a mature buck. 

 



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Montana Grizzly Attacks Racking Up!


In the fall of 2018 we experienced a tragedy in some of Wyoming’s more remote country when a sow grizzly attacked a guide and his hunter while they were breaking down a recent elk kill. That hunt ended in tragedy and my prayer is that we don’t experience that in any state this year.

With four separate attacks now in the Gravelly Range it appears that Montana would be the most likely place to have a major incident. According to NBC Montana, as of Tuesday, it is unclear if all four attacks have come from the same bear.

I won’t beat a dead horse on the need for a season as that has been done in this blog very well on several occasions. I also won’t go into detail on the negative effects of courtroom decisions inhibiting our ability as western residents to responsibly manage all of the species here in the West. It’s a tough pill to swallow for respective states to be hamstrung in their decisions for what is best for the big picture of the North American Model Of Wildlife Conservation.

What seems to be new about the incidents this year is that the Gravelly hasn’t seen a grizzly bear conflict in a long time. Morgan Jacobson of FWP note that “The Gravelly is an area that they’ve kind of grown into, so [the bears’ geographic distribution is growing and their density within that area is also growing.” To me this sounds like they are outgrowing the range they have called home for a long time.

My question for this then becomes how long will growing populations of grizzlies be considered endangered? How long will we have to rack up attacks and conflict before we are able to manage the largest predator in the Lower 48?

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Eastmans’ Family Deer Hunt!

Join a DIY mule deer hunt in Wyoming with Ike and Mike Eastman. This hunt is a family tradition for the Eastmans’. Mike Eastman has been mule deer hunting this part of the state for decades now. The father-son duo returns to the sagebrush for another friendly big buck competition in this web edition of Eastmans’ Hunting TV.

Don’t miss this high country deer hunt: https://youtu.be/J92139sErcs

Catch up on all our Eastmans’ Hunting TV episodes: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list…

The post Eastmans’ Family Deer Hunt! appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Outdoor Edge RazorMax Giveaway!

Here is your chance to win a Outdoor Edge RazorMax! These knives combine razor sharp blades with razor sharp performance.Two different blade types are included with your RazorMax: one 3.5 inch drop-point to 5.0 inch boning/fillet blade for one knife to field dress, and process game! One use with this knife and you’ll be hooked! Sign up for this giveaway by filling out the form below. Good luck!  —Product Description From Outdoor Edge

Get 30% OFF and FREE Shipping at OutdoorEdge.com! Use coupon code EASTMANS30A

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The post Outdoor Edge RazorMax Giveaway! appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Break Down Any Big Game Animal!

Processing your own wild game animals is fun, easy and very rewarding. Not only do you save the cost of commercial processing but you are to control the quality of how the meat is cut and portioned for your family. By marking each package personally you know exactly what you are taking out of the freezer each and every time. In this 4-part series of videos, expert processor Adam Eller takes you through all the steps to break down any big game animal and prepare the cuts for the freezer. Watch all 4 videos here in this blog and get to know the most efficient ways to break down your big game trophy!

Get 30% OFF and FREE Shipping at OutdoorEdge.com! Use coupon code EASTMANS30A





The post Break Down Any Big Game Animal! appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Elk Hunting Colorado – 360+ Inch Bull!

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85 Hits

High Expectations at Low Elevations ( Guest Author By : Dalton Buller)

By : Dalton Buller

Lower elevations are often overlooked when planning a hunt, but they hold potential for mature deer. Lower elevations can range anywhere from 4,000 feet to 7,000 feet but it all depends on where you choose to hunt. You can get far enough off the beaten path to hunt big deer effectively. You just have to work a little harder and hunt a little smarter to find a mature buck. However, you don’t have to stay on the mountain to be able to hunt all day. The downside is that you may have to start earlier and walk in the dark for your success rate to go up.

Time is often short for many of us and is one of the biggest factors determining success on a lower elevation hunt, whether it’s how much time you have between sunrise and sunset, how long you have to put together a stalk, or whether you have days or hours to hunt. Time determines where you hunt, how far or if you can pack in and camp on the mountain for a couple of nights. There is no doubt that the high country holds the some of the best potential for killing a mature buck, but what if there is no time to get out for more than a couple of days to hunt for a mature mule deer?



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Hunting “Sagey”Bucks

Standing with a dead rest for two hours! I was peering through a Zeiss riflescope on a Savage .270 short mag padded up and waiting on a mule deer buck. Protruding above the sagebrush flat that’s dotted with aspen groves are two 1” antler tips. Bedded is a trophy buck hanging out until the evening dinner bell rings. Waiting on him gave me time to flash back to falls past and smart mule deer bucks that would use this terrain and cover to go undetected for many falls.

One of the smartest mule deer I have ever danced with was an old nine-year-old buck with a 7” cheater as big around as a large cigar. I spotted the buck while glassing on a lookout where I could watch miles of sage and aspen groves. At dusk the buck came out of an aspen grove and started to chow down. Suddenly, just before 0-dark-thirty, over the ridge, gunfire rang through out the valley. The old buck’s head went up and he started moving down the slope to where heavy brush dotted the landscape.

I watched as he would slip down 100 yards and then stand for 10 minutes watching his backtrack. He did this several times before finally laying down in heavy brush. The next morning I was on the lookout glassing the area where he had disappeared into but couldn’t pick him out. He must have moved during the night out of the area! Not giving up, I glassed in a five-mile radius. Bing-go!

On the afternoon of the last day of the season I was glassing four miles from where he had disappeared. There he was feeding in the “Buck Hole,” an isolated brushy pocket noted for holding bucks. At eight years old he had learned how to move around undetected!

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Elk Hunting with Eastmans’ 2015 Hunt Winner

Go elk hunting with Guy Eastman and the 2015 EASTMANS’ BOWHUNTING JOURNAL hunt winner. The elk rut action is hot in this web edition of Eastmans’ Hunting TV. The crew is almost run over by a pair of fighting bull elk. This hunt ends up close and personal with a rifle kill at less than 25 yards!

The post Elk Hunting with Eastmans’ 2015 Hunt Winner appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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133 Hits

Lightest Weatherby Rifle Ever! The Backcountry TI

Hunter Todd Helms reviews Weatherby’s ALL NEW Backcountry T1 rifle in 6.5-300 Weatherby Magnum. Packed with new features this rifle is meant for fast and light travel in the backcountry. A fluted barrel, titanium action and carbon fiber stock minimize weight. The 3DHEX recoil reducer on the stock means a shooter get the benefits of a magnum cartridge with little kick. This model also features a brand new muzzle break that’s truly streamlined with the barrel.





The post Lightest Weatherby Rifle Ever! The Backcountry TI appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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76 Hits