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4 Tips for Whitetail Shed Hunting in 2024

By Patrick Long Photo: BryanE on IStock Shed hunting is a fun pastime that we can actually use to scout bucks and spend time with loved ones outdoors. It takes time and can be tough at times but it is super exciting when you find a shed, and even more so when you find a matching set.  If it has been said once it has been said a thousand times, but “miles make piles” when shed hunting. To find a lot of sheds, you just have to put in the work. Although there are a few things that you can do to improve your efficiency and make sure you are not missing sheds along the way. Here are four tips that you can use this year to find more sheds. 1 | Shed Hunt during the Right Time Every state’s deer season ends at a different time, but if you want to find a good amount of sheds you should wait a while after the season is over. This also depends on where you plan to shed hunt.  If you want to shed hunt public land, you are going to have to go as early and often as you can, because everyone else will too. Just make sure bucks have actually started dropping their antlers before you go. Although if you plan on shed hunting private land, I recommend leaving it be until at least the middle of February. By then most of the bucks around are dropping their antlers. If you are farther north, I recommend waiting until the snow melts in March before going out.  I go on at least two trips a year shed hunting on my private land. Your first trip will be the most fruitful. Then wait about another month and try again. This time you will be able to make sure you did not miss any from the former trip, and catch any sheds that bucks may have been holding during your first trip. Other than the time of year, you will want to make sure you shed hunt during the right type of weather as well. Assuming the snow has cleared up, the best day for shed hunting would be a dark and gloomy day. This is probably going to be after a good rain. This kind of weather just makes the color of whitetail antlers stick out from the regular brush. Ideally, that will help you find more sheds, but to be honest most of us shed hunt whenever we find the time. Photo: Aaron J Hill on 2 | Bring the Right Gear One of the best things about shed hunting is that you really do not need a whole lot of gear to do it. Of course, there are a few key pieces of gear that are going to make your job a whole lot easier though. Let’s go over a quick list of shed hunting gear that you may want to take with you. 3 | Look In the Right Places Great, so you are excited to go shed hunting, but where exactly are you supposed to look? Well without being too sarcastic, you should look where the deer are. The first areas you should look at are bedding areas and food sources.  These are areas that we commonly hunt, and if you were finding deer during the season, they are likely still there. Personally, I would double down on the feeding areas. After the rut is over, all deer have to focus on feeding and getting ready for winter. While it will technically be winter when you are hunting, deer will have been there weeks before trying to stock up.  The trails between food sources and bedding areas are also likely to have a few sheds. Bedding areas can be especially good for finding sheds. Deer are most likely to drop their antlers when they jar themselves, and getting up and down in a bed punches that ticket. Normally I would be wary of going into a bedding area, but deer are going to have all year to get over you spooking them so I say go for it. After you cover those areas, you want to look in some more lucrative places. Again, you want to look in places that deer are going to have to jar themselves. This will hopefully make their antlers drop. Check places like creek bottoms, or fence lines they may jump over.   Photo: Trevor Brittingham on 4 | Bring Someone Along The best part of the outdoors is being outdoors with people you love. Shed hunting is the perfect opportunity to bring someone with you. It is an especially good time to bring someone outdoors that does not frequent the woods.  It is good fun to go shed hunting with your hunting buddies, but also try taking a buddy that is not super experienced, or your kids. Shed hunting is great for kids. It introduces them to the outdoors in a very safe way and is exciting enough to get them interested in whitetail and the outdoors. Lastly, you should also bring your dog. Dogs are amazing at finding sheds. So much so that if you ever went with a tried and true shed dog, they would find probably three times as many sheds as you. Even if your dog is not trained as a shed dog, they are still fun to bring along. All and all, shed hunting is a whole lot of fun and is a good tool for scouting. If you bring the right equipment, you can be out there as long as you like and find as many sheds as you and your buddies or kids can carry.

The Do-It-All Gun – .270 Winchester

Written by: James House For about 115 years, the .30-06 Springfield has been the favorite caliber for many hunters and target shooters. In more recent years, the .308 Winchester and several other calibers have achieved great popularity. Growing up as I did I read all the gun literature that I could find (or afford) and one of the magazines that I read most was Outdoor Life. The shooting editor for thatmagazine was none other than Jack O’Connor, perhaps the most famous gun writer of all time. Although he wrote about numerous topics and calibers, for many years O’Connor’s writing dealt heavily with the .270 Winchester. Introduced in 1925, the .270 Winchester might be considered to be an “old” cartridge, but with a working pressure as high as 65,000 psi the .270 can be loaded to drive a 130-grain bullet over 3000 ft/sec or a 150-grain bullet about 2900 ft/sec.Such ballistics means that the .270 shoots flat and hits hard. Certainly, the boar that I shot in Tennessee and other animals have responded appropriately. When I was growing up in the middle of nowhere, there was a furniture store in the nearby small town. At one time, the front window of the store displayed a large grizzly that was taken in Alaska by a prominent citizen.The rifle he used, a Winchester Model 70, and a cartridge, a .270 Winchester, were also on display. Thus began my affection for the rifle and cartridge. My .270 Winchester is a Model 770 Winchester, a sort of economy grade Model 70, with which I am celebrating a 50 th Anniversary this year. The Model 770, produced from 1969 to 1971, was a “post ’64 Model 70” so it is a push feed model that has a blind magazine. Thus, it is sort of the Winchester equivalent of the Remington 700 ADL. I have never had a problem withcartridge feeding, firing, or extraction with the rifle, and it gives very good accuracy for a factory rifle. The factory stock on my Winchester 770 has good proportions and pressed checkering. However, it is not an elegant stock by any means. To celebrate my 50-year relationship with the rifle, it has been fitted with a Boyds Platinum stock of Claro XX walnut with fleur de lis checkering and black grip, and fore-end caps. The performance of my Model 770 has always been quite good and now with the Boyds stock that rifle could vie for the title of Safe Queen with many of today’s much more expensive models. Current ammunition listings (note that with the current ammunition situation as it is, I did not say availability) in .270 Winchester caliber include loads from every major and many smaller producers. Virtually all list a 130-grain load having a muzzle velocity of 3060 ft/sec with corresponding energy of approximately 2700 ft-lbs. Bullets styles vary from traditional soft points to a polymer-tipped lead-free version from Swift that is described as having a muzzle velocity of 3151 ft/sec and an energy of 2867 ft-lbs. Swift also lists a load utilizing a 150 Swift A-Frame bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2986 ft/sec and an energy of 2971 ft-lbs. Browning produces a load that utilizes a 140-grain bullet that has a nominal muzzle velocity of 2970 ft/sec giving an energy of 2742 ft lbs. For those who desire the ultimate performance from a .270 Winchester, Hornady offers two loads in the Superformance ® line. One features a 130-grain SST bullet with a muzzle velocity of 3200 ft/sec and an energy of 2955 ft lbs whereas the other utilizes a 140-grain SST bullet with a muzzle velocity of 3090 ft/sec and an energy of 2968 ft-lbs. These loads wring outas much capability as can be expected for a .270 rifle. There are simply too many factory loadings for the .270 Winchester to list them all, but those described show the general parameters Although the recoil of a .270 Winchester is not really severe, some shooters may wish to avoid part of the recoil associated with full power loads. Reduced recoil loads are available fromFederal (with a 140-grain bullet having a velocity of 2200 ft/sec and energy of 1560 ft-lbs) and HSM (130-grain bullet with a velocity of 2318 ft/sec and energy of 1537 ft-lbs). Such loads are certainly adequate for use on animals the size of deer as long as the range is kept within reason. Handloaded ammunition can bring out even more versatility from a .270. For example, bullets are readily available in weights from 90 to 180 grains. In the ‘heavy” category are the 170-grain Berger Elite Hunter, the 175-grain Sierra GameChanger, and the 180-grain Woodleigh. For me, such bullets are not of much interest because I have rifles of larger caliber if I need to prepare to hunt a large animal. In addition, to use on medium game, it has always been the use of my .270 as a varmint rifle that has interested me. For such work, bullets of light weight are appropriate and there are some excellent choices. My first choice has always been the Sierra 90-grain Varminter hollow point because it gives excellent accuracy in my rifle. Much to my dismay, it appears that thebullet has recently been discontinued as has the 100 Hornady 100 grain soft point. However, other good choices are the 90-grain Speer TNT and Gold Dot, the Speer 100-grain hollow point, and the 110-grain Hornady V-Max. When it comes to powders for loading .270 ammunition, I have had very good results with IMR 4064 with lighter bullets and with IMR 4350, Winchester 760, and Alliant Reloder 17 with most bullet weights. In particular, the 90-grain Sierra Varminter gives five-shot groups smaller than one inch with appropriate charges of both IMR4350 and Alliant Power Pro 2000MR. The 100-grain Hornady soft point has shown excellent accuracy when propelled by a suitable charge of Alliant Reloder 17. Having the Winchester 770, I never felt the need for a different .270 on the basis of performance and

Protecting Yourself from Ticks

Ticks can pose a threat to outdoor enthusiasts, as they are carriers of tick-borne diseases. Knowing how to protect yourself from ticks is crucial for enjoying the great outdoors safely. This comprehensive guide will provide you with effective preventive measures and tips to minimize the risk of tick bites and the potential health complications they may bring. Conclusion: Protecting yourself from ticks is the best defense against tick-borne diseases. By implementing these preventive measures, including proper clothing, effective use of repellents, regular tick checks, and environmental control, you can reduce the risk of tick bites and enjoy your outdoor activities with greater peace of mind. Remember to seek medical attention promptly if you experience any concerning symptoms after a tick bite or potential exposure to ticks. Stay safe and enjoy the outdoors responsibly!

The Night Before Bow Season

‘Twas the night before bow season, when all through the house;

Not a hunter was sleeping, not even their spouse.

Defining Hunting: Sport, Pastime, or Hobby?

Once we can define hunting for ourselves, only then can we help others connect the benefits of hunting to the act of killing.  When we do this, it will help us recruit new hunters and hopefully convince the anti-hunting community that hunting has its place in our society and is a proven conservation method that we can use to ensure the success of our wildlife for generations to come.

Gear Review: Sitka Fanatic Jacket

With my obsession with whitetail deer hunting, I’m always looking for hunting gear that will enhance my hunting experience, especially in the toughest conditions. When the temperature drops below freezing, I grab my Sitka Fanatic jacket and bib to keep warm even though I’m sitting all day. I’ve been wearing Sitka Gear since their second year of production and I haven’t looked back. I’ve seen many hunting brands and clothing options come and go over the years, but nothing quite like Sitka. I’m excited to share my in-depth and unbiased review of the Sitka Gear Fanatic Jacket and Fanatic Bib with you in a future review. Designed for the coldest days, the Fanatic collection is crafted with the utmost precision. The Fanatic Jacket is a testament to Sitka’s commitment to quality and innovation. Here’s my honest review, the good, the bad, and if you should buy it. Wind Resistance Even in the freezing cold, the Fanatic Jacket is a virtually indestructible barrier. It’s windproof and warm thanks to a double-layer Gore-Tex Infinium fabric with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish. Warmth isn’t an issue with the Fanatic jacket, but keep in mind it’s not waterproof. If so, you’re missing out on the quiet fleece coating that makes this the ultimate cold-weather bow hunter jacket. Here’s what I’ve noticed: When it’s cold enough to wear a Fanatic jacket, it’s usually too cold to rain. Snow clings to a fleece jacket, and over time moisture seeps into the jacket, but not enough to keep it from snowing. This jacket is great for keeping out the cold, especially in windy weather. The wind chill factor can greatly affect how cold it gets outside, and the Fanatic Jacket does a great job of protecting the body from those cold winds. High-loft jacquard Berber wool and silver Hi-Loft Ultra insulation work together to provide superior insulation technology and maximum warmth. Even in the harshest conditions, we can rely on the Fanatic Jacket to protect us from biting winds and lock in our body heat. Built to be Quiet Silence is our best ally when you’re only moments away from drawing your bow to your target buck. The Sitka Gear Fanatic Jacket effortlessly combines ultra-quiet Gore-Tex Infinium technology with an ultra-quiet high-loft Berber wool finish. This strategic combination ensures that your moves will remain undetected even when fully drawn! The jacket’s body-mapping construction uses state-of-the-art noise-canceling fabrics to eliminate layers of noise from the surrounding environment. Whitetail-Specific Features: Sitka Gear understands the specific needs of whitetail hunters. The Fanatic Jacket incorporates burr-resistant textiles in key areas to prevent burr pickup and allows for the convenient placement of critical accessories. However, it’s important to note that the entire jacket is not burr-resistant. To tackle freezing temperatures, I recommend combining the Fanatic Jacket with other Sitka Gear items, such as the Fanatic Bibs, Fanatic Beanie, and Downpour Gloves, for a comprehensive cold-weather clothing system. Sitka’s attention to detail shows in every aspect of the Fanatic jacket design. The jacket has a diagonal YKK zippered pocket strategically placed to provide easy access to essential gear and ensure we can focus on the field. Low-profile hand warmers and hand warmer pockets provide much-needed warmth on chilly mornings, while the jacket’s raised position allows for comfort and freedom of movement. Plus, integrated harness ports allow for easy integration of key Whitetail accessories for safety and convenience. Product Improvements Ideas: While the Fanatic Jacket offers exceptional performance, there are areas for improvement. The price may deter some, and the lack of a hood. The lack of a hood as a built-in feature is a notable drawback of the Fanatic Jacket. Adding a detachable or integrated hood would enhance its functionality, especially in extreme weather conditions. Additionally, incorporating additional ventilation options, such as pit zips, could provide better temperature regulation during periods of physical exertion. Should You Buy the Sitka Fanatic Jacket? Overall, the Sitka Gear Fanatic Jacket is a top-tier choice for hunters seeking reliable and warm apparel for cold-weather expeditions. Its innovative design, sound-suppressing fabric, and strategic features make it a worthy investment. While there is room for improvement, particularly in terms of pricing and the inclusion of a hood, the Fanatic Jacket remains an excellent option for serious hunters looking to maximize their comfort and stealth in frigid conditions.

Budgeting for Hunting Gear

how to buy hunting gear on a budget

Buying quality hunting gear on a budget may seem like a daunting task but I’m here to help.  Not everyone can afford to buy a new bow every year or chase the latest gear craze that’s sweeping the industry.  However, savvy shoppers know how to maximize their dollars to get high-quality hunting gear at a great price.