For the past few years we’ve been hosting a Predator Challenge in hopes of reducing the coyote population, raising awareness for the sport of predator hunting, and raising awareness for the damage that coyotes are doing to game populations around the state. Thus far the check-in location has been at the Sportman’s Warehouse right off of I-26 in Columbia. Columbia serves as a central location where everyone can drive the least distance to check-in their predators and have a good time meeting other hunters and networking.
This year we’re still meeting right off I-26 except this time we’ll be meeting right behind the Sportman’s Warehouse at a new location called Catch and Release Sportsman’s Consignment. Catch and Release is a new store and has been growing really fast. We’re happy to partner with Catch and Release to host the 2014 Predator Challenge check-in at their location. We think you’ll like the check-in being hosted at the new location.
Last night I did a quick interview with Blakely Byrd, owner of Catch and Release Sportsman’s Consignment, to get a better understanding of what Catch and Release is and to get to know more about her in general. The interview is here below.
We hope to see you at the check-in! Register your team today and join us in reducing the coyote population in SC and beyond.
We were recently approached for assistance by a South Carolina farmer with hog problems. He’d heard we had a night vision setup and that we could potentially help him with hog control. It took us a while to get a hog on the ground and this blog is the lead up to accomplishing the goal.
Hunting Coyotes Leads to Hunting Hogs
If you’ve been keeping up with the blog here then you’ll know that we recently upgraded to a night vision setup to better hunt coyotes. One of the locations where we hunt coyotes is near a farm and recently the farmer told us that hogs were really giving him problems. They were rooting up his land so much that he’s also hired a guy to trap the hogs. Nobody on our team is a hog expert but we wanted to do our best to help and we were up for learning!
The trapper was regularly catching hogs in the pen and we figured we’d put out a game camera to get a feel for what was going on. In 3 days we had 600 pictures and there was a large pack of hogs that were coming in all throughout the night starting shortly after sundown. It was hard to tell exactly how many, but we guessed 10-15. We got a pattern for when they were coming and we threw out a little corn and planned a date to try out first hog hunt.
The First Hunt
Gavin and I were excited to try and get a hog. Neither of us had shot a hog before because we don’t have them around our hunting leases. It would be a first for us and that helped make it a good challenge. I guess I should also add here that our first hog hunt also occurred during the same time frame where we were having issues sighting in the thermal scope!
On our way to the farm we talked about waiting until the whole group got there so we could have better chances for multiple hogs and we could pick out the biggest one. They were coming out in groups, per the recon from the game camera. We had a plan and were ready to rock.
We arrived to the farm around 9 and got setup. We’d been there about 35 minutes when we started to see some heat signatures coming through the woods. At first it was one big hog, walking solo and I was whispering to Gavin “Shoot that big rascal!” but Gavin held off. I was all excited and Gavin was actually doing what we’d discussed on the way over there… and I was glad he did. Just a few minutes later the woods lit up. It was a sight to see. 12 hogs all came from the same direction and headed out to the corn. Having never seen a hog before I didn’t really know what to expect. The first thing I noticed was how quickly they moved around. I figured they’d be slow, sluggish, and hold still for long periods of time, but that was not the case. They can move pretty quickly. Once the whole group got out there Gavin picked one out and shot. The whole group scattered and he shot again. We went down and walked and looked for blood… nothing anywhere to be found. We’d missed. Another trip to the shooting range was to come.
More Trips to the Farm
After missing the hog we were again frustrated. We re-sighted the gun in and waited until the next weekend. All the while we’re putting out corn and the farmer is filling us in on when the hogs are back. On the next weekend that we could line things up we headed back. This time as we approached the field we saw the hogs entering the field from a different location. It was about to be the quickest hunt ever. Just when we started looking in the scope we heard coyotes howling very close to us. We stood there trying to figure out what to do. As we watched the hogs in the monocular the coyotes continued to howl and to our amazement the hogs turned around and exited the field. Looking back on it we think the hogs left to protect their young ones. They had 3 little hogs with them and leaving was probably the best bet for them with the coyotes howling like crazy on the edge of the field. After this happened we stayed there for a while and waited. We felt sure the hogs would return. They didn’t. So, we broke out the coyote call and stared calling coyotes. That’s the night I shot 2 coyotes on video as seen in this video.
Shooting the coyotes proved that the scope was indeed zero’d in and we had more confidence. The next weekend came around and we returned yet again. This time the hogs were there when we arrived! We got into position and it was Gavin’s turn on the gun again. He put the dot on the hog and let the hammer drop. We both could see in the monocular and scope that when he shot the hog he was aiming at jumped up in the air. We knew he’d hit it! We went down and found blood. We trailed blood for 2 hours through some very thick briars and ultimately the blood trail stopped and we never found the hog. Frustrating again, but we were inching closer.
Going From 223 to 300 Black Out
We reviewed the footage and it was evident that Gavin made a good shot. With this we discussed and researched and decided to make some changes. We worked with the team at Reel Determined Outdoors to change out the upper on the Anderson Rifles AR=15 from a 223 to a 300 black out. This is a unique capability of the AR that gives hunters flexibility. In this scenario, it allowed us to shoot a bigger bullet, one that most hog hunters use.
The next weekend we went back and stayed out there for 3 hours and never saw a hog, but did hear a bunch of coyotes and I missed a coyote! This time we knew the scope was dialed in, I’d just made a bad shot.
Interested in our setup?
We shoot an Anderson Arms AR-15 with RF-85 technology. (You never have to oil the gun). On top of the gun we have a Pulsar Thermal Scope + video recorder. Any Anderson gun and any Pulsar Thermal Scope will be great setup for you too!
We upgraded! Since the blog entry we've upgraded to the Anderson Arms AM-10 308 ( a bigger bullet). You can read about the new setup here.
The Hunt We Finally Got It Done
You may be reading and wondering “How many weekends is it going to take for things to line up for these guys?” … and that’s exactly what we were wondering too. Our luck would be changing soon though.
The farmer reached out to us about mid-week and said “The hogs are back big time”. He’d seen more and more evidence of the hogs rooting and they had wiped out all the corn that we had out. (Side note: trying to keep a pack of hogs fed with corn gets expensive quickly!) So we planned our hunt.
Again this time the hogs were out in the field as soon as we got to the field. Gavin and I quietly got into position. The whole time we could hear the hogs grunting and snorting down near the pen. From the look of the monocular it seemed like one hog was actually trapped in the pen, but we’d later see that it wasn’t.
It was Gavin’s “redemption hog” turn on the gun. I’ve got him trained not to be shooting anything until I’ve got video rolling too 😉 Anyways, we were in position, gun was sighted in very nicely, video was rolling and I gave Gavin the greenlight. We were whispering to each other about which one he was going to shoot. I was watching in the monocular while Gavin was in the scope. Gavin asked me if I was ready and I said yes… then there was a long pause. Gavin giggled… he said “I didn’t take the safety off!” Yes it sounds crazy, but we were so worked up and ready to get it done that our hearts were beating and we were both breathing heavy! Then he said “Aight, I’m shooting the big one” and moments later the first shot rang out. As they ran off Gavin continued to unload on the big boy, which we’d also discussed on the way to the farm. At the shot there was no sign of hitting the hog. It did not jump, flinch, or move awkwardly. With the 223 we tried for head shots, but with the 300 black out we put it on the shoulder. Gavin and I talked as we tried to calm down. He said he felt he made a good shot.
Minutes later we went down to the area where the hogs were. No blood. What! He made a good shoot, the gun was sighted in, we’d upgraded to a bigger bullet… why did it not work out! We were already making plans to go back, yet again, to the shooting range. We decided to walk over in the direction where the hogs ran. There was no blood anywhere to be found. We scanned in the thermal looking for heat signatures in the field and didn’t see anything. The only thing we saw were a few wet spots that looked like slobber or something in the dirt, but it definitely wasn’t blood. We were growing frustrated as you can imagine.
This farm is in an area with lots of hills. As you can see in the video the hogs were just behind a small hill when we shot. As we talked and walked the edge of the field you could just tell there was a vibe of frustration, an energy of we-didn’t-get-it-done-yet-again going on. Then Gavin said “What is that?” And I said “What?” He pulled out the thermal scope and said “That’s the freaking hog right there!” and I looked and man it was huge laying right there on the edge of the field. What happened was the hog did not bleed at all and ran about 60 yards around a corner and laid down on the edge of the woods just behind a hill of dirt. This is why we could not see it in the thermal. Instantly we got all excited and the vibe changed from one of dejection and frustration to one of celebration and excitement! We’d finally accomplished the goal and got a hog on the ground. And yes the 300 blackout really put it on the hog. We high-fived and drug the hog out to take some pics. When we grabbed the hog to drag it and take pics we had to re-grip the legs because it was so big. I’ve drug a lot of deer in my life and this thing was heavier than any deer I’ve ever drug. I’m guessing it went around 220 lbs. It was a healthy female hog and yes it stunk!
After multiple attempts at getting a hog we finally succeeded and it felt good to get in the end zone for once! We finally had proof to the farmer that we could help him out. We’ve finally got things dialed in and set up and guess what… the farmer has already let us know that the hogs are back again so we will be heading back out sooner than later.
Do you have problems with hogs or know a farmer who does?
We are now ready to help! Just reach out to us here on the website via the Contact Us form or contact Gavin Jackson at 843.517.9920.
For Mississippi native Kirk Thomas, one date is etched in his mind forever -<st1:date w:st="on" month="11" day="27" year="1992">November 27, 1992. After a morning deer hunt, as he was heading back to his truck, a falling tree struck him and sent the 6-foot 5 inch, 321 pound former college football player hurling through the air. When Thomas landed he was laying face up on the ground with a crushed back and a multitude of internal injuries. After an operation, hospital stay and rehabilitation, at the age of 33, Thomas was facing life as a T-12 paraplegic requiring the use of a wheelchair the rest of his life.
Thomas didn’t stay down long. He worked his tail off rehabbing and working extra every day to get his strength back. He had to learn how to do everything without the use of his massive legs. “I had a family to take care of and to do this it meant I had to get my butt back to work selling heavy equipment. I never felt sorry for myself, I didn’t have time too. Besides there was no way I was going to let my disability rob me of life. Quite frankly, I never quit working. After I was moved to re-hab after my surgeries and hospital stay, I would call customers at night from my hospital bed in an effort to keep income coming in. After 58 days I left the hospital totally focused on being all I could be. I learned how to climb in my truck so I could start driving and get back to work. The way I saw it was simple, I was still alive, I still had the same responsibilities, I had a life to live and it was up to me to accept the responsibility to make the most of it. Since my accident I’ve had a total of 26 surgeries, was kept alive on a ventilator for 9 days, fought off and beat a blood bacteria infection that was suppose to be fatal and I have was close to death 2 more times. I chose to see and meet everyone of these challenges as an opportunity and most importantly as a blessing”, said Thomas
In 1996, a renewed approach to life, combined with his love of the outdoors, led Thomas to create Wheelin’ Sportsmen of America, an organization that hosted disabled people at fishing and hunting events by pairing able-bodied volunteers to assist them. The efforts of Wheelin’ Sportsmen and Thomas began to be recognized nationwide. It wasn’t long before he began speaking all across the country in an effort to promote Wheelin’ Sportsmen and recreational opportunities for disabled people. His actions caught the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF’) attention and in late 2000, Wheelin’ Sportsmen became an official outreach program of the Federation. “The merger between Wheelin’ Sportsmen and the Federation was an awesome opportunity for both organizations” Thomas said.
“I have always thought that God had a plan for us all but for me… he presented me with the opportunity, desire and passion to help people and give back to others. This became my desire and mission that I live it every day. There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing people who never thought they could get outside and participate in an activity receive the opportunity to do so. When my accident happened, I was one of the blessed one’s; I had friends and family that made sure I got the opportunity to continue my love of the outdoors. After my accident I was asked to become a member of the AL Independent Living Council which I did. When I was around other disabled individuals it didn’t take long to find out the many barriers that disabled people faced when it came to doing anything mush less than participating in outdoor activities. I’ve always looked at what I do as a way to give back for all the support I received. I’ve dedicated my life to helping disabled people as a way to say thanks for the support I received. This is a part of me and it’s in my soul. As a matter of fact, I believe it’s why I sit in this chair everyday. It’s hard for some people to understand but, I have always seen my disability as a blessing and a gift from God. I wouldn’t change my disability or what I’ve gone through over the years for anything” said Thomas.
While at the NWTF, Thomas led the programs efforts serving as its National Coordinator /Founder of the Wheelin’ Sportsmen program. Thomas grew Wheelin’ Sportsmen from a grassroots program to a national network of activity, bringing outdoor events to thousands of disabled people across the country. He quickly became known as a well-respected leader in the outdoor world, winning numerous awards and honors for his work on behalf of people with disabilities. Thomas has testified before Congress concerning outdoor assessable recreation for disabled individuals. He has chaired numerous hearings to open up new opportunities for disabled sportsmen. A powerful motivational speaker, Thomas is asked to speak all over the country sharing his story of determination, triumph and success.
Thomas’s life changed again July 2nd. 2008 when Thomas made the decision to tender his resignation as the Wheelin’ Sportsmen NWTF leader. Thomas said, “Making the decision to leave the Wheelin’ program was very hard. But the decision came clear and easy to me when my heart told me it was time. Wheelin’ sportsmen had been my life for a very long time. It was a vision and a dream, I witness its growth, and saw it help a lot of folks over the years. The Wheelin program will always be special to me but another new and powerful dream was leading me in a new and different direction.”
Thomas began focusing his efforts toward his new dream “Outdoors Without Limits” (OWL)” in 2008. Thomas serve’s as its Executive Director/Founder. “I am extremely excited about the future of OWL. We’re making a tremendous difference in the lives of a lot of folks, disabled, non-disabled, volunteers and our partners. Developing OWL has put breath back in me. It take’s a tremendous amount of hard work, but somehow it gets done” said Thomas.
The organizations design is unique but simple. It’s all about building community based chapters. “Chapters have the opportunity to focus their attention and efforts on providing disabled individuals opportunities within their own communities. We’re totally inclusive and we encourage everyone to get involved disabled or non-disabled. We take pride in allowing membership to be an elective. We don’t want the dollar to interfere with participation. While raising revenue is extremely important and needed you can’t allow it to negate participation especially when it comes to disabled participants who have never had the opportunity to try it. OWL has one simple and direct mission which is to provide opportunity. If we put the dollar in front of this opportunity we not only fail our mission but we fail the people we’re trying to serve. It doesn’t matter what kind of disability a person has or doesn’t have and age doesn’t play a factor. We have an assortment of programs and events our chapters can host according to their needs, abilities or logistics. We also host National Ultimate Adventure events. Most of these are co-hosted by a community chapter. Our Ultimate Adventure program is experiencing some outstanding growth. Simply put, we’re not all about hunting and fishing; we’re about getting folks outside so we can get the sun on their backs. There is an abundance of way’s to accomplish this. The only way I know how to run OWL is like a big ole happy and giving family. If someone comes to an OWL event and leaves without feeling like a family member or a part of the team, then we failed them and the OWL organization. Simply put, I see OWL as a life changing and saving organization for everyone who becomes involved. We take pride in proving this, said Thomas.
Thomas surrounds himself with a lot of great volunteers, a lot of which have worked with him since his early days with Wheelin’ Sportsmen. Some of these individuals have years of experience coordinating events and acting as advocates for people with disabilities. “OWL is a volunteer dependant organization and there’s no questioning the fact that our volunteer’s have always and will continue to play a key role in our successes. There would not be an OWL organization without them. I couldn’t be any prouder to have the help we receive. I know a lot of these people, and I know where their hearts are. They get the job done. As a matter of fact, when it comes right down to it, I receive a lot of the credit but these are the individuals that should receive it, not me. Volunteers are my hero’s and there the rubber that hit’s the road. OWL is successful because of their efforts. OWL volunteers are life changers and savers”, said Thomas.
OWL is guided by an eleven person National Board of Directors, and a five member Executive Advisory Board for specific needs. “These are respected individuals from either the conservation or business world; they take an active leadership role in the organization. I am more than pleased with our National Board and Advisory Board members. There willingness to step up to lead and lend a hand to help is priceless,” said Thomas.
OWL also has an Advisory Council that consists of disabled and non-disabled members. “These individuals play a key role in our direction and success. They are either volunteer leaders or participates that are heavily involved with OWL. We need and appreciate receiving their feedback and help. I have always said, to improve you have know what you need to improve on. The Council members do a super job in helping to improve and develop OWL. All in all, as an organization, we have come a long way but we still have a long way to go. We’re going to stay the course, continue our mission and do everything we can do to change as many lives as we can”, said Thomas.
Kirk Thomas can be reached at 706.788.9878 or by cell at803.480.0167. His email address is email@example.com. For additional information on the Outdoors Without Limits program visit their website at www.OutdoorsWithoutLimits.net.
About Outdoors Without Limits (OWL): OWL is a 501c (3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting education and opportunity for people with disabilities. Its goal is to educate those with disabilities about the possibilities of outdoor recreational activities while providing them the necessary education, opportunity and assistance to participate.
OWL was designed to increase awareness, resources and opportunities that directly impact people and the communities where they live. The program strives to challenge stereotypes about disabilities and promote awareness of “ability” in a positive outdoor environment.
To get involved, participate or change the stereotype of what defines “ability” in your community go to www.outdoorswithoutlimits.net for more information.
We’ve hunted in the WeHuntSC.com Predator Challenge for 7 years. We’ve hunted hard and have yielded minimal results other than being frustrated. Lately we’ve heard a lot of people telling us how effective they have been with hunting coyotes with night vision. This year we aimed to reduce frustration and get more coyotes on the ground by upgrading to a night vision setup. This journey would lead to many lessons learned, which I’ll share in the below blog entry.
After doing some research it seems most hunters are using AR’s for their choice of weapon when coyote hunting. The AR model frees hunters from having to manually chamber another shell as this is done by the gun. This allows more rapid fire at targets which is beneficial when hoping to shoot multiple coyotes … if you can get multiple to come in.
I’d recently heard about Anderson Arms having a unique AR setup. Anderson uses a nanotechnology called RF-85 on their guns that makes it to where you never have to oil the gun. It’s pretty sweet technology. I went with the Anderson Arms AM15 optic ready. If you haven’t checked it out, head on over to https://www.andersonrifles.com.
With the gun selection done it was time to move on to the scope. This meant I had to learn about night vision. It seems in the night vision world there are 2 routes one can go – infrared or thermal. I’m sure you can get into religious debates about the advantages & disadvantages of each, but in the end I chose thermal. Once I decided on thermal I needed to pick out a brand. I had previously purchased a FLIR monocular for spotting scope which I use for tracking wounded animals and ensuring I’m not spooking deer on my way in or out of the woods. It’s very handy, but not very clear. I wanted to try a different brand to see if it was any different. PULSAR seemed to be a popular brand based on the research I had done. I ended up going with the PULSAR Apex XD38.
I worked with the crew at Reel Determined Outdoors to get this rig set up. If you haven’t checked out Reel Determined or the team up there you should give them a shout.
One initial note about night-vision gear. I was surprised at how expensive these technologies are so if you’re looking for a cheap night vision solution get ready to be surprised. However, I can tell you that once you use a night vision setup for coyotes you will never go back.
Sighting In a Thermal Scope
With the gun in hand and scope mounted on it we were ready to venture into the world of thermal night vision. Before we got to shoot at any coyotes however, we needed to sight it in. This is where we really started learning some stuff.
When you take a thermal scope out and look at a target you don’t see the lines on the target. This is because the scope is responding to heat signatures and, as you would imagine, the lines on the target aren’t putting out any heat. Yes, this would seem obvious, but to some rookies we didn’t think ahead about this too much. On our first attempts at sighting this thing in we ended up cutting the center of the target out and putting up some tin foil as the tin foil maintained different temperatures and we could *vaguely see the contrast in the scope. It was all we needed to get excited and get started though.
Once inside the scope I realized that we’d have to learn the menu systems inside of the PULSAR scope. At first sight it was a little overwhelming because I had no idea what all the icons represented. Yes there is a book that comes with it explaining it and yes we didn’t really read it before getting started! In retrospect the best thing I did was watch some YouTube videos of people talking through the menu items.
The menus are not difficult to understand I was just in initial shock of trying to understand them all. The icons make sense and there are 2 menus inside of the software. Yes, software… the thermal scope is essentially a computer system on your gun that’s giving you a screen with information on it and view into the dark. As such, it does require some time to boot up when you press the on button.
The thing that is important to understand about the menu is that you zero the sights in in the menu, that it can hold “sight-ins” for 3 different weapons, and there is a reset button. Sometimes I got lost in the menus and didn’t know what I was clicking and changed the weapon number and even clicked reset. This did indeed make for a frustrating time sighting in the weapon. Once I learned what buttons not to click things got easier.
Gavin and I ended up sighting this gun in about 3 or 4 times as we learned more, messed things up, saw that our scope wasn’t tight on the gun, and figured out the menu items. Once you understand how it works sighting it in is fairly easy. Another trick that made sense was to use hot-hands hands on the middle of your target. If you want to go the extra mile, soak a pizza pan in ice-water and then put it behind the hot-hands on the target. This creates a cool circle encompassing a hot center, which in the scope creates a good contrast for you to aim at.
After several times out with the gun and sighting it in we finally started hitting the target where we wanted to… in the bullseye.
Videoing with a Pulsar Recorder
One neat thing about digital night vision is the ability to record the footage from inside your scope. Since it’s a computer, why not right? PULSAR has different models and with the more recent models the video recording capabilities are getting even better and more user friendly. Our experience with the video recorder left some to be desired and required some learning on our behalf.
The video recorder for the model scope I have is the CVR 640 and it mounts on the weaver/picatinny rail… that is it can be attached to anywhere you see the grooved sections on the gun. In my scenario this meant I could attach the recorder on the side of the scope or on the front of the gun. I initially attached it on the front of the gun because this made ergonomic sense. The recorder holds an SD card and you simply pop the SD card out to download the footage. The recorder plugs into the base of the scope and screws in tightly. The odd thing about this is that your gun literally has cables running down & around it (however you handle your cable management that is).
I was very excited to video all the coyotes we would be busting in the near future! Sure enough it wasn’t long before we had coyotes in the scope and started pulling triggers. The first time I was sure that I was recording when I shot. I looked at the video box and noticed the blue light wasn’t on anymore. How terrible luck was it for the batteries to die right before the shot! So I got new batteries.
A few hunts later the same thing happened. Did I have a bad batch of batteries or what? After 8 live-action shots that were recording, but yet failed to record I had had enough. I’d put in numerous new batteries and nothing worked… I was going to get to the bottom of this. We had some hunts coming up and I left the gun with Gavin during one of our re-sight-in attempts. Gavin and I were both doing research on this issue. Gavin noticed that even though the recorder has a weaver rail and mounts to the gun it was NOT rated for recoil. I told Gavin to remove the video recorder from the gun, put it in his pocket and record himself sighting the gun in and see if the video stopped recording. BINGO! We’d found the culprit. Gavin said the video recorder continued to record during the shots when not attached to the gun. This let us know that the video recorder will record if it wasn’t attached to the gun when shooting.
The First Coyote on The Ground With Night Vision
With multiple times to the range figuring out the sighting in process and now with the video issue out of the way we were ready to rock and actually get some footage. We had been bummed about previous footage attempts because we had some great encounters. We were about to change that.
Gavin and I were requested to help a local farmer out who has a hog problem. We had indeed gotten hogs on camera at the location and were headed in to assist. When we arrived to the location we went in to the field scanning with the monocular as we walked toward our stand. Gavin saw that hogs were already in the field. So we dropped down to a knee and just watched. Right then a coyote started howling very close to us. To our surprise the coyote howl startled the hogs and they exited the field that they had just entered. I was surprised that hogs would be intimidated by coyotes, but thinking back on it the hogs has some young ones with them and maybe their leaving the field was to protect the young ones.
I told Gavin we should go to the area on the other side of the field where there is a deer stand and just be patient. I was sure the hogs would return. We agreed and slowly retreated to the other area of the field. We were just sitting there talking letting time pass when coyotes started howling very loudly again. This time there were more than one howling. We were hog hunting, but we did have the coyote call in the truck. Frustrated at the situation Gavin said “I’m going to the truck to get the call”.
After returning back from the truck Gavin set the call up and said “Get in the gun because when I hit this call they are going to come in”. So I did as Gavin instructed and turned the scope on.
If you’re wondering why my scope would even be off… night vision and thermal optics flat eat batteries. If you’re going thermal do yourself a favor and order the extended battery pack so that you are not like me and have to carry around packs of batteries in your pockets and constantly replace them.
Back to the story... Gavin told me to get in the scope and I did just that. Gavin played some coyote whimpers and a coyote duet, new sounds we’d just downloaded to the FoxPro before leaving. I was scanning left and Gavin was scanning right. We stopped the calls and it was quiet, crisp, and clear out. Nothing responded… no howl backs, no barks, nothing. Then all of a sudden Gavin whispered “There he is” and at that I turned to the right and saw a coyote crossing my face from right to left. I followed this coyote waiting on it to pause so that I could squeeze the trigger. Gavin said “What are you doing turn right turn right”. What we didn’t know until afterwards was that Gavin didn’t see the coyote I saw. He had seen another one, a bigger one, to our right. I told Gavin “Shut up” and he said “There’s a big one here on the right”. I said “Make him stop, say something, bark” and he responded “A big one on the right”. It was not easy to pull the scope off the one I was following and turn right, but I did. What I saw was indeed a larger coyote on our right. I put the crosshairs on him and squeezed off. I could tell from the video that I hit him! I then swiveled back left and got back on the coyote that I had seen earlier. It paused just enough and I dropped it on the spot.
It all happened so fast. My heart was pumping and adrenaline was racing, but one thing was for sure. We definitely had the scope sighted in correctly this time. And when I pulled the video recorder out of my pocket it was still recording! We had footage to review!
We looked and looked for the first coyote, but could not find it. We think it ran off and died somewhere, but we did recover the second coyote and got some pics. Man it was a fun hunt.
And now you can re-live the hunt with us in the below video:
Tips For Hunting With Thermal Night Vision
Throughout this process we’ve learned a good deal about AR-15’s, night vision scopes, PULSAR, and recording video. Here’s a list of things we’ve learned and hopefully they are helpful to you in some way:
One of my most favorite parts of working on the web site is to be able to give the competition winners their prizes! One of the winners quoted this past weekend ?Shooting the deer was good enough, now this is just the icing on the cake!? and that?s what it?s all about! Seeing the winners smile while they get their prizes makes us feel good and is rewarding for us too!
Again our winners were (See pics of the winner's deer):
The winners received some great prizes from our sponsors and each left with a handful of goodies to play with and we hope to get some ?field test? reports from them as well. I think in total we gave out just short of $2,000 worth of prizes to the winners. This is pretty good for the site just being a little over 1 year old and we hope it will get even better in years to come.
We did get some interviews from this year?s winners so check it out in the video below. Thanks again to the sponsors and to everyone who participated. Be sure to tune in early next season to see what competitions we?re hosting, what rules we?re enforcing, and what prizes you can win.
My family really loves the outdoors. With several young children around we always have our deerstands filled and we really enjoy deer hunting season. Probably just like you we suffer from the “deer-pression” that comes about once the season ends. Well, this year I decided to figure out a way for our family to continue being active in the outdoors in the off season!
The first idea that came to mind was to build a deer antler catcher! The timing was perfect to start trying to catch horns as the bucks in our area usually start shedding their antlers in January to early February. There is no exact date when this happens, but if you pay attention to your game cameras you may notice bucks starting to drop horns. This is a good sign that deer are starting to lose their antlers.
Generally speaking, in South Carolina antlers will be dropping from mid-December (though that is early) to early April (though that is late). One thing we do know is that after the rut, a buck’s testosterone levels begin to decrease and when they drop to a certain level, antlers will shed. Since testosterone levels to vary from area to area and winter to winter, antlers can shed at various times.
There are a few different ways people go about shed hunting. Some people train dogs to track the smell of antlers, some just go for walks in the woods, and some construct antler traps/catchers. In our case we are opting for the third way, the antler catcher.
You can imagine that my kids were excited for our first family project to be underway! I have 3 sons (Caiden, Bryson, and Kingston), one daughter (Adrianna), and we even got my wife Brandy involved too! With this many young outdoorsmen and women around I have to frequently come up with ideas that they will all enjoy, which is sometimes harder than you think!
Building the Antler Catcher
As a family went out Sunday Jan 8th, 2017, the day after the first 2017 snow, and built our first antler catcher! As you would imagine there are many different styles of antler catchers and there is no official or standard way to build these traps. In our case we are opting for building one using “chicken wire.
Also important is the location of your antler trap. Since hunting season had just ended we have a good understanding of the general trails that deer in our area use to travel. We went out to an active trail near a feeding area and found two trees that were a few feet apart. This was the perfect location for our antler trap.
Once you find the perfect spot you take the chicken wire and wrap it around the trees so that there is wire on both sides of the trees. Pull the wire as tight as possible and staple it to the trees, cut your extra wire off. Take zip ties and run it around the trees and through the wire so that when you tighten the zip tie down it pulls the wire even tighter!
Important: You want to make sure that the wire is tight so that if the bucks aren't ready to drop their horns the tightness will allow them to easily pull their antlers out of the wire and not get hung up!
Then take the fresh corn and pour between the wires so that the deer must stick their heads down close to the wire to get the corn. Havin the wire so close to the corn allows the horns to catch the wire! The idea is that one antler will hit the chicken wire and if the horns are ready to drop the resistance from the wire will help give the antler(s) the final nudge to release and drop. This is like a child pulling their baby teeth out when a tooth is just about to fall. If the horns are ready to come off the resistance in the chicken wire will help them pull off and you should have antlers piled up at the site or close by around it.
This project was a great project for our family. It helps teach the kids and it gives them something to look forward to in the outdoors during the off-season. We hope to collect a lot of sheds this year. We will use the bigger antlers for rattling next season and take the small ones and add them to our collection. We will also have some creative projects for the kids. We will make knife handles, house decorations, and hopefully one day have enough to make a lamp or Christmas tree!
Thank you for taking the time to read about our project and I hope you can take this and use it with your family also! I will post another blog at the end of shed season and give the results! Happy Shed Hunting!