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North Carolina: 160” Velvet Crossbow Buck!

NC velvet bow opener 2019Brandon Johnson of Mount Airy, N.C. told Carolina Sportsman:

“I had been seeing pictures of this buck on trail cam. He was among a group of bachelor bucks for the past two or three months. A lot of those were daytime photos. So I knew I had a good chance at seeing him once the season opened. But I knew I had to make it happen early in the season before his pattern started to change.”

On opening evening of the 2019 season, Brandon saw a couple of the bachelor bucks that had been traveling with the big buck for weeks. “When I saw that, I knew the giant was probably close.”

Two of the bucks came within 25 yards of Brandon’s ground blind, but the huge 8=-pointer hung back on the edge of the bean field, acting more cautiously, like mature bucks do. Finally, he inched closer and with shooting light waning, Brandon made a good shot with his crossbow.

The velvet rack had almost 7” bases, 12” G2s and rough-scored around 160, about as good as it gets for an 8-pointer. Way to go man!

Source: Carolina Sportsman

Lessons you can learn from Brandon’s hunt: 

In an article on early-season bowhunting I just posted on Outdoor Life digital I wrote:

The first days of your bow season in September are second only to the rut for the best time to kill a big deer. Bucks have not been pressured for months…single bucks, doubles and bachelor groups (generally a couple of small guys hanging out with a shooter or two) are visible in fields, and they are locked into tight summer bed-to-feed patterns. Your first job is to find bucks, and then zero in a mature deer to hunt.

That is exactly what Brandon did.

I went on to say in that story: Late-summer visuals coupled with trail-camera photos take your scouting to the next level, and double your chances of patterning and shooting a monster early… Once you snap a big boy moving in shooting light, slip in and hunt your best stand for the kill.

That is exactly what Brandon did.

One other thing I have blogged about many times and said on TV will help you out in the early season: As you glass and study trail-camera images of a bachelor group in late summer, study the makeup of those bucks because those deer will run together into October. If you spot one of the bucks close, the others are close, too. Be ready!

That is exactly what Brandon did.

Whether you’re bowhunting right now or about to in October, remember these tips and good luck.

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2019 EHD Report: Confirmed Deer Deaths In At Least 5 States

Illinois ehd

It’s been dry and hot for weeks in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, prime conditions for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) to rear its ugly head and kill whitetails.

The first state to confirm EHD in August 2019 was Indiana, where deer deaths have been reported in at least 10 counties in the southern part of the state.

The Iowa DNR initially reported an outbreak of the disease concentrated near Warren County. In a more recent update, authorities report hundreds of deer have died after contracting EHD in the south-central section of the state. As many as 900 deer have died, and there could be more dead deer hidden among farmers’ crops.

The West Virginia DNR confirms EHD has killed deer in small areas of Summers, Monroe and Greenbrier counties.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and Murray State University’s Breathitt Veterinary Center confirmed the state’s first 2019 case of hemorrhagic disease in a dead deer from Graves County in Western Kentucky. Officials are investigating how wide-spread the issue is in Kentucky, looking into cases of 22 dead deer in 11 counties.

Finally, this is big news, the Minnesota DNR recently confirmed the first two cases of EHD in wild deer ever.

“All of our neighboring states have been dealing with EHD for years,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “So it was always a question of when it would show up in Minnesota.”

Good news is that it is already mid-September. The first hard frost, which will likely occur within weeks in Minnesota and within a month in Iowa, kills the midges that bite the deer, effectively ending EHD for the year. In Kentucky, Indiana, West VA and any southern states where EHD might still break out, EDH could kill deer well into late October or even November.

About EHD: Both epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) and the bluetongue virus (BTV) are viral diseases that can infect deer, but EHD is more common in whitetails. Neither EHD nor BTV affects humans.

The symptoms typically show up about 7 days after deer have been infected with the EHD virus: loss of appetite, weakness, loss of fear of humans, circling, and other neurological signs. Deer that have died from EHD may have a swollen tongue, eyelids, neck, or head. The disease is often fatal, but some deer will survive and develop immunity.

EHD is transmitted by biting midges (genus Culicoides) known as “no-see-ums” or gnats. These breed and live in small pools of standing water. Many deer that die from EHD are found in or around water. After the insect population is reduced by cold weather in the fall, the spread of new infections to stop shortly after the first hard freeze in the fall.

Hot, dry weather with little rain, summer-like conditions that extend into the fall, may increase the occurrence and duration of an EHD outbreak. As usual water sources become scarce, more deer use any water that is available. As deer gather around these water sources, more deer in the population may become exposed to infected midges, which spread the disease between deer via bites. 

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know, I didn’t: During hunting season, if you kill or see a deer that has similar grooves in all its hooves, the animal may have survived an EHD infection. The grooves are a result of the deer having had a high fever and is similar to the groove in a fingernail when it grows out after being hit. Such a deer is safe to handle and eat.

Bowhunting: 5 Keys To Shooting An Early-Season Buck

spartan drop tine 2018If you hunt in Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina or any state where the archery season opens in September, click here and for tips and advice on how to punch your tag super early. I teamed with Outdoor Life digital for a 5-point plan that involves understanding late-summer buck behavior, trail-camera strategies, best tree stand spots and more.

Good luck and send me pictures if you shoot a good buck this month or anytime this season!




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