Buying vs. Building a Tower Blind
Buying vs. Building a Tower Blind

Many of us hunters are do-it-yourselfers. We take pride in handcrafting our own solutions to problems with whatever we have available. Many of us have probably even tried building our own hunting blind in the past — or even took a stab at a tower blind.

You’ve more than likely seen a ton of these shanty old boxes sprinkled along your drive through the midwest. They are everywhere. A testament to the hunters of yesteryear. Well, there’s a reason why there are so many of these laying around, dormant and unusable.

It’s because homemade tower blinds have a shelf life — especially those that aren’t made out of very durable materials. They also must be maintained year round.

But let’s go over the pros and cons of each and we’ll let you decide which option you think best suits your needs.

Building your own

The obvious reason why this is an option is because it’s far cheaper. You can get the materials you need from a hardware store and get to work creating your masterpiece. The issue you’ll often see with these is that on the outside it seems cost effective but to make your blind effective it’s still going to be costly.

Sound proofing, scent proofing and insulation for warmth all take a strategic approach and will end up being a headache without proper planning.

One of the bigger issues is that these homemade blinds aren’t mobile. Having a stagnant blind is OK, but it limits your hunt.

DIY blinds are also unsafe to use after a few seasons unless they are diligently maintained. This can be especially tough in the midwest when it gets cold and the last thing you want to do is work on blind maintenance.

Buying your blind

Buying your blind will definitely cost you more up front than building it yourself — but it’s an investment. With little to no maintenance required, quality blinds will likely be just as costly over time as one you would build on your own.

Buying a blind also lends itself to the many built-in features that come with top of the line blinds. Our blinds at Ambush come with a list of beneficial features that will make your hunting experience better and more successful.

Durabond Panel System™ provides a strong, quiet, warm, scent contained blind
Different shapes allow for 360 degree view
Varying window sizes allow for bow, crossbow, shotgun or rifle

The construction of high-quality blinds such as our Stalker Series are made to last and are easy to maintain. The investment you’re making in a high quality blind will be instantly felt by the warmth, comfort and scent controlled blind you will be sitting in for hours on end.

The truth is, you can certainly build your own blind. But hunting blinds such as the ones here at Ambush are built by hunters, for hunters. It’s the best of both worlds — and the best option for any hunter looking for the most out of their hunting trips.

6 Things to Avoid in Your Deer Hunting Blind
6 Things to Avoid in Your Deer Hunting Blind

We’ve all seen people do some pretty stupid things while hunting. These mental slip-ups can cost you the buck of your dreams — or even make you the laughing stock of your hunting pals.

These are the top things you need to steer clear of when you’re in your deer hunting blind.

Don’t be these guys.

1. Resting your eyes

Otherwise known as sleeping. We get it. You got up super early, prepared for the hunt by getting yourself scent free, packing all of your necessities, and heading down your freshly cut trail. But you’re feeling just a little sleepy. So you “rest your eyes.”

If you’re in a tree stand, this is pretty dangerous. But even if you’re not, you are missing out on any and all potential shots if you are asleep.

Even if you’re one of those guys that say they can “hunt anything in their sleep.”

Sorry, not going to happen.

2. TWH

Texting while hunting, otherwise known as TWH, is a relatively new way to miss out on a great kill. You shouldn’t do it for the same reason states are cracking down on texting while driving — it’s a distraction.

Regardless if your in the blind or out in the field, it’s a bad mix. Save the phone for the office or the couch and enjoy the outdoors.

3. Forget to silence your phone or alarm

While we’re on the topic of phones, let’s talk about one of the more embarrassing and dumb things that can happen while hunting.

You’ve been waiting all morning and you finally get your sights on a deer. You’ve done all the prep needed to take the shot and it’s all lined up.

BEEP BEEP BEEP

You’re phone goes off and scares away the deer. Wow.

Most of us remember to silence our phones but our alarms work even when our phones are silenced (a convenient failsafe unless your hunting). You might have alarms set for work or school — be sure to shut them off before hitting the blind or you could be kicking yourself later.

4. Eating loud or smelly foods

We all love some good old potato chips — but they aren’t for the deer blind. There are some foods that are just too smelly and too loud for hunting.

Even if you’re making a sandwich or a soup — it’s important to know which foods give off pungent odors. Foods with lots of vinegar are big no-no.

5. Smoking

This may seem like a no-brainer but it has to be said. Don’t smoke in your deer blind. Just don’t do it.

It doesn’t matter how many times your uncle has bragged about how much he did it back in the day, it’s only going to worsen the chance of having a successful hunting trip.

6. Being uncomfortable

The final no-no is being uncomfortable. Obviously, we don’t want you sleeping so there’s no need for a La-Z-Boy. But there’s no quicker way to having a bad time than not having a comfortable seat in the blind

You want to be able to enjoy your day and all of the calmness of nature, regardless of how long you’re out there. It will be tough not to count the hours until you can leave if you’re uncomfortable.

Ice Fishing 101
Ice Fishing 101

Ice Fishing 101: A Guide for Beginners

If you’re eager to catch the fish that live beneath the ice in the extreme north or south of the world, you’ll need to pick up ice fishing and make its methods into your own.

Ice fishing might appear to be a highly technical endeavor or something that is reserved for indigenous peoples, but in fact, it’s a very accessible hobby — so long as you’re willing to go where the fish are and bring the right gear.

In this article, we’ll be walking you through the basics of ice fishing so that you can start putting together your fishing gear and making the trek to the frozen lakes where there are plenty of fish for the taking.

What You’ll Need

The gear for ice fishing is a little bit different than normal fishing equipment.

To go ice fishing, you’ll need:

  • Reliable off-road transportation
  • An ice drill, saw, or pick
  • A fishing rod, spear, or club
  • Warm weather gear
  • Standard fishing equipment like bait, lures, and buckets

Though they aren’t explicitly necessary, you can also consider bringing along:

  • Decoys
  • A portable shelter
  • A fish finder
  • Snacks
  • Fresh water
  • Camp cooking equipment
  • Prep knives for fish

Setting Up

Once you’ve assembled the essentials, it’s time to find the right lake. Assuming that you want to catch herring or lake trout, you’ll need to head to the far north of the US, Canada, Scandinavia, or Russia.

The lake of your choice will probably have a reputation for ice fishing during certain months. If it doesn’t, you should be careful to only go fishing during the months when the lake is frozen to a significant degree.

In other words, you’ll need at least three inches of ice to safely walk on a lake and set up your fishing position. You should strive to measure the thickness of the ice yourself wherever you plan on setting up your position so that you won’t accidentally end up in the freezing water.

If you plan on bringing much gear, you’ll need to find a spot with thicker ice. Anything heavier than a person and a big bag of gear will require six inches of ice thickness or more to safely set up a position.

Once again, most ice fishing lakes are known for having the ice of this thickness at certain times of the year, and not at other times of the year. Late or early winter are especially dangerous, so be sure to check with locals before venturing onto the ice.

Aside from thickness considerations, you’ll also want to find a spot on the lake where there is water that is deep enough for fish to flow freely. This is where a fish finder comes in handy. You’ll have better luck far from the shore, of course.

Fishing In The Cold

Once you’ve found your spot, it’s time to drill. Using your ice saw, ice pick, or ice drill, make a hole in the ice that is one foot in diameter. Then, clear away the excess ice so that you can see down into the water.

Set up your lure, stool, bait, and pole. Drop your line in there, and take a seat. Now, you’re ice fishing. Not very hard, right?

As we all know, the hard part about fishing is that the fish have a mind of their own. You may need to wait for a long time before you get a bite.

The trick is to keep your lure about one or two feet beneath the top of the ice. It can be difficult to judge this from the surface, which is yet another reason why you may want a fish finder.

Aside from that, you’ll be able to feel your line tug normally when a fish takes the bait. Pull the fish right on up, and throw it into the bucket for later.

Remember to stay warm while you’re out on the ice — but don’t forget that making a campfire isn’t a viable option!

A Beginner’s Guide to Ice Fishing for Walleye
A Beginner’s Guide to Ice Fishing for Walleye

Are you ready to experience the joy of catching your first walleye? If so, you’ve set your sights on a worthy adversary! Any seasoned ice angler will tell you that catching this tricky fish in the winter requires skill, technique, and most all of patience. The thrill of the chase is what makes sinking walleye so rewarding.

If you’re prepared to give it all you’ve got, your friends here at Ambush Hunting Products have compiled some tricks and tips that will help you make the most of your beginnings in ice fishing.

The King of the North

Walleye are a cold-water species native to the northern United States and Canada. They are a prized fish in this region, much like salmon in the west. Walleye range anywhere from twelve to thirty inches in length. Females can weigh up to ten pounds, with the males topping out at around six.

During the day, this fish is quite comfortable swimming deep in lakes and rivers. They are typically found anywhere from 15 to 30 feet below the surface, though they do come up to feed.

Walleye take their name from their so-called glassy “wall-eyes,” which give them eyesight favorable to hunting in low-light conditions. Their excellent hunting ability makes walleye top hunters; other than humans, they have no natural predators.

They are known among fishers to be aggressive and finicky, which can make them difficult to catch even in the warmer months when they are more active. Their energetic personality means that ice fishers must be ready to adapt to the whims of this fish.

Those who succeed in luring them are highly rewarded. Walleye is a delicious white-fleshed fish, a favorite dish in the places it is prevalent.

Devising Your Game Plan

Success in walleye ice fishing is dependent upon creating a solid game plan before you even leave your house.

Lakes Versus Rivers

First things first: where do you want to fish walleye? Do you prefer lakes or rivers? Proximity to these bodies of water is a deciding factor for many anglers, but if you are traveling long distances, you’ll need to decide. Ice fishing in lakes and rivers varies enough that you will have to plan according to the location you choose.

Setting Up

Once you determine where you’re going, you’ll need to figure out where to fish.

Good old word of mouth is a great place to start. Ask local bait shop owners for recommendations and talk with other anglers to find out where fish are biting. The Internet can also house a vast wealth of information.

If you decide on a lake, walleye can be fished both on the shore and on the ice. They come up to shallow flats to feed, so you’ll want to set up camp in certain places: gravel bars, rocky drop-offs, and in weed lines along the shore. They also like structures like islands and the areas where sand turns to soft bottom.

Rivers are a different story. Walleye stay close to the bottom of rivers, where there is little to no current. They congregate at dams and near shore close to woody debris during the winter months.

When ice fishing, it’s best not to become too attached to any one place. If you’re not getting results, even in the areas where fish are supposed to be, moving somewhere else is the best course of action.

Catching Walleye: Not All Hours Are Created Equal

Knowing when prime walleye activity occurs is essential. If you sink a line in the middle of the day, you’re likely to be disappointed.

The best time of day to catch these underwater predators is around dawn or dusk. These low-light times of day are when they come up to shallower depths in hopes of finding their next meal. However, the exact time frame will depend on whether you’re fishing on a stained or clear-water lake.

Clear-water lakes often require you to fish after dark—you may even find fishing through the night can be productive. Stained waters present a different scenario, with the lead-up to dusk (about an hour and a half) usually the most productive time to fish.

Whatever type of lake you’re on, patience is critical when it comes to the walleye. Their metabolism slows in winter, making them lazy and sluggish, another reason they are widely regarded as the most challenging fish to catch.

Clothing & Equipment Basics

You’ll need to make sure you have the proper gear before heading out. So what are the essentials you need to catch walleye?

Attire

Donning the proper clothing in bitterly cold walleye regions will make all the difference when it comes to enjoying ice fishing.

Start with your feet. Since you will be in constant contact with wet ice, invest in a genuinely waterproof pair of boots that can stand up to these conditions. A pair of thick, wool socks is another must. Some anglers opt to wear two pairs—a moisture-wicking pair next to their skin to pull sweat away, and a wool pair on top. Keeping your feet warm and dry is critical.

A waterproof coat and overalls are every angler’s staple, but what you wear underneath will determine how warm you are. Layers are your best defense against cold. Pair a thermal shirt or two with fleece, which will trap heat. You may also want to consider long johns under your overalls, and gloves are a must.

Equipment

While ice fishing equipment can vary, the following items are essential:

  • Fishing rod
  • Reel
  • Carrying box
  • Ice auger
  • Tip-ups
  • Lures
  • Bait

These are the basics your ice fishing expedition can’t live without.

What Kind of Live Bait Should You Use?

Walleye are finicky fish that require you to always be on your toes. Their strong personality is why, when it comes to bait, it’s good to carry at least a couple of different options. Live bait won’t let you down.

Minnows are the most commonly used bait when fishing walleye. Minnows are appropriate for colder water temperatures, and they are widely available at bait shops. Smaller minnows will help you catch mid-size stuff, while larger minnows will allow you to pull in some truly impressive walleye.

Nightcrawlers and leeches are also great options, though they are better suited for slightly warmer water temperatures. They are a great choice from late spring to early fall. That said, having either one of these in your bait box as a backup is always a great idea.

What Kind of Lures Attract Walleye?

Lures are a highly effective alternative to live bait, popular among anglers. They come in several forms. Your success will depend on your ability to use a combination of these lures, so get to know and use them all.

Jigs

Jigs’ main appeal is that they offer versatility in many situations. A jig is a hook with a soft body that comes in many shapes and sizes. You can use any color jig to attract walleye, but they do seem to prefer darker colors.

Crankbaits

Crankbaits are lures with plastic lips made out of plastic or wood. This plastic lip causes the bait to dive down into the water. It’s important to choose a crankbait appropriate for the depth you will be fishing in. For the walleye, deep diving crankbaits work best. If you’re fishing in clear water, go for silver, gold, or blue colors; in dark water, bright crankbaits are best.

Spoons

Jigging spoons and flutter spoons are the two types of spoons anglers use to catch walleye. They flutter to the bottom much the way a dying minnow would, attracting the fish’s attention in a very natural way. The main difference between jigging and flutter spoons is the rate at which they sink, with jigging spoons dropping faster.

Ice House Options

Many anglers opt to bring an ice house to make their time fishing more enjoyable. These portable mini shelters allow for protection from the elements and come in a wide range of designs and price points.

The main advantage of bringing an ice house with you is the comfort factor. You can put chairs, equipment, food, and a portable heater inside and create a cozy microclimate. Some even come with a heating system.

You’ll want to keep certain things in mind when purchasing an ice house. Your budget is the most important, as the price of ice houses can vary significantly. Also, since they do come in a variety of sizes, you’ll need to know how many people will generally be using the ice house and plan accordingly. Finally, the ease of set up is another important consideration.

If the thought of having to set up an ice house doesn’t appeal to you, there are also permanent options. Many establishments rent ice houses to anglers, which run the gamut from small two-person huts to larger cabin-type accommodations. Some are even intended for overnight use and include bathrooms.

You’re There—Now What?

Once you’ve got your gear prepared, your fishing license and your game plan mapped out, what about the actual fishing? Do you drop a line and wait?

The great thing about ice fishing is that it requires you to be mentally active and adapt to the conditions. It’s rarely as simple as just dropping a line.

First of all, you’ll want to make sure you’re fishing at the right depth, which will vary according to lake type. On stained lakes, the six- to twelve-foot ranges will probably yield the best results. It’s a different story for clear lakes, however, where you’ll want to fish more in the ten- to the twenty-foot range. That said, depths outside of these ranges can be fruitful as well.

Most anglers use two lines, one for jigging and one as a dead stick. The idea is that the movement of the jigging line will attract the fish. If it’s not biting, often the fish will opt for the live bait that’s not moving. In either case, the two-line method is an excellent walleye strategy.

If you are planning to fish with two lines, check that the state you are fishing in allows this practice. Some states’ fishing regulations, like Minnesota, only allow one line per fishing license.

If you have access to a sonar unit, this equipment is hugely beneficial. Sonar allows you to see where fish are, which is undoubtedly helpful in icy conditions. If you see fish on the sonar, but they are not biting, this is a signal that it’s time to change up your approach.

Ice Fishing Tips & Tricks

For many anglers, the real joy of ice fishing lies in finessing their technique. They use a wide range of tips and tricks when the going gets tough. We suggest that you:

  • Add some live bait to your lures. Many anglers note that putting a minnow on a jig can be very useful.
  • Tease a fish that’s teasing you by jiggling your lure at the same time you raise it higher in the water and repeat. This practice can yield excellent results.
  • Shake your rod as fast as you can to produce vibrations.
  • Don’t get complacent with your lures. Experiment with a variety of lure types and colors and bait until you figure out what the fish want.
  • Be mobile! If the fish aren’t biting and you can move, go somewhere else.
  • Most importantly, don’t forget to check at regular intervals for dead or missing bait. You won’t catch any fish with no bait.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the many tips and tricks anglers use. Over time, you will discover some of your own. Talk to other anglers, read informational articles, and see what works for you.

Now Onto to the Fun Stuff

With a little bit of luck and proper technique, you’ll be well on your way to catching your first walleye. Your team at Ambush Hunting wishes you happy fishing and lots of luck!

Gearing Up for a Deer Hunt the Right Way
Gearing Up for a Deer Hunt the Right Way

When you’re getting ready to start the deer hunting season, you may need a few tips regarding which equipment to pick up and which equipment to leave at home. We’ll clue you in about everything you need for a good hunt so that you’ll be ready to go on the first legal hunting day.

What are the Essentials for a Deer Hunting Excursion?

Many people like to make deer hunting complicated, but in truth, there aren’t very many things that are absolutely necessary to get hunting deer.

The bare minimum set of equipment to go deer hunting is:

  • Deer rifle, crossbow, or compound bow
  • Ammunition, bolts, or arrows
  • Safety equipment in hunter orange
  • An empty cooler
  • Utility knife
  • First aid kit

This kit is very basic, and it’s only going to get you through an afternoon or a morning of hunting before you’ll start to feel uncomfortable. Notably, if you roll out into the woods with only this set of equipment and nothing else, you’ll only be suited for a relatively mobile hunt.

And as we all know, mobile hunts tend to be unsuccessful hunts. Deer can hear you clomping around from a mile away, and the trail that your scent leaves behind will make it easy for them to dodge you when you’re on your way back to the truck.

What Weapon Is Right for Me?

Aside from your safety clothing in bright hunter orange, the most important piece of gear in this basic kit is your weapon.

You have a few choices for hunting deer. The choice that most hunters opt for is a deer rifle. Crossbows and compound bows are acceptable alternatives, but only if you know how to use them effectively.

You’ll want a deer rifle chambered in a round similar to a .308 or a .30/06 which can shoot at upwards of 2000 fps, preferably out to 200 meters. Most of these deer rifles run in the $400 to $1200 range, and most are bolt-action.

You will probably want to stick to a bolt-action deer rifle that can mount an optic. Weight probably shouldn’t be a consideration when picking a deer rifle — most deer rifles will weigh around ten pounds, which is fine because it minimizes the sway when you are set up in a blind.

Don’t put too much thought into your rifle selection once you have satisfied these basic criteria. So long as it can put a bullet where you are aiming and kill the deer in one shot, you are good to go. You may also want to ensure that your rifle has a sling to make it easier to transport.

Make sure that your weapon is legal in the state that you plan to be hunting in. Always use the proper ammunition for your rifle — and it might be a good idea to read ammo reviews online if you’re about to try out a new brand. You won’t be shooting many bullets out of your rifle, so you want the best ones that you can purchase.

Furthermore, after shooting, be sure to give your rifle a cleaning, especially if you were out in a dusty or wet area. If you keep your rifle clean, it’ll stay in good shape for many years.

Picking A Good Camp Knife

The second most important piece of gear in the kit is the knife. Your knife is what you’re going to use when you need to skin the deer and do some basic butchery. It’s also your go-to tool while on a hunt, so it behooves you to pick a good one.

A great camp knife will last you for many years, so put some effort into making the choice. For deer hunters, you’ll want a knife with:

  • A full tang
  • A handguard
  • A serrated portion of the blade
  • A non-serrated portion of the blade
  • A sharp tip
  • Rustproofing
  • A good sheath

Keep your knife handy on your belt or in your pocket — it’s also very useful for cutting away shrubbery or small branches if you want to add a bit of camouflage to your blind or your jacket.

Additional Items to Consider Taking Along

Most hunters prefer to make their deer hunt a bit more comfortable and also a bit more complicated than the bare basics. You’ll typically want to carry and wear:

  • Binoculars
  • Local area wildlife guidebook
  • Snacks
  • Extra water
  • Warm underwear
  • Beers
  • Flashlight
  • Shooting goggles
  • Tree blind
  • Camouflage jacket and fatigues
  • Forest boots
  • Hunting weapon scope or optic

Once you have these items in your pack, you’ll be ready for a real deer hunting session. The point of these add-ons is that they make you a lot more comfortable and also a lot more effective at hunting deer.

Of these items, the most important ones are the guidebook and the binoculars. Your guidebook will give you clues about where to find local wildlife that will be of interest to deer such as edible shrubs. It will also instruct you regarding their most likely habitats.

The binoculars will also help you to find the deer directly once you’re in the right area. When picking out binoculars, remember that magnification is not everything. The more magnification you have, the narrower and darker your vision will be.

Boots

Your boots are also one of the more important pieces of gear that you’ll be bringing with you while deer hunting. Your boots protect your feet from the forest floor, rocks, spent shell casings, and practically everything else.

They’re also going to be the main thing keeping your feet warm on a cold day. On the other hand, your boots that you bring deer hunting are probably going to take a little bit of abuse. Bringing designer boots on a deer hunt is a misuse of your resources.

Depending on whether you plan on doing a lot of hiking with your hunting or whether you plan on setting up a blind and staying put, you may want a different kind of boot. The more you plan on hiking, the more built your boots should be. Hiking boots are not necessarily a bad idea.

If you plan on staying put, however, you can opt for a more comfortable and more lightweight boot. In this situation, the warmth of the boot is more important than the tread or the build.

Lined boots are often a bad idea for hiking because they can make it harder to wear layers of socks, and they can become soaked, but if you’re staying put, lined boots are highly effective.

You shouldn’t worry very much about the camouflage or the look of your boots — focus on finding the boots that will keep you comfortable in your intended hunting situation.

A Note On Camo

Camouflage is also something that most deer hunters prefer to have. Remember, camouflage is only useful if it matches the terrain that you are hunting in! There’s no point in bringing camouflage that is the wrong pattern for the season or the environment.

If you can’t find a matching camouflage for your environment, going drab is a good bet. Olive or brown mottled colors are more difficult for deer to spot. If you are planning on using a blind of some sort, you can often get around weak or incorrect camouflage with some on-site ingenuity.

While it isn’t on the list, some hunters like to bring webbing which they can use to decorate their blind or themselves with local pieces of foliage. This is likely the superior camouflage, but it’s a bit overkill for most hunts.

Fun Extras  

Bringing beers or whiskey is a staple of the deer hunting experience, but remember to keep your drinking moderate. There’s nothing more frightening than a drunk hunter.

Likewise, if you plan on bringing a complicated blind, remember that you’ll need to break it down after the hunt is over unless you plan on returning soon after.

What if I Have Extra Room?

Aside from the things you need to bring and the stuff you probably want to bring, many hunters like to introduce a bit of luxury into their deer hunt.

Luxury items include:

  • A tower box blind
  • Rifle bipod
  • Hand warmers
  • A golf chair
  • Bait
  • A ground blind
  • Rangefinder
  • Trail camera
  • Deer decoy
  • Camping grills

Of these items, the tower box blind is the biggest single luxury item. A tower box blind can take a few hours to set up, but the result at the end is amazing: you have your own elevated shooting position which is often camouflaged.

Tower Box Blinds

With a tower box blind, you can get the height-based visibility that you need along with the protection from the elements that you want and the ability to stay invisible to deer. This makes for a comfortable and also effective hunting experience.

Using a tower box blind more or less commits you to staying in a single position during your hunt, which is desirable because it reduces the chances of someone accidentally shooting at you and it also reduces the chances of a deer hearing or smelling you.

The trick with tower box blinds is that overkill is part of the game. There’s comparatively more modest tower box blinds and comparatively luxurious tower box blinds — but they both take a substantial amount of time to set up, and neither are cheap.

This means that you should go big or go home when you’re picking a tower box blind. Don’t feel constrained — the more comfortable and effective your tower box blind is, the more relaxing it will be to settle into after you build it in the field.

Aside from the tower box blind, the other items on the list are more minor quality of life improvements. If you’re working on your marksmanship, a bipod or rangefinder might be nice — but neither are necessary, and both can be an extra thing that you need to carry.

What Don’t I Need for Deer Hunting?

Many people are tempted to bring all manner of things with them while they are deer hunting that they do not need. These items weigh you down and make you look ridiculous. Try to avoid bringing:

  • Pistols
  • Shotguns
  • Other weapons of non-hunting caliber
  • Too much ammunition
  • High-capacity magazines
  • Flares
  • Excessive “tactical” attachments for your rifle
  • Helmets
  • Bulletproof vests
  • Hot food
  • Coffee
  • Multiple types of blinds
  • Scented deodorant or cologne
  • Fishing gear
  • Hatchets
  • Lighter fluid

There’s a reason why you should avoid these items. As you may have noticed, many of these items-to-avoid are regarding your hunting weapon or gear. The point of going deer hunting is not to show off all of your “tacticool” equipment. Leave that stuff at home — it’s heavy and makes you look silly.

There’s no need to bring a sidearm or a weapon that is not optimized for deer hunting. Leave your AR-15 at home — it isn’t the right tool for the job. Your deer rifle needs to be both accurate and have a high enough caliber to ensure a one-shot kill, and most civilian firearms simply do not cut the mustard.

Likewise, you do not need to bring too many bullets. You shouldn’t be shooting that much — after all, you’re not plinking on the range. Bullets are also very heavy, so it’s better to pack light. If you need to carry more than 15 bullets on your person, you need to hit the range and work on your shooting.

The other trick is that you shouldn’t be bringing anything smelly. This means that hot food, deodorant, and hot drinks need to stay home or sealed up tightly. The deer can smell this stuff from a mile away, and you’ll never catch sight of them if they do.

You also don’t need to bring a hatchet or advanced fire-starting equipment with you on your hunts. You can keep a few easy-light coals if you want — but lighter fluid is smelly, heavy, dangerous, and simply not necessary.

You probably also don’t need a hatchet or anything to chop wood — if you start a fire, you’re not going to be sitting on it all day.

Staying Warm While Ice Fishing
Staying Warm While Ice Fishing

When you’re out on the ice in the dead of winter, staving off frostbite can be a big challenge. No matter how heavy your coat and your gloves, the freezing winds and lack of any reprieve can lead to problems fast — not to mention the prospect of bringing home a frozen fish.

We’ve assembled a handy guide to tools that will help you stay warm when you’re ice fishing — without melting the ice and leaving you in the soup.

Coats And Heating Pads

The most basic ice fishing warmth rig is heavy clothing, a heavy coat, and heating pads. This method is convenient because nearly all fishermen have access to the necessary pieces.

Unfortunately, wearing a coat and putting on some heating pads will leave you cold and uncomfortable a lot of the time. You’ll be sweating more than you’d expect as a result of the heating pads, and if you aren’t careful, you can end up colder than when you started as a result.

Likewise, your best coats might not be enough to keep you warm on a freezing cold night. Especially if you’re interested in hunting the fish that only come out during the wee hours, the long time spent sitting still will require more than merely a coat.

Tents

Tents are a common option used by ice fishermen because they’re light weight and don’t interrupt your ability to tug on the line once in a while to keep the fish interested.

With a tent, you can also get some protection from the wind and the sun. This makes them relatively inexpensive yet also indispensable for ice fishers. Especially when you are going fishing with a group of people, having a tent can be a life saver.

The main drawback to tents is that nicer tents can be very expensive.

Vehicle Camping

When the ice is super thick, you may be able to bring your truck or ATV onto the ice and camp out of it. While this is extremely dangerous on most lakes, on the lakes where it can work, you will find that it provides a high level of comfort.

You will also find that you can’t keep the vehicle’s engine running for very long without fear of melting the ice, however.

So, if you decide to use your vehicle to camp, you will need to keep it turned off. You may also want to limit your time inside the vehicle because it will be hard to manage your lures while you are inside.

Ice Shanties

Ice shanties are the ideal shelter for ice fishers because they’re made specifically for the purpose of keeping you warm without getting in the way of fishing.

An ice shanty is a small shelter which you can deploy directly on top of the hole that you’ve created in the ice. This means that you do all of your fishing from the comfort of the shanty.

Shanties can be either deluxe — with built-in heaters and shelves — or minimal. Most ice shanties are inexpensive, but they’re not very easy to deploy. This means that if you opt for an ice shanty, you might want to leave it over your ice hole and come back to fish there again.

If you plan on doing a lot of ice fishing from the same lake, an ice shanty is the best possible choice for staying warm. Ice shanties are generally more comfortable than tents, more lightweight than a vehicle, and far warmer than a coat.

The only real downside of the ice shanty is that it can be hard to move. If you get a deluxe ice shanty, you can expect to do all your ice fishing in total comfort. Many ice fishermen have customized their shanty to have heat, power, and even electronic entertainment.

You don’t have to go that far with your ice shanty, of course. A simple shack with a heater and a chair will be more than enough to let you benefit from the shanty while maintaining your ability to fish.

A Guide to How the Most Durable Hunting Blinds are Constructed
A Guide to How the Most Durable Hunting Blinds are Constructed

Building a hunting blind is relatively simple, but making one that can last for seasons to come is far more difficult. After all, it’s going to be sitting out in the wilderness where it will face everything that nature can throw at it and therefore it needs to be built to an incredibly high standard if it’s not going to rot, face infestation or be blown over by a storm.

If you’re going to build your own, it’s generally advised to start with a solid set of plans which can at least give you the correct structure and dimensions. After this, you can adjust and modify sections to your specifications and the environment that the blind will be situated in. Remember, it needs to be both concealed and also protected so that it can last and also be effective.

Choose Quality Materials

Durability starts with the materials that you choose. If you’re opting for very cheap MDF wood, you’re going to get lackluster results. Instead, you want a quality wood that’s used in construction, ideally something thick to provide stability against the elements. While this will increase the overall cost of your blind, it will give it greater durability and therefore longevity.

The same is true for the nails and other small components. Cheap iron will rust and lose strength very quickly when used outdoors, whereas waterproofed and treated steel nails are far more durable and will retain their rigidity even after years of rain and snow.

Pick a Sheltered Location

Part of creating a durable hunting blind is reducing the amount of punishment that it has to endure and one way to manage this is to locate your blind in a relatively sheltered location. This position might not always be possible, say if your hunting grounds are limited, bit often you can put it near an outcrop with trees so that the wind is buffered.

While placing your blind in the middle of a field is going to maximize the speed of the wind hitting into the building. As a result, any large storm is going to have a higher likelihood of damaging your blind, and once there is some small damage, any subsequent storms are going to have an even larger impact.

Protect it From the Elements

Nature can be incredibly harsh, and therefore you want to protect your blind from it as much as possible. Putting it in a sheltered location is one step, but you’ll also want to consider waterproofing it, installing strong locks and ensuring that the roof is slanted.

Waterproofing your entire blind would be tough, which is why it’s helpful to buy pre-treated wood and materials and then you can use different protective paints to add an extra layer of protection. Secondly, by installing strong locks, you can prevent the wind from ripping open the door to your blind, which would allow animal infestations and serious damage. Finally, by slanting the roof, you can prevent water pooling which can cause rot to the wood.

Keep the Floor Elevated

Water is the enemy of wood, especially when it’s allowed to pool and fester for long periods. This issue is particularly troubling in marshlands or other soft ground which can’t absorb much more water. In these places, even a small amount of rain can cause pooling on the surface which will rot the floor of your blind and cause other structural issues.

To prevent this, you need to raise the floor. The best way to do this is to locate the floor a foot above ground and use runners and stilts to anchor the blind into the turf without having the dirt in direct contact with the floor of your blind.

Fill in Every Joint and Gap

Finally, you need to ensure that every joint and gap in the construction of your blind is tight. It doesn’t necessarily need to be watertight, but this can prevent extra issues and is relatively simple to achieve. With expanding foams, you can fill the joints and gaps in your blind to prevent water from leaking in, as well as insects and bugs which can infest the building when you’re not there and wreck havoc.

How Long Do Hunting Blinds Last
How Long Do Hunting Blinds Last

As hunting season approaches, you can’t help but be excited. You are preparing and packing your new equipment, but those old hunting blinds are looking a little worse for wear. With all the new products out there, where do you begin? Whether you prefer pop-ups, elevated, or ground blinds, we are here to give you a few ideas on what to choose this season. What will best suit your needs and more importantly, what will last you for the hunting seasons to follow?

Portable and Pop-up Blinds

Portable and pop-up blinds are a favorite for hunters who use public land. Due to this they need to be able to bring their blinds, set them up and then be able to take them down once their time on the land is over. The use of these blinds causes lowered visibility and less protection from the elements and concealment from wildlife.

These blinds are great for typical hunting weather, but for those who own their land, they do need to be taken down after a few months. The cloth and the netting can tear with the wind and rain, while the snow can deteriorate the material altogether.

When making purchases for your blinds, it is important to note the thickness of the material, zippers/clasps, and balance or weight.

A sturdy portable blind can last up to five years before needing to invest in another one, but the time frame can vary a bit. The lifespan of these blinds is many dependent factors: severity of the weather, the condition of the land, and the chance that branches or wildlife can rip into the fabric. Portable and pop-up blinds are a great tool but have more factors that affect them in the long run.

Elevated Box Blinds

Elevated box blinds are for hunters who own their land. These types of blinds need to be put up quite a few months before the season begins as they are often difficult to disguise and wildlife needs to get used to them.

While these elevated blinds are less likely to be destroyed by the weather, they need extra care to make sure the ladders, screws, etc. are in excellent condition and not worn out for your safety. A high-quality box blind can last over 15 years.

Elevated box blinds are a favorite for their extended line of vision. They are, however, difficult to conceal and they require more maintenance for safety. During thunderstorms and freezing temperatures, these are not the ideal blinds for hunters, and you will need to have an alternate ground blind option for inclement weather.

Ground Box Blinds

Ground box blinds are ideal for hunters who own their land and want to leave their blinds up year-round. Blinds such as these require upkeep but being on the ground provides more support and less chance of being spotted by wildlife.

Ground box blinds are made to easily move your gear in and provide the comfort and room needed for two to three hunters. Some of these ground blinds can also be elevated if need be.

Ground blinds do need to be put in before hunting season, similar to their elevated counterparts, but can be shielded a bit more. The camouflage paint that they are typically covered in helps them to blend in better with the trees.

These ground blinds can have dual purposes (elevated and non), providing more bang for your buck. They will need upkeep and repair but can last over 15 years and are easier to repair as they are at ground level. Many of these ground options also allow for multiple lines of view and allow for more movement within. They also provide silent windows and flooring while you perfect your aim.

Examples of Hunting Decoys and How they Work
Examples of Hunting Decoys and How they Work

Hunting is more about strategy and outsmarting the animal that you are hunting than it is about being physical or macho. Most of your kills will come from the preparation and strategy that you employ before you even get into your blind or start stalking the animal.

One tactic that is underutilized by many hunters is the use of a decoy. In the past, they have been disregarded because they were low quality and didn’t attract animals, but modern design methods have driven down the price while driving quality up. A high-quality decoy can bring in more animals and give you the chance to take an easy shot when they stop to inspect it.

How Does a Decoy Work?

A decoy works by acting like an animal of the same species that your target will want to inspect. With the decoy already there, the animal that you are hunting is likely to feel safe heading into the same area and is, therefore, less likely to look for hunters. Decoys came in a variety of types but most work by simulating a potential mate or challenger.

Doe Decoy

If you’re interested in hunting trophy bucks, a doe decoy is an absolute must, especially in the peak of the rutting season. Putting this beautiful doe decoy up in the corner of the field or at the top of a wooded area is going to bring in bucks from miles around who spot her as they wander around looking for a mate.

Although this target isn’t ideal outside of rutting season, even pre and post-rut it can be effective if you don’t overuse doe scent sprays and are realistic about its placement. For beginner and intermediate hunters, the doe decoy is a great choice because they are often very affordable, and they are also effective.

Buck Decoy

A doe decoy can be fantastic, but putting a potential challenger into the mix is also a fantastic way to draw in larger trophy bucks, particularly if they are near food sources or bedding areas. Usually, the types of bulls that will come to fight the decoy will be larger and confident that they can win.

By putting the decoy near their bedding area, or nearby doe’s, you can be confident that other bucks will feel threatened and will come over to challenge and fight the decoy.

Turkey Decoy

While deer decoys are often less effective, for hunting turkey a fake is necessary. They are incredibly effective because turkey is usually not scared or intimidated, and are therefore very likely to waddle over to check out the fake.

These are available in a few different types, either as fake gobblers, hens or mating pairs. All three can be excellent, but most would agree that the fake hens, particularly those that look submissive, are ideal for drawing in turkey.

Being much smaller than other animals, these fakes are very affordable while being hyper-realistic with feathers, perfect painting, and high-quality skin-like materials.

Duck Decoy

Unlike other animals, ducks are almost always found in large groups, and for this reason, these decoys usually come in packs of 6 or 12. These ducks can easily be placed in-land as if they are grazing, or in the water relaxing and feeding.

Anatomically correct and designed to look natural, with a variety of different positions and in-motion looks, this pack of ducks will attract animals from a great distance. Available in a range of different duck types, you can pick the right one for the species that you are hunting.

How to Use a Decoy

When you are using a decoy, it’s not enough to pick a spot and set it up. You need to think logically about where the best location is depending on the type of fake and what you are hunting. Typically, you want the most visible location which is usually going to be the highest point in the field of wooded area and clear sight of commonly used trails.

It’s also important to add realism to the decoy in the form of movement and scent to avoid spooking any approaching animals, particularly if you’re hunting bucks. A scented spray is great, but if you’re worried about overdoing it, you can use a scent killer too. Having small moving parts like feathers or tails on the fake also adds realism that can bring in more prey.

Everything You Need to Know About Rifle Scopes
Everything You Need to Know About Rifle Scopes

You’ve got yourself a rifle, you’re ready to get outside and start hunting, but you haven’t found the right scope yet for your weapon. Scopes come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, but more importantly, they vary greatly in quality. With scopes, you do get what you pay for, and there’s no shame in spending more on the optics than you do on the rifle.

What is a Scope?

A scope is a shorthand for a telescopic sight, which is an optical device based on a refracting telescope that allows you to see objects far away in greater detail. Typically, they will have a reticle which is zeroed to ensure that the center is the point at which the bullet will hit, presuming you get off a clean shot.

Scope Magnification Numbers

When you look at the different optics that you can choose from you’ll find that they are typically listed as “4×32” or “8×40”. The first number is the magnification power of the scope. Four times would enlarge the size of the object for four times, while an eight times scope enlarges it by eight times, simple.

The second number is slightly more complicated, it’s the diameter of the objective lens, which is the lens furthest from your eye. A larger lens will allow more light to enter and therefore provides a clearer, brighter and more detailed image for you to look at.

As the power of the scope increases, i.e., from four to eight times magnification, the amount of light entering needs to increase otherwise you’ll get a dark image. For example, a 4×32 scope will be brighter than a 12×40 scope, despite the larger diameter of the objective lens, because a 32 diameter lens does more for a four times image than a 40 diameter does for the twelve times.

Types of Reticle

The reticle is the cross or another image which you see when you look into the eyepiece, allowing you to see where you are aiming. Traditionally this cross was made from a fine piece of silk at the front of the lens but is now often finely etched into the glass or made from metal or a man-made material which is durable.

You can find reticles in a variety of shapes and patterns, but the most common is the simple cross and a mil-dot reticle. Mil-dots allow you to adjust for wind and bullet drop at a distance because the distance from the center of one dot to the next is roughly equal to one yard when shooting at a target one thousand yards away.

With this knowledge, you can do some simple battlefield math and figure out where you need to aim to hit a moving target or a target after wind and bullet drop.

Choosing a Scope

Figuring out which scope to use on your rifle can be confusing because there are so many options available, but it really shouldn’t take more than an hour or so to pick the perfect one. Most importantly, you need to consider the price, quality, magnification, and weight of the piece.

Price

As with anything you’ll ever buy, the price is one of the most important factors. When it comes to scopes the more, you spend, typically the better the product. High-quality pieces start above $1000, medium tier optics can be had above $400, and recommended entry level scopes start around $200.

Quality

The quality of scope varies significantly between brands, with some standing out as clear winners such as Swarovski and Schmidt and Bender. Perhaps the most important factor in determining the quality of the scope is the precision and quality of each lens. More fine, precise and well-coated lenses produce a superior image quality with the same powered scope.

Magnification

Depending on what you will hunting and the environment in which you live, you might desire a certain level of magnification. For most hunters a 4 to 8 times magnification is plenty. It’s very rare that you’ll be hunting animals from more than a few hundred yards and at this distance, a 4x scope is fine and 8x is overkill. Most hunters would do best with a 4x scope.

Weight

The weight of the piece is also very important, especially if you are stalking the animal and will have the carry the weapon with you. Even if you’re hunting from a blind, having to hold and steady the rifle can be difficult with a few extra pounds on the top.