LICK IT !!!

Mineral or Salt Licks can improve the quality and health of your local deer herd. “Lick Love” works best to keep deer on your property and attract fresh genetics to your area. Here’s how to best use Licks in your hunting area.

This article was recently published in www.dannerholzwhitetails.com.

The one thing to remember is that there is never just one thing! Every hunter wants to harvest a heathy Big Buck! Most will try anything legal to ensure this outcome. Food plots, baiting, Timber improvement, water and land management, are all good ideas. Licks can also help.

Mineral and Salt Licks are most popular. The best time to place your Licks is NOW! For best results, Spring Greenup is best. Bucks have shed their old racks and immediately begin growing the next generation of antlers.

Lick Love will work best if you have control over your hunting property. One well located Lick Site is best for every 100 acres. After learning your property, find an area that is near the center. Water or bedding areas make for good locations. If you have Natural Licks on your property, enhance these areas. It may take years to get deer to regularly pattern to your new Lick Sites.

Common mistakes made by Lick Lovers are to place them near their hunting stand. Other critters will use your Licks and can ruin a hunt. Hunters also tend to visit the Lick Sites too much. This only leaves your scent, disturbs the deer, and defeats the purpose of placing licks. Smart hunters do not disturb bedding areas and Lick sites.

Most Lick Love happens at night. Check on your deer using a deer camera. This will give you an idea of what your deer herd looks like. Lick Love happens when conditions are dry and hot. Spring to August is prime Lick Love season. Placing licks during hunting season will impact next year’s herd but not the current population. Lick manufacturers will argue that Fall use is good but… their goal is to sell a product.

Deer Love Licks because they offer salt. Minerals are bitter and will not attract deer. That’s why some Lick additives include apple, molasses, and sweeteners to improve taste and mask the mineral flavor. Salt is also found naturally and may be why some areas have great deer herds. Farmers also use Licks for cattle and other farm critters. Deer will also visit these areas.

11 Minerals are found in deer antler. Calcium and Phosphorus make up about 60 % of the antler. 40 % of antler is protein. When antlers are in the Velvet growing stage, this changes to 80% protein and 20 % minerals. As the antler grow up to an inch a day, and deer can use minerals for proper nutrition. Salt helps with overall health and wellness. Once the Velvet dies, in mid-August, the lick no longer serves a purpose for antler growth.

All deer and natures critters are attracted to Licks. The salt and minerals will help with all of their general health needs. Licks serve more as a vitamin supplement for health than antler grower.

Sportsmen are always looking to do things on the cheap. One Allegheny County hunting friend used to dump a cheap 50 lb. bag of road salt into a stump on his hunting property. The deer would eat the stump apart to get to the salt. A huge crater was left when the deer ate the dirt beneath the stump. Each Spring, he would drag in a new stump and repeat the trick. For over a decade, the Hunting camps harvest was great. When he passed, no one kept up his salt stump chore. Harvest declined and the club folded.

Here is a smart way to make your own Lick Supplement.

HOMEMADE LICK LOVE !!!

One 50 Lb. sack of Dicalcium Phosphate

Two 50 Lb. sacks of Trace Mineral Salt (this will contain additional minerals such as zinc, manganese, and iron)

You can find these materials at a Farm Store where feed and fertilizer are sold. Agricultural animals benefit from many of the same nutritional needs. The Dicalcium Phosphate will cost $25-30 a sack. The Salt will be $12-15 a bag.

During the hot summers, deer are looking for salt. Locate a spot on your property where there is water. After salt, deer need water. Bedding areas are a good idea. Deer trails will show you where deer travel but place the Lick Site several feet ff a trail. Pick an area that will be left as a sanctuary. Once you apply the Lick, it will not need attention for 6 months. If you must visit the site, use a Camera that you can access digitally.

Clear an area that is 5-6 feet across and shovel up the dirt. Mix the Lick Love in a ratio of 2-1. Salt masks the bitter taste of the minerals so twice as much is needed. One lick per 100 acres is all that is a rule of thumb. Too many Licks is less effective. Dump the lick material over the cleared area and stir It with the shovel. A bucket of water will help set the powder and keep it in place.

It may take a few seasons to really notice a difference in your deer herd. Attracting other deer will enhance genetics. Heathier does will reproduce healthier overall deer. Larger branched antlers will become more common. The results can be monitored using your deer cam images. At the very least, you will be enhancing local overall deer health.

Take time to add some Lick Love to your hunting area!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, Lick him up at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

CATCH and RELEASE RIGHT!!!

No one wants to unintentionally kill a fish. If we plan to eat the fish, it gets a “head thunk” and goes into a creel or ice chest. Fish can also be released and caught another day.

Correct Catch and Release techniques are discussed, debated, and often disregarded. Three fishermen will give you 4 opinions. Just because a fish swims away does not mean that it will survive.

Cell phones may have become one of the reasons even more fish die. On one trout fishing trip to the Yellow Breeches Creek in Pennsylvania, I met an angler with a selfie stick. He had just caught a small brown trout and was taking dozens of pictures with him and the fish. He would hold the fish in the water, throw the fish in the air, and tried every pose that he could think of. When I questioned what he was doing, he told me “Oh I never keep any trout. I only Catch and Release!”

Grip and Grab has often been the way to hold a fish. Dragging or booting the fish onto the shore covers them with dirt and debris. Allowing them to struggle in a net or flop around the deck is also a death sentence.

One of the great things about Catch and Release is that you don’t have to kill the fish. You can enjoy fishing, catching, and celebrating the day without a fatal outcome. This is not an option when hunting unless you hunt with a camera.

Even with the best Catch and Release techniques, some fish will die. Many fishermen do not choose to kill the fish, they simply do not know how to prevent heir demise. Science suggests 5-15% of fish released may die. This varies based on temperature and type of lures, flies, hook, or bait used.

Here are some points to Catch and Release Right!

               Sharpen Your Hooks! 

Studies show that a sharp hook will catch more fish and are more easily removed. Barbed hooks do not make a huge difference.The mouths of most fish are mainly cartilage. This fingernail like material has no nerves and is hard to penetrate. A sharp barbed hook makes a larger and cleaner hole for the hook to be extracted.

               If the fish is gut hooked, cut the line!

               If the hook or fly is deep in the guts of the fish, cut the line near the fished mouth. They will pass or dissolve the hooks in a few days. Even a hook left in the eye will eventually rust and dissolve. Their stomach acids are strong enough to do this job. A bled fish is a dead fish!

               Use a proper net! 

 Nets vary in size and material. A wider net is easier to fit the fish into. The best net is made of wide gapped fabric. A tight net mesh will wipe the protective mucous off the fish’s body. Once this protective layer is gone, bacteria, parasites, and disease will attack the fish. The key is to WET the NET before touching the fish. Nylon, rubber, and poly nets of the proper fabric size will make for a safe and quick release. They need to be attached to your vest or readily available.

               Keep the fish wet!

               Water saves fish lives. Once out of the water, the fish begins to suffocate and dehydrate. How long can you hold your breath? A wet fish stays cooler, calmer, and protected. Now deal with the hook and get ready for the release.

               Hold the fish properly!

               Grip and Grab means certain death. The air bladder of a fish is fragile. If squeezed, it will burst. Hanging the fish by the mouth can damage the vertebrae. Putting your fingers into the gills and under the gill plate will damage them. Any bleeding means almost certain death. When squeezed, the heartrate, blood pressure, and stress increases. These are a lethal end.

Plan pictures ahead of time!

Fishermen love to show off their success. Have your plan made ahead of time. You know where your phone is and imagine the angle you desire. Close is often better than far. Mix up your angles, backgrounds, and themes. If you need some time to get the picture ready, prepare your selfie stick, comb your hair, change your hat, or put people in position, keep the fish calm in the wet net. Gently wait for everything to be ready. Getting into the water, along a shore, helps. Lift the fish by the tails and just in front of the pectoral fins. Throwing the fish around and making faked action shots adds more stress. The actual photos can now take just a few moments. Say cheese and release gently please!

Use Forceps!

Shoving your fat fingers down the fish’s throat does damage and stresses out the fish. Use FORCEPS! Attach the forceps to your shirt, vest, or coat where they are always available. Grab the bend of the hook and unstick the hook. Avoid causing any bleeding. Use forceps in the length needed for the species you are targeting.

No fish towels or rags!

These will wipe away the fish’s natural protection. Imagine removing your skin. Mucous keeps bacteria, disease, and parasites off the fish’s body. Dirt, gravel, grass, and debris will also remove the mucous when the fish is beached or flopped on the shore or deck. Use a towel after dealing with the fish.

Resuscitate before release!

The longer the battle, the longer the recovery. Hold the fish in the water and work it back and forth. Allow fresh water to pass through their gills. Keep the fish in the wet net as you do this and face the fish into a tide or current. Holding one hand around the base of a fish’s tail is helpful. When they can easily pull free, the release is complete.

Circle Hooks save lives!

The correct size Circle Hook is hard for a fish to swallow. This means more hook ups in the mouth and lips and less damage to the gills and internals. This is especially important when fishing in areas with slot limits. Match the hook size to the fish species, and bait, that you are using. Many areas now require Circle hooks when live lining or fishing baits.

Fight the fish quickly!

The longer you fight the fish, the less likely it will survive a release. Lactic acid will build up in the muscle of the fish and remain for a long time. This will also impact the fish’s flavor if you plan to eat them. Fish become dormant and may not feed. Eventually they weaken and become vulnerable to predators or disease. Fight the fish aggressively! Use a proper balanced and matched rod and reel. The reel needs an excellent drag loaded with quality line.

Swap out Treble hooks!

Lures, spinners, and crank baits work better, get snagged less, and will catch more fish with a slightly larger and sharp single hook. Use the split ring attachment to change the hooks. A rear hook on a popper or surface plug is often enough. Now you have only one hook to take out of the fish. A single hook is also less likely to hook the fisherman.

Avoid Stainless Steel hooks.

These hooks will not rust or break down from a fish’s stomach digestive acids. If you plan to keep the fish, a stainless hook is durable, stays sharp, and is efficient. For Catch and Release it may be a released fish death wish.

Gaffs are for Catch and Keep only.

Catch and Release of gaffed fish is a unlikely. Once you slam a sharp gaff into the body of a fish, the blood pressure immediately drops, and the fish begins to go into shock. If the next stop for the fish is the cooler, then fine. Even a lip or mouth/gill gaff hook up is damaging. The vertebrae, gills, eyes, and are all vulnerable to a fatal wound.

Guides, Outfitters, Charter Captains and experienced anglers need to be masters of the Catch and Release skills. They have a responsibility to protect and manage the fishery correctly. After all, these fish are their lively hood. Without the fish, their clients are just going for a boat ride. Educating their clients is an important part of their job and what the clients need to learn.

All anglers must become Stewards of our sports if we hope to have them in the future. “The most important things that we learn in our lives are the things we learn after we already know everything!”

Don’t even get me started about kissing a fish!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, Catch and Release him at www.montanagrantfishing.com. ble 4 Acce

THANKS !!!

Thank You for your Service! This is the line we give to police, firemen, military, teachers, and other wonderful public servants. They sacrifice, save lives, and protect our freedoms and democracy.

There were times when “Thanks” were not given. Soldiers returning home from the Vietnam War were insulted and disrespected. Police have been ridiculed after a flawed shooting or abuse. Firemen were once considered drunks and lazy. Teachers are wonderful until they are not.

One group of American Citizens has been consistent, generous, and important for our outdoor spaces. Sportsmen have a heritage of conservation, wildlife management, watershed and fishery protections, and guaranteeing we all have outdoor places to enjoy.

Without Hunters and Fishermen, we would not have public lands and watersheds. These guardians of the outdoors pay a tax on all gear, equipment, and things needed for their sport. The taxes are then returned to states based on the total amount of sporting licenses sold. The more sportsmen, the more revenue.

Open Space Funds are supposed to be used for outdoors management, purchase, protections, and maintenance. Sadly, many states just throw this revenue into their public general funds and violate their true intention.

Ironically much of these funds go to support trails, access, parks, and areas where hunting and fishing is not allowed. Despite this misuse of funds, the public still has an abundance of outdoor places to enjoy. Without Sportsmen fees, taxes, and support, there would be little.

Buying your states sportsmen’s licenses is a great way to support our outdoor spaces even if you don’t hunt or fish. These funds go directly into the programs that protect and maintain our parks, waters, and public lands.

Thank a Sportsman!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

HUSKY FISH RECIPE !

 Everyone has a grill but not everyone is a Grill Master. Hunting and fishing camp are better when a Grill Master is on hand.

Great Grillers kill it when they warm up their coals. Grilling can mean fewer dishes, more flavor, and fat and happy campers. Here are a couple different Grill meals to Master.

FISH in CORN HUSKS

               The corn husks will keep your fish moist while adding a nice smoky corn flavor. You can also use the corn husk to eat from. Walleye and thicker fish like Halibut work well with this recipe.

               Ingredients include; 4 fish filets, 4 ears of fresh corn with husks, Salt and pepper or Old Bay seasoning, ½ cup of thinly sliced green onions, ¼ cup of chopped red peppers, 4 teaspoons of drained capers, 4 tablespoons of butter, 4 sprigs of fresh thyme and some fresh lime wedges.

Pat dry your fish filets. Peel back the corn husks and remove the silks. Break off the cob at the base and leave the husks attached. Cut the kernels off 2 of the cobs and set aside. You will cut the other two cobs in half and grill with the meal. Simply grill indirectly while cooking your fish. You want a little char on the corn. Butter, sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning and serve.

Fold back half of the husks, add a filet and season. Top with 1/4th of the cut corn kernels, green onions, sweet peppers, capers, and butter. Top with a sprig of Thyme. Fold the husks back over and tie the package together using 100% cotton cord or string.

If using Charcoal; you need a medium heat. It is best to place the briquets around the edge and the husks in the middle. Cover the grill and roast for 20 minutes. Indirect cooking is best. If using propane, a medium heat is best. Avoid flareups.

If using a Smoker Grill, like a Traeger; Smoke the corn husks for 20 minutes then turn the heat. Low and slow is always best. Another 20 minutes should do it. Test for doneness by seeing if the fish flakes.

Some folks like their fish blackened and crunchy. Play with this recipe to make it your own.

You can also add a simple salsa or taco sauce to the fish when done. The sauce will cover up the delicate fish flavor but may be your choice. You can serve in the husks or transfer to a plate, roll or Tortilla.

The simpler the better.

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, catch him Grillin and Chillin at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

A PROPER KNOT !!!

KNOTS

If you think your knot is a problem, then you are right! It is amazing how so many fishermen make sure that every other part of their gear and rigs are correct and perfect. They wear the most expensive and stylish boots, hats, glasses, and sport the best rods and reels. When it comes to a knot, the fish is lost before the battle begins.

All knots will weaken your line. It does not matter what type of line you choose; knots will weaken them. If your monofilament is rated at 10 pounds of strength, even a perfect knot will make it 8.5 lb test. A crappy knot will decrease its strength 50% or more. Throw in the sun, wear and tear, and a wind knot or two and you should just throw your lures and flies into the river.

Every fisherman should learn a Clinch Knot, Blood knot, and a Uni Knot. The Duncan Loop is also a good choice. Search on YouTube videos for great directions and demonstrations on how to tie them. Each knot has a special application.

The Clinch Knot attaches a hook, fly or lure to your leader. Using a Duncan Loop variation will allow this knot to stay loose to the hook eye and add action. The Improved Clinch Knot can cut itself using some lines.

The Blood Knot attaches two pieces of line or leader together. These lines need to be close to the same diameter or within a few pounds’ strength of each other. Fluorocarbon can be dramatically stronger and thinner than other tippet materials. In this case, look at the diameter. You may be able to make the final section the strongest and thinnest tippet.

 A Surgeons Knot is what fishermen that can’t tie a Blood Knot use. This cheapo knot weakens the line significantly. They will ague all day about the Surgeons Knot because they are too lazy to learn a proper knot, or their eyes make it a challenge. Take the time to learn a Blood Knot or buy more flies.

The Uni Knot is needed when using braided or woven lines. It will not slip and is simple to tie. There are also many other useful knots to tie. Certain knots do better in salt water, trolling, or other specific applications. As the fish get bigger and stronger, so should your knots.

Try to fish with the finest lightest lines and gear that you dare. This makes fishing more of a challenge. Lighter line will invite more hook ups. A great reel with a great drag will also help you land the big one. You gear also needs to stout enough to not over tire and over play out the fish. This is important when considering Catch and Release.

Tie one on!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

The ONE THING !!!

This is the time of year when we think about the things we want to do or do different. Last years deer season is done, and our dreams turn to new bucks and deer adventures. Maybe a missed shot, or blown set up, or mistake cost you a great buck last season. Maybe you are disappointed with your gear, hunting spots, skills, or techniques.

Now is when you begin to prepare for next season. Make a list of what you need to do to become a better hunter. Is a new bow or gun needed? Were you uncomfortable and cold in your old garments? Were you getting blisters or sore feet from old boots? Did you shoot just over your target?

Let’s start with your weapon.

               Archery    Look at the ballistics of your bow. Fast is good but accuracy is critical. Are you using feather or plastic fletching’s? Are illuminocks a part of your shafts? Are your broadheads working properly and are they sharp? Did you wax or Armor All your shafts? Is your release smooth and efficient? Can you hit a teacup at 20 yards with every shot from the ground and a tree stand? How often do you practice? How far can you accurately shoot? Do you use a range finder when in your stand? Do you practice from a tree stand?

               Rifle or Gun    Know the ballistics of your firearm. How fast are they? What is your trigger pull? What is your drop at 100 yards? Are you using a red dot scope or more significant optics? Is your scope adjustable in the field? What is your eye relief on your scopes? Do you have a BDC system on your reticles? Do you need a bipod? Which is your dominant eye? What is your maximum effective range? How often do you shoot? Does your weapon fit properly?

               Clothing    Normally hunters wear camo or safety clothes. Does your camo pattern match where you hunt? Does it fit comfortably? Are you too cold or warm when afield? Do your toes get cold? What kind of liner socks are you using? Is your camo flat or 3-D?  Do you wear Gore-Tex? Do you practice shooting in what you wear afield? What style hat do you use? Is the brim too long? Do you wear an orange safety hat? Is your safety vest solid orange or a broken camo pattern? Do you wear a safety vest or Great Pumpkin Suit?

               Optics    Seeing is believing. What type of eyewear do you use? Do you need a prescription? Has your dominant eye changed with age? How do you measure distance? Have you tried amber shooting glasses? Are your binoculars effective in all weather? Do you clean your lenses? What do you see when you aim? Can you see the rear sight, front sight and target at the same time? Is your scope too close to your face? How often do you even use your binoculars?

               Scent    Smell is so important. How do you store your clothes and gear? What scent is best? What do you wash your clothes in? Does your scent match the smells in your hunting area? Do you use scent drags? Have you tried a 100-yard scent line? How do you identify wind direction? Do you use attractant, urine, or estrus scents? Do you wear rubber scent free boots and gloves? Have you tried hot scents? Have you made mock scrapes?

               Location    Are you hunting public or private land? Do you scout the area and find bedding and feeding areas? Are you in a tree stand or on the ground? Where is the water source for your property? Are you hunting mornings, evenings, or all day? What is the prevailing wind for your area? Did you recently cut shooting lanes from your stand? Is their nearby hunting pressure? How high is your stand? How long has your stand been set? How early before you hunt is your stand set? Is there a history of good bucks in your area? Where is the sanctuary where no one can hunt? Have you tried to discover better hunting spots?

               Calls and Decoys     Do you use calls? Can you grunt, bleat, or make any other deer calls? How far from your stand is your decoy? Are you using a buck or doe decoy? Which way is your decoy facing? Do you add scent to your decoy? Do you use a manual or battery powered call? How loud and often do you call?

I think that you are beginning to get my point. The one thing about deer hunting is that there is not just one thing! When you tag a deer, it is because of many things that you have done correctly.

Learn from your mistakes. If you don’t you will repeat them. Never look at deer hunting as something easy. There may be times when it seems that way but over the course of your hunting life, Big Bucks are earned. Celebrate each success but always challenge yourself to become a better hunter. As you age, adjustments, compromises, and changes will happen. Hopefully your experience will compensate for these shortcomings. You may not be as fast, flexible, strong, and slim, but you will be able to adjust and adapt.

Be the Best Hunter you can be!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, hunt him up at www.montanagrantfishing.com. See this article and others at www.dannerholzwhitetails.com.

FIND the COMMON GROUND!!!

We see too much disagreement in the world today. All of us have different opinions, ideas, politics, and needs. In many cases there is common ground. “What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander”.

We just need to get along and work together for the same goal.

Climate Change or Global Warming? Timber Stand Improvement or Deforestation? Fossil fuels or wind and solar? Conservation or preservation? Stream improvement or let nature take its course? Everyone has their opinions.

What we have learned is that in most cases “Natures Knows Best” and “always finds a way”. Humans, despite our pollution, mistakes, and fiddling with the environment are at the mercy of nature. It is certainly better to not make life harder for Nature, but humans also have a knack of screwing things up.

Education is important. All sides of environmental issues have their opinions. What is most important are the facts. Science is key to understanding what we don’t know. Sadly, Science is not always on target or consistent. Human greed is also a problem. Rhino horn would not cost $28,000 a pound if someone wasn’t willing to pay for it.

All sides need to work together to help each other. It’s ok to disagree but it is not ok to fight and discredit others because your opinion does not matter to them. When a disagreement arises, create a Hypothesis and use the Scientific Method to answer the questions. Arguments, yelling, sabotage, guilting, and discrediting others does nothing to help anything.

All sides of environmental issues also have the same ultimate target. We all want a healthy and clean environment. Working together for this goal is better when resolved together. This is the Common Ground!

All Sportsmen, Tree Huggers, Nature Lovers, Environmentalists, Miners, Industry, and Communities can easily find Common Ground.

Without a healthy environment, we are all screwed!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, find him at www.montanagrantfishing.

FOIL FISH!!!

Josh’s Foil Fish 

Catching fish is great fun but it is also fun to reward you and your buddies with a fish dinner or lunch.

 Years ago, a crew of friends went onto Canyon Ferry for some great ice fishing. We were loading the ice with yellow perch, trout, and ling. Our veteran ice master, Josh, was not only a great fisherman, but was also a great cook. While we all happily ripping lips, Josh pulled out a grill, a roll of foil and a sack of other ingredients. There were several of us fishing near the ‘Hole in the Wall’ that day, so he made each of us a foil packet of fresh filleted perch. When you are sitting on a frozen lake in minus degrees temperatures, miles from the truck, and someone hands you a hot meal…what can I say.

 That foil pack of fresh fish was amazingly delicious and a perfect way to reward everyone for venturing out in a Montana winter. There was no leftovers and I swear most of the foil had been licked clean. Fish are best when eaten fresh. It takes a little planning and preparation, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Josh’s Simple Foil Wrapped Trout recipe.

 Usually 4-8 filets per pack are needed. This may vary based on the size of your grill, appetite, or fish. You can use whole fish, but it  takes longer to pick through the bones. Normally we use skinned filets.

¼ stick of butter/ pack

4 tablespoons or Worcestershire Sauce, salt and pepper

An onion cut into slices.

 You can also modify and adjust this recipe to use what you have or what other flavors you may like. Some folks like lemon slices, or vegetables thrown in. You can also bring some tartar sauce or seafood sauce.Heck even ketchup will do in a pinch.

 A grill with a cover is best. You can use charcoal, wood, or propane. Cooking by the warm grill or fire when ice fishing has its advantages.

Place the filets onto a double layer of heavy-duty foil. Add the spices and cover with onions. Cut the butter slices and add on top. Seal each layer separately and securely so no juice leaks out. Build all your packs and start cooking them. Normally 5-7 minutes per side is all you need on a hot grill or fire. Having a pair of tongs and/or a spatula makes for easy packet flipping.

 Test one packet to make sure the fish is flaky and the onions are soft and sweet. A few paper plates, napkins, and plastic forks will seal the deal.

 Make sure to take your trash with you so we can keep our special beautiful places perfect for our next trip out.

Fish for fun!

Montana Grant

BLOODED!!! (written for www.dannerholzwhitetails.com)

Hunting is a Blood sport. Blood Trails are a part of the deed to harvest a deer. Once you release the arrow or pull the trigger, an ethical hunter must finish what they started.

Not every shot ends well. An unseen stick can deflect the shot. A last second flinch by the shooter or critter will change the point of impact. Sadly, the deer may be wounded and must be tracked.

Following a Blood Trail is an often undiscussed but an exciting part of the hunt that requires learned skills. Not every hunter is a good tracker here are some thoughts and ideas that will make you better at tracking.

During one woodland hunt, I was still hunting up a valley. Off to my right I saw a buck looking at me head on. He had seen me and was perfectly still at 100 yards. It was black powder season and I was shooting a 50 caliber Hawken muzzle loader with iron sites. I took aim on the center of the buck’s chest. This is a shot I rarely take but I was confident with my skills. My aim was helped by a tree limb and I took the shot. The buck turned and ran out of sight. I carefully marked the spot of the shot and the last place I saw the buck.

When I got the place where the buck stood, there was no blood! No way I missed, I thought. I saw some kicked up leaves and was able to track the movement of the buck but still had no blood. Next, I went to the spot where I last saw the buck run off after the shot. 10 yards from the spot lay my buck! The shot was dead center in the chest. The 50-caliber slug passed through the lungs, liver, and stopped at the rear ham. It rested just under the skin. No blood had come out of the deer. It wasn’t until I field dressed the buck that I discovered it had bled internally. The cavity was full of blood. Follow up every shot that you take.

After the shot   Watch the critter. Look for behavior that indicates a wound. Mark the first and final positions of your target.

               Wait, watch, and listen    There is no hurry. If you made your one best shot, observe to see the outcome. Use your optics to scan for movement or the fallen critter. Take a compass bearing from your stand. Mark the two positions. Travel to the position of your shot and look for sign. Hopefully you will find hair, blood, and sign. Mark the sign with a ribbon and begin to track it out.

Examine the last place you saw the critter.   With luck, you are on a blood trail or have tracks and trail to follow. Scan ahead looking for a fallen critter or movement. You may also hear sounds. Use all your senses to help find the deer.

Back out if it is getting dark and you have no sign. Mark the last spot with a ribbon so you can return with help.

Examine the evidence     If you have hair and blood, evaluate where you hit the deer.

Blood color will tell a lot    Bright bubbly blood means a lung shot. Dark blood with debris in it means a gut shot. Dark clean blood means a liver hit. Are there bone chips in the blood trail, Rib pieces, leg bones. Understand the anatomy. Is the blood on the ground, right tor left of the main trail, high on twigs or leaves? This will tell you where the critter is bleeding from. If blood in in the footprint, it is dripping down the leg. Evaluate what you see.

If the deer is continually moving, slow down.  Look for places where the deer stood or bedded. Allow the wound to do the job and let the deer relax, stiffen up and die. If you push it harder, the deed will get more adrenaline and ca quickly clot. It may then move leaving little or nor blood trail.

 If you lose the trail   Start making circles from the last blood sign. Mark the spots with ribbon so you can guess a path. Hard hit deer seldom go up hill or through thick cover. They also are losing fluids, so thirst is a factor. Wounded deer will travel to a water source. Be sure to search these areas.

Two trailers are enough. The more company, the more chance you have of ruining a limited trail. Flag every drop or bit of sign as you go. Slow and thorough tracking is important. Communicate and ask questions like, where would he go?” Is he walking, limping, or running? Where is the closest water source? Where would this buck bed? Read the sign and make a plan.

Tracking at night    A Coleman Lantern will help you see a blood trail. The wet blood will reflect the light. Other Blue light or heat sensor tracking lights can be useful. Some dogs are good at tracking a blood trail. If you are not sure you are seeing blood drops, pray hydrogen peroxide onto the spot. If it fizzes, its blood.

If all else fails and you are sure that the deer was head, take a break. Get some additional help and lay out a grid. In most cases the mortally wounded deer is usually within a few hundred yards of where it was hit. Start in this area. If the deer went further, there is a good chance it may survive the wound. Once you have exhausted every hope of retrieving a deer, start looking for ravens and scavengers. This may happen weeks later. Use your nose to smell a dead critter. You may at least put an end to the mystery and retrieve the antlers.

Deer can sustain huge damage. They clot quickly and heal fast. I have seen lost deer weeks later chasing does in a field. Harvested deer have also been found to carry slugs and broadheads for years. Nature finds a way.

Be the BEST hunter you can be! Make every trigger pull your one best shot!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, aim for him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

The LIVING INTESTINE!!!

Campfire stories can be great fun. Here are some tips and tricks to help you spin a great yarn at your next campfire. It is ok to think out of the box, but you do need to use themes that are a unique to get the listeners attention. Craft your stories to be appropriate for your audience. Here is an example.

“The wolf had pestered the lumber camp long enough. One of their own had been killed and eaten by this local pack of wolves. The woodcutters caught the biggest wolf and killed it. The guts were strewn across the ground and left to rot. The next morning, when the woodcutters came back to the site, everything was still there except for the intestines! Only a faint crawling blood trail led into the forest. The intestines were still alive!”

This was the premise for an historical campfire story that has been told for generations! As a Scout, youth leader, ad teacher this themed story has thoroughly scared generations of campers. The concept of the story is simple but what makes a great campfire story is much more. The truth is that intestines don’t come back to life but… Here are some thoughts and ideas on how to tell great campfire stories of your own!

Not everyone is a good storyteller, but with practice, you can learn to become one. It takes creativity, spontaneity, personality, and imagination. We all know who in our groups fit these requirements. Make them responsible to tell the stories at your campfires.

Campfire stories are best told in the dark.  Night time brings out basic fears and makes listeners more gullible to the yarn you plan to tell. If it seems too dark, hand out some glow sticks for security.

Keep it Simple   The best stories are the ones that are easy to remember. Consider themes that are obviously relevant and may be believable. Simple enough to have fun with and exciting enough to be remembered.

Personalize the story   Use local landmarks, history, legends, or features to give your story a touch of legitimacy. Ex. Wolves were once abundant in these hills. Many were gray, but a few were black. Some were huge and weighed as much as 200 or more pounds.

Tell the story effectively   A great campfire story usually takes 15-20 minutes to tell properly. If they are too short, they lack credibility. Too long and they put people asleep. Plan ahead and practice your storytelling skills. If it makes you react, then you are on the right track.

Properly introduce the story   Make sure you get everyone’s attention at the beginning of the story. Have another camper make an introduction. Toss some campfire glitter flash powder into the fire. Maybe try some pinecones soaked in chemicals to change color. Add some pizazz then begin the story when everyone is ready. Ex. Hold a large wood cutters axe, that was found by the large tree nearby.

Make the story believable   Add just enough facts to make the story plausible, the go a bit crazy. Use accurate facts, history, names, and dates. Relate events to real events and people. Identify actual people or their relatives from your gathering to support the story. Ex. The wood cutters camp was along this ridge. This campfire site was were the cook prepared their meals. Your Scout Leaders Grandfather knew many of the woodcutters that worked here.

Be original but…   The best stories are based on the same themes. Murder, vampires, mystery, or simply things that go bump in the night. If you are camping, use the dark to add mystery, excitement and fear.

Ask questions       Ex. “Has anyone ever seen a real wolf?”  “Do you know how long a wolf’s intestine is?”  “What kinds of things can you use an intestine for?” Get your guests thinking about the theme. Pioneers used intestines to make sausage. Most trappers ate the meat from the critters they caught. Intestines in a 200 lb. wolf are around 25 feet long! That makes for a huge “Living Intestine”! This line of factual input gives realism and fact to your story.

Use the campfire guests’ senses    Play off of their senses of sight, touch, smell, and imagination. Once the guests are hooked on your story, it is amazing what you can make them believe. If a creature has a smell, open a jar of stink to support it. Ex. Mimic sounds of wolves or other creatures. Have a friend away from the campfire make a howl, bark, or creature scream. Wolves hunt in packs so several different locations could be used. Use a string tied to a stack of cans near the tents. Jerk it to create a startling noise at the right moment. You get the idea, now be creative.

Use adjectives!   Use descriptive words to enhance your story. Ex. The wolf’s breath doesn’t just stink, “it smelled of rotten, raw, meat and salty blood!”. Have fun with grossing out your audience while adding spice to the story. Avoid curse words or inappropriate comments or themes. Keep it between the lines. If you tell the story properly, you will not need to add shock and awe. The story will make the guests imaginations do that for you.

Inflection, tone, volume, and pace    Use these presentation tricks to keep your guests off balance. Avoid saying “um, uh, like, …”, the words you say when you are not sure what to say next. Your story will burn up if you read it or don’t believe and know it yourself. If you forget a thought, slow down, ask a question, make some noises, ask for another log on the fire. This will give you time to think and allow the guests to savor what is next. Ex. If the wolf howl was loud, scream it. If the wolf made the wood cutters afraid, say it in your voice. Stand up and yell, or swing the axe, or what was that, did you see that shadow? Keep you guests on their toes.

Make your campfire snacks related to the story     Ex. Give out some chopped up meat sticks before the store begins. Everyone loves Slim Jim’s. Did you know that they are made using intestine casings and ground up hearts? After the story about Living Intestines, will they ever eat a meat stick again? Maybe cookies in the shape of a wolf’s feet, small axes, or long, red, sticky, thick string licorice. You get my drift?

The story should take on a life of its own. You will know if the story was a good one if your guests are talking about it for years to come. “I just could not get asleep, thanks a lot!”. Check the campers once the fire has ended and they return to there tents. Carry you axe so they know you will keep them safe.

“The woodcutters followed the faint blood trail to a rock cliff. One lumberman looked inside a crevice where the blood trail led. Suddenly he fell backwards, screaming and writhing on the ground. The Living Intestine was sucking his life away as it attached to his forehead. The other woodcutters came to his rescue and used their axes to cut the long intestine into hundreds of pieces. After this axe swinging frenzy, they found their friend dead and carried his lifeless body back to camp. The next day, they returned to the bloody site to bury the remains of the living intestine. Not a single piece could be found, just hundreds of tiny blood trails leading away into the forest. A month later, people from the nearest town went to visit the lumber camp. No one had come for supplies that were needed. Everyone was found dead, only a small round mark could be found on their foreheads!”

Ice the Cake   Do something the next morning to bring your story back to life. Ex. If you painted small red blood trails around the campsite the next morning, the story will take on a life of its own.

Make your campfire stories something to be remembered for years to come. This is what makes campfires fun and ….

“What was that? Did you hear that sound, oh no it’s a giant…!!!”

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, find him around the campfire at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

 

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