The Truth about Florida’s Deer Rut – Deer Hunting Continues in Florida Zones

  • Moon Phase, Decreasing Daylight, Genetics, Evolution…the Hunter Debate and Science
  • February 2019: “Outta’ the Woods”
FWC white-tailed deer research biologist, Elina Garrison, with a doe captured during the South Florida Deer Research Project. FWC photo.

By Tony Young

There are a lot of theories and differing opinions on what causes the white-tailed deer rut. Hours of daylight decreasing, geographic latitude, genetics, climate, evolution and moon phase are many factors that hunters and deer enthusiasts have debated over the years. To get to the science behind it and learn the facts about what impacts the rut, I asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) white-tailed deer research biologist Elina Garrison.

“As winter approaches, decreased daylight triggers does to come into estrus,” Garrison said. “Latitude therefore plays a part as seasonal day length varies with geographic latitude.”

Some hunters believe deer from other states released in Florida years ago is one of the reasons why the deer rut here is the widest ranging of any state – from July in extreme south Florida to early March in extreme northwest Florida and the Green Swamp Basin.

“While it seems unlikely that genetics due to restocking is the only explanation for the variation in Florida’s breeding dates, there is some research that suggests it may play a part,” Garrison said. “Florida, as were many other southeastern states, was part of restocking efforts in the 1940s through the ’60s when deer were introduced, mostly from Wisconsin, Texas, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. The main stocking source for the Green Swamp Basin was from Louisiana. South of there, deer from Texas were mainly used, and north Florida received mainly Wisconsin deer.”

Garrison said climate is a factor, but it really only plays a part in northern, colder states, where the timing of the rut occurs so fawns are born in the spring after the late winter storms and when the most food is available. But they must be born early enough to put on suitable weight and fat to survive the following winter. That’s why there’s such a short window for when breeding must occur in northern states.
The reason the rut varies so much in Florida is because it can, Garrison said. Florida’s relatively mild climate and long growing season allows fawns to be born at various times of the year.

“As far as I know, there are no other states where breeding occurs as early as July and August like it does in extreme south Florida,” she said. “And although difficult to prove, it seems likely it is driven by the hydrological cycles down there. The rut is timed so fawns are born during the driest time of the year, giving them the greatest chance of survival and allowing them to grow to an adequate size before the beginning of the wet season in June.”

Although it is a popular theory among hunters, Garrison says several research projects have proven there is no relationship between the rut and the moon phase. Another interesting fact is the average time a doe stays in heat is about 24 hours.

“The breeding chronology study we did shows that conception dates within an area vary as much as from nine to 110 days, with an average of 45 days, and most does breed within 60 days, meaning rutting activity can occur over a two-month period,” Garrison said.

If a doe is not bred during her first heat, she will come back into estrus again in about 26-28 days, Garrison says. If the doe doesn’t conceive, this cycle can be repeated but normally not more than a few times unless there are not enough bucks to breed all the does. In which case, an area could experience a second or even third peak rut.

If any of this deer talk is getting you fired up to continue hunting this season, then grab your favorite primitive method of take and follow the rut up to the Panhandle and take advantage of Zone D’s late muzzleloader season.

Zone D’s late muzzleloader season

General gun season ends Feb. 17 in zones B and D, but if you’d like to keep hunting deer, Zone D has a late muzzleloading gun season that extends deer hunting opportunities by a week and runs Feb. 18-24 on private lands. The season was established to give hunters an opportunity to continue hunting northwest Florida’s late rut, which runs mid-January through February.

On private land, a $5 muzzleloading gun season permit is required along with a hunting license and $5 deer permit (if hunting deer) to hunt during this season, and hunters have the choice of using a muzzleloader, bow or crossbow. But the only muzzleloaders allowed are those fired by wheel lock, flintlock, percussion cap or centerfire primer (including 209 primers) that cannot be loaded from the breech. For hunting deer, muzzleloading rifles must be at least .40-caliber, and muzzleloading shotguns must be 20-gauge or larger.

Public Hunting Opportunities

There are 14 wildlife management areas in Zone D that have a late season in February, but it’s referred to as the archery/muzzleloading gun season. Those areas are Apalachicola, Apalachicola River, Beaverdam Creek, Blackwater, Chipola River, Choctawhatchee River, Econfina Creek, Eglin AFB, Escambia River, Escribano Point, Perdido River, Point Washington, Tate’s Hell and Yellow River. Season dates vary by WMA, so be sure to check the brochure for the area you want to hunt.

Hunters may use bows or muzzleloaders, but no crossbows – unless they possess a Persons with Disabilities Crossbow Permit. Besides a hunting license, $26 management area permit and deer permit (if hunting deer), hunters who choose to hunt with a bow must have a $5 archery season permit, and those using a muzzleloader need a $5 muzzleloading gun season permit.

All the licenses and permits you’ll need can be obtained at most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies, Florida tax collector offices, by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Legal to Take; Bag Limits

Deer and wild hogs are most commonly hunted during this season. Only legal bucks may be taken (even if using a bow). South of Interstate 10 in Deer Management Unit D1, one antler must have at least two points. North of I-10 in DMU D2, all bucks must have at least three points on one side or have a main beam of at least 10 inches long to be legal to take.

On private land, the daily bag limit is two. Bag limits for deer on WMAs differ, so consult the area brochure before you go.
Hunting regulations

During the late muzzleloader season on private lands and archery/muzzleloading gun season on WMAs, dogs may not be used to hunt deer. However, you may use a leashed dog for tracking purposes. You’re allowed to take deer and hogs over feeding stations on private land, but it is illegal to use such feed on WMAs. And it’s important to know that turkeys are not legal game during this season.

Happy Hunting!

The 2018-2019 fall/winter hunting seasons may be winding down, however, there are still great opportunities to get out there. This February, catch the hunting excitement of the late rut that occurs during Zone D’s late muzzleloader season.

Hunting for Beginners – Getting Started

A hunters first deer provides an unforgettable smile into the heritage of our ancesters. Forest Fisher Photo

  • Hunting is Inexpensive
  • Hunting is Ethical
  • Hunting is Challenging and Builds Character
Hunting with a mentor can provide understanding of animal habits, calls and safety awareness. Forrest Fisher Photo

Compiled by Dave Barus, this story is shared in detail through the courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Wildlife.

Harvest Your Own Natural Food

Hunting is a source of natural, free-range, and inexpensive food. Not to mention the meat is lean and healthy!

Hunting is one of the most inexpensive and ethical ways to fill your freezer with natural, free-range meat, but taking up hunting can be challenging and intimidating.

Don’t let this discourage you.

We can help you with all the information and resources you’ll need to safely and responsibly hunt and harvest your own local food.

The Challenge

On a hunt, your senses are sharpened. Awareness of your surroundings is heightened. This is more than observing the environment – it’s active engagement. Hunting challenges the mind and the body. It demands skill, knowledge, and patience. It also brings us closer to nature and understanding our natural environment.

A young hunter’s first deer provides an unforgettable smile and an understanding of why hunting is healthy and resourceful. Forrest Fisher Photo

Conservation

Hunting in the United States is highly regulated, which helps make it a safe, sustainable, and highly popular activity. The sale of hunting licenses, permits, and stamps provides much-needed funds to wildlife research and management programs. Ethical hunters care about the environment. Without proper conservation, our wild spaces could be lost.

Ecological Balance

Ohio hunters play a critical role in the control of deer and other animal populations, which are carefully studied by the Division of Wildlife. The length of hunting seasons and other regulations are directly related to the need to thin or extend species numbers in the state. Without the help of Ohio hunters, a few of the risks include uncontrolled deer populations devastating crops and creating hazards for drivers on roads and highways throughout the state.

For learn more, please visit: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/hunting-trapping-and-shooting-sports/hunting-and-trapping-basics/hunting-for-beginners.

Editor Note: Many other states have similar “get started” young hunter or “1st time” hunter programs, but this program explanation from Ohio does a good job of providing all the right things to know in very little space. Hats off to Ohio! Dave Barus

That’s No Coyote! St. Lawrence County, New York

Coyote hunter lied to fish and wildlife law enforcement officer when a deer was taken out of season in New York State.

On March 26, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Scott Atwood investigated a complaint of a deer being taken out of season in the town of Clifton.

When the officer arrived at a camp described in the complaint, he found fresh blood, drag marks, deer hair, and a pickup truck stuck in the snow at an adjacent camp. A search of the area determined the location of where the deer had been shot. Drag marks led to a small pond where the ECO found a fresh gut pile. ECO Atwood received a phone call from the truck’s owner.

Initially, the man attempted to use a bogus story as to how the deer was killed. ECO Atwood advised the man he had evidence to prove otherwise and gave the subject a second opportunity to tell the truth. The man stated that while he and a friend were coyote hunting, he saw an animal out in a field adjacent to his coyote caller.

Excited to kill his first coyote, the subject took aim using only the moonlight, believing the animal was a coyote. After walking out to the field to where the animal went down, the subject realized it was a doe deer.

Afraid of getting in trouble, the subject chose to gut the deer and keep it. The deer was hidden in the garage at the camp until his return. ECO Atwood charged the shooter with taking deer during the closed season, killing deer except as permitted by the Fish and Wildlife law and illegal possession of protected wildlife.

The man’s friend was issued a written warning for illegal possession of wildlife. The man’s gun and the deer were seized, and the deer was brought to a butcher shop where it was donated to the Helping Hands of Hannawa, which provides meals to the local community. 

About NYSDEC: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law, protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.

In 2017, the 301 ECOs across New York State responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 tickets for violations and crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping, illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations. If you witness an environmental crime in New York or believe a violation of environmental law occurred, please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

“From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York’s environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers,” said NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don’t receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC’s mission to protect and enhance our environment.

NY Deer Hunting Season is LONG, Cost is CHEAP – Still TOO MANY DEER

  • Imagine 79 days of Legal Big Game Hunting
  • Imagine 79 days of Hunting for $52 Cost
  • Imagine 7 Deer Harvest Bag Limit
  • All True, yet there are STILL TOO MANY DEER
  • New York NEEDS MORE HUNTERS!

By Forrest Fisher

Car collision rates say New York has too many deer, but hunters have trouble finding them. There is a cure. Joe Forma Photo

Remember those days in school when the teacher said, “Time up, pens down!”

New York deer hunters take note, time is almost up. The close of the New York southern zone firearm season (shotgun, rifle, handgun) for deer and bear hunting is just ahead, ending this Sunday, Dec. 10, at sunset. The next morning at sunrise, the extended combination late big game season opens for an additional nine days, to include crossbow, late archery and muzzleloader (black powder) season, ending on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at sunset.

When you consider that the big game season in New York’s southern zone (area south and west of the Adirondacks) actually started on the first Saturday of October, then ran for 6-1/2 weeks through the start of firearm season that began on Nov. 18 for three weeks and two days, and now the late season for nine days. That adds up to a little more than 11 weeks of big game hunting season for deer and bear. Wow, that’s 79 days of big game hunting!

The annual cost for the regular resident season firearms hunting privilege (license) in New York is $22 (includes big game and small game), the resident archery privilege is an additional $15 and the muzzleloader/crossbow privilege is also an additional $15. Total cost for all possible combinations during the big game season is a mere $52 for those 16 years of age and over (through 69 years old), or about 65 cents a day.  AND, if you purchase the archery and muzzleloader license, you are provided with a free (no additional fee) either-sex deer permit and a free antlerless deer permit.  So for $52, you can harvest 2 bucks and 1 doe over those 79 days of New York big game hunting seasons.  The regular season license will allow the hunter to bag one antlered deer (a buck).

For just $10 more, the hunter can purchase an application to enter a random drawing for two deer management permits allowing the harvest of one antlerless deer (doe) per permit in a designated wildlife management unit (WMU) of the hunter’s choice – if the management unit doe harvest is deemed available by the DEC and you are among the lucky hunters to win in the random drawing to help control deer overpopulation. Hence, while it is common knowledge that scientific deer management is based upon controlling the population of female deer, in New York, hunters have to pay for the privilege of helping to administer the science.  

New York is so interesting.

In addition, if you happen to hunt in a wildlife management unit where there are too many deer, additional doe permits can be purchased for, you guessed it, $10 for two.  For example, in WMU-9F, that is Elma, northern East Aurora and related adjacent areas, a hunter could obtain two more permits. If you have a lifetime license, those permits are free.

New York is so interesting.

If you add all that up, that’s seven possible deer for the freezer or the food pantry. Over 79 days of hunting, that is an average of about one deer every 10 days if you’re really good at this hunting thing, but if you are like me and many other hunters at this point of the season, you might still be looking for your first deer for the year. Hmmm, so what’s up with that?

Well, in a state with about 590,000 big game hunters, the annual harvest is 230,000 deer or so (buck and doe). While the numbers say that only about one in every three hunters will even harvest a deer, the DEC seems to be doing their part in providing hunters with access (long season), affordability (low cost) and opportunity (many state forests and access areas open to hunting).  Kudo’s to New York for this. 

Not without purpose, New York wildlife management groups appear to be working with safety management and insurance groups that report about 70,000 deer-vehicle collisions annually in the Empire State, with an average cost of about $4,000 per incident.  Across the country, 238 people were killed in 2015 when their vehicle struck an animal or when they tried to avoid striking an animal.

Add that deer also are also responsible for transportation of deer ticks that carry Lyme disease, it would seem New York needs even more harvest by hunters to control the malady of too many deer. So why is New York charging hunters $10 to purchase a deer management permit application?

New York is so interesting.

Because this is New York, the land of nothing is free. Your guess is as good as mine.

It would seem that with these data, the doe permits should be cheaper than free for every hunter. I like that hunting for deer is affordable in New York when compared to other states, but understanding the issues present (collisions, Lyme disease, property damage), New York needs to do more to raise the number of hunters out there and reduce the numbers of deer.  

How about if NY were to pay every hunter $25 for every deer harvest? Yes! Could such a simple incentive help the deer management group and would it also achieve the goal of accurate hunter harvest reporting?

How about if NY were to plant food plots in state forest areas?  We would see far less deer, safer highways, etc., etc.

New York is so interesting.

C’mon NY.

That’s my 2 cents.

 

New York State DEC Announces Nov. 18 Start of Regular Firearms Season for Deer and Bear Hunting in Southern Zone

Hunters are Encouraged to Pass on Young Bucks

NYSDEC encourages hunters to pass up the shot on young bucks. Joe Forma Photo

With the start of New York’s most popular big game season slated for Saturday, Nov. 18, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is encouraging hunters to be safe, enjoy the natural beauty of the environment, and consider passing up shots on young bucks.

“New York has some of the best hunting opportunities in the nation, and our ongoing conservation efforts and hunter safety programs are providing ample opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy all New York has to offer,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Deer and bear hunting is also an important tool for New Yorkers to assist our wildlife management efforts and critical for controlling populations especially in areas and habitats where deer overabundance are causing ecological damage. The opening of the Southern Zone regular season is a cherished tradition for many families, drawing friends and relatives together for a weekend afield. I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”

Deer hunting has been changing in New York, with more hunters opting to voluntarily pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks in favor of letting them grow to be older, larger bucks. DEC is encouraging hunters to make a difference for the future of the deer herd and increase their likelihood of seeing older, larger bucks by choosing to Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow.

Regular Firearms Season for Deer and Bear Begins Nov. 18
The 2017 regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York’s Southern Zone begin at sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 18, and continue through Sunday, Dec. 10. The Southern Zone regular season is New York’s most popular hunting season; approximately 85 percent of New York’s 575,000 licensed hunters participate. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest and between 30 to 60 percent of the statewide bear harvest.

Maybe some of the most fun is just seeing deer come toward your stand on opening day, but choosing to take a doe early or not, especially during the rut, is a tough call for many hunters.  Joe Forma Photo

Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will run from Dec. 11 through Dec. 19. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess a hunting license and either bowhunting or muzzleloading privilege(s).

In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 21, and will close at sunset on Dec. 3. The Northern Zone includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys. A late bowhunting and muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from Dec. 4 to Dec. 10.

DEC Encourages Hunter Safety
While statistics show that hunting in New York State is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. DEC believes every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and Commissioner Seggos is encouraging hunters to use common sense this season and to remember what they were taught in their DEC Hunters Education Course.

Firearms Safety:

  1. Point your gun in a safe direction.
  2. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  3. Be sure of your target and beyond.
  4. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

DEC also encourages hunters to wear blaze orange or pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in a hunter’s direction. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.

When hunting in tree stands, use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, hunters should never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded rifle and never set a tree stand above 20 feet.

Help Protect New York Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease
Although no new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in New York deer have been found since 2005, DEC continues to take the threat of CWD seriously. CWD is fatal to deer, and if introduced, could spread rapidly. Once established, CWD is practically impossible to eliminate from the wild deer herd. Preventing CWD from entering New York is the most effective disease-management strategy. Hunters can help protect New York’s deer herd from CWD by following these tips:

  • If hunting outside of New York, debone or quarter the deer before returning to the state, and follow the law about importing carcasses or carcass parts from outside of New York. CWD Regulations for Hunters.
  • Use only lures or attractant scents that do not contain deer-based urine.
  • Dispose of carcass waste in a landfill, not on the landscape.
  • Report any deer that appears sick or is acting abnormally.

Report Your Harvest – Remember: Take It – Tag It – Report It
Hunter contributions to deer and bear management don’t end when an animal is harvested. All successful hunters are required to report their harvest of deer and bear within seven days. Failure to report is a violation of the Environmental Conservation Law and reduces the data DEC uses to manage deer and bear populations. Hunters may report via DEC’s online game harvest reporting system or by calling the toll-free automated reporting system at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).

Additional Reminders for the 2017 Southern Zone Regular Hunting Season
Choose non-lead ammunition for high quality meat and reduced risk of lead exposure to humans and wildlife.

Hunger Has A Cure… The Venison Donation Program (link leaves DEC’s website) is a great way to help those less fortunate while assisting with deer management in New York.

For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2017-2018 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide available on DEC’s website. Hunters are urged to review all regulations and safety tips in the guide. Hunters may also be interested in DEC’s Hunting the Black Bear in New York (PDF, 727 KB) or reviewing DEC’s unit-by-unit Deer Hunting Forecasts.

Quantum Gravity Fright, RISING MOON Hunting Night

  • Big Bucks, Acorns and Apples
  • Dreaming about Scent Control
  • Elevated Hunting Stands REQUIRE SAFETY AWARENESS
  • Prusik, Gravity, Your Whitetail Deer Hunting Future

By Forrest Fisher

Healthy bucks roamed near the field edges along the apple trees and oak woods, captivating my attention with scrapes and rubs.  Jim Monteleone Photo

The phrase “Whitetails Unlimited” is catchy if you are a deer hunter, especially a whitetail deer hunter.  It’s also the name of an organization that has more than 100,000 members because the hunting messages they share are effective, useful and are delivered from the experience of real hunters and field contributors.  There is more than beginner value.

Whitetails Unlimited Communications Director, Jeff Davis, was his usual self. Modest and humble, unassuming, friendly and confident, as he extemporaneously addressed more than 150 outdoor communicators at the opening luncheon of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) Annual Conference at the Sportsman’s Lodge, on the Lake-of-the-Woods in Baudette, Minnesota.

His voice was passionate, descriptive and implicit with experience from encounters with an army of ardent whitetail deer hunters.  Davis has met hundreds of hunters and shared in many their most exciting tales and hunter secrets.  Hunter’s trust this hunter-gentleman because not many questions are ever left unanswered, at least not until the next issue of their extensive quarterly conservation and hunting magazine.  Magazine issue content is an art and delivery science.

Jeff Davis, Whitetails Unlimited Communications Director, is modest, humble, unassuming and highly experienced.  Davis delivered the message of “Tree Stand Safety” to outdoor communicators at the 61st Annual Conference of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, held at Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake of the Woods in Baudette, Minnesota.  Forrest Fisher Photo

With a slight grin that emerged to also offer a note of truth and sadness, “Not every tale has a happy ending,” Davis said.  He postured his oncoming message from experience and history, with an element of approach intended to share and impart his high concern for hunter success and safety.  His audible expression was unmistakable and optimistic. He was delivering advice for hunting and addressing an eager and robust audience that was all ears.  We all felt comfortable to learn more.

As Davis continued, my mind drifted off. Was his smooth delivery hypnosis? Not sure. Was I bored? No, but my tummy was full from lunch. Like listening to a short sermon in church, my brain had transcended into an imaginary place and I was on a hunt. All the elements of what Davis had been talking about were in my dream. I think I drifted into dreamland for just a minute or two, but I clearly remember the details of my dream.

There was a succulent white oak tree forest with mounds of sweet acorns next to a row of apple trees where my trail cams had chronicled bucks rumbling antlers with each other in the previous weeks. There was a highly traveled rub line and it was near sunset in my aspiration.   A full moon had just started rising in the eastern sky, it had a tinge of orange color.  Scrapes every 25 yards were visible. There were the sounds of apples and acorns crunching in the distance from my tree stand about 95 yards downwind. Yes, I had audio, and many deer. Imagine such unlimited whitetails. I was in my place of reverie as a deer hunter.

As summer wanes, the bucks lose their velvet and seek safe resting spots in heavy cover for daytime vigils and the annual “doe watch” in wait for the upcoming rut cycle. Jim Monteleone Photo

My tree stand was situated where it was because I wanted to be safe about human scent dispersal.  There I was, sitting in a hanging tree stand elevated 20-feet, vertical access from a stick-ladder and feeling very happy and safe.  I knew this was a good spot.  It was so quiet, except for those inconsiderate munching deer chewing in the distance.

Sitting on my butt in my stand, full-body harness in place – I wear it every time, my bow was resting on my lap. The deer on this night had dispersed and had no interest for my grunt and bleat combinations. Probably a wind direction issue. The sun had disappeared and it was time to head back. Disappointed, I started to think about what to do next time.  I dropped my bow down on the lift-line, my backpack too.  Then I started down the ladder.  Oops!  My foot slips on the top step and I was suddenly airborne.  In a split second, I crashed hard into the ground and could not move.  I could not feel my arms or legs.  What happened I thought to myself?  I had been in my dream spot.  I started to grunt a bit from my perceived pain when my better half woke me up and said, “Hey Forrest, the speaker just called your name from the raffle.”

There were people clapping warmly. “Oh, I said, sorry honey, I must have dozed off.”

I got up and approached the speaker’s stand when Jeff Davis said, “You win a THE Safe-Line from MUDDY!  Congratulations!  Enjoy.”  Wow.  Thank goodness I was dreaming!  I was literally trembling as I walked back to my seat, the dream had been so real for a brief moment, then at the end, a nightmare.  I smiled, trying to hide my brief moment of fear from far away in dreamland.

When used with a full body harness (fall-arrest system), the MUDDY Safe-Line allows hunters climbing up or down to stay connected to safety and avoid a fall that could result in serious injury or death. (Photo Courtesy of GoMUDDY.com)

As I sat there in a semi-stupor, I realized that in the dream I had been so focused on the next hunt, that safely getting down from the tree came second.  My safety came second.  My life came second.  My safety and how important I was to my family was not even part of my thinking in the dream.  It was now.  So I took a step back to really think about it.  I knew that another force from far away must have been talking to me to even have this dream, or maybe that Jeff Davis was one of those magic-maker speakers where everyone can get up and talk like a chicken upon request.  You’ve seen the act.  I laughed to myself and grinned over to my wife who said, “You’re so lucky!”  No kidding, especially this time, I thought.

So I continued in my post-dream thought, how could this accident have been prevented?  We know how my safety was compromised because every solid hunter has thought about the next hunt at the end of a fruitless day.  We can lose our focus for safety during “thinking moments” like that.

A MUDDY Safe-Line for secure descent would have saved me from this dream accident.  Under $40 worth of gear (www.gomuddy.com), the same gear I had just won.  I felt connected to another source of energy for a second or two.  Sort of unreal.  For a moment, no kidding, I felt an angel must have been telling me that I need to be more aware of safety.  Thank you Lord.

To use the Safe-Line, you attach the line to the tree just above your tree stand with the loop knot provided.  You leave this rope in place now during hunting season.  The body harness Carabiner Clip latches right onto the Prusik knot loop of the Safe-Line – it comes with two Prusik slip knots (for a two-man stand), the Prusik loop slides down the Safe-Line as you proceed one step at a time and down you go.  Safely.  The bottom of the Safe-Line is then tied around the tree at ground level.  Going up or down on slippery steps wet from rain, snow or ice is no longer a safety concern.  The Prusik knot will go with you as you gently push it up or slide it down with you in either direction.  If you should drop quickly, it immediately locks into place, saving you from rapid descent, a fall and possible death.

Fall arrest systems are comprised of a full body harness such as these from Hunter Safety Systems and include a tree belt, lanyard, relief device and climbing belt. When used in conjunction with a “Safe-Line” and Prusik Loop Knots, hunters are protected from ever falling to injury during ascent or descent. Photo courtesy of www.hssvest.com.

Davis’s message from Whitetails Unlimited Magazine for the attending outdoor journalists visiting from across the country was TREE STAND SAFETY.

I think I got the message. In my case, Davis had help even he did not know about. No, I’m not superstitious, but I am listening to thoughts of safety much more now.  The dream honestly scared me.

My grandkids are just coming of age to hunt deer and the kids will be just like many of us in the outdoors, hunting from that one place that deer rarely see, an elevated tree stand.  Safety will be the first concern for each of us when we consider the future safety of our grandkids.

Write it down as a MUST-HAVE:

One (1) Safe-Line (MUDDY, www.gomuddy.com) for every tree stand and one (1) full-body harness (HUNTER SAFETY SYSTEM, www.hssvest.com) for every hunter in your party. 

Then and only then, can you go up and down from your elevated tree stand in total safety while thinking about the strategy for the exciting day ahead, or for the strategy on that next deer hunt.  I had a lucky dream, then a lucky raffle.  Don’t you be unlucky by choice.  Conquer safety. Make it habit. Start now.

Pass it on. Please.

About Whitetails Unlimited: Founded in 1982, Whitetails Unlimited is a national nonprofit conservation organization that has remained true to its mission, making great strides in the field of conservation. We have gained the reputation of being the nation’s premier organization dedicating our resources to the betterment of the white-tailed deer and its environment.  On behalf of our 105,000 plus members, we welcome you to browse our site and learn more about WTU, our past accomplishments, and the organization’s commitment to caring for our priceless renewable natural resources. We appreciate your interest in Whitetails Unlimited and hope that after reviewing our site, you will consider joining the whitetail team “Working for an American Tradition.”  The Whitetails Unlimited quarterly magazine (60-80 pages, 4 times per year) is not available on newsstands, only through membership.

New Rear-Deploying, SlipCam, “Trypan” Broadhead from RAGE

  • 2+ inch Cut, thickest blades ever
  • Low flight drag, high accuracy
  • Titanium blades, lightweight, tough, lethal

By Forrest Fisher

Last week, I had the pleasure to spend some time with a few outdoor friends that understand archery hunting, arrow flight, broadhead efficiency and the needs that many hunters have for when they hunt big game: penetration and durability.  Talking with product experts, Karen Lutto and Mike Nischalke, I cited my proud success history using Rage broadheads in the past, but I asked if Rage was working on anything new for the future, not that they needed to.  Indeed, they had been.

How does a company improve upon a design that has proven as wildly successful and immensely popular as the Rage Hypodermic?

Rage engineers answered that question with a new broadhead that boasts ridiculous strength, huge slap-cuts on entry and a sweptback blade angle for unprecedented penetration.  They named it the “Trypan.”

Trypanophobia is the fear of needles.  The new 100-grain Hypodermic “Trypan” is just about the scariest broadhead that Rage has ever introduced to the hunting woods.  With its needle-like, streamlined titanium ferrule and 2-inch cutting diameter, the “Trypan” creates a slap-cut entry hole well in excess of 2.5 inches.  Afterward, the Trypan’s .039-inch-thick razor-sharp stainless steel blades settle into a sweptback blade-angle configuration.  These are the heaviest and thickest blades from Rage so far, hence, they are made from super-light, super-tough titanium alloy.  Even though the blades are monstrous once deployed, they create only a 3/4-diameter in-flight profile.  The result is low aerodynamic drag in flight.

In summary, check out these features:

  • 100 Grain, 2″ Cutting Diameter, 3-Pack
  • Super Swept-Back Blade Design w/Trypan-specific SHOCK COLLAR
  • .039 Blade Thickness Titanium Streamlined Ferrule

The grey polymer Trypan-specific Shock Collar™ provides exceptional blade retention and consistently reliable blade deployment. The one-time use Shock Collars are indexed to notches in the Trypan’s titanium ferrule, so they never can be put on incorrectly.

The new Rage Hypodermic Trypan comes in a three-pack with a practice tip, and it is available at retailers nationwide and conveniently online at www.ragebroadheads.com.  I stopped into Cabela’s last night and they are in the $50 range retail.

I coined a new word after one use in the woods, these new Trypan broadheads are “Out-Rageous.” They are also effective, deadly, tough, lightweight and if you are a good shot, they are surgical.

Try ‘em.

Rage Broadheads is the world’s number-one manufacturer of expandable broadheads. It also manufactures quivers and accessories. A FeraDyne Outdoors brand, Rage is headquartered at 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; call 866-387-9307; or visit www.ragebroadheads.com.

CWD Testing More Important NOW Than Ever

  • MDC will conduct mandatory CWD sampling in 25 counties Nov. 11 and 12.
  • Check the fall deer and turkey booklet to see if your county is included.
  • Hunters can get deer tested for free throughout archery and firearms deer seasons.

By Jim Low

The thrills of deer hunting – not to mention the pleasure of eating venison, are worth taking precautions to protect.  Jim Low Photo

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) needs help from hunters to keep the deadly deer disease called chronic wasting disease (CWD) from spreading to more deer in more areas of Missouri. In light of recent developments, hunters might want to take advantage of free testing for personal reasons, too.
MDC will conduct mandatory CWD sampling of hunter-harvested deer in 25 counties during the opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season, Nov. 11 and 12. Counties included in this year’s sampling effort are: Adair, Barry, Benton, Cedar, Cole, Crawford, Dade, Franklin, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Moniteau, Ozark, Polk, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington. These counties comprise Missouri’s CWD Management Zone. It includes counties where MDC conducted mandatory CWD testing last year, plus St. Clair County, where a new outbreak was detected earlier this year, and five adjacent counties.

Concerns about possible exposure to CWD can be addressed by taking advantage of free testing. Jim Low Photo

MDC also has added four counties along the Arkansas border in southwest Missouri to the CWD Management Zone. CWD has not been detected in any of these counties yet, but a serious outbreak of the fatal deer disease just across the border is cause for extra vigilance there.
Hunters who harvest deer in these 25 counties during opening weekend must present their harvested deer at one of the Department’s 56 CWD sampling stations so staff can collect tissue samples to test the animals for CWD. You can find a list of sampling stations at www.mdc.mo.gov/cwd, or in the 2017 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations booklet, which is available wherever hunting permits are sold.
In addition to the mandatory testing, MDC offers free testing for hunters who wants their deer checked for CWD. This is particularly important considering recent news about the susceptibility of some monkeys to the brain-wasting disease.
In a study led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, macaques that were fed venison from CWD-infected deer developed the disease. The researchers noted that there still is no known case of CWD affecting humans. However, the apparent susceptibility of physiologically similar primates led them to conclude that, “the most prudent approach is to consider that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”
I am not an alarmist person by nature, and I am not going to let the small risk of shooting a CWD infected deer or the equally small risk of contracting CWD from eating infected meat, deprive me of a sport that I love and the pleasure of eating venison. However, with free testing available, I certainly will take every deer I kill to one of the eight MDC offices and 55 taxidermists around the state who are participating in the voluntary CWD sampling program. I put venison in the freezer, labeled with the date I shot the deer, and wait for test results before consuming it. That just seems sensible to me.
I also do what I can to avoid spreading CWD. For years, I put corn around my trail cameras to get better deer pictures. I stopped several years ago, when it became clear that anything that unnaturally concentrates deer and increases the potential for CWD transmission. I stopped putting out salt licks and mineral blocks for the same reason. The prions that cause CWD are shed in deer urine, so I also have stopped using urine-based deer lures.

Baiting the area around trail cameras brings deer up close, but it also increases the likelihood of disease transmission.  Jim Low Photo

After field-dressing deer, I usually take them home and process them myself. In the past, I got rid of carcass by putting them in the woods behind our house and letting scavengers dispose of them. No more. Now I put them in heavy trash bags and send them to the landfill, just in case they had CWD. If you take your deer to a commercial processor, you’re covered. In Missouri, they are required to send all their carcasses to approved landfills.
MDC’s regulation guide has more ideas for reducing the spread of CWD, along with tips for making the sampling process quicker and easier.
-end-

Enjoy MISSOURI’S GREAT OUTDOORS this September

  • Hike and Explore the Deer Trails
  • Hang Your Tree Stands
  • Enjoy Watching the Bird Migrations
  • Fall is On-The-Way
Acorns are not the only thing you’ll find walking the September trails.

By Larry Whitely

August has been unusually mild and wonderfully cool and comfortable here in Missouri.  Some mornings call for a light jacket and pants instead of shorts and t-shirt.  It has felt more like late September or early October.  I didn’t hear anyone complain about the weather.

Most years, September can still be hot, muggy and buggy here in Missouri, but this year the weatherman is telling us to continue to expect even cooler weather than we had in August.  Here in southwest Missouri they are even predicting some nights in the 40s.  Lake water temperatures have already dropped into the low 70s in some places.

After Labor Day the summer crowds will be gone from our local lakes and rivers, and the waters will be quieter and more enjoyable.  Because of this cooler weather, fish are starting to become more active and fattening up for the long winter months ahead.  It’s a great time to stock the freezer with fish to enjoy on the cold days to come.

Mornings are beginning to chill early this year.

If you don’t fish, it’s a great time to paddle around the lake or go float a river.  Maybe stop for a rest on the bank or gravel bar and build a campfire to sit around to relax and enjoy the flickering flames.

The cooler weather has also got the squirrels busy storing nuts sooner than usual.  The whitetail deer coats are changing from reddish brown to gray.

If you’re a hunter it’s time to get ready or go hunting.  Dove hunting opened September 1st and teal season opens September 9th.  

A handful of delight for our wildlife abounds this year.

Deer and turkey archery season opens September 15th.  Firearms turkey goes from October 1st to the 31st.  If you’re one of the lucky ones that head west to hunt, the majestic elk are waiting, so are the mule deer and pronghorn antelope.

This cooler weather will also make all your preparations for the hunting seasons a lot more tolerable than usual too.  Now you can make sure you can get those deer stands up and blinds set, get in more bow practice, make sure your rifle or shotgun is properly sighted, and get all your gear inventoried and ready.

If you are not a hunter but love to camp don’t put away your camping gear yet.  Campgrounds are a lot less crowded than summer days.  Sometimes you may even have the whole place to yourself.

The cooler September weather this year is also great for hiking the multitude of trails Missouri has to offer so get out there and enjoy. There’s no better way to get the exercise we all need and enjoy nature’s beauty at the same time.

Birds tell us that fall is at hand long before our human senses detect it. At wetlands and marshes throughout the state, shorebirds are already beginning to head to more exotic places than here.

Bird watching trips might offer the opportunity to see migratory birds that you don’t normally see at any other time of year in Missouri.

A cool and foggy September morning.

The bug-eating Purple Martin’s are growing restless and some are already bound for their winter home in Brazil.  Hummingbird feeders are suddenly abuzz with hummers energizing for their long flight south.

Other winged creatures sensing the cooler weather are also on the move.  Bats flutter and dive through the early night sky consuming the last of the insect crop.  What few Monarch butterflies we still get coming through Missouri are getting ready to begin their incredible journey to Mexico or have already left.

Leaves are turning on the Dogwood trees.

The buckeye tree has already lost most of its leaves, but a few buckeyes might still cling to the bare branches.  I was always told a buckeye in your pocket brings you good luck.  Maybe I need to make sure I have one in my pocket for deer season.

Papaw and persimmon trees have fruited and will soon be ripening for the enjoyment of the wildlife, and those of us humans who still enjoy them too.  Acorns are also falling to the ground, much to the delight of the squirrels, chipmunks, deer, turkey and other critters. 

The leaves of poison ivy and Virginia Creeper vines have begun to turn a crimson red.  So have the leaves of our Missouri State tree, the Dogwood.  The rest of the trees will soon follow with their special colors to give us the glorious fall kaleidoscope of colors that awaits us in October.

All of these are signs that summer is almost gone and come September 22nd it officially is.  Now, let’s just hope the weatherman’s predictions are accurate and we can get out in this year’s cooler September weather and enjoy Missouri’s great outdoors.

  

The GREATEST Scent-Control Whitetail Apparel Ever Made

  • Gain the ScentLok Advantage with Full Season Taktix™ 
  • Every Year We Learn from Successful Hunters: They admit, CONCEALING Human Odor is at Top of List
  • We Found this Affordable, Comfortable, Concealable

Muskegon, MI (August 14, 2017) – Fooling a deer’s eyes and ears can be relatively easy.  Stealth and woodsmanship play critical roles, as does modern camouflage.  His nose, on the other hand, takes more, a lot more.

The most successful hunters employ comprehensive scent-control regimens and follow them with great discipline. Involving more than just sprays and scent-control clothing, an effective scent-control regimen like the ScentLok Seven helps hunters like John Eberhart, from Michigan, experience consistent success.

Eberhart is a whitetail bow-hunting guru and says he has never owned, leased, hunted a relative’s property, or ever paid a dime to hunt anywhere.  Eberhart has never hunted in a managed area, over a food plot, or over bait.  He exclusively hunts state, federal, and free walk-on properties, and knocks on doors for free permission to hunt private properties in a state with some of the most pressured whitetails found anywhere.  Over 53 hunting seasons – the last 20 in ScentLok clothing – Eberhart has connected with 30 Michigan record book bucks.

Other hunters like Don and Kandi Kisky are equally passionate about defeating the four common types of odors that kill hunts. The self-proclaimed Whitetail Freaks harvest massive mature whitetails year after year through meticulous property management, endless scouting and the ScentLok advantage.

HOW MUCH IS YOUR HUNTING CLOTHING HELPING YOU?

In today’s virtual sea of hunting clothing, trendy camouflage only gets a hunter so far.  The new ScentLok Full Season Taktix™ Jacket and Pant for men and women goes beyond comfort and aesthetics.  It is the only hunting apparel to combine three unique performance attributes that help hunters stay comfortable while allowing their quarry to get closer them without scent detection than ever before.

Full Season Taktix features proven Carbon Alloy™ odor adsorption to neutralize the three pillars of human odor.  Next, it utilizes a superhydrophobic NeverWet™ treatment that permanently protects hunters from water and rain without stiff and noisy waterproof membranes.  Inside, Taktix employs advanced internal moisture wicking to keep hunters dry and comfortable.

Full Season Taktix Jacket

In addition to its trifecta of unique features, ScentLok upped the ante with Full Season Taktix to deliver additional touches any whitetail hunter will appreciate.

  • The outer micro tricot fabric is deadly quiet.
  • The low-bulk wrists will not interfere with a bow hunter’s release.
  • The exterior look is a blend of overlay color panels.
  • There are 13 easy-access pockets.
  • There is also a harness opening to keep stinky fall restraint gear enveloped inside the jacket’s Carbon AlloyTM barrier.

Better whitetail-hunting clothing simply does not exist.  This extraordinary new apparel is priced for any hunter at just $149 per piece, is available in four of today’s top camo patterns, and also comes in women’s sizes XS – 2XL and men’s sizes S – 3XL.

Over the course of 25 years in business, ScentLok hunting apparel has been proven deadly in the field by some of the world’s most dedicated hunters.  Ask and receive more from your hunting clothing.  Start hunting with the ScentLok advantage.  See the full line of proven ScentLok products.

About ScentLok: ScentLok Technologies, headquartered in Muskegon, MI, USA, is a leading worldwide designer, marketer and distributor of performance, hunting and casual odor-controlling apparel, footwear and equipment. Founded in 1992 on scientific principles, ScentLok is the only company with access to all scent-controlling technologies including their patented activated carbon technology, which is consistently proven to outperform other technologies tested. ScentLok is a pioneer in the hunting industry, which many credit with creating a market based on the elimination of odors to get closer to big game.