The Scentmaster

We take scent control and odor management serious and you should too.

The Year in Review…

As you guys have noticed, I have been conspicuously absent in the blog world throughout most of deer season.  To make it short, grad school pretty much consumed my life for the last few months.  I have now completed my Master’s Degree, and can get back to writing – which is something I really love to do!

This year was a tough season for me …. one of the toughest years I can remember, without a lot to report.  In late October, I shot the biggest doe I’ve ever seen on the hoof.  As I left the house that afternoon (Oct 27th), I told my wife “I’m not going to shoot a doe today if one walks out”.  Well so much for that!  I had’t been in my ladder stand for 15 minutes before a fat nanny walked out at 15 yards.  I drew back and shot, and 50 yards later I had venison for the freezer.

The author filled his freezer with tender venison on October 27th ..... with a heart shot!

The author filled his freezer with tender venison on October 27th ….. with a heart shot!







Much of the rut produced small, two to three year old bucks for both Alicia and myself.  The rut sign was great …. and we saw a lot of deer – but mostly small bucks.  The biggest deer I saw this year was a 160-class 8 pointer …. a DEFINITE shooter.  I called the brute across an open field, but he got paranoid when he didn’t see the fight he was walking toward.  He skirted me at 80 yards and that’s as close as he’d come.  The season ended for us with the lone doe in the freezer.  I took one shot and made one quick, clean kill with my Elite Answer this year.  We had a blast, and made some great memories in the process.  This next year will be better – I’ve got a great feeling about it.  And I will keep you informed along the way.  My goal for this coming year – at least in the blog world – is to write more than I ever have before.   Talk to you soon!!

This deer meant business .... and this small tree lost the fight!

This deer meant business …. and this small tree lost the fight!

The Time Has Come …..

Deer season is upon us…finally.  While the spring and summer seemed to go by faster than usual, it always takes what seems like forever for our sacred time to arrive.  I spent my entire summer working at a local coop and plugging away at some important college coursework, and helping with household duties and whatever I could to help my wife get through nursing school.  Now that things are slowing down a little bit (maybe??), it’s time to get down to business.  I just ordered a new quiver online, as well as some new arrow fletching.  My Elite Answer is shooting amazingly well, and I am ready to draw blood with it.  I have been out in the woods a few times since season started, so let’s update you on all things whitetail-related up to this point……

My daughter gets comfortable with her aim on her first muzzleloader hunt EVER!!

My daughter gets comfortable with her aim on her first muzzleloader hunt EVER!!

One of the most memorable moments of my hunting career came a few weeks ago; it was the opener of the Kansas Youth Season, and my daughter wanted to go out and try her luck.  She mustered up the courage to shoot our muzzleloader, which was a huge step for her because she’s really not into guns much at all.  She kept all of her shots within a 3″ circle at 50 yards, and felt confident with that.  The opener was hot ….. real hot.  It was a seasonal 101 degrees when we made a makeshift ground blind on the edge of a soybean field, and we were guzzling fluids down every chance we got.  We only saw one doe that evening, and it was way too far out to shoot.  As of this date, she hasn’t wrapped her tag around a deer yet.  I’m hoping that it will happen for her this year, as my daughter is eaten up with deer hunting.

My wife has been out a couple times with the muzzleloader as well – she has passed on several small to medium sized deer, and a couple of does, but no shots yet.   Her food source this year – alfalfa – has been a deer magnet, but the right buck just hasn’t shown up as of this writing.  As for myself, I have hunted twice with my hectic schedule, with very few deer being seen (I did have an awesome encounter with a beautiful bobcat though!!).  The weather is cold this weekend, and it feels like fall – finally.  I have my fanny pack, boots, rattling antlers, and safety vest in the ScentMaster and they’re ready to go.

Time spent with my 14-year old on her first hunt ever ..... one of the most memorable moments I've ever had in the outdoors.  Love this girl!!!

Time spent with my 14-year old on her first hunt ever ….. one of the most memorable moments I’ve ever had in the outdoors. Love this girl!!!

In my next blog, I’ll write about the stand I recently put up that could just possibly be the best location for a treestand I’ve ever found.   I’ll also discuss some key mid-October tactics which have served me well over the years.  Until then, I hope your outdoor adventures are safe and filled with happiness……

The Answer to This Year’s Bow Search….

In my last blog entry, I discussed a few important steps you need to take when looking into a new bow purchase.  While I’ve shot a lot of bow brands over the years – in about every weight & axle-to-axle configuration you can think of – I chose to make a bow from Elite Archery my companion for the upcoming hunting season.  I’m pretty geeked about it, and I’ll tell you why…..

The 2013 Elite Answer is 33.5" axle-to-axle and weighs 4.1 pounds.

The 2013 Elite Answer is 33.5″ axle-to-axle and weighs 4.1 pounds.

I had seen Elite bows hanging from bow racks in archery shops before, but for whatever reason, I never shot one.  That all changed last year, when I decided to pull an Elite Answer off the rack and fire a few arrows down the shooting range.  I was amazed by the smooth draw, lack of recoil, and the overall shot experience.  I immediately knew I had to have one, and I’m proud to say that an Elite bow is now a part of my hunting arsenal.

The Specs:

The Elite Answer is a 33.5″ axle-to-axle bow with a 7″ brace height.  It comes in peak draw weights ranging from 40-80 pounds, with a 65 pound set of limbs as an option.  Weight isn’t bad, at 4.1 pounds.  It comes with some of the best (if not the best) stock strings in the business, as Elite has bought the Winner’s Choice string company and puts them on their bows as standard equipment.  The hunting colors of this bow include Realtree AP, Realtree APS, Realtree Max-1, and Ninja Black.  The draw length can be changed with modules, rather than having to buy completely new cams.  IBO speeds with the included smooth mods is rated between 327-330 FPS, or you can switch to speed mods – and bump IBO up to the 340 FPS range.

My Thoughts:

Elite's cams come with adjustable draw stops, providing a solid back wall along with a generous valley.  Need to hold at full draw as that whitetail approaches?  No problem!!

Elite’s cams come with adjustable draw stops, providing a solid back wall along with a generous valley. Need to hold at full draw as that whitetail approaches? No problem!!  For 2013, the cams, limb pockets, cable guard, and string stop are coated with very durable Cerakote.

When you’re used to certain bow brands for so long, you’d think shooting a new bow would have some sort of learning curve to it.  Any learning curve involving this bow and its shooting habits was pretty much small to non-existent.   The first change I had to get used to was the two-track binary style cam system, as I’ve shot a single cam bow for the majority of my hunting career.  There are no yokes to twist on the system, and the draw feels different than other bows I’ve shot.   It’s a little stiffer up front than other bows I’ve drawn – but SUBTLY stiffer.  Nothing significant.  Once the bow is at peak weight, it holds the weight momentarily before dropping down into a very generous valley – and once there, the draw stops on each cam bring the string to the most solid wall I’ve ever experienced on a bow.  The bow justs “locks in” to place at full draw, with a large “dwell zone” that keeps the string from wanting to take off on you before you’re ready.  To me, the draw cycle, especially when it drops into the valley to the wall, is what sets this bow apart from any other bow that I’ve ever shot; it feels like you can hold it forever, and the bow is as stable on the target as any I’ve ever experienced.  These factors weighed very, very heavily into my decision to purchase this bow.  Upon the shot, there is a slight “THUP” sound as the string meets the string stop.  No recoil, minimal hand shock, and the bow just sits there.  Simple as that.

Aesthetically Speaking:

I was beyond impressed with the overall build quality of the bow.  New for 2013, all Elite bows have Cerakote firearms coating put on the limb pockets, cams, modules, cable guard, and string stop.  This is a much stronger and durable coating than other finishes I’ve seen over the years.  The bow has a smooth texture to it, with fully-radiused edges throughout the entire product.   The camo finish is crisp and amazing, and I’ve never owned a bow with a higher level of quality put into every piece and component than what I’ve seen in this Elite bow.  And the grip?  What else can I say about it other than the angle and thickness to it fits my hand like a glove….and is the most comfortable bow grip I’ve ever wrapped my hand around.

Elite's grip angle minimizes torque, and the finish is high in definition and very aesthetically pleasing.

Elite’s grip angle minimizes torque, and the finish is high in definition and very aesthetically pleasing.

Why the Elite Answer?

I can’t really say I chose this bow company or model, but rather it chose me.  The Answer is 33.5″ axle-to-axle, and I wanted a bow with specs that would give me an “all-purpose” bow for hunting whitetails and elk, as well as shooting spots and 3D.  As mentioned above, the draw and solid wall truly won me over with this bow, and the pin holds on the target like a magnet.  Combine that with a lifetime fully-transferable warranty, and the “Elite Hunt Guarantee” (Elite will send you a bow on loan if something happens to your bow on a hunt while no dealers are close by so your hunt isn’t ruined), and that spells out a company that stands by its product and customers.  The call it the Elite Promise.  Now I can’t promise you I’ll kill a big buck this fall, but I can promise you my Elite will share all of my hunting adventures with me throughout the year and if/when the moment of truth arrives, we’ll both be ready for success.  Be sure to check out the complete line of Elite bows at their web site, and see if they have a bow that fits your needs.

The Quest for a New Bow…

I didn’t expect to do this.  I really didn’t .  Two years ago, I shot and ordered a short axle to axle, single-cam bow.  When I bought it, I told myself (and everyone else) that I wanted to keep the bow for “a long time”.  When I said this to my buds, they gave me the utmost in grief and said it was only a matter of time before I bought a new bow.  I like to try out bows, and love the challenge and technical aspects of setting them up.  So last fall, I pulled a different brand bow off the shelf and decided to try a couple shots with it.  I’d never shot a bow from this manufacturer before, and I figured, “What the heck…why not??”  After shooting the bow, I immediately fell in love with it.  I knew that it would be the brand bow I would shoot in 2013, and possibly beyond.  We’ll talk more about this brand a little later …. but for now, let’s talk about what goes into buying a hunting bow and how you can make wise decisions when doing so.

The first thing to consider is what type of bow hunting you want to do; will you be hunting from a ground blind?  A treestand?  Or will you be stalking animals in the mountains or plains?  There are bows of about every shape, size, and color, and whichever brand/model of bow you choose needs to reflect the type of hunting you primarily intend to do.  The trend in the archery industry is toward shorter axle-to-axle (ATA) bows.  I used to shoot a bow that was 49″ tip to tip; in fact, I killed my biggest deer with it.  But as the years went on, bows got shorter and shorter….the bow I used for the last two years was a mere 28 inches ATA, and was ultra compact.  If you’re planning on hunting from a ground blind or a tree stand with a lot of brush & limbs around you, a short ATA bow would be ideal.  It allows you to move around obstacles that could limit you with a longer bow.  The down side is that some hunters find shorter bows to be less forgiving on longer shots than longer ATA bows.  Also, string angles are much more severe with shorter axle bows.  The 28 incher I shot for two seasons was amazingly compact.  But personally, I wasn’t as confident with it because of the shorter length, and it was rather torquey on the shot.  I did manage to kill a doe at 44 yards with it last year, and it worked perfectly.  It just got to the point where I felt it was TOO short and I was uncomfortable with that.

Are you planning on hunting elk in the mountains?  Or spotting/stalking pronghorn on the prairie?  If you want to hunt these animals, where longer shots are the norm, I recommend a longer ATA bow, purely for its forgiveness on long-range shot accuracy.  I feel a “longer” ATA bow in today’s industry is 35″ or greater.  Anything less I would consider “short”.  Longer bows have less string angle are usually more forgiving on average.  It’s crazy to think that just a few years ago, our “long” bows were considered very short.  It just goes to show how the archery industry – as well as what hunters want in a bow – are evolving.  Weight is another factor here.  I live in Kansas, and I really don’t worry much about the weight of my bow.  I don’t walk long distances, and my bow is either propped against a log or my ground blind wall, or hung on my bow hanger.  But for mountain hunters, mass weight could be a major consideration in what bow you purchase.  Most bows today range from mid-three pound to mid-four pound mass weights.  If you’re a huntress, it’s a good time to buy a bow.  The amount of women enjoying the outdoors, especially hunting, is at an all-time high.  Manufacturers know this, and they’ve answered with a wide range of bow models built for our better halves.  Once again, your needs will dictate what bow to buy.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, and what your needs are, I recommend going to a pro shop and shoot as many bows as possible.  Don’t worry about the brand name.  Manufacturers want your money, and they will all say their bows are the best.  But what’s best for one hunter isn’t always what’s best for the next one.  Look for a bow that just “does it” for you.  Be sure the bow fits you.  Test bows out with your correct draw length, and shoot the bows without and then with a stabilizer to see how much vibration they have and how steady they hold.  After shooting multiple bows, you will find a bow that “chooses you”, and then you will know it’s the bow for your hunting needs.  If you’re torn between two brands or models, and you simply can’t decide, then look at the warranty and research customer service of the manufacturer(s) in question.  Having a company that stands behind their products is an amazing confidence booster.  And confidence is your best friend when it comes to shooting your bow.

To wrap it up, be sure to ask yourself what you want to use the bow for, and then go shoot as many bows as you can.  Be sure the bow fits you, and isn’t a huge struggle to draw back.  In the end, the draw cycle, mass weight, how steady the bow holds at full draw, the amount of hand shock, and speed all work together to contribute to your shooting experience.  So what bow “did it” for me when I shot it last fall, and made me go buy one?  I’ll let you know in another article next week…….



Mineral Sights And Why They Are Important

It’s already that time of year again when the bucks are starting to regrow their antlers, and minerals play a vital role in helping a buck reach its top potential.

I will usually begin putting out my mineral in March, but it’s really never to late to get it out, in my opinion.  I use minerals for several different reasons.  Reason number one: to keep my deer healthy by providing them with the trace minerals they need.  Second reason: to get the most out of antler growth.  Reason number three: to keep does healthy during their fawning period so in return their fawns are healthy.  Finally, reason number four: to help get an inventory of what bucks are around the property I will be hunting.

I tend to run my cameras over mineral stations during the months of July and August, so I like to put my mineral on field edges where I can access my cameras easy without bumping many deer.  I will usually try and put the sights next to soybean fields or alfalfa field where deer will be frequenting anyway.

Here is an active mineral sight on the edge of a field.

Here is an active mineral sight on the edge of a field.

With so many types of minerals and attractants on the market, it is really tough to choose what to use.  I usually lean towards using more of a mineral than an attractant, something containing lots of different trace minerals.  Antlers are made up of many different types of minerals, but they tend to contain more calcium and phosphorous.  I more often lean towards these products because I feel they are doing more for the deer than an attractant.  Attractants are just what they say they are; they attract deer.  Attractants can also be a great way to pull deer in to your cameras to take inventory.

Minerals not only help bucks to reach there full potential of growth, but they also help does with fawns to stay healthy and to help produce more milk.  If we can get a healthy fawn from the start our deer herd is going to be much better off.

Now, how many mineral sights should a hunter or land manager have?  I’ve heard a lot of people say one mineral station for every 80 acres of ground.  Is there really a right answer to that question?  I’m not sure.  I tend to have 1 per 40 acres or sometimes even more.  A lot of it, to me, seems like personal preference.

Burning For Better Habitat

Burning the brome grass

Burning the brome grass

For the last few years on my family farm that I hunt I have been battling brome grass.  Brome grass suppresses growth of many plants and small trees and is not very attractive to whitetails.

My plan going into this year was to get rid of my brome.  My plan was to go in late Spring and burn the whole south side of the river to help suppress it.  The later you can burn the better, but in my case, with needing help of a few extra people and farm equipment, I needed to get this burn done before my family got busy in the field.  With the weather looking like it was going to cooperate and rain in the forecast for the next day, we made plans to burn.  We started in a narrow spot in the timber where it would be easy to put the fire out as it separated.  With the fire burning into the wind creating a sufficient fire break we went to the west side of the prop

Burning the brome grass

Burning the brome grass

erty along the road and started the head fire there.  It was long and we had a good fire going.  After 3 or so hours the south side of the river was burnt off and smoldering.

Now that we have had a couple of rains and some warm temperatures, the brome grass has started to green back up meaning it is time for me to get in there and do some spraying.  My plan is to get the brome killed, and hopefully, have new regrowth of weeds and some native grasses.  I will be doing follow up blogs showing the transformation of the property.  Hopefully I can create new browse and make my hunting property more attractive to whitetails.

Putting the Puzzle Together

I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone by; it’s already the end of March, and things are greening up fast.  I have walked dozens of miles shed hunting, and as of this writing, I’ve managed to scoop up 40 antlers.  For me, the feeling of finding a shed laying on the ground is such a rush.  It’s hard to describe the feeling I get when I see one, other than it being “magical.”  But besides that, I have other reasons I love shed hunting.  The time spent with friends and family is a blessing, the great exercise helps keep me in shape, and learning more about what the deer were doing just a couple months ago is simply invaluable.  The title of this blog post is “Putting the Puzzle Together” and it’s focused on the scouting aspect of my shed hunting adventures.

Finding sign like this is encouraging for this coming fall!  Shed hunting allows us to walk our entire property without having to worry about scent, wind direction, or scaring resident deer.

Finding sign like this is encouraging for this coming fall! Shed hunting allows us to walk our entire property without having to worry about scent, wind direction, or scaring resident deer.

I’m usually paranoid about even stepping foot into the woods during deer season, because I really don’t want to tip the deer off to anything.  But to shoot a deer, one obviously has to go into the woods in order to accomplish that task.  So I have to be very careful when entering the woods and hunting the deer on my properties.  I try to speed scout my areas during hunting season, and keep things low key.  But this time of year, all of that fear is swept aside.  I walk right through the bedding areas, and pay no attention to what scent I’m leaving anywhere.  I have total freedom to snoop around and scour every square inch of ground that I hunt.  So what did I learn this spring??

1.  I learned more about the habits of resident deer.

Most of the trails, sign, and droppings that I found in my hunting area supported my thoughts on why I hung certain stands in the locations I did; I like to hunt on the fringes of bedding areas, and the major trails I followed from my stands back into the thick of things seemed to indicate a high concentration of both buck and doe sign.  Normally, I wouldn’t dream of setting foot into this hallowed ground, but this time of year the pressure is off and I gained some new insights as well; I plan on re-positioning a ladder stand approx. 200 yards from where I currently have one located to take advantage of seasonal deer movement this coming fall.  Also, some of the signpost rubs within rattling distance to my stands were re-worked and shredded once again.  I plan on using the same entry-exit routes, but re-positioning the ladder stand will create a morning-only set simply because of it’s location next to a food source.

2.  I learned more about the habits of the resident deer hunters.

I wish I could say I have my hunting areas all to myself, but I don’t.  There are a couple other bowhunters that also hunt my tracts of ground.  Financially, it’s impossible for me to buy my own ground at this point so I have to make due with what I’ve got.  I know the locations of nearly every stand on the the place that they set up.  Consequently through my wanderings, I found out they added several new stands into the mix, a couple in what I feel are good areas and others in locations which I simply don’t understand.  Regardless, knowing where these hunters place their stands helps me to avoid their sets, reduce run-ins with them, and ultimately helps me to plan around what they do so my hunt can be successful.

3.  The deer that survived are…. ??

I found a few sheds that were from resident bucks on my best farm.  Most of these were from younger guys, and I could have easily missed sheds from the bigger bucks that stay on the place. But knowing that at least a few of these up and comers made it through the season is very good news.  Trail cameras will have to do the rest to help inventory the other bucks.

This youngster made it through the hunting season.  It will be interesting to see what he does in the next couple years!

This youngster made it through the hunting season. It will be interesting to see what he does in the next couple years!

Now that shed hunting is about wrapped up, it’s time to work on moving stands, getting my equipment ready, and preparing for the fall of 2013.  I’ve already got big plans in the works!!  So next time you’re out snooping around for antlers, be sure to stay observant, and put all of the pieces together so you can increase your odds of success when this fall rolls around.  There is no better time of the year to scout than right now, and you might even find a few more sheds and a longbeard in the process!!f

The Biggest Shed of the Year Might Be….??

Well everyone, after what seems like a terribly long winter, spring is right around the corner and my wife & I have scooped up some nice antlers.  It took forever for the snow to melt, but we’ve been putting in the miles in an attempt to find that whopper antler that’s laying out in the grass somewhere.  While shed season isn’t anywhere close to finished for us, I have a feeling the largest shed that will be found this year was scooped up by my wife.  You see, she managed to find a gorgeous 70 1/2 inch antler laying in a buck’s scrape recently, and while score isn’t everything, I just haven’t been able to top that number for the year.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not into competing with others when it comes to sheds or really anything else for that matter – but we always have this friendly competition each and every year, and the last time she claimed the size crown was back in the spring of 2006….so she’s due!!

Here's Alicia's big shed as it lays in a buck's scrape.  It's almost a year old and in fantastic shape!!

Here’s Alicia’s big shed as it lays in a buck’s scrape. It’s almost a year old and in fantastic shape!!

The shed in question was dropped last year, and has a damaged g-3 tine from the velvet growing season; had it not been for that, the shed would have scored even higher.  I walked that creek in late March last year, and the landowner informed me there was still a big buck in there carrying his rack.  The shed was not laying in that spot when I last walked it, but was obviously a year old.  Figuring this deer was the one the landowner had been talking about, I showed him the shed and he confirmed it was the buck he’d been telling me about, and it had dropped in there late.  We put in an exhaustive search for the other side, but it never turned up.  My guess is that it’s on either side of this property where I don’t have permission to walk.

This girls knows her stuff when it comes to sheds.  Will this be the biggest shed of the year for the Hadacheks??

This girls knows her stuff when it comes to sheds. Will this be the biggest shed of the year for the Hadacheks??

Will she wind up with the biggest shed of 2013?  There’s only one way to find out ….. we still have a lot of trails to walk!!  On a side note, the same day she found this awesome shed, she also found her first hanger!  My wife is pretty good at this shed hunting thing; don’t tell her this, but I’m rather jealous of her mad antler skills ……  🙂

Turkey Hunt Of A Lifetime

The first two giant toms! Lee shot these birds in the first 15 minutes of the hunt!

The first two giant toms! Lee shot these birds in the first 15 minutes of the hunt!

Last year I was blessed to get the opportunity to guide a Spring Turkey hunt on my family farm.  The archery shop where I always buy my bows had lined up a turkey hunt, but then he had a conflict and had to find somebody to do the hunt for him.  I was the first person he called, and without hesitation I said yes.  After a few phone calls to Lee, who has now become a good friend, we had made plans.  He would make the drive out from Pennsylvania to chase these wily Nebraska turkeys.

Lee made it to Nebraska safely and we met for the first time on the edge of a small town not 5 miles from where we would be hunting.  From there Lee followed me down to our cabin where he would be staying for the next couple of days.  After arriving at the cabin we got to know each other a little and talked a some about his drive, but that soon turned into hunting talk!  Lee proceeded to ask many questions about what, where, and when we would be doing our turkey hunting.  I could tell right away that Lee was an experienced hunter and seemed very knowledgable about not only hunting turkeys but whitetails too.  I had been scouting the last few days and had a pretty good idea of what the birds were doing and where we would be hunting.  Lee and I had talked it over and decided we should go ahead and get his hunt started that afternoon.  I told him I would give him some time to settle in and then would be back to pick him up and we would start the hunt.

I headed back up to my parent’s farm to make sure I had the blind, in case we needed it, and my decoys ready.  While preparing the last few things, my phone rang; it was Lee.  Upon answering the phone Lee says, “well, we have a little problem”.  I thought ‘oh no, what happened’.  He proceeded to tell me he must have forgotten shotgun shells.  I scrounged up some shells and, luckily, they were the kind he had patterned and new they shot well from his gun.  With the new shells in hand, we proceeded to head down to where we would be hunting for the evening.  After getting the decoys set out, I explained to Lee how the hens would be scattered along this field edge, more than likely sitting on nests, and with approximately an hour and a half of light left they would slip out onto the field to start to feed and head to roost.  I’d watched a group of toms pop out on the field edge and strut just before the hens came out.  It was like clock work, these toms would show up and then split up and wait for the hens.  I told Lee with confidence that we should be in-between them and the route they take to get to roost.  After explaining to him why we were setup where we were, I said “I’m going to give a soft yelp and see if anything answers.”

Much to our surprise, after just a couple of strikes on the slate call Lee says, “I heard a gobble!”.   I let out another soft call and this time two birds gobbled.  I decided to not call again and make them come look for us!  Maybe two minutes later they gobbled again this time much closer! I peeked around Lee and saw red heads walking the field edge right to us! Three mature toms and two jakes read this particular script better than any turkey I had ever hunted.  Lee eased his gun up and tried to pick apart these birds; they were all so close together that I knew the shot was going to be tough.  As they started to work closer I told Lee, “take ’em when you can,” and KA POW went the gun.  What a shock it was when two giant toms were laying dead on the field!  Two birds went down in the first 15 minutes of hunting!  We didn’t wait long to get out there and check these giant toms out!  We snapped some pictures and snuck out of there.  Since Nebraska allows hunters to kill 3 birds, Lee’s hunt was far from over.  We drove back to my house where my wife took some better pictures for us. Lee had decided he wanted to get these birds mounted so that made my job a little bit easier not having to clean them.  Luckily we had freezer space!!

Lee tagged out!! The third bird he shot had over a 10 inch beard!

Lee tagged out!! The third bird he shot had over a 10 inch beard!

Day 2

We started off day two setting up just off of a well-known roost site and watched birds for about an hour just out of range!  As we tried to slip out of there, we noticed some birds strutting in a field and decided this would be the place to set up for the afternoon.  With some time to burn, we did a little traveling and I showed Lee some of the history in our area that included several stops on The Oregon Trail.  Lee seemed to be very interested with the Indian raids and stories from The Oregon Trail.  We weren’t ready to distract ourselves from the turkeys too much yet, because Lee had one more tag to fill!  With full bellies from eating at the local bar, we headed down to the cabin for a little rest before we headed back out.  By 3:00 we were setup on yet another field edge where we had seen a huge mature tom strutting earlier that morning.  Trying to aggravate that tom, I set out a Dave Smith jake decoy and a Dave Smith upright hen.  We were sitting there telling stories of our past hunts when, right during the middle of a wild story of a bear hunt, we were interrupted by a gobble.  We worked with that tom for a little while before he stepped out onto the field. Within minutes that tom was strutting into our decoys, and before I knew it, that tom was on the ground flopping! Lee was tagged out in a total of 5 hours of hunting!! (It took him 22 hours to drive here one way!)

Buffalo tooth Lee and I found by the river looking for Indian artifacts.

Buffalo tooth Lee and I found by the river looking for Indian artifacts.

This turned out to be one of the greatest turkey hunts I had ever been a part of! In the next couple of days, Lee got to experience looking for Indian artifacts, eating great food at the local bar everyday, and riding in the tractor while my brother planted corn.  I made a lifelong friend on this hunt.  Hopefully, in the future, I will get to spend some more time hunting with my good buddy, Lee!

Learning a little about the Midwest and the farm life.

Learning a little about the Midwest and the farm life.

Sheds … Finally!!!

I’ve waited nine months for this.  Nine ….long…..months.  After my final shed hunt of 2012 this past April, I was already looking forward to my next one.  And here we are, it’s late January, and “the time” has come.  I plan on taking you with me along my journey and many miles of walking throughout the winter months, and you’ll get to experience my triumphs and dejections of shed hunting.  This blog will give you a little glimpse into one of my biggest passions and set the stage for more shed postings as the month of February progresses.

The author spotted these tines sticking up out of the grass.....

The author spotted these tines sticking up out of the grass…..

This is a very spiritual time for me, and it’s hard to explain why.  Finding a shed laying on the ground is an amazing feeling, a sense of accomplishment that’s hard to put into words.  I’m still old school I guess; I don’t have a shed dog….not because I don’t like dogs (because I do), or because I think it’s a cheap way to find antlers (because I don’t)….but I just love seeing them laying on the ground and knowing that I’m the first person to ever hold that antler in my hands.  It’s great exercise and an amazing time with family and friends.  After finding my first set of sheds over 20 years ago, it never gets old and I soak in everything that nature has to offer.  I like big sheds, small sheds, light sheds, dark sheds, sheds with long tines, sheds with short tines, drop tines, character sheds, you name it – I just love sheds, and there’s certainly no need to discriminate!!

While waiting for shed season to get here, I’ve done a lot of different things – worked hard in my teaching job, built a few projects, and have even bought some big antlers.  A guy has to do SOMETHING to keep his mind occupied during the off season.  But I pretty much have a one-track mind, and that makes for a really long wait.  So when shed season rolls around, I do what any serious shed hunter does – I put on my boots and the miles start adding up.  So you might be surprised to hear I’ve only been out ONCE during January. What’s up with that??  Well for starters, work has had me swamped.  And, as I type this, I’m suffering from one of the absolute worst sinus infections I have ever had.  So how did that first walk turn out?  Well here’s the skinny:

I wanted to get out and see what sheds were in a brand new area that I’d never walked before.  It was mostly stubble field with two waterways scattered with small timber.  I thought there might be bone in there, and it was an area that most people would overlook.  After 30 minutes, I found my first shed, from last year.  It was a lil’ guy, laying out in the wide open grass.  After scooping it up, I continued to the next waterway and saw tines hiding in the grass.  After taking some pictures and wondering what was down there, I pulled a real nice 70″ six point side out of its grassy hideaway and it saw the sun for the first time in several years.  It wound up being a great time, with two antlers found.  Then I got sick, and that brings us to right now.

....and this nice 70" shed was the result!!

….and this nice 70″ shed was the result!!

So, when I get over this sinus infection, I’ll be hitting the trails hard, and hopefully I’ll find a few amazing works of natural art that have been left behind.  Who knows?? Maybe I’ll find a new personal best of some sort.  One thing you can count on, though, is that I plan on sharing it with you!  I hope my fellow bloggers do the same!!  Good luck!!

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