Best AR-15 Scope for Coyote Hunting

*Always check your local laws before hunting any animal!*

Coyote hunting is fun and challenging. Coyotes are fast with keen senses, so they spook easily. A successful coyote hunt consists of pre-scouting, sitting still and then being able to shoot quickly but also accurately. Many states consider the coyote a predator and therefore open to hunting all year long, without bag limits and very few restrictions. This makes setting up your predator rifle with coyote hunting accessories that much more fun! Think night vision, thermal imaging and suppressors!

 

Like hunting any other animal, you need the right gun and the right optics. You’ll be shooting coyotes mostly from mid-range—200-300 yards. Sometimes, you’ll luck out by getting a good shot at dogs at 50 to 75 yards. A lot of coyote hunters prefer a lower magnification scope.

The best time to hunt coyotes is when they are most active. Coyote wander from the den looking for food right after sunset and at dawn when its dark. Because of this, you need an optic or riflescope with an objective large enough to allow in plenty of light, so you get a clear picture in low-light situations—a 40mm or 50mm objective is best. Many coyote hunters, especially those who hunt at night, will choose red dot or reflex sights, thermal scopes, night vision or scopes with illuminated reticles.

Though the type of optic preferred is personal preference, these are our personal favorites for coyote hunting:

Wraith Digital Riflescope

The 4-32x50mm Wraith digital night vision scope can be used to hunt and shoot day or night with removable IR illuminator.
The technologically advanced Wraith is a digital day and night vision riflescope.

The Wraith is Sightmark’s newest and most technologically advanced digital riflescope useable both day and night. With 10 illuminated reticles and 9 colors to choose from, the versatile Wraith goes from long-range shooting to plinking and every type of hunt from deer to hog. The 4-32x50mm scope has a removable 850nm IR illuminator with up to a 200-yard range at night. The Wraith comes with onboard video recording and SD card slot. It will save five shooter profiles, so rezeroing isn’t an issue when you transfer the scope to another firearm. The 50mm objective and 1920×1080 HD sensor help produce a clear, full-color day time image. At night, switch over to classic green or black and white night vision.

Photon RT

Night vision riflescope
Updated features on the Photon RT include a 768×576 CMOS sensor, 40% higher resolution, and integrated built-in video recorder.

The Photon RT 6×50 digital night vision scope detects targets up to 200 yards in total darkness. Also useable during the day, the Photon RT has a 768×576 CMOS sensor, an invisible 940nm built-in IR illuminator and a high-resolution 640×480 LCD display to produce crisp clear images. A 2x digital zoom details far away game so you can be assured of a precise shot. You have a choice of 6 illuminated reticles with 4 different colors to suit whatever environment, weather conditions and targets you’re aiming at.

Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS Reflex Sight with 3x Magnifier

The Ultra Shot M-Spec reflex sight is good for CQB, competition and hunting
The Ultra Shot M-Spec has a host of features
Pair a magnifier with your red dot sight for medium-range shots
Pair a magnifier with your red dot sight for medium-range shots

 

This reflex sight transitions from close quarters to longer-ranges when paired with a magnifier and acquires targets quickly. For red dot sights, the Ultra Shot M-Spec offers the best reticle for coyote hunting—a 2 MOA dot with 65 MOA ring. The wide-angle lens and anti-reflective lens coating provide a clear field of view. It has 10 brightness settings and is night-vision compatible. Offering 3x magnification to any of your reflex or red dot sights, the tactical magnifier has a flip to side mount easily deployed when you need it.

Citadel 3-18x50mm

The Sightmark Citadel riflescope has a 3-18x magnification and 50mm objective lens with red illuminated millradian reticle.
Estimate range and determine shot holdovers with the Citadel riflescope.

With a red illuminated milliradian reticle, you can estimate range and determine shot holdovers for windage and compensate for bullet drop. The Citadel 3-18x50mm is a comprehensive riflescope with a first focal plane etched glass reticle. This scope’s LR2 ballistic reticle and magnification range are optimized for longer range shooting.

Do you hunt coyote? What optics do you run? Tell us in the comment section.

Things to Remember Before Hitting the Field This Fall

Written by Brooklee Grant, Member of Pulsar’s Pro Staff

The time of year is here when we get a lot less sleep than usual and aren’t even mad about it—that’s right, it’s time to go hunting!

Rifle leaning up against a dead deer
What do the traditions of hunting mean to you?

We’ve worked all year preparing by scouting out spots, managing food plots, running game cameras, and keeping feeders full. As the countdown begins, I find myself checking through my equipment regularly to make sure I have everything I need for opening day. I get so pumped about new hunting gear I can hardly stand it. I call my Dad the moment any box carrying new gear arrives. My most recent is a Sightmark riflescope and binoculars. The clarity is amazing and will make counting the points on bucks a breeze, but as I look over my new stuff, I think to myself, “Is all of this really necessary?” I can’t help but want top-of-the-line equipment to better my chances in the field, but I know I get too caught up in these great products when I should be taking a step back and enjoy hunting season for true meaning.

Technology and the invention of new and innovative gear make hunting easier and often vastly improves our chances at filling a tag. In the past ten years, innovative changes have flooded the hunting scene, including a wide variety of camo patterns, modernized clothing, upgraded optics, better-quality ammunition, superior scent elimination, and high-tech game cameras. However, this technology also serves as a distraction from what our focus should really be on—enjoying the adventure.

Everyone now thinks spraying down with odor eliminating spray is a must, or there’s not a chance you’ll see a deer. Or, my personal favorite, people believe if the hunter isn’t thoroughly camouflaged the deer will see him and he’ll never even get a shot off. I’ve heard stories my whole life about how my Dad and Uncle would go out in their everyday clothes, drive a few sizable nails in a tree, throw a board between the fork of the tree, climb on up, and sit for an entire afternoon. Back then and even now, my Dad doesn’t need a backpack full of gear to go bag a trophy buck. The essentials for a successful hunt are an adequately sighted-in rifle sighted and some quality ammunition. We forget about the fundamentals of hunting, the most essential and basic skills can’t be bought, like being quiet and still. A $1,500.00 scope isn’t going to do you much good if you scare the deer off by being loud or moving around too much. Hunting is about much more than our equipment. We hunters need to step back and focus on what’s important.

Brooklee Grant, the author of this blog, proudly poses with her deer
Gadgets are great, but don’t forget why you hunt.

People will hit the woods and fields this fall across the United States for various reasons. Some just enjoy taking in the great outdoors. Many love the challenge and thrill of the hunt, and others use it as an opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family. Many people go out solely to get meat, provide for their family, and put food on the table. We often use hunting as an escape from the hectic world we live in and the stressors that go with it. We all get preoccupied trying to have the best rifle and scope, or the best place to hunt and consume ourselves with insignificant things like matching camo from head to toe. The extra bells and whistles make hunting easier and often improve our chances at filling a tag, but also might serve as a distraction from our primary focus. Whatever your reason for getting out in the field may be, it’s imperative to get out, enjoy yourself and honor tradition.

It’s not always a competition about who bags the biggest buck of the year. Hunting is an amazing and wonderful gift we take for granted. It brings people together regardless of income, age, where you’re from, or experience level. We won’t always agree on what weapon to use or on someone else’s hunting practices; but as long as the law is being followed, don’t bash someone because they choose to hunt differently than you. We hunters must stick together because those who are anti-hunting create enough backlash and negative commentary. Celebrate with other hunters when they bag a deer and don’t pass judgment just because their harvest doesn’t fit your definition of a trophy. Check your attitude, show respect and stop trying to act better than someone else. Go encourage others and stay positive. Buck or doe, six point or twelve, the meat all looks the same in the freezer.

When you hop out of your truck this fall and grab your gear, remember where you came from and why you’re there. Reflect on stories and memories from the past. Don’t forget to cherish this special time spent in nature. Savor the thrill of the hunt. I challenge you to live in the present and put down your cell phone. Immerse yourself into the outdoors and watch the woods awaken and come alive around you. Let your senses intensify.

Hunting helps us build a deeper connection and respect for the land and animals, as well as their wellbeing. We need to get back to our roots and involve others in the hunting traditions and values that established this passion in us. Share with others what has kept us coming back year after year. Respect the land, honor the game, be conscious of your actions, never compromise your integrity as a hunter, and make sure you’re ethical in everything you do. You don’t have to have the fanciest equipment. Use what gives you confidence and gets you excited. Go out this season and take a breath of the refreshing fall air, our favorite time of year is finally here. Most importantly, go out and have a good time and give thanks for this extraordinary experience God has given us.

How do you rid yourself of distraction while in the field? Leave your tips and advice in the comment section.
Click here to follow Brooklee on Instagram.

Click here to view Sightmark scopes and binoculars.

Like many Southern girls, Brooklee Grant’s father and brother taught her how to appreciate the great American tradition of hunting and fishing, and how to safely operate and respect firearms at a very young age. Though she still enjoys bonding with her father and brother while deer hunting, target shooting and building rifles together, her love and passion for hunting, fishing and the shooting sports now stands up on its own right. Brooklee was born and raised and still hunts in Nacogdoches County, Texas. She strongly believes in educating others on the importance of firearms, responsible hunting, and conservation. She says, “I think educating others and getting them involved is key to helping ensure that hunting and shooting sports are around for years to come.” She’s a member of several outdoor-related organizations including the National Rifle Association, Texas Wildlife Association, B.A.S.S., Texas Trophy Hunters Association, Quality Deer Management Association, Member, Texas Hog Hunters Association, American Daughters of Conservation, and Pro Staff for Pulsar, Prym 1 Camo, Raptorazor, and FroggToggs, and Field Staff for Whitetail Grounds. If you are looking for her, you’ll most likely have to leave a message, because when she’s not studying for her bachelor’s degree in business, she’s in the field hunting deer, hogs and predators or on the water fishing for bass.

Spot On: My Great South Texas Axis Hunt

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Camille Middleton.

Before the Hunt

Huntress and Hunter (father/daughter duo) are dressed in camo, prepared for a day of axis deer hunting in Texas.
Camille sharing the hunt of a lifetime with her father at JL Bar Ranch in Texas.

As long as I can recall, I have wanted to hunt exotic game with my father. I grew up watching Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures and my dad and I really bonded when Eva Shockey started appearing on the show. I saw Jim and Eva travel around the world hunting together and I wanted the same for my dad and me. This dream didn’t fade when I moved 1,000 miles south of my childhood home for college. When I came down to Texas I started hunting more than I ever did up north. I showed my dad just how passionate I was about the outdoors and he started to take my hunting endeavors seriously. We decided to go on a daddy-daughter hunt during the summer between my junior and senior year of college. As summer hunting is pretty much limited to hogs and exotics—we decided to go after an exotic deer.

Before any hard plans were made, I did all of the research I could on the different exotics offered at numerous ranches in Texas. I read up about fallow, stag, axis, sika, and blackbuck—where they originated and the time of the rut. I watched numerous shows about hunters pursuing these animals and read reviews about which meat tastes best. At the end of the day, I decided I would be going after an axis deer, also known as a chital in their native India.

There was something about the beautiful spotted coat and big antlers that intrigued me. I learned these animals are similar to cattle, breeding all year round—meaning there is no set time for the rut or fawning. Perhaps one of the most notable characteristics of axis deer is the high quality and succulent flavor of its meat—deemed one of the most delicious of all game animals.

JL Bar Ranch

As I stepped onto the hot southwest Texas tarmac in Sonora, I gazed out into the vast hill country. We were met by our guide Ricky, who was ready to show us around the 13,000-acre ranch. We were chauffeured around to see the 1,500-yard long shooting range, the skinning rack and then the trophy wall. I had seen that wall before, it was where all of the pictures from their website came from and I aspired to be among the hunters who proudly posed with their animal in front of the JL Bar sign.

That night my dad and I devoured a nice steak dinner as we mentally prepared for the next morning. There is something about the night before a big hunt that makes it hard to sleep. I hardly got any rest that night—lying awake consumed by nerves and jitters about wanting to have the perfect hunt with my dad. The 4:30 wakeup call came early but I was up and ready to go. We sat in the lodge with Ricky and discussed our plan over a cup of coffee. As we loaded up the truck and set off on our adventure I couldn’t help but notice the excitement on my dad’s face. We sat in a blind 100 yards away and admired the axis that came into feed. It was the first time in my life seeing an axis in-person and my dad and I were both mesmerized by its beauty. It was a massive buck, clearly bigger than any whitetail I had ever seen, but Ricky was not impressed—he was confident we could find a much bigger buck.

Most of the time trophy axis don’t come into the feeder, so we climbed down out of the blind and decided to spot and stalk. The grueling sun beat down on us as we stalked these big-antlered beauties. Through thick mesquite, their coats blended almost perfectly. To spot them we watched for the big white patch on the front of their neck. I did not have any idea how difficult axis deer are to stalk. If a doe sees something she doesn’t like, she will bark, triggering the rest of the herd to run off.

Huntress Camille Middleton walks down a hunting path in Texas holding her rifle
Hunting is not about the kill, sometimes viewing beautiful animals from afar is all your going to get.

As the hunt progressed, my legs ached and my arms fatigued from carrying my rifle. I realized I didn’t have a ton of time to get a deer on the ground. I was having such a fun time looking at these beautiful deer from a distance with my binoculars but we just couldn’t get close enough to the big ones. I didn’t want to come home emptyhanded, but my dad reminded me that hunting is not all about killing. Every hunter knows the frustration of putting in hard work and time and coming home with no success, but for some reason, this hunt was such a big deal to me because it was with my dad.

The hunt was winding down and the sun was starting to set when Ricky said the upcoming pond would be the last place we would check before we would have to night hunt. Before I could even gather my thoughts about night hunting deer, Ricky stopped in his tracks. My heart raced as I looked through my binoculars and saw a big axis 300 yards in front of us. Ricky held out the shooting stick and asked if I wanted to shoot from here or try to get closer. We crawled about 25 yards forward while my dad stayed back to capture a video. I rested the gun on the stick and looked through my scope. Buck fever has never hit me as hard as it did in that moment—it felt as though my entire body was shaking. My breathing became heavy, my hands sweaty and I felt weak in my knees. This was the first time during the entire hunt I actually had my rifle on a buck. Adrenaline coursed through my body as I tried to steady my breathing. With every breath, the crosshairs bounced all over the place. The buck began walking away and I felt my stomach drop as I watched. Just as hope was lost, my luck changed and the buck turned broadside. I took two deep breaths, reached a comfortable respiratory pause and then squeezed the trigger.

I lost the deer under recoil—he was nowhere in sight. I felt sick to my stomach thinking about missing such a bruiser. As I was beating myself up, Ricky turned to me with the biggest smile on his face and said, “You got him.” Immediately I felt a rush go through my head. I looked back and saw my dad walking towards us, we embraced and I tried to hold back the tears I could feel welling in my eyes. Ricky led us towards where the deer was when I shot so we could find the blood trail. We couldn’t find a single drop of blood or hair and I instantly felt the pain in my stomach come back. Ricky reassured me that he was positive I hit the deer, but I didn’t understand why there was no blood. As we started walking into the brush I turned to ask my dad something and saw my buck tucked behind a tree.

My head started to spin as I walked up on my trophy axis buck—I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry, laugh or just smile. Ricky dragged my deer out from under the tree and I gave my dad the biggest hug. He told me how impressive of a shot I made and how proud he was of me. When I finally got a closer look I saw the shot entry but there was no exit wound—this explains the lacking blood trail. Seeing that I had made a perfect shot from 275 yards back had me beaming with pride. I was proud because I sighted in my scope, I went to the range by myself to practice and I made a great shot on the back end of my comfort zone. My 143-grain bullet went straight through both lungs and lodged into the opposite shoulder. Words can’t describe the emotions I felt as I stood there looking at my buck. I was happy, relieved, proud and most importantly thankful that I could take such a stunning deer with my dad by my side the entire time. I proudly posed with my beautiful axis and JL Bar even hung my photo on their prized trophy wall.

Father and daughter posing with hunted axis deer
An impressive axis deer taken by Huntress Camille Middleton with the perfect shot.
Have you gone on the hunt of a lifetime? We’d love to hear your stories. Share them in the comment section.

 

Getting to the Heart of Hunting

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Camille Middleton.

Axis deer heart
Eating the heart of your first deer is a tradition that many hunters chose to honor.

With hunting season just around the corner, it’s time to sharpen your knives and dig deep into the heart of controversy. There are a number of long-held—and sometimes odd—rites of passage hunters partake in when killing their first deer. In September 2016, a New Zealand father was ruthlessly attacked by internet haters for letting his daughter take a bite out of a raw deer heart. The dad, Johnny Yuile, posted the pictures on the NZ Woman Hunters Facebook page of his daughter and him over a freshly killed young stag. The young girl had recently taken her first stag after a tricky approach and they commemorated with the age-old practice of eating the raw heart. For many non-hunters, this was a form of barbarism. They criticized the dad for letting the daughter eat the raw heart due to the dangers of uncooked meat—demanding the dad be criminally charged

According to evidence, eating extremely fresh raw meat carries little danger. “There’s risks anytime you eat meat period,” says ER physician Dr. Travis Stork a host on the tv show The Doctors. “That’s just the reality. But there’s also a big difference if that heart had been sitting out for 48 hours. It’s different than coming across roadkill.”

For many non-hunters, it’s difficult to understand the timeless traditions passed down through generations of hunters. For Yuile and his daughter, the pair camped overnight in the woods and made the kill the next morning. When the young girl was asked about it she said, “I saw my uncle bite the heart, so I thought I might bite it too. It tasted quite nice.”

While some hunters take a bite of the raw heart, others have adapted that tradition a bit. In an article published in Peterson’s Hunting Magazine, outdoor writer, Brian McCombie, states,“In Wisconsin, after a hunter makes a kill, they simmer the heart in water with celery, onion and beer, then slice and eat it.” While some hunters eat the heart, others don’t quite take it so far.

Huntress Camille Middleton taking a bite from a fresh, raw axis deer she hunted.
Camille partaking in the rite of “blooding” and takes a bite of the heart of her first axis deer.

After I killed my first axis deer, I decided I wanted to take it further by not only wiping the blood on my face but taking a bite from its heart. I had heard that Native American hunters would eat the heart of the animal to embody the qualities of the animal. Although I did not eat the axis heart to embody the characteristics of the deer, I did take a bite to commemorate my hunt and to symbolize the joining of the small ranks of other axis deer hunters who have come before me.

Did you eat or take a bite of the heart of your first deer? Why or why not? What do you think about this tradition? Tell us in the comment section.

About the Author

Hey, Y’all! My name is Camille and I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I’m currently a senior psychology major at TCU. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in the outdoors industry. I grew up hunting, shooting, and fishing whenever I could with my dad and grandpa. Any time I’m not working or studying you can find me in the woods hunting or on a boat fishing.  

Summer Hunting Guide 2018

Written by Blake Johnson, Sellmark Marketing/Social Media Specialist

For many hunters, the summer months are used to prepare for fall, like checking feeders and getting stands into place. Some like to work on their accuracy at the range, and many turn to fishing. Still, there are those with the itch to get out and hunt, but with temperatures in the South reaching 100 degrees regularly, what is a hunter to do? Night hunting is becoming increasingly popular due to affordable night vision technology and more bearable temperatures. Below is a quick guide to popular summer hunting game, as well as appropriate gun set-ups. Be sure to check your state and local laws, as hunting laws do vary drastically by state.

What can you hunt in the summer?

Hogs

Wild hog in grasslands.
Hogs cause huge problems for landowners and farmers. You can hunt them all year long and take as many as you want.

It is well known that the U.S. has a widespread hog problem. Found in over 75% of states, the invasive wild hog has an estimated population of over 5 million. There are no natural predators to hogs. Hog hunting is beneficial to farmers and landowners to which the hogs cost millions of dollars each year in damages.

Hogs can’t sweat so they need a way to cool down, which is why they are often found rolling in mud. Where you can find water, you can usually find hogs. The problem is that hogs are smarter than given credit for, and most have become nocturnal from hunting pressure and the hot daytime weather. Purchasing a night vision scope is a great investment to successfully eradicate your local hog population.

Hogs are fast, thus a semi-auto modern sporting rifle (MSR) is favorable to use. Picatinny/Weaver rails allow you to add many attachments useful for night hunting. A night vision riflescope like the Sightmark Photon XT allows for clear nighttime viewing and an accurate, precise shot, something you’ll need with hogs. When using a bolt-action gun, I usually prefer to use something in .30 caliber or above. I would also recommend keeping a larger caliber pistol on you just in case. Hogs are vicious and will sometimes run straight at you. It’s always better to have a back-up in case your gun jams or you don’t have time to reload.

Coyotes

Night vision scope mounted to rifle with a wood stock
Compared to other digital night vision scopes on the market, the Sightmark Photon XT offers incredible value.

For deer hunters and farmers, coyotes are becoming an increasing nuisance. They will kill fawns, chickens, and house pets. It’s important to control coyote populations to ensure the survival of other animals. Though it’s entirely possible to spot one during the day, during hot months coyotes tend to limit their movements to the cool period between dusk and dawn. Yet again, you’re going to need a night vision scope of some kind to help spot them.

Using a call is a popular way to hunt coyotes. Electric calls utilizing pup in distress calls tend to work best and will have coyotes running in at a dead sprint. Even more so than hogs, you need to be covert, as ‘yotes are very smart in hiding behind terrain.

Bolt-action guns in lower calibers are well-suited for coyotes. My personal favorite caliber for coyotes is a .22-250 with a Photon XT 4.6x42S night vision riflescope when on a coyote hunt. I keep mentioning the Photon because, at the $500 price point, its value cannot be beaten. You can test Gen I scopes, but if you’re anything like me you will be disappointed until you try out the digital Photon XT’s.

Small Game and Varmints

Varmint hunting is another popular endeavor during the hot summer. Raccoons and other varmints are always getting into trouble: eating corn and other vegetation, getting into trash and preying on ground-nesting birds. Most all raccoon hunting is done at night when they love to cause problems.

Thermal image of a hot gun, hog is down
Night time hog hunts are even more thrilling with digital night vision and thermal imaging.

A lot of people use hounds to hunt raccoon and other varmints, but it can be easily done without them. A .22 with iron sights or red dot sight is a popular small game gun. With ample stopping power for small game, dirt-cheap ammunition, and an incredibly lightweight, .22’s are perfect guns to take in the woods. While a night vision scope is not necessary, having a night vision device is very helpful. The Sightmark Ghost Hunter series offers a variety of night vision monoculars and binoculars at affordable prices and in different magnifications. Use the night vision sight to spot raccoons then shoot ‘em down with the .22. A powerful flashlight like the Sightmark SS600 Tactical is great for spotlighting coons in trees before you take your shot.

There is no reason to hang up the hunting gear just because it’s summer. Though the days are hot, a night vision device enables you to scratch your hunting itch without having to wait until fall.  It also gives you something to look forward to during those long summer days. So, get out there and hunt!

Click here to shop Sightmark’s night vision products.

 

Trailing Blood: 7 Steps to Find Your Deer

Dead deer
If your shot isn’t perfect, you will have to trail your deer.

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Clayton Costolnick.

Following a blood trail is one of the last things a hunter wants to do. Knowing that you wounded a deer is not a pleasant feeling to have. It takes a lot of blood trails and experience to become a talented tracker. Helping other people locate their deer is a great way to gain experience. Check out these seven tips to help you become a more experienced and successful blood tracker.

Point of Impact

One of the most important things you can do when you shoot is to watch your arrow or bullet hit the deer. Slow down your breathing and focus when you take the shot. Knowing the point of impact can help you establish if it was a good shot or not. An alternative option is to record your hunts and watch where the impact is. Additionally, watch how the deer reacts when they are hit. If the deer kicks like a bronco, it is sometimes a lung or heart shot. However, if the deer hunches over like it is sick, it is usually a gut shot.

Stay Put

Many hunters rush out of their stand filled with excitement after they shoot. Deer are strong animals and sometimes take multiple hours to die. The length of time it takes for a deer to die depends on your shot placement. Make sure you give the deer enough time in case you made a bad shot. As a rifle hunter, I like to wait 30 minutes after I shoot to let the deer die. If you are too quick to approach the deer, you risk spooking the deer and causing them to run further. This results in more work for the hunter.

Starting Point

To save time and effort, always start blood trailing where the deer was standing when you shot. Use a physical marker to help you remember that location. Starting from the beginning allows you to get a feel for what the blood trail is like. It is much easier to start there because when you climb down from the stand your perception of everything is changed.

Blood Analysis

The color of the blood is the dead giveaway to your shot placement. Seeing red or pink blood is a positive sign that you placed a good shot on the deer. Dark red blood indicates you hit the heart or liver. Pink blood can mean you hit the lungs and you will also see bubbles within the blood. Green matter indicates you have a gut shot. Obviously, the more blood the better. Sometimes high lung shots will not bleed as much because it takes longer for the body cavity to fill up. When looking for blood, do not look for a definite trail, sometimes the smallest droplets can help you locate the deer.

Tracking

Getting low to the ground can help you see small blood droplets easier. It might be painful on your knees, but you will forget about that when you find your deer. The most important thing to do when tracking for blood is to mark the last spot of blood. As you are trailing and looking down at the ground, it is easy to get turned around with directions. Flagging tape is a great way to mark last blood. You will slowly establish a general idea of the direction the deer is traveling in with the flagging tape. Do not move forward until you have located more blood. Walking aimlessly through the woods will ware you down and cause you to become hopeless. When walking pointlessly through the woods, you have the chance to smear blood or cover blood up with vegetation. If you lose the blood trail, continue in the same direction walking in small half circles looking for the next drop of blood. Many times you will find blood on the side of vegetation, not just on the ground. Getting down at the deer’s level is a great way to locate additional blood

Habits

Many hunters have noticed that deer have circle backed, or double backed on themselves. If a deer does a hard double back, it adds difficulty to the tracker. If the blood trail suddenly stops, turn around and see if the trail continues in a different direction.

Help

Having multiple sets of eyes looking for blood greatly increases the chances of finding more blood. Make sure you do not have too many helpers or you will all be walking on top of each other. I have found that one or two additional people is a good compromise on extra eyes verses too many people. If needed, you can use a dog to find your deer. This is not legal in some states, so double check with your local hunting laws before using a dog.

Final Remarks

Make sure to use all the legal tools you can to help you find the deer. Watching your point of impact will help you understand the situation that the deer is in. Make sure to give the deer enough time to lay down before you pursue the deer. Always stat trailing where the deer was standing when you shot. Identifying the color of the blood will help you know where your shot placement was, and possibly the state of health that the deer is in. Make sure to grab an extra pair of eyes, so you do not overlook any blood. Make sure you find your deer before the predators do!

About the Author

Clayton was born and raised in Cypress, Texas just outside of Houston and is currently a senior at Baylor University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Corporate Communications. Clayton hopes to pursue a career with Sellmark, or continue his education after graduation. Clayton is an avid deer, waterfowl, dove, turkey and exotics hunter. Growing up around guns, Clayton’s dad and grandfather are hunters as well. When Clayton isn’t in the office, at school or in the field, he’s on the water pursuing another favorite hobby—fishing. Clayton says, “Whenever an animal is not in season, I occupy my time with fishing while I wait for the next season to start hunting again.”

7 Highly Effective Habits for Big Buck Hunters

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Camille Middleton.

Don’t ProcrastinatePicture of a deer and the words, "There is deer season and there's waiting for deer season."

There is nothing better than the sweet-smelling aroma of the woods on opening day. Conversely, one of the worst feelings is taking your treestand down and packing everything up on the last day of the season. Take advantage of these deer-free months to start preparing for a successful upcoming season; after all, preparation and hard work in the off-season can mean the difference between bagging a booner and coming home empty-handed. For die-hard deer hunters, the off-season months, most often, February through August, may feel like the longest, slowest time of the year—this is the perfect opportunity to leverage your future hunting success.

Christmas in July

Some of the best deals on hunting-related merchandise can be found in the summer. Big-name stores clear out their inventory by dramatically reducing the costs of such items before they get new gear in for the following season. If you are looking for stellar prices on good quality hunting clothes, I advise you to do most of your camouflage shopping during those hot summer months instead of waiting until the season opener.

Food Plots—A Key to Success 

The off-season is not limited exclusively to shopping. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu suggested, “the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” His statement bodes a glaring similarity to hunting… and many other facets of life in general. Preparing for the fall hunting season takes real work if you want to bring in the big boys of fall. The hunter who sweats in the off-season building food plots is probably going to be more successful when the season kicks off. Food plots and other habitat improvements are by no means quick and easy, they take time and hard work but I assure you, that juice is worth the squeeze

Predator Control—Deer Management

Picture of a wild hog through the lens of a scope
Predator control during the off-season helps ensure you have a healthy deer population when it’s time to hunt.

One of my favorite things about the off-season is predator control. No matter if you hunt on a lease, farm or public land, it is important to keep the predator population down. Hunters, landowners, and managers all have a vested interest in the well-being of fawns, lambs, calves, turkey poults, or whatever they may be raising or trying to conserve—in this case, our deer population. Pure, raw, logic here—without babies, there are no adults, plain and simple.

Predator control is not eliminating a species, it is merely controlling the number of predators capable of harming your targeted game. For a deer hunter like myself, I focus primarily on coyotes, bobcats and feral hogs. When it comes to predator hunting, it’s important to set up with wide-ranging visibility, most often, in a big, open field. Although cheap, hunting with a spotlight is not as effective as using digital night vision or thermal. For night vision, I prefer the Photon RT on an AR-15. It allows the hunter to be able to send multiple rounds, ideal in fast-paced hunting situations.  If you are looking to spend the extra money it costs to get a thermal, Pulsar offers top of the line riflescopes and monoculars. Thermal scopes have burst onto the hunting scene and, to be honest, once you go thermal you won’t go back to anything else.

Fine Tune Your Weapon

Before hunting season begins, it is important to take your gun to the range to practice and to re-check your zero. Even if it has been sitting in a gun safe, it is possible your scope could have been knocked off zero. When sighting-in your rifle, it is important to use the same grain ammunition you plan to use when you actually go hunting. A quick solution to seeing if it is still sighted-in is to purchase an in-chamber boresight and check for a 100-yard zero. Both Sightmark and Firefield offer great quality boresights, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced shooter.

Sharpen your Knife and Make a Survival Pack

One thing that many hunters overlook is preparing for their hunt with emergency supplies. I always make sure my truck is stocked with warm blankets, extra water, and a first aid kit. You never know what might happen and if you end up getting stranded where you are hunting, you will want to make sure you don’t get cold or thirsty and have adequate supplies to care for wounds. The UltraLite Mini First Aid Kit is a great option to keep in your truck or in your hunting backpack for emergency situations. The kit is lightweight and includes 90 pieces of medical supplies to treat most injuries. While first aid is critical, one of the most important pieces of equipment is a sharp knife. Your knife must be sharp before a hunt so your buck of a lifetime can be field-dressed and capped-out, and if necessary, the meat processed in the field. A dull knife simply won’t make clean cuts and you risk puncturing vital organs—never a pleasant experience.

Scout—Know Your Game and Ground—Prepare Accordingly

Understanding the deer activity and environmental features of your hunting ground play an important role in optimizing your opportunity to put meat in the freezer. Prepared public land hunters routinely study the areas they are hunting—the strategy is nothing new and always offers valuable insight into what-where-whens of hunting. The easiest way to do this is by mapping out your property. Start by drawing the perimeter of the land and marking key features—water and food sources, bedding areas, open fields, wooded areas and visible trails, paying special attention to high-traffic intersections and pinch-points.

The result is a map that tells you quite a bit about routes to and from water sources, better stand locations, and the best spots to place trail cameras. Trail cameras are a great scouting tool to reveal deer hot-spots, feeding times and more, all great information to help you pattern activity and target mature deer. I also suggest scouting multiple times through the off-season to stay on top of patterns and adjust accordingly. I also suggest scouting in a hunting frame of mine—practice scent control, slip in to observe, slide out just as quietly and do your best not to push the wildlife around.

What do you do during the off-season to ensure you have a successful hunt? Tell us in the comment section.

About the Author

Hey y’all! My name is Camille and I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I’m currently a senior psychology major at TCU. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in the outdoors industry. I grew up hunting, shooting, and fishing whenever I could with my dad and grandpa. Any time I’m not working or studying you can find me in the woods hunting or on a boat fishing.  

Six Ways to Sabotage Your Deer Hunt

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Clayton Costolnick.

Many articles share how to have a successful deer hunt but finding one that reminds you of what not to do are few and far between. Busting your hunt can be one of the worst feelings for a hunter. Hunting season is only for a limited time, so make each hunt count.

Tardy to the Party

Arriving fashionably late to the deer stand is a great way to start off a miserable hunt. Beauty sleep isn’t necessarily essential for a successful hunt. So wake up early and have some coffee… but not too much. It’s okay to be early, but never okay to be late. If you are tardy to the party, sneak into your stand as quietly as you can. Try not to startle anything by taking it slow and quiet. Being on time for a morning hunt means slipping in under the cover of darkness. It is one of your best advantages. Once you get situated in the stand, you are ready to go and your prey is none the wiser.

The Munchies

Woman hunter dressed in camo eating a Whataburger meal
Munchin’ down on burgers in the stand is not a great idea.

If the deer are eating, you can eat, right? It depends. Make sure you find quiet snacks to eat in the stand like jerky, sausage or trail mix. Test them out at home before you take them to the stand and see how quietly you can eat. Some loud snack options to refrain from eating are carrots, chips and apples. Smacking is also prohibited in the deer stand. Equally as important, play the wind. Do not bring food that smells, like a sandwich. Deer have keen senses and can zero in on your Whataburger from quite a distance. The two senses deer rely on the most are smelling and hearing. The sandwich you eat might smell good to you, but its an alert to the deer.

Smells

If you cannot go anywhere without bringing your lucky perfume, then hunting may not be for you. The sense of smell is one of the main tools deer use for navigating their habitat. Deer tend to avoid unfamiliar scents. They’re pretty smart animals and are known to maneuver downwind of you in an effort to pick up your scent. Make sure you do not spray any extra scents on yourself and avoid washing your clothes in a detergent that smells like spring cleaning. Suppressing your scent is crucial for bow hunters, as you have to get close to the deer. Rifle hunters have an easier time hiding their scent, typically because of sheer distance. Many companies make an earth scent spray to cover your scent. I recommend using it.

Hibernation

While I said no beauty sleep, you still need rest. Sleep is crucial when hunting; waking up early and going to bed late drains the body of energy. Taking a snooze in the deer stand might seem like it will help solve the problem. I know the stand can get boring, but avoid sleeping at all costs. Many hunters have slept through hunts and missed shooting a deer that they never knew came out. Your chances of seeing a deer dramatically drop when your eyes are closed; If you want to sleep, stay in bed while the rest of us get out and enjoy nature.

Social Media

Everyone gets lonely in the stand waiting for a deer to show. Many hunters use this time to Facebook and update everyone on their adventures. This is a costly mistake because your eyes are on your phone and not on the field. More than one deer has slipped into view and left without Facebooking hunters and you ever noticing. Additionally, always keep watch on the deer to make sure one of them does not sneak up on you and give away your position. The deer aren’t prone to sending Facebook messages to announce their arrival.

Dance Party

Woman dressed in camo bow hunting
You might get bored, but resist being distracted. You don’t want to miss your shot

Moving inside the blind can be noticed by a deer’s keen eyesight. Even the smallest movements can spook a deer and cause them to run off. Keep movements to a minimum and consider stand positions that obscure your silhouette. Deer can see the image of your head and upper body through the stand, especially if you move. Hiding in front of a structure, like a tree or corner of the stand will help break up your image and perhaps some light movement.  Don’t bust a move of any kind while hunting.

Abandon Ship

Being the captain of the ship means you leave whenever you like; however, leaving the stand early can alert deer of your presence. Never leave the field when there are still deer in the area. Scaring deer away is one of the worst ways to ruin a current and future hunt. Having a human emerge from the stand is not natural for the deer to see. Making the environment look as natural as possible is a key to success.

Final Remarks

Sleep is important when hunting but never press snooze. Bring snacks that are quiet in case you get the munchies. Find natural scents around you like cedar to rub on you to help mask your scent. Do not sleep in the stand. Stay off of social media– the deer are not going to message you. Stay still as deer can see even the smallest movements. Never abandon ship early. Show up early, leave late and hunt hard!

Have you ever missed a shot due to something you weren’t paying attention? Tell us about your hunting mishaps in the comment section.

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About the Author

I was born and raised in Cypress, Texas which is just outside of Houston. I am currently a senior at Baylor University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Corporate Communications. I plan on either pursuing a career with Sellmark, or continuing my education after I graduate. I am an avid hunter in which I pursue deer, waterfowl, dove, turkeys, and exotics. I have been around guns my entire life because my dad and grandfather are hunters as well. Another one of my favorite hobbies is fishing. Whenever an animal is not in season, I occupy my time with fishing while I wait for the next season to start hunting again.

Successfully Hunting Spring Turkey in Oklahoma

Written by Brian Magee, Sightmark and Pulsar Pro Staff member.

Every year in late winter, as cabin fever begins to set in, we start to think about spring turkey season. As Mother Nature allows, we gradually begin to disc plots, frost-seed our clover and chicory and use prescribed fire on our native warm season grasses. Fire, in addition to management practices such as food plots, timber management and predator control, can dramatically increase turkey activity on your property. Fire suppresses unwanted plants and weeds, increases the palatability by encouraging new tender growth and improves wildlife habitat. In early spring, turkeys find these areas to be a great source of food. While predators such as coyotes and bobcats are much easier to avoid in freshly burned warm season grasses, mature toms find these burns irresistible—they are incredible places to seek out hens and put on a show, fans out, in full strut.

Mature tom turkey in the distance in the woods
A mature tom seeks out a hen.

A few days into the Oklahoma spring turkey season, we found ourselves set up on an area we had burned several weeks prior. While driving into the property, we located a big tom strutting in the middle of the burn. He had a single hen with him but she was giving him the cold shoulder as she fed along the edge of a creek. Several fingers of mature oaks separated us from the birds and we used them to our advantage as we cut the distance using woodlots for cover. A small pond at the edge of the woods meant the end of the road for us. We had cut the distance as much as possible and now only a few hundred yards separated us from where we had seen the strutting tom just 30 minutes earlier.

turkey spurs
The tom’s spurs.

I crawled across the burned grasses to get the decoys in place—hen and jake decoys were now easily visible from nearly every direction. As I set up, questions began to flood my head. Is the tom still in this area?  Will he hear my calling in the wind? Which way will he come from? We settled into a large clump of partially burned cedars and began to call.  I was slightly forward of my buddy, Chris Walls, who had volunteered to run the camera that day. Several minutes went by with no movement and no response from the tom we had seen earlier.  After nearly 30 minutes of periodic calling, I heard a faint gobble in the distance. Chris and I shared a quick glance to confirm that we had both heard what we thought we had heard. The tom was a long way away and had quite a distance to cover. Yet, still he had answered my call and that alone boosted our spirits considerably.

After that first gobble, things happened fast. As I called, the tom would immediately respond and occasionally cut me off. All the while, we could tell he was getting close with each subsequent gobble. The bird had committed and, within just a few minutes, had closed the distance by several hundred yards. I had to shift positions slightly. The tom decided he was coming right over the top of the pond dam to look for the hen that was making all of that sweet racket.

I heard him before I saw him. Although the tom neared, he remained hidden—the unmistakable sound of drumming just over the lip of the pond dam meant that he was close…real close!

View through the Sightmark Wolverine red dot.
Scoping out that tom from the Sightmark Wolverine!

Finally, the glimpse of a patriotic red, white and blue head over the edge of the pond damn made my heart race even faster! One last gobble and the body language of the old tom completely changed. He had seen the decoys! The tom was now focused on fighting his competition.  He cruised into the decoys at a brisk pace, dragging his wing tips and puffing out his chest. He passed by the Avian hen decoy without a second look and immediately began to beat up on the poor jake with well-placed wings and spurs!

As he continued, I stared intently, directly down my shotgun barrel at the unsuspecting gobbler. The Sightmark Wolverine’s bright red-dot reticle followed the tom’s head as he danced around the jake. Chris whispered the confirmation I needed that he was on the bird and rolling. While Chris was ready, I was not. I needed to let him clear the decoy just a bit to avoid putting pellets in my plastic prizefighter!

The click of the safety and a slight squeeze of the trigger left the tom laying on the ground between the decoys. A quick high-five with my cameraman and I ran out to gather what turned out to be another incredible bird off one of our Oklahoma properties. Property management and the right equipment played a huge role once again in the form of another successful turkey hunt. They don’t always end with smiles and high-fives but they do always end in an education. Make an effort to learn something every time you are out in the woods or on the water and it is sure to make you more successful in the future.

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About Brian

Brian is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but has spent most of his life in the Oklahoma City area. He achieved a life-long goal of becoming a firefighter in 2003 and is now a part of the Oklahoma City Fire Department as a Lieutenant. His love for the outdoors, hunting and fishing began at a very young age thanks to a family who shared that same interest. He grew up with a fishing pole in hand and began hunting with his dad around the age of 6. At the age of 14, he received his first hunting bow for Christmas and his love for bowhunting was born. He has been bowhunting for over 25 years and has had the privilege of harvesting many animals. While he spends most of his time hunting and fishing, reloading also ranks high on his list of hobbies. He is married to a very understanding wife and enjoys every minute they spend together.

Do you have a successful spring turkey hunt story? Share it in the comment section.

Alaska Caribou—The Hunt of a Lifetime

Written by Brian Magee, Sightmark and Pulsar Pro Staff member.

In 2015, Pulsar and Sightmark Pro Staffer Brian Magee and his friend and business partner Chris Walls from Fired Up Outdoors went on a drop-style hunt of a lifetime near Deadhorse, Alaska— an unincorporated community in North Slope Borough, 495 miles from Fairbanks. Here is Brian’s story.

We spent a great deal of time planning and preparing for our Alaska Caribou hunt! Well over a year in the making, we headed to Alaska to hunt Caribou north of the Arctic Circle. We chose to do a drop style-hunt—no guides, no knowledge of what to expect and no experience on the tundra.  It was sure to be an adventure and a learning experience.

We packed and repacked everything we would need for the trip—checking our gear and then checking it again. To keep weight down, we chose to take only one rifle with us. We headed to the range the day before our departure to double check the accuracy and zero.  Everything was in order and our excitement and anxiety were high.

A snowy, long, lonely stretch of the isolated road Dalton Highway in Alaska.
The Dalton Highway is one of the most isolated roads in the United States. It ends at Deadhorse, Alaska.

We arrived in Fairbanks without incident.  Baggage and weapons were accounted for—our first obstacle overcome! We looked forward to the long but scenic drive along the Dalton Highway to our destination near Deadhorse, Alaska. The drive was amazing as we crossed numerous types of terrain and habitat. The Brooks Range was absolutely breathtaking. No picture taken could ever do this place justice.

Stopping at several river and creek crossings to stretch our legs, we caught grayling and saw bear and moose tracks in the mud. I was having the time of my life and we were still making the journey north. Upon arriving at the Happy Valley airstrip, we met with our pilots and began condensing gear to fit in the small compartments of our bush planes.  In Alaska, you are not allowed to fly and hunt on the same day, so we were anxious to get into camp, set up and begin to glass and scout our area for caribou. As always anytime we travel, double checking the rifle and bows is a top priority. There was a target and bench set up next to the airstrip for exactly that.  Despite the best efforts of the commercial airlines, the .270 WSM was exactly as we had left it in Oklahoma!

Day 1

After a quick but very beautiful flight in the bush planes, we landed on a small gravel bar in the middle of a river. During the flight, I couldn’t help but notice several caribou and even a grizzly in the immediate area.  We thanked our pilots and began to set up camp. The area we were in seemed to be perfect. Several peaks with large bowls fed down into the river bottom where we had set up camp. Our optics would be able to do a good deal of work right from where we were. Tents went up, water was gathered, and the spotting scopes came out. Several small groups of cows and calves worked their way through the area that afternoon and anticipation was high for the next morning.

Day 2

We woke to heavy fog and less than desirable conditions. Visibility was reduced to the first few hundred yards from our tents. Mountain House biscuits and gravy and several cups of instant coffee broke the chill in the air and really tasted good. Despite the fog and drizzle, spirits were high, and we were just enjoying the entire experience.

Days 3-5

Days passed, and we experienced every possible weather condition from fog and drizzle to snow and even had a bright sunny day mixed in.

Day 6

Day six started out pretty much like most of the others, fog and light drizzle. However, the fog quickly lifted, and we were excited to see several bulls feeding in the bowl about two miles from camp. There were several good bulls in the group and we decided to attempt a stalk on the group in hopes of getting within range of one particular bull. The tundra is tough walking, especially uphill! The bulls casually fed across the tundra and it seemed like we needed to jog just to keep up with them. We worked a small drain that was bordered by blueberries on both sides and eventually found ourselves within rifle range of the group. I was running the camera and allowed my friend Chris the opportunity to put the .270 WSM to work. The wind was right, the distance was right and there was a bull in the group that Chris really liked.

Chris worked to a position where he could clear some of the leaves and limbs from the blueberry bushes and eventually settle on a tundra hummock that offered a good rest. He pressed the stock of the .270 WSM down into the tundra to give himself a solid rest and eased his cheek into position. He went over all the little details of the bull aloud: “good tops, good mass, big shovel.” The next question was, “Are you on him?” I quickly replied “yes,” and the deafening muzzle blast almost caught me off guard.

A hunter with his dead caribou in Alaska
Chris Walls and his epic caribou.

We watched as the giant bull only took a few steps and then fell over dead. We were celebrating and swapping high-fives in some of the most beautiful country we have ever set foot. Two point-of-view cameras captured Chris getting settled as well as the look right down the barrel. The big bull lay motionless in the viewfinder of the main camera.  What an amazing hunt in some amazing country! I recommend trying a drop hunt on the North Slope of the Brooks Range if you love adventure and beautiful scenery.

What is your most memorable hunt? Share it with us in the comment section.

Brian is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but has spent most of his life in the Oklahoma City area. He achieved a life-long goal of becoming a firefighter in 2003 and is now a part of the Oklahoma City Fire Department as a Lieutenant. His love for the outdoors, hunting, and fishing began at a very young age thanks to a family who shared that same interest. He grew up with a fishing pole in hand and began hunting with his dad around the age of 6. At the age of 14, he received his first hunting bow for Christmas and his love for bowhunting was born. He has been bowhunting for over 25 years and has had the privilege of harvesting many animals with a bow. While he spends most of his time hunting and fishing, reloading also ranks high on his list of hobbies. He is married to a very understanding wife and enjoys every minute they spend together.

 

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