My Tips For Early Season Scouting

 

Trail Cameras

Bow seasons are coming up, and since deer are still locked into summer feeding patterns, now is the perfect time to get out there and do some last-minute scouting. For me, that begins with hanging trail cameras. Among my favorite spots to hang them are in pinch points just off major food sources. Such areas may include a saddle between two ridges; a hardwood edge alongside a pine thicket; or a narrowing in a creek bottom. Anything that funnels deer movement near the food is worth checking out.

Be discreet. The last thing you want to is to alert deer this time of year. Find a buck’s hideout, but be cautious. Do your camera work in the heat of midday. If you have any worries of bumping deer from an area, it’s best to avoid going in there.

Finally, when you go to actually set your camera, be sure you set it in the right spot. A mistake I often made in the past with trail cameras was that I set them up too close to the area where I expected to get the deer’s picture. My shots would often consist of more deer butts than deer heads. Some cameras have a second or two delay, and that can be all it takes to miss that deer in the frame. How close is too close? These days, I usually set my camera up about 10-15 feet away from the location where I’m trying to catch deer crossing, and it works pretty well.

Food Sources

During the early season, deer will usually stick to a fairly set routine. But those routines vary from year to year. Crop field rotations change, and even heavy spring rains can alter food sources. White oak acorns are a top bet if they’re available. Fields planted in clover, beans or alfalfa are top choices as well. If you’re hunting over beans, be careful, because by the time the season opens the beans may have already turned brown or have been harvested. That will cause deer to move on to something else.

It’s hot, and as mentioned, those bucks are going to bed close to food. Hang your early stands accordingly where you see deer entering a field or food plot, and avoid walking around deeper in the timber. There’ll be time for that later in the season. Glassing different fields, if you have them available, on multiple evenings only increases your odds.

Hopefully these tips will help you pinpoint those mature bucks you’ve been after. As the season nears, I’ve been busy gathering my gear and shooting my bow in the afternoon. Also, I’ve been getting trail camera photos from our farm here in Georgia and lease up in Nebraska, since those will be my two hunting destinations in the early season. I already have a good idea of where I want my first few setups of the season to be. And I can’t wait!

Shoot straight and God bless. — T.J.

MY TIPS FOR USING TURKEY FIGHTING PURRS

Tips on using turkey fighting purrs in the spring woods.

Tyler Jordan, the Realtree.tv crew and a nice Osceola.Me and the Realtree.tv crew with a nice Osceola in Florida. 

The beginning of the season is the perfect time to challenge dominant gobblers. Fighting purrs will sometimes give that gobbler motivation to close the distance in order to protect his territory from another turkey. Often, a fighting purr is good to use when you have a longbeard that is henned up.

The key is knowing when to use it though. I have learned my lesson the hard way by using it when not needed and running gobblers off. But I will frequently use fighting purrs throughout the beginning of spring when turkeys are establishing their pecking order, causing them to be more aggressive with one another. There have been countless times when a bird would not quite commit, although he could see my decoys. I will use a fighting purr to challenge him to a fight.

To make the purrs with a friction call, hold the pot with your knees while using the striker to make continuous, fast-paced purrs. It will not hurt the call or the striker. At times, the fighting purr can be one of the deadliest calls there is and can get a gobbler fired up. It’s my favorite call to use during the spring when it works right. Whenever you have a bird that’s hung up or henned up and won’t come in, what do you have to lose by trying it? It’s worked for me many times.

You can make a fighting purr with a mouth call, too, but it took some time for me to learn. The best tip I have for that is to act like you are gargling water. Keep your tongue pressed against the call the entire time you are blowing air out. Hold it there as tight as you can until you get air to come out. Don’t feel like you have to be quiet with it either. Fighting turkeys are loud in real life.

I recommend saving the fighting purr as a last-resort call. Sometimes it will work and sometimes it won’t. But don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work on the first attempt. Sooner or later you’ll be glad you tried it again.

Hope this helps some of you this spring or further down the road! Tune in to Realtree.TV every Wednesday this spring to catch the latest episode of Realtree Beards or Bust to see some weekly floppage. Go here for even more Realtree turkey hunting tips.

Shoot straight and God bless.

 — T.J.

Chipper Jones Spring Turkey Hunt At Realtree

Two weeks ago my dad and I had the privilege to take Chipper Jones on his first turkey hunt. It was prime time for turkeys to mate so they were henned up bad. Although we got it done on the first day it was not easy. Knowing the land, where to set up, how to place decoys and call based on our understanding of Realtree Farms helped. Seeing someone like him get excited over a turkey hunt is cool too. Also, I think there is a good lesson to be learned for all turkey hunters out there.

Growing up in Georgia and only two hours from Atlanta, I am a huge Braves fan but even a bigger fan of Chipper Jones. At an early age my dad would often take me and a couple buddies up to a game. Chipper would meet us before the game to spend time with us and talk shop with my dad about where he was going to hunt in the fall once baseball season was over. He had always been good to me so I admired who he was as a ballplayer but even more as a person. It was an honor for me to be a part of his first turkey hunt and call him up a longbeard. 

Chipper kept saying, “This will be my first turkey hunt on purpose.” We all know during the spring he has been busy the past 20 years with spring training and regular season ball. He arrived on April 8th with Major League Bowhunters Jeff Danker and Matt Duff. We woke up early the next morning and were in the woods by 6:45. Around seven is when we heard the first gobbles. Four to five birds all gobbled at one time but hens were yelping and cutting right back at me. You could tell they were not too happy we were trying to take their men away from them. We had our work cut out for us.

THE HUNT

Two different times we set up on these birds. The first time we were set up before they flew down. And as soon as we heard them hit the ground they went silent. We called and called but got nothing. How could five longbeards not gobble when they gobbled their heads off on roost? Thirty minutes after they flew down we heard one gobble way off at a crow. We set up again but still no response. It was only 8:30 by this point so I was nervous that the birds just didn’t want cooperate today. Not exactly how I pictured Chipper’s first hunt. The key is not to give up. Through my years of hunting if there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that anything can happen. 

We drove around to another food plot where there have been birds in there almost every day between 10 and 12 o’clock. Sure enough I called and two birds gobbled in the chufa. We tried to set up on top of the road and call them in but unfortunately they were with a bunch of hens and would not break. Here is where it got intense. 

The only way we would have a shot at these birds is to put a stalk on them. We got up from our spot and all four of us, my dad, Chipper, me, and cameraman Daniel Thomas were in a straight line. My dad had taken the removable fan from our jake decoy. At first I had my doubts about our strategy. There was not much cover for us to stay hidden and all we had was a fan. But it worked perfectly. During this time of year sometimes birds just need to see some kind of movement in order for them to break. My dad walked up with the fan and the birds broke once they saw it while I called from 15 yards behind. It is important for all hunters to remember that if you can just get something in front of them to see they may just come in. Thankful I have my dad to learn from on things like that.

It was an honor for Chipper to come down and kill his first turkey on Realtree Farms. I’m sure we will see him in the spring woods more often now that he has more time on his hands. Make sure to check out his Major League Bowhunter show on the Sportsman Channel. Watch our hunt on Beards or Bust, Episode 5. Hope everyone has had a great and safe turkey season thus far!

Remember, shoot straight and God bless.

– T.J.

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Gear Tip: My Six Must Haves For Every Hunt

Hunting season is finally here, and I’m working fast to get my gear in order and ready to go. Although every hunt is unique and requires something a little different, here are six items I never, ever leave at home:

Pull-Up Rope

It’s important to use a pull up rope, especially if you have to climb your treestand with a bunch of gear. You’d rather be safe than sorry. For years I used pull up ropes made of braided nylon and a couple cheap plastic clips. They work, but they also caused me must frustration they get tangled more times than I care to remember. In order to eliminate this problem on hunts, I’ve been using a retractable pull up rope that is reliable and won’t tangle. It has to be one of the best additions I’ve made to my pack. I’d definitely recommend this for treestand hunters.

Flashlight

A flashlight is handy to have all the time, but especially while hunting. I keep a larger one for blood-trailing and a small one the size of a pen with a green lens for getting settled in my stand in the dark. The green beam doesn’t spook game as often as a white beam.

First Aid Kit

I don’t know why more people don’t have a first aid kit in camp. I think it should be a requirement. It is so easy to get cut while cleaning a deer or hanging ladders and treestands. Along with the kit I like to have a box of rubber gloves and several large bottles of saline solution for treating wounds.

Safety Harness

In my opinion, this is the most important thing to have in the woods if you are hunting out of a treestand. My dad has never let me leave with house without it. And if I did forget it, well, I wasn’t going to be hunting that morning or afternoon.

A Pack and List

It’s important to hunt with a backpack to carry all of your essentials and to make a list of everything ahead of time. Forgetting just one small item–maybe a bow hanger, maybe a flashlight–can make your hunt tough. Customize your pack with the items that are important are a must for you.

Hunting License and Reg Check

Just because you’ve always known the regs in your home state doesn’t mean they can’t change. Read them every season. And if you’re headed out of state, look at that state’s DNR website and make sure you’re familiar with the do’s and the don’ts. 

 

Rack Report: My Biggest Buck Ever In Iowa

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The first of October. The rut is weeks away, and the afternoons are warm. But there’s color in the leaves, and up in Iowa, bow season is finally open. Those first few days are among the best times of the year to kill a mature buck, too, as it’s often the last time you’ll see him on his feet in the daylight until the rut.

After four years of applying, I finally drew an Iowa tag this season. I was stoked to have the opportunity, particularly because I’d be hunting Lee and Tiffany Lakosky’s farm. I was Midwest-bound on Monday, Oct. 1, and drove through the night until I reached Salem, Iowa, early Tuesday afternoon. If you’ve ever watched The Crush, then you know Lee and Tiffany may have some of the best deer hunting in the country.

The first afternoon was hot, with temperatures up in the mid-70s. I didn’t see any mature bucks, but the sheer number of deer we saw was unbelievable. I was a long way from Georgia.

This isn’t a great spot by coincidence. Few people work harder and are more dedicated to whitetail hunting than Lee Lakosky.

“For Lee, deer hunting is not something he thinks about when October rolls around; he is planning and strategizing all year around, every walking minute of the day. He is always doing something that will make his deer herd healthier,” says Tiffany.

I got to see this first hand myself while hunting with Lee and Tiffany. He’s a phenomenal caretaker of his deer, with a name for every buck on camera. I really look up to him.

We sat out the next morning’s hunt to check cameras and look at a stand where Lee had been seeing several good bucks. This was over a clover field that deer would cross en route to a standing bean field. We didn’t sit the stand that afternoon due to a bad wind, but made plans to hunt it the next morning, since we could access the spot in the dark and, hopefully, have the wind in our favor as the deer returned from the bean field. It seemed like a good scenario.

One of many trail camera photos the Lakoskys had of Tyler's buck. One of many trail camera photos the Lakoskys had of Tyler’s buck.Marc Womack and I settled in the stand a good 30 minutes before daylight just to make sure we did not bust anything going in. Marc is the owner and producer of Sub7, which produces The Crush. Sure enough, the first deer we saw was a nice 145-inch 8-pointer coming across the field. He stopped right in front of our stand, and I ranged him at 45 yards. He was broadside, and I settled my pin. I must’ve held a touch too low, though, as the arrow sailed right underneath him. Clean miss.

I was disgusted, but Lee assured me there were more bucks in the area and recommended we sit in the same tree that afternoon. The weather turned warmer, though, and we didn’t see but one deer.

The next morning was a different story. The weather turned off chilly, in the upper-30s. We hunted the same stand and had a few does come in to our field first thing. I was watching them when suddenly, I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a giant buck easing my way from the beans. He stood behind a cluster of trees before stepping into the field. I ranged him at 50 yards, grunted to stop him and took the shot. The hit was perfect. We found him piled up 80 yards away.

When I shot, I didn’t realize just how big the deer was. I was more worried about making a good shot at that long range. But this deer’s tine length was amazing, anchored by 14-inch G2s. He is my biggest buck to date with a gun or bow, scoring at 170 inches.

Three days later, my dad hunted the same tree. The 145-inch 8-pointer—the same buck I missed—walked by him, and he killed it. These hunts will be featured next summer on Realtree Outdoors andThe Crush with Lee and Tiffany on the Outdoor Channel. 

 

First Blog Post – Brief Bio

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It seems like I grew up in the woods. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on Dad’s lap during turkey season, and shooting at squirrels in the backyard. I killed my first deer, a 7-pointer, on a Christmas afternoon. That was in Alabama, and I was 9 years old.

Of course, we’d opened presents and spent time with family that morning. But Dad had other plans for that afternoon. We climbed into a box blind over a field with Chuck Sykes, a friend of ours who managed that property, and who had been seeing a nice 7-pointer for several evenings.

Young kids, me included, don’t like sitting still. But I did my best and paid close attention. Some does came into the field and then, just at dark, there was the 7-pointer. By the time the sun set on Christmas Day, I was holding the antlers of my first deer. I know my dad was proud. I saw tears fill his eyes. I don’t think a memory like that ever goes away, or even fades. I’m sure many of you know the feeling.

Hunting in front of the Realtree cameras has been a huge part of my life. It’s how I’ve grown up. I can’t express how blessed I’ve been with a great family and the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve met so many cool and interesting people along the way. To me, at the end of a trip, it’s not about what you accomplish or kill. The journey, experiences, friendships and memories made along the way are what really matter.

For about a month now, I’ve had a little more insight on what goes on off-camera at Realtree, too. I’ve been working in the Marketing Department and reporting to Ray Lynch, vice president of marketing. My day-to-day routine may range from kicking around ideas for a new campaign launch to cleaning up Ray’s office. The papers and magazines piled into that small room are a sight to behold!

I’ll be a sophomore in college this fall, majoring in PR at Columbus State University, which, conveniently enough, is about 20 minutes from home and from my favorite deer stand. I’ve been given the chance to do some writing on Realtree.com and here. I’m looking forward to contributing. My goal is to give you an inside look at not only my hunts and those of others on the Realtree crew, but also general thoughts and insights on life in the woods. A lot of what I write will come from my personal experiences. Some will be about the experiences of others. I want it to be fun and interesting.

But I’m a young hunter, and I learn new things as each season comes along. I want to share tips and strategies that I learn from experts in the field along the way, and I want you to do the same. Hopefully, we can all become better hunters in the long run.

Shoot straight and God bless. – Tyler Jordan