Posts

Pennsylvania’s Opening Day of Rifle Season!

Pennsylvania’s Opening Day of Rifle Season 2019!

The holidays are here and for Pennsylvania hunters, but not all holidays mean gathering around a large table for a feast with family. Hunter’s holidays are spent gathering around small camp kitchens and bonfires. They find presents and treasures from high up in trees early in the morning, instead of looking under them. They have different days circled on the calendar. Counting down the days until they can trade in the cozy couch for a frosty tree stand builds exciting anticipation only few of us understand. It’s equally a rite of passage and return to the familiar. Just like the holidays, it only comes once a year. One day to reference for generations when you got your first one there, and grandpa got that one there. There’s nothing like celebrating our whitetail rifle season’s opening day.

Arguably the same, if not more than other holidays, preparation goes into getting ready for that first dawn. This year you got new boots or a new coat, so you don’t freeze like you did last year. You put a new scope onto your old reliable rifle. The trail camera you’ve been checking all summer is paying for itself over and again with the secrets it’s telling you about where that buck lives. It’s all part of continuing the tradition of the chase.

Whether you’re hunting by yourself or with friends or family, the excitement of the experience is the same. The community of taking to our woods searching for an elusive game animal has been handed down to us from the stories and experiences of the generations before. That’s why it’s so valuable to us and why we put such time and effort into it. It’s why we get the best gear we can. No one jumps at the chance to tell the story every year about the one we missed, or about leaving the stand early because they got too cold. No, Pennsylvania hunters aren’t only tough, they’re smart. They know how to dress and how to hunt the weather in our home state. There’s no half-hearted effort on opening day.

Respect for the animal also is the highest. You can see that by all the cars and trucks at the range the weeks prior to opening day. Sighting in rifles, tuning new scopes, trying new ammunition for a single clean shot and kill. When the deer is down, they go to work with the sharpest knives and knowhow. Maybe you use your grandfather’s old knife, or maybe you’ve got a new one for yourself this year. Eating the venison that comes from the whole deer has been the tradition as long as hunting has in Pennsylvania. Little to nothing is wasted. With recipes new and old, no crockpot, grill grate, or oven doesn’t see its share of work over the winter months with the treasured animal protein.

There are those who argue it’s a barbaric pastime where something has to die for an individual’s enjoyment. Glorifying the kill in a time and place where food scarcity hardly exists. That argument has no value, and hunters know it. The experience teaches a respect for the animal, for the land, for the benefit of hard work. You’ll appreciate that deer every time you share the story, long after the meat in the freezer is gone.

public-land-deer-hunting-strategy-for-pennsylvania-Feature 1

Tips for Public Land Deer Scouting in Pennsylvania

Public land Deer Scouting and Hunting in Pennsylvania 

The dog days of summer are here. Hot temperatures and humidity have most people wanting to stay inside and stay cool. These days, however, are when deer hunting success, this fall, can be earned. Having success while deer hunting on public land in Pennsylvania does not come easy. PA has lots of hunters, so you will be up against the competition. But, for those who decide they want to put in some hard work during these summer days, some amazing hunting opportunities are available. The hunters you know or see being successful during the fall are often they ones that put in hours of work during the summer to put the odds in their favor during the fall. Follow these tips this summer for scouting whitetails on public land here in the keystone state. 

  1. Utilize maps before physically scouting 

Whether you use a GPS, map, topo mapphone app, or google earth, utilize it before going there in person to scout. This is how you can “scout from the computer.” Look at topography of the area. Look for potential feeding fields, ridges, river bottoms, access trails, parking areas, funnels, pinch points, and whatever else you can find. Doing these things ahead of time can save you so much time and energy. Learn as much about the piece you plan to scout, before you even step foot on it. This will put you ahead of the game when you do go to scout the area.  

2. Get away from pressure 

This probably sounds familiar, but it is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Most deer in general, but especially smart deer, will avoid areas that have the most human pressure. This is where using your maps to mark parking areas and access trails becomes even more important. When you mark those things on a map, you can start to narrow down areas that are going to be the hardest to access. Cross off areas that look like they are easy to get to and popular for hunters. Look for those back corners, overlooked spots, and hardest to reach places. The less pressure it gets from other hunters, the better chance you will have at seeing deer there during daylight.  

3. Scout for bedding 

When you go to scout a piece of public land, one of the most important things to do is identify where the deer in the area are bedding. Yes, it is important to find feeding areas, trails, benches, funnels, and pinch points, but the number one thing to find is bedding areas. Successful public land hunters are usually the ones that are hunting closest to where the deer bed. Deer on public land probably won’t move far from their bedding areas during daylight. Hunting as close to that bedding as possible, without being detected, will give you the best opportunity to get a shot during legal shooting hours.  

4. Use trail cams as an extra tool, not your replacement for scouting.  

Trail cameras are becoming more and more popular as time goes on. I can’t stress enough how useful they can be when they are used right. They can do some work for you while you are not even there. They can teach hunters what caliber of deer are in an area, how many deer are in an area, the times of day they are moving through a certain area, and the list could go on. There are so many benefits. All that being said, it is important to not let trail cameras actually replace the importance of physically scouting an area. Trail cameras will never tell hunters the full story. Hunters need to know where bedding is, where travel routes are, where feeding areas are, and everything else about the areas surrounding their trail cameras or hunting areas. Don’t simply walk into the woods, set up a few trail cams, and walk back out without learning anything about the area.  

5. More is better 

When it comes to public land deer scouting in the summer, the more you scout, the better your chances will be. There are certain situations on private land, or when scouting or hunting during the fall where overkill will have a negative effect. But during these summer days get out there and hit it hard. The season is still a couple months away, so get out there and learn as much as you can now, before hunting season comes. Don’t just go out in November hoping to get lucky, get out there now and earn your fall success right here in August! 

Some Seriously Deadly Tree Stand Sets for the Rut

Deer Hunting Tree Stand Sets for Each Situation

Depending on where you hunt and the habitat present, the right tree stand for the situation might be drastically different. You need to consider the tree species and age, as younger coniferous trees or mature hardwoods will both change the type of tree stand sets that you should use. But you also need to consider whether the land is public vs. private, the overall hunting pressure, and ultimately who will use it. On top of all that, things are even more escalated during the rut. Given the limited time frame of this magical time period, you want to be in the right spot without getting busted. Here are a few tree stand hunting tips to help you decide how to choose a tree stand.

Contributing Factors for Tree Stand Selection

As mentioned above, the best tree stand setups for a given area will vary widely depending on several factors. Here are a couple examples of things that might influence the type of tree stand you choose for a given hunt.

  • Tree Species – putting a tree stand in a hardwood or a coniferous tree will often change the type of tree stand you use. Some coniferous trees (e.g., spruce, balsam, etc.) are covered in branches and don’t lend themselves to climbing tree stands, but can provide a lot of cover for ladder stands. Likewise, some hardwoods tend to grow with a spreading branch structure (good for hang on stands), while others grow tall and straight (good for climbers).  
  • Tree Age – without mature trees, it’s hard to use a tree stand. For most tree stand sets, you will need trees at least 10 to 12 inches diameter at breast height as a minimum. If the trees are too young, they will sway too much in the wind and may be unsafe to support you. Larger and more mature trees (e.g., cottonwoods, oaks, etc.) are great for covering your silhouette (especially when hunting the early season), but only work well for hang on stands and possibly ladder stands. 
  • Land Ownership – depending on whether the land you’re hunting is public or private, you will need to use a different tree stand. Some public hunting areas only allow temporary tree stands to be used on the day you’re hunting, so you could be limited to climbers and hang on stands. But if you’re hunting private land, you could choose whatever stand you like or even install a tower stand. 
  • Hunting Pressure – another often forgotten factor is the hunting pressure in your neighborhood. Whitetails that are heavily hunted can develop the sense to look up and spot hunters in a tree stand, or they may even avoid tree stand locations. This may force you to use more mobile tree stands to keep them guessing, and you will need to hide them well. On the other hand, deer that are seldom hunted may not be as sensitive to that. 
  • Who Will Hunt – the last one is who will ultimately hunt in the stand. If you plan on solo hunts, you have many options. But if you hope to take your child or a friend out with you, you will either need two tree stands or a larger two-seat stand to accommodate you both.

Tree Stand Sets for Different Situations

Here are a few tried and true uses for different tree stand sets that you can use as a guideline. But it all ties back to the factors above, so tweak them as appropriate when setting up a tree stand.

Large Fields, No Trees, Private Land

The first category isn’t strictly a tree stand set, but sometimes you need to hunt in more open areas where there aren’t trees available. Tower stands and ground blinds are both great options for these scenarios. Tower stands work well for gun hunting so you can cover a large field effectively, but they can also be used for bow hunting along field edges. Ground blinds are better used for close range hunting since your visibility is somewhat limited versus being up higher in a tree.

The Muddy® Bull Box Blind 6×6 with 10-foot platform is a great option for a couple hunters or for large fields. Since you are fully contained inside, it provides great scent control, keeps you warmer, and hides.

For ground blinds, the Ameristep® Doghouse Blind is a great option that’s easy on the hunting budget. It sets up very quickly due to the spring steel popup design, which can keep you mobile.  

Thick Conifers, Branched Hardwoods, Private Land

You’ve probably hunted in one of these areas before. Conifers or hardwoods with lots of branches – how do you possibly get a climber or even a hang on ladder section up the tree? You don’t. Ladder tree stands are one of the best tree stand sets for this category of land and habitat. With the help of a partner, you can quickly prop a ladder stand into the branch structure of the tree, secure it, and trim away any branches that are in the way. The branched background helps disguise your silhouette from nosy boss does and cautious bucks alike. These areas can also be great travel corridors for deer (especially when hunting the full moon), so you can catch a buck trailing a doe during the rut.

The Summit® “The Vine” double ladder tree stand is a creative option for deer that are a little pressured and discerning of tree stand ladders. Its ladder section is cleverly disguised as a vine, which deer see often in grape vines, Virginia creeper, poison ivy, etc. Since it is a double-wide tree stand, you can bring someone else with you, which is perfect for more semi-permanent locations on private land.

Bedding Areas, Timber Food Sources, Water Sources, Public Land 

When the rut is in full swing, bucks are on the move, and so should you be. A climbing tree stand or hang on tree stand are both perfect choices for such an occasion. By sneaking in on the downwind side of doe bedding areas, near oak flats/apple trees, or water sources, you have a solid chance of encountering a buck as it patrols for does. One thing to note about these tree stand sets is that you definitely need to include a fall restraint/safety system. While still being very safe, there is always a risk when being in a tree. A safety system should always be on your bow hunting packing list. As for tree stand placement on public land, the best location to hunt is often away from easily accessible trails, so you can catch less-pressured deer.

The Lone Wolf® Sit and Climb II climber tree stand is a comfortable option for all day sits in remote locations. It fits trees from 6 to 19 inches in diameter and can be easily packed with you.

 

The Big Dog® Bearcat XL hang on tree stand comes with a padded back rest, shooting rail, and foot rest, so it is comfortable and stable for all day firearm hunts.

Good Luck Hunting

As you get out for the rut this season, we hope you can use these tree stand setups to get on a mature buck. Because no matter where you hunt, you should be able to use at least one of these sets to stack the odds in your favor and punch your tag.

Kinsey’s Outdoor Review | Nikon Prostaff Scope Review

By: Brandon Rapp

With the rifle season for deer fast approaching, this is the time of year I definitely want to have my scope set up picked so I can start dialing it in. With work and bowhunting I don’t have a lot of time to get to the range before the Monday opener after Thanksgiving. The Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40mm rifle scope is one of the best options in the store for a great price.  

The first thing I noticed is the great field of view you get when you look through it. Even at the lowest setting you could see a lot of the woods and it’s all crystal clear. I also really liked the BDC reticle system that Nikon outfits this scope with. Sometimes I notice deer moving through a valley or feeding out in a cut ag field, so reticles give me the ability to shoot quickly and confidently at different distances. Also, if you’re planning a trip out west you won’t need to buy a new scope before you head out.  

If the weight of your rifle set up is something you think about, this scope is noticeably lightweight. I don’t always think about that but with some hunters, when heading farther back in the woods every ounce counts.  

This scope has everything a rifle hunter should want if you need a scope for a first-time hunter, or if you just want to upgrade to a new one for your set-up. Either way you’re getting a quality durable product without having to spend what it usually costs for quality optics.

Check out the Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40mm Riflescope

Must Have Deer Scents and Calls

Deer Calls and Scents for the Hunt

Lessons Learned  

Fall is here, and deer hunters all across the country are putting plans into action to fill their tags. It’s a magical time of year, and you want to make the most of it. Time in the deer woods is cherished and invaluable; there is no price tag on experience, lessons learned, or woodsmanship when it comes to deer hunting. There are, however, tips and tactics when it comes to deer hunting, deer scents, and calling deer that will go a long way to filling your tag this fall.

The Rut

Perhaps the best part of deer season is hunting the rut and its stages. Nothing influences the deer herd more than the annual breeding period, and the time period just before and just after the does come into estrus. The rutting period general falls somewhere near or on hunting seasons in most states, and it makes for some exciting action for sure! Whitetail bucks are at their most vulnerable during this time, and tools like calls and scents can be lethal if you put them into practice during your hunt.

Phases of the Rut

Pre-Rut 

The pre-rut can be an amazing time in the deer woods. Bucks are beginning to move more and more during daylight hours with anticipation of the first estrus doe. Whitetail bucks begin to stake out their territory during this phase, establishing dominance over other bucks and laying claim to areas that does frequent. Pre-rut phase generally starts to heat up sometime in October and early November when bucks start making rubs, and establishing scrapes to make their presence known. Hunters in the field during the pre-rut can put the deer’s anticipation to work during the hunt to seal the deal with the help of calling and scent tactics.

Pre-Rut Calling Tactics

Calling during the pre-rut phase can be tricky. It’s important to take a buck’s temperature and read his body language when calling during the pre-rut. Light calling can be effective during the early stages of the pre-rut, but as the fall season drags on and the peak rut approaches, being more and more aggressive with calling can be amazingly effective. Remember to keep an eye on your downwind side, deer will approach to a call from the downwind if they can.

Vocalizations for the pre-rut

In the early weeks of the pre-rut, be sure and have a doe bleat in your pack. Calls like “The Little Can” by Primos produce a soft doe in estrus bleat that isn’t too aggressive and can be just the ticket to bring in a curious buck. Another effective call that deer hunters should never leave home without is the grunt. A grunt tube that is variable in tone, and able to produce both immature and dominant buck grunts is versatile and effective in many situations. Adding a snort wheeze to a dominant buck grunt can sometimes be just the medicine to put that bruiser buck over the edge and bring him in. Flextone’s all in one Boned Up Deer Call uses a variable reed to effectively produce young buck, mature buck, and doe bleats from the same call.

Rattling during the pre-rut 

Another highly effective calling strategy for the pre-rut period is rattling. Depending on the buck to doe ratio in your hunting area, competition for the prime doe feeding and bedding areas can be tough between bucks. The sound of two sparring bucks is an interesting tactic that can be extremely effective. Try different scenarios like the sound of two bucks lightly sparring to a drop down drag out fight, and everything in between. Start lighter and softer, especially in the earlier season.

Rattling is an effective tool for deer hunters in the woods during all phases of the rut, but what works one day might not the next. Keep in mind a buck that has lost fights to a more dominant buck might not be interested in losing again. On the other hand, the dominant buck in the area may not be happy with two subordinate bucks fighting in his territory. Use a call that is quiet in your pack, versatile enough to rattle lightly, but tough enough to take the abuse of loud and aggressive calling. A rattle bag, like the Primos Big Bucks Bag, is a versatile call that is easy to use and quiet to pack in.

Pre-Rut Scents 

Deer live and die by their noses. It only makes sense for whitetail hunters to put scents to work to better their odds on a hunt. During the pre-rut, bucks are busy making and tending scrapes and rubs. Hunters can use this phase of the rut to their advantage by making fake scrapes, or freshening natural scrapes made by a buck in the area.

Using a product like Tinks #69 Doe-in-Rut lure can fire up a buck and get him using the area you are hunting during daylight hours. Take careful consideration of the prevailing wind, not only from your stand, but from the scrape with lure. Ideally, a buck will approach the scrape from downwind while remaining upwind from your hunting position.

 

Peak-Rut
  
The peak-rut phase of the rut takes place when the majority of the does in the area come into full estrus. The peak-rut can be tricky to hunt, and is sometimes known as lock-down. When the peak-rut arrives, bucks will keep close tabs on their does. Any buck not bedded with a doe in estrus will be looking for his chance to breed. Calling tactics during this time of the rut can go from ice cold to red hot in an instant.
Peak-Rut Calling
 
Calling to bucks during the peak-rut can be tricky. During this phase, bucks aren’t as inclined to spar and fight, but are actively searching for does. One strategy during this time of year is to hunt the does, and the bucks will follow.
An estrus doe bleat is at its most effective during this phase of the rut. Blind calling from the fringe of a doe bedding area with a call like the Primos “the Great Big can” is a great tactic to catch the attention of a cruising buck looking for does. Don’t over call, and keep wind direction in mind.

Peak-Rut Scents  

During the peak-rut, any buck not with a doe is sure to be looking for a doe to breed. A tactic that is guaranteed to get the attention of any buck cruising by is a scent drag. It’s critical when deploying this tactic to wear scent free rubber boots, and to tuck your pant legs in to avoid laying down foreign scents that would alarm a deer.

To make a scent drag, dip a wick into your favorite doe in estrus lure, like this one from Code Blue. Attach the wick to a short length of cord or line and then to your boot. Drag the scented wick to the stand, effectively making a doe in estrus scent trail right to your stand. Make sure to approach you stand from the upwind side, then hang the wick in a tree upwind of your stand before settling in for your hunt.

 

Post-Rut 

By the time the post-rut rolls around, most of the does will have been bred. It will be about a month before the second estrus comes into full swing, and the transition can be tricky. In some ways, the post-rut is more like a pre-rut period between peak-rut and the second rut. The bucks have heard about every call in the book, at volumes and intensity not possible by real deer, but calling can still be effective.

Post-Rut Calling 

Reading a bucks posture and body language during the post-rut is critical. Avoid blind calling, and cater to a buck you spot by starting soft and taking his temperature. A hot buck looking for action can be coaxed in using grunts and even rattling, but a cautious buck looking to recover lost calories is best hunted with soft bleats or no calling at all.

Post-Rut Scents 

Deer in the post rut have been pushed around by hunters through two phases of the rut. Late season deer are on edge, and for good reason. Deploying a calming scent like EverCalm by ConQuest is one way to help put deer at ease in your hunting area. Calming scents work by distributing natural deer scents in an area, creating a calming effect that other deer are already nearby and the surroundings are safe.

When you get a chance to pursue your passion of deer hunting this fall, take into consideration the phase of the rut. Put calling and scent tactics to use during your hunts. Using a bucks natural drive to find and breed does during the rut is the key to hunting all phases of the rut, and deciding which calling and scent tactics will be most successful for your hunt.

Pre-Season Crossbow and Bow Tuning Checklist

Crossbow and Bow Tuning Checklist

Fall is in the morning air, and deer season is closing in. Gun hunting affords the ability to put off preparation and practice, but not for the bow hunter; preparation is critical for success in the field. It’s not only imperative that you practice early and often, but it’s also necessary to make sure your bow or crossbow is in working order. This article will cover a simple checklist to make sure you are ready to hit the range before opening day! If your local or within a reasonable drive to Kinseys Outdoors, be sure to come in and have our experts check your equipment before deer season arrives!

 

 

Limbs and Riser Condition

Multiple things can happen during bow season that could damage the your bow, or at least send you into the shop for repairs. Anytime you are busting brush, hauling the bow 20 feet in the air, or just sitting it down—damage can occur. The first place to look is the condition of your limbs and riser.

Things to cause concern and head to the shop:

  1. Deep Gouges 
  2. Cracks 
  3. Splinters coming off your limbs 
  4. Cracking or popping when you come to full draw 
  5. Any physical damage that causes you concern

While not all of these are life-threatening concerns for the health of your bow, it’s a good idea to check and make sure everything is in top shape before the season begins. If your limb does happen to break, you are going to be waiting for new limbs or left discouraged with your bow altogether and wanting something new. It’s best to go ahead and get any of the above issues squared away before hunting season arrives.


Cams

You pull your bow out to shoot, and day after day, your shots are inconsistent. You try moving the sights, playing with the rest, but nothing seems to bring consistency to your groupings. If there is one place on your bow that can conceal damage and cause you shooting issues, it’s the cams. There are a few areas of concern here that we’ll briefly touch on and that you should be aware of:

Cam Lean: This is precisely what it sounds like and sometimes can be spotted by visually inspecting your cam by holding it out in front of you and looking to make sure the cams are not leaning” one direction or another. If they are, that means the load of the string will not be evenly distributed and it will be impossible for you to shoot accurately or consistent.  Sometimes this can be hard to spot, but if you suspect this to be an issue, it’s time to get to the shop.

Timing: A close cousin to cam lean, is timing. This problem is hard to spot on your own if you don’t have a draw board, but you can have someone help or bring out a video camera. To inspect this aspect of the bow, you watch to make sure both cams are coming to a stop at the same time upon your draw. If there is a difference, you have issues that need correction.

Nicks on the cam: This is the easiest to spot, but the most dangerous. If you happen to notice a sharp edge on your cam, made from damage, there is the chance you could cut your string and eventually your string is cut and leaving you with a bad day!

While cam issues are rare, they do happen and if in doubt—go check it out!

Strings

If there is one mistake hunters make with the archery equipment, it’s not correctly maintaining or understanding when there might be issues/changes with the string. The first thing we should consider when purchasing a new bow is that not all strings are created equal. Strings, over time, will stretch and when this stretch occurs, shot placement will change. Some strings may not stretch until hundreds of shots have been placed, but one this is for sure: it will stretch.

Before shooting your bow, it’s also imperative to check the string for any spots that might be cut or where fraying is occurring. If your string is broken (even one strand) — you must change it immediately. Fraying is different, and also understand there is a difference between the serving and the string. Your serving is more likely to fray before the string, and if it does you can re-serve the string.

Maintaining your string is simple: use wax, and use it often. You are not going to over-wax” the string or cause any damage by applying too much. The best schedule is to wax your bow after every hunt or practice session, or if it gets wet. Wax will be your bows number one ally, so don’t hold back using it, but just a small amount will do the trick.

 

Bow and Crossbow Accessories

One area not to neglect is the accessories on your bow. This is the easiest of all checks, but a lot of us are guilty of not taking the time to make sure everything is in working order. The first, and most straightforward of checks is to feel or listen for any loose parts; then simply take a hex key and make sure all accessories are tight. The main components of concern are your sight and rest. If either of these is off, then you will be making adjustments on the range. If either happens to be loose and you need to make changes, a good starting point is to line up your arrow, and sight pins with the string of your bow. You can do this by holding your bow out in front of you and making sure everything is inline. After that, start taking shots and micro adjustments.

SHOP Bow & Crossbow Accessories 

Hunting Arrows and Bolts

One typical error hunters make, is not shooting a consistent arrow or bolt. Many times, you’ll see hunters shooting different weights, lengths and even brands of arrows through their archery equipment. This is a recipe for inconsistency on the range, or in the field. It’s a great idea to purchase a dozen or more of the same arrows from a certified pro; they will help you make sure that your weights, lengths and even broad-heads are the correct dimensions before the season begins. When those arrows are lost, re-load with something similar for a long lasting fun on the range.

Another area to check with your arrows before the season begins is the health of the spine. After every shot, or before the first shot of your practicing session; give you arrow a slight flex. You are checking to make sure there are no cracks to the spline, if there are, you’ll hear a pop and crack. Those arrows should be discarded immediately for your safety and others around you. An arrow through your bow hand is a quick way to end deer season before it begins.

  

Final Checks

While many failure points could occur with your archery equipment, it’s unlikely anything drastic will happen with proper maintenance, inspection, and care. Your bow is your ultimate tool in the field, and one where problems could ruin your season. Treat it better than your car and almost as good as family—you will not regret it! Good luck this season and shoot straight.


Remember, local bow shops and experts like the staff at Kinseys Outdoors can make quick work of this checklist and spot potential issues that you might have looked over. They can also offer the latest and greatest bow hunting accessories to upgrade your bow or crossbow.

Tired of your old bow or crossbow? Let Kinsey’s buy your bow! Payment is made instantly in the form of a Kinsey’s Outdoors gift card. Or get more and let Kinsey’s sell your bow for you on Ebay. Payment is in the form of a Kinsey’s Outdoors gift card and will be provided after your bow has sold. Kinsey’s gets 15% of the total amount the bow sold for unless it falls within a “No Consignment Fee” promotional period. If it falls within the “No Consignment Fee” period, you get a gift card for the full amount your bow sold for.