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  • February 24, 2012

    Shoot Me Down: Rubber Boots Stink for Deer Hunting

    By Scott Bestul

    Watch enough hunting videos or outdoor television, and you can’t help but notice an integral part of the modern deer hunter’s uniform; the high-topped rubber boot. Said to trap stinky foot odor and reduce a hunter’s scent trail as he heads toward his stand or blind, rubber boots have been the footwear of choice for an entire generation of whitetail nuts.

    Well, I’m here to tell you they stink.

    I hate rubber boots. They’re tough to get on and impossible to take off. They’re hot as blazes in the early season and cold as ice as soon as the mercury drops. They’re usually ill-fitting and clunky to walk in. And scent control? I’ve got a year-old pair of rubber boots that were liberally washed in no-scent soap the day I got them and have enjoyed a permanent residence in my outdoor shed ever since. They still smell like a Goodyear tire to my 50-year old nose.

  • February 23, 2012

    Poll: Is Hunting Deer Over Bait Fair Chase?

    By David Hurteau

    There is a difference between ethical hunting and fair-chase hunting. Fair-chase is typically ethical. But ethical hunting is not always fair-chase. For example, there is nothing unethical, as far as I can tell, about baiting deer.

  • February 22, 2012

    Nose Jammer Put To The Test, Part II

    According to the rumor mill, there are some folks in the industry wondering, “What the heck does Hurteau have against Nose Jammer?” Not much, really. Other than the fact that it promises something that to me seems both patently ridiculous and empirically untrue, the stuff is innocuous enough and may indeed give hunters an advantage in the woods.

    Yes, I do wish the marketers of scent-control products in particular would lay off the insultingly overblown claims; we all remember, as reader RS08 pointed out in the last post, “Forget the wind, just hunt.”

    But the truth is, I was relieved to find, based on my tests, that Nose Jammer does not “Jam Big Game Animals’ Ability to Smell.” Thank goodness. If it did, I would have a much more serious objection. So as long as you take the can’s explicit claim with a grain of salt and buy it as a cover scent, I say God bless. Purchase it by the case and envelop yourself in a sweet cloud of vanillin.

  • February 16, 2012

    Nose Jammer Put To The Test, Part I

    By Dave Hurteau

    If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve taken a few lighthearted pot shots at Nose Jammer, a spectacularly popular new vanillin-based “olfactory nerve overload system” in an aerosol spray. Well, I got a chance to test it last fall, and am finally getting around to reporting my findings.

    For years, a contingent of deer hunters has trumpeted the efficacy of using vanilla extract as a cover scent. So except for making me hungry, I have no major problems with the fact that when you spray Nose Jammer in the woods, it smells like you've opened a box of vanilla cookies. What cracks me up, though, and what I’ve been specifically poking fun at, is the name of the product and the claim—written right on the can—that it “Jams Big Game Animal’s Ability to Smell.”

    Maybe it’s just me, but I find it comically flabbergasting that a thing so almost certainly unproven and probably unprovable can be written right on the can. Right there. In bold. Which brings me to my test.
    But let me first commend Nose Jammer’s maker, John Redmond (by all accounts a good guy and fine deer hunter), on this point: He obviously believes in his product. I can only assume that it was he who sent me (a proven cynic) an unmarked and unsolicited box containing two cans of Nose Jammer to try.

  • February 15, 2012

    Caption Contest Winner Announced!

    By Scott Bestul

    Once again, you’ve wowed us with your enthusiasm and, with well over 400 entries submitted, we were swamped with some excellent candidates. After hours of heated debate with Hurteau (OK, he sent me his Top 10, which nearly matched mine), I’ve picked the winner of the generous $100 gift card from our friends at Bass Pro Shops. Thanks to all who entered.

    Before we name our winner, we thought it appropriate to give a shout-out to some of the oh-so-close entries that made choosing difficult. Here are five catchy runners-up, in no particular order.

  • February 13, 2012

    Trail Cam Photo Trips Up Kansas Poacher

    By Scott Bestul

    Two weeks ago I received a photo of this giant whitetail rack, which was brought to the Monster Buck Classic, a Kansas deer show held the last weekend of January. According to buzz, the huge antlers would threaten the Sunflower state’s record in the typical category; no small stuff when you consider that mark sits at 198-2/8”. But details on the buck’s harvest were sketchy so I decided to sit on the story until further details emerged. Yesterday I learned that waiting was the right call.

    According to this report from the Wichita Eagle, Topeka resident David Kent—the man who brought the antlers to the MBC show—has been charged with at least four violations, including killing the deer with a rifle during a closed season and spotlighting the animal. 

  • February 9, 2012

    Write a Caption, Win a $100 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card!

    by Scott Bestul

    If you’ve been following this blog, you may remember that one of our most popular caption-contest photos ever featured a kid hauling a deer on his shoulders as he rode a bike down the street. You gave us a ton of good captions for that one, but of course only one person could win. When I stumbled on this picture a couple of days ago, I though of all you poor folks who came oh-so-close last time but still wound up with nothing.

    So here’s your second chance with a deer-on-a-bike photo. Go ahead and have at it; if the judging team (Hurteau and I--plus whomeever we wind up calling to settle our differences) chooses your caption, you’ll win a $100 gift card to buy some swag from our friends at Bass Pro Shops.

  • February 7, 2012

    Boone & Crockett: Whitetail Record Entries Have Increased 400% In Past 3 Decades

    By Scott Bestul

    I grew up hunting deer in Wisconsin. I distinctly remember how much I yearned to take a trophy buck. And while I occasionally pine for the hunts of my youth, the truth is that my odds of tagging a wall-hanger are far better now than they ever were when I got my start in the 1970s.

    According to a recent press release by the Boone and Crockett Club, whitetail entries in the B&C book have skyrocketed in recent years, rising some 400 percent across whitetail range in the past three decades. And some states, Wisconsin in particular, have made incredible jumps. Badger State hunters registered 40 bucks in the B&C book from 1980-85. That number soared to 383 animals from 2005-2010, an increase of 857 percent! Illinois’ jump for that same time period is even higher at 896 percent. And Ontario went from a single deer during the 1980-85 period to 41 from 2005-10—an incredible 4,000 percent gain!

  • February 3, 2012

    The Cure For Buck Fever? Take A Practice Shot With The Safety On

    By Scott Bestul

    I’m the first to admit that I’m no rifleman. I've always lived in shotgun-only country. While I've taken my share of deer with a gun, all have been at close range. What's more, for many years now my primary weapon has been a bow--either recurve or compound. All of this adds up to one simple fact: Deer beyond 70 or 80 yards seem a long way out there to me.

    So when I was invited on a rifle hunt in Alabama last week, I did what I always do on a rifle hunt--pray the deer stay close. Oh I know what a centerfire rifle is capable of, but I'm just not enough of a rifleman to let the weapon realize its potential. On the last morning of the hunt I proved it, whiffing on a buck that was an easy target.

  • February 2, 2012

    Giant Illinois Buck Is Potential World-Record 8-Pointer

    By Scott Bestul

    The term “world-record whitetail” gets tossed around so much these days that it’s easy to ignore. But the buck pictured at left may well be the real deal.

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