The Scentmaster

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

Archive for the tag “jody hadachek”

Halloween Update

Rattling antlers -check. Warm clothes – check. Game face on – check!!!!

In my last blog, I posted about late October scrape hunting.  Since then, I’ve been out twice.  As luck would have it, I found multiple scrapes, freshly worked, on a field edge about 100 yards from my tree stand.  The wind was right, everything seemed good to go.  Both nights, however, were quite uneventful, other than perhaps a dozen does that came out to feed.  I wish I had more to report for the hunt, but the bucks simply weren’t moving in this location during daylight hours.  On a positive note, the does circled downwind of me and I went undetected (thank you, ScentMaster!!)…..

However, there was still plenty of excitement in the air …. and why???  A well-placed trail camera over one of those scrapes showed plenty of action from bucks.  Over a period of two days, eight different bucks worked that scrape.  The biggest being a 150″ three year old that will be an absolute monster in two years if he lives long enough to get there (yes, grasshoppers … I will show his pic in a future blog entry!!).  I’ll be out again in a few days, and can’t wait:  The bucks will start turning nomadic shortly – what does this mean for yours truly?  Hopefully it means a mature buck will walk out in front of me and I can put an arrow through his vitals.  I’ll keep you updated on all the particulars – from the stand sets to the deer movement to following up blood trails … in future posts!  Stay tuned!!!

Velvet is shedding … now what?

The time has come.  Finally.  Velvet is beginning to strip off, and thoughts of my beloved whitetails are running through my mind like never before.  Somewhere….somewhere out there, is the buck I’m going to shoot this year – what will he look like?  I guess we’ll find out in the upcoming months!  What can we expect now?  What will the deer be doing when season opens?  Let’s investigate and find out!

My season starts in a few weeks.  The Kansas opener is the 17th of September, and it’s about darn time.  I’m going to highlight a simple yet effective process that will maximize your chances of success during the early season.

Find the Water

Animals can go much longer without food than water.  Find it, and you’ll find deer.  Whether it’s a stock tank, a man-made watering hole, a pond, or a river/creek crossing, look for collections of fresh tracks.  Set up a trail camera if you want, and see what walks out.  You might just be surprised.

Green food sources

My personal early season favorites include alfalfa fields, soybeans, and milo fields.  The biggest buck I have ever seen in person – a mind boggling nontypical – was headed toward a milo field the first night we ever became aware of his existence.  Several years ago, I missed a giant 170-inch ten pointer on a secluded alfalfa field.  And don’t forget those beans…..they are your friend right now.  Find fresh sign, put up a trail camera, and rack up the inventory of bucks on these fields.  They will be there, no doubt!

Tweak your scouting, because….

This year is different.  Let me tell you why:  Whitetails are losing security cover earlier than ever before; with this year’s drought, many farmers are cutting their burned up corn fields into silage.  What does that mean?  Less bedding cover than in years past.  This will change where a deer beds this time of year.  Use cameras, look for tracks and sign.  Setting up on a picked corn field – this early – could spell disaster for a mature buck this year that decides to walk out to grab an early season snack.

Staging areas

Hunt these, or at field edges early.  Don’t be too aggressive, not yet.  I don’t like hunting real close to bedding areas on early season hunts.  Otherwise, I might really hurt my chances of shooting a whopper.  Staging areas allow deer a sense of security to wait until last light to enter that green field.  Be sure you’re sitting in one of these, and you may just get a chance at the deer you want.

Hunt smart

More than anything, hunt smarter, not harder; look at the sign.  Study aerial maps and/or satellite images.  Get the big picture for what the deer in your area are doing.  And don’t forget to think like a deer would think.  That will help.  In my next blog I will talk about smart, sleek, and effective scouting so you can make the most out of studying these places without alarming too many deer.

What’s YOUR “To-Do” List??

Get all of your gear out of the ScentMaster…or whatever you store them in … and look it over. Be sure to inspect tears, broken laces and/or straps, etc. With the season nearing, take the extra steps to keep your clothes in top shape.

I have to make lists to organize my life, and the tasks I need to do.  If I don’t, I won’t get the stuff done that really needs it.  Not all of us need lists such as this, but I’m going to give you a glimpse into what my to-do’s are within the next few days.   Are you ready?  Here we go!

  • Get out all hunting clothes: i.e. parkas, bibs, gloves, hats, neck gaiters, early season clothes, etc.  Sort through these, and decide what, if anything, needs to be replaced or modified
  • Inspect calls (can bleat calls, grunt tubes, antlers, and whatever else I might have).  Look them over for breakage, clean them, etc so they will be ready to go.  If they’re broken, damaged, or otherwise, replace as necessary.
  • Make necessary adjustments to archery equipment NOW, and don’t wait until a later date; my bow is ready to go kill something, and I have been shooting darts downrange with my Mathews.  Of course, I will have near OCD-like fits with my equipment, as always, leading up to opening day.

    Making sure equipment, such as this Axcel sight, are ready to go …. sighted in, with all fibers intact and bolts/screws tightened….is a must before season gets here. Be certain your gear is flawless before season begins so it won’t cost you an opportunity at game.

  • Hang/adjust stands, inspect tree straps & steps, cut shooting lanes (actually, most of this has been done already).
  • Clean/de-scent clothing
  • Buy deer tags, and shoot, shoot, shoot!
  • I can’t forget this one ….. shoot one heck of a nice mature buck!!

I will be making more blog entries over several of these topics in the next few months; until then, I ask you again:  What sort of to-do lists do you have?  I would love to hear about them!!  The season is right around the corner….will you be ready??

Understanding Nature’s Survival Machines

“Mature bucks are nature’s ultimate survival machines.”  I’ve used that saying for years, and, other than perhaps a wily old coyote, I think it pretty much holds true and they stand atop the list of nature’s wariest animals.  We obsess over them, hunt them, and every once in awhile, we’re lucky enough to kill one and drag him to our truck.  But the vast majority of mature bucks are survivalists, and they don’t make many mistakes.  But why exactly is that?  I’m going to offer my own insight and, hopefully, answer that question.

We’re well aware of the habits of whitetail bucks as they progress through their life.  At an early age, they are quite active.  When they reach age 4 1/2 ….the age when I feel a buck has become mature….something changes about them.  Everyone reading this blog knows exactly what I’m talking about, too.  They become reclusive, and we wonder where they went; in all actuality they may very well be right under our noses.  They act different than their younger counterparts, and only through chance encounters and trail cameras do we really get a glimpse into their secretive lives.  They become harder to see, call, and they really don’t move much when we can hunt them.  Why?

The author shot this buck on October 28th, 2008 when the deer was 6 1/2 years old. Until that evening, he hadn’t seen the buck in four years. As the deer aged, he simply moved less and less during normal hunting hours.

I think a good portion of whitetail hunters look at mature bucks the wrong way; how many times have you heard a hunter say, “They didn’t get that big by being dumb!!”  In a sense, I’d have to agree.  But I don’t buy totally into the “intelligence” factor of older age-class deer.  Is a four year old deer smarter than a three year old?  Welll, yes….because that deer has an extra year’s worth of experience than the younger deer.  But how “intelligent” are they, really?  I don’t feel they’re rocket scientists at all…..

In my opinion, natural habits that come along with old age, coupled with simple survival instincts, make mature bucks act different than their younger brothers.  In essence, mature bucks are lazy.  How does that challenge us as hunters?  Do you own a dog?  Look at how older dogs act compared to puppies.  While the younger puppies are running around and being incredibly hyperactive, your old dog lays down under the kitchen table and spends most of his or her day living life in the big easy.  They move when they want to eat, drink, or reproduce.  Sound familiar??

I don’t believe big bucks can really reason about things, or analyze their environments with “intelligence”.  They rely on their survival instincts, and for the most part are lazy and lay in their beds until they feel the need to eat, drink, or make babies.  Granted, our actions as hunters can cause a buck to become more cautious, and cause him to become nocturnal out of instinct.  But I truly feel that the main reason older bucks aren’t seen very often by hunters is as simple as saying they just aren’t active during the time we’re hunting them.  I killed a 6 1/2 year old brute in 2008 that called a particular farm home.  I saw him as a yearling, again as a two year old, and then found a shed at age three.  I didn’t see that deer again on the hoof until age six … on the evening I killed him.  Without having a hot doe to lure him into bow range, I honestly don’t think I would have ever killed or seen that deer again.

So where does that leave us?  Bucks aren’t amazing, un-killable geniuses.  But they are survivors.   As bucks get older, they become less active, which directly helps them in eluding predators – including people.  To consistently shoot mature deer, I think the best question to ask isn’t, “How can I outsmart this buck?”  but rather, “How can I put myself in a location where he will walk past me during legal shooting hours?”

Summer Scouting Safety

Summer scouting is an excellent method to locate potential targets for this fall, but when the temperature pushes the mercury…and you….to the limits, be sure you take enough precautions to keep yourself safe!!

Well folks, it’s getting closer.  As I watched a couple hunting shows this morning, one program was highlighting a rut hunt in Iowa.  The skies were overcast, and there were no leaves on the trees.  Boy, was I excited.  But then, I looked out the window with a big frown on my face….the temperature is already over 90 degrees, with a high today pushing 104.  The midwest is currently experiencing the

worst drought since the 1950s, and I can’t ever remember it being this hot, for this long.  As a deer hunter, I know one of the most important things to do this time of year is scout velvet bucks, and maybe hang a stand or ten.  This blog entry is about staying safe in your summer scouting adventures.  Let’s get to it.

Water – Your Best Friend

The best tip I can give you when spending your time outdoors this time of year is to have plenty of water on hand.  I carry multiple bottles of water with me when I’m outside doing anything deer related this time of year.  I also like sports drinks such as Powerade or Gatorade, as they replace electrolytes that I lose, ones that water simply cannot replace.  Be sure to have them close by, and drink them even when you’re not thirsty.  Stay hydrated, and you’ve taken the biggest step to staying healthy in hot weather.

Keeping yourself hydrated is the single most important thing you can do when you’re outside. Water and popular sports drinks are ideal!!

Crawling/Flying Critters – Watch Out

Let’s face it:  There is a mind boggling amount of insects and arachnids out there waiting to make your life miserable, namely mosquitos, biting flies/gnats, and ticks.  Be sure to wear appropriate repellants.  Permethrin-based repellants are BY FAR the best, as you spray them on your clothes, and not your skin.  Let them air dry, and their effectiveness is amazing.  Mosquitoes can carry multiple diseases and sicknesses, including the West Nile Virus.  Be careful.  Ticks are also a big problem.  This time of year, these little blood suckers are laying their eggs and they’re hatching into tiny larval ticks.  About as large as a flake of pepper, these ticks are very hard to distinguish when they’re on your skin.  I have had hundreds of these little guys stuck on my ankles at one time before.  Be sure to wear light-colored clothes that allow you to see these critters, tuck your pant legs into your socks, and tuck your shirt into your waist.  Also, check yourself for ticks often, and pull them off as necessary.

Summer Treestand Safety

Some of us spend late summer hanging treestands.  I try to hang mine in the spring as often as possible, but I never seem to have the time to get them all hung during that time; therefore, I always have a few I need to hang during the summer months.  If you must do this in the heat, pay particular attention to the tips above, and hang those stands in the morning hours before it gets hot outside.  Also, I highly suggest enlisting the help of a friend to share some of the work.  Hanging stands by yourself when it’s warm is NOT safe at all.

When it comes right down to it, the summer months can be quite a challenge for anyone who spends considerable time outside.  To battle the elements effectively, one needs to keep hydrated and use some common sense.  By doing so, you will stay healthy and enjoy what the summer months have to offer….and remember this:  Every day that passes is one day closer toward those crisp, frosty November mornings.

Examining the Trophy Buck Craze

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write about on my latest blog entry.  A lot of things came to mind, but this felt most fitting to me.  The purpose of this post is to discuss the phenomenon of trophy buck hunting, how it evolved, and where it’s going.

Trophy buck hunting is NOT easy.  Wrapping a tag around a true giant is a rare thing, at least to me.  I have been fortunate in my life to kill a couple bucks that I felt are legitimately large, even for midwest standards.  But, as television would lead you to believe, hunting big whitetails should seem easy, right?  I see countless hunting shows and TV ads where 180, 190, and even (once in awhile) 200″ whitetails are killed.  Take a moment to look back on the hunting video business; not so many years ago, a 160″ buck would grace the covers of famous hunting video series, and if you killed a deer like that, you REALLY accomplished something.  Now, a 160-180″ deer just isn’t what he used to be.  Many more of these deer are killed on video (and even by everyday hunters who DON’T carry a video camera with them) than ever before.  We are truly spoiled, and much of the big deer craze is a result of more hunters, and more intense management of the whitetail resource than ever before..  In the future, antler scores are bound to increase and we’ll hold another, higher benchmark as the new “standard” as to what a big buck is.  Personally, I say phooey on that.

The author killed this mature buck on November 9, 2009. He insists that hunters should hunt for their own reasons, and be happy with whatever deer one decides to shoot.

I have made a transition over the years and, while I love big big deer, I focus more now on age structure than anything else.  My goal this season is to shoot a very mature deer, a pot-bellied, roman-nosed brute that has seen many things in his lifetime.  To me, that’s a true trophy.  Mature deer just “do it” for me at this point in my life.  Something else might “do it” for you.  I personally challenge anyone reading this post to go out and hunt for your own reasons; if you let a buck go because “he’s only 160”, then you need to sit back and think about why you’re hunting deer to begin with.  Don’t let TV hunters dictate what you hunt, nor your friends or anyone else.  Simply stated, if a deer makes you happy, and you want to shoot him, then by all means do it.  Because in the end, it’s not what you kill that matters, it’s being able to answer to yourself why you’re out there in the first place.  And everybody’s answer will be a little different.    To me, that’s a great thing!!  Happy hunting, my friends…..

The Relationship Between Scent and Your Hunting Clothes

Bowhunting is life for me.  I don’t say that to sound cliche, but it’s something that’s absolute truth.  Any of my friends will tell you the same thing, as I take my hunting as seriously as my family and job.  I am convinced one of the biggest factors in becoming a successful hunter, especially with big game species, is managing your scent.  Countless articles have been written over the subject, but this one is different; this article deals specifically in the relationship between the clothing you put on your body during your hunting outings and the scent that gets absorbed into these clothes.

I’ve seen a lot of scent control products enter the hunting market, and many of those I love to use.  But I’ve also seen some bad ideas, and I’m actually thankful for them as they have made me think about what NOT to do.  More on that in another blog entry; for now, let’s start with the basic facts we already know:  1.  We must keep our clothes as scent-free as possible before we hunt in them;  2.  We must hunt in a way that puts the wind at least partly in our favor;  3.  We must freshen up our clothing and gear after the hunt so they will be ready for the next hunt.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Well read on, and take this time to reflect on your scent control measures.

Storing camo clothing in totes is a commonly used scent control technique …. but beware of trapping unwanted odors inside of them!!!

Common Mistakes

I like to learn new things.  I’m a student of whitetails 24/7, 365 and I feel that to become a better hunter, I need to look at techniques from the past and learn from the mistakes I’ve made when implementing them.  One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is how I’ve stored my clothes after de-scenting them.  Like many of us, I have relied – for years – on stuffing my clothes into a plastic bag and placing that bag in a tote, both before and after a hunt.  Can you relate to this?  I bet many of you can!  Well I sat down one day and realized something very important:  Yes, I was keeping outside odors from entering my clothes.  But on the other hand, I was also trapping in odors that had accumulated in those clothes from my body.  In other words, there were very few ways for that scent to disperse before my next hunt.  On top of that, I didn’t wash my clothes after every hunt, so those odors were soaked into my clothes with nowhere to go.  So while I was doing an excellent job of keeping odors out, I was doing a terrible job of releasing odors produced by yours truly.

I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible:  Odors can come from both the environment and our bodies.  The odors can be in the form of solid, liquid, and gases.  We process energy every second of our lives, and convert it into new forms.  Waste/by-products accumulate because of this process, and we emit them from our bodies.  Upon soaking into our clothes, they become alarming to the animals we hunt.  These products are what I concern myself with the most as a hunter, in terms of a scent source.  The best way to reduce this scent is to continually treat/clean your clothes, and find an effective system that works for you.

My Challenge to You

My challenge for you today is simple:  Make a dedicated effort to keep from trapping odors in your clothes after a hunt.  Our clothes are at their lowest odor levels right before we put them on and walk to our blind or stand.  Beginning immediately, and lasting over the course of this first hunt, odors begin to accumulate in your clothes.  Also, your favorite bibs and top can become wet, encouraging bacteria and mold growth.  That’s a serious issue that could cost you big game animals.

As I reflected on ways to reduce the odor that had gotten into my clothes, I started washing my clothes much more often.  Now, with the addition of my ScentMaster, I have yet another way to further reduce odors between my hunts.  I’m also planning on switching out from the plastic totes to a different system – I’ll highlight that system in a future blog entry (to be honest, I’m still weighing my options on what to do).  The bottom line is this:  If you can find a way to treat your clothes between each and every hunt, and resist the urge to simply throw them into a tote at the conclusion of your outing, you will be one step closer in your war against foreign odors accumulating into and contaminating your hunting clothes.

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