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Recent entries


Versatile Hunter

Handgunning for Deer

Mon, December 12, 2016

First, some regulations that are sometimes confused when it comes to using handguns for deer.  As long as you are using a legal handgun, you CAN carry that handgun AND another legal firearm (such as a slug gun and/or muzzleloader) during their respective legal seasons.

Straight from the rule book:
“For handguns, a bottleneck centerfire cartridge of .30 caliber or larger with a case length not exceeding 1.4 inches, or a straight-walled centerfire cartridge of .30 caliber or larger, both of which must be available as a factory load with the published ballistic tables of the manufacturer showing a capability of at least 500 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. There is no case length limit for straight-walled cartridges.”

“Non-expanding, military-style full metal jacket bullet cannot be used to harvest white-tailed deer; only soft point or expanding bullets (including copper/ copper-alloy rounds designed for hunting) are legal ammunition.”

I’m no handgun pro but from what I understand, a typical .45 handgun round would not be considered legal. Popular and legal guns include the .44 Mag, as well as the .454 Casull and .500 (overkill in my opinion based on having shot them), .41, and .357 although I hear the .357 is the smallest caliber you would want to use. I’m going to guess there are other options out there but from my research these appear to be the most popular.

I’ve carried a handgun on me for a total of 3 seasons along with my H&R 12 gauge heavy barrel slug gun.  I’ve target shot with the Ruger .44 Super Red Hawk comfortably out to around 40 yards.  That’s off hand with a red dot.  Putting it on a rest I’m told proficient shooters can reach out to around 100 yards but that seems crazy to me.  The first two seasons I was able to get deer within 40 yards during firearms season but the deer were either moving and I couldn’t stop them or brush was in the way so I never got off a shot. I have harvested deer with my slug gun while carrying the pistol in my Uncle Mike’s holster which fits beautifully under a heavy winter coat while hunting.  Because of the need to get them in close with a handgun I liken it more to bow hunting, which is a passion of mine.

This year was my third season carrying and the second season of firearm season I was able to stop a doe running past me at about 25 yards quartering away and was able to put the red dot in the right spot and make a double lung shot.  The deer went 40 yards and piled up.  Upon inspection of the shot placement it blew my mind that the 240 grain soft point American Eagle rounds did that kind of damage.  I likened the exit to a 12 gauge slug.  There is no doubt in my mind that this setup is a deadly one for deer.

In short, give hand gunning for deer a shot—it might do for you what it did for me—made me look forward to firearm season again!


Birding on Stand

Sun, November 27, 2016

We all seem to have our own ways of passing the time in a deer stand and with today’s ever quickening society, incredible technology, and increase in responsibilities as we get older and have kids, often times it’s spent doing things other than just looking for deer (at least I can speak for some of us). Especially on a slow day. . . .

Aside from the usual of reading books, texting or otherwise messing around on your phone, and hopefully actually using your senses to pay attention to what’s happening around you, there’s another idea I might suggest—birding.  I know, I know—birding is for those enviro-hippie yuppy city folks, right? Well, regardless of your thoughts on it I suggest giving it a try.  Hunters are some of the world’s keenest on learning about and striving to understand the natural world for a purpose—to harvest game of course.  Why not use some of those keen senses to help pass the time, learn a new hobby, and help out the birding community to further document some of nature’s struggling species? 

Duck hunters have been doing this for years actually.  We identify our quarry not only on the water but on the wing so that we stay legal and learn.  I remember the first waterfowl id book my dad gave me when I was young and I also remember the LeMaster Method (using bill colors and sizes) book that a Conservation Officer used to identify two juvenile wood ducks that we had illegally harvested during our first teal season as young men.  That was certainly a lesson I’ll never forget!

Our phones have made this significantly easier.  As a Biologist, I spent many years learning about and identifying birds by way of bird song cd’s, numerous field guides, and time spent glassing for birds in the field. Nowadays, the apps available on our phones cut the traditional learning curve down a ton.  With these apps, you can now identify birds by way of habitat, colors, and other easy to note characteristics in a hurry and not only that but you can also document their presence for others to learn from. 

My favorite is the Audobon Birds Pro version (for Android).  There are many others so I would suggest trying several but I like Audobon because I can id, post for others to reference, and keep my own list all in one.

You really need a good set of binoculars but nowadays I see many deer hunters using them.  Give it a try—I’ll bet the number of species you observe will surprise you on a good long day in the stand!


Mark and Terry Drury’s Deer Hunting Science

Sun, November 20, 2016

So I’ve really been studying the Drury Brother’s theories over the past two years and I believe they (more than other so called “deer hunting experts”) have a LOT of things right.  Here is a compilation of their theories from various blogs, websites, videos, and podcasts I’ve studied:

General Tips:
Weather trumps moon
Wind is preferred greatly over no wind/little wind
Just in front of cold weather and through cold front is good
First day of south wind after cold weather front with rising barometer is something to prioritize
Rising barometer is good
Light rain/rain is good

Moon Theories:
5 days after full moon are best in morning
5 days before full moon are best in evening
Those 10-12 days around full moon are best with good weather

Best days of the year in general (suggested vacation days if you are limited)
October 30-31
November 5-9
November 15-18

Drury’s Thirteen Phases (based on Midwest dates):

Phase One: New Beginning
Sept.15th – Sept. 24th
1.  Pay attention to thermals

2.  Manage your does

3.  Review recent summer trail camera pictures
4.  Seldom hunt in the mornings

●    ●    ●

Phase Two: Green Pastures
Sept. 25th – Oct. 12th
1.  Plant to your position
2.  Plant to optimize palatability
3.  Check trail cameras frequently
4.  Scout more than you hunt

●    ●    ●

Phase Three: October Lull
Oct. 13th – Oct. 24th
1.  Don’t waste any time
2.  Avoid hunting your best spots
3.  Transition cameras to scrapes
4.  Strike on a major weather fronts

●    ●    ●

Phase Four: Pre-Lock
Oct. 25th – Nov. 1st
1. Start calling
2. “Feed ‘Em Forward”
3.  Refocus on popular food
4. Seek the most mature deer

●    ●    ●

Phase Five: High Anticipation
Nov. 2nd – Nov. 5th
1.  Start hunting mornings
2.  Pay attention to access
3.  Remember: Calling is effective
4.  Start logging major hours in the stand; expand your hunting time

●    ●    ●

Phase Six: Buck Parade
Nov. 6th – Nov. 10th
1.  Crash-in on your best spots
2.  Start using decoys
3.  Extend both your AM and PM sits
4.  Check your bow’s cams in and out of the stands and on your way to and from

●    ●    ●
Phase Seven: Lock Down
Nov. 11th – Nov. 15th
1.  Hunt all day
2.  Hunt near water sources
3.  Expand your focus: stay sharp and alert – a big deer can walk by middle of the day
4.  Focus more on bed movement (to and from)

●    ●    ●

Phase Eight: Desperately Seeking
Nov. 16th – Nov. 19th
1.  Hunt the mid-day: 9am-11am — 1pm-4pm)
2.  Move to the movement: Go to where you are seeing deer
3.  Predict with trail camera pictures: Use last year’s pictures to predict this year’s movement
4.  Avoid “Wrong Place, Wrong Time”: If you’re not seeing them, adjust your tactics

●    ●    ●

Phase Nine: Party’s Over
Nov. 19th – Nov. 25th
1.  Avoid mid-day hunts (Mid-day just isn’t as important this time.)
2.  Food source importance. (Food becomes important again.)
3.  Movement may be down. (Don’t get depressed if camera movement slows down.)
4.  Grind it to the finish. (Don’t stop, even though moment slows.)

●    ●    ●

Phase Ten: Green Revisited
Nov. 26th – Dec. 5th
1.  Expand your home range and let your farm rest
2.  Focus on food via trail camera pictures
3.  Plant to palatability
4.  Sleeping in

●    ●    ●

Phase Eleven: Waiting on a Front
Dec. 6th – Dec. 8th
1. Utilize your MRI (most recent information)
2. Travel to catch the rut
3. Focus on a variety of food
4. Dress accordingly

●    ●    ●

Phase Twelve: Feedback
Dec. 9th – Dec. 21st
1. Focus on food (grain becomes important)
2. Secondary rut activity if your herd’s out of balance
3. Hunt with friends and family
4. Early afternoon success

●    ●    ●

Phase Thirteen: Grand Finale
Dec. 22nd – Jan. 15th
1. Don’t fret late movement
2. Caution your stand choices
3. Hunt food on a front
4. Expect fewer pictures from your trail cameras

Website for more information:


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