It is no surprise that hunting, particularly bowhunting, requires skill, patience, luck, and time. Most of today’s youth are accustomed to video games, their cell phones, and uninterrupted access to the internet. Hunting doesn’t provide that instant gratification they are used to. When a young man or woman expresses an interest in the outdoors they are venturing into an unfamiliar world outside of their social media accounts, Call of Duty Campaigns, and movies. They should be welcomed with nothing but positivity and encouragement.
I was there once. Nobody in my family hunted, and I really wanted to get into it. I ended up scouring hunting magazines and learning a bit from online forums but most of what I learned was based on trial and error in the woods.
These are 5 tips I wish I knew when first getting started.
Any serious hunter has been there. It’s a lonely place filled with unprecedented longing, sadness and a restlessness. It tends to hit sometime between the end of the previous deer season and the beginning of next year’s deer season. And it hits hard. You know it hits when your wife tells you to “Shut up about deer season already”, your last ten YouTube searches are hunting related, and you spend your workday pondering what stand you are going to sit opening morning.
I know how you feel. Here are ten things to do when you can’t stop thinking about Deer season in July.
Scout, Scout, and Scout some more
If you are this excited about the upcoming season you want to make sure your odds of arrowing that bruiser are as high as possible. Set up trail cameras, check out new areas, and try to get a better understanding of deer travel patterns. It will pay off big time during the season.
This one is fairly obvious, If you can’t hunt you might as well wet some lines! Hit the local lake or river with some buddies and make the most of it! I have spent many days on the water solely to curb my desire to hunt.
Spend time with family
You and I both know that come October and November we are going to be spending the vast majority of our free time on the stand. Spend plenty of time with them now, and they may be more likely to allow you to skip “Date Night” once or twice.
Bad shots happen. Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn’t hunted for very long. Preparation in the off season will help prepare you for that one shot where it really matters. Practice year round to ensure you are ready when that buck steps out opening morning! Remember to practice with broadheads before season opens! I am still shocked by the number of people who never shoot a broadhead before shooting one at a deer. Regardless of if the package says “Flys like a field point” make sure you shoot them a few times beforehand. Don’t wait until the last week before the season to do this.
Have a favorite spot that you always seem to hunt year after year? Build a blind! It isn’t hard and it allows you to hunt more comfortably.It also allows you to introduce kids to the outdoors as well. Plus, who doesn’t love a heated blind come December?
Plan a youth hunt
More kids should be introduced to the outdoors, plain and simple. As technology advances the number youth involved in hunting decreases. So many kids spend hours on videogames, texting, social media, and online that they never get an opportunity to take in nature. Use the youth hunt as an opportunity to introduce the next generation to the outdoors. Don’t make it a last minute thing either. Plan it in advance and give them something to look forward to. Be sure to have them shoot their gun/bow regularly so an ethical shot can be made.
Don’t bring a rangefinder. I use 3D shoots as practice judging distances in a natural environment. Shooting a 3D deer in the woods at an unknown distance is way more effective than shooting a target at marked yardages. Bring buddies and make a day out of it. It is a blast!
Getting outdoors in general is a great way to unwind. I go on a handful of camping and backpacking trips to remote areas annually just to get away from the stress and noise. For me it is just as peaceful as a morning on stand. Plus, if you are exploring a national forest there is a good chance you can find a new hunting spot!
Fine Tune your gear
Remember last year, when your boots never kept your feet warm, your pants were too noisy, or your arrows never grouped right? Now is the time to change that! Look into new gear, figure out what works for other hunters, and make sure you are well equipped to hit the woods this fall!
Knock on some doors
Contrary what a lot of people will tell you, door knocking is not dead. What do you have to lose? Knock on some doors and politely try to gain permission to hunt. Many will say no, but most will be polite and cordial about it. The ones that say yes will be well worth it! Many of my best producing properties came from door knocking!
“I couldn’t have shot this buck without the use of **insert hunting product here that
was likely never used** and ** second not used hunting product**.” “If I had shot this
deer with anything other than **insert broadhead here** I never would have found it.”
Becoming a National TV production is time and money. Lots of it. To make money many sponsors need to be brought on. Now I am not saying that Michigan Whitetail Pursuit doesn’t have sponsors. We do. But we really try to steer clear of forced, over the top, product placement. We also try to showcase local Michigan outdoor businesses. Nearly all of our sponsors are Michigan businesses.
The decision to buy or sell hunting or farmland is going to be one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, so don’t take it lightly! If you don’t currently own your own land, you might want to think about ‘gettin some’! A lot of people LEASE land these days for hunting. That can be great, but repeatedly there can be issues with other hunters, trespassers, the landowner, and paying money for something that leaves you with no equity. Two of the properties listed below would cost about as much per year as a big lease would cost. At the end of the day, you are a property owner who can control an amazing Michigan hunting property!
If you haven’t noticed, there is no more land being created. Have you ever seen a rural subdivision or strip mall torn down and put back to ‘nature’ the way it was? Rarely. Even though the Michigan economy is still working on picking back up, there still is vacant land being bought up and developed for commercial and residential use. You probably see it every day on your drive to work or your favorite hunting spot. So, you have decided that now is the time to purchase your own land for any number of the great reasons to do so. Where do you start? Do you talk to a lending institution first? Do you start browsing any of the many real estate listing sites out there? Do you talk with a qualified and licensed Realtor first? Do you sit down and talk with your buddy or co-worker who has recently purchased land? Any of these options is not a bad place to start, but there is a way to go about the process which will make it all much easier.
Being involved in farming and hunting for my entire 39 years of being on this earth, I have paid attention to what makes farmland, great farmland. I have paid attention to what makes hunting land, great hunting land. I also pay attention to people and what type of hunter, fishermen, or outdoorsmen they are and what they ‘need’ to make their outdoor experience a positive one. You don’t want to be a month into owning your new land and figure out it isn’t what you thought it was or wanted it to be. Because there are so many different types of sportsmen out there, and because there are a bazillion different combinations of habitats and features to a particular piece of land, I have come up with a ‘buyer’s checklist’ that I provide to a client to help me understand exactly what he/she is looking for. I can then take this information and compare it to a ‘report card’ that I have created for each real estate listing that I have.
Two examples I would like to highlight are great options for a Lansing or Grand Rapids hunter looking for quality deer and land ownership close to home. Check out this piece of Michigan hunting awesomeness! http://www.stoneycreekoutdoors.com/listings/27-acres-in-montcalm-county- This 27+ acres has some of the best deer and big buck sign I have seen in a while. The location couldn't get much better as hundreds of acres of woods, swamp and lakes lie to the north, north west, and north east. Then a couple hundred acres of agriculture land lies directly across the road from this property. A couple of food plots are already in place. Tony Lapratt of Ultimate Land Management has written a plan to develop this property for trophy deer hunting and the landowner has spent approx. 2500 hours working that plan..........and it shows. There is a mobile home on the property that has been gutted and is set up with tables, chairs, furniture, a wood stove and propane lights. All box blinds and ladder stands stay with the property.
Another great listing built for hunting and affordability!
http://www.stoneycreekoutdoors.com/listings/24-acres-in-eaton-county New photos coming-24+ plus acres in Eaton County that is very affordable. The property is all wooded and has a county drain going through it. The property is addressed on Pinch Hwy, but also borders M-100. It also has a private road on one side of it, Natures Bounty. Jeff Sturgis of Whitetail Habitat Solutions has walked the property and written a hunting/habitat plan. There are several food plot locations.
This has been a dilemma, a concern, and a question raised many times by our followers, our staff, and show personnel. I aim to attempt to answer it from my point of veiw to help you understand. First of all, let me tell you how hard it is to skip a Sunday at a show. 1st: Money –> I am saying goodbye to literally tens of thousands of dollars in sales of people who would purchase our DVDs and gear at shows on Sunday. 2nd: Threats -> We have been verbally assaulted and threatened by show owners/directors on multiple occasions. We have left being told we are not welcome back on one occasion. 3rd: Missing People -> Each year our loyal fans come back for the latest Season and we miss 20-30% of them who were not aware we did not attend Sunday. I value those relationships and those people.
With all those reasons, why do I choose to pack up Saturday night and head home giving up money and relationships and harming future potential? Here is why:
Do I occasionally think of the benefits of attending shows on Sunday? Yes. Do I think of having my employees be there instead of me? Yes. But they need to have a day of church, rest, and family each week too. I do not condemn any of you who choose differently. I do not condemn those who attend the show on Sunday nor do I condemn those who exhibit on Sunday. I just know after five years of questions from others, I need to answer why I choose for Venture Creations and Michigan Whitetail Pursuit to not exhibit on the Lord’s day. I hope this does not offend anyone and I pray you all find the value in Sunday, that one day that God gives us to be different from the rest.
PRE-APPROVAL: Get Pre-approved. This is probably not the first thing we want to think about. You may ask, “isn’t getting pre-approved putting the cart before the horse?” Absolutely not! Trust me, when you find that piece of hunting or farmland in Michigan that you fall in love with, you are not going to want to wait the 5-10 days that it will take to get pre-approved before you can make an offer. This will also help determine your budget for the property and making sure you are financially responsible in knowing what size payment you can take on.
DEFINITION: Have a clear definition of what it is that you want out of a piece of land. Do you want the land to be just for you and your wants and needs? Are you buying so that you and your family can have a place to hunt, fish and camp? Are you buying as an investment, if so, how much of a return on investment (ROI) percentage do you need? These are just a few questions that you should answer before getting to serious about buying.
ADVICE: Work closely with someone you trust who knows hunting and farmland. This may be a farmer, a wildlife habitat consultant, a Realtor (Stoney Creek Outdoor Properties) who specializes in hunting and farmland, or a friend or coworker who has gone through the buying process. Getting a couple different opinions is never a bad idea. For example, let’s say you are a serious hunter and you want some land to be able to plant apple trees and some food plots. Soil types are very important when it comes to planting trees and food plots. The more fertile the soil, the less lime and fertilizer you will need to apply to that soil in order to get the most out of whatever you plant. You will pay more money per acre for good quality soil, but in the long run you will save time, money, and labor by buying land with good quality soils. This is just one example of many.
SIZE: Sometimes this is the factor that intimidates us to think about the purchase in the first place. Too many of us think only an 80 acre piece is capable of producing the whitetail habitat we are after. Take a look at your current properties you have access to. Many often are 3-10 acres or even 20-40 acres. Some small properties “Hunt Big”. By that, I mean they have the food, bedding, funnels, etc. that allow for multiple stand locations on high deer traffic areas even though they technically may not be a huge parcel.
TIME: How far are you looking to drive? Is this a weekend retreat or a quick after work spot? Or are you after a U.P. tract of land for gun season? Remember the time investment in driving and scouting. Also consider the time of year and your availability to hunt. Is this the perfect spot for a youth hunt or an early season food plot? Or do you plan your two weeks vacation for the chase phase? Consider distance and time of the season you will be focusing on this property.
NEIGHBORS: This one is often overlooked. So many neighbor relationships have gone sour because of hunting issues. People are passionate about deer and that can negatively or positively build relationships. Before you buy, meet the neighbors and see if they hunt and what their goals are for their property. In all likelihood, your property will border 3+ properties and having a good relationship with all sides is good!
Co-editors: Chad Thelen and Calvin Beeke