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Big Woods Whitetail — Interview with Beau Martonik

Gear Up for the Big Woods

Big woods whitetail hunting is about as challenging as it gets.  Not only do hunters have to deal with long treks across mountainous terrain, but the lack of agricultural food sources and typically lower deer densities test even the best woodsmanship.  There’s no one piece of gear available that equates to automatic success in any hunting situation, but the combination of the right mentality and quality equipment can increase success ratios by leaps and bounds.  Hunting in the big woods takes a lot of persistence, the ability to adapt, and great patience to be successful and one knows this better than Beau Martonik.

Martonik, a native of Pennsylvania’s vast Alleghany National Forest region, grew up hunting whitetails in one of the United States’ most storied big woods settings.  Beau has spent his entire life perfecting both his strategy and gear list so as to be able to locate, pursue and kill mature bucks in some of the most challenging conditions in the country.  Consistently punching tags in this terrain takes a purposeful and detailed approach and so I asked Beau to break down the process and system that leads to venison in the freezer and antlers on the wall, year after year.

Narrow The Search

Big woods bucks are crafty and unpredictable.  Being travelers of long-distance makes these bucks especially hard to pattern.  Instead of seeking out single-season patterns, Martonik stresses the value in looking for year-to-year patterns.  “Bucks tend to do the same things season after season”, Beau elaborated, “So using trail camera data from prior years is a great way to make logical assumptions about what they will do in following seasons.”  Quality trail cameras, with extended battery life, strategically placed along key terrain features, or social areas such as primary scrapes, are a great educational tool for the big woods hunter.  Even in big woods settings, Martonik is still looking for an edge.  He stresses that bucks in the big timber interact with edges much the same as they do in agricultural settings, but those edges look a bit different.  Creeks, clear cuts, thickets, and benches are all examples of the types of edge that these bucks like to use for travel.  Rut funnels such as ridge tops saddles also make for great cruising corridors in the mountains.

To locate these features, a quality mapping application is useful.  Martonik employs the use of OnX to pinpoint locations he will later check during his scouting efforts.  Remote and overlooked areas become quickly recognizable with the use of aerial and topographical maps; as do terrain funnels and vegetation changes that create the edges that big bucks love to use.

Gear Up

The challenge of hunting big woods whitetails will test your resolve, but it will also quickly show you any chinks in your gear “armor”.  In this environment, quality equipment not only makes the hunt more enjoyable, but it can, indeed, improve success ratios.  Once a hunter narrows the expanse of timber to several high percentage locations, having the right gear for the job is the next step in the process.  “When it comes to this type of hunting, a beneficial piece of gear to have is a high-quality frame pack- if you are successful it will carry your kill out,” Beau said.  “A ‘rut pack’ is also a huge benefit in the big woods; something that can integrate with a stand and sticks to get all the gear you need to the tree for an all-day sit.”

Martonik is also a huge proponent of high-level performance apparel systems.  Mountain hunters have long been pushing the envelope in the testing and development of new and better layering systems and the concept has begun to show its value in the whitetail woods as well.  He uses moisture-wicking base layers such as fast drying synthetics or natural merino wool fibers which retain their insulation capabilities even when they become damp from perspiration.  The key, though, is to reduce the amount of sweat, period.  To do this, Beau wears only a lightweight synthetic or merino layer when walking several miles to remote stand locations.  And that quality pack referenced above?  That holds the heavy outer layers that will be applied immediately after he cools down in his stand.  Going deep into the timber and pursuing big woods ghosts requires pack-ability and thermal regulation.  As such it is hard to overstate the importance of both a pack system and the apparel you choose.

Safety 

            Even with the advances in cell phone technology, if you are pushing the envelope and going where others aren’t willing to go, you will find yourself outside of cell phone service from time to time.  This is an area where Beau takes no chances.  “I am never not attached to the tree with a lineman belt or a safety line with a prusik loop attachment,” Beau said.  Staying tied off 100% of the time is imperative when doing this kind of hunting.  In fact, having two safety ropes often makes it easier to ensure you are tied in at all times, even when you are transitioning into and out of the treestand.  Hunters should be aware of suspension trauma, a very serious and potentially lethal phenomenon that occurs when hanging for an extended time from a harness.  Pooling blood in the suspended hunter’s legs can cause unconsciousness and unless rescued, eventually lead to death.  For this reason, and others, Beau has started to carry a GPS phone which allows texts to send via satellite even from the most remote locations.  Texts can include GPS coordinates for rescuers to use to find a hunter more quickly.  These devices are worthwhile investments, and hunters with western aspirations should especially consider them to be a necessary purchase.

Success 

            The hunt in the mountainous timber of the Appalachian Mountains is, in itself, a challenge.  However, having success in this environment is when the real work begins.  Dragging a deer over two miles of rugged terrain is a grueling task and quite a time commitment.  That’s why Martonik chooses to combine more western philosophy into his whitetail hunting and pack out his kills.  Using the gutless method, Beau is able to get all the venison, cape, and his gear out of the woods in two trips.  The aforementioned frame pack shines in this application.  He carries a “kill kit” consisting of the tools he needs (game bags, knife, garbage bag, flagging tape, paracord) to skin and process the deer on the ground.  With the gutless method, the abdomen of the deer is left intact and all the meat from the quarters and loin is removed and packed out with the frame.  Beau’s go-to for skinning and processing in the field is his Havalon replaceable blade knife, and with this process, he is able to make quick work of a deer after the kill and get out of the woods faster and with less physical exertion than the traditional “deer drag”.

There is always more than one way to skin the cat, as they say.  Martonik’s approach has evolved over his years in the timber through trial and error; and no doubt that kind of person who has the thirst for new adventure is the same kind of person who continually seeks new and better ways of doing things.  But, when it comes to locating and killing big woods deer, the whole Martonik family is proficient, to say the least, and Beau has a systematic approach and his gear list pretty dialed in.  So, I asked Beau what he believes is one of the biggest mistakes made by industry personnel when advising and instructing people on their gear choices for this “big woods” type of hunting. He replied, “From my experience working in retail, and now as someone who helps advise people on gear choices, I think the biggest thing people overlook is making certain that you understand the consumer’s intended use of the product.  I am going to advise someone entirely differently if they are planning to walk several miles in hill country versus walking a couple hundred yards to hunt a field edge.  It’s important to know their goals, and sometimes you have to be able to understand that maybe even better than they do themselves, so that you can make the proper recommendations for each individual hunter’s situation.”

To find more information on Beau Martonik, follow him on Instagram at @beau.martonik . He also produces a popular podcast series called East Meets West Hunt Podcast and runs the Instagram page @EastMeetsWestHunt. His website is www.EastMeetsWestHunt.com

 

Author: Reuben Dourte

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Deer hunting in Pennsylvania is calling on you to help save it. It’s calling on you to save it for future generations like hunters did at the turn of the 20th century when herd numbers were decimated by overhunting for sale on the open market. With the recent expansion of Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area #4 in Lancaster County, from 397 square miles to 746, many hunters are seeing an uncertain future literally at their doorstep.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease that has been found in the neurological systems of deer species. The species at risk in Pennsylvania are our white tail deer and elk populations. It causes deer infected with the disease to lose motor function and not eat so they literally waste away until they ultimately succumb to the disease.

This neurological disease afflicting white tail deer (the state mammal and arguably most hunted species) is always fatal to the deer. Now more than before legal, physical, and cultural demands are being placed on Pennsylvania’s hunters. It’s similar to Mad Cow disease, so the discussion seems to circle back to can humans consume these deer and become sick themselves? Currently the answer is no. There are no documented cases of animal to human transition.

Experts strongly recommend that no human consume deer that has positively identified as having CWD. This is the start, and strangely the end of the discussion, because if the disease spreads and we can’t eat CWD positive deer, why bother hunting them? That sentiment is what has generations of a strong deer hunting culture in this state up at night.

No hunter wants to endanger the lives of family and friends, and no hunter wants to lose the deer hunting way of life as well. So rather than giving up on the patient, hunters in these areas of the state are being called on to help turn back and defeat the disease.

Looking into this subject can overload almost anyone with information. The biggest thing to remember is if you kill a deer in one of the DMA zones, do not, under any circumstance remove the deer’s high-risk carcass parts from that area. This is mainly the brain, eyes, spinal column along with the spleen and lymph nodes.

Not moving these parts to areas of the state that are unaffected is one of the biggest ways to turn this around. Every DMA will have meat processors and taxidermists available to take care of your deer, and the game commission will have dumpsters located for you to leave the head for testing free of charge. This way you can be sure of whether or not your deer actually even has CWD.

You can keep your antlers, you can keep your meat, and you can keep hunting all while helping to fight to keep this tradition alive by using some tactical protocol. It’s worth taking a few minutes to prepare for this year’s upcoming deer season and find out if you hunt in one of these areas across the state. https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Wildlife-RelatedDiseases/Pages/ChronicWastngDisease.aspx is a great resource that answers a lot of questions most hunters have.

Thanks to the hunters who answered the call when deer herds were decimated, we’ve had over a century’s worth of opportunity for memories at camp, early mornings with friends and family to build and strengthen bonds through hunting whitetails. Hopefully as this generation of hunters answers the call to fight back CWD, we’ll have another century to enjoy.

PA Doe Tag, PGC Antlerless Deer Tag Status

How To Check The Status of Your Pennsylvania Antlerless Deer Tag Application

How To Check The Status of Your Pennsylvania Antlerless Deer Tag Application

If you’re anything like me, patience is a hard thing to come by especially when it pertains to hunting. This rings true every July after Pennsylvania hunting licenses officially go on sale and the lead up to submitting your antlerless deer tag application.

 

Every PA hunter is bound to have their own strategy in order to get that pink Pennsylvania Game Commission antlerless deer tag application envelop to their local county treasurer’s desk first thing Monday morning.

 

My rule of thumb is always trying to send out my antlerless deer application the Friday or Saturday before the Monday that the Antlerless Deer applications go on sale. Whether this level of planning and preparation is warranted or not, I still live by the adage that the early bird gets the worm. Or, in this case, their preferred WMU antlerless deer tag. It has worked for me up to this point so why fix something that isn’t broken?

 

Once I’ve submitted my antlerless deer application, the anticipation of whether or not I got my preferred WMU begins to build. Again, patience is hard to come by as I anxiously await to receive my self-addressed return envelop with my antlerless deer tag.

 

In years past, I’ve waited and watched for my check to clear only to wonder what WMU I was awarded out of the 3 WMUs I listed on my application.

 

However, in more recent years, I’ve learned how you can check the status of your Pennsylvania antlerless deer application. This works whether you’re a PA resident hunter or non-resident hunter.

 

Checking the status of your antlerless deer tag allows you to not only see if you’ve been awarded an antlerless tag, but also which WMU if you’ve been awarded a Pennsylvania antlerless deer tag.

 

In checking the status of your antlerless deer application online, you can help ease your mind in between submitting your PA Antlerless Deer Application and finally receiving your antlerless deer tag in the mail.

 

Below we’ve outlined how you can check the status of your Pennsylvania Game Commission antlerless deer application status online. We’ve also listed how to check the antlerless deer tag availability which includes total allocation, tags sold, and antlerless tags remaining by WMU.

 

 

Step 1: Go to the Pennsylvania Game Commission Website

 

Step 2: Click on Buy a License

 

Step 3: Click on Purchased Online link which will take you to The Outdoor Shop. For future reference, you can always bookmark this page and start directly from The Outdoor Shop.

 

Step 4: Click the top radio button labeled Purchase Fishing and/or Hunting License Permit and or Application / Replace License and or Permit. Click OK on the pop-up screen, scroll down the page, and click the Start Here Button to continue.

 

Step 5: Choose and enter your preferred method of identification, CID # (Hunting License ID Number), Drivers License Number, Social Security Number, or Alternate ID, and click continue.

 

Step 6: Verify if you’re a bona fide resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or a non-resident hunter.

 

Step 7: Scroll down below your information and choose the option for Check on the status of an Antlerless Deer or Elk Application and click continue.

 

Step 8: On the Lottery Application Status Page you’ll see both your Elk Lottery Information (Preference Points and Pending Elk Lottery Information) as well as that season’s Antlerless Deer Application status.

 

Here you’ll see the status of your antlerless deer application. If you’ve been awarded an antlerless deer tag, you’ll also be able to see which WMU you’ve been awarded one.

 

BONUS: If you click return to home on the Lottery Application Status Page, or navigate back to The Outdoor Store main page – you can also check the antlerless deer license availability.

 

This is both useful if you got a late start in submitting your 1st round antlerless deer tag, or if you’re curious how many antlerless deer tags remain for a particular WMU for the 2nd round of resident and non-resident antlerless deer tag applications.

 

For more information on antlerless deer licenses and applications – visit the Pennsylvania Game Commissions website here.

 

To shop our full line of hunting, archery, and outdoor gear and accessories – visit us online at shop.kinseysoutdoors.com/, or in person at 1658 Steel Way Drive, Mount Joy, PA 17552.

Kinsey’s Outdoor Review | Stealth Cam QS12

Stealth Cam QS12 Review

By: Brandon Rapp, Kinsey’s Outdoor Field Staff Member

As a hunter who likes getting value for their money the Stealth Cam QS12 is a great trail camera that fits the bill. Its compact size fits right into my hand making it portable for spots that are hard to get to and are easy to set up in a variety of locations. Sometimes I don’t always have a tree that I like or is the right size so I may look to use other vegetation to secure it to.  

The quick and easy set up of the camera with pre-programmed settings is another nice feature to it. If you forgot your camera or don’t have one you can grab this and not waste time when you get to your spot trying to find a set-up you want.  

The information you get with not only time and date of the photo but also the moon phase is what I need to know when I’m planning where and when to hunt. With infrared technology the game, or your neighbor should never know it’s there. The option of 5, 10, or 30 second videos is key when you’re looking to see if a buck is following a doe and when, all with 10.0-megapixel quality.  

If you’re in the market for a new, or another camera for your favorite hunting spot check out the Stealth Cam QS12 next time you’re at the store.