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Learning How to Scout Effectively

Learning How to Scout Effectively

map

E-SCOUTING

Let’s say we want to scout this piece of land.

First things we want to do is mark the special terrain features.

-Saddles -Benches -Extremely Steep Terrain -Drainages or Ditches

map

Here we have this piece of timber marked. 

Green represents Saddles

-Saddles are low spots in ridges that connect one face of the ridge to the other. 

Deer travel through this low spot in the ridges as it is the travel of least resistance and bottlenecks them down.

Yellow represents Benches

-Benches are flat spots on ridges where the terrain goes from steep, levels off and then continues rise in elevation. Deer use this terrain feature to bed and feed if mast trees are present. Benches can also be productive during the Pre Rut and Rut as bucks will cruise them to scent check doe bedding areas using the wind and thermals in search of an estrous doe but we will cover that in another segment.

Red represents Steep Terrain

-On a topographical map the closer the brown lines or elevation lines are together the more rapidly the rise in elevation. These areas provide cover for deer from predators and hunters. These locations can be extremely good as most hunters are not willing to walk up or down the steep terrain to get to these locations.

Blue represents Drainages or Ditches

-The easiest way to locate drainages or ditches on a topographical map is looking for “upside down U’s”.  These ditches are often times travel corridors up and down ridges. However the idea is not to set up in the middle of the ditch. For one most deer movement will occur at the top of the ditch where they will walk around the steep part of the ditch and then side hill down or up the ditch. Secondly if you were to setup in these ditches you would almost certainly get winded from passing deer. Ditches are notorious for swirling winds due to thermals and cooling air due to the nature of the terrain feature. The top or highest parts of ditches can be very productive as it provides a bottleneck for deer to travel around as well as being able to scent check the entire valley below.

Map

Ok, so now that we have a topo map that looks like a clown, what do we do now? We can break down this map a little more for when we want to put boots on the ground in late winter or early spring.

map

The nine bubbles are areas where multiple terrain features meet or locations of high traffic bottlenecks. We’ve now narrowed down 950 acres into 9 locations to scout for deer sign.

mapmap

 The final step I take in E-scouting overlapping Google Earth with the areas that I want to scout. Google Earth has a feature on their desktop version that allows you to look at historic aerials. This can be extremely useful in locating pockets of Oak Tree flats. Although you won’t know which type of oaks they are, it will give you a starting point for when you put boots on the ground. In the above figures I’ve referenced the ridge tops with waypoints for navigational reference.

The aerial photo is from Google Earth and was taken in October of 2015. As we all know in most parts of the country, this is when the leaves start to change. We also know that oak trees are typically the last to change colors and the last to lose their leaves. So what you want to do is cross reference your high travel areas that we bubbled and also look for areas on aerial the map near those bubbles that are still green.

mapIn this figure you can see now we’ve broken the area down even more in looking for pockets of oaks close to those bottlenecks and terrain features we originally found. Although I wouldn’t completely rule out the other 3 spots we located as they may be better producers during the Pre Rut or Rut. Once you get boots on the ground in late winter or early spring when you are still able to see sign that was left from the previous season, you will be able to put the pieces to the puzzle together that will make you more successful.

 

 

 

The first episode of Whitetail Theories covers E-scouting a little more in depth with some discussion from other hunters.

To see more of what Toren has going on you can follow him on his IG @the_wild_rambler

To get all the happenings at Cervicide follow us on YT @Deerslayer TV  IG @Cervicide and our podcast The Whitetail Theories Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

Be More Successful Deer Hunting with these 5 Steps

A 5 Part Series on How to Be More Successful Deer Hunting with these 5 Steps

How successful were you hunting whitetails this deer season?

  • Do you find yourself thinking you hate hunting public land?
  • Are you thinking to yourself on the drive to that piece of public or walking in that “this is just a waste of time”?
  • Are you not seeing deer like you think you should be?
  • How many opportunities are you having at killing buck or even a doe?
  • Is it under 5 opportunities for an entire hunting season?
  • Are you just going through the motions of hunting and not really enjoying your time in the field?
  • Do you feel like hunting is just a waste of TIME and MONEY?
  • Are you buying every new gadget that comes out, hoping that it will be the trick to end that bad streak of luck you’ve been having for the last couple of years hunting?
  • When you go on social media and see other people being successful hunting do you wonder what you are doing wrong?

Be More Successful Deer Hunting!

I was once in that very same place and we all have to start somewhere?

successful buck hunting

I use to go into the woods with HOPE of just seeing a deer, I didn’t care what kind of deer or how big or how small I just wanted to see A deer.

That has all changed. I’ve now learned to hunt. I regularly see deer on public land and have the opportunity to harvest up to 7 deer a year in my home state of Pennsylvania, one of the MOST pressured hunting states in the country.

Cut the learning curve in half with these 5 steps.

  • Learn how to scout effectively
    • E-scouting
    • When to Scout
  • Understanding deer movement
    • Food
    • Bedding/Cover
    • Water
  • Understanding Weather Patterns
  • Understanding how to Hunt the Wind
    • Understanding Thermals
  • Gear
    • What gear is worth it and what is not
    • What gear can actually help you be a better hunter.

successful deer hunting

As I’ve implemented these 5 steps into my hunting regime I’ve grown and become so much more successful in not only my encounters but also in filling the freezer.

To see more of what Toren has going on you can follow him on his IG @the_wild_rambler

To get all the happenings at Cervicide follow us on YT @Deerslayer TV and IG @Cervicide

Grandpa’s Gift

Some of the most important things in the world can be the most random things

A mug, a t-shirt, necklace, picture. To me, it is a Puma knife, thermos and flashlight. These were items that used to be my grandpa’s, and he gifted them to me before he passed because he thought I could use them while hunting. This isn’t a story to make you cry or feel bad, but to hopefully bring a smile to your face, not only because how much I cherish these items, but because you have similar items that you cherish the same way I do.

 

the flashlightThe Flashlight

This flashlight helped me track my very first buck I ever harvested with my bow. I shot him in the evening and the shot was a little iffy, so I had to wait a couple hours before tracking it. Now we all know what happens when hunting, we remind ourselves to pay close attention to where the deer runs after making a shot. Did it go next to a certain tree or bush, or hop a section of a fence? But we get caught up in the excitement and rush of finally getting an opportunity to shoot a deer and we forget exactly which marker the deer ran by. That same thing happened to me, I shot this buck, was so excited and when it came time to track, I couldn’t point out the exact spot it ran.

It might sound cheesy and cliché, but this flash light is the only flashlight I was using when tracking this deer with my dad, sister and her boyfriend. It is always in my deer hunting backpack or my blind bag for waterfowl hunting and I will hold onto it even when the day comes that it no longer works anymore.

 

The Thermos

coffee thermos

This thermos my grandpa gifted to me after I went duck hunting with my cousin for the first time. He thought it was so cool that girls hunt, and thought it was even cooler that two of his grandkids were hunting together. You see, my grandpa was a big duck hunter back in the day and he always filled this thermos up with coffee. Now, I’m not a coffee drinker, so I fill it with hot chocolate. This thermos has been washed numerous times throughout the years, but it still smells like his coffee. I may not like coffee, but the smell of it on this thermos brings a smile to my face knowing that this was once his and he was once in this same position I was in, enjoying the outdoors.

 

hunting knifeThe Knife

This knife is something that I take with me almost everywhere I go. This knife was given to my grandpa by my parents, back when they were only dating. My grandpa was looking through his things one day and came across this old Puma knife and realized it hadn’t been used in a while. Eventually it found its way to me.  This knife is well over 30 years old and has seen it all and been used plenty, but well taken care of. I consider this knife to be my lucky charm. As corny as that sounds. But while having this knife in my possession I have had some of the best things happen to me. I finally got a dog, something I have always wanted. I found my first shed while shed hunting and had the best waterfowl and deer season of my life! I got my first duck, goose, my first buck with a bow, and my second buck with my rifle, which also happened to be my biggest so far!

Sunday, October 13, 2019. I was getting ready to head out to my stand in the morning and it was cold. 33 degrees with a feel of 23, so I filled that thermos up with hot chocolate, grabbed my knife out of the display case and headed out to my stand with my gear. I had the best sit of the season so far, saw deer non stop all morning long, mostly does, but still exciting to see deer. All I could think was “wow”, I have yet to see this many deer so far. Then it hit me, I have my grandpa’s knife, thermos and flashlight with me right now. The one time I have all 3 with me is when I saw the most deer. Could have been a coincidence, but I like to think that they are my lucky charms and that he is right there with me when I am out doing what we both love, hunting!

Emily Peterson is extremely active in the outdoors and a great example of the future of women hunters.

To see more of what Emily has going on check out her IG Emily Peterson

To follow Cervicide and the rest of our Field Staff checkout Cervicide and Deer Slayer TV

Keeping the Trapping Tradition Alive

What is Trapping?

Trapping has been around for hundreds of years. The Native Americans and European settlers used trapping as a means of income, and as a way to keep predator populations in check. The Native Americans used the hides of many furbearers in their garments and as goods traded to settlers and to other tribes. To the European settlers, trapping was a lifestyle and a source of income.

So what is trapping? To some it is a source of income and population control, but to many it is a tradition passed on from family or friends. How does the sport of trapping benefit you, and why is it important to turkey and deer hunters? Avid hunters can thank a trapper for doing his or her part in controlling predator populations, allowing them to harvest the next spring gobbler, or that trophy buck that they’ve watched grow from a button buck. Trapping is a means of protecting other wildlife populations, and insuring the conservation of furbearing species for many generations to come.

trapping

Why I Trap.

At the age of 12, I was introduced to trapping by my grandfather. I was always fascinated when he brought back a fox or raccoon. He gave me a few traps and lures to start, and gave me a few pointers on how and where to trap my target animals.

I wanted so badly to trap a fox, and I failed for many seasons. Soon I turned to raccoon trapping, as raccoon are much easier to trap. Over the years I trapped many coon, and although the deer stand is where I would rather be, I knew that this sport was going to become my favorite way to pass those post-season months. I learned more by reading trapping books and by watching the famous Robby Gilbert on Trapping Time TV. I started to gain understanding why being a trapper was so important to me.

trappingIt is a tradition passed on to me from my grandfather, and was also an effective way to keep furbearer populations in check. Although I knew I could make an income with hides that I harvested that was not the reason why I trapped. I trap for the challenge of the sport, and I trap to bring all of the skills that I have learned together in one location, in a field or a stream, to catch my target furbearer.

Today, I still keep that tradition alive, and since then I have trapped many raccoon, fox, coyote, and bobcat, as well as many other furbearing species. I cannot thank my grandfather enough for introducing me to the sport of trapping.

getting youth and women in the outdoorsIntroducing Youth and Women to Trapping.

In today’s rat race of life, it is difficult to get youth and women involved in the sport of trapping. I am blessed to have my wife involved with me on the trap line. In my fifteen years of being a trapper, I’ve never had a partner, and it is great to see a woman involved in the sport.

I also introduced a new youth to the sport of trapping, and he is eager to accompany us on the line whenever he gets a chance. The great sport of trapping is a dying art due to the low fur prices, and the time-consuming nature of a trap line. But I believe there is still hope for the sport, through getting more and more youth involved. The youth are the future sportsmen, so take the time to get your wife, son, daughter, or a new youth involved in the sport. Keep the tradition alive and be a positive role model.

 

Tyler is very active in the outdoors to see more of Tyler’s exploits follow him on Facebook Tyler Heeter

To see more of Cervicides offerings follow us on IG Cervicide and on Deer Slayer TV

The Hunt for SJ

The Night Walker 

deerIt was the summer of 2017 in Central Pennsylvania when we first got trail camera pictures of the buck my family nick-named SJ. There were a few other hit list bucks on trial camera that we wanted to hunt for that year. One of these bucks was a main-frame 8 point that I had personally targeted, nick-named Swoop. We nicknamed SJ (Swoop Junior) after Swoop because of the characteristic “swoop” in the main beams of both deer. Throughout the course of the 2017 Pennsylvania deer seasons, SJ was a night walker, only showing up on camera under the cover of darkness. He favored one particular clover food plot on the property. My brother and I spent a lot of time studying this particular young buck throughout both the 2017 hunting season and off season. We concluded that SJ was a 2.5 year old buck, and we were excited to see him grow! He eluded hunters through the 2017 seasons, only showing himself in the normal night-time trail camera pictures of him. On the second day of the 2018 rifle buck season, I was fortunate enough to harvest SJ’s namesake Swoop. Yet SJ continued this same night time travel pattern for the 2018 deer seasons. 

Times A-Ticking 

In March of 2018, a small group of us went out in search of shed antlers, hoping to get a clue as to which buck had made it through the hunting season. We carefully planned our walk and searched areas that had well-used feeding stations and food plots. Though I walked and searched for hours, I came up empty handed. My brother, on the other hand, found the sheds off of three different buck that we all knew very well. One of them was the distinctive right-side swooping beam of SJ! We were thrilled to see that he had made it through another season and would be returning to the property the following year as a four-and-a-half-year-old buck. And we were able to learn that SJ was using the middle of our property during the rut and the late season. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2019. Despite knowing that SJ had survived the previous season, he did not show up at our mineral sites or visiting his favorite food plot in the early months of summer. We were all on edge, hoping he hadn’t established a new home range off the property. As the summer drew to an end, SJ finally made his appearance. Though there were deer with larger antlers that were regularly in front of our cameras, the thought of harvesting a mature white-tail got all of us excited. If we got the opportunity, we would take him! And this time around, one thing had changed; SJ was making more and more daylight appearances. With this change in his usual pattern, I knew it was only a matter of time until SJ made his fatal mistake.

The Thrill of a New Season

2019 Pennsylvania archery season came upon us, and we were all looking forward to the six weeks we would get to spend in the stand chasing white-tails. We hunted hard during the archery season, and my mother and brother were both able to put their tags on two very nice Pennsylvania white-tail bucks. Yet there was still no sign of SJ. On the last evening of the archery season, disgusted by the lack of buck I had seen, I decided to try out a stand that we had hung just a few days before. Just a few minutes after 4:30, I heard the sound of deer coming down off the mountainside. Looking through my binoculars, I spied a doe picking her way down the side. And behind her, the tell-tale swoop of SJ! The estrous doe led him directly by me for a twenty yard shot. I lined it up and took my shot. SJ reacted to the sound of the bow going off and turned into the arrow. I felt sick as I watched him stagger away, my lumenok bright in his front shoulder.

The Power in Numbers 

family photoAt dark, I could see that SJ had bedded just 70 yards from me. I got down out of stand as quietly as I could, ready to wait until the following morning to pick up his trail. The following day, I and a few family members and friends started the search for SJ. We started at the shot, and there was very little blood to find. Not far from it, we found several beds where the buck had laid down. We followed the trail to the last bed and there was very little blood. After an hour of searching, my father-in-law was able to pick up the trail. To our surprise, he was headed straight up the steep side of the mountain! We tracked him for four hundred yards and finally came upon him. I was so relieved to have found him, and to have shared the moment with a few of the people I love the most. I never would have found him on my own. The power of family and friends sharing the same passion of deer hunting is what truly matters. This is what deer hunting is truly about!

To see more what Fieldstaffer Tyler has going on follow him on FB Tyler Heeter

Be sure to follow us on all our Social Media Platforms Deer Slayer TV and IG Cervicide

Taking Advantage of a Second Chance

Photo by Olivier Piquer

You can’t kill them from the couch

The evening of October 22 is a hunt I will remember for a long time. One of my friends, Grant Youmans, and myself talked throughout the day about hunting, but couldn’t decide whether to hunt or not, due to it being 86 degrees and real windy. Knowing it was nearing the rut and deer were starting to chase the old saying you can’t kill them from the couch came to mind. At around 5:15 p.m. we met and headed out to the stands for the evening hunt. 

Not Seeing any Deer?

At 5:30 p.m. I got in the stand looking over a grass field that had a turnip and clover plot growing in it. The sun was setting in my face and I could feel every bit of the 86 it was out. Thankfully around 6:15 p.m. the sunset below the pine trees which led to a noticeable drop in the temperature. After the drop in temperature I felt much better about the rest of the evening hunt. Neither Grant nor I had seen any deer at this point so I was considering using my grunt call a few times soon just to see what happens. Shortly after that thought is when the hunt began to get interesting. 

The Magic of Pre Rut

the beauty of the pre rut

I was about to get my grunt call out of my pack when I heard something that sounded like a grunt across the field. Quickly looking in the direction of the grunt I saw a doe step out into the field with a nice mature eight point following right behind her grunting almost every step. The sight of a no doubt shooter stepping into the field was one that quickly got the heart beating and rifle up. I had my Nikon camera in the stand filming and was able to get it on the buck moving across the field. The buck stopped for a short second, grunted, and then quickly began trailing the doe again. At this point I knew the next time I could get a broadside shot on him I needed to take it because he was going to go wherever the doe went. Shortly after he came to a stop in the middle of the field and I prepared to take a shot. 

Preparing for the Proper Shot

After making sure the camera was still on the buck, and having a steady scope picture I squeezed off on the trigger. Once the shot went off the buck just stood in his tracks and I was in disbelief on how the shot missed its mark. I quickly got ready for a follow up shot, but the doe bolted which led to the buck running straight to me. Following the buck in the scope I bleated making an attempt to stop him, but all it did was make him slowdown from a run to a steady trot. At this time I knew it was now or never put the crosshairs in front of his shoulder and got a second shot off. Confirming what I suspected Grant shot me a text saying he thought the first shot was a miss, but a definite hit on the second. The buck ran into the woods not far to the right of my stand so I made sure to give it a little time before getting down. 

Making the best of that second chance

taking advantage of second chancesAfter waiting about thirty minutes I climbed down to look for blood in the field. It had only been a few minutes, but seemed like eternity scanning the turnips for blood and finding nothing. I was beginning to lose hope that the deer was hit not finding any blood in the field. Taking my flashlight I began to work my way to where the buck entered the woods and I lost sight of him. It wasn’t long until I caught a white belly in the light and knew my second shot hit the mark. It was a great feeling getting my hands on a good buck after not killing one last season. Memories hunting with friends are ones that will never be forgotten. 

 

To see more content from the author you can follow him IG @grant_fisher1

hunting with friends

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Gambling Game

Treestand Safety Tips

hangingThe alarm goes off 4:45AM. It’s a chilly morning. It’s the time you’ve waited for all year. Slowly, you make your way to your favorite stand. Dreams from last night start to play in your mind. Your Shooter list bucks begin to parade past you as the darkness gives way to grey light. Excitedly you attached yourself to the tree, begin to ascend the old oak you climbed many times for many years. Once at your platform you tie off securing yourself and begin to get everything situated for the morning hunt.  As you lean over to begin to pull your bow up, your right boot slips forwards on the wet metal of the platform propelling you off the stand. “Thud” you hit the tree. Letting out a sigh of relief your safety harness did its job. It kept you alive, stunned but alive you begin to check your arms, legs, head, everything. “Sigh” you’re alive, but now the silent clock begins to tick down like sand through any hourglass…..Are you prepared? Do you know what to do?

The above story, many hunters themselves, friends, or family of them know very well. Having a lifeline and safety harness are paramount to the safe return for all hunters in a treestand. Not having these, is playing a terrible game of odds that no one wins. Something that is commonly overlooked is “what do I do once I’ve fallen and now, I’m hanging here?” Sometimes we can swing around and reach maybe a rung of the ladder of the stand. IF it was indeed a ladder stand. What about a climber, or hang-on. What should or could be done then. Can you reach the steps or sticks? Do you want to leave this area to chance?

 

What is Suspension Trauma

Suspension trauma (also called Orthostatic Intolerance, or Harness Hang Syndrome) is the loss of consciousness due to a victim being held upright with limited movement for a period, which can rapidly lead to death if not properly recognized and treated (Mohr). In short, what happens is blood begins to pool in your extremities, normally legs, and you can’t adequately supply your brain with sufficient oxygen. Suspension trauma can happen within minutes. So even if you had the harness, the lifeline, and believed you had taken every safety procedure, not preparing for this just as you had everything else could be costly.

What steps can I take to prevent this issue?

shockWhat precautions can you take to prevent or lessen this problem? Many safety harnesses have safety loops suspension relief straps or built in. This loop will allow the suspended individual to “step” into the loop to relieve the pressure and or pooling affect caused by being suspended. Many hunters’ carry a screw in steps in their pocket or the pockets of the harness to always have a way to relieve the pressure. What do you do if you do not have one of these? Keep your legs moving! Move your legs continuously by pushing off from the tree or raise your knees and pump your legs frequently to keep your blood flowing until help arrives.

In conclusion, we all have dreams of the huge bucks walking past our stand. Giving us the story and memories to last a lifetime. So, if you’re like most hunters, spending countless hours finding the locations, Scouting for the best spot, concealing you and your scent. Make sure treestand safety is in your preparation check list. Gamble on wind directions and stand locations, not your life or the life of the ones you love.

 

References:

1.       Mohr, J. “ASK A PRO: WHAT IS SUSPENSION TRAUMA (AKA HARNESS HANG SYNDROME)?” www.dynamicrescue.comWeb. October 29, 2019

 

To see more of what Andrew has going on you can follow him on Facebook at Andrew Dick

Be sure to follow everything happening at Cervicide on IG Cervicide and on Youtube at Cervicide

 

 Stand to Blade Co. – Interview with Owner and Knife Maker Derick Bosley

workshop photo

 

 Name,where you are from?

A: Derick Bosley from Fort Ashby, WV 

 

Career background leading into creating this company?

A:  Well, I’ve always been a hunter and outdoorsman for starters.  But fast forward to around the time I graduated from college, my uncle had passed away from cancer and coincidentally one of my best friends was in remission for a couple years at that time.  He and I spent the summer participating in the 4k for cancer bike ride raising money for The American Cancer Society and hope lodges where we rode our bikes (literally) across the United States in support of the efforts.  After that, I worked as a traveling physical therapist assistant for about 5 years and during that time I always thought I should give back to the country that gave me so much. So, I enlisted in the army at 28 years old after getting some guidance from a friend and former marine.  I knew that I wanted to be a medic in the service based on my life experiences in outdoors and my career as a PTA, but I wanted more so I began the path of becoming an Army Ranger.  

 

Explain more in depth your experience with the military and Rangers

A:  As a Ranger Medic, we lead the military in trauma medicine. One example is the development of the Ranger O Low Titer program (ROLO.)  This is essentially giving blood in the battlefield to casualties that need it. This was unheard of when I began, and as a Ranger Medic I helped make this a standard process and something that I am proud of.  This started with the Rangers and is becoming more widespread in other military branches now. There is no person I would prefer working on me in the field other than another Ranger Medic. I was a Ranger for about 6 years.  In that time, I did 3 combat deployments in Afghanistan. I have done training deployments to Korea and Australia and I won the “Army’s Best Medic” award in 2016. I got out of the military in September of 2018 and since then I have been working for a company filling medical contracts all over the world when I am not making knives.

 

What motivated you to start making knives and create Stand to Blade Co?

A:  I had always been fascinated with knives and people that make things with their bare hands. So, when I was on my last deployment for the army I just started watching videos on how to make knives. When I got home I bought some files and a hunk of steel and made my first knife. I made blades in my house on a grinder that wasn’t meant for making knives until I sold my house at the end of 2018. After that, I was getting frustrated because I didn’t have a place to make knives anymore or work with my hands. 

So, my girlfriend had suggested I go to my buddy’s place to checkout his work shop. After a few weeks, I went and saw my friend Bren Mahan, a fellow veteran, and owner of Vendetta Bladeworks. I showed Bren the 3 knives that I had finished just before I sold my house. It was then he told me I had to meet his mentor Charlie Edmondson, owner of Edmondson Elite and fellow veteran as well. We jumped in Bren’s truck for what I thought was going to be a long drive, but it turned out Charlie lived 5 minutes from Bren.  I met Charlie and within a few minutes Charlie told me that I could work in his shop whenever I wanted. That same night was the Super Bowl, and at a party I delivered one of those first three knives to a friend. I didn’t know how big that would be for me. After giving the guy the knife, I not only sold the other two that I had, but received 5 more orders. Those were my first real orders from people that weren’t my friends. For the next 5 months, I basically lived in Charlie’s shop with him and Bren teaching me how to become a knife maker. 

 

What is your vision for Stand to Blade? (What is your company’s mission statement?)

A: Ultimately I would love for the business to grow into a full time job for me.  I’d like to be able employ veterans and former first responders. Not everyone was as lucky as me to get through the military without any long lasting scars, be it mentally or physically.  I want to be able to help by giving them a place to work and be creative around people that know what they have been through. 

 

How did you come up with the name “Stand to Blade Co?” 

A: Every Ranger learns about Robert Rogers’ Standing Orders.  Order 15 is “Don’t sleep beyond dawn. Dawn is when the French and Indians attack.”  The time right before dawn and right before dark is known in the military as “stand to.”  It is the time when the enemy is mostly likely to attack. 

 

Where is your shop? 

A: My shop is in Keystone Height, FL

 

Describe how you got your shop up and running, and some of struggles or issues encountered along the way

 A: I’ve slowly pieced my shop together over time.  I got lucky and my mentor was upgrading his 2×72 belt grinder (which is what you need for making knives) and gave me a great deal on it.  For me I try to keep things simple in the shop. I don’t need fancy machines. I just need reliable ones. One of the hardest things right now of being a one man operation is when I have to leave for work.   Orders back up a little bit. However, the good thing is all my customers have been great. I’m just up front about timelines and they have been totally understanding. 

 

What makes your knives unique? Or what do you want people to know about your knives?

A: Everything that comes out of my shop is entirely handmade.  Some knife makers use jigs to grind their bevels, I do not. Not that it makes their blades any less of a knife but when I started to learn this trade I didn’t want to rely on anything but myself.  I make knives for simple hard working people which is why every knife that comes out of my shop has a 100% warranty for as long as I am alive. 

 

Who is Loki and what is his role?

A: Loki is the shop manager. He looks over my shoulder and follows me around the shop every time I move. Then he eats anything that hits the shop floor and takes a nap. Basically the most inept boss on the planet but he’s the best damn dog in the world.

 

 

HE accepts all orders through messages on Facebook or Instagram

Stand to Blade Co. – FB

Stand to Blade Company – IG

https://www.standtobladecompany.com

To see more of what the author has going on you can follow him on IG @espiroff31

To see the latests happenings at Cervicide follow us on YT Deer Slayer TV or on IG @cervicide

Beyond the Meat

Tainted

venison

Photo by Emerson Vieira

Would you eat meat that has been grazed over by a scavenger such as a coyote or fox? I was faced with this question when I decided to take a doe that was quartering towards me this past winter and my experience can possibly help answer this question. After all, I ate that deer and I’m still alive. 

Deer Camp

beyond the meat

Photo by Ryan Graybill

I was the only person in deer camp when my Chevy crunched the frozen leaves beneath its tires. I had left work early and the plan was to get into the woods as soon as I could and hopefully, if fate would allow, have a deer hanging when the hunting party arrived. I quickly pulled on my camouflage long sleeve and lingered a minute while debating whether or not I needed heavier pants. The temperature was dropping and a small amount of snow had fallen hours before. I decided against the pants and started my journey to a large ground blind my dad had built. As soon as I reached the blind, opened the door and looked inside, I realized I had made the right call regarding pants. There was a little heater sitting in the blind with a full tank, this was going to be a comfortable hunt. The blind I had chosen sat high above a food plot with quite a few old growth hardwoods reaching up in front of it and scattering down to the clover plot.

These trees allowed excellent coverage but did add a challenge, most of the trees at some point or another cut off a shooting lane to the plot. A few hours later dusk approached I noticed movement about two hundred yards in front of me down in a small tall-grass swamp by the end of the plot. A few does were beginning to make their way out of the thick grass and onto the neatly grown plot. This was exactly the scenario I had hoped for; I wanted to see a group of does so I could pick out a mature animal. In my opinion, it is much easier to tell which doe may have a little more meat on her bones when they are all lined up side by side. After I watched the deer graze and play on the food plot for about fifteen minutes, I had made my decision. There was a dark colored doe hanging in the back of the group and when she maneuvered in and out of the small herd I could see she was in fact larger than most of the other game. This was to be our target once a proper shot revealed itself. 

The Shot

Looking for a proper ethical shot is something any hunter should and will do. I have had my fair share of improper shots and I have lost deer because of that. My mind, having been tainted by these past experiences, pushed me to wait a little longer than I should have while this doe approached. She worked her way up the hillside that led to the blind; this hillside was littered with acorns, a food source she was interested in over the clover on the plot. The movement of the doe up the hill also put her at a tough angle. She was basically facing me with a small amount of her front shoulder visibly shown, there was not a broadside shot available. I lifted my rifle and placed the cross hairs on her front shoulder. At this angle I began to calculate where the bullet would enter and exit, this angle seemed appropriate to provide a kill shot. A crack from the end of my barrel scattered the herd and I saw the doe ran into a thicket. Believing my calculations to be correct I walked to the last known location of the doe. When I approached the does last known location, I found a small amount of blood. My shot seemed to be true; this should be an easy track. 

At that moment my phone lit up, a member of my hunting party had arrived and offered to help me track. I left the blood trail where it lay and went to acquire some help. After a short exchange of pleasantries we arrived back at the last speck of blood and started to trail the doe. A long walk through thick pine and sapling forest had us tracking on our hands and knees for over an hour. Although we had only gone a small distance, the thick nature of the foliage created a misconception of distance, we believed we were further than we had gone. After approximately one hundred and fifty yards of tracking my partner raised his hand, he thought he heard something move. Trusting his ears and believing there was a good chance this doe was still alive, my mind immediately went back to that tough shot. My calculations must have been incorrect, my shot placement was not as true as I had intended. My heart dropped into my stomach.

Sometimes it’s Good not to Push the Envelope…

beyond the meat

Photo by Djim Loic

We decided to pull out of the track and give the woods a few hours to settle. The general thought for a waiting period on tracking a wounded deer seems to be 12-24 hrs. depending on who you talk to. Even then a hunter could walk up on a wounded deer and push it off the property never to be seen again. I constructed a plan to go back out after twelve hours and resume the track. Sometimes the best laid plans will go awry; unfortunately a broken alarm clock would not allow me to break my slumber that night. I awoke the next morning around 5:15 A.M in a panic, the first thought on my mind was, “can I find this doe?” Another member of our hunting party had arrived in the night and suggested I sit the morning hunt and then resume the track. I dressed that morning with a pit in my stomach and couldn’t see myself shooting another deer without being able to add finality to last night’s hunt. With most of the party hunting another piece of property, I made that mornings sit very short. I hopped down out of the blind I had taken the shot from the night before and immediately hit the blood trail. In the daylight tracking the dark blood was a lot easier. A short jaunt through a cedar swamped lead me to a mosaic of red colored leaves and snow, approximately forty yards from our stopping point the night before was where the doe had expired.

It’s impossible to know if a continued tracking party would have found this deer or pushed this deer off of our property. I’ll probably never know the answer to that question but none of that mattered as I had found my quarry and work needed to be done. When I walked up to the doe I noticed some scavengers had located her before me. A small hole was eaten in the rear, as most meat eating animals often do but the deer was generally intact. I called the hunting party and they all agreed to stop their pursuit and help me drag this large doe out of the swamp. Once we had pulled the game from the woods I had to ask myself. Would there be enough meat on the eaten hind quarter to keep? After I had the doe skinned I could clearly see the damage done by some scavenging predators. From this anatomical point of view I was able to construct a plan to salvage most of the meat. The damage had not gone as wide as I thought. 

Is Meat Good for You?

beyond the meat

Photo by Grant Meyer

A few questions weighed on my mind while I quartered the deer and cut up the hunks of meat that were free of bite marks. If an animal did eat on this deer what are the implications of eating this meat? After all, the deer was likely dead when it was scavenged and the chances of some form of bacteria being transferred throughout the entire animal are low. Not to mention most hitchhikers would be killed off in the cooking process. No blood flow likely meant there wasn’t a way for any form of bacteria or infection to spread to other parts of the animal. This leaves us with the hind quarter that was tainted. How far away from those bite marks do I need to be to assure I won’t catch rabies or some other communicable disease? I decided on two inches of cut around all bite mark affected areas. This left a good amount of muscle between any possibly contaminated meat and meat that would be clean.

The only evidence I can offer as to if this was safe or not is the fact that I am writing this article today. I ate every part of that deer and did not fall sick once. A hunter could experience a wide array of pin balling opinions on the subject from many blog sites but I will say this. If the majority of the animal is intact and you can leave two inches of good intact muscle between your meat and the bitten portions, I would be hard pressed to waste that meat. I won’t be the one to tell you what to do with your kill but I will be the one to tell you I did eat a “tainted” deer and lived. I’ll probably do it again if I’m unlucky enough to find a deer on the second day of a track.

 

Note: The temperature dropped to 23 degrees Fahrenheit that night so I knew the meat would not be spoiled from failing to clean the deer that night. Temperature is very important when determining if meat will be safe to eat, not only from the scavenged portions but the entire animal itself. It’s important to use your best judgment here.

 

To follow more of Grant’s work you can find him on IG at Carnivor3_hunter

You can follow more of what we have going on at Cervicide at Deer Slayer TV and on IG at CERVICIDE

Public Land Swamp Hunting Journey

(Day 1)

public land swamp hunting

Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton

I pulled into the Wildlife Management Area with so much excitement and anxiousness I thought I was going to explode! I thought to myself, “Where is everyone?” All the FloGrowns said public land in Florida is always a circus, but I literally saw only one vehicle at the entrance of the management area. I got into the woods late too. This was a good sign! Less pressure on the animals while I learn the land definitely couldn’t hurt.

I gradually drove the old dirt road as slow as my truck would go. Not only was I trying to be respectful just in case there were other sportsmen in the woods, but every image in front of my face had me in awe. I didn’t want to miss a thing. 

I had never been to this piece of land before. The few quota hunts I received during the lottery I scouted pretty hard but they are not until November. This Wildlife Management Area doesn’t require a quota so pretty much it is as close to public hunting land as you can get in The Sunshine State. There are not many of these areas. Most require the lottery quota permit. 

I heard the non quota areas are hunted out. It is said that the still hunters hit it hard first and then the dog hunters put the icing on the cake. The wild game that does survive the first month and a half will retreat into hiding and a lot of them will become nocturnal. At least this is what they say, but as my truck comes to a halt I am optimistic.

Hopping out of my F150 I take it all in for a moment then start throwing my gear on as quick as I can. In my mind I keep thinking a million people are going to pull up at any moment and we all are going to race into the woods. Not sure why this thought kept entering my mind especially since I make it a point to not hunt weekends. 

I figured the weekdays would not have many other hunters utilizing the land but didn’t expect to be the only one. Well besides the one vehicle five or so miles back towards the entrance. I felt so lucky and knew I had to take advantage of this moment. I grabbed my bow and started the trek into the swamp. 

GO DEEP, COVER YOUR SKIN AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK…

florida swamp hunting

Photo by Justin Edwards

I was given a lot of advice from people who have hunted Florida most of their lives. The three main statements told to me were as followed:

  1. Go deep! Get as far away from the road as you can. 
  2. Be sure to cover your skin. The insects will eat you alive. Have a Thermacell or wash your clothes in Permethrin. They also sell insect repellent clothing.
  3. Scout and do your homework. Know the map of the area and be sure to read each rule for any WMA you hunt. They all have their own set of rules, requirements, and regulations.

 

I did not scout the area prior but I did make sure to read all rules and regulations. Also I made sure my phone was fully charged so I could use my OnX Hunt app. 

The app really makes hunting a new spot super easy and convenient. There is an off the grid setting that allows you to save a map of the area for when you lose service. So even when I lost all bars walking away from the truck, I was able to save spots of interest on my phone such as food sources and bedding areas. This is very important in patterning the animal/s you’re trying to harvest. 

About a hundred yards in I spotted a game trail. I always go with my gut instinct and my gut was definitely telling me this was my trail. It was beaten down pretty well and was littered with hog and deer tracks. Definitely worth a save on the app. 

I slowly crept through the soft leaves. My head was on a swivel and my eyes were focused. I continued to see sign and food. This was definitely looking good. I took my time as to not alert any other animals to my trespassing of their home. 

STICKING TO MY GUNS

swamp hunting

Photo by Justin Edwards

I came upon another game trail crossing into the one I was traveling. I figured this would be a good spot to post up for a bit. I checked the wind and picked out a good tree thirty yards from where the trails crossed. I then proceeded to quickly set up my run and gun stand.

After my stand was all set up and my gear was placed where I could easily access it with little movement I then sat back and started my wait. Literally minutes after resting my head against the tree I saw movement in the palmettos.

The doe slowly walked out onto the trail from a thick patch of overgrowth. She literally came out of nowhere. I was definitely not expecting that. She stopped and started looking around nervously.

I immediately thought I was busted. She must have caught a whiff of my scent. I tried my best to keep from sweating by moving slow but it must not have been good enough. She knew something was up, but then just as quickly as she appeared she relaxed and started walking along the trail. 

I put the rangefinder on her and she was about twenty one yards away with no clue I was there. She gingerly walked by me as I contemplated taking her. She was now at thirty yards. This is my chance and time is quickly running out. I need to make a decision now. 

I pulled the bow back and put the Tru-Glow behind her shoulder. This is the perfect shot! Just let go and that freezer will be full again within a few hours. My first Florida deer was right there. All I have to do is gently squeeze that Tru-Fire trigger. Decide now!!

I slowly dropped the bow to my side, wiped my brow, and sat down. Today is not her day. As much as I want to harvest my first Florida whitetail, she is not what I set out for and I refuse to settle on impulse.

 

I told myself while preparing for the season that I really wanted to target boar or a buck larger than a spike. It may seem ambitious for land hunted so hard but this is what I wanted and the goal I set coming into the season. I know they are out there. I’ve seen the sign. I just have to be in the right place at the right time. 

She continued to walk away, as I watched the thick area she originally came out of hoping a buck would be hot on her trail. I had a feeling he wasn’t so I relaxed back into my stand and continued the waiting game. 

As dusk fell upon the swamp I sat there thinking of my decision to let her walk. I feel it was the right one. Sure a hunter may end up harvesting her the next day but that’s not my concern. I am glad for them not spiteful. It’s not a race or competition to see who kills what first. I set my goals at the beginning of the season and I intend to meet those or at least try my hardest to. 

As darkness engulfed my surroundings I slowly climbed back to the ground. I loaded all my gear onto my back and headed to the truck. So many thoughts running through my head about this season. My body knew the way out as my mind went else where.I feel I have prepared as much as one person can do for their first season in a new state.

I followed the advice from my Cervicide Regional Director Kyle Sheffer, studied maps for hours, spoke to the locals, saved key areas onto my OnX Hunt app, and put boots on the ground for first hand knowledge. All I can do from here is to level up on my experience. This was only day one in a new place. There will definitely be a day two, three, four, and so on. You can count on that!

CONTINUING THE JOURNEY

I’ll continue to share this journey for my first public land wild boar and Florida whitetail buck. Once I am successful you can definitely expect a blog and video. I hope this helps or motivates other hunters/huntresses to pursue public lands they may have been neglecting in their home state. 

I have lived in Florida for five years and never once really considered hunting it until I joined Cervicide. I mainly hunted Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania so Florida was definitely an afterthought. I’m not sure if I did that because of my confidence in the states I grew up in or if I was just flat out scared of failure. 

Being in Cervicide definitely gave me that extra boost of confidence I needed to not only explore my backyard but also to document it as to share with others. So if you haven’t hit a spot because of whatever reason, maybe now is the time. If you’re like me and want to break that safe zone mold around you, then jump in with both feet. Yea you could fail, but what if you don’t? Think of that.

 

To see more of what Justin has going on follow him on IG at Outdoor_Enthusiast90 and to see what’s going on at Cervicide checkout our IG at Cervicide and on YT at Deer Slayer TV

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