Shed Hunting & Post-season Scouting Tactics

Shed Hunting & Post-season Scouting Tactics

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. 

Turkey Tech App Updated with More Content!

Turkey Tech App Updated with More Content!

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 tayler@gotgametech.com.

 

ElkNut and Turkey Tech Apps 20% Off

ElkNut and Turkey Tech Apps 20% Off

To celebrate the annual NWTF National Convention and the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo, we’re offering our ElkNut and Turkey Tech apps at a 20% discount!

The second week of February is generally associated with Valentine’s Day. But for those of you who share a passion for hunting, it’s also the week of two fantastic shows/conventions.

In Nashville, Tennessee, turkey hunters from around the country converge to share in camaraderie, turkey calling, and all other things turkey hunting! Our Turkey Tech app expert, Scott Ellis, and our Whitetail Tech app expert, Steve Stoltz, are both competing in various divisions of the turkey calling championships. And last night—capping off the first show day—Scott Ellis won the grand national owl hooting championship! We wish him and Steve the best of luck in the turkey calling prelims today!

On the other side of the country, the Mule Deer Foundation has fostered what in our minds is the best western hunting expo. Thousands of hunters filter through the Salt Palace, and hundreds of big game tags are given away to lucky hunters. And for the last couple years, the Hunt Expo has hosted the World Elk Calling Championships!

Our company focus of helping hunters develop and improve their calling and hunting skills goes hand in hand with both of these great events. As a result, we want to show our support and excitement by offering our ElkNut and Turkey Tech apps at a 20% discount on the App Store and Play Store! This discount will last through the end of each show (Saturday for NWTF; Sunday for the Hunt Expo).

Be sure to check our social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook to see how you can win a $25 gift card to Woodhaven Custom Calls or a Phelps Game calls by sharing this discount with your hunting buddies!

We hope to see you at one of these shows this weekend! Tayler spent yesterday in Nashville and is now en route to SLC. You can find Scott Ellis and Steve Stoltz at the Woodhaven Custom Calls NWTF booth. And Ryan and Tayler will be around the Phelps Game Calls booth today and tomorrow at the Hunt Expo.

Passing on Our Elk Hunting Tradition

Passing on Our Elk Hunting Tradition

 

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.

Lukes Elk

Taylers-Elk.jpg

How would you like to be on the ElkNut podcast?

How would you like to be on the ElkNut podcast?

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 tayler@gotgametech.com 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!

ElkNut’s Newest Calling Seminar Available to Watch or Listen

ElkNut’s Newest Calling Seminar Available to Watch or Listen

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!

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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.

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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!

Elk Calling Seminar on August 23!

Elk Calling Seminar on August 23!

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 tayler@gotgametech.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!

 

New ElkNut App Update

New ElkNut App Update

We have received some great feedback from customers since our last update to the ElkNut App. And while we can’t put all the suggestions to work, we have been able to make a couple major changes that you will see on this new version of the ElkNut App. If you already have the app downloaded, the update will be automatically pushed out through the App Store or Google Play store depending upon your device. If you don’t have the ElkNut App, you may purchase it on the App Store here or the Google Play Store here and it will be in this new format.

The most noticeable update to the app is the menu bar that is located at the bottom of the screen. We learned there is too much information on the app that not enough of our users were able to navigate to very easily. This new navigation bar lets users now right away that the ElkNut app is more than just a library of elk calls. It’s loaded with tips, tactics, and elk calling sequences to help you become a more successful elk hunter.

Speaking of sequences, we have added a substantially more detailed Slow Play sequence! This used to be tucked away in the Tactics section as one of the “ElkNut Nuggets.” But it’s such an important sequence, and Paul has expounded on it so much in this update, that we knew it needed to be more prominently featured. If you want to understand how to work every bull you encounter, you need the slow play sequence in your life!

We have also added two additional tactics to help the Early Season and Solo elk hunters. Check those out and let us know what you think! We get a lot of questions about these two topics, so we hope you will find the information helpful. We’ve also added a couple more ElkNut Nuggets (in the Tactics section), but we don’t want to spoil the surprise. Open up the app and see for yourself!

You’re also going to want to check out the newly updated “Products Used” section. Here you can find the products we recommend to help you to find the most success in the field. This section can be found under each elk sound included on the app. Select the sound, then you’ll see the screen showing the video, audio, tips, and products used. Definitely give these companies and products your consideration.

In sum, it’s short time; elk season is next month for many of us. We hope you will dive in to this app update and let us know what you think and other things we can do to improve it. As always, thank you for your loyalty and for sharing the app with friends and family. Remember, friends don’t let friends elk hunt without the ElkNut app.

Spring Bear Hunting

Spring Bear Hunting

After following along with Top Priority Hunting’s 2018 bear hunting season on YouTube this spring, we (Joel, Ryan, and myself) decided running a bear bait could be a great way to get out this spring, stretch the legs, do some scouting for fall, and perhaps even take a bear or two. We had no idea how much excitement this bear season would hold. Here is a recap of our season.

Pick a General Location. We knew a few areas that held bears from our experience hunting, and we listened up whenever there was a good bear hunting podcast. Brian Barney with Eastman’s Elevated put a couple great ones late winter that helped us decide on a location–close to grass, close to or near rocky areas where a den might be, and not too low in the elevation (as the snow would continually melt through the season and impact bear activity).

This was the night we picked the general area for our bear bait. Saw a bunch of elk to boot!

Start Gathering Supplies. We used a combination of molasses oats and old bread as the base for our bait. We also tried out a variety of scents and flavorings, including Moutlrie’s and Boar Masters among others. We also contacted a few local eateries about getting their old grease and picked up some chocolate sauce containers on the cheap from Costco. One truck load from the bread shop took care of our bread needs for about $20. As for the barrel, a friend helped us weld a chain to the barrel and cut a small hole in the side to limit the amount the bears could get to at a time.

Bear baiting is a family affair.

Set the Bait and Camera. We mulled over a few specific locations, but ultimately went a little higher up the mountain to set the barrel. We rode four wheelers a mile or two in and then hiked the last half mile or so straight up. It wasn’t so bad the first time. But the second, third, fourth, etc. time doing that hike with heavy packs full of bear bait got old fast. (Note to self for next time.) We picked a flat spot near a grassy park, dammed off the back of the barrel to force bears to enter from the direction of our stands and camera, and hacked off some limbs for the tree stands.

Bear baiting was a different type of heavy pack–good training for fall!

Feed the Bears. The next few weeks were  a waiting game. Since it was a new bait site, it took a while for the bears to start hitting it. We had it set up on April 17 or so, and didn’t have our first bear until May 7, I believe. But once the bears started to come in, it didn’t take long for a lot of different bears to start hitting the bait. Between the three of us, we made sure to restock the bait about once a week, sometimes twice a week. We arm twisted whatever buddies we could get to come help us carry the bait up the steep hill to the site. Most of the bear action was at night, but early morning and later evening hours also started to produce some bear activity.

Here’s a good sized boar we happened to catch on camera during daylight hours.

The Hunt. We initially hunted the bait from the tree stands we set up. Unfortunately, we had assumed thermals would get the wind in our favor nicely for an evening hunt, without thoroughly vetting the directionals that time of day. Unfortunately, there was a fairly constant directional blowing up the draw. The bears were coming in above the stand, so any chance at sitting the stand and taking a bear were nixed early on. However, we shifted strategy a bit by coming in around and high, above the bait, and watching from a distance before stalking in. This produced some good encounters.

Joel’s Shot. The first encounter that produced a shot occurred in late May. Joel went in with archery tackle, hung out above the bait, the snuck in when he saw activity. He was able to sneak in to about 40 yards, and made what we thought was a pretty good shot on a bear. But unfortunately he was not able to recover the bear. We saw it show up a few days later on the trail camera and were not able to locate a carcass as the season went on.

Tayler’s Bear. I went up again a few days later, rifle in hand. I’d never taken a bear and didn’t have much more time to hunt. I wanted to get it done. So I sat up above the bait about 200 yards away with a good wind and waited. For about three or four hours. Finally, I heard the chains of the bait rattle. A couple blonde color phase black bears (they were regulars) showed up. I had already decided if the bigger of the two showed up, I would make an effort to take him. The trees around the bait were thick, and I didn’t have a clear shot, so I started slowly sneaking in. It took about five minutes, but I crept through the trees to about 60 yards before I had a good opening. I sat, rested the Tikka 6.5 Creedmore on my knee and waited for the right shot. The bigger of the two blondies walked back into view near the bait and sat down, facing immediately away from me. He slowly started to quarter to the left. I waited until he quartered enough to give me a good shot at the lungs on his opposite side–he did so a few second later, and I squeezed the trigger. He jumped, yowled and headed down hill out of view. The other bear lumbered off in confusion and stopped about forty yards to my right. I told him to move along and he obliged. After calling Ryan, my wife, and my dad, giving the bear a bit to bleed out and die, I hiked down to the bait. There was good blood. I peeked over the ledge and could see my bear piled up. Success! He was a younger boar with a beautiful blonde coat!

Blake’s Shot. Ryan’s younger brother Blake had been staying with us this summer, moving pipe for a local rancher. He hasn’t shown a lot of interest in hunting, but when he came up, he decided to give a bear hunt a go. So we signed him up for Idaho’s mentored hunter passport and Ryan and Joel took Blake to the bait. (Blake had also helped me haul in bait on one prior occasion, so he had some skin in the game.) On back to back nights Blake had a shot at that smaller blonde bear and unfortunately wasn’t able to connect. It was a good lesson for him that hunting doesn’t always come easy, and it’s important to invest time on the front end to practice shooting more and make sure you’re comfortable behind the trigger.

Summary. We made about 20 collective trips in to our bait with 50-70 pound packs. We probably saw about 25 different bears on camera, including two or three really quality boars. These big males rarely hit the bait during shooting hours, but it was fun to watch them through trail camera pictures. Ultimately we were able to come away with one really cool blonde bear and a ton of memories and lessons for next year. We feel bear hunting is an important part of conservation and were glad to do our part this year. Not only is bear meat good eating, but controlling the bear population is important to our elk and deer populations.

Keep up with Scott Ellis’s Turkey Season on YouTube

Keep up with Scott Ellis’s Turkey Season on YouTube

We have enjoyed working with Scott Ellis in developing the Turkey Tech mobile app. His turkey calling credentials are tried and tested in the field every year, and 2019 was no different. He completed another single season slam (his third), bagging each of the four species of gobbler in the United States. You can keep up with these hunts, and many great others, but subscribing to his YouTube channel, Hunt Quest.

Hunt Quest is in its third season, and in addition to a ton of great turkey hunting, you’ll also get to see Scott, his friends, and family, chase trophy whitetails, hunt hogs, and work some waterfowl. Watching these shows is a great way to sharpen your turkey hunting abilities during the off season, enjoy high quality hunting video productions, and get to know Scott a little better.

Please subscribe to Hunt Quest and let us know what you think of the show.