School of Hard Knocks Hunting and Managing Whitetails

Show Notes

On this week's episode of the Pennsylvania Woodsman, Mitch is joined by good friend and experienced deer hunter Tim Himmelberger.  Tim was a self taught bowhunter fueled by the same passion as many of us - chasing big bucks.  Tim started out from humble beginnings, and worked his tail off to purchase some properties with a good friend.  This began a new journey - how do you hold the best bucks in the neighborhood?

At the time of Tim's journey, Quality Deer Management and the plethora of land management advice we have today was nearly non-existent.  Everything was learned via trial and error and the school of hard knocks.  Many lessons were learned the hard way, but ultimately they were able to put down some of the best bucks in the neighborhood at a time no one else was doing with regularity.  This conversation is merely a snapshot of a lifetime whitetail phanatic.  You'll pick up some excellent tricks and tactics for hunting bucks during the rut, near bedding, and using things like spot lighting for inventory in the neighborhood. 

Check out the Sportsmen's Empire Podcast Network for more relevant outdoor content!

Show Transcript

Mitchell Shirk: Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode, guys. As many of you would say, it is now sweet November. Now, as I would typically like to say, it's the beginning of the end. [00:01:00] I say that jokingly, but... In all reality, my favorite month of the entire year is the month of October. I can't wait for October to get here.

Once it's here, I feel it is the fastest month each and every single year. I cannot believe how quick this month went. Recapping the things that happened for me with my New Jersey hunt and killing that, killing that bear and that buck and, experiencing a new Place a new habitat type and a game animal that I've never seen in such frequency It was just incredible and it flew by I had Some good archery hunts.

I didn't get out a ton In the month of October, just with the schedule that I had, but I was able to get out and I saw some deer, I was able to shoot a doe at least. As I'm recording this there's still about ten days left in the month of October. Maybe I was able to connect on a buck, I sure hope I was.[00:02:00]

But if I don't shoot my buck in October Of course, there's plenty of season, right? There you've got, three weeks of archery season left in November. Then you get into the start of rifle season, the end of November after Thanksgiving and into late season, there's plenty of hunting opportunity.

But I will say that my, the amount of deer that I've killed in those two months has the amount of buck that I've killed in those two months has. typically been less. I've just been able to get on deer in October. So if I don't kill one in October, it makes me a touch nervous. Now that said I knew that the amount of time I'd spend hunting.

For Pennsylvania deer would be on the lighter side this year with my schedule. So I have some fallback plans and some fallback ideas of how I'm going to accomplish that or try to accomplish filling a tag, but the biggest thing. That I can tell you guys, [00:03:00] and I'm saying this as much to myself as I am to advice for anybody who's listening to this is, don't give up.

I don't know why, but I feel, I get so married to the game, so married to the process and imagining how it should go, and devising this plan. This plan in my mind is supposed to go this way, and when it doesn't go that way I have a hard time sometimes just like going with the flow and just rolling with it and going on to plan B or plan C.

I don't know why. It happened to me in New Jersey. I tried to cram the hunt in two days and didn't go the way I wanted it and I got discouraged. And it's, and all I needed to do was just keep grinding it and see what happens. At the end of the day, if I don't fill a tag, it doesn't matter. It's not a big deal.

I feel like it is, but it's not. For all you guys, this is the time of year, most of the people I know and talk to would prefer the, these first two weeks in November, love [00:04:00] it. And... All I can say is grind it out, spend some time in the stand stick to it. When you get into the chasing phase of this time of year, I feel like it's boom or bust.

I feel like you can sit on stand some days and not see Diddley squat, you're not in the action, and you can flip a switch sometimes, and it's like there's every deer in the neighborhood is within, Arms reachers or see, sighting distance of where you're sitting. So just be patient, stick it out and hunt hard and let it happen.

And I'm, like I said, I'm saying that to myself as much as I am to you. This week's guest is a good friend of mine. It's somebody who's I'll tease him a little bit here in the beginning. It's somebody who's got a little bit of wisdom in his hair, a little bit of gray, but he's got a lot of experience chasing white tails.

A lot of comes from the school of hard knocks, trying stuff himself. And he's been very successful over the years and that's Tim Himmelberger. Tim was actually my real estate agent, but he's family [00:05:00] friend to my dad and uncles and stuff like that. So known him for. My family has known him for a long time.

I got to know him better when he was my real estate agent and sold me my house. And of course we hit it right off just cause we have a passion for deer hunting and Tim was at one time owned multiple properties one in particular that he managed with his good buddy for years or, and. cut his teeth learning, trial and error from, food plots and bedding and stand access on a piece of private land.

And it was before the time with all this media, all the hype and consultants and, deer hunting information that's YouTube, stuff like that. This is before all of that. They did it themselves in. Made a name for themself in the local area when they did that. And they killed some great deer.

At [00:06:00] the time, they were killing Pope and Young deer, and some of them may have been three year old deer, but at the time, that was huge. It's the equivalent to doing it now. the top level. They were at the top level from everything that you would understand what they did and the way they shaped that herd and learn how to hunt it.

We're going to talk about that process. And we're just going to talk about some hunting strategies that have worked over time. And with that some things that did not work the way they thought it would go over time. But this time of year with hunting and betting a couple of the, yeah.

The tricks that he likes to do if it works in an areas. He really likes to talk about how you can use spotlighting for deer to be an information piece at that time of year and use that for hunting and talks about some interesting ways of accessing Stand locations by observing fields and then diving in between bedding areas up close to some bedding [00:07:00] areas this time of year So it's a great conversation there's a lot to unpack in this one And I hope you guys enjoy that one real quick before we do want to give a shout out to our partners That's going to be radix hunting guys the Trail camera game in my opinion.

There's a lot of great companies out there. I'm not going to downplay any trail cameras out there. However, I will say in my mind it is hard to beat Radix cameras. I think the timing, response to motion, I think the image quality the video quality, the sound, everything goes with that, the they're affordable.

And I've just been blown away by the cell cameras. The simplicity of using them. I love the Scout Tech app. I think it's so simple. I've just blown away by Radix cameras. I truly am. With Radix hunting, they've also got stick and pick camera accessories. Your ground mounts or your tree mounts for your cameras.

Get [00:08:00] them set up at just the right spot. I've got multiple of those out and those are pretty handy. Especially when you're talking about... Getting into weird fence rows or places where you just don't have the tree that you want for a strap and Also they're tree stands Running some hang on stands this year.

They're quiet. They're secure. They're comfortable. Check out Radix hunting and also Huntworth. Huntworth is the makers of heat boost technology They have some clothing that in my opinion for the price Hard to beat. There's a lot, again, a lot of great clothing companies out there, but Huntworth is a Pennsylvania based company.

They have the Disruption digital camo pattern, which in my mind, you lose yourself when you're in the woods with that. I think it's a great camo pattern. But feeling really comfortable wearing that I've been wearing the Durham pants in the early part of the season and it's as it starts getting Colder, I've been wearing my Elkins mid weight stuff with a windbreaker I can wear a base layer and the [00:09:00] Elkins and pretty much be set almost all day long when you're talking about these Mid season temperatures as we start to get into the colder time of the year.

I'll probably beef up that layer Maybe I'll put on an insulation layer Like maybe the Sheldon hoodie or something, and I might get into some heavier weight stuff. And the heat boost is something that's unique to them. Check out Huntworth gear. With that, let's get to this week's episode.

Not saying it doesn't happen because I've heard accounts of them coming across Eerie. And just the other year there was, I say just the year, as good as this is probably longer than 10 years ago. Somebody had one for a pet and let it loose. Let it go. People saw it. So then right away there's cougars in Pennsylvania, and I just feel if there really were...

Any substantial amount. Think about how many trail cameras are out there. I alone have 20 some out this year. There's people that have a hundred out one

Tim Himmelberger: person. That's what I always tell people when they say, there's really a [00:10:00] big foot and I'm there like, yeah. Is that what you think?


Mitchell Shirk: it's the Bigfoot you're putting in your mouth right now. Good grief.

Tim Himmelberger: I said, they make a lot of money on TV trying to convince you, I said, because all these people see them, but then when they get the hair off the branches, it's a bear. Yeah. It's usually a bear. That's

Mitchell Shirk: exactly right. That's exactly right.

But we didn't come to talk about Bigfoot. We came to talk about the other. The other elephant monkey in the room this time of year which is White Tails. And I'm sitting here with with my buddy Tim Himmelberger. The only guy I know that will sell you a property with Boone and Crockett White Tails on it.

That's right.

Tim Himmelberger: That is correct.

Mitchell Shirk: Thanks for doing this, I appreciate it. Sure. And I have to preface that because I got to know you cause you were, you, We're my real estate agent, but you know my, my family a very long time. And that's how we got connected and stuff. But yeah, you you sold me that my house and or you found my house for me we got it and stuff.

And I think it was what, [00:11:00] two years later is when I killed that big one, two years later, and I never in my, it doesn't surprise me, but at the same time, I never would have expected it. Yeah,

Tim Himmelberger: but when you showed me the picture of that the year before. Yeah. That was a 150 inch buck then. Yeah, it was.

So it only had one way to go.

Mitchell Shirk: And looking back on it, like when I got the tooth on that. I sent the tooth in, assuming that's all accurate. When I killed him, he was a four year old, they said. Looking back at the pictures, I can see that he was a three year old, but he was a big

Tim Himmelberger: three year old. He was he just had the genetics, too.

He, he had ten points. He had... He had, he had it all. Yeah, he was a

Mitchell Shirk: Dan. He had the beam

Tim Himmelberger: length

Mitchell Shirk: too. Yeah. Yeah. I think I was even talking to you sometime that week when the show, talk to me that day you shot. Was it the, that I knew it was right around that time. 'cause we were talking about, 'cause right that same week was when when the other fella Ben, he killed that buck.

I think it grossed into one 90 low, one nineties, something like that. I [00:12:00] actually tried to get him on the podcast, but he he didn't want to. But yeah, we were talking about that deer. And I said, I really think I've got a chance to kill this deer tonight. And I told you the whole story of what happened.

And then I think I think that night I texted you with a picture of him. He's dead.

Tim Himmelberger: You did. You said, if he comes to the water hole tonight, again, he's dead.

Mitchell Shirk: It was one of the few times in my life I called my shot and I was right.

Tim Himmelberger: That's a good one to be, to call your shot on. I will tell you.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, it was, that was I was telling my uncle, I said, There are very few times in hunting where I've pictured something in my mind, envisioned it to go a certain way, and it actually happened that way. So many times it doesn't.

Tim Himmelberger: Yeah, the deer are so much better today. For those who don't know I did the meat business for

Mitchell Shirk: 30 years.

Yeah, tell me about yourself a little bit because I didn't do a very good job introducing yourself.

Tim Himmelberger: No, it's okay, but I was in the butcher business for 30 years. And I scone a lot of deer and I saw a lot of deer from different areas, different counties. And when you showed me that [00:13:00] picture, even the year prior we managed a property over near the Christmas village.

Everybody knows where the Christmas village is near Burnville. And my buddy and I had about 80 acres in there and and we produced, bucks up to 150 inches, 151 actually. And when I saw that buck, I thought, that's a special deer. I thought, I am the real estate agent that sells booners.


Mitchell Shirk: doesn't have to be a lot of acres either. It does not sometimes it's just got to get a little bit lucky, but you you've hunted your whole life. We've, I've talked about the hunting with you a long time, but did you, like when you talked about the property there you just got, which that's a story that I think you ought to brief on because that's an interesting story.

How you came across that property and ended up acquiring it with your buddy, but were you in pursuit of the next age class of deer? Prior to getting that property or was that like where were you at in your hunting [00:14:00] when you started to go from? Permission public land do it yourself to owning a piece and trying to figure out the management side of things

Tim Himmelberger: The first piece we bought a 28 acre tract over along the Robins on your Bremwell Road That used to be an old peach orchard and it was the first piece Mike and I bought And we learned pretty quickly that 27 acres isn't that big when you have two guys that love to hunt.

And, but we made it work, but we learned a lot just trying to manage it, manage our time there, manage wind directions and all that. And we kept, we started talking, we did a lot of deer spotting that time because there was no deer cameras. So that's how we kept an eye on where the bucks, the buck movement at night.

So doing all that we decided that if we had a bigger track to land we could actually. We could actually, by trial and error, we think we should grow, we could grow some really big deer because [00:15:00] the ingredients were there. The minerals were there. We knew we wanted to get down along that Topahakon Creek where the minerals were better.

And the soils were better. You had a lot of creek loam soil. Yeah. And and if the Indians, there was an old Indian reservation there, we found arrowheads, axeheads, pottery Lenape tribe was there, and we thought if the, it was good for the Indians it's good for everything. Yeah. And that, we went after that piece of property when it popped up, and with a little help from my dad.

Buying the one side, we were able to acquire that land and started managing. And we learned a lot of lessons.

Mitchell Shirk: You do, because I said this I think I said this on a podcast, not too long ago, I was talking about. People who are into private land manipulation and hunting versus people who are just really good hunters and, can kill big deer, whether it's public land permission, whatever that is.

And I made a statement, and I [00:16:00] don't, I'd be curious if you would agree with this, but I said, if you put, some of the best bow hunters in the country on a property, a piece of private land. Let's just pick your fancy. Let's just say an 80 acre piece and it's well managed and everything else.

And then you take one of the best bow hunters in the country that doesn't do anything management wise. I believe that individual could kill the best deer on that property, a high percentage at the time, because they're a good hunter, right? But... I agree with that. But, would they do it over the course of 10 years?

Because... They're good hunters, but would they have the ability to maintain that quality of a hunt on a property and that's where I say and I hate throwing names around, but like some of the names in the industry that you get thrown around, like from a management side, you think about Jeff Sturgis is a big one right now whitetail partners even John Teeter on our show guys that are fantastic habitat [00:17:00] managers, and they're also very good hunters too, and I think somebody like that has the same Quality of or same level of hunting skill, but I think their ability to do it on a more consistent basis in a border I think they've got a better chance just because the lessons learned in private land manipulation are difficult in my opinion I don't know what your thoughts are or if I'm making sense of what I'm trying

Tim Himmelberger: to say No, you are some guys just You gotta understand the deer.

That takes some time. We thought we knew a lot about deer, and then once you're managing a property, you find out that there's a lot more movement than you thought. And you can manipulate the food source. We had tillable ground along with wooded land with swamp.

We just, we had a really quality. A lot of diversity. We really had a quality place, yeah. And I think the biggest thing for the hardest thing when we first started was to pass deer, to pass 16 inch spread eight pointers, to pass [00:18:00] good two year old bucks. Cause when you have good food and you create more cover for them they don't go far, not until the rut. So the big, the hardest thing was to spend a lot of money. Put a lot of effort in it, and then have to stay the heck out of it. That's the hardest thing to do, because people that I know that buy tracts of land, they like to ride four wheelers, deer don't like anything that's faster or quicker than they are.

So that startles them. You'll keep your does, you'll keep your younger bucks. Older bucks you may keep, but they're coming down at night. You're gonna, you're gonna make them nocturnal pretty quickly. Or put them in midday movement, lunchtime movement. We had... That was the biggest lessons were that we the other thing is when we planted, we we learned pretty quickly that some of the cheapest seed was the best seed.

For bulk food which was rye grass. Yeah. Rye grass. [00:19:00] Was we

Mitchell Shirk: planted rye grass or cereal? Gr Cereal rye. Cereal Rye.

Tim Himmelberger: Okay. We plant, we just planted straight rye. Okay. Because, if you watch, if deer are just a little pressured, which we didn't think we had ours pressured, but if you're there, you're pressuring them.

And so those deer would come out to eat, even if the bigger bucks would come out in daylight, we would watch them eat. And they just pull everything out by the roots and swallow everything whole, of course. And so it didn't take them long to fill their bellies and they'd disappear back into the woods.

They were only out 20 minutes and they would find their way back into cover. So watching these deer all the time we decided the most important thing other than having something to. The food source, and we had the creek there, so we didn't have a water issue was cover.

So we spent a lot of time creating cover, hinge cutting, and hinge cutting anything that didn't bear nuts or fruit. All [00:20:00] right. That's what we did in February. So we did a lot of that. And then what you'll find is if you have a piece of ground and you start managing you're gonna find that your doe population will increase really fast.

Mitchell Shirk: Especially in the area that you're talking, because that's an area now with a lot of nooks and crannies of ditches and hollows and woodlands amongst very, prime farm ground. So it's, it doesn't

Tim Himmelberger: take long. No, it doesn't take long. And then you have to take the time and put the effort in to either bring people in.

We started bringing in, we didn't do it right away. We were pretty proud of what we did. And so we protected it. And then we realized we couldn't keep up with the does we were getting out of balance pretty. pretty quickly after about four or five years. Yeah. We start bringing in some people, some friends, and we start putting a hole in the doughs.

And so we did do pretty good there. We didn't do anything one to two or two to one or anything like that, but we were like [00:21:00] five doughs for a buck.

Mitchell Shirk: That's an interesting topic of conversation because I agree we need to shoot dough, or manage it in a way that things don't become completely out of bounds.

But. The trickiest part I've always thought of is, how do you do that when you're confined to such small borders and your goal is to try to shoot mature deer? Because it's hard to not put pressure on your property when

Tim Himmelberger: you're killing deer. It's true, but you have in our case, we, we, you have to know who your neighbors are and how they hunt.

Most of those people hunt. They're shooters. They are shooters. They were not. Managing, they were, if it had antlers, they'd shoot it, and if they had, if it was a doe, they'd shoot it. So they were good at killing does, and they were good at killing year and a half old bucks. And so we had a couple of meetings with them, and over the years, in fact, it's the first eight years or so, we're pretty slow trying to get [00:22:00] them to help.

And finally, they did put some plots in and got some success and the lightbulb went on. And why

Mitchell Shirk: is it that food plots are always the first go to for so many cases? Because in a lot of cases, like... Food plots aren't always, in my opinion, they're not always the biggest hole in the bucket for a property, but yet, they are instant gratification, and they do have a lot of value.

I love food

Tim Himmelberger: plots. In these small areas, and this is a small area, these small woodlots and things like that, yes, we're surrounded by prime farmland. We're a lot of farmland, I shouldn't say. Some's not so prime. But it's planted. And, today the efficiency of taking up all the crops is pretty good.

Those who have something green in the wintertime those does don't forget that. And I know everybody thinks does don't have a brain and this and that, but that's just not true. They will, they stay near the food source. Sure. And we might change what we plant, [00:23:00] but it's still going to get planted in the same areas, because there's only so much open area we had.


Mitchell Shirk: And we could probably go down a management rabbit hole all night long, and I love the management, but what I what I find interesting, and what I really wanted to pick your brain on, is just the process of you learning to, Hunt some of the upper end age class deer because that's not an easy feat some people pick it up quicker than others And some people never pick it up.

It's not easy to do when you start talking about getting the top age bracket In your neighborhood. That is, in my opinion, and some people will disagree, but in my opinion, that's a different

Tim Himmelberger: animal. Oh, it's definitely a different animal. Especially, it all depends on how much pressure is there. They don't tolerate a lot of pressure.

Mitchell Shirk: And you were talking about managing pressure between you and your buddy Mike. What was, think, when you think back, was there anything that really stands out that says this was an aha moment from a pressure standpoint that [00:24:00] we were doing wrong, and this is how we adjusted it moving forward.

Tim Himmelberger: Wind direction. Okay. Wind direction was the most crucial thing for us. We used to, you have your own ground. At one time we had 22 stands out. If we were nailed one time in a, from a doe, an older doe That stand was off limits. It was, it was the only thing that do was gonna see, there was a tree stand hanging there because nobody was gonna be in it anymore.

We learned that pretty quickly and a lot of times that was because we insisted on hunting with the wrong wind. Today you know how you have a OnX and all that stuff, and you can, it helps get it helps you in a bad situation if the wind shifts. Years ago what we used to do is we had so many stands because of the wind shifted we would get out and we would move.

And a lot of times we were successful doing that. We moved, just moved to where the wind was correct. And if it wasn't, we'd leave.

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com and be sure to check them out on Instagram and Facebook. Talk about wind correct too, because what is your philosophy on wind being correct? Because I've heard... a number of hunters, and I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I've heard a number of hunters talking lately that if you look at the wind and it's 100 percent in your favor and it's 100 percent not in the [00:26:00] deer's favor, that's not actually a good wind for hunting a mature buck.

Meaning like if I need, if my access into a spot, let's just think in terms like if I'm coming from the east I'm walking west into a stand and I'm hunting let's just say I'm hunting a north and south movement. And I've got a West wind perpendicular there that's completely wrong for those deer to to be able to be safe.

Because they can't tell where I am or what pressure is based on their nose. So therefore, that's not a good wind. Some of the people I've talked to lately are talking about hunting just off winds. And I understand where they're coming from because it's like you could get busted at any moment.

And the deer thinks he has you, but in all reality, you're just off and it makes it perfect. And I think where I'm coming from for that is maybe I'm not hunting places that are as pressured as some of the other places where this is experienced because I just haven't had that experience. But,

Tim Himmelberger: I was never as concerned about the bucks [00:27:00] as I was the old does. Okay. The old does can ruin your day. So that was my whole goal was to beat the old does. And I was pretty good at outfoxing the, even the bigger bucks, the older bucks, once we started concentrating and it took about, I'd say four years, number one, till we had bigger bucks.

We had three year olds, three year olds was a big deal. Getting a deer to three years old, at that time, because we were like one of the first ones that ever did this. Around here. And so when we did it, it was, it was a learning curve, but I always was more concerned about the older does if I had the wind because those, if those things she smells you, she will find you, right?

She'll track you down. She don't care if, she shouldn't understand that you're going to, she's worried. It's a lot of times she has young ones. So she's not only she's teaching and she's also protecting.

Mitchell Shirk: It's they like to confirm a lot of time with two senses, like if they smell you, or if they see something that's wrong, they'll circle down when to [00:28:00] smell you.


Tim Himmelberger: will. And they'll ruin your day. Because so the bucks, once they're on their feet, the hard part is to get them old buggers on their feet. If they're four, four years old or so is to get them on their feet before November. During daylight hours. That was the, once they're on their feet.

I've learned that they travel a lot of time around lunchtime when they know the hunter has left after a rain, when it's raining, I always tell people if it's supposed to stop, get out in the tree, what, when it starts to break, because as soon as you get that breeze that breeze, it's, it always starts getting breezy in the woods when it's going to stop raining, if you're in there, That's a great time to kill one of them older bucks.

They come in, they're rattling antlers they're a little friskier. I don't know why that is, it just, I can just say from experience, that it's happened quite a few times in my hunting experience. Yeah,

Mitchell Shirk: it looks like your [00:29:00] headphones are popping up. You this, these extend out. Oh.

Put it over the top of your head, then it won't fall. There you go.

Tim Himmelberger: I would say... Wind direction, I was always more concerned. I'm not saying I wasn't concerned about older bucks, or not that they're not smart, or they are. But they're lazy, and they they don't like to get up. They don't have to, especially if you're close to the food source, like if you're hunting around here.

If you're hunting in the big woods, upstate, or, it's a different story. They gotta travel a little farther. But a lot of times if there's, if it's full of acorns and stuff, they're not coming out anyway.

Mitchell Shirk: When you think back over the years to some of the buck that you guys have killed on that property were you focusing on killing them closer to food?

In bedding, somewhere in between, what did that look like for the majority of the time, or was that all

Tim Himmelberger: over the place? For me, it was almost always between bedding areas around lunchtime. I would I learned that if [00:30:00] you cannot beat those deer in, let's say you're hunting an area where there's a field, you gotta get into the field, or you gotta get around the field to get into the area, into the wood, into the wooded areas.

And you can't beat those deer in or you're going to disturb them going in. You're going to rile them up. Then I've learned through the years of in the morning they'll leave a frost trail where they went in. These are all things that, that, these are all skills that you learn I was never taught or self taught.

Yeah. You take notice of everything, you don't listen to what anybody else has to say. You're learning from what and so what I learned to do is to back trail those deer in. And a lot of times when they go in, if they don't smell anything, they're not checking their back trail.

Hardly ever did I have that problem. And it's so easy if a bigger buck went in that morning with the, following a couple does or whatever. And... They go [00:31:00] into that area. A lot of times, of course, we had stands everywhere, like I said. But it, the easiest. Some of the best luck I had was trailing those does in, or those, or if there was a buck in the field that night spotting, we saw this big buck and stuff, and today it's cameras, but it's so easy to call that buck back, with rattling antlers, or a good grunt call, or both or, if you have a fawn bleat call, where you use that almost like a distress, and then, Go right into a buck grunt, have one hand, one call in each hand and he'll say, wait, how did I miss that?

Or who's in my, I just went through there. So if we learn, I've learned pretty quickly that is if deer go into an area, they will drop their guard to come back to it because they just went through there.

Mitchell Shirk: Would you find yourself in a lot of cases glassing fields in the morning as it was breaking daylight before you were going in?

Absolutely. So you wouldn't even actually have an [00:32:00] idea of what stand you would be going in that morning?

Tim Himmelberger: That's correct. Okay. If we spotted, and when I say spot, we don't spot and sit on them. We just... We want to see if one of the big guys is out in the field. And whereabouts they are. Because if you see them in the field, most of the time they're still there.

They're not leaving that field when you leave. If you drive by or something, they'll go back in. But a lot of times they'll lay right along the edge. Yeah.

Mitchell Shirk: So yeah, like the, the night before, something like that, when you're talking about using... To me, that's the biggest thing.

I talked about this with you with the one that I killed the other year. It was that window, that time frame where... He would always show up in this specific area. And I think that's, to me, that's one thing that's important to me. And like, when I think about the deer I'm going after this year two of the properties that I'm hunting, I am looking at windows where I have, it's again, back to trail camera stuff where I've got a consistent timeframe [00:33:00] between, a five day period where this deer showing up in daylight, he did it, the one did it once last year.

So I've only got one set of data and it might not happen this year. But another one, I've actually got it for three years, and I know we made it through because I had pictures. So like that window time frame to me is important in utilizing that. So you take that into spotting. So you spot, let's just say you're spotting your neighborhood five, five out of seven nights a week or something like that.


And a deer that, of the caliber that you want finally is in your neighborhood, game

Tim Himmelberger: on. Game on, yeah. But we stayed out of it. You asked about, I skipped over that. If we didn't see what we were looking for, but we knew he was in the area, but we didn't really know where we would not hunt it.

We would stay out of it. We would, we had two trees actually, we were near the road and that we would use as surveillance. We would just sit [00:34:00] there, because they were like 30 feet high, and we would sit there to watch, because we could see. Into the woods because especially when you have like when the chestnut oaks like now when the chestnut oaks are really dropping That's their preference.

Sure. That's their preference. You can't, you're not gonna draw them out with anything else. Food plots and stuff. They're coming, that's where they're going.

That's what we learned. The biggest thing we learned was you have to leave. So that was our first lesson having this land. And managing it, we had ways to get in to these deer, but you had to leave. And when you leave in the evening for some reason, when you go into the area, you're sneaking into the area, you're squirreling your way in.

When I say squirreling, like you use your foot to shuffle the leaves. Cause you can walk right up on deer like that. They won't even turn. They won't even turn their

Mitchell Shirk: ear. Now, don't, that, [00:35:00] that cadence of to kun of a human, that's distinguishable. But if it's not distinguishable, like I've already done that with a turkey call and you're scratching in the leaves and I've walked right up on deer.

Tim Himmelberger: Yeah. What I've noticed from hunters is I, a lot of times I wouldn't hear the neighbors come in, but I'd hear them leave. Yeah. Because, There's this, I don't know what it is, but when it gets Get the heck out. It was, yeah, it was dark, and we're gonna leave, and there's deer probably standing 20 yards from them, and they don't see them, but they see them.

That, that stand's dead, in my opinion. Maybe not to them, and I'm not saying you can't shoot a deer out of that stand, but for us. That was a dead stand. If we killed that's if we got caught leaving because we tried to when you have land that's one thing that you can do is you can give yourself a way out.

You can create cover. You can create, a cover line to get you out of there for us. For me, a lot of times, it was get me in the creek, then I could just...

Mitchell Shirk: You've talked a lot

Tim Himmelberger: about [00:36:00] water access. Yep, I would go in, I would always go in through the creek if I could. Especially if I hunted what we called the swamp land, which was the lower end.

Yes, I would, I, that's how I accessed the stands. I would go in, I would go down through the middle of the creek. So hip boots were

Mitchell Shirk: probably needed? Hip boots, yep. Would you just take them off, or would you just hunt them in them?

Tim Himmelberger: No, I would take them off. I would take, I had my boots hung around my neck.

And I would take them off when I got to my stand. My stand wasn't far off the creek. Big bucks like that creek.

Mitchell Shirk: You think about I just think about our general area where we live. And you think about the history, let's just take the last 20 years. And you think about where some of the biggest bucks are that you know that get killed.

There's a lot of them that get killed near large. bodies of water. Yeah. And is that because that has, I think there's a lot of things. Number one, it creates a new edge. It's a different soil type. But I think it funnels a lot of game movement. There's a,

Tim Himmelberger: yeah, you just the moist air they could smell.

They can get you. They, I've seen [00:37:00] bucks laying along the creek. They put their nose right into that, in that current direction. And They just, they're pretty comfortable. I'll

Mitchell Shirk: never forget duck hunting one time. We were going down a creek and we're in a flat bottom boat and we came around this oxbow and exactly what you saw, the first time I ever saw that a really nice buck laying on the oxbow edge of the creek.

That was like an ah ha moment. Yeah,

Tim Himmelberger: they'll back up. The other thing we learned too is the bigger bucks, of course, they have experience. They learn to give themselves options. They will lay where they can escape two, three different directions. A lot of times a high point. We noticed that the bigger bucks would always lay right off the high point of a ridge or anything like that, or a saddle.

Saddles. I love saddles. And when I, we used to hunt New York and stuff like that, and we used top maps. The first thing we do is find all the saddles and that's where we'd focus on and we had a lot of success.[00:38:00] So yeah.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah. Saddles are something that I haven't spent much time in. I was just talking to a friend of mine who was saying that he feels as though now.

With the advancement of technology and the ability to every, for everybody to get that map on their phone or whatever It's easy to pick up where every single saddle is and now there's a tree stand at every single saddle He said I don't even focus on them anymore because I feel like they're just hunter paradises.

Tim Himmelberger: They are there may be they work too, that's why. They create pinch points and travel routes and crisscross when they're putting those in the wind and trying to find a receptive doe, that is where you want to be not early in the season. I don't, I never had a lot of luck in saddles and early in the season until last week of October.

Mitchell Shirk: Did you have a timeframe hunting that property or maybe just hunting in general now when you stand back like that, you prefer hunting, like you feel like is where you're most comfortable in getting on a mature deer between

Tim Himmelberger: two bedding areas.

Mitchell Shirk: Let me rephrase. I was thinking more like along the lines [00:39:00] of timing of the year,

Tim Himmelberger: November is November.

You got a better chance of shooting. A better buck. Sometimes though, if you have a piece of land and you, let's say you have, you've had two, three pretty good bucks there, sometimes you'll have five. That winter together and, or in spring, during spring and velvet together, but it doesn't last too long if the pecking order is challenged.

But some are just tolerated. Some deer are just not aggressive. And we always thought, we always said, we, you want the non aggressive buck because those are the ones that seem to get, to make it.

Mitchell Shirk: The docile ones, the usual ones with the bigger antlers too. Yeah,

Tim Himmelberger: that's right. It's, those are the ones that make it because the aggressive bucks are going to get shot because there's just, the odds aren't with them to wander through the woods, chasing does all over the place and getting, get, clear all these hunters because, let's face it, the hundred, the hunters have more information today and more with technology, the, they don't have to they don't have to Enhance their [00:40:00] skills with cameras, the they have instant proof, keeps them in a stand where we had to, we would measure foot when we would see the footprints along the, in the mud or along the fields or along the creek bottoms, anything like that, I knew from what I did for years in the meat business, what a bigger deer looked like.

And also bigger bucks as they get, usually the bigger bucks are longer. They're longer cause they're older, but they're just that length will keep that, that back foot from going into the front footstep when they're a year and a half old, they'll. That step that back foot will hit that front step because they're shorter Yeah, but as they get older and get heavier that front foot will start to splay out So you'll get like almost like a duck foot in the front where they'll you know, the weight will push them.

They'll and push it out. And the length of the stride. The length of the [00:41:00] stride was everything. If we could, if you found one where the back foot was four inches short earlier in the season, there was a, you had a shooter. Even if you never saw it. Because a lot of times we never saw the deer we were going to shoot.


Mitchell Shirk: different world when you're not using trail cameras. It's hard for me to think about that, Tim, in all reality because I'm almost 30 years old and I cannot remember Not using some type of camera since I started hunting.

Tim Himmelberger: Yeah, and that's people used to say to me, you spot a lot. Yeah, because it's basically, that was our cameras.

Yeah. We would go out and we would inventory that way. And believe it or not, once the rut starts, it's not uncommon to see a buck in your hunting area, wherever you're hunting, and that evening, go spotting it for a mile and a half, two miles away, you'll see the same buck.

Cover a lot of ground in an afternoon. It's just, we've seen that, we've seen that quite a few times, where we would see, we had a piece of ground over along the Robazonia Bremel Road[00:42:00] it was, like I said, it was our first piece, it was around 30 acres, but we saw a buck over there, we called him Sox.

And I came home that night and right in front of my mailbox a mile and a half, two miles away, almost two miles away Stan socks, at 10 o'clock at night. So covered some ground.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah. When you think about when they talk about the average home range of a mature deer being three square miles and you.

Put down on paper what three square miles is, it's staggering.

Tim Himmelberger: It's a lot of ground they can cover. Normally they, once the rut's over, the bigger bucks, they'll go back to where they, if they had a food source, or like a managed area like we, we were doing. They'll come back if they've survived the hunting season, and they don't leave.

They don't go far either after

Mitchell Shirk: that. Security. If they don't have to go far for food, cover, and security, why would they? You were talking earlier, though, about places that you like to hone in on. You talked about between bedding areas. And that's [00:43:00] important because, first of all, that's where you've had a lot of success.

But hunting bedding areas, to me, is tricky.

Tim Himmelberger: It's a gamble every time you do it. Yeah, so

Mitchell Shirk: In your mind, like, when is the time to roll the dice and say that the gamble is worth the risk? Because every time you do it on a small piece, you're running the risk of chasing deer off and creating a nighttime parcel.

Tim Himmelberger: Not so much. If if you understand the, you can be sitting close to that area where you actually want to go, you hang that stand there, we always had a stand there, it was a stand that was hardly hunted, sometimes you see these little side trails that they're not used as much, a lot of times those little side trails are buck travel corridors from bedding area to bedding area, and those are the ones that you focus on.

The other thing is you're not in the doe, you're not, the does aren't going to nail you, because if you know how to get into that area, if you know the area, learn the area, you can get into that area without the does detecting you. [00:44:00] If the bucks nail you, you're done, but most of the time they don't.

The bucks are, if you, I always say squirrel your way in, because I would go in after. It would get light. I would wait another hour. Some, it's not that I couldn't go in the dark. I might have been sitting there over in the car an hour and a half before it got light.

But I knew I couldn't, it wasn't just a good, it was a bad situation.

Mitchell Shirk: There was no way you could come in from the backside

Tim Himmelberger: in a lot of those cases? Not at that time. Now I could later. I made it that way, but but I, a lot of times I work my way in.

Mitchell Shirk: So like when you talk about doing that, like I think about working your way into a bedding area from a food source like you're talking about doing.

Tim Himmelberger: Between them. Between them? It's between the bedding areas. Okay. I never, if you go into the bedding area, you're gonna, you're gonna get

Mitchell Shirk: nailed. So you're talking about in this situation, where dominant bedding is in these situations and you're coming from food. You talked about backtrailing.

I'm assuming we're talking about the same thing yet, but you just [00:45:00] know how the terrain lays and how the bedding lays in a way that you can walk in between their wild stay light and not get busted. Yes.

Tim Himmelberger: Yeah. We can do that. As long as you, if you, I did a lot of practicing squirreling, squirrel walking is what I used to call it, squirreling my way in but it works.

It works great. I've walked up on, I've walked up on smaller bucks. They didn't even turn their head at me and I'm talking within 10 yards and I've walked away from them. It's amazing.

Mitchell Shirk: I've hunted bedding areas are close to bedding areas and when a deer is in its bed and they're in their comfort zone.

I am amazed at how much they let go. Yep. I shot a coyote right under a tree when I had a deer 40 yards from me. It never ever left its bed. It picked its ears up. The thing died and was yipping right in front of me. And it never, like it never left its bed. And I believe it or not, the wind was good. And I left this tree.

At, I'm gonna [00:46:00] say I left it at 10 o'clock. I had an obligation. I had to leave, but I thought when I'm done with this, I'm coming right back to this tree because I had heard a buck chasing the doe. I knew he bedded on this ridge. I thought I'm going to at least give this a shot. I thought I'm going to sneak back in there and I snuck back into that tree and as sure as anything, as soon as I turned in my stand and turned, that deer was still laying in that exact same place.

But like the things that I saw that morning of the noises, the other. game moving my noises. I made a dumb noise with shooting a coyote. It didn't bother them. And that blows me away.

Tim Himmelberger: Yeah, you can get away with a lot mid day. It's just amazing. Like I said, the best thing that I've ever found was a squirreling your way through the woods is it just shuffle your feet just like a squirrel runs.

It's amazing how you can just work your way in and you can get into where you need to be And sometimes I would climb up the tree, get in the stand, I'd turn around and [00:47:00] I could see deer laying, once I got elevated. And I was so close to them, and they never, that never alarmed them because that was a sound they're normally gonna hear.

And in fact, for a lot of us hunters, squirrels can be a pain in the butt. They pretty much ignore it because it's a pain in the butt for them too. They have to hear them, and as long as it sounds pretty close to that squirrel or, you gotta be... You gotta practice at it and stuff, but it really works.

Mitchell Shirk: You gotta take your time. Yep. You gotta go slow. I've done that same thing with turkeys. I'll, I've, I, there's a couple places upstate that I've hunted that I'll, let's say I'm gonna go in on this bench. I can think about it the other year when I did it. I popped a turkey call in my mouth, and I was just clucking and working my way, and I was making all kinds of racket on purpose.

And I got almost to where I wanted to go, and then, of course... Pushed it a little too far and it saw me when I was walking and up it goes. But again, I got within 40 yards of. That's pretty good. Of deer. Yeah, of [00:48:00] deer. I was turkey calling just for, the same concept of squirreling your way.

Tim Himmelberger: I will tell you this. The other, another way we used to get, if we wanted to take out one of the mature does, We used to call them one of the donkey ears. We would take a turkey call with us if we sat early in the season and we wanted to take one of them big does out. We would act like we were at the chestnut oaks.

At the feed tree almost like? Yep. And those deer would come. They would come to chase them away. It was funny because I've had, we've had, I've had turkeys flop deer already right in front of me, and but you could get them to come in that way. Do you ever see those little clickers? It sounds like a deer eating a nut.


Mitchell Shirk: that's the craziest looking thing ever. Yeah, it is, but it works.

Tim Himmelberger: Okay.

Mitchell Shirk: I never tried it. I never tried it. That's just like the concept of just taking, grabbing acorns in your hand or, picking up small rocks and stuff and when you're in a tree, dropping them.

Tim Himmelberger: Yeah, that's right. I used to fill my pockets full when [00:49:00] I'd go in there and I'd...

Cause after a while, but we did, we used to concentrate like when we first started, I'm 65 years old for everybody wants to know how, why I'm talking like this. But we used to use duck calls converted to, to make a deer call because years ago there was no deer calls, there was a they came out with a couple, but actually you could work with a duck call and actually, create a grunt call with it.

And so that's what we had made that. We would work on those things and we would make things we made we made all kinds of we we've been make scent canisters and things like that to use. Cause I, when I was working in the meat business, I was born and raised in it. Yeah. I had access to all fresh urine and all that stuff.

So we were using that stuff long before it was real popular too. Yeah, synthetics and all that stuff. And it works. Yeah. It was, it used to really work well. Yeah, we had it's a lot of trial and error that was, I'm old, so you have to forgive me, the [00:50:00] cameras and and the blinds and everything else just sometimes for me takes away, takes the fun out of it.

Mitchell Shirk: And I think it gives me too much information that I'm somebody that when you give a lot of information, it's really easy. To talk yourself out of doing something like for instance We were just talking about land purchases and before we started recording this we were talking about You know what it takes in order to save some cash up and then make that first jump and stuff But the longer you fixate and apply all the variables to it.

It's really hard to Make that jump and make that decision. And you take that in what you were talking about going into in between bedding areas, or basically you're hunting bedding areas, you're just hunting fringes of it, transitions and stuff. And I just, I second guess myself. I don't have the confidence in that style of hunting to say, if I do this, I'm going to put myself in a very high odds [00:51:00] situation without making.

an all or nothing ordeal. Cause I feel like, let's just say, oh gosh, let's just say it's last week of October, first week in November, there's a cold front and you got all these things working in your odds that make you think this is where I need to be. But there's a part of me that says there's still two weeks of season yet.

And if I go into that area and I screw something up, is that going to really. decimate the quality of what this bedding areas function is for on this property. And like it, it's like you said, it's high odds. It's all in all, all out. It

Tim Himmelberger: is. It, there's sometimes there's just no right way, no wrong way, but I shouldn't say that there, there is there, I really didn't have.

Too much difficulty because the nice thing is when you're back in there and you're in the meat of the woods if you're going to sit there most of the, the whole [00:52:00] day, that time of year you absolutely should if you can. Once those doors, those start moving, that's... Actually, that's when it's harder to kill one of them better bucks because there's competition, there's other bucks coming in the area, they're going to start pushing these does around and chase them all over the place.

Then it's hard to, if you have a target buck, it's really hard then to get that target buck. It's more easy to get that target buck at 12 o'clock noon when he's shifting bedding areas because what they'll do is in the morning, they'll go in, of course the buck will trail them in. Because a lot of times, if you spot deer, if you were a lot of, if you spot a lot of deer, you learn pretty quickly that the rut's a dead giveaway.

When you see a three year old buck laying, not standing that's the beginning of the rut. And I, and we used to keep notes and take a lot of data down and we always knew that we'd say, he's standing, he's standing, not yet. And then all of a sudden you'd see two days later when it was [00:53:00] close, you'd see four or five does lay in there and they're laid up buck, a breeding buck.

All shouldn't, they all breed but

Mitchell Shirk: yeah, that was an indication one was coming into heat and he wasn't leaving her. That's correct.

Tim Himmelberger: And so that's, that was a big giveaway. The 12 o'clock. That 11 to 1 o'clock time limit when you're sitting between bedding areas is is a highly productive time.

But it's a tough time to be in the woods.

Mitchell Shirk: And give me your philosophy behind that. Cause I've heard a lot of different philosophies and why that timeframe is so good. Some people say it's like you'd brought up about hunting pressure. Some people have said it's a, maybe a transition in the wind.

Maybe it's a transition from food. There's so many different, but like why in your mind is that such an important time? One thing I've learned, too, is I have spent time hunting at that hour. I haven't found a lot of success. And I believe it was because I wasn't choosing the [00:54:00] appropriate stand location in order to see what I wanted to see in that situation.

Give me a little bit more of your philosophy of that midday time frame because that's something I'm weak in.

Tim Himmelberger: When we first started to figure out that midday was a time period that no one ever talked about and never... I didn't all the years of being in the meat business, and I hear all the stories, nobody was shooting anything between 11 and 1 o'clock.

But we had a big nine pointer over there the one year, and we couldn't figure out when this deer was coming to, use, to check these scrapes. We sat there with morning stands, we sat there evening stands, and then we'd come back in and that's damn, that damn was work, the scrape was work.

And it wasn't at night. And so I decided. I'm going to sit between the bedding area and the food source, which is a little different, but between his scrapes and the bedding area. And I'm sitting there thinking, why am I sitting in here at [00:55:00] 1230, quarter one? And all of a sudden, here he comes, and he was coming.

He walked in like a drunken soldier. He had no cares in the world, guard down, walked right into it. I made a scrape. I always make a scrape one side of the tree so I can get a broadside shop. You don't want them coming in. Nose down, it's a tough shot. Yeah, absolutely. The mock scrape will also, they'll check that out right away.

And, I harvested that deer. And then I thought, so then I started thinking there is something to this. It's a bigger deer. He's traveling, between 11 and 1 o'clock. Closer to 1, that one was. So I thought I can do this, I can parlay this between bedding areas because I always saw these little trails, like I told you, the little side trails and this is how I figured it out.

Who's using these side trails because I never saw the does use them ever, and I'm thinking, what's, what are these trails for? But I would [00:56:00] see as November progressed, these trails would start to get used, but I never saw a doe on them, and that's when the light bulb went on going, these bucks are traveling from, but, doe bedding area to doe bedding area. They'll lay with the does for a while if they can't get any up or they're not ready. They'll get up midday. They know them does aren't going anywhere. As long as they're bedded and they're not disturbed, they're not leaving.

Mitchell Shirk: Did you ever see any trends in how those trails oriented from bedding area to bedding area?

Did they always come in from a certain way or would they go right into the heart of it? Or did you ever see any trends one way or the other that, or not

Tim Himmelberger: necessarily? Yeah, the better bucks would always, theirs was always higher. Okay. If the doe bedding area was in the sun on the south side a lot of times it was near a bowl or a saddle.

Okay. But the bucks would be higher. The bucks would always be higher. That we're going to, a lot of times when I would set up there, I would set up that I was higher than they were. Because [00:57:00] I couldn't risk them smelling me, but I will tell you I never had a deer that was real alert at that time.

Okay. They just dropped their guard. It was just like after a rain, after a rain, same kind of behavior. Yes. But now they're heading for the fields a lot of times after a rain. But they're going to a staging, they usually stage the bottom before they go out, but they're there where they normally wouldn't be.

There'd be, they'd have more cover. They just don't. So yeah, I would say, I always hunted above, above where they were going to be. In

Mitchell Shirk: a lot of cases, you're probably going to, depending on what the topography and stuff like, but I would think prevailing thermal would have to be an advantage in that case.

Cause I always think about that too. Like I'm thinking about this one property that I'm hunting this year. It's just a matter of, can I get above them without messing it up in the first place? Once I do, the majority of the day, I'm set. It's unique because there's a north [00:58:00] facing slope, and the thermal pulls down a very long time.

Sometimes, I sat there once last year, and it actually, on a cold front, it pulled down all day. Even though it was a sunny, bright sunny day, it's just the thermal. Pulled down the hill the whole time. But when I got to the top section, it was doing all kinds of squirrely things just because it's what the thermal does.

But the way the deer use that property to me is very interesting. And I think there's loopholes. I guess I would say, and how they use it and where I can kill one and they're going to let their guard down, but it is a little tricky sometimes as far as accessing

Tim Himmelberger: it from me. What I wanted to say is you asked me and I didn't, I skirted around.

When you were saying about, you're worried about. pressuring those deer. Yeah. What I learned is if you hunt all day and I didn't finish this, what you'll learn is those bedding areas are going to clear out while you're in that stand yet. They're going to head for the fields or wherever they're going for the food source.[00:59:00]

Where we were, we had a pipeline also that went out the other side. So they'd either go to that pipeline, which is an open area, grass, clover the pipeline companies would plant. Sometimes they'd be, ask that landowner what you want planted there and they'd plant clovers or whatever. So if it was green, they wanted that night, they could go that way.

But when my point is they'd leave and it gave you an opportunity to get out of there. Sometimes you got to get out before it's dark, you just got to sneak your way out of there.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, HUD to stand for the situation is, I think everybody's so used to hunting morning and evening, and that means they're either coming back to bed or they're going to food.

Tim Himmelberger: Most, most of your if you believe in moon phases and things like that, which I do. You, most of your lunar pulls on bigger, on, on larger animals, ungulants.

Or in the morning and in the evening. It coincides. So your best chance is a lot of times. [01:00:00] Or to shoot, most deer are shot during the morning or the evening. That's just the way it is. But as pressure builds up, that's when we learn to start hunting the midday. And I will say it was me. I had to convince my buddy, when you start putting them on the ground when they have pretty big headgear, they're willing to try it.

Yeah, sure. And look, and it was just because it was just because we were just trying to figure out, it all goes back to that nine pointer. Yeah. Because that nine pointer taught us something, because we always were learning. And then, back then you had to learn by trial and error, today it's different.

There's a lot of information out there. The other thing is these box blinds. I, my buddy just got one of these box blinds and he said, they, it is, they don't smell

Mitchell Shirk: you. Box blinds. Honestly, I have a hard time saying it this way, but it's the best way to say it, it almost feels like you're cheating.

Tim Himmelberger: I have a [01:01:00] friend of mine who. He's been hunting he they work hard at it, just like you guys do. Yeah. They work hard at it, like we used to and he's very successful. But he even said to me the other day, he goes, hey, this is last year he said to me if I get to South Wind, I should have him on the ground by 630.

This was the first day. Yeah. And he did. Yeah. And it was a five year old. That deer was five years old. We know that buck because I think we both passed that deer when he was a seven. But it was a, it was, I'm a body size guy because I was in the meat business all those years. And that's the biggest damn body buck I think I ever, in Pennsylvania, that I ever had my hands on.

As a big boy. The rack wasn't, didn't do him any justice. He was, he was a Pope and young. He was in the high one twenties, which is a great book. It's a great book in Pennsylvania. But like I said, it's in order to score these deer, if you really want to, if you're really worried about inches, which is when you buy a [01:02:00] property and stuff and you manage deer, that.

There has to be some kind of goal there to do all the sacrificing you're going to do. So you're trying to grow that deer now. Now you grew him. And because, I gotta say this, you don't get them all that you grow. That's for sure. I can tell you that. You

Mitchell Shirk: might get... The ones that resonate in my mind are the ones that got away.

Of course. You might get 50

Tim Himmelberger: percent of them... You might get more than that today with the cameras and the, I'm going to say when we were there, the way how we did it, we didn't have that. I would say if we got 50 percent of them, that was pretty good. Because we had some, we had two that were absolute giants and they vanished and we don't know anybody who shot them.

And I can tell you, you know how it is, when you live in an area, the hunters know each other, even if they don't know each other personally, they know of you, if you have any success. And, we called the neighbors, we said, did anybody see these two bucks? [01:03:00] We don't know what happened to them.

I'm not saying usually they get shot maybe a mile away if they decide to take a run one night after some new does. And yeah, never knew what happened to them. Absolute giants.

Mitchell Shirk: I want to go back to, I want to circle the conversation back to the spotting and the data collection side of things.

You told me a lot about that over the years about spotting and collecting data. And you talked about following things such as when when you believed you were starting to see running activity. You were talking about moon phases and stuff like that. Tell me more about that what you would collect and what you gathered from that over the years.

Tim Himmelberger: We would first find some target bucks. And then we have to keep, we, for the most part, before they get ruddy, before they, their testosterone level really rises they don't really, they're at the same place, you normally, they're usually at the same area. They're on a good food source.

Their mid day food source is usually acorns and and anything [01:04:00] green. But we would start with that then we, the spotting, we learned pretty quickly that's the first sign is a bedded buck with a couple does or, a quality buck. That was sign number one. And you could spot, we would spot almost every night.

And we'd see these deer and we'd watch these bucks and stuff. And as soon as we would see one planted, we knew it started. That was the start. A lot of times it was it was following a full moon that we would see that on the descending moon. And so of course we kept notes for that and then I told you I have Murphy's book, one of the first books that ever came out that that taught you about moon phase.

Yeah. And red moon and all that stuff. Yeah. Cause Red Moon's really not that red, it's not a red moon.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, it's, that's the term that was used after was it Haze

Tim Himmelberger: that bought it from him? Yeah. But, trying to think[01:05:00] when, what we would do as far as moon phase goes like I said, that was, it was a descending moon then we would see more activity in the quarter moon phases.

Okay, so you, when you, that's when you would wanna hunt closer to the edges of the fields in your quarter moon phase there. You're, they're, there's, their philosophy is that they're gonna move sooner, earlier they think it's darker than it is. The deer do. And so that's when we would start setting up.

We would see deer moving off of food sources more onto doves, trailing doves, things like that. And that's when we knew that's when I knew that I can start focusing on those bedding areas and those transition areas between the bedding areas, because they're going to get off of the food source.

Not that they're not going to eat. They're going to eat on the run. And that's [01:06:00] when you can, that's when I learned to intercept these deer. Talk

Mitchell Shirk: about moon phase. I've heard a lot of people talk about. And this goes back to where the moon's at overhead and underfoot, but when it gets to a certain way, they see deer going back to bed late in the morning and it's a better time to hunt in the morning.

Tim Himmelberger: Yeah like the one, we always. Thought that full moon. It all depends what hunters you talk to. They swear by full moon, right? A lot of them swear by full moon. They really do But we didn't you know, we've followed the philosophy of Murphy when he wrote that book, you know We put that to the test We kept notes and we noticed that we were seeing we were getting more Opportunity once we were able to grow bigger bucks and we started managing these properties And these were, when I'm talking bigger bucks, I'm not talking six years old and seven years old.

I'm talking three year olds. Sure. You got a three year

Mitchell Shirk: old. At that time, that was huge. [01:07:00] You

Tim Himmelberger: got an 18 inch buck. Yeah, you got a 120 inch deer. Bringing it to perspective

Mitchell Shirk: back, when did you start owning land and managing land? Was that in the 90s yet? In the

Tim Himmelberger: 90s. Okay.

Mitchell Shirk: In the nineties, which is a time when you were, it was before antler restrictions in Pennsylvania.

So there was still a lot of deer that were getting killed. That's correct. At a young age.

Tim Himmelberger: That's correct. We were, in fact, we were ridiculed when we first started doing it because we really, you really have to lay the law down, we, you have to lay the law down and cause we were sacrificing, we're the ones put the money up.

We were sacrificing real hard and. We knew we really didn't have enough ground, but we had the ingredients that usually a 400 acre track doesn't have. We had the ingredients. We had everything you could want in that tractor behind the Christmas village. That's where it was. And, the guy that owns it now, he still calls me, he'll still call me and say, I'm not seeing bucks like you used to shoot and stuff.

And I said you got to stay out of there,

Mitchell Shirk: it's so hard to do [01:08:00] that just because you invest the time, you invest the money, you want to be there. Same thing with the food plot. I tell people all the time, like people ask me questions all the time, food plot. Why? It's just because of what I do.

And, people say about, what's the best improvement you can make? It's probably a food plot, but it's also the worst improvement you can make, because when you take the time to plant a food plot, bring your soil into check in order to grow a quality food plot, and you put all this effort, and you watch it grow, and you baby this thing to get to hunting season, what's the first thing you want to do?

You want to sit on it. You want to hunt it. Yep. Like, when we were talking about box blinds earlier, I learned too slow, but we were, I was shooting myself in the foot sitting on food plots when I was chasing deer. Most of the time it was because it was hardwoods, forests, and there's an opening what happens when the wind comes through, it swirls in those openings, and you, Deer would smell you and because it would swirl.

Yeah. It was so hard to get [01:09:00] a wind thermal that was consistent enough that you wouldn't get busted. And then you talked about box blinds, man, that changed the whole world. As long as I have, in my opinion, as long as I have a dominant wind that doesn't screw up my access, that I can get into it and my wind is not blowing into a bedding area or into the food source when I leave, vice versa.

I almost don't care how much it swirls when I'm in the box blind, just because it seems to contain it that much, or dissipate it, or whatever

Tim Himmelberger: it is. According to the people I've talked to that have them... Yeah, that's the case. They just don't detect them. And it's, look, it's a game changer.

The cameras were a game changer. Ozonics your ozone. Yeah, I haven't messed with that. I can, I'm going to tell you, I have. Okay. I can show it to you right in that other room. Okay. It works. It doesn't, of course, I'm in a tree stand. I'm not in an enclosed area. It really works in an enclosed area.

It works really well. But when you're sitting in a tree and the wind's swirling around and stuff. However. I've had does that knew I was around, but could not find me. [01:10:00] In fact, wouldn't even, I had a couple of does that knew I was around, that knew something wasn't right. They'd get glimpses of my scent, but then it would go away.

And then they were confused. You could see they were confused. And then they'd start, go back to start eating again. They weren't spooked enough to stop eating. And then they, they do the head snap and stuff, like something's wrong. I've seen the same thing with the box plants. Yeah. And so I've, but the bottom line is if I wanted to shoot them, they were dead, so it was effective, and it's effective enough to get them into shooting range with a bow and to take them out, to harvest them.

So yeah, it works. It really does. All this stuff, the biggest thing is when I used to do seminars and stuff, people say how much money you get in all this stuff? A lot. A lot.

Mitchell Shirk: If it's what you're passionate about.

Tim Himmelberger: It all depends what you like. Some guys like race cars. Some guys, it's, you spend the money, these like you said, more about box pines than I do.

I don't hunt out of them [01:11:00] but they're very effective. My buddy hunts out of one has a great success. The ozonics works. I can back that up with experience. And the cameras are the game changer. They truly are. That's a game changer, especially your satellite. Because, my buddy has 17 or 20 cameras out.

And he has the satellite system. And he's managing ground. And he basically has... He could hit this deer. This deer is on camera when he's on his feet more than he's not. And this is a four year old buck he's on. So it's pretty impressive. But I worry that it's going to get to the point where you can sit in your sofa at home and shoot one.

Mitchell Shirk: There's a lot of worrying about that. And I think it's justified because let's face it the way human nature is in our country. Why wouldn't we want to go to easier? Cause everything we do makes things more efficient, right? But it's going to get to a point where the efficiency is really questioning the art of hunting.

Tim Himmelberger: That's my point. My point is. [01:12:00] Effective is great, efficient is not always great. Efficiency puts people out of jobs. Efficiency puts, with your AI coming and all that stuff Effective is more more people friendly than efficient. I'm a, I think, people say, wow, he's an old fuddy duddy, what the hell does he know?

When you learn all these skills, and you learn them, from the time you're young and you have success with it and then, They gave, they changed the game. It's just I will tell you, I'll go back to this. I was always a bow hunter. I was born and raised in the meat business.

In deer season when you're in a meat business, you're in gun season, you're skinning 500 deer, anywhere from three to five hundred we did because we couldn't do any more than that. We were an inspected shop. But it's a lot of deer. I've skinned over 10, 000 deer in my life. It's a lot of deer.


I guess what I'm saying is, I just would rather keep it. I don't want to see it get to the point where it's you're almost embarrassing the deer. You know what I mean?

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, I mean you're, I was just listening to somebody talk about this and put it into perspective. Humans are, in my opinion, the most incredible species on the face of the earth.

Not that we do anything... better than anything. We can figure out how to do something as good or mimic something that other species can do on a substantial level. In a lot of cases not every case in point, but what we can create and develop just is above and beyond other species. So when you use that against them in a sense of hunting I think it, it makes the fine line between hunting and killing.

And look, I'm not, I'm just throwing this out there. I still use cell cameras. I like them. I still use a lot of the technology, but

Tim Himmelberger: Oh, no, I'm not saying there's nothing again. I'm not against anything. What [01:14:00] I was going to say, I'm sorry. What I was going to say before I forget this, I was against the release.

I'll tell you, a release aid for archery, a release aid for archery, because it took away the work of practice. He. I was a finger shooter with a recurve when we first started, we've shot wood and wooden arrows. Just showing my age here, but when they came out with micro flight arrows, I thought I died and went to heaven.

They actually had straight arrows. You'd buy a dozen wooden arrows, cedar arrows. And you were lucky to have five that were, that you could shoot straight, it was, oh, it was tough. And your range was 20 yards, 20 yards and in, you weren't shooting farther than that.

You could, if you had. Good straight arrows. It's not that the bow wouldn't shoot them straight. It was the arrow wasn't straight, right? So yeah, when the release aid came out, it really helped. But then I thought I was against it at first and I thought you know what? It's gonna help guys shoot better.

That's gonna work. So I was okay with that. What I was okay with everything as it went along. Re you know, we went from Recurve to [01:15:00] compound bows. I think Alan was one of the first compounds ever to come out

Mitchell Shirk: Jennings. And the reason Jennings, I know that is because I just had Sherwood shock, who was one of the.

The the makers with Tom Jennings. I just had a podcast with him. This is pretty

Tim Himmelberger: cool. My buddy, Mike, he had a Jennings. So he got one of the first ones, if they came out with something new Mike was on it. I will, I, no, I will tell you, he, he was, he was like, Hey, I, anything against me, it makes this easier because it's hard enough.

Mike was a plumber. I got to tell you this quick. Mike was a plumber. And we would hunt the extended season and with a bow, which, we thought was, when we first started, we thought it was impossible to try to beat them big does noses after they've been hunted all year. But we learned to be, we learned actually to be really successful at it.

But Mike would actually, he was a plumber, he would take PVC pipe and he would put it in, he would put it so He would breathe in and blow the air out the top because he put a pipe out of the tree with an elbow on it So he could actually blow his breath up out of the tree So they wouldn't see the steam coming out of him,

Mitchell Shirk: I'm telling that is

Tim Himmelberger: [01:16:00] absolutely true. I was watching him in a tree. I was laughing my butt off it but you know what? He did it. He hung in there and I don't think he got one that night, but it was just funny, all the extremes that hunters will go to, to try to get one close enough with a bow.

And so anyway, yeah,

Mitchell Shirk: we're all guilty of it. We've we've been rolling a while. I, one thing I wanted to ask you was when you take your experience, the properties you've managed and everything else you've done, if you were. Gonna buy a piece of property right now and with all that mileage what makes it a property worth buying for you?

And let's just keep it relative. I'm not really thinking of this from a size perspective. I'm thinking more along the lines of the components of a property that makes it

Tim Himmelberger: good. You need water. Hopefully you have some kind of mass trees before you, you plant oak trees, you're going to get 30 years into it.

Do you get some nuts? It's, [01:17:00] especially if you're going to plant them in a, in that kind of, in the woods, it's hard, so you should have some mass trees. Something that you have opportunity early in the season. But I would say water, some tillable ground that you can, at least some good ground, some level ground where you can actually put some food plots in and get some sun to it.

Deer are real simple animals. They, and you gotta have cover. And I like... I will say this. I like southern exposure. In the winter time, when it starts to, when it, when that thermometer drops, you know, down in the 30s, you need to have southern exposure because that's where the does are going to go.

And guess what's going to follow them, you're going to focus on that. What you'll notice is when you have land and stuff, and you're going to do some work sometimes when hunting season... Could be in the summer. Could be when it's hot. You'll learn pretty quickly that the does are on the north side.

The deer are on the north side of your property. [01:18:00] They're on the north side of the hill. All based on

Mitchell Shirk: thermal regulation. Yeah,

Tim Himmelberger: it's all based on that. And, but in the, but the best food is always on the south side. The better rate regeneration of the food, the brows and everything else is on the south side.

It's just easier for you to, if you're going to put the work into it, you're going to get a, but you're going to get a result that you don't have to wait for two or three years. You're going to get a more of a result. You put it in the north side, you're going to look in it, you're looking at three, four times the time.

You don't have that much time, you want to wait that long to to have that area be successful where you can do the whole South side. If you have Southern exposure it's just, it just makes it easier. Yeah.

Mitchell Shirk: Things are definitely going to go

Tim Himmelberger: quicker in that case. And you can grow more things, you can just grow more things, including you can thicken it up pretty quick too.

If you want to create some bedding areas is now we years ago, we didn't have coyotes out here. Now you have coyotes. You can go spotting around here and you'll see four deer laying there and two coyotes laying right behind them. Doesn't seem to bother them when they're healthy. I gotta tell you that.

I I find [01:19:00] that odd, but they just don't bother them.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah I've been around coyotes most of my life and watched them with cameras and in field and stuff like that. And some people swear about how much that impacts their deer herd. I just haven't experienced that. I'm not discrediting what they're saying.

I just have not seen coyotes disrupt a deer's pattern. So maybe I'm not seeing it with enough coyote pressure. Maybe there's a level where it gets too much. I let's talk about it like this from angle. I'm doing this bear hunt right this year and I've hunted deer my whole life and you'll have areas where bear come through and I've seen it where I've already hunted on food plots where you'll see deer and they'll get nervous and clear the field and the bear comes through and he passes through and then five minutes later they're back out in the field and it's like they live with them, they coincide, it's a predator prey relationship, I get it, but they live with it, but I found this place bear hunting [01:20:00] where the concentration is at a point where I'm not seeing deer pictures.

And I'm finding trails that look like deer trails and you start looking at the sign. It's this is actually bear sign. There's bear tracks. So it's got to be, there's got to be a point, a crossover where it does. I've just never experienced it with coyotes.

Tim Himmelberger: Yeah we've been seeing more and more we have pictures, my buddy room has pictures of young ones.

I had sightings right down below my house here of two young ones and a mother. So yeah I, around here, in agriculture areas, your biggest predator is the combine.

Mitchell Shirk: Oh, you got that man. That's a whole other topic of conversation. People love ag when it comes to deer hunting.

And I will tell people, tell them blue in the face, agriculture is the, is not a good thing for whitetails. In a sense, there's aspects of it are good, but there's a lot of it where in the big picture of it, [01:21:00] especially when you talk about wildlife in general, it's not.

Tim Himmelberger: No it's they kill a lot of.

It's just your equipment is, we go back to being efficient again. It's not effective anymore. It's efficient.

Mitchell Shirk: You talk about pheasants. Pheasants were such a big part of Pennsylvania hunting. And they left in a very short amount of time. And there's a lot of speculation as to why that happened.

And I understand there's multiple factors, but in my opinion, with my knowledge that I have in farming The creation of the disbine really put a hurtin on nests. Because, they used to mow hay with a sickle bar. Yeah. And a sickle bar, a lot of time, would just go over the nest. That's right. Or it wouldn't disrupt the nest.

Yeah. Disbine, that kills everything in sight. I have farmers, and people don't know this, and I probably shouldn't share this, but this is the fact of the matter. Farmers every year kill fawns. Pulse, all sorts of game with a disbind because of a mixed alfalfa grass field. That's like prime [01:22:00] habitat for cover.

Tim Himmelberger: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We, and they've tried. I, in my, when I was young, when I was, 12 to even up to 25 even older. It was nothing, especially when I was going to say in my, teen, in my, I was a teenager, I was born and raised in Stousburg, which is a little town between, Wommelsdorf and Meyerstown.

But that area was so full of pheasants, in the evening, it would look like Christmas bulbs in the trees. They'd come in and roost, and there was just thousands of pheasants. And I could never believe that they would just go away. And I know they blame avian flu. And I'm not saying that didn't get rid of some of them, but, it's what we get back to the efficient or effective efficient farming practices basically killed them all

Mitchell Shirk: big time. It has an impact on a lot of other aspects of wildlife, but man, that's another [01:23:00] podcast. One thing I thought of when we were talking and I want you to. To close us with this, I want you to tell the story of how you acquired land in New York with your butchering skills.

Cause when you told me that story, I thought that was the greatest land accusation for deer hunting I've ever heard in my life. My,

Tim Himmelberger: my, another friend of mine and I were we had gone up to New York. We were hunting wildlife management areas and we went up there to hang stands. We had talked to one of the rangers up there, and he said we could do that, so we did that.

And we were going up the following week to actually hunt them. So we went up there, and we went to this little restaurant called The Farmer's Wife or The Farmer's Daughter, I can't remember which one it was. But, anyway, I think it was The Farmer's Daughter near a town called Wayland. Okay. Which was not far from Dansville.

Okay. I don't know if you know where Dansville is on your way to Rochester. But this was in Steuben County. [01:24:00] And we ran into this guy and I said, Is there any place, anybody, farmers you think around here would let us hunt? He goes, if you want to hunt, you want to hunt this guy's land. He named him and stuff and, but he said he has six farms, but he won't let you hunt.

And I said, okay. I was there, so I wasn't, I was going to try it. So I went and I'm used to going to talk to farmers and was in my being in the butcher business and stuff I went to look at cattle all the time. So I Pulled up to this guy's place and a guy comes out and says, what do you want?

And I said we'd like to hunt we'd like to help you out with your deer population, and stuff I said we're bow hunters only we don't come back for gun hunting or anything like that. We just bow hunt, you know Now I said, He said, Welp, I gotta get going. He said, I gotta get ready to, we're gonna butcher tomorrow.

And I said Welp, you're in luck. I said, he says, What do you mean I'm in luck? I said, That's what I do for a living. And I said, I'll tell you what. I said, What are you [01:25:00] gonna kill? He said, I'm gonna kill two head of cattle and four pigs. And I said I'll tell you what. I'll come and do them for you if you let us hunt.

And and this guy's son. Who was, this guy, the man that owned it, was probably in his late 70s, guy's son was probably in his 50s. And and I opened up the back of my hatch, and I pulled out my knife belt, and I had everything with me, with my steel, and I said, can you do this? And I showed him how to steal the knife, and he goes, you're not crapping me, are you?

He said, I said, I'll be here, you tell me when, I said, to come, if you let us hunt, I'll do your animals for you. And, and that's what I did.

Mitchell Shirk: Four hogs and two beef, in my mind, that would take a few days. In all reality, what is that to you? It's like

Tim Himmelberger: anybody else that does anything for a living.

They can make it look a lot easier than you can. Sure. [01:26:00] I had I just told them how to help me. But to stay out of, stay out of my way, I'm going to show them that I can get this done, and I'll have it done, and we can go to lunch. And so we, I think I started at 6.

30 that we finally got it dropped and got it going. And 12. 30 we were heading for lunch.

Mitchell Shirk: And their mouths probably dropped. No, you

Tim Himmelberger: gotta remember, I only had, I had to skin them and then we quartered them. But they quartered them. I skunned them, split them. And then them guys quarter them, they're his two sons.

And they hung them in this, they had this big walk in cooler and a rail system. And they had it set up. This guy had a, he had a nice setup there, but all I really had, I shouldn't, all, it's a lot of work, but if you have, it is a lot of work, but I skunned him, gutted him, split him, halved him and then they...

They quartered them. And then I'd start, I started on, I dropped the pigs and and stuck them. And then it didn't take too long to do 'em . 'cause [01:27:00] I, they didn't want 'em shaved. I said if I can skin 'em, I can get these done quicker. 'cause usually we used to, years ago we used to skull them and shave 'em.

And a lot of the farmers, that's how they still did it. But no, he said no. We'll ski 'em. I

Mitchell Shirk: said, all right, that makes my life easier. I love that story. The first time you told me that you were hunting New York, cause you were showing me some of the buck you killed in New York and telling me stories about hunting up there.

And when you told me that story about getting land up there, I'm like, that has to be one of the greatest permission, acquisition I've ever heard of.

Tim Himmelberger: What was funny was, my buddy, he was one of the, he was one of the He was like in management. He he was maintenance manager.

He was like the top guy in maintenance at Georgio. Yeah. I said to the guy, I said, Now look, I'm g we're we should We're lucky enough to harvest one of your bugs. Or two. I said, I'll make you anything you want and send it back to you. And he just looked at me. And he said what? And I said ring baloney.

I didn't know what ring baloney was up there. I said, do you like horseradish? I said, I start making these new horseradish ring [01:28:00] bolognese are delicious, he goes I like horseradish, I said, all right, I'll make some of them. I'll make you some beef sticks, some jerkies and some bag bologna.

They didn't know what bag bologna was either. Oh so now, so I made them cloth bag, three inch, just a three inch, but I made the whole thing sticks, everything. And shipped it to him and that guy was so tickled. He's, he calls me up and he goes, I just want to tell you something, buddy, you can come out here and hunt any time you want.

And his wife got on the phone and she goes, I'm going to send you a picture. You gotta see this. He's driving around with his tractor going down to the neighbors with this ring baloney hanging through the steering wheel. Because he wants him to try this horseradish rainbow and it was just funny. Oh, that is funny.

Yeah, but they actually, this guy was so tickled that he actually drove from New York. The one weekend he called me and told me he's coming and he drove down to the butcher my butcher shop there and walked in there [01:29:00] And wanted to see it himself. He wanted to see it himself.

Yeah, I had great and then I think we hunted there I Think three or four years yet and they passed. Okay And then the hunting ended. Okay. Yeah, then they They kept it with the family, that was it. Which was, I understood that, but yeah. Even the son said, He even said, he said, You guys, he said, I was worried my dad was gonna give you the farm!

Ha That was funny.

Mitchell Shirk: Anyway. Anyway hey, let's let's wrap this one up. Thanks for doing this, Tim. I appreciate you coming on. Hopefully we'll have another couple of hunting stories to tell after this. Look, I

Tim Himmelberger: just think it's great what you do. I really mean that.

Appreciate it. Somebody's got to go do it. It's got a billion dollar industry and nobody talks about it.

Mitchell Shirk: Yeah, the between farming and hunting, there are two things I enjoy and I enjoy doing this. So thanks for being a part of this one and catch you on the next one. Yep.

Tim Himmelberger: Thanks.