The Hardway is More Satisfying w/ Dan Collins

Show Notes

On this week's episode of the Pennsylvania Woodsman, Mitch is joined by Dan Collins from Hardway Outdoors.  Dan is an all around avid outdoorsman, enjoying the moment while he is in it.  We begin our conversation recapping Dan's recent experience guiding fishing trips in Alaska.  Then we dive into the wonderful world of bowhunting whitetails.

Dan has a passion for hunting with a stickbow and we discuss what the process of preparation looks like for him leading to opening day.  Dan hunted opening week, but left for a trip to hunt Mule Deer out west shortly after.  This leads us to discuss preparation for the time of year we all love - the rut.  Dan shares how he used summertime trail cameras, historical hunting experiences, and knowledge of terrain and pinch points to put himself in the best odds locations for a whitetail buck this fall.  The moral of this episode is to enjoy what you're doing, while you're doing it - it's about the adventure!

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

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] You're listening to the Pennsylvania Woodsman powered by Sportsman's Empire Podcast Network. This show is driven to provide relatable hunting and outdoor content in the Keystone State and surrounding Northeast. On this show, you'll hear an array of perspectives from biologists and industry professionals to average Joes with a lifetime of knowledge.

All centered around values aiming to be better outdoorsmen and women, both in the field as well as home and daily life. No clicks, no self interest, just the light in the pursuit of creation. And now, your host, the pride of Pennsylvania, the man who shoots straight and won't steer you wrong, Johnny Appleseed himself, Mitchell Shirk.

Mitchell Shirk. Mitchell Shirk. Mitchell Shirk.

Alright, back at it again. Thanks for tuning in to another episode, guys. I hope you guys are enjoying the process, enjoying the time out in the field. If you're getting it, I hope you're getting it out in the field. I'm trying to [00:01:00] make do with what I can here. It's it's an exciting, yet Somehow stressful time if you make it that way.

Self inflicted for sure. Most of the time I'm overthinking this and thinking I gotta get it done. I gotta kill a deer. I gotta shoot the buck. I gotta shoot the buck that I want to kill. I'm after these deer. Yadda, yadda. And guess what? At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. I'm slowly learning that here.

It's gonna take some bricks on my head, I think. I'm slowly learning that the process and the pursuit is way more fun than the actual kill. And I have noticed that, as I'm recording this, I still haven't haven't filled my buck tag. Hopefully by the time this episode releases, I will. But, I've, I thought this the other week when I passed the buck up, it was a buck that got me excited.

But as it came closer, I realized it was not a deer I wanted to shoot. And it occurred to me like, this is fun. I. don't want to be done just yet. Whatever happens this season, I've had a great [00:02:00] season. I've been blessed. I've been thankful for the time in the woods with the people that I got to spend with.

I'm hoping for more opportunities with some other hunting friends. And I've been blessed to tag some great animals. And I hope that you guys have that same mentality, that anything that happens at this point is a bonus. And keep positive. It's easy to get frustrated. The rut is very boom or bust as I've said before, and I'll say again, you can be in the heat of it one day and cold as ice the next.

Just enjoy it. It comes once a year, guys, this time of year, this end of October, beginning of November chasing, seeking phase of whitetail hunting. That's so many of us love and crave. You're living it. This is a time you took vacation for, you allotted time and planned for, and enjoy it regardless of what happens.

There's so many other worse things you could be doing than chasing whitetails. So enjoy it while it lasts. And [00:03:00] speaking of enjoying the process and just going with the flow and adventure this week's guest is somebody who does just that on a regular basis. And we he shares some of those trips and plans and crazy things that's been happening.

I'm talking about Dan Collins from Hardway Outdoors. And Dan, as we as we record this, it was leading into the beginning of the season. And we catch up with some of the trips that he's been doing. He just came back from guiding fishing in Alaska, which sounded like a blast. And we touch base on that.

And then we get into hunting season. We talk about what he had planned for opening. weekend in the first few days of the bow season. But Dan has a couple trips planned out this year. The first trip he had planned was a mule deer hunt out West. And if if you haven't taken notice, they had a very successful mule deer hunting trip.

You should check out his YouTube channel. He's got the videos posted. And he also was planning [00:04:00] on he drew a Kansas whitetail tag that he was planning on going out to Kansas this year and hunting for. He's got some windows which he can hunt Pennsylvania, and those windows that we're talking about on this episode fit really well with this time of year.

And, What he's looking for, how he's going about it, but he's ultimately looking for a couple of things, relying on the cameras he out and had out in the summer, the knowledge of the past, and he's rolling with it. And we're going to talk about what specifically in terrain features and the. The timing of things that he likes for some of these places, and we're going to get into the nitty gritty of that.

But what I love about this episode is it's very much, let's enjoy the process. Let's enjoy the hunt and of course go with our best foot forward with all the knowledge we have, but realize that it's hunting, not killing. So great episode with Dan. I hope you guys enjoy it. Make sure you check out his YouTube channel.

Great, great channel. He does a good job. He's done it for a long time. Really good content coming from Dan. [00:05:00] And let's get to this episode right before we do. Quick shout out to our sponsors, Radix Hunting. Guys, in my opinion, some of the better trail cameras that I have out now, I actually, a few years ago, I'm not gonna name the company, but a few years ago when I shot that really good buck, I won a trail camera.

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That was frustrating. I can tell you I have had. Nothing but positive things to say from my Radix cameras. The image quality, the response time from the cell cameras, the ease of setup, the customer service, everything about the [00:06:00] Radix setup. I have been thrilled with from the camera perspective. Make sure you check out the stick and pick camera accessories.

Being able to hang your camera on any tree, any post, anywhere, anytime. With their very easy to manipulate. Bracket system and check out their tree stands and all the other hunting accessories available made available at radixhunting. com. And Hey, let's get to this episode with Dan Collins.

So joining me today on this week's show on the phone with me is Dan Collins from Hardway Outdoors. Dan, what's going on? Not much Mitchell, just I got done scouting here and sitting out and trying to get better service and to do the podcast but it's a little chilly this evening, full moon, leaves are changing colors, it's beautiful here this time of year.

Yeah, it's making you feel like it's that time, it's that [00:07:00] time. You're playing catch up on the scouting game because you were you were away for quite a while, weren't you? Yep I did two months in Alaska guiding fishing trips up there but I was fortunate that the, I I, Got some a lot of trail cameras hung before I left.

So now I actually have some Intel to go off of. And then now this whole like week and two weeks before the season, I've just been growing on that and adding more cameras and doing more scouting off of summer Intel, my cameras got while I was away. Fantastic. I want to hear a little bit more about Alaska.

So you were gone for two months, you said, and you were guiding fishing trips. How did that even come about? Back in 2018, I I met this guy named Pete Horger, and there's probably, whoever's listening to this, I'm sure there's somebody out there, maybe 30 people that know Pete. It's, he's just a social butterfly, we call him.

Everybody knows Pete. But, I met him in college in 2018 for two days. I held a... A [00:08:00] fly fishing competition for a bunch of colleges in Pennsylvania and he came to it and kept in touch with him and then, I don't know, flash forward, I start my own guiding business here in Pennsylvania and he reached out that they needed some guides up in Alaska at this lodge and that's how it pretty much came to be.

I went up this year for the first year up there, tell me about that experience guiding people in Alaska. First of all, you had to see things that you couldn't have ever imagined you would see in your wildest dreams when you compare it to central Pennsylvania. But tell me about the day to day up there when you were doing that.

Yeah, the, once we started getting guests coming into the lodge, it'd be like groups of maybe about 12 to 15 people pick them up at the airport. And then we take the boats up to the lodge, about eight, eight miles up river on the Unalakleet river and get them all settled in that'd be a Sunday.

And then. [00:09:00] And then Monday is starting the guide fishing trips, and mostly folks, this was mostly through late July and August focusing on the silver salmon, the cohoes, that's like the big draw for that lodge and that river that they average about. Eight, nine pounds. Sometimes you sneak in an 11 but great fighting fish, but yeah, just running jet boats with two guests and then you get back to the lodge and then you fillet their fish, put it in boxes and and then there's a little cocktail hour every night you go and socialize and make but.

And that's just on repeat week in, week out. So what what were some of the highlights for you? Obviously going away and doing that. I know you enjoy fishing and being in that setting was probably pretty awesome, but was there any specific highlights that you really enjoyed in that time up there?

The fishing was phenomenal. I loved every second of [00:10:00] that. But my favorite part was just the camaraderie and the whole crew up there. Amazing people to work with. I've worked in environments where you're like a seasonal crew before and Sometimes you get one bad, one bad, person in there, and it throws off the whole thing, and just makes it drag on everybody, but this crew was unbelievable, so awesome, and that just makes it easier for everybody, you make friends for a lifetime, and just was treated so well by, by everybody.

That's what was the biggest takeaway for me is you can't ask for more than that. No matter how good the fishing is or anything, it's what the crew that makes it. So it was good. Now, did you make any connections for future trips for yourself, whether that be hunting or fishing? I guess I had to guests offer me to Come to the ranches in Texas and go hunting and stuff.

But other than that, pretty much everybody was from the south.[00:11:00] I would hand out business cards and like contact information if they wanted to, if they were ever in Pennsylvania. But it, everybody was southern it seemed. So I don't know how many of 'em I'll get to see in Pennsylvania, but. That's pretty cool. I'm glad you got that experience, but now we're back to Pennsylvania and, leading into this season. Preparation and everything else, the, the heightening up for the season. I wouldn't mind stepping back a little bit and just letting you introduce yourself.

Like I'm curious how you got started with your YouTube channel and guiding and everything else that you do that's, all outdoors related, right? Yeah, man. So the, I've hunted and fished my whole life and I can't. What got me to pick up the camera was really, we were talking before you started recording about Leatherwood Outdoors and this was like 2010 or something.

I, I, just, I was 7th, 8th grade watching the Leatherwood guys and them doing, Shane Reed, [00:12:00] Ryan Toth doing the recurve hunting, which is what I've done my whole life. My dad got me into that and I was like, I'm going to try filming. Filmed on an iPod Touch for two or three years, edited on my iPod Touch.

And, just really not good footage and, but it, it was cool to me. I didn't care what the quality or anything was. It was just fun for me to film it and just put it out there. Couldn't care less what happened to it, or who watched. And then it was like, all right, let's try to upgrade the camera.

So I got like a 200 camera from Walmart and started filming on that. And. And it just just super, super slow growth. But it's getting somewhere. I don't know, but just kept keeping at it and, got another nicer camera a couple years ago, and then quality's just gotten better from there, but I've never put too much effort into it.

It's just something I like to do. I'm not doing it to be famous or like I'm the greatest [00:13:00] hunter. I'm not trying to shed light on. I just film it because that's like my journal. I just like filming it and watching it. And I love the camaraderie of hunting. Like we talked before. You started recording about the the hunting camps in Pennsylvania and that that camaraderie you get, I love that kind of feeling, but I'm always hunting alone, it seems, throughout archery it's definitely just geared, my YouTube channel is just although I'm alone, I can film it and still be able to share it and get that camaraderie aspect out of it.

With people I know and people I don't know and I make new friends out that we talk on the videos and Instagram. And so it's cool that I can, it's turned into a community in a way. Certainly. Now the name Hardway Outdoors, tell me a little bit about how that name come up. Cause when I think of Hardway Outdoors and the name, like there's gotta be meaning behind that.

Like I think about My friend John [00:14:00] Kolb, who has the Suffering Outdoors channel he's got meaning behind that name, Suffering Outdoors. I'm curious what yours is. Yeah. So I've hunted with a traditional bow my whole life and and fly fish. So to me, that was like the hard way to do things was to traditional bow hunt and fly fish.

So that's how the name came about. There's a, actually another YouTuber. Who's, who doesn't do it anymore. His name is Justin Klee. He had a YouTube channel. It's called Outdoor Pride. And me and him became friends through YouTube when we both started at the same time in like 2011. And I was like talking to him one day.

I just pulled on this name, hard way outdoors. And he's dude, that's that totally fits you at work. So I ran with it. Nice. It's like one of those things that like I grew up with a compound in hand, like I shot. I've shot my fair share of recurves and longbows, but like [00:15:00] the first bow that I ever picked up was like one of those old bear, like the ones people would call a wheelbow, but it was like a, 25 pound little compound bow.

And that was the first thing I ever picked up and I used to shoot it with, just the shelf and practice that and work my way up through, but I never really got used to shooting. Stick bows and stuff, and have you picked up a compound like at all in your life, or you've pretty much just been all the way stick bow your whole life?

I, my dad owned some old compounds. He was a compound hunter until the early 90s I believe. And then he, so like that was we have three or four compounds at the house that... Or from that time frame, really old one I shot them a couple of times and then I'll go to like bow shoots or a 3D course with my friends that shoot compound and, you talk them into a little, talk them into it a little bit and they let me shoot it and so I have shot a the newer today modern world compounds, but I've only owned recurves.

My dad has a collection [00:16:00] of 80, probably up to 80 long bows, recurve self bows. And that's just how I grew up. And I love it. It's, I have nothing against it. Whatever you want to do. I don't care how you hunt. It's just how I like doing it is with a recurve or a long bow, sure, and I've heard a lot of people say that exact same thing, like it's just one of those things that becomes ingrained in them certain points in your life, I think you're most impressionable, and for whatever reason that's what's going to leave its lasting mark on you, and case in point would be traditional archery and such.

I'm curious, like, how do you there's a lot of different topics about shooting method and aiming and such do you shoot instinctively, or do you use different aiming methods? Tell me a little bit about that. Yeah. So growing up I've always shot instinctive through until about a year ago.

And then I started shooting more, it's called like gap shooting or aiming. It's more of an aim. I don't have sights. I you just referenced off of the tip of your arrow at [00:17:00] full draw. And that has really helped me tremendously because I battled target panic for a number of years. Just not be able to anchor up, hit full draw at times, physically you could, I could do it, but once you put a target in front of me and I knew how that arrow was going to fly, I just had, I really struggled.

So me ditching the instinctive and going more to aiming has really forced me to focus on full draw, anchoring up and aiming my shot. I've now I've now switched to the aiming method, is I forget, I don't know the terminology of it. And speaking of target panic, that's something that I feel like everybody has it to a certain degree.

It's just a matter of how much have you done, how well of a job have you done in suppressing the beast in a manner that you can control your shot. I've listened lately this year, I listened to different podcasts that Joel Turner's been on, Shot IQ, and his philosophy and the mental game behind shooting really [00:18:00] opened my eyes to things that it In the back of my mind, I understood, but I didn't, I never thought about it in that context.

And like when it came to like target panic, I always tried to cure it with some kind of mechanism, like a mechanical means. Like I started shooting with my compound right at an index finger and I was punching the heck out of that trigger and I couldn't break that. So how did I break it? I learned to shoot.

A hinge release back tension. I shot that forever and I'll never forget. Like I was shooting it for so long and I was getting patient with it, getting used to it, and I thought I'm going to go back to my index trigger and. It didn't take me long, I was punching the trigger again, and it was a mental blockade, and it took so long to mentally train myself, and I'm still learning new things to mentally prepare myself under pressure.

But like I said, for the longest time it was like, mechanical means. So you talked about switching your aiming was switching your aiming one of the things that really helped the most combat that? Or were there other things that you were doing to try to help combat target panic from a, an [00:19:00] instinctive shooter's perspective?

Because in my mind the way I think about beat breaking target panic I've got so many... I can't, I keep thinking of the same word like mechanisms or let off or release age or things that help that, but with shooting with your fingers and, a stick bow and stuff like to me, that always seemed even harder and like more amplified.

So I'm just curious, like the approach. Yeah. So first of all, it's motivation. Last year I missed three bucks with my long bow and that was. Going into that season, that was the best I've ever shot in my life. And that, and I missed three bucks. And then, so that was just the biggest kick to me to, all right, you got to buckle down and figure this out before next fall.

And my good friend, Chris Hanzos, like really helped me with it. He's like this, you're the, you're a good hunter but you can only do so much scouting. It doesn't matter how much [00:20:00] you scout and put deer in front of you. You need to. Get your shot dialed in, and I understand that for sure.

I've always practiced and I wouldn't walk in the field if I wasn't confident with my bow but it was just that extra push to really dial in my craft, and I mailed a bow up to Alaska and I shot that. I shot every day two or three times a day up there, as much as I possibly could.

And constant repetition, building up more strength. Just get it, holding it, holding my holding it full draw for as long as I possibly could. And letting down slowly, and just building up a lot more strength. And that really helps. I dropped the weight of my bow down from 55 to 45. And now built that strength up.

Now I'm shooting 55 again and just totally got, getting all of it and anchoring up and everything. But it, once I overcame just the, I don't want to say like [00:21:00] weakness of drawing the bow. Once I just built up more muscle mass, I, that's what was like the barrier that I broke through.

And then it just became figuring out each bow that I've shot. Like where do I have to aim at 15 or 10 or 20 yards? Where do I need that to be? And it was, if I just do the same thing every time, or draw. It's, I just need to figure out where this bow is shooting now, and we're good to go, yeah, the talk about the hard way for sure, like I'm thinking about the different weapons we have available to us when it comes to archery hunting. I know people this year who literally sighted their crossbow in a day or two before the season, their broadheads shot good, okay, I'm ready to go, and they went hunting.

And like me, that baffles me because I spend so many weeks. Usually, sometimes even months preparing, with making sure that my, my compounds tuned the way it needs to be and tuning my [00:22:00] arrows and my broadheads and everything else and practicing, but I can be honest with you. I usually don't shoot every day.

And I could still get away with shooting very good 30, 40 yards. Have high confidence that I'm going to put a killing shot on. And then you go into something like what you're doing. It's just, everything's amplified. You're talking about a condensed range.

You're talking about, missing out on your muscle memory by a day or two can be majorly impactful. Yeah. I know once we started getting into a little more guiding and through August, I was shooting less. So it was, and then getting home in September a couple weeks ago, it was like getting just back into it.

It didn't take me long, but I could definitely tell that little hiatus of not shooting did not help. Yeah, so it's just doing it every day. I've shot every day of this week. Gonna shoot tomorrow and the next day and I'll shoot under the house lights [00:23:00] all season this year and just keep it all thrashed and dialed in, I always try to take, I always bring a target with me and I throw it like in the parking lot or wherever I'm hunting and fling a couple of arrows before I even go out in the field too.

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That's a good thing to do. And I think a lot of us should be able to do that because it's a good thing to, it's a good thing to work on again, building that muscle memory. So shifting gears a little bit and leading into the season, as we're recording this, we're leading right up to the beginning of season.

But as, [00:25:00] as people are listening to this, we're going to be in season. And I'm curious, like the way your year looked out leading up to hunting season. Walk me through your planning and preparation to how you're going to, you Focus on your season. First of all, you knew you were going to be gone two months, which meant you weren't going to be doing any scouting, the scouting you were going to be doing was through the cameras that you put out.

So tell me your mindset of the cameras you placed out and how are you using that information for your season? Are you looking at certain windows throughout the season? What's your hunting schedule going to be like that sort of thing. Yeah. These mostly focused on these three areas.

And they're large areas, but I'll just, we'll call them A, B, and C, and the, this will be my second year hunting A and B. C is a new one, I hang, I hung cameras in it last year and had really good results. So now it's on the radio radar. So it's really[00:26:00] I'm going off of, Old camera data that's huge to me and relating it to the weather and wind and everything I'll look up the wind and everything and the past weather data of that day when I got a specific Picture of a deer and everything.

So that's more kind of the bulk of my thought process going into the season is What areas were happening on a certain time frame and weather, and then my cameras I put out this year. It's just gauging what Bucks made it. Because if I see a familiar face and can figure out what he was doing last year.

Maybe there's a chance of doing the same thing this year. So that's like the, what I'm going for with placing my cameras in the summer and maybe seeing who else is around it's but other than that yeah, so opening day I, so spot C that I've mentioned that I did not hunt last year, but I had a camera in there.

For some reason the end of September and first [00:27:00] week of October, this one, I hung it over just a scrape that I found and this... Location was littered with these giant bucks in daylight, and I have no, no clue why. It was just a typical Weather, 50 to 70 degrees, just typical wet, just typical early October, late November weather.

Nothing, no weather or anything. It was my only camera that really did good that time frame. So I'm just gonna I haven't been in there yet, I have, I put a camera in there before I left. I'm just gonna go right in there and hunt that all day opening day and just... Cause there was enough mature bucks using that there, there might be a chance that they could be doing it on the same program this year.

So I'm going to just go in there and find out. Talking about hunting all day, it's not something you hear a lot of people talk about in the early season. Talk a little bit more about that. What's making you feel that hunting it all day is worth your time investing [00:28:00] it? Yeah. So the camera. The camera data and my own personal data of me hunting and past camera data of any time of year, you have no, there's really no telling when a buck is going to walk by.

Yeah, sunlight, sunrise and sunset, deer movement more, but I get so many pictures of big bucks at 9, 10, noon, 1, 2, 8 PM. You have, you really don't have an idea. So it, I'm just gonna put all my time in, unless the wind switches, and I don't like the wind for some reason and then I'll, I would bounce out of there.

But the plan is to just sit it the whole way through the day just because you really never know when something's going to happen. The the wind topic too, and that's one I struggle with. I've heard so many different philosophies on the wind. I pay attention to the wind.

I'm always [00:29:00] trying to think of what's going to be my best option, but are the places you're hunting, or do you have an array of wind opportunity for you to access in and out of a location like that? Or is there anything that stands out as this place is saying, maybe they were using this in daylight so much.

Because there was such a wind advantage for them like I'm thinking like what's gonna keep you from having to deviate from opening day plans of wind direction so to speak right? Yeah. I mean I have I'm always constantly paying attention to the wind forecast and everything and trying to gauge, what there's, I have a bunch of spots I can hunt on a certain wind and spots that work on a couple of different winds and spots where you need like that one specific type, but like for this specific spot I'm talking about, it's just like a really good pinch point where the deer have to walk through.

Thank you. [00:30:00] If they're coming through, they have to walk through this scrape, and if my wind is blowing in that travel, whether, either if they're going from point A to point B or point B to point A if my wind crosses that in any way, I'm going to have to get out of there. It it's not set in stone that I'm gonna hunt it, it's just, ideally, I would like to hunt it, but if there's a, the wind for the tree I have picked out isn't gonna pan out, then I gotta, I'm gonna bounce to plan B or something it's all situational, it's all a huge guessing game, any, you can know as much as you want about Whitetails, but, you're never at the biggest advantage, it's, the cards are always in their favor You're playing chess, and typically you lose.

It's just a huge guessing game. Big guessing game. Oh, it definitely is, and it's a big guessing game that we like to overthink all the time. And, that's one of the things I've learned in doing a podcast, and [00:31:00] getting people's philosophies, and coming up with these ideas it makes me overthink everything I do.

There's so many times where I need to step back and be like, Mitchell, you know how to hunt, you know what you need to do, just go do it and stop questioning yourself, go with your gut in it. One thing I was wondering too, so you talked about this opening day spot in the early part of the season, this spot C was really good.

So is, with that information in mind, let's keep thinking all things considered. Does that mean you'll be fairly aggressive in how you approach that the first few days in season? And you, and. To tailor that question, he'd said about you had a tree picked out, do you have multiple trees picked out that you can, does this set up in a way that you can hunt maybe cheat a couple of winds and just bounce from one tree to the next within 20, 30 yards to try to cheat the wind a little bit, and will you be fairly aggressive, or is this one of those things where you're going to hold back and wait until you get the perfect wind in [00:32:00] that first 10 days and throw a sit at it?

No, I'm just gonna be totally aggressive with it. I do have probably three trees there that are huntable. And then I could do two different, a couple different wins with those. So if I climb... The one tree and the wind switch is if it's in the favor of the other trees, I will then climb them and ride the rest of the day out.

And what was, what else were you asking? Yeah, I was just wondering how you would approach that from the the if you'd be aggressive the first day and bounce around from tree to tree and be the winner. If you would just wait back until you got what you'd consider the perfect wind in the first few days and then hunt.

And I don't know what your hunting schedule is like that first week. Yes. I'm just I'm gonna go just super aggressive and get right in there. Ideally just go right at it and and hope for the best. I do have a trail camera in there and I'll be able to pull that card and see what's going on recently.

And then [00:33:00] make, make a decision if I want to hunt that again, maybe on Monday or something. But I really don't have much time. That next Friday, so the, is we're going out west to hunt mule deer for 10 days. I'll be like out of Pennsylvania. For the better part of October.

Gotcha. And you'll be returning when? Probably the 20 something, 20 something of October. It's like when it's starting to get a lot better in the deer wood. That's my favorite timeframe is mid to late October. And and then I also drew a Kansas deer tag this year too, so I'm trying to work that into the rut.

So the past couple of years I've been really picky in Pennsylvania in bow season. But. I don't know how, if one gets me fired up pretty good and he's a good looking buck, I probably won't hold back this year. So I can spend some time in Kansas. Nice. So walk me through, so let's go with this philosophy.

Let's just say you go with this [00:34:00] This process at spot C, this opening week strategy, and for whatever reason, it just doesn't pan out for whatever reason. It, you just didn't see the deer you happened or the wind screwed you or something along those lines. And we're going to be going out West doing a Western hunt and coming back.

Walk me into your mentality leading into that next phase of the season. You're going to be approaching that. Last third of October when you'll be here you'd mentioned that you were you already, that's your favorite time to be in the deer woods. I can relate to that.

So walk me through your spots and your approach leading into that part of the year. So that's getting to be more of the rut timeframe. It's still late October, but you're still going to see. Bucks checking and working scrapes more and scent checking does so I considered as I turned into a doe hunter Even though I'm not gonna target a doe the bucks are starting to turn into doe hunters, [00:35:00] too So if you're both hunting does you're gonna you're more inclined to run into A buck, so that's how my gears switch as October goes on and finding where the does are, where they're bedding, where they're feeding and find it, hopefully finding some scrapes around that, and then hunting the downwind side of those scrapes.

That's the, what goes through my head. And then as you get into November, I'm hunting more, more funneled areas. I, since I'm using a. A traditional bow, I have to have deer close, so I'm always focused on some sort of pinch point. That's like the number one factor.

I need every inch I can get and yard I can get on a deer to be closer to my tree. Once the bucks really start kicking in and moving more in the daylight just finding paths of least resistance and where they feel comfortable to travel, downwind of doe bedding areas. Leeward sides of the ridges, possibly where a ditch meets the ridge in a way that really seems to funnel bucks [00:36:00] down.

And so I'm always focused on those pinch points. That's my best friend in the bigger woods. Talking about talk about doe groups and hunting doe, the areas that you're hunting A, B, and C. Do you have a pretty good handle from a historic basis of where doe groups like to congregate or how are you finding those doe groups in order to then lead you to, something following behind them?

Yeah. So it's mostly a lot of walking kick up does, and then you walk it again, you kick up those or something in the same spot. Like, all right that's two times, three times now I've kicked up those there. That's now on my radar that. If I know that, I can go in here and see does almost every time.

A buck also knows that. So that's the mindset that I have is. Either where I'm, if I'm shed hunting in the spring, in the early spring or hanging trail cameras, anytime I'm out in the woods, I'm always trying to hone in on where does [00:37:00] are, I'm always putting a pin down if I see a group of does and that's how I've had a lot of, in the last year, that's how I had a great success is figuring out where the does were and Then the box came with that.

So one end of October and November rolled around. So am I following you correctly that like in the, in this big wood setting that you're hunting, are you finding that on a yearly basis from shed hunting season to Turkey hunting season or whatever, you're still finding some consistency in the areas that are holding those dough groups, or do you see that fluctuate throughout the season?

It definitely fluctuates from now until November just because of the leaves on the trees. Once you lose those leaves, they definitely get sucked into a little bit thicker areas. Grape vines, clear cuts stuff like that. So it's knowing where those areas are that are still thicker. Even with no leaf [00:38:00] cover those are the main focus for me.

That's where I find a lot of doe bedding. And the buck, a buck, a mature buck they're always in, in some sort of cover anyway. They don't like to come out in the open often, so it, it will, it, it works both ways. You're going to be in some doe bedding and deer bedding in general on any sort of edge or thicker cover with.

With no leaves and then running the bucks that way. Oh certainly. What do you think is going to be your goal this year? I know you had said earlier that you think that, any buck that gets you excited is going to go. But, what exactly do you... Do you envision that or do you have any specific goals or objectives that you'd like to accomplish out the season?

I think we all set them to some degree I'm curious how, what your mentality is going into this PA season. Man just to take in and learn as much as I possibly can. That's always been my goal and being a traditional archer [00:39:00] that it helps me. Since I'm at more of a disadvantage, I don't get as many deer as other archers, archery, archery hunters so it forces me to learn more and that's another aspect of Trish and Archery that I love, yeah, I'm sorry. I'm drawing a blank. I get sidetracked. Oh, you're like me. You get, you you start thinking about something and then you go, Did I leave the stove on? Yeah, and I do it all the time. You were talking about Oh, yeah, my Go ahead. My goals for the season.

Yeah. I I haven't got a deer with my bow since, I think, 2019, and I got two doe tags, so it's, I would, the first week of the season all of next week I'm, I'm gonna try for a doe, mostly, just to, just kinda Get that back into me, shooting an arrow at a deer and we, where I'm currently at, it's just littered, absolutely littered with does it's seriously a problem.

There's so many vehicle collisions it makes hunting the rut [00:40:00] very difficult because there is so many does every buck. Has a doe they don't have to cruise around. So it's making a very tough atmosphere to Bowhunting having so many does and you think big woods in Pennsylvania. It's like there's no more deer there's where i'm at is They're like raccoons It's insane.

It is absolutely insane. How many does are here? And it, I don't, to me it's not all of them look very healthy, it's a very healthy herd, they have plenty of food to have that size of a herd. But, like I mentioned, the vehicle collisions and then risking disease and stuff, so I it's I'd like to take a doe or two out and just balance it out, just do my part of helping the ecosystem to, I've passed up does for a long time in archery and so it, yeah, I don't know if that, it's not just me, That's [00:41:00] why there's so many does but right was that because you were holding out for a buck at all times or right?

Yeah, it was just I always tried to save it the dough tags for flintlock season and it didn't bother me to eat them Or whatever. It's I was always one that complained about there's no deer and I've also it's now it's, I've, now that I'm starting to hunt this, the newer spots, just this one in specific is un, unbelievable how many deer there are.

I know last year in rifle season, I hunted this one area for, I think 10 days and I saw 160 does, probably a lot of repeats. But there's very few places in Pennsylvania and on public ground, you're going to have numbers like that. Like I was, it would. What I would see 16 to 25 does a day in rifle season in the daylight walking around.

Wow. Yeah It was it made a it was a really tough archery hunting in there. They're in the right Interesting. Yeah, I wouldn't have expected that. That's not something I'm used [00:42:00] to. I think about all the different big woods pieces of land that I hunt in northern, Pennsylvania And I can't relate to that at all.

And I've actually heard very few people talk about that. It like reminds me of, hearing stories of, the eight, the, whenever the big, the boom was in the nineties or whatever, when there was such ample deer populations in certain parts of the big woods. It's it's unbelievable.

Because there's so many hunting camps, there's so many people that do deer drives and rifle season, and another thing to mention, in that area that I saw 160 does and rifle, there, I counted 12 deer drives that week, in that area, every one of them there was shooting going on, and, but it, there's no shortage of deer drives or hunters or hunting camps or anything.

I don't know how this deer population is so good right here. But it is, it, they are thriving. It's pretty crazy. Yeah. Talking about doing things the hard [00:43:00] way you brought up Flintlock hunting, and I know you enjoy that. I enjoy that. It's a fun time of the year to be doing that. Is that another one of those things where it's just.

It's a little bit again, it's the hard way. There's an allure to that. Do you enjoy that almost as much as archery hunting? I, archery is my favorite thing, but it's right there with it. So hunting with a front lock, it is a blast. I've got one deer with it out of 14 times pulling the trigger over my hunting career.

It's just it's a fun way to hunt. It's just that primitive aspect. I also hunt with a rifle. I'm not opposed to hunt with a rifle. I do. A lot and, but it it's a hunt with a flintlock and being able to hunt three weeks of it in Pennsylvania, it's, we're very fortunate. So it's a cool way to have a little edge on the deer, but not really compared to a bow.

Yeah in theory you're supposed to, but it's one of those that a lot of people can [00:44:00] really struggle with to, to fine tune and be proficient with. What's been one of your biggest biggest hurdles in flintlock hunting? Not putting a lot of powder in the pan. Oh, just a little bit of powder.

Cause I always put. When I was younger, I put a lot in there and flinched really bad, just because there's big flash and delay and everything, but I got my first year with a flintlock last year. I was putting a drive on to my two buddies and had a, it ended up being a shed buck. It's just a young shed buck.

But I got him. It was like a 50 yard shot. I couldn't believe it was, it Really cool experience to get the first one with a flintlock. Yeah, I've I've been real fortunate to get a couple with the flintlock. It's a really fun fun thing. But it's always fun, again, going back to the camp camaraderie thing.

I always feel like flintlock season was another time to reconvene and join with the gang. Maybe make a couple pushes or hunt at camp and hunt on your own. But then get together at lunchtime or something like that. And that's [00:45:00] probably one of the things I've enjoyed about the late season as much as any.

Because... Can you take that pressure off yourself a little bit from archery hunting, cause you're so driven to shoot a buck and it's a solo game, like we were talking. Yeah. The front lock, it brings that camp atmosphere. And it's a lot more relaxed way to hunt, come back and enjoy some lunch and whatnot, and get to.

Get the guys together for some front walk hunting and it's just good fun. If you get one or you don't It's just a blast for sure hey, we've been rolling here for a little while. I'll be mindful of your time But I am curious though. Is there anything else?

Pressing on your list for the fall outside of the deer hunting I know you said you're going out West mule deer hunting to tell me a little bit about that before we let you go Yeah, so I this is my third year hunting mule deer out there. Been fortunate to take two bucks the last two years and taking some of my buddies out there this [00:46:00] year.

Two of that, there's four of us going and it's two, two of them, it's their first time hunting mule deer. And the one he's never been west of Ohio, my buddy Nate. So it's it's going to be really cool just to see his eyes light up when we drive out there and we see, you see the mountains and everything.

But it we're hunting a new unit that I've never even been in. So it's just, that's gonna be a learning experience, but it's all the same. It's Habitat. And, just same thing, look forward, mule deer hunting and just excited to go out. It's one of my favorite things.

It's become one of my favorite things to do. It's just a different style. It's just a whole different ball game. You can't even really compare it to whitetails. It's just something different. I'm hooked on it. I'll do it every year of my life until my legs give out. It's so fun.

That's fun. And from the video and standpoint, going to be trying to bring as much of that content out as possible on the hard way outdoors channel, I'm assuming. Absolutely. Yeah. I've been on a [00:47:00] little kind of break. I put up one video a couple, like a month or two ago in Alaska fishing up there. And then just been busy with guiding and now I'm finally home.

So videos are going to start rolling out here from Pennsylvania and out West. And Kansas and everything. So getting back into the groove, best time of the year. Yeah. How often do you try to put a video out throughout a hunting season? Or do you just put it out when you feel like you've got something that's relevant to put out?

I like to, it could be one hunt, and I put the, I put a video out of that one day in the woods, and it could be a compilation of a couple days. I like to put out as many as I can. It's just create that storyline for people that it fills everybody in, so it's just not oh, I got a buck, or whatever.

It's just not... Here's this video of me getting a buck. I really enjoyed putting out a whole storyline, so I'm not just throwing footage out, and it's all just super educational. I try to make them educational and talk everybody through my process of why I do things and my [00:48:00] successes and failures.

So it's, I like putting them out as frequent as I can just to give that storyline to the viewer and it's created a really cool way to do it for me. That's really enjoyable. Yeah I tell you what, I've, I tried filming my hunts and I actually have filmed a couple hunts. I filmed myself shoot some deer and stuff like that.

But it was one of those things where Filming the deer come in and you shoot it is one thing, but filming it that it's like Something that's a really enjoyable product to watch from the beginning of the hunt to the end like it just takes so much work And it's something I couldn't ever get into and I was like I'd cursed the camera for the longest time I used to have one of those.

I don't know if you ever saw these you ever remember Muddy used to make those Little camera brackets where there was a clamp that you could clamp it onto like a bow hanger or like a tree stand thing. It was very small compact, but then had a mobile a fluid camera head on the top. Yep. I used to have one of those and I thought that's a perfect opportunity to just put [00:49:00] my little handy cam on it.

I'm just gonna film some deer and do that. And I broke it. And ever since then, I've never I've always I'm not gonna spend the money for a camera arm just because I don't like. doing this and I actually got the brilliant idea this year. I took a tripod fluid head and I cut it all while I unscrewed the the tripod piece and I took a Dremel tool and I cut I cut a slot in it that it could slip over, one of those screw in bow hangers, and then I just clamped it onto that and it has a fluid head, so I'm going to be back to using it this year and just seeing maybe I'll get something on just for myself.

Yeah. It's fun. I've really enjoyed filming. It's it's brought me to, and doing YouTube, it's brought me to meet some of my best friends. The reason why I'm hunting Kansas is because of somebody I met, one of my now great friends I've met through YouTube. It's it's been a really cool thing to look back on and wow, I met all these people through it, that's the biggest positive I've got out of it.

It's just, it's really cool and to have [00:50:00] people just reach out and comment or message me like, Hey, have you helped me with this or something? It's Oh, I can't believe I helped you, but I'm glad I did. It's it's been really cool to film hunts for me over these years.

Absolutely. It's a bank of memories that you can revisit at any time. And I think that's one special, right? Yeah. I've used it as a journal. I've never been much to write anything and having the videos, I've literally kept it documented of every single hunt I was like. 14 years old, so I have a, basically a hunting journal, but it's videos.

Good deal. Hey, anything you would like to leave us with before we let you go? Oh, I mean if, I'll do a little business plug here so I can help myself make a living. Yeah, so I'm a, I own my own business here in Pennsylvania. I'm a fly fishing guide and, or any, just any kind of fishing you want to do or any trip you want to do, I can help cater to that.

Based out of central Pennsylvania, mostly do wild [00:51:00] trout, smallmouth and raft floats, walk, wade trips, and, my, my books are, I'm doing a couple Sundays here this fall if anybody's interested in them. And but mostly all through next spring and into the summer a little bit. So if you want to get a hold of me for a guided trip here in, in central Pennsylvania my email is collins

Or my phone number is 814 592 6951 or you can get at me on Instagram as well at Hardway Outdoors. But other than that That's about all I got. That's fantastic. And I want to have you back on here this winter leading into into fishing season when things are really starting to gear up with trout waters and stuff.

Cause I think that'd be an awesome conversation to have with you. That's the whole other probably dozen podcasts right there. I'll talk you here off. And that's what we love because I am not the fisherman and I would love somebody to take the lead on it and and leave this in [00:52:00] a couple of those conversations.

So we'll connect, we'll stay in touch and I look forward to having you again on the show. I appreciate your time Mitchell and thanks for this opportunity. It's a pleasure, man. Thank you. You bet your best of luck this season. Thank you. You too.