15 Things You Need When You Get Lost While Hunting

A secluded cabin in the woods, no cell phone service, unfamiliar, rugged landscape, bad weather…it sounds like the synopsis of a typical horror movie, or at least the recipe for disaster…and it too often is. Hundreds of hunters get lost every year for these exact reasons. And though a machete-wielding undead psychopath should be the least of your worries, getting lost in the woods is a scary situation.

Hunting with a buddy can increase safety.
Hunting with a buddy can increase safety.

Some of the best hunting occurs right after sunrise and right before sunset, which means you might trail deep into the night and it will most likely be dark by the time you make it back to camp. Because it is easy to lose your way when there are no clear paths or obvious landmarks on land you don’t often walk, there is a chance you could get lost. It happens to even the most experienced hunters.

Most lost hunters are rescued within 24 hours, however, that does mean spending a night in the woods. With the right gear packed and the right mindset, you should do just fine a couple of nights lost in the woods. In the very beginning of the season, hunter Cory Krambule was separated from his hunting party and camp when a snowstorm made it nearly impossible to see. He spent the night in the blizzard and was rescued the next morning. About his experience, Cory says, “Don’t assume anything, take your gear, even if it’s a little bit heavier, even if you think you’re only going to be gone 15 minutes.” (Fox 13 Salt Lake City News)

Though hard statistics are difficult to find on just how many hunters a year find themselves lost, there are numbers revealing how many people get lost in our National Parks and it averages about 11 every day. So, don’t feel foolish if it happens to you. Just know what to do if it does…

How to Avoid Getting Lost While Hunting

Though mistakes and accidents are inevitable, you can better prepare and plan before heading afield to avoid getting lost in the first place.

Always follow the golden rules of wilderness survival:

  • Tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.
  • Scout your hunting grounds beforehand during the day and take note of trails and landmarks and drop waypoints on your GPS unit.
  • Carry a topo map, compass, a GPS and a fully charged cell phone. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife suggests, “Before entering the woods—whether at an old logging road, a town or country road, or from camp itself—you should check your compass and bearings. This assures, for one thing, that you have not left the compass in another pair of pants or on the camp table. It also serves to establish the direction in which the road is running and, most important, determines the general direction or course which you must follow to return to the road from anywhere in the general area where you are to hunt.”
  • Use trail markers from camp to your stand and when blood tracking.
  • When you discover you’re lost, S.T.O.P.—stop, think, observe and plan. Search and Rescue says to stay in place once lost—the chances of finding you are greater if you sit tight.
  • Pack the right survival gear for a night spent out in less than ideal conditions.

Hunter’s Survival Kit Checklist—15 Survival Essentials

There is always a chance you could get lost while trailing blood or finding your way back to camp. Pack a survival kit just in case. Search and rescue experts also highly encourage hunters and hikers to plan to spend a rough night outdoors if you get lost.
There is always a chance you could get lost while trailing blood or finding your way back to camp. Pack a survival kit just in case.
  1. Appropriate clothing.

Whichever season it is, it is highly likely to get cold, if not downright freezing, when the sun goes down. Have a wool beanie, gloves and moisture-wicking warm undergarments and waterproof rain gear in your pack.

  1. Signaling device

This can be a mirror or whistle—just something to get the attention of searchers. Equally, you can fire off three shots spaced evenly apart.

  1. Compass, GPS unit and charged cell phone.

It is also very important to learn how to read a topographic map and carry it with you.

  1. Long-range walkie talkies if you are hunting with a group.

Check-in with each other periodically and alert others if you have fallen or have gotten lost.

  1. Extra batteries for your electronics.

Take an extra set of batteries for your flashlight, walkie talkie, GPS and firearm optic.

  1. Flashlight or headlamp.

Click here to shop flashlights.

  1. Fire starter and tinder.

Fire starters are lightweight and take up hardly any space. It is smart to double up or even triple up on these—a magnesium fire rod or equivalent, plus a windproof lighter, a Bic and waterproof matches.

  1. Survival knife or multi-tool.
  2. First aid kit.

Include bandages for sprains, QuikClot, insect repellent, antiseptic wipes and over-the-counter pain medication.

  1. Mylar emergency blanket or winter-rated sleeping bag.

It is important to stay dry to prevent hypothermia. Find or build a shelter if possible. A simple rope and tarp work in this scenario.

  1. Water and water filter straw.
  2. High-energy protein bars or non-perishable snacks like beef jerky and trail mix.
  3. Chemical hand and feet warmers.
  4. Brightly colored trail marker or tape and your required hunter orange.

You can use your safety orange as a signaling device.

  1. Prescription medication.

No one ventures out expecting to get lost and the survival stories of those that do usually made a rookie or foolish mistake, are overconfident in their abilities and/or ill-prepared. Canadian hunter, Brad Lambert survived 23 days lost in the woods. Let his ordeal be a lesson to you, he says, “I don’t plan to hunt alone again. I think about it differently now. I’ll hunt only in familiar woods, and I intend to buy a satellite phone. And I’ll always carry extra fuel and food from now on.”

Have you gotten lost while hunting? If so, tell us your stories and what you learned about the experience in the comment section.

A Child’s First Deer

With Summer on the downhill slide, most people start to get excited about Fall and all the things that come with it, like cooler temperatures, drinking seasonal beverages, and being able to curl up by a fire. While all those activities are nice, there’s another thing that happens in the fall that gets me excited—deer season.

A child will never forget their first hunting trip.
Do you remember your first hunting trip?

I was nine when I killed my first deer. He was a little four-pointer with a body not much bigger than our yellow lab. Big or not, I was smiling from ear to ear when my dad took a picture of me holding the deer’s head up by the antlers. After taking the picture and loading up the deer on the back of the four-wheeler, we headed back to camp to clean it and so I could tell the story of my first kill to anyone that would listen.

That evening’s hunt also happened to be the very first time I was allowed to hunt by myself. I had gone out to the stand with my dad that morning, but upon returning to camp for lunch, my dad told me (I didn’t get a choice in the matter) that I would be hunting by myself later. Excitement overtook me. He trusted me to sit out there all by myself. How cool! Then the fear hit. How could he leave me out there all by myself? I kept thinking that I would be fine, my dad would come get me as soon as it started to get dark, and that if I did see anything, I could finally be the decision-maker.

My dad dropped me off on the main road. I had to hike further into the woods to get to my stand. I had walked that path a million times before, but it seemed to take longer this time walking it alone. I finally reached the stand. My stand was a wooden box stand with about eight inches cut out on the sides in a rectangle shape, starting right at my shoulder when sitting. This makeshift window was also covered by mesh. I got comfortable in my chair, put a bullet in the chamber of my bolt-action Marlin .308, leaned it against the corner of the stand, and started to scan. The feeder was set up about 100 yards down a path right in front of me. To my left, there was a clearing where I had seen deer before. It was all I had to look at for a while. It was only 3:00 in the afternoon. The sun wouldn’t start setting until 6:30.

Patience pays off when you wait for the right deer.

At 5:00 pm, I still hadn’t seen any deer, just some squirrels and the occasional raccoon. Suddenly, I heard something to my left, in that clearing. The rustling of leaves, like something walking by made my ears perk up. I sat straight up in my chair, eyes scanning the tree line surrounding the clearing. After what seemed like forever, I finally saw a good-sized doe make her appearance. I turned my body in the chair, slowly reaching for the rifle, and quietly sat the gun on the ledge of the window with the barrel just poking out. I didn’t take the safety off just yet because I knew that sometimes seeing a doe pass through means there is a buck following close behind. My patience would eventually pay off.

Not but a few minutes after I saw that doe come through the clearing, I heard the rustling of leaves again and a deep grunting sound. I knew exactly what that meant. My heart started to pound, I shouldered the rifle and got into shooting position. I finally saw him slowly making his way into the clearing. Only being nine years old, that buck looked huge to me. I decided to shoot. I got my cheek set against the stock and started to breathe in and out through my mouth, very slowly, to make my heart stop beating so fast. The deer could’ve taken off at any second, so I had to take the shot soon. I got him in my crosshairs, took a big breath in and out, and flipped off the safety. He started to move through the clearing faster, so I did a quick whistle. He stopped and looked right in my direction. I pulled the trigger. He dropped but got back up and ran to the left. I quickly listened for him to fall any second, but I never heard anything. I prayed that we could find him later.

My dad told me, “Do not get out of this stand for any reason. I’ll walk in and get you when it gets dark. You’ll know it’s me because I’ll flash my light twice.” I thought there was a deer laying out there somewhere and my heart had finally slowed down, all I had to do then was wait. It was almost 6:00 in the evening and I could tell the light was starting to fade. I hoped my dad would get there soon. I didn’t want to be sitting in the middle of the pitch-black woods by myself. But of course, the sun set, and my dad hadn’t come yet.

We found my first deer by trailing it.
We found my first deer by trailing it.

I remember having a flashlight with me but being too scared to shine it out of the stand because there could be something terrifying staring back at me. After what seemed like forever, I finally heard a four-wheeler getting closer. I saw my dad pull up and park beside the feeder downrange from my stand. He got out and walked to get me, flashing his light twice in my direction. He got to the stand and I almost knocked him down, jumping with excitement while telling him that I definitely shot a deer. I took him to where I think the deer was when I shot. We immediately see blood—my dad told me that it was probably a heart/lung shot from how much blood we saw on the ground.

We followed the trail for about 20 yards and laying there, behind a tree, was my very first deer. I laid the rifle against the back end of the body, grabbed those horns and inspected my “trophy.” Before my dad took the picture, he informed me of a tradition. Apparently, you have to wear the blood of your first kill. My dad stuck his finger in the bullet hole and rubbed it on both sides of my cheeks, right under my eyes like war paint. I was then picture ready. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled that hard for a picture in my life up until that point. My dad brought the four-wheeler around and by himself, he loaded the deer on the backend. I wasn’t kidding when I said it wasn’t much bigger than our dog. We headed into camp and there I learned how to properly clean a deer. I’ve killed a couple of deer, pigs, and dove since then, but my very first deer will always be my favorite hunt!

Tell us about your first deer, dog, hog, duck or other game in the comment section below.

Hog Hunting 411: Shot Placement

Whether you’re hunting with a bow or rifle, effective shot placement comes down to a hog’s body position at the time of impact—most often the position the pig was standing in at the time of the shot; of course, the flight time of a bullet or arrow may allow for slight point-of-impact changes and usually not for the better. To that end, make sure you’re shooting within your level of confidence.

Tools of the Trade

When bow hunting, shoot behind the ear, back crease of the front shoulder or the armpit (heart.)
When bow hunting, shoot behind the ear, back crease of the front shoulder or the armpit (heart.)

Bowhunting

Equally as important as shot placement is ammo—for bowhunters, this equates to arrow and broadhead setups and honestly, your bow setup as a whole. For bowhunting, I am currently shooting Carbon Express Maxima Red 350 arrows tipped with either 100-grain Zeus Broadheads (fixed/hybrid) or 100-grain Xecutioner Xpandables (mechanicals.) I trust both in terms of razor-sharp blades, function on impact, large cutting diameters and field-point type flight. They have yet to let me down.

Rifle Hunting

I have killed countless hogs with both bolt-action rifles and gas-operated, semi-auto AR-platform modern sporting rifles. I enjoy hunting with each equally but for different reasons, whether I’m after a single monster from far off or enjoy the challenge of manual bolt-cycling for follow up shots, or I’m simply making as much bacon as possible out of any number of corn-thieves I run into. Either way, the caliber of bullets I choose have similarities.

With respect to rifles, I’ll break down my personal favorite caliber choices for hog hunting into three different rifle platforms—bolt-action, AR-10 and AR-15. Caliber choice is also subjective and this shortlist is clearly not all-inclusive. The point being, if you prefer another caliber, use it.

The AR-15, AR-10 and a bolt-action in .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor make excellent hog guns.
The AR-15, AR-10 and a bolt-action in .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor make excellent hog guns.

Bolt-Action

  • .308 Winchester
  • 6.5 Creedmoor
  • 6.5 PRC

AR-15

  • 6.5 Grendel
  • 6.8 SPC
  • Sharps Rifle Company .25-45
  • .224 Valkyrie
  • Winchester’s .350 Legend
  • Wilson Combat’s .300 HAM’R

Worth mentioning, .22- and .28-Nosler, .450 BM, .458 SOCOM and .500 Beowulf also are picking up steam here in Texas. As a final note, yes, .223/5.56 are still popular but I prefer cartridges offering some combination of larger case capacity, higher velocity or a larger, heavier bullet.

AR-10

  • .308 Winchester
  • 6.5 Creedmoor

The buzzworthy .375 Raptor is also getting some air-play and Phoenix Weaponry’s rimless .45-70 auto dropped jaws at SHOT Show and NRA Annual Meetings—I personally witnessed Phoenix Weaponry founder, Aaron Cayce, take a hog completely off its hooves using his Christine model rimless .45-70. It’s a nightmare for feral hogs.

Hybrid AR-15/AR-10

A solid hybrid AR-15/AR-10 choice creating buzz is Wilson Combat’s .458 HAM’R. This big-bore cartridge designed for AR systems is another sure-fire nightmare for hogs. The hybrid nature of the .458 HAM’R requires a Wilson Combat receiver set, BCG and barrel.

You Can’t Hit It if You Can’t See It

Optics are essential when hog hunting, whether with a rifle or bow.
Optics are essential when hog hunting, whether with a rifle or bow.

Optics are critically important for proper shot placement. My archery optic setup is great for daytime shooting but specifically designed to facilitate successful shooting when I bow hunt most often—at night.

Rifle-mounted optics also should be purpose-driven based on distance, day or night shooting, etc. For daytime optics at longer ranges, I prefer traditional riflescopes, even first-focal-plane if my environment can accommodate increased magnification. For close- to mid-range shooting, I prefer red dot optics, more traditional second-focal-plane riflescopes (like the Sightmark Core TX MR 4-16x44mm) or I simply jump straight to thermal imaging. For night hunting, I certainly prefer a thermal riflescope, although, depending on weather, sometimes digital night vision is a wiser choice. Either way, let purpose determine your optic.

Broadside Head and Body Shots

For broadside shots within your comfort zone, the best shot to stop a feral hog in its tracks is just behind the ear—the earhole also makes a great point of aim. A shot in this area penetrates the brain—lights out, instantly. If you’re not comfortable with ear-shots or your shooting a bow, shooting directly at the back crease of the front shoulder, no more than mid-line of the hog’s body height, preferably one-third up from the bottom edge of the body gives you a great opportunity at lungs. Lower on the same crease, just a couple inches above the lower body line, in what I refer to as the armpit area of the hog, is the heart; of course, heart- and lung-shot hogs can still run. Be prepared to track blood depending on your environment.

For a rifle hunter electing to take a broadside body-shot, shooting through the shoulder is also quite effective. When a hog is standing at true-broadside, not angled toward or away from the shooter, this shot generally results breaking both shoulders and destroying either the lungs or the heart. Broken shoulders obviously make running away tough at best, and blood-tracking a cinch. Seasoned hog hunters often quip, “Pin the shoulders together and they won’t go far.”

Front-Facing Shots

For a rifle hunter electing to take a broadside body-shot, shooting through the shoulder is also quite effective.
For a rifle hunter electing to take a broadside body-shot, shooting through the shoulder is also quite effective.

If you intend to shoot a pig facing you, aim at the center of the forehead just above the centerline of the eyes to penetrate the skull and brain, or at the center of the chest, although this point-of-aim is often obscured by the hog’s snout and jaw. Bowhunters should not attempt either of these shots.

Rifle hunters should wait until the feral hog’s head either exposes the chest or, for a head-shot, is at a natural forward-facing position (looking in your direction), not looking up, down or to the side. These head positions can result in missing the brain or even deflection, especially with respect to large boars and sows.

Quartered-To Shots

For bowhunters, shots on pigs quartered toward the shooter are risky—a fair amount of bone from the sternum, ribs and closest shoulder make the shot difficult; thus, in my opinion, should not be taken. Rifle hunters have an easier time penetrating vitals than bowhunters. For a “quartered-to” shot, aim to the inside of the closest front shoulder, between the shoulder and vertical midline of the chest—the amount of shift for good shot placement can change depending on the hog’s degree of angle toward you; however, determining the angled point-of-entry required to penetrate organs should be easy. If you cannot make such a determination, wait for another shot within your level of confidence.

Quartered-Away Shots

Determining point-of-aim on a feral pig in a quartered-away position is easier and more desirable, especially as it relates to bowhunters and the big boys. Large boars generally have a ridiculously tough, often thick, shield covering the front shoulders and sweeping back over the vitals. A quartered-away shot from a bow allows the bowhunter to slip behind the shield for much deeper penetrating shots. For lower-poundage bowhunters engaging large hogs, this shot may be the only reasonable choice for an effective kill.

The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision scope detects targets out to 200 yards.
The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision scope detects targets out to 200 yards.

Rifle hunters using appropriate hunting ammo should not have issues with penetrating a hog’s shoulder or shield, making quartered-away and broadside shots perfect opportunities for easy shot placement. For quartered-away shots, aim for the front edge of the opposite forward shoulder. As your point of aim relates to broadside shooting, keep shots no higher than mid-way up the hog’s body, preferably at one-third for a solid lung shot or just a couple inches up from the bottom edge of the body profile, in the “armpit” area for a heart-shot—again, expect the hog to run a short distance—even up to 100 yards. The only dead-in-its-tracks, anchoring shots I see are brain and spine shots; however, the latter often requires follow up shots—definitely not ideal.

As a final note on quartered-away animals, the greater the degree the animal is facing away, the more apt a shooter is to lose the aiming reference of the front edge of that forward shoulder. In addition, as the angle increases, the potential for making a double-lung shot decreases, allowing a shot hog to run further.

Do you bow or rifle hunt? Maybe you do both! What do you think about shot placement? Tell us in the comment section.

Scouting the Best Dove Field

According to the 2015 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service surveys, some 749,000 hunters harvested approximately 13 million doves, from an estimated population of 63 million birds.” —Game & Fish

An essential step to a successful dove hunt is scouting the best fields. Scan for entry and exit point with binoculars in open fields.
An essential step to a successful dove hunt is scouting the best fields.

If you don’t have a good spot on opening weekend, your chances of success exponentially decrease with each day that passes. Doves respond to hunting pressure and because opening weekend is crowded and the bag limit is high comparingly to other wing hunting, it is inevitable that dove hunting becomes increasingly challenging. That is why it is so important to scan your spots a week or two before September 1.

There is no guarantee that last year’s honey hole, especially if it isn’t yours, will still be the sweet spot. Watering holes dry up, farmers switch or don’t plant crops—they may not have cut their field yet, land development and plenty of other factors affect doves’ feeding, watering and roosting grounds.

Typically, dove hunting doesn’t require as much preparation as deer hunting does. Most dove hunters wear drab colors, pack up a chair, ammo and a shotgun and post up in the nearest open field. Even though doves are the most bountiful bird in North America, you still run the risk of not hitting your limit that first day—especially if you haven’t done your homework.

You’re more likely to be successful if you approach your dove hunt like you do deer. An essential step is scouting.

All you need to scout and scan for this year’s dove field is a car, time and some good binoculars.

Finding the Best Dove Field

Doves eat anywhere from 14 to 20 percent of their weight a day. Seeds are their primary diet. They prefer open grain fields, freshly harvested—wheat, barley, corn and sunflower fields are prime feeding grounds. These grain fields edged with tall, sparse dead trees or power lines are where you will find the perch sights doves like. Scan for these entry and exit points because doves use these outlying trees to watch the fields for predators before flying in to feed.

Watering Holes

All you need to scout and scan for this year’s dove field is a car, time and some good binoculars.
All you need to scout and scan for this year’s dove field is a car, time and some good binoculars.

Doves typically fly into a water source at least once a day, usually in the evening right before roosting. Like their feeding ground, doves prefer a flat area with a place nearby to perch and watch before committing to flying in to drink. Cattle ponds should be easy to find, and the vegetation will already be stomped down. Look for ponds with low banks and sandy areas where it is easy for doves to land and keep watch.

Timing

The best time to hunt doves is early morning and right before dusk. However, since this is known to seasoned dove hunters, the fields will empty out from late morning/lunch to mid-afternoon. Though during this time, you probably won’t have flocks flying in, you’ll spot singles and pairs without the competition of other hunters. If the doves are flying slow, don’t be discouraged. Wait it out. They’ll come back—especially if you’ve already scouted the location.

When scouting, go at the same time you plan to hunt. This will ensure you have an adequate understanding of when and where the doves are flying and their different flight patterns.

What Not to Do

Avoid public, popular fields and sneak off to lesser-known, out-of-the-way places. When doves feel pressure from one field, they will push out to other fields. Public hunting land will fill up fast opening weekend. Don’t be afraid to knock on doors, become friendly with farmers and ask for permission to hunt on private land.

There is still plenty of time left to scout out the perfect spots. Don’t forget to clean your shotgun and check to make sure your license is current.

Tell us your dove hunting stories in the comment section.

Looking for a pair of great binoculars? Click here!

How to Prepare for Deer Season 2019

Is it too early to start preparing for deer season?

Are you as ready as we are for deer season?
Are you as ready as we are for deer season?

Who are we kidding? We were ready for next season as soon as last season closed! Even though it may feel like summer will never end, right now is the perfect opportunity to plan and prep to increase your odds at bagging that buck come fall.

It’s All About That Seed

Have you planted a food plot yet? A food plot is a way to supplement the deer’s natural diet. It will attract deer in the area and give you a scouting location to place your stand or blind and trail camera. Deer like to munch on high-protein crops like peas, soybeans, kale and corn, as well as red clover, chicory and orchard grass.

Monitor and Maintaining Your Food Plots

Now is the time to plow, plant and mow. If you already have a growing food plot, a trick to making it even better hunting ground is to create cover around it, so the deer feel safe to feed there, as well as help hide you while going to and from your deer stand. Plant a food plot screen with tall grasses or crops that deer don’t particularly find that tasty. Sorghum and Egyptian Wheat grasses are popular choices.

Check Out the Latest Gear

Chaplain Capt. Matthew Spencer from the U.S. Air Force checks his trail cams in Little Rock, Arkansas
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kaylee Clark

While you are hard at work on your tan, we’re hard at work cranking out the latest and greatest accessories to make your hunt more efficient. The newest product Sightmark has is the innovative, high-definition Wraith digital riflescope. Useable both day and night, it is the one optic you need for your summertime predator pursuits, as well as fall and winter hunting seasons!

Quality Range Time

Time to dust off the ole rifle. Take this time to get reacquainted. You can sight-in your new scopes, try out the latest ammo and just become a better shot in general with regular trips to the range for practice and training.

Somebody’s Watching Me

Put your game cameras around your hunting area so you can start watching where deer are going, where they feed and bed, and gain insight on the herd’s health. You have plenty of time to move your trail cams around to find the best hunting spots. Consider placing your cameras so you can check memory cards without disturbing your hot spots. Game cameras that stream to your mobile are great options.

Gear Check

Patience pays off when you wait for the right deer.

Old camo with holes in it, sleeping bags with broken zippers, decrepit stands…Since you have a few months to repair or replace, now is the perfect time to make sure everything you use during the hunt is in good working order.

Blowin’ In Then Wind

Once you’ve found your hot spot and established where your stand will be, it’s time to do some maintenance and planning. Map out a few ways to get to your stand. You wouldn’t want to ruin your chances just because the wind is blowing in the wrong direction on opening day. Having multiple routes to your stand depending on wind direction won’t blow your cover. Trimming back limbs and trees and cutting down weeds and grasses might be necessary. In addition, you may set up a backup hunting spot that accommodates for a change in wind direction.

Locate Prime Bedding Spots…

or make your own. You can create a natural bedding spot for deer near your food plots and stand by clearing out a spot surrounded by woods.

Create cover around your food plots so deer feel safe. Photo By: Nathan Hanks
Create cover around your food plots so deer feel safe. Photo By: Nathan Hanks

Line Up Them Ducks

Double-check your licenses, stamps, tags, etc. Your state takes hunting without the proper paperwork very seriously. Make sure you have everything you need to be legal opening weekend.

Psych Yourself Up

Yes, mentally you’re preparing, planning and excited, but take a few minutes to calm down and take a reflective, big-picture look of why you hunt. Remember those who came before you, who taught you and think about who you’ll teach next. At the end of the day, hunting isn’t about bagging the biggest buck or having the most expensive, latest gadget, it is about tradition, conservation, honor and nourishment. To read more about this, click here.

How do you prepare for fall hunting? Tell us in the comment section.

Best AR-15 Scope for Coyote Hunting

(Always check your local laws before hunting any animal!)

Many predator hunters use thermal imaging or night vision.
Many predator hunters use thermal imaging or night vision.

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

The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.
The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.

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 on-board 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 helps produce a clear, full-color day time image. At night, switch over to classic green or black and white night vision.

Photon RT

 

The Photon RT 6x50 digital night vision scope detects targets up to 200 yards in total darkness.
The Photon RT 6×50 digital night vision scope detects targets up to 200 yards in total darkness.

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

 

This reflex sight transitions from close quarters to longer-ranges when paired with a magnifier and acquires targets quickly.
This reflex sight transitions from close quarters to longer-ranges when paired with a magnifier and acquires targets quickly.

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

With a red illuminated milliradian reticle, you can estimate range and determine shot holdovers for windage and compensate for bullet drop.
With a red illuminated milliradian reticle, you can estimate range and determine shot holdovers for windage and compensate for bullet drop.

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!

We’ve worked all year preparing by scouting out spots, managing food plots, running game cameras, and keeping feeders

Rifle leaning up against a dead deer
Rifle leaning up against a dead deer

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
Gadgets are great but don’t forget why you hunt. What do the traditions of hunting mean to you?

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

Camille sharing the hunt of a lifetime with her father at JL Bar Ranch 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.

Camille sharing the hunt of a lifetime with her father at JL Bar Ranch in Texas.
Camille sharing the hunt of a lifetime with her father at JL Bar Ranch in Texas.

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.

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.

An impressive axis deer taken by Huntress Camille Middleton with the perfect shot.
An impressive axis deer taken by Huntress Camille Middleton with the perfect shot.

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.

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.

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

Camille partaking in the rite of "blooding" and takes a bite of the heart of her first axis deer.
Camille partaking in the rite of “blooding” and takes a bite of the heart of her first axis deer.

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.

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

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 cause huge problems for landowners and farmers. You can hunt them all year long and take as many as you want.
Hogs cause huge problems for landowners and farmers. You can hunt them all year long and take as many as you want. This picture is from the Sightmark Wraith.

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

Compared to other digital night vision scopes on the market, the Sightmark Photon XT offers incredible value.
Take the Photon from day to night hunting.

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 the trash and preying on ground-nesting birds. Most all raccoon hunting is done at night when they love to cause problems.

Nighttime hog hunts are even more thrilling with digital night vision and thermal imaging.
Nighttime hog hunts are even more thrilling with digital night vision and thermal imaging.

A lot of people use hounds to hunt raccoons 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.