Print this flyer to see all the great events scheduled for families at the Refuge. This is also the opportunity to register your kids for the drawings for the guided deer hunts they offer this winter.
RecLand welcomes Nathan Renick as a new Mississippi agent. Nathan is a graduate forester and works at the Tensas River Nat'l. Refuge. His contact information is on our Contact page.
Kirk Scriber is now licensed in AR in addition to LA.
I have friends and clients who spend all year waiting for October 1st so they can climb in a stand to bow hunt. They go as many times as possible until that Saturday rolls around where primitive weapon season opens. They are faithful to be in their stands early and late with the primitive weapon until the 1st Saturday of rifle season. You guessed it...they pick up their bolt action with 4x12 optics and hunt hard until the end of the season. They'll kill deer in each of those weapon-specific parts of the season, too.
Sounds great! But what if I told you that they used a crossbow, instead of a compound? And during primitive weapon season they used a center-fire 45-70, not a muzzle loader. Oh, by the way, they made each and every hunt sitting in stands over looking shooting lanes where corn and / or rice bran had been poured every week looking for the big bucks they had captured on their game cameras that have run since August. How do you feel about that? You probably have an opinion about some or all aspects of these hunters' methods. Most of us do.
Heck, I tease them mercilessly about using using their "sissy bows" instead of a compound like I use. My sweet, diplomatic wife is an avid bow hunter and she even gives them grief over the sissy bow. What do you think?
The crossbow versus compound (and even the recurve), muzzle loader versus primitive center fire calibers; to feed or not to feed, game cameras versus hunting blind, mojo decoys, electronic predator calls and many more can dominate camp conversations. We all have different opinions and positions on the issues that seem the most important to us. My wife and I feel strongly about using a compound bow exclusively instead of a bow with a mechanical release fitted with high-end optics. The reason for us is that we want to kill Pope & Young bucks and cross bow kills are not accepted.there. The point is we all have opinions about what's right and wrong in these areas and we all probably have good reasons for those opinions.
There's not a thing wrong with having spirited debates over topics we are passionate about. There's nothing wrong with having strong opinions about how you may choose to pursue and kill game during various hunting seasons. As you encounter these situations where your hunting beliefs are challenged, consider these three principles I believe trump our personal opinions. In my case, I'm willing to give able-bodied sissy bow hunters (sorry...had to get in one more gig!) a pass from my stubborn opinions if they can meet me at these places:
1. If it's a legal and ethical method of hunting, then it's not about right or wrong, it's about what we prefer.
2. Do you leave the land and the wildlife better than you found it? Hunting in the United States is a privilege we should should guard, preserve and enhance every way we can. Land ownership is a bedrock of our freedom. You and I know that hunting - and the lifestyle surrounding it - is about way more than what we kill or how we kill it.
3. Is the next generation of hunters and landowners learning the right things by being around us and seeing what we do and how we do it when we're planting food plots in the summer, making a shot in mid-November and cleaning and cooking the game at the camp?
Yep...we've got opinions. I'm willing to give you yours and be happy for the way you enjoy your season hunting. Let's just be sure we're majoring on the majors and making our sport, passions and lifestyles something that will live on.
- Pat Porter, RecLand ProStaff Founder...but you won't see him on TV!
It's getting that time of the year. Bow season is right around the corner. I have put up four new lock-ons on our property where my wife and I bow hunt. It's hard work for a fat boy in July but hey...it's part of the process of year-around deer hunting and I love it.
Each of my lock-ons is in a unique area where I have - for a variety of reasons - decided we could possibly get a shot at a mature buck. There are two brands of stands and 3 brands of ladders / steps. But there is one common element at each stand...safety lines.
Maybe it's being 50 years old or maybe it's the thought of 3 young boys and a wife at home, but whatever the reason, I'm learning to be safer in the woods. I still stomp through waste-high brush with no real concern for snakes and shimmy across rickety limbs and logs to get across a creek. That's probably just because of the nature of my business. But I don't take chances in the deer stand.
The rising popularity of bow hunting has resulted in a mountain of new products, gizmos and do-dads touting their indispensable use to all hunters. I can do without most of that stuff. However, a benefit of this rise in product development has definitely been in the area of safety products. Lifelines, lineman straps and full-body harnesses are by far the most important items on the market in my opinion. These 3 items alone can make all the difference in safely enjoying hunt after hunt...or suffering a disabling or deadly fall.
I used to be bulletproof. And in some instances (like the snakes and creeks mentioned above) I still think I am. But I have a humble opinion of my claim to good fortune when it comes to a Millennium 16 feet up a red oak. I never hang a stand or set of climbing sticks without my harness and lineman's line. Once the stand is installed, I am hooked to a lifeline to trim all the limbs, screw in bow hooks and make any adjustments to the stand. I use the lifeline in ever hunt I make in the stand. My wife skips the stand hanging and limb trimming in July but she, too, is in a full harness with each hunt. The lifelines are inexpensive and so easy to use that I can't imagine a single legitimate reason a bow hunter won't use it. You connect it to your vest while you're on the ground, climb up to your stand (connected to the safety line all the way up). You are safely tethered while in your stand and on your way down the tree when you leave. It's brainless.
I also use a pull line with a simple carabineer at each stand to raise and lower my bow. This way I have nothing in my hands, nor do I have to balance stuff hanging from my arms or shoulders while i'm climbing in and out of the stand. The pull line lets me get the gear in the stand safely once I'm safely seated. How hard is that?
Every new stand I've purchased in the last couple years comes with a full-body harness, tree strap and a safety DVD. Like me, you may prefer a different style harness...OK...there are dozens of varieties on the market. I now prefer the lifeline as opposed to the tree strap so I can be connected the entire time I'm climbing and hunting. These, too, are inexpensive ($20-30 depending on brand) and they all work the same. We have tree straps on each of the 4 ladder stands we use for bow hunting, too. These two-man stands are easier to get in and out of than lock-ons and have plenty of room to stand, but the safety harness and strap still provides an additional level of safety and peace of mind.
You're all big boys and girls. You make your own decisions. I just encourage you to spend the extra few dollars and take the little extra time at each stand to make your hunting as safe as you can. I think your family and friends would appreciate it.
Kill a big one!
- Pat Porter, RecLand ProStaff Founder...but you won't see him on TV!
"Our deer season is twelve months long, but we just shoot 'em in the Fall." I wish I had a new Millennium lock-on for every time I've said that to someone asking me why I'm doing what I'm doing in March or June. To me, deer season, land management and QDMA practices are year-around activities.
I'm writing this as someone who doesn't have a show on the Outdoor Channel or a DVD series for sale at Bass Pro. And no, I don't have thousands of acres in Iowa or Kansas. My wife, three boys and I own and hunt 134 acres in northeast Louisiana. OK...it's in some of the best part of northeast Louisiana as far as whitetail quality and herd size go, but it's still just 134 acres. Some of the things I mention in the rest of this article were also done on the piney woods lease I belonged to a couple years ago, too. The point is that for someone who loves to deer hunt, the activities associated with its enjoyment and enhancement can be done all year long.
My wife, Elizabeth, bow hunts exclusively. Prior to last season, I just bow hunted the first couple weeks then switched to a rifle for the rest of the year. Last year - our first season on our new 134 acres - I decided to stay with my compound all season. We started October 1st and hunted all the way through to the last few days of January. We got this property in June so there was not a lot of time to work on it. We did, however, have a combination of ground blinds, climbers and ladder stands to give us 9 bow sets and 3 planted food plots around the tract. We are on a pretty strict buck management program, so we never came to full draw on a buck. We both let bucks walk that we would have never passed on in the lease we hunted just last year. We shot 5 does...including 1 we couldn't recover.
The first week of February, I had my bow in the shop for new cables and string. I started shooting it the day I picked it up a week or so later. I try to shoot a few arrows 2-3 days a week. I did add a new sight recently, but I've had the same bow for 4 years now. Still, it never made sense to me to have a season come down to one shot that you prepared for by picking up your bow for the first time in September. So, we all try to shoot all year long. Not only does it hone your skill but it helps keep the anticipation level up.
By the end of February, my oldest son and had planted about 70 saw tooth oak tree seedlings along the edges of one existing food plot and two other areas that will be made into food plots. These seedlings were ordered from our state Forestry service for less than $50. The saw tooth oak grows rapidly and can be producing early season acorns in five to seven years. Next February, we'll plant a few more and fertilize the ones we planted this year. I simply marked each seedling with colored flagging so I wouldn't cut them down when I was bush-hogging. So far, 66 of the 70 are living and growing according to green leaves on them.
We also spent a good deal of time walking our property right after bow season ended. The impenetrable thickets were easier to walk though in the dead of winter so we were able to see things we hadn't seen before. Seeing new trails, hookings and bedding areas is not only cool, but it gives great perspective on how the deer actually moved during the season. February and March are great times to see the nooks and crannies of a property. You don't want to do this during the season, of course, and the cool weather and dead foliage make it perfect for walking and looking.
Can I just tell you that for someone who didn't have the privilege of owning land growing up...being able to walk around on your own property and look for - and find! - lots of sheds in late February and March is just plain awesome! I found a huge pile of bones this year. I enjoy shed hunting just about as much as hunting them on the hoof. And prior to this year, my shed hunting had always been with friends on their property or just finding them on the land we looked at in our business. My boys were able to find a few, too. We have them in various piles at our camp. I kept game cameras out through March just to monitor how long the bucks were keeping their antlers. We saw them until about mid-March.
Staying in a deer hunting mind-set and walking the property in March and April allowed me to take a look at possible locations for new bow sets. Seeing a tract in the lush summer foliage and then seeing it when everything is dead and brown is like night and day. I was able to decide that I needed to move a couple stands and put up a couple more in different areas to take advantage of what I'd learned from hunting hard for four months then seeing the playing field after the game.
Our property has the benefit of being loaded with quality vegetation for the deer as well as being located in the heart of a nutrient rich agricultural area. Our deer have plenty of spring and summer forage and browse. The didn't really need my Spring food plots but I planted two anyway in late April. Part of the reason was so I could get this ground in a little better shape for my Fall/Winter plots. I plan to have five or six food plots this Fall. Our plots are relatively small...an acre is the biggest. I prefer small food plots anyway...with lots of edge...and just bow hunting makes this seem like the right way to do it for us. We have several mineral licks that I have created at old stumps that we keep freshened up all Spring and Summer, too.
As the property dried out after a wet Spring, I was able to smooth out our roads, move fallen trees and limbs and bush-hog the roads and trails in May and June. We also started putting out the game cameras in June to catch the bucks growing antlers. It's mid-July at the writing of this article and there are four cameras out now. We've seen some good bucks already so I know the cameras will be worth checking.
We've put up two new bow sets so far and I've cleared limbs on a tree where I will hang another lock-on this week. I have already scouted a couple new places for ground blinds near two new food plots I'll plant this Fall. My twelve year old son will start bow hunting this year and those ground blinds are a great way for him to start learning. His mom and I have killed deer from the ground blinds so I know they are effective if they're brushed in well to help break up the outline. We have a lot of deer - and black bear - on our property so he'll definitely enjoy the show at ground level this Fall.
Looking for fawns and picking and eating dewberries is just something everybody ought to do if they can. My seven year old son is a pro at both. We ride and look...or walk and look. Sometimes we're just out there checking the mineral licks or just making up a reason to be out there. Having the BB gun or .22 with us is just part of it. Though my wife and I are the serious bow hunters - and the oldest son will start this Fall - we are all out there all year long just looking and learning and trying to be grateful for what we have.
I'll try to have all our bow sets in place and ready by the first part of August...all the trees stands...not the ground blinds. We have four box stands that are for rifle hunting for some guests that we'll have out there a few times during the year. We'll get these cleaned out as needed. I just want to get it all done so I can focus on the food plots in September. I'll get two or three ground blinds in place and brushed in when I get the food plots done. A long four month bow season will require that I have to "freshen up" the brushing on those blinds but having them in place when deer start using the food plots seems to help them get used to them.
This Fall's food plots will include one pure clover stand and the rest an oat/cowpea/clover mix. Having the clover in place for the late Winter/early Spring is important to help the bucks recover their body weight lost during our late season rut. I'm not a biologist but I do know that three ingredients for maximizing antler growth are age, genetics and nutrition. We can control the age factor by letting them walk until they are 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 years old. We have terrific genetics in this region of the Mississippi Alluvial Basin. We can supplement the nutrition by having high protein clovers on the ground for them once the season is over. My Fall / Winter food plots are not only harvest plots for hunting season but nutrition plots for that period of time between the end of the season and the time when the browse and forage have "greened up."
Once deer season starts we try to have as little impact on the tract as we can. We park our truck at a common area gate about a mile away and ride a Polaris to the property line. We try to walk in to our various stands as quietly as possible. We've spent a lot of time and effort to get ready for this time of the year.
We're fortunate in that we can spend a large number of days in a bow stand. We homeschool the boys. And while my work running a couple of real estate companies is demanding, a lot of it can be managed from an Iphone and Ipad. We hunt hard from October 1 to the end of January. We will see lots of deer...see some bucks we can't believe we're passing on, hopefully get a shot or two at some does...and if that shooter gets in range...!!! Anyway, we hunt to shoot 'em in Fall but our season runs for twelve months. It's the sheds in March, hanging from a lineman's rope to put up a lock-on in July and watching the oats pop through the ground in September that really make deer hunting what it is for us. If killing one in October was all I had to look forward to, I think I'd find something else to do.
Whether you own or lease; whether it's a big place or a forty; whether it's in Buffalo county Wisconsin or Caldwell parish, Louisiana...make the most of your deer "season" by lengthening it to include year-around elements for success, enjoyment and strengthening the existing herd.
- Pat Porter, RecLand ProStaff Founder...but you won't see him on TV!