If I Had A Time Machine

Show Notes

Come along with the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast as John travels back in time and educates his younger self. This episode is the lone ranger version of the what did you learn series John has been doing the last few weeks, but instead of just looking at the 2022 season, John goes back even further. John highlights some of his "ah ha" moments from his 18 years of chasing whitetails, where he started from ground zero and learned most of the knowledge he has now from the school of hard knocks. 

John tells the story of when he first learned how important wind and scent control were when chasing a creature who literally lives and dies by its nose. Many of these topics have been covered at one point or another, but this episode compiles them into a single list, and deep dives into each area. Some of these topics are great for young or newer hunters, while others are more directed at the advanced listeners. No matter your skill level, the topics in this episode are great to keep in mind, and all of them are things John wishes he would have learned 18 years ago. 

Show Transcript

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Hey guys and gals, welcome to the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast, brought to you by Arrowhead Land Company. Here you'll be educated, entertained, and equipped to get more out of your outdoor experience. So hold on tight because here we go.[00:01:00]

What's up folks? Welcome to the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast. I am your host, John Hut Smith, as always, and thank you guys for tuning in. It is a wet, nasty evening as I'm recording this, and according to the forecast, it's gonna be wet, nasty when y'all listen to this. So I guess that means spring is here.

Which I'm not too sad about, but yeah, it is wet and nasty and I know we've been needing the rain, but this is getting a little crazy. So hopefully everybody's safe and sound and, not getting water in their house or anything like that. But It appears that we might have a wet spring ahead of us which that's usually good for wildlife, so that's a good thing.

But but yeah. Anyway, welcome to the show. This week we are shifting gears just a little bit, and I'll explain that in just a second. But first I wanted to give y'all a [00:02:00] quick little update of my weekend. Made it out to the ranch on Saturday and I just had me a grand old time on the old 1971 dozer.

I ran it for, gosh, six or seven hours straight. Worked on 1, 2, 3 different bedding areas that I've had mapped out. So I was up there, I don't know, two weeks ago or something. I was real quick kind of day trip type thing. Did some walking around, some measuring, some scouting type stuff, and found some areas that I'd noticed on the map already and had in mind.

So went and walked them. And and then during the freeze last week when I was trapped at home, I spent hours on my iPad, on OnX, just measuring, looking planning and stuff. . And so Saturday I got out there and I put that plan into action. Dozed out a couple nice future bedding areas. One area I'm really excited about, it's a hillside that leads down into one of my food plots.

And there's a creek off to the side. We burned that whole [00:03:00] hillside last year. But this area in particular I'm basically just really wanting deer to bed there. It just work out so well with the wind and the food plot and everything, and so I'm giving it a little extra love and I went in there.

Cleared a bunch of cedar trees and the way it works it's a slope, but it kinda rolls on it's almost like three or four different little benches, which is I think is just perfect for bedding. Cause there's different levels, there's different heights and everything. Left some kinda strips of trees between the levels and the more rocky area that, the deer wouldn't bet on anyway.

I put a fire line around this one area. It's about an acre and a half. It basically goes all the way from the top down to the bottom left, a little line of cedar trees at the bottom. There's kind of some screening type stuff, and I think I'm gonna burn that area separately. Just that little acre and a half.

Take out all the cedars I push down and stuff. Let that native grass and everything grow up. I think that's gonna be really awesome. Little micro bedding area thing. And then I also [00:04:00] cleared a couple other areas that are on the edge. And even one, even down in the middle of the canyon, I'm always talking about it's my sanctuary, my big safe place for the deer.

I kind of hunt the outsides. So cleared some specific areas there. And then my plan in about two weeks, I'm planning to go back up there, is to put a dozer line around that whole canyon. And I have been wanting to burn this area for, really since we bought the property. But honestly, I've been a little scared.

I, it's just there's lots of, dips and turns and draws and everything. Doing the big burn that we did last year, that gave me a lot more confide. We got this dozer, I'm, I can put in a whole dozer blade width fire break all the way around it. I mapped out my trail using some roads and draws and stuff like that excuse me.

So yeah, that's the plan. When I go back in about two weeks. That'll end up being about, it's either gonna be a 38 acre burn or a 60 ish [00:05:00] acre burn, depending on whether I wanna also burn the pasture next to it. Just haven't decided yet. Trying to figure out, kinda, I don't wanna do too much at once, if that makes sense.

I don't wanna, I don't wanna go in there and just completely wreck an entire. . And so I might do the canyon this year and then the field and this other draw next year. I don't know, we'll see. So yeah, so that was fun. I felt like I was really, finally doing something to really enhance the habitat.

Last year was really about getting all my stands and food plots and blinds and stuff kind of situat. This year, I really don't have to do hardly any of that. I don't I haven't I don't think I'm gonna move any of my blinds. Might move a tree standard two around or add a tree standard two.

But this year's really more about habitat. And so I'm playing the long game. This year. My goal's gonna be , burns fire breaks, stuff like that. Some bedding cover. And then I think next year I might might go full out and get some switch grass, like that type of thing.

Add in some more thicker stuff. I don't know, we're just gonna kinda see what [00:06:00] happens. So I'm gonna start with fire. Ma Nature might do, its. And be plenty good enough. And so if that works great if it doesn't, I'll spend a little money and maybe buy some switch grass.

But yeah, sometime soon I probably need to do a whole like ranch update habitat thing. But that's not today. We got something else in the store today. We are, I think I mentioned at the beginning, shifting gears a little bit basically I'm having some technical difficulties with my internet.

I called my guest. We did all the pre stuff. I was just about to hit record and my internet went out . And my, my plan this week was to do part three of the What did you learn? Series. Like I said, I had my guests and everything, but we are not able to record that right now. And because of no internet, I'm not re allowed to, record with anybody else.

And switching up a little, I was actually planning to do this podcast next week kinda as a wrap up of the what did you Learn? Series. But instead I'm gonna do it this week and then we'll do part three next week with my guests. So that is still coming, don't [00:07:00] worry. We're just switching things around.

Yeah, we'll get into this week a little bit more in just a second. I do have one other announcement. I think I talked about it last week. I decided not to get a booth this year at the Backwood Show. I think I'm gonna get it again the following year, but just things are just a little crazy in the personal life right now.

and so not gonna get a booth, but I am still planning to go, so I'll be there pretty much all day on Saturday. So be looking for me if I've never met you before, come introduce yourself if I have met you before. Come say hi. Like I said, I plan to be there most of the day. If you are wanting a hat or a shirt, reach out to me.

I can either mail it to you or I can possibly bring it to the show and meet up with you and give it to you there. Yeah, I still have some shirts and hats available. , and I think that's about it for the intro. What are we talking about today? Today? So like I said, the last few weeks we've been doing the What did you Learn?

Series talking about this last year and what we've learned and as a closing thoughts type thing, I wanted to stretch it out a little bit [00:08:00] more. And so I'm gonna be talking about basically things that I've learned through my whole hunting career. So I killed my first whitetail 18 years ago now I believe.

and I have obviously learned a lot in the last 18 years, and so I'm gonna pick apart some of these are gonna be more like beginner type stuff. I, I learned a long time ago, some of these are gonna be a little bit more advanced tactics type stuff that I've learned in the last couple years.

So yeah, it's gonna be a little bit all over the place, but I've organized them somewhat in order and so yeah, I hopefully this will be helpful and entertaining for you. I hope you're ready for it, because that's what we have planned for today. Yeah, as usual, I wanna thank you guys for listening.

It means a whole lot to me. Please go out and support all of the partners of this show that we're gonna hear from here in just a second because they make the wheels on this baby turn. So thank you guys for your support. Love all you guys. We're gonna get into the episode right afterward from our partners, which we're gonna do, when the nasty winter weather has me trapped inside, [00:09:00] one of my favorite activities is to get online and browse the local land listings. If you've been checking out some land or maybe have a piece you've been wanting to sell to, put a little cash in your pocket. Give the hardworking agents a Arrowhead Land Company a call.

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It doesn't get much simpler than that. So if [00:10:00] you're looking for a one-of-a-kind fishing experience, go to private water fishing.com and sign up for your membership. Post-season can be one of the most important times to be running your trail. , maybe you're trying to see if that shooter buck that alluded you is still alive, or maybe you have a great late season food source that is pulling in bucks from all over the county.

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You can find them@deerlab.com. And don't forget to use my promo code Oklahoma Outdoors, all one word for 20% off at checkout. There is truly no place like the great outdoors in Oklahoma. When you're out in the wild, you want your wireless devices to work [00:11:00] unlike other carriers. Bravado Wireless believes that coverage in rural areas is important so that you stay connected with competitively priced plans and coverage where you need it.

The mission of Bravado Wireless is to keep you connected no matter where you are. Visit bravado wireless.com or check them out at one of their retail locations. Bravado Wireless, the power of connection. All right folks, welcome to the main course of this week's episode, and what I have in mind here is like your stereotypical time machine analogy.

If I suddenly had access to a time machine and I could go back in time 18 ish years to when I killed my very first deer, had all the knowledge that I have now and could go back in time and have that from the beginning, what would I tell. 15 year old self, or if you're listening to this, maybe you're a new hunter, old hunter, doesn't matter.

Just think about when you first started hunting and what you wish you knew then that you know now. So that's the emphasis behind this. So yeah, I got [00:12:00] seven or eight things here. I don't know. We'll see how many we get to. , and this is just stuff that I've learned over the last 18 years that I think would be helpful for people.

Some of it's beginner type stuff. Some of 'em are a little bit more expert. Some of 'em are in between. I think no matter what your hunting skill level or expertise, whatever you wanna call it, I think there'll still be something here for you. So yeah. And again, this is meant to wrap up the, what did you learn series.

Again, switching, this week and next week. But anyway, I already explained all that, so we're just gonna get into it now. Like I said, going back in time, talking to my 15 year old self, the first thing I would tell myself is that the wind is everything. And I know I've talked about this a few times on the podcast.

I'm gonna go back in time. I think I've even told this story on the podcast, but this really hit home with me when I was. 17, 18 years old. I was hunting my grandpa's farm and I had my one, ladder stand that I hunted every time I hunted. I had a feeder that only worked about a quarter of the time.

Almost every time I [00:13:00] went up there, either it was empty or the battery was dead. It was not reliable, but I hunted it because it was my hunting. and but I remember I think I was hunting. It was like Thanksgiving break. I hadn't hunted in a while. And I'm sitting there in my stand and I see these two doughs coming.

It was really like a dough and a fawn. But anyway, two doughs coming and I see them hit the edge of the opening and they look directly at my stand and go back into the trees. I can hear them and see little glimpses of 'em. , they tried to come out into the opening again. I see her nose goes up in the air.

She looks right at my stand, goes back into the woods. She walks down a little further in the cover, tries to come out a third time, like she wants to come out into the opening so bad. But she's just, she's onto me like she knows exactly where I'm at and she's not coming out. . And so anyway, at that time I didn't really hunt the wind.

Like I, I thought the wind was like a suggestion. I was like, it's, oh, it's best if, the wind is not blowing towards it, but it's not that big a deal. Like the, deer, deer will still come. [00:14:00] So that's how I took it at that time. But, I had read all the magazines and stuff at the time and heard about Sink Control and heard about the wind and stuff.

And so I was like, you know what, I'm gonna try it. After I got done, drove to town, went to Walmart. I bought some baby wipes and I bought my first bottle of a like scent killer spray, and so I went back to my little camper and I gave myself a baby bath, baby wipe bath . That was really hard for me to say.

Gave myself a baby wipe bath. Cause I'd been camping for a few days, wearing my camo into stores and stuff, sitting around the campfire in it and everything. So I gave myself a baby white bath and then I started like from my underwear and worked my way out, and I sprayed every single layer with that scent killer underwear base, layers, sweats jacket everyth.

Went back to that same exact spot that evening, and instead of sitting in my stand I went to the downwind side of the feeder and and sat on a little dirt mound basically, and just sat on the ground. I [00:15:00] say, I was maybe three feet off the ground on this little dirt pile. So sitting there just holding my bow across my lap, and sure enough, that evening, those two, that same dough and Fond came out.

and they came within 12 yards of me. Walked around the dough or the fawn was like playing and running around in circles and stuff. The dough was eating. I didn't shoot 'em, but I easily could have, they had no idea I was there. And so that was like a very valuable lesson for me, learning just how important wind and sink control.

And and it really, it changed my hunting career from then on. Like from then on, every time I set a stand or went out to hunt, I was like, okay, what's the wind doing? Where do I need to be? And as I got more advanced as a hunter and learned more and more, it was not only okay, where's the feeder and where's the downwind side?

But it advanced to okay, where am I hunting and where are the deer going to come? Where are the deer going to go to after they pass in front of me? Because it's not just [00:16:00] being downwind of a feeder, a food plot or whatever. You have to think of where the deer gonna be at. Essentially all times where are they gonna come from?

Where are they gonna leave? Because you want to be downwind of them the entire time, if possible. Number one thing I would tell myself, the wind is everything. So number two, and this honestly came to my mind while I was thinking about that same story. It's half more than one spot. I was just saying, I had, I, I was like in high school and even in the college I.

I didn't, my dad didn't hunt, he didn't have any stands. I was pretty much on my own. I had one ladder stand that I bought at like a end of the year clearance sale at Walmart. And I would just move that ladder stand. I'd drug that thing all over the place. But wherever I hung that stand. , that's where I was hunting.

Pretty much no matter what the wind was doing, no matter what the deer were doing. Like I said, sometimes the feed would work, sometimes it wouldn't. But that was my stand and so that's where I hunted. And I learned over the years, pretty quickly is that just doesn't work. Those deer get onto you so quick.

And [00:17:00] I've actually watched deer, as I would hunt that stand, two or three days in a row. The first day I would see the deer come from one direction. The next d next day the deer would come from the other direction and then the next deer the next day, if I saw the deer, all it would be behind me and, smelling me and stuff.

And so those deer learned your stands way quicker than you would think. And especially the mature bucks. And so you need to have more than one hunting spot. And I'm not saying, maybe you are in the same, you are now in the same situation I was in then where you can't afford a whole bunch of stands or blinds.

It doesn't have to be a stand or a blind. It can be, hunt on the ground or a ground blind, or buy a mobile setup, whatever it needs to be. Just have more than one spot. Don't just hunt the same spot over and over again and expect to be successful. If you hunt, once or twice a.

Maybe it's not as big a deal because you know you're not hunting enough for the deer to get onto you. But if you're gonna hunt several. , you need to have several places you can go. There's one, two, basically [00:18:00] 200 acre chunk on our property that I do most of my hunting on. And I think I have six different stands and blinds in that 200 acre area.

Which is, maybe a lot. I'm sure there's people out there who have more. But so that I have options, no matter what the wind's doing or, maybe a deer using one area more or other. A lot of it's more based on the wind. I just have options for hunting that area so that I'm not stuck in one spot and I can move around.

I hunt one area one morning, I hunt another area the next morning, and it just gives me options so that I keep the deer on their toes. They don't know where I'm gonna be and they can't get onto me. So yeah. Number two, have more than one spot. Number three, this one gets a little bit more advanced.

Nothing crazy, but a little bit more. . But before the hunting public was the hunting public. Zach and Aaron, they worked for Midwest Whitetail, and they were kinda like the public land version of, bill Winkys show. And I love Bill Winky. I still do. He, I love the way he hunts and [00:19:00] everything, but I learned a lot more from Aaron and Zach because they were doing kind of the public land stuff, it wasn't this nice manicured place, which I didn't have at the time.

And so I was learning a lot from those guys hunting public land cuz they were just, they were hunting more on deer movement and they didn't have the nice blinds over a cornfield and stuff like that. So I really enjoyed those guys and they started a podcast, again, this is before they were the hunting public.

They started a Midwest Whitetail podcast. And one of the, I wanna say, I don't remember what episode was, it was one of the earlier episodes, and I'm pretty sure you could no longer find this episode, unfortunately, because they eventually became the hunting public. But it was the first time they had a guy named Dan Inal on.

and many of you probably recognize that name, a k a, the Hunting Beast. And he, was blown up in the last couple years, but they were probably the first podcast he ever did. And I'd never heard of this guy. I'd never heard of the Hunting Beast. Nobody had they found him just in the [00:20:00] deep dark cycle of the internet.

He had a hunting for him. But anyway, they had him on and it's when they were getting into the whole buck betting thing that is, Part of the reason they're so popular today. But they were talking to this guy named Dan, and it was just blowing my mind. It was blowing their mind also.

He was just so confident and he knew so much about this buck betting stuff. And he was very aggressive. But he, what blew my mind was just how it was so definitive. Like he, he could look at a map and he could say, Hey, the bucks are gonna bed here. They're gonna bed here, they're gonna bed here.

And he's just done so much research and he's learned from other people and, he just has so much knowledge. And so after I listened to that episode, I scoured the internet, trying to find more of his stuff, listened to. Those guys had 'em on a couple more times. I wish I could find that original recording cuz they've had 'em on, their new show a bunch, but he just, it wasn't quite as raw as that first time he was on, but anyway.

I took what I learned from him [00:21:00] and I applied to my own place. And so I went for a walk one day and I had a topo map and I was following the lines, they talked about the upper one third a lot and, south facing slopes and all this stuff. And I'll never forget, it was another eye-opening moment.

I was pretty close to one of my one. Deer stands, and it was a spot where I was getting pictures of a lot of really good bucks, but when I would hunt it, I wouldn't see anything. . And so it was very frustrating to me and I could not figure out why, cause I was hunting it with the right wind and everything.

But anyway, so I was walking around with my topo map and I remember finding this area and I was like, this is exactly what he's talking about. Like this is the area he describes when he is talking about these buck beds. And it lined up with, sightings and pictures I had and. And I'll never forget, I remember kinda looking up ahead of me and seeing a little opening, and I walk up into that opening and I'm standing on the road that I would walk on to go down to my tree stand when I was hunting that spot.

And [00:22:00] again, like a huge, slap in the face. I realized that the reason I wasn't seeing any mature bucks when I was hunting that spot is because I was walking right by them when I was walking to my tree stand. And they knew I was. . And so I moved the stand and maybe 50 yards, not much.

Moved the stand a little further down the hill. And all I did was I started walking in from a different direction. Instead of coming in from the north, I came in from the southwest. And that stand became one of my best stands on that whole property. Literally because I just, I understood.

The bedding aspect, and I was able to change my access route to again, hunt the exact same spot. I just changed where I came from and my sightings went through the roof. I don't know how many mature bucks I saw there over the years. But it was more than a handful. And the reason I was able to make that change was because I learned how Bucks bed and how they use the landscape.

And again, one of those light bulb moments, I still use that knowledge [00:23:00] to this day. I, I talk about the canyon on our place all the time. My, my sanctuary, the bedding area, what makes our place good for hunting and. And part of the reason that area is so good is because it has those topo changes.

There's the hills, there's the upper one, third and all. and when I first started hunting that spot, and I'm gonna talk about this more next week, I would go into the heart of it, I was like, this is the good spot. This is where I want to be. And over the years I've slowly worked my way further and further out cuz I'm leaving that good area, I'm leaving that bedding to the deer and I'm hunting the outskirts.

And my success again has gone through the roof because I'm just kinda letting them have their area. I understand that's where they bed and I back off, let them have their spot and I catch 'em on the outside. So understanding betting and I, I could try to teach it, but I'm not that good at it. I would much rather you guys look up, Dan, the hunting beasts, the hunting public, whatever, learn from those guys who have way more experience with it.

But just, [00:24:00] seeking out some kind of knowledge and learning about buck bedding will make you a better hunter. Absolutely. Every time. On that same kind of note I talked about that how I changed my how I'd walk to that stand entry and exit is key. I talked about this a lot on this podcast, honestly, probably too much.

But I just, I can't tell you guys how important it is. And different setups require different things. If you're hunting like a true timber stand down in the woods, th thick woods all the way around, sight probably isn't that big of a deal there. It's definitely gonna be wind.

If you're hunting a trail, obviously you don't want your wind blowing up or down that trail. You don't want it blowing across it. You wanna be walking with your nose to the wind, get in your stand and have the wind in your face in that situation. And same thing for going out. If you're hunting like a food, site might become a big deal because if you're walking in, whether it's the morning or the evening, there's a good chance that there could be deer in the food plot as you're walking up.

And so not only do you have to worry about where your wind's blowing, but you [00:25:00] have to worry about can they see you, putting a blind or, stand or whatever on a fence line can be a great thing. If it's like a grownup fence line or thick trees or whatever, that can kinda help block you.

You can plant a screen. But again, sight and, like I said, you're hopefully going to attract deer, to that food plot. Almost every time. And maybe if you walk, like it's, let's say it's an evening hunt and you walk in early, so there's no, no deer out yet. There's a very good chance that the deer are gonna be there though when you try to walk out.

So that's where that site comes in. You gotta worry about not only your scent, but your site. Ah, man. I'm trying to think of what else. Feeder setups the same thing. You gotta worry about both your scent. Is really big really important on a feeder set up because more than likely that's gonna be a kind of a high pressure type spot.

It's a spot that you're gonna want to hunt more than once. And so having really good entry and exit for there , not just sight not just a smell, but also I try to, if I'm hunting a true feeder setup, [00:26:00] I try to walk in, in a spot where the deer just aren't going to be usually in general.

Like I try to walk across a wide open pasture and set up on a tree, and I never go have to go past that tree and I have to go to the feeder or where the bedding is on the other side of that feeder. I want the deer to come outta the bedding and come to the feeder without ever having to walk across where I come in and out on.

And and I've preached entry and exit a lot. I just, I really think it's important, especially, like I said, especially on a feeder setup or a food plot. A spot where you're hunting to, excuse me, a spot where you're wanting to hunt more than once because those deers just gonna become very conditioned very quickly.

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Let Bravado Wireless connect you to your family, friends, and business partner. All over the world, bravado, wireless, the power of connect. This other tip, this, this is just good for everybody, but this is really a beginner thing. So when I started hunting, I killed my first deer with a rifle when I was 15 that's very year I ended up buying a bow.

So I started deer hunting around, or sorry, bow hunting around 16 years old. I did not kill my first deer with a bow until I think I was 23 years old. And it's not because I didn't have opportunity. There were several times I had doze in front of me. Younger bucks, yearlings, two year olds and stuff.

But a lot of times I'd bow hunt during bow season, and rifle season came, I would. Put the bow down, ended up killing deer with a rifle and I'd killed some pretty good deer with my rifle. And so I didn't wanna, I didn't wanna lower my standards just because I had a bow. And to be [00:28:00] completely honest with you, I wish I would have lowered my standards at least shot some dough.

Maybe I get it. Maybe you don't wanna shoot a two year old, I understand that, but shoot some dough, juice, do something because the fact that. Archery hunted for I don't know, six years, five or six years, without killing a deer. That's just ridiculous. And it was all because of me. It was all because of, I was worried about what people would think.

I didn't wanna show my buddies this small buck that I shot, I thought I had to kill this great big buck, even though I never killed one. . And so I wish I would've just shot deer. And I know there's a lot of people preaching that these days. And and again I wish I would've just backed off, , like I said, at the very least, kill some doze.

Just get a few bow kills under your belt because especially if you're coming from rifle hunting, it is different. It's challenging. It's hard to get that deer in front of you. It's hard to get that deer in the right position there. And there's just so many things when a deer is that close to you, knowing when you can move and when you can't.

Reading the deer's body language, are they tense? Are they relaxed? Can I get away with little [00:29:00] movement now? Are they alert? Is there a chance they might jump the string? All that stuff. You want to get that stuff outta your system and you wanna learn with a buck.

That's not gonna be the, your dream buck, because no matter how many, or yeah, no matter how experienced you are, if a giant buck comes in front of you, you're gonna be shaking. And so you want to at least have a little bit of a background, a little bit of experience, getting drawn, going through the process before you screw up on the biggest buck of your life.

Yeah. One thing I wish I would've learned when I was younger is to just shoot deer. And that goes for rifle hunting too. If you're a new hunter, you can't be picky. Like you just need to get some experience under your belt. I know there's the big buck craze right now, but if you're new to hunting, man it's just awesome

And, I think my standards have actually kind lowered as of late because I've found. I just really like shooting deer. I do. I'm not quite as hardcore of a bow hunter as I used to be. I still, usually try to save one of my tags for archery season. Last year I [00:30:00] killed two deer with a rifle and only one with my bow.

One in Oklahoma and one in Texas. And then my bow buck in Oklahoma. I just really shooting deer so yeah, don't forget. Let's see here. This one's gonna be the opposite of that. This one's maybe for the little bit more experience centers. After you have that learning curve, you've killed some deer and maybe you're ready to step your game up a little bit.

Maybe those yearlings and two year old bucks aren't what you're after anymore. Maybe you're wanting to push yourself, you're wanting your to manage your herd. One thing that you really need to learn that. Was slow at is being able to age deer on the hoof. And trail cameras are great.

They're great to help you learn. They're great to be familiar with what bucks are on your property. So ahead of time you can say, okay, I want to take this buck, or not take this buck. But there's always gonna be instances where that new buck shows up. The one that you don't have any, history with no trail camera photos.

And if your goal is to shoot older, bigger, more mature deer you need to be able to tell pretty quickly, [00:31:00] roughly how old that deer is. And I know, a guy that I respect a whole lot, Don Higgins, he always preaches how it's impossible to judge a wild deer, know it's exact age.

And I get that, I, I don't know if I am quite as hardcore about it as he is but you can very easily, I think personally, I think it's very easy to look at a deer and say, okay, that's a two or a three year old. Versus Okay, that's a five or a six year old. There is, there's just physical differences that you can pick out.

The stomach, the neck, the backline just the bulkiness of the body. Antlers I don't think are a great judge of age. I don't think that's, has anything to do with it. Honestly. I've seen very old small bucks. I've seen very young, big. It's more about the body. But yeah just, look up some pictures online.

Go through your trail cameras. If you. Several years worth of history. That's the best way. Because you can look at one single buck and say, okay, this was him as a yearling or a two-year old. This was him as a two or a three year old. And watch that progression of his body and just learn to be able, you got, and when I say [00:32:00] quick, I don't mean, look at him for five minutes and make a judge when he is standing out there in front of you.

I've had several deer where, I had seconds to make a decision and I think we all have, maybe it's during the rut and they're running through. Or just coming through a trail maybe they come to check out a feeder, but don't come all the way. , you gotta know fairly quickly whether that deer's gonna be, a shooter or not.

And and again, everybody's a little different, if four year olds are your thing, if you think that's a mature buck, great. Learn to be able to identify a four year old. I, for me I'm not gonna say I'm not gonna kill a four year old, but I'm really trying to let those bucks get to five and six.

and there, for me, I think the hardest, I think the hardest ages to judge, which, and obviously, some of the most important I'm usually pretty good at being able to say okay, that deer's probably a three year old or less. That four to five year old is really hard. Sometimes the three to four, sometimes you get that bulky three year old that can fool you into maybe thinking he's four.

Sometimes you get that four to five year old where, he looks pretty mature, but some pictures he looks skinny and you think he might [00:33:00] be four. That's definitely the hardest. Age to judge, in my hands. But if you're trying to get those bucks to five plus, I think very, it's very easy to field jojo's.

If you have some experience. So study those trail cameras, look up, there's tons of online sources that show bucks throughout the years. You can see that difference. But you gotta be able to judge deer quickly if are trying to really push the le push your limits up to that next level of deer because you can't , bill Winkys famous line.

I love it. I heard this line, I don't know, gosh, probably a decade ago, and it's always stuck with me. It takes five years to grow a five year old buck. And if you're shooting those deer to younger age class, because they came through in a. You don't wanna walk up to that deer and then have the regret because you judged it wrong.

So practice judging deer if you're ready to take your your skill level up a notch. Let's see here. Okay, this one when I typed this one out, I originally typed it as hunt out of state at least once a year. And I was meaning that for whitetail [00:34:00] specifically, if you're, if you're listening to this, you're a big time deer hunter and you're trying to learn more about deer.

I originally said, learn outta state, or go outta state. I went to Nebraska last year, this coming year, I'm hoping to go to Iowa. But I deleted it and I just, what I really mean by this is just hunt outside of your comfort zone or hunt off, don't just hunt on the one place that you hunt every year that you've hunted your entire life.

Because, I've hunted the same place for several years. Our last property, we had it for seven years, and I pretty much had that place figured out. I didn't have to do a lot of scouting. I still did, I ran trail cameras and stuff like that, but for the most part, I knew where the big deer on that property were going to be and roughly what time of year even.

And so it wasn't that hard for me. To kill a decent deer every year because I just knew where to be. But when I started, traveling a little bit, I quickly learned that, man, I really did not know that much about real hunting, like finding signs, setting up on sign, reading, [00:35:00] sign, all that stuff.

And so as I've been doing more out-of-state hunting and hunting different places and hunting public I have grown so much as a deer hunter because, Getting out of my comfort zone, and then I'm able to take that knowledge that I'm learning and bring it back to my home farm or my ranch, home, ranch there, Iain farm, like a Midwesterner, bring it back to my home ranch.

And really hone in on the deer, my own place where I have a little bit more control. I can let 'em get older, I can, feed 'em and everything like. And so I don't think you have to go outta state. I, that's great. A hundred different terrain. If you have the opportunity, Oklahoma in itself is so big, has quite a bit of public land and is so different, just go to a different portion of the state, whatever corner of the state you live in, go to the opposite corner, or if you're from Oklahoma City right in the center, pick a direction and.

And honestly like you don't even if you really, are stuck for time or money or whatever, you don't even have to go to the other side of the state. Just go to a different area, knock on the door, get a different [00:36:00] some permission somewhere else, go to a public piece.

That's what I've been doing. The place, the public land that I was hunting this year was like 20 minutes from the place that all my stands and feeders and blinds and food plots are 20 minutes away, but just going that far and hunting a spot that I'm not familiar. I am learning so much.

I'm finding the rubs, I'm reading the sign, I'm seeing how the deer used the landscape, and it's just, I'm not stuck in my ways. I'm looking at everything with a fresh set of eyes, like a blank canvas. and I'm telling you guys, it is well worth it. Even if you don't end up hunting it still go out there and just pretend like you're going to, scout it like you would.

Look for the deer sign. Set up a few trail cameras, like hunt. I get it. Like maybe you have a really good private place and you're like, Hey, like I can kill big deer here every year. I don't need to go to public. Hunt with a trail camera. Just try to find a good deer, because I guarantee you, if you can go to a piece of heavily hunted public and get a daylight picture of a nice buck, you're learning something.

You're learning [00:37:00] where that deer or why he's there, when he is there. All that stuff. And then you can take that back to your private piece, like I was just saying, and you're gonna learn from it. Yeah just like I said, you don't have to go outta state if you can. It's. But mostly, I'm just trying to say hunt outside of your comfort zone.

Okay. One last one for the day. I think this is probably gonna be the last one, but this one is a newer revelation that I've had that I wish I could go back and tell a younger me is a. You just need to support hunters in general. There was a time in my life where I stuck my nose up at Crossbo hunters and even rifle hunters for a time, cause I was a hardcore bow hunter and, I thought everybody should hunt with a bow and blah, blah, blah, blah.

But man, as you we're so lucky here in Oklahoma and the south in general, If you look at all the other states, acro, northeast, northwest, wherever you want to go hunting rights are very quickly being taken away. And a lot of times it's not because they're saying, okay, you can no longer, hunt this.

A lot of times it's because they attack like one [00:38:00] single way. Like no hunting with dogs or no hunting. At night, no hunting with a rifle, you gotta use a bow and all this and this. And just, if we as hunters aren't supporting our other hunters, before you know it, that stuff could be knocking on our door and they could be attacking a certain thing here in Oklahoma or Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, wherever you're listening to this.

And if it's legal and ethical, Support 'em. And I know some people might argue that some things aren't ethical even though they are legal. As long as it's some good common sense, people are being safe and, taking care of the resource. , just support your fellow hunters.

Again, I don't whether it's weapon or style, maybe you're a ground hunter, you don't like people hunting outta blinds, whatever it might be. Again, if it's legal and safe, support your fellow hunters because, oh man, I think we're a long way from it. But I just can't imagine the day where we here in our state, if I go to my little corner of Oklahoma and all of a [00:39:00] sudden someone tells me that I can't, shoot a deer with a rifle or I can't, hunt hogs with dogs, whatever it might be, whatever your, thing is just imagine if you can no longer do that.

Other people can still enjoy the hunting, they. But you, whatever your thing is, what if you couldn't enjoy that? So yeah, if I could go back and listen to or talk to a younger, , just support your fellow hunters, whatever it is, and try those things. This year I did my very first hunt with a crossbow in Texas at my buddy's place.

And unfortunately I wasn't able to shoot anything, but, I might try it again next year. I really just got into muzzle loader hunting about. Three years ago about the time I started this podcast and honestly, this podcast is the reason I started because I know it's just, it's a big p a lot of people do it.

It's a big thing in Oklahoma and and man, I really realized kind of the benefit of it. I normally just bow hunted up until rifle season, I'd sit a few times, for a week or so during rifle and then I was back to the bow. But I've discovered I really, Muzzle loader hunting, partially because it's so frustrating [00:40:00] to me.

It's a challenge. And I still have not figured it out. But I enjoy it. And try something new. Support your fellow hunters. And that is probably gonna do it for this week's podcast. All righty. There it is, this week's podcast. Thank you guys for sticking with me when I had the little technical difficulties this week.

I promise part three will be out next week, even if I have to drive around recorded in person. So yes, be looking forward to that. We do have part three. Of the, what did you learn series next week. Yeah, that's about all I have. I hope everybody has a great week. I think it's supposed to be kinda wet and nasty again, but man I'm ready for spring basically, as soon as hunting season ends.

I'm ready for spring cuz then it's just wet and cold for no reason. And I don't even get to kill anything so yeah. Looking forward to Turkey season. Looking forward to do some fishing. I actually plugged the boat in the other day. Got the batteries all charged up, just looking for that opportunity.

The breaking the weather slash breaking my wife's schedule so that she can watch the baby for me.[00:41:00] So yeah, I'll keep crossing my fingers on that. . Man, as always, thank you everyone who supports this podcast and listens every week. I've had a few awesome listener interactions the last couple weeks, and I really enjoy that.

So if you have any questions, random comments, concerns, whatever, feel free to hit me up on social media. Like I said, I love interacting with you guys. And that's probably going to do it. Yeah. Thanks again for listening. I hope y'all have a fantastic week ahead of you. And as always, until next week, I will see you guys right back here on the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast.[00:42:00]