By far one of the most effective ways to scout and learn your hunting property is to hunt for sheds.
While searching for shed antlers, you should also be taking note of the obvious deer sign that has now been exposed from the previous fall travel patterns. In fact, the sign that you will see during shed hunting might very well be the most important information that you can learn about the whitetail travel habits on your farm!
Cover is down, trails are easily defined and your disturbance will soon be forgotten by the mature bucks that have made it through the hunting season.
Here are some tips that will help you make the most of your shed hunting and post season scouting trips.
a. Don’t scout and shed hunt too early. Yes some sheds drop here in the Midwest in late December and the month of January. However, to cut down on disturbance, I recommend waiting until the vast majority of the bucks have lost their antlers. In my area of Southern Iowa, most sheds are on the ground by about March 1. Making the month of March, prior to spring green up the best month to shed hunt and scout.
b. 90% of your sheds will be found in about 10% of your ground. Hunt for sheds smart. Look in the area’s that bucks spend the most time in during this time of the year. This is usually near or right in their destination food source. Bucks love to lay down near the food and chew their cud throughout the night. This is where they spend most of their time, so this is where you will find more of your sheds. Pay close attention to grassy area’s just on the edge of the food source- especially the South Facing side. That is where the sun beats down on the cover more-so they will seek the warmer cover to lay down in.
c. Check fence jumps, trail creek crossings, ditch jumps, trails, bedding areas, transition area’s (thick cover meets open areas) and small food plots as well.
d. Take note of trail junctions, in particular ones that have big rubs nearby. This is a classic sign a mature buck was working that area. Bring a roll of Fluorescent Orange Survey Tape with you while scouting. This way when you find those great looking pinch points, funnels, travel corridors- you can mark which tree to possibly hang a stand in. If you don’t, you might not find that same tree as everything will look different in the summer or early fall!!
e. Bring a good pair of Binoculars and don’t get discouraged. Binos will save you a lot of walking when you notice a possible shed antler in the distance. You can glass the object to see if it’s even worth checking out. And don’t get disappointed if you are not finding sheds. Sheds are simply hard to find. You can spend days walking and find very few and at times none. But at least you are discovering new information about your farm that will come in handy this fall!!!
f. Be sure to check out the Whitetail Tech mobile app for more tips like this to help you better understand whitetail deer behavior and improve your ability to call these incredible animals.
This article was written by Steve Stoltz, the expert featured on our whitetail deer hunting mobile app, Whitetail Tech. Steve is a full-time firefighter and known in the outdoor industry as “the working man’s hunter.” Steve is on the Woodhaven Custom Calls and Mossy Oak pro staffs. His hunting footage has most recently been featured on Drury Outdoors’ deer hunting platform Deer Cast and Scott Ellis’s show, Hunt Quest.
Just in time for the NWTF National Convention, we have updated the Turkey Tech mobile app to include some great new content!
The Turkey Tech mobile app now has two additional turkey sounds and two new locator sounds, along with four real world hunting sequences demonstrating how Scott Ellis puts the sounds of the wild turkey to use hunting. The new calls are the Kee Kee Run and the Gobler/Jake Yelp. Both are nuanced, next level calls that will help you seal the deal on more gobblers when used correctly. Both sounds, like all others on the app, are explained through detailed how-to video, recorded audio of the wild turkey and Scott Ellis, and thorough hunting tips teaching what the sound means to a turkey, when to use it, and how to respond when you hear it. The new locators are breakdowns of the various barred owl sounds and crow sounds. Scott teaches you how to add realism to these sounds and how to add in the subtle variations to get that turkey to gobble and give up his location. You’re definitely going to want to check these out!
We are also excited about the new Sequences section on the app, in which Scott shows four different turkey encounters–all leading to a harvest–that teach different turkey calling principles. We know you’ll enjoy seeing Scott put the various sounds of the wild turkey into action to seal the deal on a wily old gobbler!
If you already have the Turkey Tech app, it will automatically update with this new content. If you don’t have it, you can download the app on either the App Store or the Play Store. We look forward to hearing your thoughts about this new content. Please let us know by contacting us on our social media channels or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
With Luke’s youth deer tag filled a couple days early, we were left with two extra days to scout for elk. Little did we know how valuable those two days would be.
My favorite time of year is September. I love chasing elk with my bow during the rut. It’s a magical time to be in the mountains. However, with my oldest son, Luke, finally reaching the ripe old age of ten, I knew that 2019 might look a little different.
Luke was already an experienced hunter. In late December 2018, about a week after he turned ten, he took his first big game animal, a whitetail doe with a 20 gauge slug. Just a few months after that he shot his first gobbler on an Idaho youth spring turkey hunt (20 gauge again!). We figured some of this good luck might translate to pulling an elk or deer tag during Idaho’s controlled hunt application period. It sure did.
Luke and I drew late season elk tags as a group, and he also pulled a youth deer tag! We had big plans to scout both the elk and deer areas in anticipation of the hunts. However, as life tends to do, our plans were complicated. I accepted a new job, which required our family to move from the area where we had drawn these tags to a larger city about five hours’ drive away. Nevertheless, before we moved, Luke and I hung a trail camera in his deer area and planned on checking it as the season approached. And fortunately, we had spent much of April, May, and June, in our elk area running a bear bait. We had a good idea of where the elk were spending time during the tail end of the winter.
The summer passed quickly, and we tagged the last three days of October (and the last week of his deer hunt) to chase deer, and the first five days of November for the elk hunt (opening day was November 1). Luke’s deer hunt is a post for another day, but suffice it to say, he shot his first mule deer buck on the first morning of our hunt. This freed up two additional days to scout for elk in advance of the season opener.
We had a few areas picked out as plans B and C if our spring bear hunting area didn’t pan out. And were able to put eyes on these two areas that first day of scouting. We located a substantial number of elk, including one big bull and a bunch of smaller bulls. However, they were in a pretty easy to access area and we knew that about half the town had seen them too. We decided to spend the evening and next day checking back in on our bear area. We located a good number of bulls that evening and again the next morning, both times at the same tree-line trail. We decided to stick with our plan A area for opening morning. (Lucky for Luke, we had the afternoon and evening free, and he even managed to get in a little trick or treating in his old hometown. I’m sure you can guess what he dressed up as….)
Opening morning Luke and I were up and ready at exactly the time we had planned for. This doesn’t always happen. But it did this time. Our game plan was to hike in from the bottom with good wind and get set up near the point in the treeline where the elk fed in to on their way to their bedding area. We hiked for about 90 minutes in the dark, and although it was all up hill and slow going, we were looking to get up to the treeline right around first light. We’d seen the bulls hanging out in the sage brush opening near the treeline until about 10 a.m. the day earlier, so we figured we had plenty of time.
About 500 yards from our planned setup, I spotted a bull 120 yards ahead of us. It was light enough to shoot. He was a big, mature five-point. At this point my thoughts were all on how to get Luke set up for a shot. We were just below the crest of a small rise, and there was no cover to speak of. The bull was not spooked, but he was walking steadily toward the trees. There just wasn’t a good option available to get a ten-year-old set up in time to make a shot on this bull. And we still had our original plan that seemed viable. So we didn’t rush things. The bull hit the trees in a matter of seconds. We gave him a couple more minutes to be sure he was out of sight and then continued our upward climb.
The hill steepened, and I pointed out a couple boulder patches, telling Luke we just needed to get to one of those and we should be able to set up our ambush. When we reached the first patch, it wasn’t high enough up the mountain. So Luke and I gutted it up to the next one. He was about fifteen yards behind me when I reached the boulders. I spotted three bulls out in the sage brush, working their to the trees. They were early!
I ducked down and motioned to Luke to quietly hurry. I ranged the bulls at just over 350 yards. We had the Tikka 6.5 Creedmore sighted in to around 600 yards, so this was a reasonable distance with a good rest. We sprung the bipod legs and the rock ended up being the perfect height for Luke. He was able to rest the bipod on the boulder and stand with a steady rest. He picked the bull he wanted to shoot out of the three. Boom! His bull slowed, and we knew he was hit. “Put another one in him if you can, Luke!” I whispered hurriedly. Boom! The bull didn’t drop, and we were not sure if this shot hit. But he was able to get one final bullet in to his bull and dropped him! The look on Luke’s face was a mixture of adrenaline and excitement! We’d dreamed about filling this tag all year, and we’d worked hard for it, but it still took both of our breath away when it actually happened!
Luke wanted to call his uncle, Ryan, to share the good news. About ten seconds in to the call, I glanced down the draw we were in. I was shocked to see a group of around twenty elk making their way up the draw from around 1000 yards away. We quickly told Ryan we had to go, and that we’d call him back. Luke stayed put, and I dropped down about 300 yards. I settled in and started watching the elk down the ravine, about 400 yards away at this point. Suddenly, I heard some rocks rolling to my left. I slowly looked over: the lead cow was way out ahead of the rest of the herd.
Fortunately, she hadn’t seen me or winded me. I held tight as she continued to work her way up the mountain. Soon, she was followed by a few more cows, and then a few small bulls. I looked over each bull as they made their way up the mountain. I didn’t see any I was ready to shoot opening morning of a good Idaho controlled hunt. However, the final bull appeared, pushing the rest of the herd up the mountain. I decided he was the bull I wanted to take, and I was able to pile him up about 250 yards from where I sat.
I looked down. Not even 9 a.m. Luke and I had both filled our tags the first hour (considering shooting light) of the first day of our first elk hunt together. Although we had a ton of work ahead of us (i.e., cutting up and packing out meat until 10 p.m. that night, only to come up again the next day for the heads and antlers, then hours of meat processing a few days later), we couldn’t have dreamed up a better ending. And even though it wasn’t September, and the elk weren’t bugling, there was still something magical about this hunt.
The ElkNut Series is loaded with golden nuggets from the ElkNut about different situations he’s encountered in the elk woods. We’d like to open up the floor on the next podcast to a few of our listeners. Talk with the ElkNut about the situations you encountered this year and get his two cents on what went right, what went wrong, and suggestions to improve!
We will have between four and six guests on the show. If you are interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a picture from your hunt (killing an elk in 2019 is not a requirement to appear on the show), and a brief description of your elk hunt this year (years of experience, state hunted, weapon, how many days, how many elk encounters, shot opportunities, results, etc.). We’ll try to get a good cross-section of elk hunters to make this show as informative as possible.
We’ll accept applications to appear up until 11:59 p.m. MST on November 13, 2019. Guests will be selected, and we’ll coordinate podcast interview times from there. Watch for this podcast to be released around Thanksgiving!
We partnered with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to put together an amazing night of elk calling instruction and fun. The ElkNut, Paul Medel, was joined by owner of Elk Addicts, Chris Horton, to provide elk calling and hunting instruction to over seventy hunters at the new Idaho Department of Fish and Game building in Nampa, Idaho on August 23. We recorded the event, and the ElkNut’s seminar has been posted to the Got Game Technologies podcast and YouTube channel. Definitely check it out!
At the seminar, every attendee was able to leave with a door prize of one kind or another from our great event sponsors: Phelps Game Calls (bugle tubes and mouth calls), Exo Mountain Gear (hats, T-shirts, and a gift card), Nature’s Paint (face paint), Trips for Trade (lifetime membership), Elk Shape (one-year Elk Shape online membership), Elk Addicts (hats and T-shirts), Got Game Technologies (free ElkNut app downloads), and Sneaky Hunter (boot lamps). These are great companies and we hope you’ll check out their products and services.
We have already booked the building for another seminar next year. Mark you calendars for Friday, August 21, 2020. In the meantime, we hope you’ll take what you can from this seminar and punch some tags this fall!
We are excited to announce that we have partnered with the Idaho Fish and Game to provide a free elk calling seminar at the new IDFG building in Nampa, Idaho on August 23, 2019 at 6:30 p.m MT. The keynote presenter will be the ElkNut, Paul Medel. He will be joined by Chris Horton, founder of Elk Addicts. And for the youth attending, the recently crowned World Peewee Elk Calling Champion, Chris Fong, will also be in attendance.
This star-studded panel will be providing their insight into the art of elk calling and hunting over the counter public land elk. There will also be door prizes that have been donated by Exo Mountain Gear, Phelps Game Calls, Elk Addicts, and the ElkNut mobile app. Be sure to show your appreciation for these great companies by checking out their products in advance of the event!
The new IDFG building is located at 15950 N. Gate Blvd., Nampa, Idaho. If you would like to attend in person, please send an e-mail to email@example.com. We will also be broadcasting the seminar live for those who cannot attend in person. This will happen on the ElkNut mobile app Instagram page, @elknutapp. Either way, mark your calendars for Friday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m. MT. You don’t want to miss this!