The truth is that you can spread your duck decoys just about any way you wish, as long as you leave an open area for the birds to land into the wind. No matter which way they come from, or how much they circle, their final move down will be into the wind. No wind at all? It becomes a guessing game.
Here are a few of the editor’s favorite Duck Hunting guides that have been submitted by Hunting Guide from across the nation.
Duck Hunting Guide’s Advice I Don’t Want to Hear
In the duck blind, you’ll often hear your guide urge you to, “Stay down. Keep your head down. Don’t watch the birds! I’ll do the watching.” Well, if you’re not watching the birds, you’re losing part of the joys of the hunt. Your blind should be good enough for you to peer through the stalks or brush just as the guide is doing. When the ducks are passing right overhead, neither one of you should be looking skyward. You’ll spook the birds for sure.
Pothole Sneak Attack
If you’ve scouted out a promising pothole or small pond and you’re planning to jump-shoot the ducks that are resting there, try to sneak up on them with the wind at your back. When the ducks jump into the wind (which they most certainly will do), you might get a shot before they re-orient themselves and fly the other way.
Local Birds: Use Small Decoy Spreads for Small Bunches
Make a distinction between the resident ducks you hunt in the early season and the large flocks that migrate in later on. You’ll spot resident birds in pairs and small flocks, so decoy them accordingly and don’t burn out any one place by hunting it too often. Save the big spreads for when the birds from up north show up.
Mix ’Em up If You Want To
So you’re thinking about adding some bluebills or canvasbacks (diving ducks) to your decoy setup of mallards, pintails, and gadwalls (puddle ducks) to give your spread more visibility. Go right ahead. It won’t hurt your chances a bit.
Jump-shooting ducks from a canoe or john-boat is a great way to hunt some creeks and small rivers. The best way is with a partner, one hunter with the gun at the ready, the other on the paddling. Stay quiet; anticipate the sharp bends where you may surprise a few mallards, blacks, or other puddle ducks. Listen carefully as you go. You just might hear the birds before you get to them.
Too Hidden for a Good Shot
When you’re hunkered down in a blind so that you can’t see the ducks you’re working, when it comes time for someone to exclaim, “Take ’em!” you come up with your gun and have to find the birds before you get down to pointing and swinging the barrel. It won’t be an easy shot.
Gloves for Setting out Decoys
Gloves that stretch almost to your elbows and keep your hands dry are a must for setting out decoys. Shuck ’em off and wear your regular gloves when you get into the blind. See the “Midwest PVC Decoy Glove” at Mack’s Prairie Wings, www.mackspw.com. Check other favorite waterfowl gear vendors for other options.
Pond Shooting at Sunset: The Way It Used to Be
Waiting for ducks at sunset beside ponds where the ducks would be coming to roost was once a mainstay of hunting tactics. Local wood ducks, mallards, and black ducks, puddle ducks of all sorts that had migrated into a particular area— they all come hurtling into the ponds after sunset. Sometimes the shooting was so late, the birds had to be outlined against the western sky. Today, shooters who try this are easy marks for wardens waiting nearby to hear the sounds of gunshots after legal shooting hours. If you want to just watch the show (and you should!) leave your guns in the truck.
It’s All about Visibility, Visibility, Visibility
Unless you’re gunning a tiny creek-bottom or river location, surrounded by high trees, most of your duck-hunting locations will be in open areas where you hope passing birds can see your decoys and come on in. Anything you can do to increase the visibility of your spread will make a difference. Black decoys show up better from a distance. Magnum-size adds visibility. Canada geese decoys add visibility, whether you’re hunting geese or not. Movement devices (the ones that are legal where you hunt) are critical if there’s no wind blowing: spinners, battery-driven shakers, pull-cord movers—whatever you’ve got.
The “Hole” Is the Thing
No matter what shape of the decoy spread you decide is right for your hunting location and conditions, it must contain a hole or two for the birds to land. If the water in front of the blind is solid with decoys, the birds will land on the outside of the spread, at long range or even out of range.
The Outer Gun: The Key Position
The Outside shooter on the upwind side of permanent duck blinds or layout blind setups is in the key position and can absolutely ruin the shooting for everybody with him. It’s happened to me more times than I can remember. The ducks, or geese, are coming into the spread against the wind, from his side. If he starts shooting too early, around the corner, the guns in the center and another side will get no shots or shots at widely flaring birds only. Sometimes, to top off this little drama, the outside offender will turn to the other guys and say, “Why didn’t you guys shoot?” Advice: Put an experienced shooter in that outside position, a shooter with the judgment and nerve to wait until the birds are into the spread enough so everybody can shoot.
Where’d the Mallards Go?
When you’re on a marsh in the early morning where you reasonably expect a flight of mallards, don’t be surprised if they don’t show up until later in the morning. Your local birds or even visitors from the north, maybe feeding in the fields.
Black Ducks—Red Letter Day
My calling aspirations reached a sort of pinnacle years later. I was hunkered on an icy creek on the marshes of the Chesapeake Bay, near the famous Susquehanna Flats. A pair of black ducks flew down the creek, very high and in a big hurry, headed somewhere with express tickets. They clearly were not interested in my modest decoy spread, but when I hit them with my old Herter’s call and the Highball, they turned like I had ’em wired. Interested then, they circled warily while I scrunched down. Now I started rattling off my Feeding Chuckle, and a few moments later they were cupped and committed. I could finally say that I knew how to call ducks.
Where the Birds Want to Be
Pushing into a cove in the marsh or along a big river or lake, in the first pre-dawn light, you flush a big bunch of ducks or geese. Away they go, gabbling and honking. Never mind trying to follow them or heading for another spot. Set up right there. It’s the place the birds want to be.
Few moments afield are as thrilling as those when a big flock of ducks sweeps into your decoys. You’ll shoot a lot better when you are aware whether your birds are diving ducks—like bluebills and canvasbacks—or puddle ducks—like mallards and pintails. Diving ducks will bore straight past when the shooting starts, while puddle ducks will bounce skyward as though launched from a trampoline.
When gunning the hole in the tall timber with a few decoys out, give the water around your tree a good kick when birds are passing or circling to imitate splashing and feeding activity.
Using the Wind with Your Decoy Spread
Ducks often want to land outside a spread of decoys—even when the setup has left an inviting hole. That ’s why you want to set your decoys upwind—not directly in front of the blind—so that you’ll still have a good shot at the birds coming in against the wind and trying to land on the outside of the decoy spread.
Don’t Be a “Skybuster”
A Skybuster is the most hated character on any marsh or field where there’s duck or goose hunting. The Skybuster burns away at birds that are obviously out of range, thereby alarming the birds away from the region and ruining probabilities others might have had on the incoming birds.
Beating the Crowds in Public Hunting
Ducks swiftly wise up to blinds on open hunting regions. You score more ducks if you seek out remote corners that see much less pressure. Use just 6 or so decoys and call only sufficient to get passing birds’ attention.
One of the trickiest conditions in turkey hunting is having a bird sneak up after you when you’re sitting at the base of a tree. It can be very difficult to twist your body around far enough to make a perfect shot, and it’s nearly impossible if the bird is behind your right shoulder if you’re a right-handed shooter. It’s an excellent plan to practice shooting your turkey gun from your opposite shoulder before the season starts. If you’re comfortable taking shots this way your chances of getting a bead on a turkey without spooking it will develop dramatically.
Control the Volume of Your Box Call
If you are working a gobbler with a box call and he hangs up in the distance, you may be calling too strongly. Box calls are notoriously loud; the tom may think the hen you’re imitating is closer to him than you want, and will often stop and wait, thinking that she will come to him. One way to get him moving is to reduce the volume of your call. Hold the call upside down, with the handle on the bottom, and slide your thumb up the sides to increase pressure on the call and gradually dampen the vibration. The gobbler will think the hen is moving away from him and may give chase.
5 More Reasons Gobblers Are Easy to Miss
Need more reasons to miss a gobbler within 30 yards? Try these:
- The bird is moving, and you panic slightly, raising your head from the gunstock just a bit;
- You gun is new, unfamiliar, or one you haven’t shot in weeks or months;
- You’re wearing gloves, deadening your touch, and you pull the trigger like it’s a rusty nail;
- Your guide or companion is doing the calling, and he whispers the command “Shoot!” to you. You instantly obey, even though you’re not ready;
- You try for a headshot. Any of these reasons is enough to make a grown man cry.
Use Decoys Late in the Season
The best time to use turkey decoys is after most hens are already sitting on their nests. A decoy is much less effective early in the breeding season when most toms will already be attended by hens.
The Best Place to Set Up on a Roosted Gobbler
If you’ve done your scouting homework, you’ll often know where a gobbler has roosted for the night. If you’ve done your extra credit, you’ll know where he goes after he flies down. The best place to set up to call him in the morning will be between these two places, about 100 to 200 yards away from his tree (distance depending on how well leafed out the trees are). Get there well before first light, and sneak in as quietly as you can. Roasted birds are alert to unusual sounds and can pick up movements even in very dark conditions.
Don’t Let a Hot Gobbler Get Too Close
The next time a gobbling tom comes trotting into your setup, don’t wait too long before taking the shot. Most turkey load patterns open up at around 20 to 30 yards; this is the distance at which you have the best chance of putting a pellet into his brain or spine. If you let him get to close your pellets may be packed so tightly together that a slight miscalculation will cause all of them to miss.
Locating Roosting Gobblers
When you’re calling or scouting has located a roosting area (and you’ve been careful not to spook the birds!), you’ll hear them fly up into the trees—big wings flopping, a great deal of noise. Be alert, however, that they don’t choose the limb they wish to roost on from the ground, and then fly up to it. It’s after they are in the trees that they move around to a favored spot to spend the night.
When Gobblers Get Lonely
Many turkey hunters miss out on bagging their bird by not being alert to a hunting opportunity that takes place in the middle of the day. Sometimes around eleven o’clock in the morning, hens have left the gobbler to go to their nests. That’s when the toms get lonely—and start to gobble, betraying their location. You can get into position, set up, and call in your bird.
Rake Leaves to Call in Hung-up Toms
The next time a gobbler hangs up in the distance, responding to your calls but refusing to approach, stop calling and start imitating the sound of a feeding hen by raking a hand through the leaf litter at your feet. If all goes according to plan, the gobbler will grow frustrated, wondering why the hen he can hear scratching for food won’t respond to his calls, and will often come closer to investigate.
Fake a Flock of Fall Turkeys
Most hunters use turkey decoys to stimulate a gobbler’s mating or competitive instincts during the spring season, but decoys also work well for fall turkeys. The trick is to use lots of them to simulate a small flock. If you can figure out where the turkeys you’re hunting roost, and where they feed, set up your fake flock between them and use a couple of different calls to imitate the sound of a few feeding hens.
Circle Gobbling Birds Hung up Behind Obstacles
Gobbling turkeys hang up for lots of reasons, but one of the most common is that there’s an obstacle between him and you. Streams, fences, and ravines will often keep a turkey from following up on the promise of a ready hen. In many cases, you’ll have the best luck killing your bird by crossing these barriers yourself. Using a crow call to keep him gobbling, circle around him until you’re 180-degrees away from where you were set up before. He’ll be more likely to return along with a path he’s already used than he will work through the less familiar territory, and you’ll know there won’t be any other obstacles on this trail that might obstruct his progress.
Faking Out a Gobbler: A Desperation Tactic
When a gobbler plays hard to get, and nothing else has worked try walking straight away from him, calling occasionally as you go. If he thinks his potential paramour is leaving him, he just might come running.
Cover Ground to Find Mid-Day Gobblers
Turkeys gobble more in the early morning than they do during the middle of the day. This makes them easier to find, but it does not mean they are easier to hunt. Most toms will gobble in the morning even if they’re with hens, which mean you stand a good chance of spending all morning talking with a bird that has no reason to come to your calls. If you find yourself working a bird that refuses to come to you, don’t give up hope. Instead, go looking for a more accommodating tom. It is true that turkeys gobble less frequently when the sun is high, but the flip side of this behavior is that if you find one that does gobble; he is much less likely to be with a hen and will be far more willing to come into your calls. Hike through your property and call every 100 yards or so until you get a response.
Don’t Get Mistaken for a Turkey
Never wear any clothing or carry any accessories that contain the colors red, white, or blue. You should also keep your hands and head camouflaged when calling, and wear dark-colored socks and pants long enough to keep bare skin fully covered. These colors are found on the heads of wild turkeys, and you do not want to be mistaken for a gobbler by another hunter.
Make a Gobbler Jealous
You can use a decoy to simulate a breeding hen by pushing a hen decoy’s stake deeply enough into the soil so that the decoy’s belly touches the ground. Hens take this position when they’re ready to mate. Put a jake decoy behind her (a jake is an immature male turkey), as if he’s about to breed her, and the tom you’re hunting may become so upset that he approaches your setup with much less caution.
Bust a Roosted Flock in the Fall
The most common tactic used by fall turkey hunters is to find and then scatter a flock of the birds and then sit down to call them back in. Turkeys will naturally desire to regroup, and if you call well sufficient to duplicate a lost bird, they will use you as a homing beacon. One good way to find a flock to bust is to identify where the birds roost. Inspect the woods for big hardwood trees with plenty of clean droppings at their bases, and head out the evening before you plan to hunt to listen for the sounds the birds make as they fly up for the dark. Creep into the woods before daylight the next day, and then rush the group as soon as it flies down.
Coping with “Shut-Mouth” Gobblers
If pressure has forced spring gobblers into silence, try patterning a long beard like you would a deer. He’ll have favorites route he takes to favored strutting areas and feeding spots. So glass open areas until you find where the birds are using, and then set up an ambush.
Don’t Waste Time on Henned-Up Birds When
If you’ve got lots of lands to hunt, don’t waste time trying to bring in turkeys that aren’t that interested in your calling. When a bird gobbles once in reply to your calls but won’t go any closer after 15 to 20 minutes, it’s likely he’s still with hens. Make a mental note of your location, and then move on to search for another, a lonelier bird who will respond with more enthusiasm. Later, however, if you still haven’t filled your tag, return to the spot you were calling in when you first heard him gobble and try calling again. His hens may now be on their nests, and he’ll be wondering what happened to the one that wouldn’t come see him earlier in the morning.
Why Gobblers Are Easy to Miss
How do hunters miss a big target like a wild turkey standing within 30 yards? My personal pet theory (and I’ve done it myself!) is that the shooter is so enthralled by the scene before him that he raises his head from the gunstock just slightly. Do that, and you’ll miss every time.
When Roosting Gobblers Fly Down
When you hear hens fly down from the roost, while a gobbler lingers on his limb, still calling occasionally, your nerves will be as tight as they can get. But don’t start thinking your bird is as good as in the oven. Next, a scenario can take place that virtually dooms your hunt. The hens may start walking away in a direction away from your setup. The gobbler flies down and joins them, oblivious to your calls.
Today hunting guide providing hunting tips about Wild Sheep and Mountain Goat. First of all, you should know about species of them.
There are 2 species of wild native sheep in North America, the bighorn sheep, and the Dall sheep. There are 3 subspecies of bighorn:
- The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis Canadensis)
- The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis Sierra)
- The Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis Nelsoni).
There are 2 subspecies of Dall sheep: the Dall sheep proper and the Stone sheep.
Glass in The Morning
Although sheep move most during the morning and evening, it’s generally a bad idea trying to find the animals late in the day. Sheep live in high, rough country. Unless you’re prepared to spend the night, you don’t want to get caught on the side of the mountain in the dark.
Watch for Their Rumps
Bedded sheep will almost always get up and move around a little . . . between noons to around 1 PM. They may feed for a few minutes, or move from one group of beds to another nearby. Or they may only get up, stretch, turn around and lie back down in the same bed. If you are watching the right spot at the right time, you’ll see their white rumps and know exactly where they are.
The Colors of the Mountain
Bighorn sheep come in a variety of colors, from light tan to dark brown to a deep blue-gray. These colors vary from region to region (and sometimes within a single region). Because the animals tend to bed in spots that match the colors of their coats, it’s a good idea to have a sense of the common shades found in the area you plan to hunt. Look for ground that matches these colors, then look for sheep hidden there.
How to Field-Judge a Mountain Goat
Identifying a trophy mountain goat is not easy. The differences between a good billy’s and a record-book animal’s horns will often be less than an inch. The first step to finding a record is to make sure the animal you’ve spotted is, in fact, a male. Billies have high, humped shoulders, and shaggier coats than nannies. Once you’ve found an old male goat, straighten out his horns in your mind’s eye and compare that length to the length of the animal’s head. If the stretched horns reach from the animal’s nose to the bottom of its eye, they are less than nine inches long. If they reach from the nose to the base of the ear, they are at least nine inches long and will qualify as a true trophy.
Creep Across Crests
When stalking sheep and goats, be extremely careful to never silhouette yourself against the skyline. If you must cross the crest of a ridge or a saddle, do so on your hands, knees, and belly, and move as slowly as you can.
How to Field-Judge a Trophy Sheep
When glassing for a record-book sheep, always look for a full, curling horn that’s bottom extends below the line of the lower jaw. You want heavy, thick horns with broomed tips, which will score higher than un-broomed horns of the same length.
Scan for a Silhouette
Sheep easily spot a skylined hunter’s silhouette, especially when the hunter is moving. But the reverse is also true. When glassing for sheep, always keep a close eye on the tops of ridges, cliff edges, and the skyline over a saddle. Scanning for silhouettes is the easiest way to spot these animals.
Don’t Educate The Herd
If you’re hunting with friends or as part of a guided group and are lucky enough to kill a sheep, don’t immediately rush in to claim your kill after the shot. Stay hidden, watch to see where the animal falls, and wait to retrieve it until the rest of the herd has left the area. Avoid startling them and other hunters in camp will have a much easier time of stalking sheep in the area.
Account for The Hump
Don’t let an old billy goat’s hump throw off your aim. This massive growth of fat and hair covers a ridge of finlike vertebral spines and gives the animal a unique profile when compared with other big game. When preparing to pull the trigger, don’t put your crosshairs roughly halfway up a mountain goat’s body the way you would on an elk or a deer; the animal’s vitals will be located in the lowest third of its body. Hold at the top of that lowest third to ensure a killing shot.
Read more about Bear Hunting Guide.
Last time that I went camping, I was really excited because I had found a new campfire meal recipe and I was eager to try it with my spouse and kids. We made our first camp and I chopped and prepped all the ingredients. Next, I began to gather firewood as the kids played and the wife enjoyed a brief power nap, stacking my timber and kindling just right. I even made a quick stone circle to mark my fire pit for nostalgic effect.
Next, it was time to light the fire so that I could cook my meal, but I quickly discovered that I didn’t have any firestarters. I’d forgotten both my matches and my lighter. We probably could have gone on with a cold canned meal of something else, but I wasn’t about to go the rest of the camping trip without a cigarette. Yep, that’s right, I had to trek all the way back, drive to the nearest convenience store, and come back. It wasn’t pleasant and the family still won’t let me live it down!
Don’t make my mistake and forget something important. Be sure that you’ve brought all your necessary things for camping and are ready to go.
Staying the right temperature can make a big difference between a miserable trip and a pretty good one. Bring some form of shelter, even if you’re not planning on staying long or sleeping over. Especially in the mountains, the weather can change on a dime, so it’s important to be prepared. There are different tents that you can get, each with its own purpose, pros, cons, and price tag. Get whatever works for you best.
If you’re bringing kids along who don’t go camping often, a tent has a lot of uses and instills a sense of calm and security. It can help with a child who isn’t adapting well, who needs to rest, needs a timeout or who needs to change clothes.
For your shelter, you should bring your:
- Footprint or tarp
- Tent Repair Kit
- Tent Stakes
- Air pump for any inflatable items
You never want to sleep on the ground, as the earth has a tendency to suck in all of your body heat and you can find yourself in a situation where your body can’t keep up. All shelters should have something to sleep in or on, such as a sleeping bag, bedroll, cot, air mattress, or hammock. You’ll probably want to bring along a pillow, or at least some spare clothes that can be rolled up to suffice for the task.
Camping Utility Bag
Your camping utility bag is a grab and go bag that you leave packed and contains everything that you’ll need to go camping on a dime. It’s a great way to have all of the smaller, more essential things already packed so that you can have more headspace to remember other things, or even to do more planning.
Your Camping Utility Bag Should Contain:
- First aid kit
- Cotton balls
- Antiseptics such as hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol
- Painkillers such as Aspirin or Tylenol
- Allergy medicine just in case
- Antibacterial soap
- Antibacterial wipes
- Chemical hand warmers
- Sunburn treatment, such as aloe vera
- Poison ivy treatment if in a wooded area
- Bug repellant
- Petroleum jelly as it has a variety of uses in a bind
- Hat and sunglasses
- Fire starters such as a lighter, matches, or a flint striker
- Fuel for any propane or gasoline powered devices that you might bring
- Trash bags for any situation that might arise – they can also be makeshift ponchos
- Large Ziplock bags to help deal with anything that is smelly
- Duct tape, just in case
- Pocket knife of some sort
- Light sources such as a lantern, flashlight, or more
- A battery or crank powered radio in case you’d like a bit of music or need to check the weather
- Extra snacks say for low blood sugar situations
- Map of the campground area
Personal Toiletries Bag
Personally, I like to keep my toiletries bag packed and inside my camping utility bag so that I never have to worry about it. I’ve had a couple trips where other campers forgot their bags, but because I had mine, I could share supplies with them and it wasn’t a big deal at all.
Inside this, you’ll want:
- Change of clothes
- Extra socks
- Towels and washcloths
- Soap, but I don’t recommend body wash as few campsites have on-site showers
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Grooming kits such as shaving kit, or hairbrush
- Deodorant or antiperspirant
- Toilet paper, and extra toilet paper
- Feminine products
- Any extra medications
If you’re going out where there are no built-in camping facilities, you will also want to address the issue of using the restroom. It’s pretty easy to make a portable toilet out of an old five-gallon bucket and the fanciness of such designs depend on the instructions that you’re following along on. There are also similar products that you can purchase that help address this concern, as well.
For your restroom, you will want to bring:
- Toilet paper
- Extra trash bags
- Hand sanitizer
- Something for privacy curtains like tarps
Food and Water
Lastly, you will want to be prepared for all of the necessary things for camping when it comes to keeping your body fueled up and properly hydrated. Remember to always bring extra water. I like to keep spare water jugs near my camping supplies so that I will always remember to fill them up and bring them along.
Here are some ideas when you are going to cook food on the trail
- Drinking water
- Personal water canteen or water bottle
- Napkins or paper towels
- Disposable silverware, cups, and plates
- Ice for anything that needs to be kept cold
- Tin foil, ziplock bags, and other ways to store food leftovers
- Trash bags
- Pots and pans
- Cooking instruments such as ladles, slotted spoons, wooden spoons, spatulas
- Camping stove and camping stove fuel
- Fire starters
- Fire fuel or kindling for tough situations
Last But Not Least
And of course, don’t forget to take your cell phone!
Pronghorn Antelope eye is bigger than that of cow or horse, nearly as large as that of an elephant; they provide him somewhat the appearance of a huge beetle. It can see half or three-quarters of a mile away, with a range of vision keener than that of an 8 power glass. I have seen a herd fairly fly across the plains up to the foothills and trees, then scorn the cover they have reached and circle back and back again as if playing a game of tag with your bullets. The pronghorn is a real sportsman. He runs, but he never hides.
The Pronghorn Challenge
Antelope shooting is the kind in which a man most needs skill in the use of the rifle at long ranges; they are harder to get near than any other game—partly from their wariness and still more from the nature of the ground they inhabit. Still, good hunters consider on applying 6 or 7 cartridges for all prong-horn they kill; for Pronghorn antelope are continually presenting standing shots at very long distances, which, nevertheless, it is a big temptation to try, on the chance of luck favoring the marksman.
Sit Over Water
You can avoid strenuous stalks during midday heat if you switch to hunting a waterhole. Pronghorns are creatures of the dry, high plains, but they need to drink periodically, and will often show up during the hottest hours to slake their thirst. If you know which water sources they’ve been using you stand a good chance of ambushing one.
Set Your Decoys with Stealth
When hunting Pronghorn Antelope with a bow, a decoy can make the difference between a fruitless stalk and a successful hunt. The trick is to creep close enough to set one up, and then to set it up without being spotted. Wait until the buck you’re hunting is busy chasing a doe, or obscured from view by a clump of sage or other brush. If he sees your decoy rise up out of the grass he may grow suspicious of the unnatural motion and fail to come closer to investigate.
Give Your Blind Time
If you plan to hunt from a blind overlooking a water source, make sure the blind has been in place for a few days before you plan to sit in it. Pronghorns will be wary of this new addition to the landscape after it first appears; you want to hunt from it after they grow comfortable enough with its presence to wander within bow range.
Glass from Your Truck
Most pronghorn antelope have yet to associate vehicles with the hunters who drive them. This makes your truck an ideal platform from which to glass for a trophy. Once you’ve spotted a buck you want to stalk, glass out the route you plan to stalk, and then drive your truck far enough away that the animal won’t see you getting out.
Some Facts of Pronghorn Antelope Biology
A male pronghorn weighs, on average, about 120 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, averaging 105 pounds. The animals are not large, standing approximately 3 feet at the shoulder. Both males and females have horns, though the males are significantly longer, averaging 13 to 15 inches compared to the female’s 3- to 5-inch horns. Pronghorns can live up to nine years in the wild.
Long Shots is Not Important
The key to getting up on lies in the seemingly flat land they inhabit, which is actually broken, cut and intersected by coulees, ravines, gullies, washes, draws, ridges, hills, and divides. A smart antelope hunter can take advantage of this tortured topography to get close—almost always less than 200 yards, and very often less than 100.
The Pronghorn Antelope’s Range
True Americans, pronghorn are found only on the plains and grasslands of North America. Like bison, seemingly endless numbers once covered the west, stretching from Saskatchewan to just north of Mexico City. And like bison, they nearly became extinct. Populations declined from an estimated 30–60 million in the early 1800s to less than 15,000 by 1915. A moratorium on hunting lasting until the 1940s and a federal tax on firearms and sporting goods funding conservation efforts are credited with stopping the decline. Today there are almost 1 million pronghorn. 5 subspecies are recognized:
- American/common (found in most of the range, Canada, and northern Arizona)
- Mexican/Chihuahuan (found in New Mexico, Texas, formerly southeastern Arizona)
- Oregon (found in southeastern Oregon)
- Peninsular (100–250 animals, found in Baja, Mexico)
- Sonoran (endangered, 500 animals found at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and Sonora, Mexico).
How to Field-Judge a Pronghorn Antelope
A trophy antelope’s horns will be longer than 13″, which is the distance from the base of an average pronghorn’s ear to the tip of its nose. Horns that appear to be twice as long or longer than the animal’s ears are likely to break the Boone & Crockett record books, especially if they are curved, crooked, and look wider at their bases than the width of the animal’s eye. Look for horns that split into prongs above the tips of a pronghorn’s ears. You want an animal whose front prong extends at least 4 inches forward from the main horn.
Some caribou migrates more than 3,000 miles each year—farther than any other land animal. They travel in herds every fall and spring from their wintering to their calving grounds and arrive just in time to think about heading back.
It’s hooves are wide, concave, and act like snowshoes, distributing the animal’s weight on snow, ice, and melted muskeg. These hooves also work like paddles when it needs to swim across fast-flowing rivers or even large lakes. But they don’t slow the animals down. It has been recorded running faster than 50 miles per hour.
Caribou Never Stop Moving
This is not the wiliest game animals a man can hunt, but that doesn’t make them easy prey. First, you have to find them. Then you have to decide whether or not to wait to shoot a trophy. You can’t pattern this because it never stays in one place. The herd you’re stalking today might be miles and miles away from the next. If you see a bull you like, pull the trigger, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Bring the Right Optics
Unless you’re a bush pilot, the hardest part of hunting caribou will be finding the herd. Bring high-power binoculars (at least 10 × 42) and carry a spotting scope. Make sure to use top-quality glass or you’ll lose your ability to hunt during the morning and evening hours.
Don’t Spook the Herd
When you’re sneaking up on a bull, keep track of another caribou. They seem to float in from nowhere just when you want to move. Though caribou won’t get away like a whitetail buck when you surprise them at a distance, they will jog off and take another caribou with them. Then you have two options: Stay put and hope they stop so that you can stalk them again, or run after them. In my experience, spooked caribou seldom give you an easy second hunt.
How to Field-Judge an Antlers
When trying to guess the length of a caribou’s antlers, use the animal’s shoulder as a measuring stick. Most shoulders will be between 48 and 54 inches high. Look for antlers with curved main beams, which will generally be both longer and wider than straight ones (though they may look shorter from the side). A trophy animal’s shovels will be broad, have multiple points, and extend far out over the muzzle. Kicker points, the spikes that grow off the back of a caribou’s antlers, will add to the score, as will palmation and extra points at the tops.
How to Read a Caribou’s Body Language
When it’s not distressed, they walk quite gradually, expanding the head forward and downward. When alarmed, it performs a special behavior to warn another caribou of danger. They’ll do this if a predator gets too close, but isn’t about to catch them (or after they figure out that you’re a person sitting on a rock). The troubled caribou will run with the head held high and parallel to the land, and the small, generally floppy tail held up in the air.
A Good Gun for Caribou
While a good shot won’t need more than a .270 to take down a thin-skinned animal like a caribou, the animals are much larger-bodied than most whitetail deer. It can help to shoot a bigger gun when you’re reaching out to knock one down at the long ranges you’ll often find when hunting in the tundra. One great caribou cartridge is the .338 Win Mag. Loaded with a 200-grain bullet, the cartridge will hit three inches high at 100 yards. Elmer Keith loved this chambering for both caribou and elk, and you will, too.
Winterize Your Caribou Gun
Always make sure to keep your gun clean, moisture-free, and either grease-free or treated with synthetic lube designed to function in extreme freezing temperatures. The last thing you want when firing your rifle at a caribou after a long, freezing, late-season stalk is for the hammer, firing pin, or trigger to malfunction because your gun’s oil congealed in the cold.
Don’t Put Wet Bullets into a Freezing-Cold Rifle
Always carefully clean any cartridges you’ve dropped on the ground if you’re hunting in the far north during the late season. They make pick up moisture that causes them to freeze to the inside your gun’s chamber, reducing your expensive rifle to a single-shot firearm.
When you are thinking about Moose hunting, just remember one thing forever. It’s always a good idea to change your location after you’ve finished an extended calling sequence so that you are glassing the area from a spot upwind of where you were calling. If there’s a bull in the area, you can be sure he will have heard you and will remember the exact spot your calling came from. When he eventually comes in to investigate it’s likely he’ll first circle downwind of where he heard your calls. Switching spots let you stay undetected if this happens.
Be Patient When Calling in Moose
Moose are curious creatures, but they can take their time satisfying that curiosity. Even during the peak of the rut, it can take days for a moose that’s heard you are calling to decide to investigate. Be patient. There will be rare occasions when a nearby bull that’s crazed with lust comes crashing into your setup right away, but most calling won’t pay off until many hours later.
Walk Like a Moose
Moose have sensitive ears and a keen sense of smell. It is very unlikely you’ll be able to approach one on foot without it hearing you, even if you’re working into the wind. Fortunately, you do not have to be completely silent. Instead, try to sound like a moose. First, make sure you’re wearing no clothing that makes unnatural rustling sounds when brushed against branches or grass. Second, make sure any metal items you’re carrying in your pockets, on your gun sling, or clipped to your jacket or pants are tightly secured so that they don’t clink or clank while you’re walking. Last, do not try to sneak. Predators sneak, tensing up their bodies in order to perform deliberate movements designed to minimize motion and reduce the sounds of their steps. Moose know what sneaking sounds like, and most humans are not capable of sneak quietly enough to fool one. You’ll have more luck if you step as quietly as possible while still maintaining a loose, natural stride. Any sounds you make will likely be mistaken for the sounds of another moose, elk, or deer moving at a relaxed pace through the brush.
How to Recognize a Pissed-Off Moose
When a moose is irritated by your presence, it will use its body language to warn you that it’s upset, pulling its ears back and flaring the long hair along its neck and hump, much the way a dog will when looking for a fight. It may even growl at you and lick its lips. When you see this, back away quickly and try to get a large obstruction between you and the animal.
Russell Annabel on Alaska Moose Hunting
Sheep hunting is great sport, bear hunting is packed with adventure and thrills, and there is a definite kick in risking your neck climbing the windy crags of the goat country—but for downright fun, I’ll take a moose hunt any old time. Like grouse shooting, it’s a sport that goes with bright leaves tingling down through the branches of old trees, with quiet noonday watches on sun-drenched hillsides, with cautious sallies through the shadowy green-gold enchantment of deep forest aisles, and with campward horseback rides in the purple, star-shot dusk of mountain evenings. It is a sport for the man who appreciates the wilderness at its best, who has an eye for color and beauty—and yet it also has its taut, pulse-quickening moments.
When to (and When Not to) Use a Big Scope
Oversize, 50mm objective lenses will always collect more light than standard-size rifle scopes, giving you a distinct advantage in low-light conditions—brighter, sharper images of the animals you’re aiming at. This does not mean, however, that you should always carry such a scope on your rifle. Oversize lenses are great choices if you’re hunting from a stand or spotting and stalking in a country where you expect to take long shots at unsuspecting moose. But if you plan to do much still-hunting, they can be a liability. There are two reasons for this. The first is that oversize scopes require higher mounts than standard scopes, which means it’s more difficult to acquire a proper sight picture when you need to make a quick shot. The second is that oversized scopes are heavy! You’ll be much happier if you mount standard-sized optics on the gun you use for still-hunting.
Moose Hunting in a Big Wind
Upland bird hunters hate days of the howling winds. Duck hunters love them. Moose hunters should love them. Working your way into position for a shot at moose is much easier in a big wind if you plan your hunt to approach from downwind. First, the moose isn’t going to catch your scent. Secondly, they can’t hear much with the wind howling.
Moose by Canoe
Moose love water, and so do many moose hunters. This is because there are few ways to access unpressured moose habitat more quietly and with less effort than by paddling into it. And there are few ways of packing out moose meat more efficiently than by carrying its quarters in a canoe. Scan banks and shorelines for moose standing hidden in the brush, and pay close attention when paddling up or floating down rivers that connect ponds and small lakes—moose travel along these streams because they often flow through flat terrain that’s easier for them to traverse.
Call like a Cow Using Only Your Voice
Cow calls are high-pitched groans that can be best described as a high, moaning “eerrrrrrrr” sound. These calls can be relatively short in duration or can last for up to two minutes. You can imitate the sound using your voice alone. To do so, pinch your nose (a nasal sound does a better job of imitating a cow), cup your hands over your mouth, and start your “err” sound at a lower pitch, gradually raising pitch in the middle of the call, holding the “r,” and wavering your tone a bit before lowering the pitch as you taper off into silence.
Stop a Startled Bull with a Cow Call
If you spook a bull, try making a long, loud cow call as he runs away. There’s a good chance he’ll stop to figure out where the sound is coming from, giving you an opportunity to make a quick shot.
Before Pig hunting, we are sharing one thing with you. Although hog tracks and deer tracks can be the same size, it is not difficult to tell them apart once you know what to look for. Hog tracks are blockier than deer tracks and have rounded rather than pointed tips. Deer tracks are teardrop shaped; hog tracks are square in both front and back and have a more uniform width.
Now let’s move to the point and here is a little guide for you. Just read it and get a bit knowledge to hunting pig.
Hunt Small Herds to Find Unpressured Pigs
If you know there are pigs in the area you’re hunting but find only minimal amounts of the sign, do not get discouraged. Smaller herds of pigs can be more predictable (and thus easier to hunt) because they are generally less pressured than larger groups, whose obvious trails and numerous wallows attract many more hunters.
Wild vs. Feral
Very few of the hogs in North America are truly wild—most are descended from domestic pigs and should be referred to as feral. A true Russian wild boar has a much longer nose and legs than a hog descended from domestic stock, it will have a pronounced ridge of hair running down the center of its back, and its tail will be straight.
Shoot to Kill Quickly When Hunting Hogs
A hog’s vital organs are located lower in its body cavity that is vital organs in the body cavities of ungulates. To ensure a killing shot, always aim directly behind the shoulder as well as slightly lower than you would aim at a white-tailed deer. Be very sure of your shot before pulling the trigger or releasing your arrow. You do not want to have to follow one far after hitting it; hogs have a thick layer of fat beneath their skin that can quickly plug a wound, making blood trailing difficult, especially if you shoot the animal in a wet, swampy environment.
Spot-and-Stalk Hogs in Open Country
In the fairly open country, spotting wild pigs from a distance and then stalking them can be an effective method. Start out by trying to situate yourself you where you have a commanding view and the wind is coming toward you. If pigs are seen at a distance, walk slowly and quietly toward them, keeping the wind in your face and using available cover. Since natural pigs have poor eyesight, you may be able to obtain fairly close without being identified.
Look for Thickets to Find Bedded Pigs
Wherever you hunt pigs, you can be confident that they’ll spend their days holed up in the thickest vegetation to be found. Look for palmetto thickets in swampy bottomland, laurel tangles in the mountains, and grown-over clear cuts in a forested country that is near a good source of food, such as an old orchard or grove of acorn-producing oaks. Set up your stand on trails that lead from their bedding cover to where they eat and make sure you’re sitting in it long enough for the scent you left on the way in to disperse by the time they head out to feed in the evening.
Here He Comes!
When a wild boar means mischief, he makes his run with his head down. It is by a sudden thrust upward of his tusks that he does his deadly work. When he charges with his head high, he probably means that he just wants gangway.
Look for Wallows When Scouting for Hogs
Wallows are muddy or dusty patches of ground where pigs roll to cool themselves off, remove parasites attached to their skin, and cover themselves in the dirt to keep off biting insects. These are great places to look for when scouting because you can use them to identify the sizes and numbers of animals in a herd. Tracks are easy to find in such places, and you can get an accurate read on a hog’s size by measuring the imprints left by its body in the mud.
Wild Boars: What You’re Hunting
Wild boars in America are a mixture of feral (born wild) pigs from domesticated stock running loose in the woods for decades, even centuries, and of original European wild boars brought into this country and planted at different locations. One of the main plantings was by a man named George Moore who in 1912 put fourteen European wild boars on his 1600 acres of timbered land surrounding Harper’s Bald, a mountain peak in the Snowbird Mountain Range of North Carolina. Moore thought of his land as a preserve, but, of course, the hogs roamed into the countryside and have been there for decades, plus spreading elsewhere in the Great Smokies. The pure European wild boars have also been imported in places ranging from New Hampshire to California to Georgia.
Hunt Hogs Near Old Homesteads
One of the best places to look for wild hogs is around an abandoned homestead. Pigs like these sites because they often contain abandoned orchards, overgrown gardens with wild-growing vegetables, and are located close to open meadows or overgrown pasture that offer a range of other food sources.
When hunting bears in the western states you must be very good at distinguishing between black bears, which are huntable, and grizzlies, which are protected under federal law. Color is not a determining characteristic; many black bears exhibit the same blonde coloration often associated with grizzly bears, and many grizzly bears come in darker colors. Instead, a hunter should look for two things. The first is the presence of a distinct hump on the shoulders; Grizzlies have one, black bears do not. A hunter should also try to get a good look at the animal’s face in profile. A black bear’s nose slopes down from its forehead in a straight line. A grizzly bear’s forehead dips inward from the forehead before pushing out into its nose, giving its face an indented, slightly concave appearance.
A Bear of Many Colors
Not all black bears are black. They come in many color phases, including blonde, cinnamon, chocolate, and even pure white or blue. Hunt the eastern states if you want a black phase black bear; other color phases are rare east of the Mississippi. Hunt the western states for a brown, cinnamon, or blonde-phase black bear. White phase bears (known as Kermode or spirit bears) and blue phase bears (known as Glacier bears) are found in British Columbia but are protected from hunting by law in the province. Glacier bears, however, are also found in Alaska and can be hunted there.
Look for Crop-Raiding Bears
If you live in a state that will not allow you to hunt bears over bait, you’ll need to figure out where the animals are naturally feeding. One easy way to do this is to canvas farmers in the area you’re hunting to see if any of them are having problems with bears raiding their cornfields, gardens, or other crops. You’ll get a head start on the scouting process, and get the added bonus of expanding the amount of land on which you have permission to hunt.
The Best Time for Bear Pelts
The earlier in the spring you can shoot a bear, the better quality its hide will be. Bears shed their winter coats as the weather warms up, often rubbing against trees, rocks, and fence posts to scrape off unwanted hair. If you shoot one later in the spring it may have a patchy, scruffy-looking hide. Catch them close to when they leave their dens you’ll get a much better-looking pelt.
When Black Bears Attack
Indian hunters will tell you that a fighting black is more to be feared than either the grizzly or Kodiak, for the reason that the latter two species seem always to be in a frantic hurry about mauling a man, while a black will rip and tear at a victim as long as there is a spark of life remaining. This explanation of the Kodiak’s tactics may account for the number of men who have lived to tell the tale after being mauled by the big brownies.
The Curious Eating Habits
Black bear generally feeds on berries, nuts, insects, carrion, and the like; but at times they take to killing very large animals. In fact, they are curiously irregular in their food. They will kill deer if they can get at them, but generally, the deer are too quick. Sheep and hogs are their favorite prey, especially the latter, for bears seem to have a special relish for pork. Twice I have known a black bear to kill cattle.
Tell Black Bear Tracks from Grizzly Tracks
You can’t tell a black bear’s tracks from a grizzly are based on size alone. Large black bears will have tracks as big as medium-size grizzlies, and variations in sex and age make this an even more unreliable indicator. And while grizzlies usually have longer claws than black bears (translating into claw marks further from the tips of the toe imprints), not all surfaces pick up claw marks. The best way to tell which animal left a track you’ve found is this: find the imprint of the bear’s front foot and draw a straight line across the base of the toes so that it’s just touching the top of the front pad. If it’s a grizzly track, most of the toes will be above this line. If it’s a black bear the inside toe will be mostly below this line.
The Differences between Boars and Sows
It can be very difficult to determine the sex of a black bear in the field. Male black bears, called boars, are generally much larger than females (sows) and have larger heads and longer bodies. Female bears rarely reach 350 pounds; boars commonly grow to 500 pounds or more. However, the only sure way to tell a younger male from a female is to look for a penis. This is easy in the spring and summer months but can be difficult in the fall, when a bear’s belly hair will be quite long.
Why Late Season Is a Great Season
Fall bear hunting generally gets better later in the season. One reason is that bears move more often in cooler weather. Another is that in states or provinces where baiting is legal, hunters will often stop maintaining their bait piles after they fill their tags. Animals that were feeding on such bait will actively search for new food sources, making your own pile that much more attractive. Last, if you kill a bear in the late season when the air is usually cold, you’ll have an easier time of getting your meat out of the woods before it sours.
Carry Tracking Line to Mark a Blood Trail
According to Richard P. Smith, author of The Book of the Black Bear, one of the best ways to keep track of a bear’s blood trail is to carry a couple of spools of Game Tracker line. This line is more commonly used by bow hunters (it attaches to their arrows and spools out after they shoot) but is also very helpful for hunters carrying guns. If you’re trailing a wounded bear, simply allow the tracking line to pay out for you. You ’ll get an easy to follow, continuous record of the trail you’re following, and you won’t have to break your concentration in order to tie bits of surveyors tape to branches or mark the trail some other way.
Size a Bear by Looking at Its Tracks
You can get a good idea of how large a bear is by looking at its tracks. Average- sized black bears (150 to 200 pounds, dressed) will leave front tracks that are 3½ to 4 inches wide, and rear tracks that are from five to six inches long. The tracks left by a trophy-sized animal will be much larger, with front pads five to six inches wide, and rear pads eight inches or longer.
Talk Loudly to Avoid Startling Bears
According to Richard P. Smith, author of The Book of the Black Bear, a hunter should rarely sneak when hiking in to hunt a bait pile. If a bear is already feeding there, the sudden appearance of a human may startle the animal, which could cause it to avoid the bait in the future, or to feed on it only at night. Instead, the hunter should warn any bears in the area of his approach well in advance of arriving at the bait. Whistle and talk in a normal, calm voice on the way in; this will notify the bear that you’re on your way before you’re close enough to startle the animal. Bears know that bait is left by humans and while they will move away off to avoid being seen when they hear people approaching, they will not be spooked as long as they are not taken unawares, and should return once they think you are no longer in the area.
Give a Bear Time to Die
Be careful when trailing a bear you’ve shot if you’re only hunting with a bow. Pay attention to where your arrow hits the animal, and delay tracking it until you’re confident that the bear has had time to die. Wait at least a half an hour if you hit it in the lungs, an hour if you hit it in the liver, and at least four hours if you shoot it in the gut. If possible (and legal), bring along a friend with a gun.
What a Bear Trail Looks Like
Because bears will generally step in the exact same places when taking familiar routes, well-used bear trails often look like old, deep footprints worn into the forest floor rather than the smooth, groove-like paths normally associated with game trails.
Trail a Drive to Bag a Trophy
One of the best ways to bag a big bear when putting on a drive through thick cover is to post a couple of shooters behind the drivers. Older brains do not startle easily and will avoid leaving their security cover if at all possible. Instead of running out ahead of the drivers as a younger bear might do, a big bruin will often simply circle around them. Hunters following the drive stand a good chance of seeing bears that behave this way.
Bow Hunting Black Bears
Time was when only the top experts even thought about taking a bear with a bow. Not today. Many of the same bow hunters who bag whitetail bucks with their bows are on the hunt for black bears—mostly over bait in Canada. Opportunities to bag a bear with a bow abound in Canada. When Googling for information, make sure you type in the province you’re interested in, and, of course, look for the guides and outfitters who have solid records in bow hunting.
How to Measure a Trophy Bear
Boone & Crockett recognizes four species of bear in North America: the Alaska brown bear, the grizzly bear, the black bear, and the polar bear. All are scored the same way, by measuring a dry skull’s greatest width and adding it to its greatest length. The minimum scores required to make the all-time B&C books are:
- Alaska Brown Bear—28 inches
- Polar Bear—27 inches
- Grizzly Bear—24 inches
- Black Bear—21 inches
Where to Shoot a Bear with a Gun
The best place to shoot a black bear with a rifle, shotgun, or handgun when the animal is broadside to you is directly in the center of its shoulder. If you’re using the right caliber rifle (.270 or higher) this shot should break both of the animal’s shoulders and penetrate its lungs. If the bear is facing you the best place to shoot it will be directly in the center of the chest. If it’s facing away from you, shoot it in the center of its back, directly between the shoulder blades.
Use Multiple Knives When Trimming Bear Fat
Bears spend the summer and fall months building up a thick layer of fat in preparation for their winter dormancy. If you shoot one in the fall, you’ll need to trim off this fat before storing the animal’s meat. The meat will keep longer and take up less space in your freezer, but the process takes time. Save some by having a few spare knives and a sharpening tool handy.
Don’t Plan a Spring Hunt Too Early
Watch the weather when planning a spring bear hunt. A warm spring will get bears moving earlier in the season, but an unseasonably cold one will discourage them from leaving their dens. If you’re traveling out west or to Canada to hunt spring bears, it’s a good idea to build a bit of cushion into your schedule in case winter lingers longer than normal.