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  • October 31, 2008

    Kansas Dreaming

    By Scott Bestul

    I didn’t pull a Kansas archery whitetail tag this fall, a circumstance I found mildly painful when I found out this summer. Now, these several months later, it hurts pretty bad….especially when I see pictures like the two below. Not that I’ve ever seen a whitetail that would come close to scoring with these studs.



    But there’s more to Kansas than giant bucks. The country is absolutely gorgeous, the people as friendly and warm as people can get, and the hunting….well, there’s always the chance that something like this will walk by. Dreaming is one thing, but when you’re hunting a spot where at least some dreams become reality, it’s a special thing indeed!

    Not much info on the big non-typical, so I guess the pic will have to tell the story. As for the giant typical, it green scored over 200” and nets a shade under 190”, which would place it in the Top 10 typical bucks shot in the Sunflower State. That’s some pretty heady company!

  • October 28, 2008

    Two Young Hunter Success Stories

    By Scott Bestul

    It always does my heart good when I see young kids excited about deer hunting. We’ve all read the dismal statistics about hunter recruitment, and the worries about whether there’ll be a next generation to keep the whitetail tradition alive. What we hear less about are the youngsters who are not only the deer hunters of tomorrow, they’re the whitetailers of today.

    Pictured below are two young men I hope to hear more from. Illinois hunter Drake Terwelp shot this fine buck in mid-October; the plump forkhorn was Drake’s first bow-kill! Drake and his father (who also took a nice Prairie State buck with his bow this month) are also dedicated hunters of Indian artifacts!


    The next hunter is Wisconsin’s Logan Marum, who I’m lucky enough to consider a friend. Logan’s dad Ted is one of my best buddies, and Ted sent this photo of a dandy buck Logan shot during Wisconsin’s youth deer hunt. Logan made a 247-yard shot to anchor this great whitetail, a buck Ted knew well and had nicknamed “Sled Runner” because of his upturned beams. Congrats to both of these young whitetailers and the parents who encouraged their efforts!


  • October 23, 2008

    BuckTracker: Comic Relief

    By Scott Bestul

    Some scouting jaunts produce better than others. Today instead of hunting I spent two hours walking a pair of public tracts near my home. I found enough buck sign to keep me interested….But mostly I picked up garbage. Total production for the afternoon (besides the obvious exercise benefit for me and my aging retriever) was five scrapes and ten rubs. I also hauled out two plastic bottles (one spring water, one scent-reducing spray) and three cans (one diet and one regular Pepsi, plus a Classic Coke) for my recycling bins. Some things never change about public land, I guess. I’ve been pickin’ the trash on these places since the 1970’s.

    So I came home slightly tired and definitely wet (it was drizzling and I love to scout on rainy days). And more than a little bummed about the lack of buck sign and the refuse. It’s easy to ignore sloppy hunters when the hunting looks good. Other times? Well, not so much.

    Then I sat down at the computer and found this email from a buddy. The subject line read “big cat takes down whitetail buck,” and it had me completely suckered. Ready for a You Tube mountain lion video, this one hit me just right…and I’ve been smiling ever since. Sometimes all a guy needs is a good joke from a friend to get rejuvenated.



  • October 23, 2008

    Pennsylvania Considers Crossbows For Archery Season

    By Scott Bestul

    From Pennsylvania’s The Morning Call:

    The Pennsylvania Game Commission is poised to act on a hotly debated proposal that would dramatically expand hunters' ability to pursue deer and bears with crossbows.

    The measure, which will be considered Friday during the commission's meeting in Washington County, would permit crossbows during all of the state's archery deer seasons as well as the archery bear season. . . .

    Currently, crossbows are permitted only in the general firearms seasons for deer, bear, elk and turkeys. They also are permitted for use by archery hunters in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D and by disabled sportsmen who hold valid crossbow permits.

    What do you think? Should crossbows be legal during archery seasons?

  • October 23, 2008

    North Carolina Woman Wrestles Whitetail To Save Father

    By Scott Bestul

    From the Cherokee Scout:

    A Fairview Road woman held onto the horns of a rampaging deer for more than 10 minutes on Oct. 11, saving the life of her elderly father, who had been knocked to the ground and attacked by the deer.
    Vickie Hicks held onto the young deer until her husband, Don Hicks, arrived and killed it after firing five shots. Three shots hit the deer.

  • October 23, 2008

    Whitetail News Roundup

    By Scott Bestul

    Montana Woman Wrestles Whitetail To Save Poodle

    West Virginia Doe Steals Blankets From Home

    PA Tags Roadkilled Deer With Orange X

  • October 21, 2008

    Video Rattling Tips (and More!)

    By Scott Bestul

    That's Some Unreal Rattling!
    Why you should forget conventional antler-clashing wisdom
    By Dave Hurteau

    You’ve heard the standard advice touting realism in rattling: To begin each rattling sequence, rake the antlers against a tree for added realism. At the end of each sequence, emit several deep grunts for a more lifelike illusion. For the most natural-sounding fight, clash the horns in several 30- to 60-second bursts every 20 minutes. All of this has somehow become accepted whitetail hunting dogma. Well, forget it!

    Okay, don’t totally forget it. There are times when this kind of ultrarealism is not categorically over-the-top—namely, when you know a buck can hear you. Say you’ve snuck very close to the bedding area of a late-rising buck in hopes of calling him into range during shooting light. Then, by all means, be the deer. Can’t hurt; might help.

    Otherwise, the gospel according to outdoor writers doesn’t warrant a literal reading on this topic. First, the basic premise is flawed. Raking branches, for example, is not necessarily more realistic. For those who insist it is, I invite them to explain this to the countless bucks that have skipped that step during a fight. Point is, buck battles are extremely variable.

  • October 17, 2008

    BuckTracker: I'm Going Public

    By Scott Bestul

    I won’t blow smoke at you; I get to hunt some pretty cool whitetail property each fall. For starters, I’m a member of a club that leases about 1900 acres not far from my home. The habitat is marginal at best but hey, there are always good deer there. I’m also fortunate enough to know some kindly landowners who let me chase their deer for free, and some of these farms are outstanding. Then of course there’s the outdoor writer deal; on occasion I get invited on a freebie trip to hunt with an outfitter, usually one guiding in a place with a heady reputation. I’d be foolish to not partake in at least some of this rich opportunity…And I do.

    That said, I still hunt public land. Yeah, the places we all love to hate. Full of weekend warriors, bordered by shot-up signs, and inhabited by bucks either too dumb to change addresses or too smart to get shot. I hunted a state tract yesterday afternoon, as a matter of fact. Got skunked, but had a great time.  And I didn’t blame the state-owned parcel for the lack of deer movement.

    I also didn’t kick myself for not choosing any of the private ground I could have easily visited. As a teenager, I earned my stripes hunting on public ground and I’ve continued the tradition for several reasons. First, public hunting areas don’t always deserve their bad reputation, and I’ve got the bucks—and memorable encounters—to prove it. Second, I was raised by Norwegian/German folks, so I am by nature uncomfortable with privilege…even if I pay for it (the lease thing) or its handed to me (the kindly-farmer-and-writer things). And, finally—and perhaps most important—I just adore a challenge, and killing a good buck on public land is about as good as that gets.

    I’ve never completely ignored public ground in my 30-some years of bowhunting, but this fall I’ll be focusing my attention on state-, federal- and county-owned ground. I’m curious to know if there are any other public-land whitetail guys out there? What are your triumphs, your trials, your memorable stories? I’d like to swap stories this season from time to time. I’ll be poking around some small public tracts near my home, and visiting the Big Woods of northern Wisconsin in a couple weeks. Any one care to compare notes?

  • October 16, 2008

    Wisconsin’s Response To New CWD Finding “Ho-Hum”

    By Scott Bestul

    From The Green Bay Press-Gazette:

    The state's response to finding chronic wasting disease in a Portage County game-farm deer last Friday was so calm, orderly and pragmatic one almost misses the good ol' days of 2002 when we packed auditoriums and gymnasiums for anti-CWD pep rallies. . . .

    These actions contrast with Michigan's response to its first CWD case. . . [which prompted the state] DNR on Aug. 26 banned deer feeding and baiting in the Lower Peninsula. . . .

    [G]ambling the disease isn't outside its established region . . . [Wisconsin will] continue to allow people to feed and bait wild deer. . . .

  • October 16, 2008

    Whitetail News Roundup

    By Scott Bestul

    Whitetail Seeks Sanctuary In PA Church

    Kentucky Student Discovers Dead Dear On Bus

    Study Suggests Michigan Bait Ban Won’t Hurt Harvest

    Texas Deputy Shoots Charging 8-Point Buck

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