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Archive for October, 2012


HUNTING FROM BLINDS

A fundamental maxim of hunting is for you to see the prey before the prey sees you. This is why hunting blinds are so popular. They provide concealment for you, as well as a comfortable place to wait for that prey to appear. Whether you hunt deer, elk, turkey or waterfowl, blinds let you pick the perfect spot, help you blend into the environment, and protect you from the elements.
 
Buying a Blind
 
The obvious first question to ask is what are you hunting? Duck blinds and deer blinds are two completely different, well, animals. Waterfowl blinds can be set up on land or water. With deer blinds the fundamental question is bow or rifle. A bow means you’ll need more interior space. Draw your bow all the way back and then leave some wiggle room beyond that. You will also need some extra space depending on some other factors. For example, if you bring your son along, you’ll want more than a one-person blind. And if you travel via ATV you’ll want a blind big enough to hold the vehicle.
 
You also need to look at what you are hunting and the way you hunt it. Scent control is critical for deer, so you’ll want blinds with scent control fabrics. For turkey, that’s really not an issue. Camouflage is important, but don’t just assume any pattern will work. Take a look at the camouflage on the blind and make sure it will blend into the area you’re actually going to hunt in. Whether you stand or kneel will determine where you want visibility. Also, blinds with windows, screens or doors in all directions give maximum flexibility and the widest fields of fire. Portability is another big factor if you plan on moving often from site to site. Blinds vary greatly in how easy they are to transport and set up. If your site is semi-permanent, portability is not as big an issue.
 
Location, Location, Location
 
Just as in real estate, location is everything in hunting from a blind. Of course, you could say the same thing about any kind of hunting. You’ll want a high traffic location where you can blend in to your environment. That means finding appropriate cover. The best camouflaged cover in the world will stand out if it’s in an open field. Try to add bushes and/or tree branches to enhance the natural look and feel. If possible walk the area before you hunt it. Look for food supplies, cover and routes between the two. If possible, set up your blind a week or so before the actual hunt. That way the deer will get used to it.
 
But there is also an advantage to a portable blind. It lets you take into account prevailing winds so you don’t give away your scent. Try to identify several good areas for the blind and then you can set up in the best one for that day’s wind patterns.
 
Location and blending in are also important for duck blinds. You want to be on or near the water in an area you know ducks will be present. A high vegetation area will help attract ducks and will also help you camouflage the blind. You can cover the blind in camouflage netting to match the area, and cut a slit in the front where you are going to shoot.
 
Ultimately, the ducks will tell you how well your blind is set up. If circling ducks tend to fly away from your blind, you need to make some changes.
 
Tree Stands
 
Tree stands are another effective way to hunt deer. Their height gives you better visibility while preventing the deer from seeing you. While they may not be as comfortable as a blind, they give you clearer shots by allowing you to shoot over limbs and branches. There are four types of stands:
 
Ladder – Essentially a small platform at the top of some steps. Great for people who don’t want to climb and/or are insecure at height. Stable, but also heavy, not very portable and take time to set up.
 
Climbing – Involves two pieces, a chair and a platform below it. Allows you to ‘climb’ the tree while in the stand. Portable and easy to set up, but only for certain trees and for people comfortable at heights.
 
Hang-on (Lock-on) – This has a seat and footrest attached to the tree. Popular because of their versatility, they are lightweight, easy to set up and will fit most trees. The disadvantage is you have to carry the steps and climb the tree.
 
Tower – Not a stand, per se, but a separate platform with 3 or 4 legs. It’s necessary in areas without trees. It’s the only real alternative in prairie-like environments. It is comfortable and stable, but not at all portable.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Clothes Makes the Hunter

While your choice of weapons may be the single most important factor in hunting, what you wear is also important. Not only should your clothing help disguise you from your prey, but your choice of boots and outerwear will be a big factor in how comfortable you are.
 
From the Ground Up
 
Hunting boots are the obvious place to start because at some point you’re going to have to get to your prey. What to look for in a boot depends on the type of hunting you will do. “If you’re constantly moving in search of prey, then flexibility and durability will be most important to you,” says Trent Busenbark of Bushnell Boots. “But if you’re in a tree stand most of the time just waiting for deer, then insulation and warmth will be your priorities because you’ll have less circulation to keep your blood warm.”
 
Keeping water out of your boots is an important consideration if you are hunting near lakes and in marshland.  While you can always add waterproofing protection to your boots, it’s obviously better to start with designs that keep the water out.
 
Sophisticated Designs
 
High-tech engineering has long been part of the boot design business, with sophisticated polymers and foam design. For example, EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) is a compression-molded foam that combines durability with light weight design. So-called “memory foams” also emphasize comfort. These mold to the shape of the foot and provide close to a custom fit. Keeping water out of boots is obviously a priority, and technology such as neoprene rubber has greatly improved water resistance in hunting boot design.
 
Recognizing that different parts of the foot require different amounts of support, Bushnell uses varying densities for the insole, toe and heel. That kind of design takes into account how your foot actually works. Above all, the emphasis is on comfort. “You put these boots on, and you think you’re wearing tennis shoes,” Busenbark says.
 
Under Armour has come up with a specific design for tree-stand hunting. Its HAW (Hurry Up and Wait) boots use an air-mesh lining that increases airflow and also wicks sweat from the foot — a characteristic the company has become famous for in its high compression athletic wear. These boots also use heel lock memory foam that features higher viscosity and density for more support and comfort.
 
Clothes That Get the Job Done
 
Hunting clothes are a lot like work clothes — you’re more interested in them helping you get a job done than looking good (though that’s a plus, of course). Fit is very important because you’ll be doing a lot of different kind of stretching and exercising. When you raise your arms up, the whole jacket shouldn’t go up with them. And if you’re going to climb into a deer blind you want the pants to be cut plenty loose.
 
Temperatures vary greatly during hunting season and what is warm and snuggly at dawn may be stifling hot when the noontime sun arrives. The answer is layering — so you can peel back clothes as the mercury rises. It’s the same concept used in all kinds of winter activities in the Midwest, but some hunting apparel manufacturers have advanced the idea. Rocky Brands has introduced three different layers — Level I, II and III, to ensure temperature flexibility. “By the time you’ve stripped down to Level I, it’s almost like you’re in a t-shirt,” says company representative Sam Bowman.
 
While layering is a universal concept, there are specific clothing technologies designed for the hunter.  Various manufacturing techniques provide additional warmth as well as waterproofing. And there are ways clothing can make your quieter in the woods. Under Armour’s Ridge Reaper® Camo Shell Jacket uses strategically stretched four-way fabric that reduces noise from the clothing.
 
Besides clothing, there are different color and tag requirements that vary state by state. David Avila from Master Sportsman suggests asking your Dunham’s sales associate for your local information.
 
Passing the Smell Test
 
The most acute sense for most animals is smell. Thus, it is critical you mask your scent in the field, and that is much more difficult than using camouflage or staying quiet. Virtually everything we come in contact affects how we smell. You can cover up smells, but the most effective way to eliminate them is with clothing designed to trap those odors.
 
Scent-Lok has been a pioneer in this field, using activated carbon. The system uses the process of physical adsorption, similar to a sponge only with air instead of water. In the fabric of clothing the carbon creates a bond that traps odor molecules produced by the body. Activated carbon acts like microscopic Velcro. When the odor molecules come into contact with the activated carbon, they are trapped within the pores until the product is reactivated.
 
Reactivation is achieved by putting the activated carbon fabric in a dryer where the heat from the dryer will break the bond with the odor compounds. The odor compounds are released and the activated carbon is virtually as good as new. Typically, reactivation should occur after 30 to 40 hours of use, but always check the garment for washing and drying instructions.
 
Under Armour has introduced new scent control clothing where the reactivation occurs in the washer, not the dryer. “The advantage,” according to Under Armour’s Eddie Stevenson, “is that you don’t need to have the heat of the dryer and the product will last longer.”
 
Camouflage Underwear?
 
And if you just have to be completely ready for the hunt, how about some camouflage underwear? Under Armour makes camo-design boxer briefs, but they aren’t just for “show.” They have the Under Armour signature sweat wicking power along with anti-odor technology.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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