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How To/Pro-Tips

Fuel for the Furnace

All my hunting companions know of my fondness for snacks. Some have suggested that I publish the "Buck Gardner Pretzel Diet Plan." The only problem is that you don't lose weight on it. But you do stay warm because food is the body's fuel.

Foods rich in carbohydrates are efficiently digested by the body and keep the internal furnace well stoked in cold weather. Proteins and fats demand immediate digestion but it is a slow process and they don't deliver immediate fuel for warmth and energy. Sugars give a quick energy boost, but it is quickly gone.

My "duck day diet" starts with a high-carbo breakfast of pancakes, cereal, fruit, etc. I take a generous supply high-carbohydrate and a few high-sugar snacks to the blind with me. For dinner, meat and potatoes - hopefully a good steak - provides the fat and protein at a time when the slow digestion of these more complex nutrients do not hamper my internal heating system.

Besides, I like pretzels!

The Killing Zone

One thing about stand site selection that seems obvious but is often overlooked, is where the deer will be when the shot is taken. Many hunters just pick a stand amongst a bunch of sign or in a likely looking spot. They then, equally randomly, cut shooting lanes.
No one can control exactly where a deer will appear, you should make an educated guess. If you are hunting along a trail, it's reasonable to expect the deer on the trail and you should set up to take your best shot there. If you are hunting a feeding or bedding area, watch where trails come in.
Bowhunters must be close to the killing zone and thus run more chance of detection. Gun hunters can maximize the distance out to where they still have a good, open shot at longer range. Both types of hunters should hunt the fringes of heavy use areas. This disturbs the area less and lessens the chance of deer "just popping up" anywhere.

Trophy Deer Hunting

A great truth in deer hunting is that you can't bag a trophy that isn't there. If your hunting area, be it public or private, has been subject to an overpopulation of deer and/or extremely heavy hunting pressure, it's a good bet that there are few true trophy bucks there.
Trophy bucks are the products of a well-managed deer herd, with does being controlled, and restricted shooting of young bucks. It takes a buck at least 3 _ years to grow even close to the trophy category and the best bucks mature out at 4 _ to 5 _ years. If young bucks are heavily harvested, few survive to trophy age and status.
If you can find some land with a dedicated quality deer management program in place, you will up your odds for a trophy. Otherwise, traveling to other parts of the country, with proven big buck results, and paying for your hunt is the best way to fulfill your trophy dreams.

A Realistic Setup

Everything about your blind site should be as realistic as possible. Today this is much easier than ever before. Remember the hours of building and camouflaging a blind from scratch?

Today, many companies make "pre-fab" blinds out of camouflage material that are easy to transport and quick to set up. They vary in their features and degree of complexity, but all get you into a basic blind quickly and easily. These are easily spruced up by adding a bit of native vegetation to merely break up their outline. This is far easier than having to cut enough grass or brush to completely camouflage your blind site.

Another realistic touch is to periodically stir up the mud among your decoys. Feeding ducks stir up mud and this reassures incoming birds. It also helps camouflage your decoy lines.

Keeping a clean blind helps too. Every so often pick up spent shells, candy wrappers and other unnatural debris that may accumulate around your blind and warn wary birds.

The Ranch Hunt

Elk hunting on private lands can be considered a "first-cabin" experience but may also come in great variety and at many different price levels.
The simplest private-hunt situation is the "trespass fee" hunt where all that is granted is the right to hunt on (or cross) private lands. Sometimes, a bunkhouse bed or summer tourist cabin is offered. Sometimes the rancher provides cooked meals, horses and/or guides. Each step up in comfort or convenience costs more.
The hunting may be on the ranch itself or on adjoining public lands. If a component of public land is part of the package, it is not necessarily a bad deal. In many cases, private land cuts off public parcels, making them nearly as exclusive as the private land itself. However, if you bump into every Tom, Dick and Harry as soon as you cross the rancher's fence, and there's no great amount of private hunting territory on the ranch, you've not bought yourself much of a deal.



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