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  • March 31, 2011

    Caption Contest: Win Big From Cabela’s, Part III

    By Scott Bestul

    Here it is, the third and final round in our biggest caption contest, courtesy of our friends at Cabela’s, who are a few months into a year-long celebration of the company’s 50th anniversary.

  • March 28, 2011

    March Madness: The Sweet Sixteen of Whitetail Brush Rifles

    By Dave Hurteau

    With the NCAA college basketball Final Four round now less than a week away, the time has come to tip-off our own March Madness, beginning with brush-rifle braketology. As your surely know, one subgroup into which deer rifles are commonly separated is the brush rifle—typically a light, quick-pointing gun that facilitate quick follow-up shots and is chambered for a short- to medium-range round sporting a fairly heavy bullet.

    So we start with 16 contenders for the title of Best Whitetail Brush Rifle, which have been chosen, split into two divisions, and seeded by SHOT Business contributing editor Christopher Cogley, whom I chose to help with this, like year, so that I would have someone to throw under the bus if it comes to that. Cogley’s seeded selections (which I encourage you to take issue with) are as follows:

  • March 25, 2011

    What’s An Antler Worth? Part II

    By Scott Bestul

    In my last post I described my visit to the Whitetail Classic and Antler Auction last week. There were some serious piles of antlers for sale, and a good-sized crowd of folk present to bid on them. I found the experience fascinating; a glimpse into a subculture/industry that, until this show, I barely knew existed.

    Prices were all over the map, but as a rule, antlers from wild deer are far more valuable. Two examples that I witnessed; a single antler scoring 138-2/8” that went for $2,700, and a matched set (with a drop tine on one side) scoring 202-3/8 that fetched $2,900. Moose sheds are similarly valuable, as they are rarely raised in captivity and they are difficult to find. As in all collecting, rarity influences value in the antler world.

  • March 24, 2011

    How Much Would You Pay For These Sheds?

    By Scott Bestul

    Last week I attended the 10th annual Whitetail Classic, Sport Show and Antler Auction, held at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa. One of the most fascinating aspects of the show was the antler auction, which is regarded as the largest sale of whitetail antlers in the country.

    I watched bidders duke it out for cut antlers and sheds from wild and domestic whitetails, as well as mule deer, elk, moose and reindeer. It was fascinating.

    Folks value antlers for variety of reasons, of course, but I was a little shocked at how many people buy them for making stuff: jackalopes, furniture, jewelry, lamp stands, knife handles, chandeliers, drawer pulls... You name an object, and someone has probably used an antler to either craft it or decorate it. It’s a booming industry that I was only dimly aware of.

  • March 23, 2011

    Book Review: 'Deer Cameras; The Science of Scouting'

    By Dave Hurteau

    Only the rarest technical how-to book is a joy to read. As an honest critic, I’m bound to tell you that Deer Cameras; The Science of Scouting, published by the Quality Deer Management Association ($25, 242 pages,, is not among the very, very few. No surprise. So buy it instead for the information that is crammed into this handy, authoritative guide. If you have the slightest interest in using trail cams to scout deer, Part I will help you pick the right model and get the most out of it.

    Part II is dedicated to trail-cam surveys, a revolutionary herd-monitoring method that makes data once the domain of professionals now readily available to the amateur deer manager. “If you know how to operate a trail camera and a calculator,” writes pro manager Dave Edwards in Chapter 5, “you can conduct a trail-cam survey” and determine your herd’s population, density, buck-to-doe ratio, age structure, fawn-to-doe ratio, as well as you property’s carrying capacity, maximum sustainable yield, harvest goals, and on and on. Finally, if you want your cams to help you target mature bucks specifically, Part III will prove a valuable guide.

  • March 22, 2011

    Shoot Me Down: Take Sunday Off

    By Dave Hurteau

    And now, at long last, our very own WVOtter has stepped up to claim his prize for winning the last “Shoot Me Down.” As my special guest, here he is to spout off about some cockamamie nonsense*—I mean, to express his opinion about a very important topic.

    Take it away WV:
    When and where I grew up, there was no hunting allowed whatsoever on Sundays, and I feel this is still the best policy. Leaving one day per week off the hunter’s calendar is reasonable, and states that have lifted that ban should reconsider.

    Don’t get me wrong. I value my time in the woods. But in the peak of deer season, we hunters hit the woods hard. From before sunrise until after sunset, we wander about, spooking everything from squirrels to bears. Isn’t it fair to leave one day when the wildlife can recuperate? Isn’t it fair to give landowners who have been generous enough to grant us access one day when they can meander on their own land, or for parishes to be full and not hear rifle shots during service? I believe a day for the woods and rural communities and residents to reboot is worth one day lost to us.

  • March 18, 2011

    An Angie’s List For Whitetail Hunters

    By Scott Bestul

    Given the recent Field Notes post about the “Bogus Oklahoma Guide,” it probably goes without saying that while many whitetail outfitters are honest and forthright, a few are blatant crooks.

    So how do you know who you’re dealing with before you plunk down that deposit check? Outdoor celebrities and writers can paint a pretty picture, but odds are they didn’t pay for the hunt and/or were shown property or animals not available to the Average Joe. Of course, you can ask the outfitter for references, but then he’s apt to cherry pick which client he puts you in touch with.

  • March 16, 2011

    Winner Announced for Round II of Cabela's Prize Caption Contest!

    By Scott Bestul

    Dave Hurteau and I are having plenty of fun overseeing these contests, where we get to read some hilarious entries, then award prizes donated by Cabela’s as they celebrate their 50th anniversary.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when we threw up this campy photo of a sleeping hunter and a snooping buck, but once again, there were some true gems in the 400-plus nominees. This time we streamlined our selection process by dropping our normal Steering, Ad-Hoc and Sub-sub committees in favor of a simple 3-man committee (me, Hurteau and fellow FS regular Steve Hill). And yes, the only requirement to serve was to be, well, simple.

  • March 15, 2011

    Good and Cheap: Wasp Hammer SST Broadheads

    By Scott Bestul

    From time to time, Dave Hurteau and I shine a light on gear that works for us; specifically, great stuff that doesn’t cost a bundle. When my colleague said it was my turn to post a nominee, I barely had to think.

    I’ve been shooting Wasp Hammer broadheads for close to a decade. I had just switched from traditional gear to shooting a compound and I asked a trusted pro-shop guy for his broadhead recommendation. He didn’t think much either and tossed me a six-pack of Hammers, which I bought for $32. The price hasn’t changed since and, in fact, I can find them even cheaper if I look around a little. If you’ve bought a hunting head lately, you know that the average 3-pack costs 40 bucks or more.

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