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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Getting High for the Hunt

Hunting from a tree stand can put you one up on the game
 
Some successful hunters like to get above it all – in a tree stand. Hunting from on high can provide a good view of the target and a clear shot. But there’s more to it than climbing a tree. Successful tree-stand hunting requires careful planning and the right equipment.
 
Where to Take Your Stand
 
It seems obvious that you would locate your tree stand where game is active, yet too many hunters skip the preliminaries and erect a stand without scouting. So, the first rule is learn the habits of the game, then locate the stand. (For tips on scouting, see our trail cameras article on page 28.)
 
When placing a stand, don’t look for a tree that nicely suits your purpose, look for a site where deer are likely to be active, such as along a trail, near food or where bucks have left scrapes and tree rubs.
 
Once you’ve chosen your hunting ground, mount the stand on a tree that allows a good shot at the target area. Don’t locate upwind from the target site. Locate downwind and at least 30 yards away. The further away from the target you can position yourself, the better, providing you’re in range for a shot.
 
How High is High Enough
 
How far above ground you place your stand depends on some factors. If there are few obstructions to block your view, 10 to 15 feet above the ground is adequate. But if undergrowth extends above that height, you might have to mount your tree stand 20 feet up or higher. It’s all about getting to a position where you can see your target area.
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Covering Up
 
Deer can see, you know, so you should provide cover. One strategy is to locate your stand amidst a group of trees that can shield you. You may have to clear a few branches to open up shooting lanes, but don’t overdo it. And while a duck hunter in the field may wear orange to avoid being shot, you don’t want to do that up in your stand. Camouflage clothing is the order of the day for tree-stand shooters. But keep an orange or red jacket in your equipment bag and put it on before you walk through the woods.
 
Shut Up and Shoot
 
You and your buddy may want to talk about last night’s NFL game. Don’t do it. Deer can not only smell and see, they can hear. And if you start talking sports in their presence, they’re going to hightail it out of there.
 
Selecting a Tree Stand
 
Among the popular tree stands offered at Dunham’s are the one- and two-hunter ladder stands from Big Game Tree stands. Designed to attach simply to a tree, the steel stands consist of a platform with one or two chairs and a ladder. They can be attached to a tree in a matter of minutes, blend well with the tree trunk, and provide a comfortable place to wait out the arrival of Mr. Buck.
 
Conventional steel tree stands from Big Game are similar in design, but come without the attached ladder. They’re available in a variety of sizes. The company also makes a climbing system that can be used with a conventional stand or to help set up a ladder stand.
 
Dunham’s stocks numerous tree-stand products from Rivers Edge Tree Stands. That company’s Twoplex™ Comfort Ladder is an 18-foot, two-hunter stand offering a padded shooting rail, extra-wide ladder and a comfortable mesh seat and backrest.
 
All tree stands come unassembled, but have few parts and go together quickly with common tools.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Crossbow Evolution

Today’s Modern High-Tech Crossbows are Lighter, Stronger, Faster, Quieter and More Accurate!
 
Whether you are a seasoned hunter or searching for the ideal crossbow for your first hunt, you will be amazed by the selection of modern, high-tech crossbows now available at Dunham’s. Choosing the right type and model that best fits your needs and personal style will have a lasting impact on your hunting success for years to come because, with only minimal maintenance and care, most modern crossbows will last a lifetime.
 
A Recurve or Compound Crossbow
 
A recurve crossbow has tips that curve away from the archer. Solid limbs are attached to a sturdy stock. A longer draw length compared to an equivalent sized straight archery bow allows a recurve crossbow to produce tremendous power. Compound crossbows use either single or split limbs along with integrated pulleys or cam systems to capture maximum energy with a relatively short draw length. Although more complex and usually heavier than a recurve crossbow, hunters appreciate a compound crossbow’s more compact size, especially in tree stands or blinds where space is at a premium. The great news is that over the past few years’ manufacturers have pushed the technology envelope to make both recurve and compound crossbows lighter, stronger, faster and more accurate than ever before.
 
Simple Excellence
 
The Axiom SMF from Excalibur Crossbow is a powerful example of simplicity and excellence in a recurve crossbow at an affordable price.
 
“We believe that when you’re hunting, simple is better,” says Steve Scheffel of Excalibur Crossbows. “The biggest advantage of a recurve crossbow is the simplicity of it. There are very few moving parts. If you cock that string centered every time, it is going to shoot exactly the same every time. We also continually strive to improve our quality and performance each year. Hold our Axiom SMF in your hands and you’ll see that it’s an exceptionally well-designed and quality-built crossbow with a surprisingly affordable price.”
 
Lightweight construction, including a space-age composite stock, helps make the Axiom SMF one of the lightest recurve crossbows available. With a mass weight of under six pounds, it is incredibly easy to carry, easy to travel and easy to shoot. A computer-machined frame ensures precise arrow alignment and field accuracy. Capable of producing arrow speeds in excess of 305-feet-per-second, the Axiom SMF also features the same high-quality multiplex scope and trigger safety system as some Excalibur models costing hundreds of dollars more.
 
Two impressive advantages the Axiom SMF also offers is that it can be decocked safely without shooting an arrow and, if necessary, the string can be replaced in the field without using a bow press. In addition, the Excalibur Axiom SMF kit available at Dunham’s also includes a rope cocking aid and arrow quiver, plus four Firebolt arrows complete with field points.
 
Size Does Matter
 
If you’re searching for a quality built, high-tech, dependable compound crossbow with plenty of performance, look no further that the Titan Extreme from TenPoint.
 
“We precision-engineer every detail of each crossbow we make, and that’s why TenPoint crossbows deliver the most dependable, accurate and high-performance shooting experience available today,” says Brian Osterwalder of TenPoint Crossbow Technologies. “What makes our Titan Extreme really special is that it is only 16 ½ inches wide in the cocked position. That compares to some compound bows that are up to 27 inches wide. We’ve also made the Titan Extreme lighter, quieter and easy to cock. Our patented DFI system (Dry-Fire-Inhibitor) prevents dry-firing when not loaded. And for better accuracy and shooting distance we’ve also increased speed up to 333-feet-per-second.”
 
A new longer and narrower thumb-hole stock and light-weight, quick-disconnect quiver contribute to reduced weight. A quiet operating automatic safety system reduces noise and accommodates both right and left-handed shooters. The Titan Extreme is also surprisingly easy to cock for hunters of all ages and physical abilities or limitations. In fact, TenPoint’s patented ACUdraw cocking mechanism requires only about seven pounds of pressure to turn the handle at the maximum position.
 
The Titan Extreme kit available at Dunham’s includes TenPoint aluminum arrows plus a ProView scope with a wider field of view compared to a typical rifle scope. As an added bonus, the scope is pre-sighted from zero to 50 yards at the factory. Multiple crosshairs also illuminate in low-light conditions and can be switched to either green or red, just by turning a dial.
 
Scary Fast and Quiet
 
If power is your passion and stealth is your style, the Barnett Ghost 400 with Step thru Riser in CarbonLite™ technology is the crossbow to own. The patented ultralight, super strong riser lengthens the power stroke without placing the cocking string beyond arms length. Durable CarbonLite technology removes nearly 43 percent of weight from the front end which dramatically shifts the balance point to the shoulder. The MIM (Metal Injection Molding) trigger contains the added safety precaution of an ADF (Anti Dry Fire) feature which eliminates unintentional dry firing.
 
Barnett Crosswire® strings and precision-engineered whiplash cams ensure smooth, quiet and accurate shots at up to 400-feet-per-second. The Ghost 400 also features Barnett’s high-tech, anti-vibration isolation technology (AVI) which uses a special soft-touch material molded over quad laminated limbs to help reduce noise and vibration up to 30 percent over standard limb designs. AVI also helps prevent damage from unintentional contact with objects in the field or during transit.
 
“We are devoted to quality and committed to excellence,” says Jackie Allen of Barnett Crossbows. “In the last few years we have developed our largest range of lightweight, dependable, adjustable and powerful bows based on the changing needs and desires of today’s hunters. Barnett in conjunction with Dunham’s offers a bow to fit most everyone’s needs.”
 
Only at Dunham’s
 
The Barnett GameStrike crossbow is available exclusively at Dunham’s. With high-tech features such as a patented Step thru Riser in CarbonLite technology, MIM Anti-Dry Fire trigger and AVI technology, the Game Strike produces arrow speeds up to 375-feet-per-second. An adjustable stock also includes an adjustable cheek piece. A picatinny universal rail allows accessories such as an action camera to be quickly and easily undermounted. The GameStrike is value packed, complete with a quiver, three Carbon Arrows, a 3 x 32 illuminated scope, a rope cocking device and a convenient travel sling.
 
Also available at Dunham’s, the Barnett Quad 400 Extreme features a comfortable high-tech composite stock with a contoured cheek piece and parallel limb design which produces arrow speeds over 345-feet-per-second. Ready to go out of the store and on your next hunt, the Quad Extreme kit includes a quiver, 4 x 32 scope, three arrows and an installed crank cocking device.
 
Make Sure It Feels Right
 
Even with so many choices and models available, choosing the right crossbow that matches your needs and personal style does not need to be difficult. “The more you know, the happier you’ll be,” says Allen. “Knowledgeable Dunham’s sales professionals can help you make an informed decision. Remember to also take some time to hold the crossbow in your hand. Feel it, touch it, and make sure it’s the right size and shape for you. It’s a very personal choice, and you want it to be right.”
 
-Deer Abby
 
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