Get More Game

Our pros share their favorite tips for deer, birds and big game.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

**1. Be Prepared **
If you go on a drop-camp hunt in the wilderness, do your homework first. Find out if the camp has adequate cookware and utensils. Make sure there's a camp axe if you'll have to split wood, as well as a lantern, a working stove and adequate fuel. Bring extra mantles for the lantern.

**2. Saddle Up **
When you're planning a horseback hunt, bring an extra set of long johns to wear when riding. They'll eliminate chafing from the saddle. If possible, wear hunting boots that aren't extra wide, so they'll slip easily in and out of stirrups.

**3. Choose a Banker ** I
f several hunters carpool on a long-distance trip, one person should be designated the "banker." Each hunter gives him $100 for trip expenses; when the money runs out, an equal amount from each hunter is added. Use the money for gas, oil, tolls, etc.

4. Keep Quiet
When picking a tree on which to hang a deer stand, make sure you can access it easily and silently. Try to set up within 100 yards or so of a remote logging road, field edge, etc.

**5. Move on Moose **
To avoid competition from other hunters on public-land moose hunts, scout at least two days before the hunt. Unless it's during the rut (late September to early October), bull moose tend to stay in one area. Don't just look from roads. Walk into willow marshes and check out beaver ponds and stream drainages, where big moose like to hide.

**6. Roll On **
Use a wheeled carrier to transport big-game meat over rough terrain. One-wheeled carriers work much better than two-wheeled models. The latter snag easily on rocks, stumps and brush and require a wider path on which to travel. Be sure the carrier has brakes if you're hunting in steep country.

7. Get Vocal
A big buck chasing a doe is apt to make all sorts of loud, weird sounds. Play off that in the rut. Blow urrrp, urrrp, urrrp or urrrg, urrrg, urrrg on your call. Sound throaty and gurgling. Five- to ten-second sets are realistic, but anything goes.

**8. Watch Your Lead **
Though many wing-shooters find it hard to get ahead of fast-flying game birds, waterfowlers often shoot ahead of ducks simply because they've had more time to watch their approach and overanticipate the shot. Most incoming or escaping ducks at 25 to 30 yards do not require a 4- or 5-foot lead. Often the muzzle need only be aimed just in front of the duck's bill.

**9. Get Real **
Go for realistic-looking over sheer numbers when setting up decoys for Canada geese. Also, a goose spread should have a look of contentment, not wariness. Seven out of ten full-body decoys should be feeders (heads down), making it appear there are far fewer birds looking for danger.

10. Scope Out Bears
If you're spot-and-stalk hunting for black bears, a spotting scope will help you identify them at long distances. A sow might have cubs, but they might not be easily seen through binoculars. Sows with cubs are illegal to hunt; if you can identify them first you could save yourself a long hike. Spotting scopes are also handy for locating distant bears in old burns.

[pagebreak] 11. ****Set Your Sights Low
Old bucks typically like to bed up high, where they can smell rising thermals and see through the woods below. But when the rut blows up, don't overlook a monster lying low in a woodlot or near a field where he can keep close tabs on the local does. Glass for a big rack in fallen treetops, weedy ditches, clumps of brush and other likely spots.

**12. Take a Stand **
A hunter's first instinct when a tom unexpectedly gobbles is to sit by the nearest tree and get ready. Instead, quickly eye the terrain first. If there are hills or low brush that could obstruct your view of a turkey as it walks into range, stand tight against a tree andim the shotgun in the direction of the approaching bird. As soon as it walks into range, you'll be able to see it and fire.

13. Read a Buck
If a buck strolls along with his head down and hindquarters swaying, he's cool and collected. But when a big deer stops, starts, bobs his head and looks all around, he's wired and spooky. Make a wrong move and he'll bust you.

**14. Look Low for Muleys **
Mule deer often hide in cover that looks like it could barely conceal a fox. Many hunters seek muleys high in the mountains, driving by lower expanses of sagebrush where these animals are apt to hide. Mule deer also seek shelter in brushy draws or small, dense thickets. Heave rocks into those draws to bust muleys out of their lairs.

15. Don't Get Shafted
Carbon arrows are long on strength and accuracy, but their black shafts make it hard to spot blood on an arrow to determine where your shot hit. Crest arrows with light colors and fletch with white or yellow vanes. Light colors make reading shafts simple.

16. Ambush a Bull
If you spot elk moving into the timber in the morning and aren't able to reach them, leave them alone for the rest of the day. Using the wind to your advantage, look for an ambush point at the edge of the timber where they disappeared. Stay until the last legal minute of shooting light, since animals might linger until it's nearly dark before moving into the open.

**17. Decoy Pronghorns **
Antelope rut in September, and bucks gather harems and viciously defend them against other males. If you're bowhunting or after an elusive buck during the rut, use a decoy. It needs to have smallish horns no larger than 11 or 12 inches. The idea is to challenge, not intimidate, the herd buck. Position the decoy where it can be seen and set up nearby, using brush, a rock outcropping or terrain as cover.

** 18. Watch the Wind**
If a 5½-year-old buck catches your scent, he might melt into the brush. But an old doe is apt to stamp and blow, freaking out every deer within a half mile. Set up where the wind will push your scent behind your stand and over a place where few or no deer travel. That might be a fallow field, a deep river or a lake or pond.

**19. Stay Put **
The mere turn of a turkey's head away from you when it gobbles can make it sound like the tom has walked 20 or 30 yards in the opposite direction. Don't panic and try to close the distance. The bird is probably still strutting in the same general place. If you move now, you're likely to send it running away.

[pagebreak] 20. Wear Your Release
You're trudging to your favorite stand and suddenly find yourself eye-to-eye with a set of giant antlers. After a minute-long stare-down, the buck bounds off. Make it a habit to wear your release when making these treks. You'll be ready when the shot presents itself. 21. Shot Management
Practice your entire shot sequence- getting into position, nocking your arrow, clipping your release, drawing, setting your feet and executing. Surprisingly, many bowhunters don't. When an opportunity presents itself, they're caught fumbling and rushing to launch an ill-prepared shot.

**22. Stop Elk in Their Tracks **
A cow elk call has many uses, a primary one being the ability to stop elk that are running away. Blow as loudly and sharply as you can, and be prepared for a quick shot when the elk momentarily stop and stare at you.

** 23. Ride Out a Storm **
There is no better time to turkey hunt fields than right after a downpour. The sound and feel of dripping water in the woods makes turkeys nervous and uncomfortable, so they often flock to open areas where they can dry out and better watch for danger.

**24. Avoid Hang-ups **
Learn to hunt from your tree stand with an arrow nocked and your bow in your lap. Bow hooks are great for hanging quivers and fanny packs, but not for your bow if you want to ground a whitetail. Many a bowhunter has been busted while reaching for a hanging bow.

25. Think Green For Black Bears
In the spring, black bears will seek out lush vegetation such as grass, clover, dandelions and other plants as soon as they emerge from their winter dens. Start hunting high, where bears follow the receding snowfields to find food. Check out areas that look greener than others, and look for fresh droppings. If you find fresh sign, make sure to be there late in the afternoon, when bears are most active.

**26. Landmark Decision **
Use your range finder to mark the distances to prominent landmarks-trees, rocks, bushes-within a comfortable shooting range of your stand. Do it for every direction in which a shot might be possible and remember the distances to each object. Then put the device away. When a deer strolls by one of the landmarks, you'll already know exactly how far away it is.

27. Close to the Vest
Try This: hold one rattling antler still and tight to your body and bang and grind it with the other "horn." You'll mimic the thuds of two heavyweights fighting, and you'll cut down on your movement to boot.

** 28. Dove Funnels **
If you can't get permission to hunt a hot feeding field or roosting woodlot, maybe you can get the birds in between. Look for land features that will funnel doves. As they fly from roosting to feeding or watering areas, doves will often follow a fence, creek, field edge or other natural corridor. Also look for a prominent feature, such as a lone tree, in otherwise featureless terrain along their route.

29. Watch Your Step
if you use screw-in tree steps, spend the extra cash and buy six more pegs. Scrimping on steps can lead to a bad fall. Install steps higher than your stand so you have a firm handhold when climbing in and out.

[pagebreak] 30. Avoid the High Rise
Wisdom has it that the higher you are, the harder it is for a deer to see or smell you. But remember, the higher you climb, the tougher the shot. Acute downward shooting angles shrink the vital strike zone and increase shot distances.

31. Take a Number
Before leaving on an out-of-state bowhunt, check to find out where the nearest bow shop is in the area you'll be hunting and keep the phone number in your wallet. That way, should something break on your bow in transit, you'll know where to go for help.

**32. Don't Be Fooled **
Find a fat, fresh rub in early October and there's a great chance a shooter blazed it. But that's not always the case. Smaller deer have been observed shredding a pine as thick as a man's calf. Don't be fooled arrow nocked and your bow in your lap. Bow hooks are great for hanging quivers and fanny packs, but not for your bow if you want to ground a whitetail. Many a bowhunter has been busted while reaching for a hanging bow.

25. Think Green For Black Bears
In the spring, black bears will seek out lush vegetation such as grass, clover, dandelions and other plants as soon as they emerge from their winter dens. Start hunting high, where bears follow the receding snowfields to find food. Check out areas that look greener than others, and look for fresh droppings. If you find fresh sign, make sure to be there late in the afternoon, when bears are most active.

**26. Landmark Decision **
Use your range finder to mark the distances to prominent landmarks-trees, rocks, bushes-within a comfortable shooting range of your stand. Do it for every direction in which a shot might be possible and remember the distances to each object. Then put the device away. When a deer strolls by one of the landmarks, you'll already know exactly how far away it is.

27. Close to the Vest
Try This: hold one rattling antler still and tight to your body and bang and grind it with the other "horn." You'll mimic the thuds of two heavyweights fighting, and you'll cut down on your movement to boot.

** 28. Dove Funnels **
If you can't get permission to hunt a hot feeding field or roosting woodlot, maybe you can get the birds in between. Look for land features that will funnel doves. As they fly from roosting to feeding or watering areas, doves will often follow a fence, creek, field edge or other natural corridor. Also look for a prominent feature, such as a lone tree, in otherwise featureless terrain along their route.

29. Watch Your Step
if you use screw-in tree steps, spend the extra cash and buy six more pegs. Scrimping on steps can lead to a bad fall. Install steps higher than your stand so you have a firm handhold when climbing in and out.

[pagebreak] 30. Avoid the High Rise
Wisdom has it that the higher you are, the harder it is for a deer to see or smell you. But remember, the higher you climb, the tougher the shot. Acute downward shooting angles shrink the vital strike zone and increase shot distances.

31. Take a Number
Before leaving on an out-of-state bowhunt, check to find out where the nearest bow shop is in the area you'll be hunting and keep the phone number in your wallet. That way, should something break on your bow in transit, you'll know where to go for help.

**32. Don't Be Fooled **
Find a fat, fresh rub in early October and there's a great chance a shooter blazed it. But that's not always the case. Smaller deer have been observed shredding a pine as thick as a man's calf. Don't be fooled