Hunting Tips

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.



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

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 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

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

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Beyond the Meat



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. 


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. 


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!


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

Trials and Tribulations of a Backcountry Hunt

Backcountry Trials

hunting the backcountry

In 2017 we decided to put our research to the test. All of the months planning, all of the days saving, and all of the gear bought put to test on what would be our biggest adventure yet. A ten day Montana backcountry rifle elk hunt in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Our first taste of mountain elk hunting started as a guided hunt in Idaho with our dad. During that hunt, although we never saw an elk, there was much I took from it. With what I had learned and experienced on that hunt, I gained confidence that I could do it myself for much cheaper. So I began my research on gear i needed and where to go. 

A Montana Rifle Hunt

That next year we decided we would apply for Montana, being it was relatively close to us so we could just drive. We looked at season dates and decided to do a backcountry rifle hunt because they offered a season during the rut in September. With September in mind, the thought of relatively nice weather throughout the week was enticing, as well as hearing bugling bulls in the wild for the first time. I began to research the unit from google earth and OnX maps to determine a spot for camp. Due to the wildfires near the area we had to come in from the east, which meant a much further hike. We picked our spot for camp, got a strategy together, now time to buy gear. 


Trying to stay somewhat on a budget, we skimped on certain things we deemed to be not as necessary and vital. I will now explain why that turned out to be a terrible decision.

Buy Once….Cry Once

  As we left Friday after work to make the eleven hour drive, we were expecting the temps to be in the 30s as a low and 60s as the highs. We had our packs loaded up at 67 lbs, and ready to rock. We got to a town near where we were going to hunt at 4 a.m. In this town was a forest service station, where we wanted to stop in and discuss where the fires were at and if we would be able to use our backpack stove for heat in our tent or not. After getting the ok, our mission started. When we got to the trail head, there was 8 inches of fresh snow. Something we had not planned for. As we took off, crossing the first 6 inch deep, cold running water creek, our minds were flooding with “did we make a mistake”, “are we in over our heads”. But the excitement was too much to stop us. After the first mile and a half, we cleared our first unit. Only one more unit to cross until we can hunt. At this time it begins a heavy, wet snow for the remainder of the hike. As we clear the next unit, we see signs pinned to the trees. “Caution Grizzly Area’, “Be Bear Aware”, “Keep a Clean Camp”. You think of these things before you enter, but the rush you feel “knowing” these animals ARE in the area, is incomprehensible. We continue on, only stopping to catch our breath and eat, until we reach a spot where my brother can no longer push on. He begins to cramp, starting in his legs and slowly progressing to every muscle in his body. We had planned for keeping hydrated with some Mtn Ops products and Wilderness Athlete products. We decided it was a good idea to stop where we were at and set up camp, refresh, rest, and re-hydrate for the next day. After twelve miles of hiking, we had about one half mile until we made it to our unit to start hunting.

Things that Go Bump in the Night…

As we set up our tent on the cold, wet, snowy ground we began to realize just how unprepared we were. Our tent had no floor. Our sleeping bags, although light in weight, were only rated for 40 degrees Fahrenheit. We began gathering wood and filtering water as we only had a couple of hours left of daylight. As we got the tent warm with the fire from the titanium stove, the snow inside melted. Another thing that happened that we didn’t research well enough was the condensation inside the tent. As the night went on, the temps dropped into the low teens. The condensation began to form on the tent walls and drip onto the sleeping bags, thus making everything wet. If you’ve ever been wet and cold, imagine being wet and cold, twelve miles from a vehicle, in the middle of bear country. Your mind tries to make you quit every second you are awake. As the wet heavy snow settled on the trees branches, it began to break branches. From inside a tent, in the middle of bear country all alone, it sounds like a bear walking through the woods. Getting closer… and closer. We had our bear spray and .45 Caliber pistol, and we were ready to use them. As the night progressed and the fire died out, still battling cramps, there were multiple times that we thought if a bear does come and eat us it would be a blessing. 

hunting the backcountry

Tomorrow is Another Day…

To our surprise we woke the next morning to a beautiful sunrise and warm weather. With the sun shining and melting most of the snow, it gave us a new outlook to push on. We left camp with lighter packs and started the trek to our unit. When we got there we climbed to the highest point to get to a spot where we could sit and glass. As we were sitting atop this ridge, the smoke from the wildfires begin to blow in from the west/southwest. Sitting and glassing for half of the day and not seeing any animals we became very discouraged, but the thought of getting all of the meat out of this area would be a task that we had not prepared for.

Backcountry Tribulations

When you think of a backcountry hunt like we did the first thing you think of is, I need to get in shape. But we didn’t work nearly as hard preparing as we should have, as realized on the hike in. Between the physical unpreparedness, the gear failures, weak minds, and the fires moving closer, we decided to pack up camp and head out. This meant hiking out the twelve miles from camp, through grizzly country, in the dark. 


Defeated by the wilderness and very low self esteem, we started our 3,000 ft elevation descent. We were hopeful it was all down hill, but for some reason seemed there was much of it that was uphill. Like the story your parents tell of walking uphill to school both ways through a foot of snow. That story has never seemed so believable. The sound of the truck horn beeping as we neared the trail head, was like no other sound I’ve experienced before. Safety and warmth was all I could think of. 


Although this story sucks to tell as we seem weak minded and not dedicated, it helps to tell it to learn and grow from our mistakes. Below I will highlight where I think we went wrong in gear, and how we’ve corrected our issues to make future trips more comfortable.

Nothing Better Than Experience

What Went Wrong Gear List

  • Tent
  • The tent was very light but had no floor and no way to keep condensation off of our gear
  • Sleeping bags
  • We bought 40 degree bags from Walmart because of budget concerns. Spend the money and buy good gear
  • Quality clothes
  • Most of our clothes were excellent gear for mountain hunting. All was good except my brothers rain gear. He bought a cheaper pair which ended up ripping causing him to end up wet and cold
  • Physical Training
  • We had not taken this as seriously as we should have, and it proved dire in our leg strength and stamina.



Corrected Gear

  • Tent
  • We got a lightweight tent that has the floor and body to keep us dry at night.
  • Sleeping bags
  • Invested in a much higher quality sleeping bag that will carry through a variety of lower temps. As well as got a bivy sack to put the sleeping bag in, to help prevent getting wet from outside sources
  • Quality clothes
  • Finished investing in the full line of clothes, including rain gear, so we can better layer to stay comfortable
  • Physical Training
  • Beginning of this year, we are working harder than ever to train cardio and weights to build endurance to last on the mountain. Also developing the mind to be able to stick it out through those tough moments when all you want to do is quit.



To follow more on the author through his IG Outdoor.Marshall

To follow more of the ins and outs of checkout our IG  Cervicide and Deer Slayer TV

5 Tips to Make Your Waterfowl Hunting Season STRESS-FREE

Here’s 5 Tips to take the Stress out of your Hunting Season

1. Scout, scout, scout, and scout some more!

Scouting prior to the season is absolutely critical in the waterfowl hunting game. This is the time to start knocking on doors and asking permission from local farmers to hunt their land. Doing this prior to the season is important because it gives you the opportunity to build relationships with those landowners so you’re not some stranger to them. Scouting doesn’t stop when the season starts either. The birds move around constantly all year long so staying on top of their movements is key to your success. So, get out there and put some miles on the truck and get knockin!

2. Get your bird dog in hunting season form

gun dog

Time and time again we see this scenario: hunter takes his dog out for the first hunt of the season and expects it to pick up right where it left off last year. Its important that you take your dog out throughout the summer to work on their training and get them tuned up for the coming season. Just like you, they’re not perfect. The preseason is the time to be working out any kinks or problem areas your retriever may have struggled in the past. I’ve also found that taking them out and setting up a realistic hunting scenario for them, with layout blinds, decoys, and anything that dog will see come opening day. This will pay off in dividends when your pup is confident in the decoy spread and steady in the blind. This includes working them in and out of a boat. This can be very difficult for your pup to do, especially in deep water, so be sure to spend lots of time on it. Investing in a dog boat ladder will save you and your pup lots of time and energy with this! 

3. Time to shake the dust off!

You, just like your retriever, need a little tune up before the season comes too. This means getting out and shooting clay targets or pigeons in the summer time. Don’t forget about the smaller things as well like practicing with a duck or goose call. A great time to do this is when you’re driving. This saves the ears of all your loved ones that don’t want to hear a goose honking in the house. If its been awhile since you hunted an area, take this time to reaquaint yourself with it. Take a Sunday afternoon and walk the creek or field you plan on hunting. 

4. Take inventory and damage control

waterfowl hunting

This is something that should be done shortly after the season has closed up as well as in the weeks leading up to the season. Get your decoys out and clean them up a bit. Patch any holes shot in floaters and clean the mud off those full bodies. Check over your other gear like binoculars, layout blinds, shotguns, flags, and spinning wing decoys. You won’t have a very comfortable hunt if you get out to the field and realize the back support to your layout blind broke or your mojo battery needs charged. If you’re a duck hunter that uses a boat, make sure you check over the motor, make sure the oil is good, sheer pin is good, replace the spark plugs, look over your ignition wires etc. The last thing you want is to be stuck at the boat ramp or worse, because your motor won’t start. You will thank yourself for taking care of all this ahead of time!

5. Keep yourself out of the dog house

Anyone with a significant other that doesn’t hunt knows that during hunting season, they may not be the happiest campers when you’re gone 10 hours a day from September till January. Try to realize that while you’re out doing what you love, a lot of the household burdens fall on your significant other. So, take time in the summer to do fun things and go on vacation while your weekends are free. When it comes time for hunting season, take a Friday night every so often and take them out to dinner for date night. Just show them that you acknowledge the effort they put in to afford you the time to go hunting. This will especially pay off when they catch you sneaking in that new shotgun or box of decoys. 

Hopefully these tips help you all out this season! Be safe and Shoot straight!

You can follow this author on his IG account at @jsko36

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How to Get Access to Private Land


I think a lot of hunters, especially those who are new to the obsession, are in the same boat
that I found myself in not so long ago. They have a love and a passion for hunting, but no
permission to hunt or land of their own to go hunt on. Public land might not be an option, as there might not be any nearby or it might seem like too big of a beast to tackle, especially for newer hunters. Believe me, if this is you, I feel your pain. I’ve been there. But take heart, I have your solution.

public land

Photo by Kramer Dixon

The following steps are ones that I took to get out of that very situation. I encourage you to
take these steps TODAY and get on to worrying about which buck is going to be #1 on your
hitlist instead of whether or not you’re going to have a place to hunt this year.

Step #1: Make a list and ask everyone you know

Everybody knows somebody. Make a list of everyone you know who might be connected to
huntable land. After you’ve compiled your list of names, figure out how you can get ahold of each person. My recommendation is that you go and see them face to face. I’ve found that there’s just something about being and shaking someone’s hand and being genuine and honest that increases the success rate.

If you can’t ask everyone face to face, I would suggest you give them a call. If you can’t reach them by phone, another solid option is a handwritten note. Detail will vary depending on how well you know the person but write out who you are, what you want to do, and how you’ll do it legally and ethically. Be cordial and include your telephone number and a return of address. Work this list of names all the way through and there’s a chance you just might land a new hunting spot or two.

Step #2: Make a list and ask everyone you DON’T know

No one can use the excuse that they don’t actually know someone who has land. Even if
you’ve exhausted your list from above and still don’t have a hunting spot, there’s still hope.
What about that field you’ve driven by 100 times and see deer in every evening? This next step takes some guts, but if you’re willing to try it, you can be successful. I know this because it has worked for me.

OnX MapsUsing Google Maps and the OnX hunting app, I found a handful of properties close by that I thought looked juicy and then went and knocked on doors. This might sound intimidating, but if you keep in mind why you’re doing it, the awkwardness will become an afterthought. Think about what you’re going to say and rehearse beforehand. Make sure you only do this during daylight hours. Never knock on someone’s door at night to ask if you can hunt on their property. I can almost guarantee you the answer will be a hard no.

If the property owner isn’t there, come prepared and ready to leave a handwritten note
similar to the one I mentioned in Step #1. In this case, since you’re going in blind, take your time and introduce yourself. Be respectful and use your best manners.

Write out what you’d like to do and make sure you include how you intend to do it in a legal and ethical manner. End it by thanking them for their time and saying how appreciative you’d be if they would respond to you. Include your telephone number and a return address. The handwritten note route really works well with some people, as a handwritten note is something you don’t see much anymore. I haven’t done this too many times myself because my first bet is asking face to face, but I will say that I have gotten a response 100% of the time when I’ve left a handwritten note addressed to the property owner in their mailbox or at their doorstep. Don’t expect that response rate, but just know that it works.


Beggars can’t be choosers, but try to focus in on areas that are close to you. Ten acres of
land that holds deer (or whatever species you’re hunting) ten minutes away can be worth more than 100 acres of land that holds deer 100 minutes away. Focus on getting permission to hunt those 10 acres that are close by. If/when you get permission, really spend time with boots on the ground figuring out how the deer use and move through the property. This will greatly increase your chances of being successful.

Remember, presentation is huge, especially when you’re on Step #2. Someone has to be
able to trust you before they’ll give you permission to hunt on their property. The first
impression you make with them could make or break your chances.

hunting private land

Photo by Bec Ritchie

Be polite. Ask them what their condition(s) are. If they say yes, ask them where you should park, what time(s) of day you can come, etc. Thank them for their time and for listening to you even if they don’t say yes. I’ve been denied permission by someone before, but then got it the next year by circling around and following up with them. Be persistent, but don’t be pushy.

Most importantly, don’t get discouraged! You never give up on that giant buck, so why
would you give up on this? There will be many no’s, but when you get that yes it will all be
worth it.

Lastly, as you are doing all of these things, keep in mind that doing them well can help
change any negative stereotypes or connotations that people might have of the hunting
community, which ultimately benefits us all. I sincerely hope this encourages you and helps you grow in your passion and love for hunting. Now get out there and use these steps to find yourself a place to hunt!


For more of what is going on at Cervicide checkout our YT Channel Deer Slayer TV as well as our IG Cervicide

You can follow the author on his social media at @quarteringandaway

Arrow Speed vs. Weight. Which Matters?

By: Stephen Hafvenstein

The Background

Speed, everything these days has to be fast, fast bows need to shoot fast lightweight arrows, or so we are told. But, does this really matter? Is it better to shoot a blazing fast arrow that will reach the target faster, or a heavier arrow that will reach the target slower? We decided to run some tests to weigh out some factors that play a role in this debate. Here is what we did.

The Test Setup

For this test, we used a Mathews NoCam HTR bow set at IBO specifications (draw weight at 70 pounds with a draw length of 30 inches). The IBO rating on this bow is 330 feet per second (fps). For the arrows, we used Black Eagle Spartan’s cut at 29 inches with a spine  of 300 and a weight of 9 grains per inch (gpi).

To change the weight of the arrow we used field points with a weight of 100, 125, 150, 175 and 200 grains, all points had the same tip design. Our insert weight was 28 grains, the bushing weight was 10 grains, the nock was 9 grains, and the vanes (3 total at 6 grains) weighed a total of 18 grains. Once the arrow was set up, we weighed the entire arrow on a digital scale to come up with total arrow weights (all components installed, lightest to heaviest) of 429.45, 454.67, 479.23, 504.82 and 529.51 grains. In addition to our test arrows, we also ran numbers from an IBO arrow with a weight of 350 grains. Our Front of Center (FOC) for each arrow (lightest to heaviest) was 10.77%, 12.82%, 14.65%, 16.31% and 17.80%. We shot each arrow three times into targets set at 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards and averaged the time the arrow took to get to the target. We used sound to determine the time it took the arrow to clear the string to the time it took the head to hit the target. By recording the shot with a Deity V-Mic D3 Pro, we were able to calculate time down to the millisecond by averaging the audio wavelengths of the shots. Finally, we purchased two archery calculation programs to compare our numbers against. We entered our specifications into the programs and ran them to calculate the results. After completing our tests, we compared our results against the two programs and found that all three sets of data were within one percent of each other. For our research we used the data from our tests due to the fact this takes into account the environmental and human aspects of shooting a bow that we felt would represent a better picture of real-world conditions.

Other Variables

We took this test a few steps further by calculating other variables that affect the flight of an arrow as well as the reaction times of game species.


The first calculation we ran was arrow drag. Due to air density, gravity, wind, humidity, arrow flight performance and arrow components (fletching, arrow wrap, arrow finish…etc.), an arrow will experience speed loss during flight. We calculated this via speed loss formulas for each variable and subtracted the differences in time it took the arrow to hit the target at each distance. For example, our 529.51 grain arrow exited the bow at 270.94fps, with no drag; our arrow would reach the 10 yards target in 0.1107 seconds. However, it took the arrow 0.1120 seconds to reach the 10-yard target, a difference of 0.0013 seconds. Although this number is extremely small, it represents the drag an arrow experiences during flight due to a number of speed loss variables. As a rule of thumb, as distance increases, arrow speed will decrease as it experiences a longer duration of drag. In an ideal world with no speed loss, the 529.51 grain arrow would fly a constant 270.94fps throughout its entire flight path.


The second variable we accounted for was the speed of sound. If a game animal does not see you take the shot, the only way it will know a shot was taken, is to hear it. The speed of sound is 1125.33fps. At 10 yards the sound of the shot will reach the game animal in 0.027 seconds, once again, this is an extremely small number but it represents a time variable. We took this into account when determining the time, a game animal has to react to a shot and calculated this for each distance we shot. Additionally, we marked out where I would plant my feet each time I shot to remain consistent. We then calculated the distance from where the arrows left the bow string to the microphone and the distance of each target to the microphone to account for the time it takes the sound to reach the microphone, yet another variable. Once again, as distance increases, so does the time it takes for the sound to reach the animal.


The last variable we calculated was the reaction time of an animal. There were quite a few variables in the reaction time, some of them cannot be calculated such as the individual response of an animal, but we calculated the variables that can. For reaction time, we took into account the time in milliseconds it takes for an animal to register noise and for the neurons to carry that to the brain. After studying many scientific articles, we felt confident that by using the audible reaction time of a rat, it would easily account for that of a game animal. Rats have one of the fastest reaction times in the animal kingdom, much faster than that of whitetail deer for example. The rat had an audio reaction time of 10 milliseconds, 0.01 seconds. We also took into account the time it takes the neurons to carry the signal from the brain back to the muscles and for the muscles to contract. For this we took the reaction time of a mid-sized dog, the reaction time was 40 milliseconds, 0.04 seconds. This is in a perfect world, it does not take into account the “surprise” factor, individual response of an animal (time it takes to recognize the sound of a bow shot as danger), or the time and speed it takes to “jump” or “duck” the arrow. We chose to use the data from a rat and a dog due to their smaller size and faster reaction times than most game animals. A rule of thumb, due to the distance of the animal’s audio receptors to its brain, the smaller the animal, the shorter distance the neurons have to carry the signal to the brain and back to the muscles, therefore smaller animals generally have faster reaction times than larger animals

Our Findings 


Kinetic Energy (KE) is the amount of energy an arrow possesses and transfers to its target. The lethality of an arrow has very little to do with the KE it possesses, however, KE is a very important variable for the lethality of a bullet. Watching a bullet hit ballistic gel at a super slow motion, gives the viewer an excellent understanding of the shockwaves a bullet sends through the gel, those waves are the KE that the gel is absorbing from the bullet. Bullets travel at such a velocity that the energy it transfers to the gel or animal is enough to send a lethal amount of energy into the tissues surrounding the path of the bullet.