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      Field Judging Bears 101

      Field Judging Bears 101

      By Tracy Breen

      Bear season is upon us.  Soon hunters will be heading into the woods hoping to shoot a big bruin. For many hunters, knowing what a big bruin truly looks like can be a challenge. My dad was a full-time taxidermist my entire childhood. Most hunters who dropped off a bear to be mounted swore that when they shot the bear it was 400 pounds only to be in complete shock to find out when they walked up on their bear that it was only 125 pounds. This type of scenario happens all the time because judging the size and age of a bear while hunting is extremely difficult.
      Bernie Barringer is a full-time outdoor writer based in Minnesota and the bowhunting columnist for Bear Hunting Magazine. Over the years, he has killed over two dozen bears. He believes the bear is the most difficult game animal in the woods to size up. “Deer have horns on their head; other animals have distinctive features that a hunter can use to estimate the size and age of an animal. A black bear, on the other hand, often just looks like a large black blob and if a person hasn’t hunted them much, the first one they look at will look huge.”  Many bear hunters shoot the first bear they see. This can be a huge mistake. Below Barringer will provide a few tips to help bear hunters field judge black bears.
      One of the easiest ways to determine the size of a bear is by looking at the bear next to a bait barrel. Most most barrels have a ring around the middle of the barrel. You can use this ring as a size estimator. “If a bear walks next to a barrel and it only measures up to the middle ring on the barrel, it is a small bear,” Barringer said. “If the bear walks by and it is as high as the top ring or higher as it walks by, it is a big bear. If a person really wants to shoot a big bear, this is a great way to determine their size.”


      bear hunting

      The size of a bear’s head is another thing to look at when judging the size of a bear. “A small bear often appears to have large ears and a smaller head. A large boar will often have a large blocky head and smaller ears. A sow, on the other hand, typically has a long narrow face.”
      According to Barringer, a big boar will also have large blocky shoulders. “A big male will have a large chest and shoulders. A sow usually is shaped more like a pear. She will have a smaller, narrow chest and a large back end. Sows can be big, but if a hunter is really looking for something special, they should hold out for a large boar.”
      One great way to determine the height of a bear is by putting a Wyndscent vaporizing unit five or six feet above the ground in a tree near the bait when hunting. The vaporized Donut Shop scent will draw bears in and when they smell the scent up in the tree, they will likely stand on their hind legs to see if they can reach the unit. When they stand up, you will be able to easily judge their height.
      According to Barringer, if you want to kill a big bear you must be patient. “The more bears you see in the wild, the better you get at accurately judging their size. I tell people they should visit a zoo and look at a few bears up close before they leave on a hunt. This will allow them to study the size of the animal when their heart isn’t racing.”
      The average size of the bears my dad mounted over the years probably averaged 175-225 pounds. If you want to kill one larger than that, plan on being patient and using the tricks above to field judge the bears that visit your bait site.

      Bowhunting Tips for Spot-and-Stalk Hunting

      Bowhunting Tips for Spot-and-Stalk Hunting

      Image Courtesy of Game of Inches TV


      Author bio: I am James Nelson, an outdoor and hunting enthusiast. I have dedicated my time to gather and sieve through information about hunting. You can check out to learn more about me and my goals.

      Spot-and-stalk is basically the art of hunting on foot. While many of us would think it is difficult to slip in on deer and elk without them noticing, the game of spot-and-stalk is actually not that complex. Successful stalkers would simply say that it requires you to be patient. Of course, your other basic skills on hunting must be good too. You can learn what these basic skills are at Hunting Research.

      Chris Denham, part owner of Wilderness Athlete and editor of Western Hunter Magazine spends a great amount of time each year trying to be a ghost on the field. According to him, spot-and-stalk hunting is common sense. You just need to stay out of the animal’s sight, nose and ears, and do this with a healthy amount of patience. When hunters try to rush, that is when they get busted.

      When properly done, foot hunting is very effective and also extra challenging. Instead of waiting in your tree stand or ground blind, you are actively pursuing game. Foot hunting with a bow is even more versatile and deadly. Whitetail deer are more vulnerable to stand hunting majority of the time. However, elk and mule deer are less predictable and are more likely to be shot by a sneaky bowhunter.
      To stay hidden from deer as to not alert them during your hunt, there are a few tips that you can apply. Here are 8 tips for bow hunting on foot.

      Tip One: Start at A High Point

      You may not be able to do this everywhere, but if possible, set yourself up at a high ground to get a good vantage point. You can find elevated places such as trees, hilly terrain or rocks. If you see no elevated areas near you, move to check the next area. Bring your useful tools like a spotting scope or binoculars. Looking out from a higher ground can show you how the land lays. You will be able to see the game in your line of travel. You should take your time to look for game with your scopes as it will help you plan your hunting journey. It is okay to start off slow as this gives you time to plan your strategy as you scan the terrain and look at the bigger picture instead of moving in too quickly.



      Image Courtesy of Game of Inches TV

      Tip Two: Use the Weather to Your Advantage

      It is easier to stalk deer when their senses are dulled. Since weather-related factors like wind, snow and rain can reduce the effectiveness of their sensitivity, use this to your hunting advantage. Be aware of the wind direction so you can avoid the animal catching your scent as you approach. To avoid getting detected, stay downwind of the animal, meaning that the wind should blow towards your face. It is helpful to use a wind checker to monitor the wind direction and ensure the wind is in your favor before you carry on. Wyndscent offers a great wind checker called the Wyndscent Grenade. It is really simple to use and puts out actual vapor. Wyndscent offers scented sticks like earth, pine, doe estrus, or elk estrus, and they also offer scent free sticks for just wind indication.



      Image Courtesy of Become 1

      Tip Three: Tune in To Your Senses

      Use your senses to be aware of your surroundings. Sharpen your ears to listen to the sounds around you. They could reveal the location of the animal. Certain animal sounds can indicate that other animals or birds are aware of you, like the chattering of squirrels, crows cawing or deer snorting. You should also look closely around you to detect signs that can help you detect prey. Look for fresh tracks and signs of animals like droppings or bedding areas. When you walk, move slowly and take a few steps and a time so that you can scan and study your surroundings. Always prepare yourself and be ready because a shot could suddenly present itself! You should also stay open minded throughout your stalk and listen to your gut. Your instincts can take you a long way in a successful hunt.

      Tip Four: Dress Strategically

      Unless it is very cold, you may want to wear one layer less than you would to hunt from a tree stand or a ground blind. This is because you can get hot much faster when you stalk due to the increased movement. You do not want to sweat too much because it can make it easier for animals to detect your scent. You should also make sure your clothing is made of quiet material. It is worth spending a little more time and money to get one. You would not want your clothes to make unnecessary sounds as you walk through the woods that will scare game away.

      Tip Five: Use Helpful Tools

      A rangefinder is of great help in your spot-and-stalk hunt. Though you may know how to judge yardage, there is no substitute for the use of a rangefinder. It will not only make your life easier but make your hunt more lethal as well. During a stalk, you will constantly be ranging your quarry. Choosing a rangefinder harness that keeps it close by can let you crawl and quickly raise and lower your glass without making noise. You should also use items that can minimize noise to silence any piece of your gear that tings or clicks, like adhesive fleece or moleskin. Some bowhunters cover the inside of their riser shelf with fleece so that there is no way their arrow can be heard. Another helpful tool that you can use for the hunt is a decoy. A lightweight decoy comes in handy when stalking a deer. It is easy to carry but you may need a friend to tag along if you decide to use a big decoy.

      Tip Six: Camouflage Yourself

      The best thing you can do to camouflage yourself into nature is by wearing camouflage clothing. You should make sure your clothing matches the terrain you will be hunting in. You should also use all the cover available to you such as trees, brush and other foliage to conceal you as you approach the target. Using contour is just as important as using cover. This means that hills, ditches and other changes in topography can be a huge help to keep you hidden during the stalk. Stalking is all about angle management. You should study the contours of the land and plan an approach which keeps you camouflaged. You may even need to belly-crawl to achieve this. Use these terrain features to your advantage so that you can get closer to the animal you are after.



      Image Courtesy of Game of Inches TV

      Tip Seven: Move Quietly

      There are different ways you can walk quietly in the hunting field. One way to make less noise is by slowly setting your foot down from heel to toe. You should also always feel the ground with your feet. If you feel a stick or a twig, slowly pick your foot back up and step over it. Some hunters use Cat Paws which are basically large felt pads attached to the bottom of the boots. This can make staying quiet when walking on rocky terrain much easier. Sometimes, spot-and-stalk hunting may require you to crawl. When your knees, hands and feet drag across the ground, this can make noise. Hence, you want to be as careful as possible. However, for bowhunting, it is better to walk than to crawl if possible because you need to get into the bow-shooting position.

      Tip Eight: Remain Calm and Collected

      In the last 100 yards, you will probably feel the most excited and yet nervous. At this time, you should not rush to finish the last part of the stalk. Instead, try to remain calm and take your time. In fact, this part may even take hours to complete depending on the situation. If you find your heart pace and your breathing picking up, take a few moments to compose yourself before resuming. Evaluate the situation and if the animal you are after is calm and staying put, you can relax for a minute and calm yourself down. Check the range and wait for the perfect opportunity to come to a full draw.



      Image Courtesy of Game of Inches TV

      3 Simple Shed Hunting Strategies

      3 Simple Shed Hunting Strategies

      By Nate Coughlin: M.C.T. Productions


      One of my favorite times of the year is shed hunting season.  It gives you the opportunity to go into those bedding areas that you have been staying out of all year long, learn new routes that the deer like to take, and find antlers from the deer you have been watching all year long.  When it comes time to start putting the boots to the ground, there are 3 strategies that I always keep in mind.

                The number one strategy is food and field edges.  The last few years there has been some harsh, cold winters and that cold pushes the deer towards food more than any other time of the year.  That being said, fields that provide food and the edges of the timber around those fields are a great place to start.  It is also not uncommon for me to search a whole entire open field if I know there has been deer feeding in a certain field.  Areas like this is where I will find a mass majority of my sheds.

                The second strategy is looking on heavily travelled deer trails that are between the food and the bedding areas.  During this time of year, most of the deer movement that happens is going out to the food and back to their bedding area.  The deer try to minimize the amount of energy that they exert to get to the food, so usually that will cause the deer to bed closer to the food source but, still in areas that offer cover and safety.



                The last strategy that I use for shed hunting is getting right in the main bedding areas or sanctuaries.  Even though I go to these areas to find sheds, I also like to look for deer sign such as rubs, scrapes and pinch points.  These signs can teach you a lot about the deer movement and give you the upper hand for next deer season.

                Get out in the woods and remember to check out food sources, heavily travelled trails, and bedding areas the next time you’re shed hunting.  Get as much intel as you can while you are searching but most of all, enjoy your time in the great outdoors.  Good Luck!

      Mock Scrape Tactics That Work

      Mock Scrape Tactics That Work

      By Tracy Breen

      Here in Michigan, deer hunting is changing. Baiting deer will soon be a thing of the past. As a result, hunters are going to have to employ new tactics if they want to get within bow or gun range of deer. One of the most popular way to entice a buck within bow range is by hunting over mock scrapes. Doug Roberts from Conquest Scents in Michigan knows a lot about the subject.  Doug’s company has been selling deer urine for over a decade.  He has spent twice that long hunting mature bucks over scrapes.  “Hunting over scrapes can be a lot of fun.  Hunting over scrapes is extremely effective when done correctly.  If a hunter wants to focus on killing mature bucks, hunting over a mock scrape is one of the best ways to do that,” Roberts said.   

      What Doug likes best about hunting over scrapes is the fact that he can control what bucks do and where they go by building a mock scrape in the right place. “I start building mock scrapes long before most hunters. I like to build them in September near my favorite treestands which are always located near deer travel corridors. I like to build my scrapes upwind and within bow range of my stand.”



      Doug believes there are four basic components to a good mock scrape that will fool deer. “First, hunters need to build a scrape so dirt is distributed in all directions. The ground needs to be worked in 360 degrees around the scrape and the ground needs to be torn up. This makes the scrape more noticeable.  It also makes it a territorial scrape that drives bucks crazy.  This type of scrape is one that does will use.”



      The second step is the licking branch. Doug never builds a scrape without a licking branch. “The scrape should have a licking branch over the top of it and should be roughed up like a real licking branch is.  It should be hanging down low enough that deer can easily interact with it.”



      The third step is putting a buck foot print in the middle of his mock scrape and rubs around it. “Bucks can’t always see scrapes from a distance.  By making mock rubs around my scrape, bucks and does will approach the scrape because they will notice the new rubs from a great distance. When they approach the scrape, they will see the footprint and be able to see which direction the deer was walking when it left the scrape. Deer often leave their print in scrapes and hunters rarely do this when they are building a scrape. My goal is to make the scrape look as authentic as possible.”



      The fourth and final step is putting a rutting buck scent in the scrape and EverCalm on the licking branch. “I want the scrape to smell like a real buck built the scrape. By using EverCalm, I am making the licking branch smell like deer have used the licking branch. By building mock rubs and by using scent in the scrape, deer can find the scrape two different ways: by smell or by sight. By using this method, 95% of the time my scrapes become active scrapes.”



      Many hunters don’t build mock scrapes because they have had a negative experience with scrapes. In many cases, Roberts believes that happens for a couple different reasons. “Probably the most common reason why deer spook when they approach a scrape is because human odor was left behind at the scrape. Hunters should be as scent free as possible. I wear rubber gloves and boots when I build scrapes and put EverCalm on my boots. Human odor ruins a lot of scrapes. Second, small bucks will often get spooked by a scrape if they think a big buck made the scrape. They will smell it and run away.”



      Roberts is a firm believer in hunting over scrapes.  He is quick to point out that if a hunter wants to be successful when hunting over scrapes, hunting all day is a necessity. “Our research shows that many bucks check scrapes in the middle of the day. They want to catch the other bucks or the does near the scrape so they will often check them in the afternoon so I hunt all day. The problem is most people work during the day. If a hunter guy wants to increase his odds of killing a mature buck, they need to hunt over scrapes during the middle of the day. My favorite time to hunt over scrapes is early afternoon during late October and early November.”

      The key to success when hunting over scrapes according to Roberts is building a good quality scrape and sticking with it. Don’t get impatient.



      Sidebar: Not much has changed in the deer urine industry in the last decade or so ... until recently. Conquest Scents recently partnered with Wyndscent, a company out of Grand Rapids, Michigan that makes a scent dispenser that vaporizes deer scent.  It heats up the scent and turns it into a fine vapor. Independent testing by a tracker and his bloodhound determined the dog could smell the heated vapor from several hundred yards away. The cool thing with the Wyndscent unit is it is controlled by a remote control so hunters don’t need to pour scent in a scrape or contaminate the ground with human odor. They can turn it on and off from their treestand. Conquest Scents most popular scents can be purchased for the Wyndscent unit. Learn more about this new technology at

      Every Deer Hunter Should Try Synthetic Urine

      Every Deer Hunter Should Try Synthetic Urine

      By Tracy Breen


      Deer season is here.  This means many guys are standing in the checkout line at the store holding a bottle of pee.  Most deer hunters at some point or another over the course of their life have used deer urine in an attempt to get a big buck to walk within shooting distance of their treestand or ground blind. Some deer hunters say they wouldn’t hunt without using a certain brand of deer urine. Over the years, many hunters have shown me pictures of big bucks on their trail cameras or grip and grin photos of them with the buck of a lifetime.  They say they wouldn’t have killed the buck if it wasn’t for the mock scrape they built and the bottle of urine they poured into the scrape.   

      For every hunter who swears by mock scrapes filled with deer urine, there is a hunter who says the urine he used spooked the buck he was hoping to tag.  Some hunters love using deer urine; others hate using it.  One thing is certain: the way deer urine is purchased and sold is changing.  The type of urine hunters will be able to use in the woods is changing too.   

      CWD Is Spreading

      Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is slowly but surely spreading across North America. As the disease spreads, Fish and Game Departments are spending a lot of time researching the problem and doing what they can to stop it from spreading. One of the things they have looked at closely over the last several years is bottled deer urine. Many biologists believe that the prions that cause CWD can be spread via a bottle of urine. Until recently, the deer urine business hasn’t been regulated. Deer farmers can put urine in a bottle and call it whatever they want and sell it to any hunter or store they desire. Because the business of collecting and selling urine isn’t one that is tightly regulated, some states are taking it upon themselves to ban the sale of deer urine. So far, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia have banned the sale of deer urine. Many other states have been considering banning the sale of deer urine.

      ATA Approved Scent

      The Archery Trade Association (ATA) recently created a a deer protection program that sets guidelines and procedures in place for manufacturers and suppliers of deer urine who want to sell urine within the ATA. Members that adhere to the program can put a seal of approval on their products. Members of the program must manage their deer herd and bottle their urine in a facility that meets certain standards. The goal of the program is to ensure that the urine being sold does not contain CWD causing prions.

      The majority of scent companies within the outdoor industry including Wyndscent are following the guidelines. Will this protection program be enough to stop the spread of CWD? Will more states ban the use of deer urine?

      Synthetic Deer Urine May Be the Answer

      The odds of more states banning the use of deer urine for hunting purposes is extremely high. If deer urine is banned, what will hunters do? The best option is using synthetic scents. Synthetic deer scents have been around for decades. In fact, I used a bottle of synthetic deer urine for the first time when I was a teenager. At the time, many people laughed at the idea of using fake deer pee when hunting. People aren’t laughing at the idea anymore.

      Synthetic Deer Urine Works

      Synthetic deer urine works. If used properly, it can attract deer and other big game animals. In fact, in some cases, synthetic deer urine is a better option than real urine. It is legal everywhere.  You don’t have to worry about being stopped by a game warden or given a ticket for carrying around a bottle of urine.

      Synthetic Deer Urine Doesn’t Spoil Like Real Urine

      Another reason synthetic urine is a great choice is because it doesn’t break down like real urine. It doesn’t take long after a bottle is filled with urine before the urine starts to smell bad. Some companies sell fresh urine that fools a buck’s nose most the time. Some scents, on the other hand, have spent a long time on the store shelf before they are sold. Because synthetic urine isn’t real urine, it smells fresh much longer.

      Finding a Quality Synthetic Urine

      Not all synthetic urine is created equal, but over the last decade, many companies have started producing synthetic deer urine that is very effective in the woods. As the demand for synthetic urine rises over the next several years, the quality of synthetic deer urine is sure to rise as well.  

      The Vapor Scent Advantage

      Wyndscent is one company that is on the cutting edge of deer scent technology.   Wyndscent offers a deer scent dispenser that vaporizes deer scent. Independent testing has shown that the heated vapor scent can be smelled hundreds of yards away. Wyndscent makes a high quality synthetic estrus scent for their unit that drives bucks wild during the rut.


      Vapor Deer Scent Travels Further

      Best of all, the Wyndscent unit can be operated from up to 40 yards. When a hunter wants to put out heated vapor scent, they can hit a button on their remote, so they are not contaminating the area with human odor like sometimes occurs when building mock scrapes.

      There is no question synthetic deer urine is here to stay. Pick up a Wyndscent unit and take advantage of heated vapor scent.