Deer-Hunting Q&A with Mike Hanback

Is it alright to relieve yourself off a tree stand? What's the easiest way to make a European mount? How can you find phantom bucks? Big Buck Zone writer Mike Hanback answers every kind of deer-hunting question. See some of the best here.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

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>> ELK GUIDES AND SKULL MOUNTS

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>> ELK GUIDES AND SKULL MOUNTS

** ELK GUIDES AND SKULL MOUNTS**
Question
Just opened up your website and like the straightforward talk. Do you have any suggestions for an elk guide? I've hunted all of the western states except AZ with not a shot. I have never had a "bad" hunt, but every place I've been there has been a lack of game. Thanks for the effort!

- John in Minnesota

Answer
Hanback: Scott Denny with Table Mountain Outfitters offers great private-land hunts for elk and mule deer in WY. If you can draw a coveted elk tag in AZ or NM, U.S. Outfitters offers fantastic and reasonably priced hunts. I smoked this 330-inch bull (.50 T/C muzzleloader) in the Valle Vidal of NM on a wild bugle hunt with USO. Hard-core big game hunters/consultants Jack and Keith Atcheson can line you up with a good guide in MT, BC Canada, ID or CO. BTW, I would never recommend an outfitter or hunt consultant unless I had personally hunted with them and felt good about their character and operation. Hope you kill a giant bull, good luck!

Question
Just need to know the easiest way to get the skin/hair off the skull when I want to mount a buck's antlers only.

- Dennis

Answer
Hanback: Lance Waln, who I watched grow up from a kid to a great hunter and amateur taxidermist here in Virginia, helps us out. Lance says to cut as much skin off the skull plate as you can with your knife. Getting the skin away from the antler burr is tough sometimes; try a large flat-tip screwdriver and pry the skin away from the antler base. Use your knife to remove the last hairs that stick to the burrs. Skin as much meat/tissue as you can off the skull plate, then boil the skull in water for a few minutes. After that, the rest of the meat will flake off easily. After boiling, handle the skull carefully because it's very fragile until it's totally dry.

BTW, skull-plate and full-blown European mounts are in these days. Flip through the pages of Architectural Digest, Southern Living and the like, and you'll see white skulls/racks on walls, mantles, tables, etc. They're great decorations you bring home from the woods.

To comment on this Q&A; vist Mike Hanback's Big Buck Zone and post your thoughts.
Have a question? Email it to mikehanback@yahoo.com

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>> ELK GUIDES AND SKULL MOUNTS

** HUNT THE DOES OR THE BUCKS?**
Question
I hunt on 80 private acres, 40 of which are on the west side of a road and the other 40 on the east side. When I sit in a stand on the west side all I see are does, no matter the time, food source or wind direction. When I hunt any of my stands on the east side all I see are small bucks. Not just one or two, but like 5 or 6, with the biggest one maybe a 4-pointer. There is sign of bigger bucks in the area, and locals have seen some big deer on both sides of the road. So where should I hunt? Wait it out on the east where all the small bucks are, or watch the does hoping for a shooter to show up at some point?

- Adam Torrison

Answer
Hanback: Strange situation, but here's what I would do. Hunt the west side 85 percent of the time and 100 percent of the time during the 10-day peak of your rut. If there are signs of big boys in the area, one and probably more of them WILL show up sniffing around the does at some point, just hopefully in daylight hours when you can see them. Be sure to hunt hard at midday-11:00 AM till 2:00 PM-during the rut. A lot of hunters miss their one chance at a hammerhead 8- or 10-pointer by focusing too much on dawn/dusk. They move more at midday than you think!

One thing to remember: Most days during the rut and later on, you'll probably have a west to north wind, which will be tricky on the west side of your small property. Try to sneak in and hunt from somewhere to the SOUTH; that way no deer on the west OR east sides will smell or see you.

The other 15 percent of the time (outside peak rut) I'd hunt around the best food source on your 80 acres, or in the direction of the closest corn, alfalfa, etc., no matter which side of the road. Set a stand downwind of the thickest cover near the feed or a travel route to and from it.

If I had to bet, you'll see and shoot a big boy on the doe (west) side of the road, especially if there's good feed over there. Good luck and let me know if you get him!

To comment on this Q&A; vist Mike Hanback's Big Buck Zone and post your thoughts.
Have a question? Email it to mikehanback@yahoo.com

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DO YOU WHIZ OFF YOUR TREE STAND
Question
I read in one of your articles that you pee off your tree stand? Okay, so why do I spend so much time and money on Scent-Lok, odor-killing sprays, playing the wind, etc. if I can just go out and urinate without messing up my chances of shooting a buck?

- Rob Mcconnell

Answer
Hanback: I used to take all the necessary precautions (urine bottle) but now I look around to make sure no deer are coming, then let fly off stand. Why? Several of the country's top deer biologists have told me that urine is 95% water and virtually toxic-free depending on what you've eaten (confirmed by several medical encyclopedias). One scientist from Auburn University went as far as to say that human urine is actually a mammalian attractant. I would not pee to attract deer, but I've learned the scent of it doesn't seem to spook them.

I should note that many of the pros I've hunted with over the years are split: some pee off stand, some don't.

The reason you still spend time and big $$$$ on scent control for your body, hair, clothing, etc. is that you are continuously losing millions of odor-filled molecules into the air from these sources, and anything you can do to cut down on that is good. I know from experience that Scent-Lok and Scent Blocker work and help cut down your scent molecules, but I don't buy "forget the wind, just hunt." You've got to hunt downwind or crosswind of where you expect to see deer, everytime.

You're right, it doesn't seem to fit. Spend hours and $$$ on scent control, then pee? But you can do it and still shoot a buck. Thanks for the question.

Anybody else care to comment? Do you whiz or not? Sort of a sick and twisted question I know, but we dig into every detail of deer hunting here at the Zone.

To comment on this Q&A; vist Mike Hanback's Big Buck Zone and post your thoughts.
Have a question? Email it to mikehanback@yahoo.comyou've eaten (confirmed by several medical encyclopedias). One scientist from Auburn University went as far as to say that human urine is actually a mammalian attractant. I would not pee to attract deer, but I've learned the scent of it doesn't seem to spook them.

I should note that many of the pros I've hunted with over the years are split: some pee off stand, some don't.

The reason you still spend time and big $$$$ on scent control for your body, hair, clothing, etc. is that you are continuously losing millions of odor-filled molecules into the air from these sources, and anything you can do to cut down on that is good. I know from experience that Scent-Lok and Scent Blocker work and help cut down your scent molecules, but I don't buy "forget the wind, just hunt." You've got to hunt downwind or crosswind of where you expect to see deer, everytime.

You're right, it doesn't seem to fit. Spend hours and $$$ on scent control, then pee? But you can do it and still shoot a buck. Thanks for the question.

Anybody else care to comment? Do you whiz or not? Sort of a sick and twisted question I know, but we dig into every detail of deer hunting here at the Zone.

To comment on this Q&A; vist Mike Hanback's Big Buck Zone and post your thoughts.
Have a question? Email it to mikehanback@yahoo.com