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  • March 31, 2008

    Photo Hunt: Piebalds and Albinos

    By Scott Bestul

    It seems that albino whitetails are a hot topic these days. See Dave Hurteau's news coverage of the potential lifting of a ban on shooting albinos in Michigan and our latest albino gallery .

    We're curious to see if there's more photos of albino and piebald whitetail out there, so if you have any, click here  to email them to us. We may use them in a future gallery. - The Eds.

  • March 28, 2008

    BuckTracker: Shed Poacher Candid Camera

    By Scott Bestul

    Lots of deer guys pull their trail cameras for the season -- a good idea for routine maintenance and battery replacement -- but this camera was out long enough to catch a shed poacher in the act.


    The photo is a little blurry, but the young gentleman (and I use the term loosely) has antlers in his hands as well as a backpack stuffed full of them. He was caught and the photo used to prosecute him for trespassing. Unfortunately, for some reason the antlers were not confiscated and his fine was a meager one. However, he did confess to  trespassing on other properties and may face additional charges.

    I'm interested in hearing whether other readers have caught trespassers with trail cameras? One of my hunting buddies snapped a photo of a neighbor walking past one of our tree stands last summer. How 'bout other oddities? Let me know, and send pics if you've got 'em!

  • March 27, 2008

    Should Michigan Protect Albino Deer?

    By Scott Bestul

    From the Lansing State Journal:

    State Department of Natural Resources Director Rebecca Humphries wants to make it legal to kill albino deer during the whitetail deer season in Michigan, reversing a ban that has been in effect for 20 years or so.

    Humphries argues that the law, as it now stands, is both an unreasonable burden on hunters and biologically unsound.

    So why does the law exist? The answer appears to be a classic tale of a senator using the state legislature as his personal playground.

    According to this article, the law started as a way to protect a friend’s pet deer. Seem reasonable to you?

  • March 27, 2008

    Whitetail News Roundup

    By Scott Bestul

    Doctor Finds Dangerous Lead Levels In Venison

    From the KFYR-TV news in North Dakota:

    Doctors say deer meat has a lot of benefits. It’s lean and low in cholesterol. But something deadly could be hiding within. Dr. William Cornatzer conducted CT scans on 100 pounds of venison collected from dozens of different sources and was shocked to find high levels of lead in about 60% of the meat.

    Look for more coverage on the Field Notes blog tomorrow.

    Minnesota Men Busted For Transferring Deer Tags

    Delaware Discusses Deer Antler Restrictions

  • March 26, 2008

    BuckTracker: Classic Iowa

    By Scott Bestul

    Are deer “classics” as big in other regions as they are in the Midwest? For those of you who’ve never been to one, a deer classic is basically a hunting show devoted solely (well, almost) to whitetail deer and the folks who hunt them. Like other sportsman’s shows, classics can host some decidedly non-hunting vendors, though most don’t dip into the realm of the “booth babe” (see Petzal’s SHOT show reports). Classics give whitetail nerds a mid-winter chance to rendezvous, gawk at big deer mounts and maintain sanity until the weather breaks and shed hunting begins.

    I suppose I have been going to Deer Classics for twenty years now, and two stand out. One is the annual Wisconsin Deer & Turkey Expo (which I hope to cover in a couple weeks) one of the longest-running and well-attended deer shows around. The other is the Iowa Deer Classic, which is decidedly newer, but surely worth the trip.. There are dozens of vendors with quality gear, good seminars from respected whitetail hunters (on my first trip I sat in a session which featured four men who had shot world record whitetails in some category; Mel Johnson, Del Austin, Milo Hansen and Mike Beatty). And there are always friends to reunite with.

    Oh, and the antlers. My goodness, the antlers. Now don’t get me wrong; trophy bucks are not the only measure of a healthy deer herd. But they are certainly one barometer. And if the crop of monsters at the Hawkeye Deer Classic is any indicator, the hunting forecast there is as good as it gets. And the thing that stood out to me among all those huge deer; towering typicals, massive non-typs, gun, bow and muzzleloader kills? The distribution. Sure there are hotspots in the Hawkeye State. Every place has ‘em. But from what I saw, hunt about any county there and you stand at least a chance of shooting a whitetail of which dreams are made. And that, my friends, is an indicator of a well-managed deer herd.

  • March 24, 2008

    BuckTracker: Tribute to a Trophy

    By Scott Bestul

    I’ve decided to devote extra blog spots to Iowa deer hunting, simply because there are too many great stories coming from the Hawkeye State to ignore. The latest fell in my lap when I was at the ’08 Iowa Deer Classic and ran into wildlife artist Larry Zach. I’d interviewed Larry several times over the phone, but this was our first personal meeting. He is wonderful guy; talented painter, devout bowhunter, and dedicated conservationist.


    Anyway, Larry was displaying his latest project at his Deer Classic booth; a painting of the Brian Andrews buck. Trophy nuts will recall the Andrews whitetail, a monstrous nontypical shot by the then-16-year-old Brian in the fall of 2003. The 26-point buck had a B&C score of 253-1/8” and became the new state record bow-killed nontypical. Heady stuff for anyone, but nearly unbelievable for a teenager!


    Unfortunately, barely six months after experiencing whitetailing as good as it gets, Brian experienced crushing disappointment. On June 19, 2004, thieves entered the Andrews home and stole his trophy mount. The taxidermy has never been recovered. Fortunately, antler artist Tom Sexton was able to construct a nearly-perfect replica of the rack, and this year, Zach completed a painting of the deer in a natural setting. I’ve always been a huge fan of Larry’s art, but I felt this was one of his best whitetail pieces. He combines wonderful color, strong composition, and a world-class deer. It’s a fitting tribute to an amazing deer and a sad story. For more information on Larry Zach’s wildlife art, visit his website.

  • March 20, 2008

    Whitetail News Roundup

    By Scott Bestul

    Study Shows Deer Respond To Milking

    Just in case you’ve been thinking about milking a deer.

    Kansas Okays Muzzleloader Scopes and Stone Broadheads

    Deer Visit Kindergarten Classroom and Post Office

    Minnesota Opens “24/7” Deer Season In TB Areas

  • March 20, 2008

    Mississippi Senate Passes Deer-Baiting Bill

    By Scott Bestul

    From the Clarion Ledger:

    By a slim margin and after nearly an hour and a half of debate, the state Senate today approved a bill that would allow Mississippi hunters to bait deer. . . .

    The House passed the bill by a 74-47 vote several weeks ago after a long debate. The Senate passed the bill with 25 “yays” and 24 “nays.”

    Differences in House and Senate versions still must be worked out in conference, and of course the final bill must be signed by the Governor. According to another Ledger article, it’s final passage is still very much in question.

  • March 19, 2008

    BuckTracker: Hawkeye Field of Dreams

    By Scott Bestul

    I am going to devote the next two entries of BuckTracker to a very special place for deer hunters: the state of Iowa. I will go into greater detail about why the Hawkeye State is so good in the next installment. In this blog I am simply going to offer an example—Exhibit A, if you will—of what is possible if a state knows how to manage deer.

    Jesse Godwin is a young, energetic whitetail nut who lost one of his favorite hunting areas just before the ‘07 season. Scrambling for a backup plan, he and a couple of buddies settled on a small tract of public land not far from their homes. The place is small enough that I will not relate the acreage for fear of exposing its location. Suffice it to say the spot is one that most folks would drive by on their way to greener—and larger— pastures.


    But Jesse & Co. were undaunted. They developed a plan for hunting the lightly-timbered parcel and stuck with it. Indeed, one of Jesse’s pals shot a nice buck there in October, and the trio had spotted other good deer as they hunted. But nothing as big as the buck that chased a doe near Jesse’s stand the morning of November 3. Jesse—a devoted Iowa Hawkeyes football nut—was just about ready to crawl down from his stand so he could watch the game when he heard deer crashing in the brush nearby.

    “Suddenly a doe popped out of the brush, with a big buck behind her,” Jesse says. “I could tell he was a big one, with lots of points and a huge body. The doe trotted back into the timber, and for some reason, the buck just paralleled the timberline. When he popped out from behind a pine tree he was 22 steps. I grunted and he stopped and I made the shot. When my buddies and I found him a couple hours later, I could finally see how big he was.”


    BuckTracker Stats:

    : November 3, 2007
    Location: Central Iowa
    Weight:  unknown
    Points: 17 (main-frame 10-point with stickers and 40” of mass)
    Score: 204-5/8” (P&Y non-typ)
    Weapon: Bow
    Shot Distance: 22 yards.
    Method: Tree stand

  • March 14, 2008

    BuckTracker: Shining in the Spotlight

    By Scott Bestul

    It seems a goofy time of year to address the issue of shining—or spotlighting—deer, but it is a topic very much in the news in my neighborhood. That’s because Minnesota lawmakers are contemplating legislation that would tighten restrictions on the practice. Currently, folks can shine deer here until 10 p.m. during the hunting season, and all night long the rest of the year. And it’s legal for a shiner to have a cased bow or gun, as long as it’s in the rear-most portion of the vehicle.

    Proposed legislation would restrict shining to a one-hour period after sunset, year-round, and no weapons would be allowed in vehicles.

    I am four-square in favor of the restrictions and would even support an outright ban on shining during the fall. However, I confess I am more than a little prejudiced on this one. Two years ago, the only mature buck living in my rural neighborhood disappeared after leading a highly-visible lifestyle. I found him one morning, lying 100 yards from my mailbox…with his head cut off. Shining activity had been heavy in the area for weeks. Once that buck bit the dust, the spotlights disappeared. It didn’t take much for me (and the many people who knew this deer) to connect the dots.

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