10 Trail Camera Tips That Make Things Happen

I had an employer once teach that in life there are three types of people. There are “those that make things happen, those that wait for things to happen, and those that wonder what the [beep] just happened.” When it comes to hunting, which person are you? Are you going to make things happen?

A very important part of making things happen includes summer scouting. Utilizing trail cams can be one of the best ways to understand the animals you pursue and the areas you hunt.

I recently sat down with Ryan Carter of DC Outfitters to discuss the ins and outs of setting trail cameras in the backcountry. Ryan actively manages a string of over 40 cameras. The success of his clients is often unmatched. You could certainly say Ryan understands what it means to make things happen! Proof of that is Rick Houghton’s DC Outfitters 2014 giant featured on Utah’s Top 10 Monster Elk of 2014. This is one success of many for DC Outfitters.

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DC Outfitters Trail Camera Action

Ryan brought up many important points to successfully setting cameras in the field. Some of these points may seem obvious; yet, we get in the field and forget. Let this be your reminder!

  1. Face your cameras to the North: By facing your cameras to the North you will alleviate any interference with the sun in the early morning, mid-day, and late evening hours. Nothing is worse than making it back to your camera only to find many of your pictures are white. Avoid a south facing set up at all cost. Get creative with your placement and face em’ North.
  2. Clear the area and create a photo path: Nobody wants a wind buck on their trail camera. Take a close look at your surroundings. If the wind were to pick up, would branches or debris activate your motion detector? Be sure to pack a saw and be sure to clear a photo path.

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    JD Heiner Prepping for Big Ole’ Wasatch Elk
  3. Place your cameras at locations you are willing to check: You have selected what you feel will be your greatest setup yet. It is remote. It is untouched. You feel it’ll really produce but the reality is you won’t be able to check on it very often. You may not even get back to it before the hunt. Pay attention to your reality. It isn’t a great setup if you can’t check in on it.
  4. Buy what you can afford: It is important to understand that most cameras on the market can do the job. Clarity can be improved. Ease of use can be argued. Trigger speed, IR effectiveness, and distance are all valid points. In the end, you need to understand what is coming into your camera. You should be able to do so with a wide variety of high end and low end cameras. Simply buy what you can afford and don’t feel as though you need the best.
  5. Buy what you can afford to lose: It is unfortunate this even lands on this list. When referring to a lost camera, I am referring to thieves. There is little worse than a thief. Check the card if you must, but don’t be the low life type that takes a camera. Lock boxes can help; however, as Ryan has said, “lock boxes keep honest people honest.” In the end, if someone wants it bad enough, they’ll get it. You need to certainly buy what you can afford; however, make sure you buy what you can afford to lose.
  6. Pick camera locations that provide a trifecta of core elements: When selecting a spot for your trail camera keep in mind the obvious importance of food, shelter, and water. Do animals have access to these three elements near your placement? Check with local laws to determine if you are able to enhance the elements with attractants.
  7. State law may not be on your side: Let me preface by saying, if you see a trail cam in the field and take it you are an absolute waste of space. You are likely a poacher. You have complete disregard for others and their property. You are lazy. You are also welcome to never visit this blog again. That being said, if an item is left in the field for a specified period of time the law may consider it public property. This may include your trail cams, tree stands, etc. Your trail cam may get stolen. You may even know who it was that stole your property. There may be little you can do about it. As a result, keep in mind #5.
  8. Test the shot before leaving your camera: Are you cameras pointed in the right direction? It may not be enough to just “eyeball” it. With a little pre-testing, your shots can turn out much better. Take the time to test your camera. Is it taking the type of shot that is going to teach you the most about your setup. Take some test pictures onsite and adjust.

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    Sean Senske (At it hard and making things happen!)
  9. Never forget your essentials: There is little worse than getting to you distant camera only to realize you forgot batteries, viewing device, and or SD cards. Before each trip, run through your checklist. Forgetting your essentials can set you back days or weeks in your scouting efforts this summer.
  10. Be cautious of trees that are perfect for scraping: Trees are the obvious go to for hanging your cameras. Trees are also the go to for back scratching and scraping when it comes to the animals you pursue. Evaluate the tree. Is it likely to become a scrape? Adjust your plans around tree size and venerability to be knocked around by a big bull, buck, or bear.

In the end, get out and make it happen. Many desire to experience success while hunting; yet, very few are willing to put in the time. If you want to get the Outdoor bug, start by purchasing a trail camera. I love checking trail cameras. It can be likened unto Christmas Day and the excitement surrounding the unknown of what you are about to discover. Let’s make it happen!

Special Thanks to all those who sent in some amazing trail camera pictures. (Cover Photo) Hazen Downward, Trevor Hunt (Pine Creek Outfitters), Hunter Bloxham, Sawyer Peacock, Jaron Dansie, and Jeff Pearson. 

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DC Outfitters Trail Cam Candy (I’m pretty sure Ryan is doing something right!)

Guide to Killing Monster @utahmulies

I love talking with legitimate DIY hunters. Special rights are reserved for the DIY hunter. DIY is short for Do It Yourself and is synonymous with hard work and preparation. In its simplest terms, a do it yourself hunt is “unguided.” You are on your own. You might solicit the help of friends and family; however, nobody is in the business of guiding you to your end goal. It is raw. It is difficult. It is primal.

Now let me preface by stating I have zero qualms with guided hunts. I myself have enjoyed guided hunts in the past. I hope to enjoy a few in the future. Reputable guides can provide an experience that is tough to replicate or match. That being said, this article is for the Do It Yourselfer!

There are not many DIY hunters that seem to produce year in, year out. If I stumble upon one, my interest is peaked. What makes them successful every single year? What strategies do they employ? What equipment do they use? How do they find balance in life given the time required to aggressively pursue a DIY hunt?

I stumbled upon @utahmulies on Instagram. Lance Harris is the man behind the @. His 2013 Utah archery general season Wasatch buck is an absolute standout. As you peal back the onion, you find that he has been successful with the bow more than just once. It is becoming a habit. From his stud archery bull on Utah’s Diamond Mountain, his Henry’s archery buck, and a few awesome Wasatch front archery bucks, I wanted to learn more.

I sat down for a Q&A with Lance to see what I could learn about DIY hunting utahmulies style. To say this article has some great advice would be an understatement.

When did your passion for hunting and the outdoors begin? It started with my Dad. I don’t remember a time that my brother and I weren’t following my dad around hunting. We were always hunting something, anything. During the summers we were out fishing, camping, and hunting. It all went together.

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Tell me about your first harvest big game animal? I can remember my first big game animal like it was yesterday. Me, my dad, and my brother were hunting in Southern Utah just outside of Mt. Carmel Junction. It was a rifle deer hunt. We had hunted hard for 5-6 days. We hadn’t seen anything we wanted to kill and it was our last morning. The truck was loaded. We were just going to watch for a couple more hours than head home. Really out of nowhere I glassed a buck feeding in an opening. He was just munchin’ on brush. Since I spotted him, I got first crack. We drove down the road and tried to get in front of him. Eventually we got out of the truck and ran further down the road to where we thought he would be. We split up. My dad and my brother went one way, I went the other. I found his tracks crossing the road. He had gone down in a ravine. I then heard him coming through the brush. He popped up at about 75 years down the hill and I jacked 2 shells into him about as fast as I have ever shot two shells in my life. I hit him both times before he even dropped. As a big 20” 2X3 with 3” eye guards, he was an awesome first deer and I was super stoked!

So what has been your most memorable hunt to date? That’s a tough one. I have a lot. It would have to be my big Wasatch buck. It’s mainly because of how much time I spent on that hunt. I came so close on a couple of other big animals. After all that effort, it meant a lot to kill such a huge deer with some of my best friends… to see an animal that size, public land, in our backyard. He is just a magnificent, big, old buck. To be able to harvest him with a bow after a few guys chased him with rifles just weeks earlier is crazy to me! I don’t know if I will ever be able to top it.

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Let’s talk about your bow, how often do you shoot it? As much as I can. You know as a kid there was a bunch of us who had bows. Our dads all bow hunted. We took our bows everywhere and would shoot in everybody’s back yard. That’s what we did. So I have always grown up with a bow but it has taken a long time to be successful. I look back at hunts when I was younger and there is no reason I shouldn’t have killed big deer. Whether it was inexperience or making the wrong move, it just didn’t work out. I don’t shoot every day. I don’t have time. It may be that I don’t make time. With family and work sometimes it’s tough. Obviously any bow hunter should shoot as much as they can. I try to shoot at least once a day but it doesn’t always happen. On average I shoot close to 4-5 a week.

What do you do to simulate the varying conditions you may run into as a bow hunter? We built a course up on the mountain. We take our own targets up there and shoot uphill, downhill, realistic shots. We don’t just practice flat land. I have never had a flat shot in any hunting situation. We also try to always practice at our max. If your max is 50 or 60 yards, spend the majority of your time at 50 or 60. Unless I am setting up a bow, I rarely shoot 20, 30, and 40. It is usually 80, 90 and 100. I don’t do this so that I can kill an animal that far but when you get used to shooting 80, 90, 100, the shots at 30,40,50 are that much easier. The other reason I practice out that far is because it makes your closer shots that much better. At long distance any variance in form makes a huge difference and is magnified. Longer distances teach you to hold your form and follow through. It gives you the knowledge you need to tweek or adjust your set up. Also, if I hit an animal at 30, 40, 50 and it runs to 80 and is still standing, I have the ability to put another arrow into him and anchor it.

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What would you say is the max ethical distance with a bow? Going back to distance and practicing, everybody is going to be different. Factors such as draw length, poundage, and arrow setup vary and that comes into play. For me, I have a longer draw length. I am shooting a really heavy arrow (Easton FMJ). I practice 80,90, and 100 consistently. Every situation is different, I have killed animals at 40 yards. I shot my antelope last year at 84. I don’t like shooting that far but that situation happened so fast. I ranged him 3 times because it didn’t seem that far. The reality was I was confident in the situation. I knew I couldn’t get closer because of the terrain. I had practiced that distance. When I drew and held, I wasn’t shaking all over the place. I was confident in my hold and I center punched him. He didn’t even flinch until it was too late. If I can keep it 60 and under, they’re dead. But again, everyone is different. You have to go with what makes you comfortable. If your max distance is 50 yards, great… stick to it. Don’t use the justification that “oh it’s a big buck or bull, l’m gonna shoot 80 yards just because it’s a “big racked” animal. I hate that. We owe these animals more respect than that. Just because it’s a big deer doesn’t mean you have to just start launching arrows.

I’ve noticed in social media you enjoy bow fishing, how does that prepare you to hunt big game in the fall? Everyone needs to start bow fishing. There are so many carp in our waters. They destroy habitat. They ruin breeding grounds for walleye, catfish, and bass. They just tear up the ground. They muddy the water and they’re fun to shoot. Its legal in Utah and it’s a lot of good practice. There is a point when they become dumb like a rutting mule deer. When they’re spawning they’re up in the shallows and you can schwack a whole bunch. A lot of the times you have to use your bow hunting skills to sneak up on them. I was out just recently with my boy and we spooked a few cuz we were talking or Nixon wasn’t walking quietly. They don’t just sit around and wait. You have to be quiet. It’ll keep you on your toes. It’ll also keep your arm strength up. You can get your family out and do it. You just have to have a fishing license. It is a lot of fun.

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How do you include your young kids in your passion for hunting? Anytime I get my bow out, my boy gets his bow out as well. He loves it. He has been shooting little toy bows since he could pick them up. He will be 5 in December. I have had him on a lot of hunts with me. When my wife was working, that was often the only way I could go. Luckily, family has been willing to come up and watch him while I’ve put a couple stalks on some deer. I will also put him in the back pack and take him bow fishing in the summer. That’s another good thing about bow fishing, it’s easy to get your kids and the family involved.

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Talk with me about your success the last couple of years. What if anything is different in your approach to hunting and how has that made these last couple of years a huge success? The biggest thing is preparation. Spending time watching animals and patterning them. You need to know where they’re going and what they’re doing. Whether I am hunting or not, I love watching animals. I love watching elk, antelope and deer. They are amazing animals. I love watching them especially when they are growing big velvet antlers. Patience is another important key. Once you have patterned these animals, you’re best equipped to know when and where to move. That process takes a bit of patience. Sometimes you gamble and you lose but that’s the fun of the chess match. Lastly, when stalking an animal… plan your route. It will change but you do have to be ready for change. Very few times does it work out perfectly but still have a plan and adjust to change.

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If your plan doesn’t work, how often do you think you can bust a big game animal before you’ll never see it again? I busted my Diamond Mountain elk and his cows opening morning yet killed him 2 days later in the exact same spot. They have their patterns. From my experience, the big game animals I’ve hunted come back to their same spot. In 2013 the deer I was hunting (before I killed my big Wasatch buck) I had 4 times at under 90 yards. I never could get a shot. Something always happened. They busted me or they winded me but they always came back.

So you weren’t specifically going after your big Wasatch buck? I wasn’t. There were 3 other bucks in there that I was hunting. Big 4 points, 170-185. I hadn’t seen the big one yet.

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So did you wet yourself the first time you saw him? When I walked up on him… yea. Honestly, I didn’t realize he was that big even when I shot him. Long story short, I went in to find one of the three bucks we were hunting. My friend Wyatt spotted some does on a ridge but he didn’t see any bucks with the group. He decided to glass a canyon to the south. I knew there should be a few bucks in there because I’d been hunting them since August. This is mid-November. I pulled my spotting scope out to see if I could spot those does he’d seen. It was the middle of the rut. There should have been some bucks with them. It was 1500 yards away. It was first thing in the morning. I spotted the does and later a little four point that came between the does and ended up laying down on the skyline. As I zoomed in on him I caught movement on the right edge of my scope. I adjusted my scope. I couldn’t make anything out but I knew there was a deer in there. A minute or two went by and he finally moved his head. I was guessing a 185-190 buck. You know, a solid stud buck. Little did I know he would end up at 222 2/8”. It was long distance and early in the morning so I didn’t get a good look. All I knew is he was a shooter buck. I ran over and told Wyatt. We got everything set up. I threw my Be The Decoy on my head and I set out to get above the deer. They ended up going down a little draw. I went past them and he was down with his does about 200 yards. He was in knee to waste high brush and I didn’t have any cover to sneak in on them. I waited and watched to see what they would do. As I am waiting I peeked back in the canyon and noticed he was now about 40 yards above his does looking back down on them. He started walking back up that draw to where I had originally seen him. I remember thinking – What are you doing? Where are you going? I don’t know if he had already bred all those does or they just weren’t hot. Maybe he was just heading off to find something else. What I do remember thinking was “you gotta move now.” I ran up the ridge as quick as I could. Wyatt said from his perspective he could see us both moving up the hill in tandem. I came up into a flat and began guessing where he might cross. I knelt down, knocked an arrow and looked over and just that fast he was coming out of the draw. He looked right at me and didn’t miss a step. With the Be The Decoy on he kept on coming. I grabbed my range finder and ranged him. He was about a 150 yards and came up to 75 yards. He then started to turn and go up the ridge instead of right at me. He went behind a little tree and when I drew back, he stopped and looked at me. He didn’t seem nervous. He looked at me in the mood of “hey what’s up?” I don’t know if he thought I was a doe he’d just left but he was not nervous at all. I settled my pin as best I could and let one fly. I initially hammered him at 65 yards.

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You just traveled to Arizona and accepted a Pope and Young award for that buck, tell us about that award? (www.pope-young.org) Yes. So for the recording period of the 2013-2014 he was one of the biggest animals harvested with a bow and recorded worldwide. He really is a DIY public land beast.

I see a lot of pictures with the Be The Decoy product on your head. What is your association with Be The Decoy and does it really work? (www.bethedecoy.com) So I got to know Be the Decoy with my involvement at Hunter’s Nation. We giveaway a Be The Decoy every month. As a result, I got my hands on one. I’ve used other decoys (Heads Up Decoy and Montana Decoy) and was pretty impressed with what you can get away with if used properly. What I like about Be The Decoy is it’s on your head and you really don’t have to worry about it. You don’t have to mess with it while trying to hold and operate your bow. It is already there and it is already in place. It is a familiar object that big game animals recognize. Yes, they do work. I have used it on elk, deer, and antelope. I think it works best on elk. It seems like you can get away with a lot more on elk. Deer it works really well. With antelope, I felt it gave me enough time to get a shot but that was about it. Antelope are pretty sketchy as it is but it gives you time to sneak in and get a shot off. On my Diamond mountain elk hunt I used it. Before a wind change, I had a big bull and his cows look at me 4-5 different times only to go back to feeding. They definitely work. Owners Branden VanDyken and Mark Renner are great guys as well. I have got to know them over the last couple years and I support their product. Used properly and in the right season, they are very effective.

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What is Hunter’s Nation? (www.huntersnation.com) You pay $20 for a one year membership. Every day you are entered into giveaways some of which are valued at as much as $700+. At the end of every month we give away a fully guided big game hunt. By being a member, you also get discount codes with a lot of our partner companies. You can get discounts with a lot of the outfitters we line up as well. It really is a no-brainer.

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What is your weapon of choice? Weapon of choice would be a bow. What do you shoot? (www.g5prime.com) You name a bow, I have shot it. As for the last couple of years, I have been shooting Prime. This year I have the Prime Rival and I am excited to see what I can put down with it.

When you go hunting, what are 3 essentials that you do not leave home without? (Excluding your weapon). 1. Binoculars: You can do without a spotting scope. It’s nice to have, but your binoculars… I don’t go anywhere without my binoculars. Even when you are in close, it’s nice to see holes or trails in order to develop a plan. How important is quality of optic? You can get by with anything; however, in early morning or late evening scenarios the quality of optic can make a big difference. Clarity and visibility is important. So binoculars would be my #1. 2. Range finder: If I was hunting strictly with a stick bow I wouldn’t worry about a range finder. With a compound bow and my set up, a range finder is a must. I shoot a single pin Sure-Loc site. I have a site tape. I range it and dial it to whatever yardage I am shooting. If its 43 yards, I set my pin for 43 yards. Do you lose valuable time in that process? In my opinion, no. I have been shooting a single pin site since 2008. It does take some getting used to if you are used to a multi pin setup. For me to range, set my pin, draw and shoot I feel I am just as quick as someone shooting a 5 or 7 pin. In my opinion it is more accurate because you only have 1 pin to focus on. You have a bigger site window. You don’t have all those pins taking up half your site. Plus the accuracy is a huge draw. Like I said, if you are shooting 43 yards, you set it for 43 yards. If you are shooting 45 yards, you don’t have to split your 40 and 50. 3. Gear (clothing): Whether it is Sitka, Kuiu, Core 4 Element, First Lite or Kryptek, there are a lot of great companies out there. It makes a big difference. These companies provide top end gear. They have layering systems. You can regulate your temperature as you are hiking or layer up to sit and glass. You need to have the ability to layer properly with material that wicks moisture well. A lot of these lines are built with spandex so it stretches. It moves with you. You don’t have the bulk of some of these lower end clothing lines. I don’t think it makes you a better hunter, but it does make you more comfortable and able to hunt more effectively.

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How much preparation and time really goes into killing a big high country mule deer or elk? There are guys that get lucky. They happen to wander into something. Congratulations! That never happens to me so preparation is almost year round. I try to stay in top shape as far as endurance. I am shooting my bow year round. I am working on my form and I try to really get to know my equipment. I am hiking in the mountains. In 2010 I drew a henry mountains archery tag. I was probably in the best shape of my life. I was doing a lot of running, a lot of pushups, a lot of shooting. I remember my dad told me, “you’re not gonna out run these deer.” I told him, “I know but when I get up to them I don’t want to be out of breath. I don’t want to be huffing and puffing so that I can make a shot.” You really are never gonna out run these deer. They live there and it’s just physically impossible. So between cardio, shooting, and scouting, it’s almost year round.

I notice you are often with the Mt. Ops team, what is your association with Mt. Ops if any? (www.getmtnops.com) It’s a fairly new company but I have known those guys for a while. Casey and Jordan are some awesome guys that have the same passion for the outdoors that I do. Their products are awesome. I am not sponsored by them and I am not endorsed by them. I do use their products and I notice a big difference in my cardio and my hiking. I notice a difference off the mountain as well. Take a Blaze energy shot and hang on because you’ll have energy for the rest of the day.

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How do you find balance between work, family, and chasing big game? You marry right. My wife puts up with a lot but she knows and understands that I have grown up with it. It’s not something I can just stop doing. She definitely needs a high five, a pat on the back, a props, whatever you call it for all she puts up with being married to me. But yea it’s tough. Before we had kids it was so easy to sneak out but then you have kids and your responsibilities change.

If you could pick any 3 tags in the state of Utah, what would they be? I am hoping I draw Antelope Island this year! Ok, excluding Antelope Island? To be honest even if I drew an Antelope Island tag it wouldn’t mean as much to me as my Henrys or Wasatch bucks. It’d still be fun. That being said, a Henry’s or a Pauns deer tag would be at the top of the list. I love to hunt everything but if I had the choice, I’d hunt mule deer. It’s what I grew up with. I do love elk. I love listening to them scream. Deer do not make noise. To kill high country mule deer, it’s a chess match. It’s a game of wits. You can’t bugle them in. That fact to me puts a mule deer up higher on my list. They don’t make noise. Now, I have killed an elk but I want to kill a stud. You know a 350-360+ bull. A San Juan or a Monroe elk tag would be awesome. I have never killed a bear or mountain lion so last of all I’d say somewhere for a bear or mountain lion.

There is often a bitterness towards big money and guided hunts. What is your prospective on spending big money to hunt big game animals with a guide? I would definitely fit in the group that is a little more proud of the DIY. I have no problem with people utilizing and paying for a guide service. If you have the money to do it. It doesn’t affect me one bit. It can make a lot of sense if you have the time and money to hunt multiple states. In the end, someone that can get in there and do it themselves ranks a little higher in my book.

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What would be your advice to someone that wants to get into hunting the western states and high country big game? A few things I would say. First, be in shape. Do yourself a favor and get in shape. You owe these animals the respect of being in your best shape. That is often necessary in order to get close and make an ethical shot. It is often required to get that animal out of the back country after you shoot it. Do not leave meat behind because you couldn’t physically do it. I pack the meat first and leave the head and cape last. More motivation to get the tasty meat taken care of then come back for the rack. Second, buy the best equipment you can buy. If you are a bow hunter and your max budget for a bow is $300-$400, buy a $300-$400 bow. Practice with it and know it. If it’s a rifle. Again, buy the best equipment you can buy. Lastly, have fun. We get to enjoy some amazingly beautiful, rugged country. Don’t make it about the score of the rack. If you kill an animal, whether it be a 2 point, 3 point, 4 point or a 200” deer, respect it. You killed it, respect it. Don’t use the excuse “well it’s not the biggest deer on the mountain.” There will always be bigger. If you kill a 2 point. Awesome, you killed it so be proud of it. Own it. If you’re gonna be ashamed of it, don’t pull the trigger. Go out and have fun and respect every animal you kill.

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5 Reasons Bow Hunters THINK They’re So Cool

Hoyt pro-staff member Sean Morgan recently invited me to come shoot their 3D course near Springville, Utah. I was traveling on business and wasn’t able to attend. I was a bit relieved. It’s one of those things you’d love to do if its success didn’t come by way of hard work.

The reality is I was not ready to hang with some of the best bow hunters in the West. That included Hoyt’s Matt Davis and his ridiculous recurve skills. To top it off I’d recently installed a new site on my bow. It wasn’t dialed in. I had some work to do before showing up to 3D shoot with these guys. There ya have it… I’m just not that cool. As a result I have come up with 5 Reasons Bow Hunters THINK They’re So Cool.

1. Bow hunters practice, practice, practice. Practice is best described as pretending. Pretending sounds a little reminiscent of barbies and castles. It certainly demands what is likely unavailable time. Do bow hunters have jobs? Do these people have families? The end goal is to know your arrow and how it will fly in varying conditions. As previously mentioned that knowledge looks a little too much like hard work.

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Sean Senske, Kyle Williams

2. Bow hunters are patient. To exude the patience of a bow hunter will likely result in mosquitos and sunburn. To “wait it out” could be likened unto painfully waiting to earn your money before you make a purchase. As weapons advance, patience is less a requirement to chasing big game. There is a reason man invented the loan and for that matter the rifle. We want it now and by all means we deserve it now!

3. Bow hunters seek perfection. Give me something with more room for error. Who has time to worry about ethics in shot placement? Why seek to perfectly understand an animal’s pattern? Hit em’ hard, slow em’ down, and finish em’ off. A perfect effort is over-rated. Bow hunters seek that perfect effort in all aspects of their pursuit.

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Ryan Eakin and Tim Soffe

4. Bow hunters love the entire pursuit. They love the scouting. They love the campfire. They love the preparation. They love the outdoors and the animals they pursue. They love success while recognizing the reality of failure. Isn’t that too much love for one paragraph? How about the singular love of killing? Certainly that is the reason we hunters hunt?

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Kevin Jensen

5. Bow hunters are proud. Chest puffed and head held high, the bow hunter states “I bow hunt!” We have heard it a thousand times as if it’s enough to simply “be” a bow hunter. Isn’t their pride premature considering a hunter is measured by the trophies on their wall? Show me your wall and then we will talk cool.

For those that are still reading this article, you have exercised the patience of a bow hunter. When you seek to understand the bold, you quickly realize that bow hunters are in fact very cool. I dare say they are bad-to-the-bone!

Bow hunters are dedicated in their preparation, patient and passionate in their pursuit, perfect in their effort, and proud to be bow hunters. Their passion is infectious. They love the animals they pursue and they value true conservation. Bow hunters right the tide of misconception. Hunting is not all about the kill or the trophy. Don’t get me wrong, I love trophy big game; however, bow hunting is so much more!

Special thanks to Sean Morgan of Sean Morgan Outdoors and Hoyt Archery for the invite(s) and killer pics.

Special thanks to Ryan Eakin of Ziis Apparel for always being one of the first to step up and lend a hand!

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Philip Peterson
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Kevin Jesen, Sean Morgan, Hazen Downward, Ryan Eakin, Philip Peterson, Phillip Lundell
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Logan Beckstrand, Sean Morgan, Donovan Strock

 

10 Antler Selling Tips You Cannot Afford to Miss

The shed hunting and antler buying race is on. I am intrigued by the thousands who wander the hills searching the only treatment available to managing their addiction. Ironically, a good portion of the commercial demand on shed antlers is medicinal. This is driven in large portion by an overseas market. As for the shed hunter, the only medicine required to manage their addiction is more hunting!IMG_0751-2

Shed hunting and antler buying is full of new comers, true originals, and everything in between. I would certainly classify myself as a new comer. I recently sat down with Steve Sorensen and Dallas Hemeyer of Steve Sorensen Antler Buying to learn more about this craze. These two are a couple of true originals with a passion for sheds that is unmatched. I came armed with bottomless sushi, my notepad, and a willingness to learn! I soon realized that Steve Sorensen Antler Buying has little interest in a reputation built on one time purchases. Everything they do is laser focused on gaining long term customers that return time and time again. (Steve Sorensen Antler Buying 435-245-3497)

After a good dinner, some laughs, and a few awesome hunting stories I came to one very simple conclusion: DO NOT sell a single shed before considering these “10 Tips.”IMG_0797

Antler Selling 1.0

1. Reputation Talks: Find a buyer with a longstanding reputation of being honest and fair. A self-proclaimed “we are the best in the business” or “we give you the most” means very little. What are the vast majority of sellers saying? A buyer’s reputation comes not from their own words but the words of their customers. Reputation talks!

2. Clean Em’ Up: A common sense move when selling anything tangible would be to clean it up. I was amazed to learn that this is often overlooked by many shed hunters interested in bringing top dollar for their sheds. You would never lay a stack of dollar bills next to the oil slick in the garage. Keep this in mind as you look to store your accumulating stack of sheds. If little thought goes into the storage and transport of your sheds, irreversible damage may be impossible to clean or repair. Assuming no major damage has occurred, take a minute and clean em’ up!IMG_3062

3. Grade First, Price Second: I do not suggest you pay little attention to price/lb; however, many sellers get caught up on price alone while missing the grade. A seller’s money is lost or gained on the grade. When researching a buyer, ask first the question “Are they fair in their grading?” The price per pound may fluctuate between buyers. It is easy to take your eye off the ball by focusing solely on price. A missed grade will cost you much more then the variance in price from buyer to buyer. The reality is go back to our #1 tip and this is less a concern. A great buyer has enough business that they are not going to live or die on gaining the upper hand on a singular purchase. Grade first, price second!image1-40

4. Understand the Grade: This can vary from state to state and region to region. That being said there are three grades you want to pay attention to and understand: ***Prices not provided as they vary by area and demand***

  • Brown ($$$): Key to picking up a brown and bringing in top dollar is time. Over time adverse weather causes cracking and discoloration. If it has cracks, it will not be graded brown.You have approximately 0-6 months of exposure before an antler’s quality is compromised. That being said it is tempting to stretch the boundaries of ethical shed hunting. Be sure your efforts to find the highest quality sheds do not pressure an already vulnerable winter herd.
  • White ($$): Weathered over the course of 1-3 years will likely land your shed at a white. As you can see time is a bit more forgiving in this regard. Key to this grade is whether or not the antler is beginning to turn grey with additional cracking. Once that takes place, a chalk grade will be considered.
  • Chalk ($): At over 3 years the weather starts to take its toll. Key indications of this include greying, deep cracks, and flaking. Any pink coloration will land your shed in the chalk category. Don’t get discouraged as there still is a bit of money to be made with chalk antlers. The reality is from chalk to brown they’re all pretty exciting to find! Understand the grade!

5. “Painted” Is Not a Grade: Leave your painted antlers at home. Paint them to keep them. Once painted your sheds have little to no worth to an antler buyer. Painted is not a grade!image2-11

6. Price Check Within Your Market: Unless you plan on traveling to distant locations to sell your antlers, price check within your given market. It can be frustrating and unproductive to both buyer and seller when conducting price comparisons outside of your area. Price check within your market!

7. Ask: Trophy quality and special characteristic sheds can garner higher prices outside of the general grading scale. It never hurts to ask or negotiate such concessions. A general rule of thumb puts your trophy class antlers at 180”+ on deer and 360”+ on elk. Keep that in mind when bringing something truly special to the table. Also keep in mind that your antler buyer is likely well aware of how to accurately measure score. Ask!IMG_4541

8. Know the Law: A good and reputable antler buyer will record everything required by law. For example, when selling a deadhead don’t be surprised when a buyer asks for name, address, phone number, and signature. Do NOT peddle stolen antlers. Know the law.

9. Keep Em’ Safe: The reality is antlers can be worth a lot of money. Equipped with that knowledge it is important that you keep them stored in a safe location. If left out in the open, they will be stolen. This is becoming a growing problem and buyers are offering rewards for information leading to prosecution of such thefts. Keep em’ safe!

10. Hold On: If you aren’t quite sure about selling a specific antler, hold on to it. There is no reason to rush into selling any specific shed or stack of sheds. The reality is each shed has a story. There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from a big ole’ check; however, don’t get lost in the $$$. That shed will likely never mean to another what it means to you. Keep a few of those special sheds and share a story! Hold on!

A special thanks to Steve Sorensen and Dallas Hemeyer. Follow them on instagram as @antlerbuyer1976 and @365pursuit. Contact Steve Sorensen Antler Buying at 435-245-3497. These guys will not disappoint! Photography provided by Dallas Heymeyer.IMG_5548

 

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Wyoming’s Top 10 Monster Mule Deer of 2014

I spent nearly every summer as a kid in the backcountry of the Wind River mountain range in Wyoming. My line tightening to the welcome grip of monster trout kept me coming back each and every year. I was 5 years old the first time I made that 26 mile round trip trek. Each time one of those big ole’ trout would fly into the air, I’d yell to my Dad, “it’s a keeper!”

To say this list has some “keepers” would be an understatement! In 2014, Wyoming produced some absolute giant mule deer. These bucks are in no particular order so be sure to vote for the #1 buck at the end of this article.

A special thanks to key contributor Jeremie Lewis. Many of you may know him on Instragram as @wyohighcountry. This Top 10 was made possible by his knowledge and expertise on Wyoming Mule Deer. If you are not already following @wyohighcountry, get over to Instragram. He is a “must follow!”
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Josh Dimmick

1. Josh Dimmick: You could say I am partial to matching inlines. Evan Ault and I chased a very similar buck for 2 years in Utah. Evan was lucky enough to harvest that buck in 2014. With very similar characteristics that buck could pass as this old monarch’s little brother. Josh’s smile says it all! At 218″ he should be smiling. What an awesome buck. Well done Josh and congratulations on a magnificent buck.

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Rick – Non Typical Oufitters

2. Rick: Dubbed “Snag” this buck is one of my favorites out of any state in 2014. As if this buck’s drop tine isn’t enough, its mass and character is unmatched. This should not be a surprise to anybody that follows Robb and Brenda of Non Typical Outfitters out of Alpine, Wyoming. These guys could single-handedly put together a “Top 10 Wyoming” list featuring bucks harvested solely under their watch. If you plan on hunting mule deer in 2015, be sure to call Non Typical Outfitters at 307-654-0000. Visit them online at www.nontypicaloutfitters.org. The story on this buck is awesome! Get it here

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Diana Berger

3. Diana Berger: What an absolute giant buck! This list keeps getting better and this buck fits in well. The past year has been a great year for the women! Utah’s Top 10 Monster Elk of 2014 is evidence of that. Diana certainly knows what it means to hunt monster mule deer. Take notes boys! Congratulations Diana on a beautiful Wyoming muley!

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Sean Morgan – Sean Morgan Outdoors

4. Sean Morgan: I love this buck! At 35″ this thing is an absolute beast. The picture is amazing as well and was recently featured in our “Hunting Hashtag 10 Most Stunning #massntrash” article. As a Hoyt pro staffer and avid hunter, Sean’s passion for these animals is unmatched. This guy puts in some serious miles in pursuit of these giants and seems to always get it done! Nice work Sean on a giant Wyoming stud! For some incredible footage you have to check out “Tale of Three Seasons” on youtube. Follow Sean on Instagram @seanmorganoutdoors.

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Ben Daniels

5. Ben Daniels: At 231 4/8″ I am dying to know more about this 2014 Wyoming bruiser. If you know Ben or the back story to this buck I would love to hear the story! This buck is an absolute beast. Congratulations Ben on harvesting such an amazing animal.

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Nicolle Wilson

6. Nicolle Wilson: The ladies are at it again! This 31″ public land 8X10 monster is simply amazing. Many of us hope to pass the 30″ mark at least once in a lifetime. The other bench mark would put you in the 200″ club. Accomplishing both on one buck places you in a unique category of awesomeness! Nicolle, you are awesome! Well done and congratulations on an amazing trophy.

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Greg Wilding – Non Typical Outfitters

7. Greg Wilding: This isn’t Greg’s first rodeo. He and his family have made a habit of killing monster big game! This buck dubbed “Stickers” is no exception. Greg said it best when he said, “Christmas came for me on Sept 27th this year with the gift of “Stickers.” Soliciting a bit of help can be an important element to success on any hunt. Greg picked the best and pursued this giant with Robb and Brenda at Non Typical Outfitters. Be sure to follow Greg on Instragram @wild man_g. If interested in booking the hunt of a lifetime, give Non Typical Outfitters a call at 307-654-0000! Visit them online at www.nontypicaloutfitters.org

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Hunter Unknown – Non Typical Outfitters

8. Non Typical Outfitters: Although we can’t seem to find the hunter’s name associated with this buck, it certainly deserves its rightful spot on this list. If you know anything about this buck or its back story, please shoot me an email at jdheinerblog@gmail.com. That being said, a well deserved applause goes out to Non Typical Outfitters on an absolutely stellar year! What a monster buck! Contact Non Typical Outfitters at 307-654-0000. Visit them online at www.nontypicaloutfitters.org

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Hunter Unknown – Non Typical Outfitters

9. Non Typical Outfitters: Although we can’t seem to find the hunter’s name associated with this buck, it certainly deserves its rightful spot on this list. If you know anything about this buck or its back story, please shoot me an email at jdheinerblog@gmail.com. One last time, well done Non Typical Outfitters! The mass on this buck makes it a “must have” on this list! Contact Non Typical Outfitters at 307-654-0000 to book your 2015 hunt.  Visit them online at www.nontypicaloutfitters.org

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Phil Krall

10. Phil Krall: To round off this list we have “Captain Hook” as it’s referred to here at JDHeiner Blog. Take a look at that cheater! Phil’s reputation precedes him as one who consistently kills big muleys. Those results don’t come easy and are the result of extensive scouting. Congratulations Phil on a well deserved Wyoming giant!

So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please share your thoughts in the comments section and cast your vote below for Wyoming’s #1 buck of 2014. Follow JDHeiner Blog in the right hand column of your screen and follow on Instagram @jdheinerblog

Hunting Hashtag 10 Most Stunning Photos #massntrash

I was first annoyed by the concept of #hashtags. All of a sudden placing a #hashtag #beforealonglistofridiculousyetseeminglyclevercomments is an accepted way to communicate. That approach is still annoying; however, hashtags used effectively can be both fun and effective.

Commonly used hashtags are an awesome way to further explore you favorite topics within instagram. Are you into hunting #muledeer or #elk? Would you describe yourself as a #huntinfool?

I often find myself glued to various instagram #hashtags while utilizing the instagram search function. This series of blog posts will highlight the most stunning pictures within a given #hashtag. I will take into consideration photos posted within a 52wk time frame. In this my first edition I will focus on one of the best!

HASHTAG: #massntrash

One of the biggest contributors and founder of the #massntrash tag is the one the only Jeremy Joyner @massntrash. In a world where @signs make everyone a “one and only,” Jeremy sets @massntrash apart with some awesome content. I am a religious follower of @massntrash. Check him out and follow today!

That being said, lets enjoy the Hunting Hashtag 10 Most Stunning Photos #massntrash.

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1. @fne4life (Chris Brackett): If you want to see some absolutely stunning hunting photos, follow @fne4life! This guy is a hunting machine. This photo is the first of many @fne4life photos that are sure to capture your attention. Nice work Chris on an giant muley and an epic photo finish.

image2 copy 22. @tim_downs_ (Tim Downs): To say Tim loves big desert rams would be an understatement. His passion for big curls is evident in his work.  Follow Tim for some phenomenal pictures of these magnificent animals @tim_downs_.

image43. @jayscottoutdoors @huntaz (Jay Scott): Averi was able to harvest this once in a lifetime ram with Jay Scott Outdoors. I am a huge youth hunter advocate. With 4 daughters of my own, this picture obviously caught my attention. congratulations Averi on an absolute trophy ram and stunning photo!

Be sure to follow @jayscottoutdoors and @huntaz for some unbelievable hunting pictures and video. Check out www.jayscottoutdoors.blogspot.com for some great content.

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4. @proline_imagery (Ricky Bangerter): This picture is stunning! As a result, I checked out @proline_imagery and this picture is just the beginning. This guy is an unbelievable photographer. Go follow Ricky for your outdoor and extreme sports photography fix! He will not disappoint. Nice work Ricky on a stunning photo.

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 5. @evanhault (Pictured: Ryan Warner, JJ Lund): Sonora, Mexico is the land of giant mule deer and incredible backdrops. To double up on a couple of bucks then finish off with that view would be a dream. This photo captures the moment perfectly. Take a minute and follow @evanhault. Evan and his hunting buddies are as consistent as it gets. Check out “The Trophy Hunter’s 4 Skills” for a great article about Evan and his hunting success.

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6. @bucksighter: To kill a double drop tine buck is a thing of fantasy for most big game hunters. I love the simplicity of this image. I love the lighting. This buck is both massive and trashy. @bucksighter has many great shots for your viewing pleasure. Check them out! Great job on an awesome picture.

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7. @seanmorganoutdoors (Sean Morgan): This 35″ buck is a favorite of mine from the 2014 season. Sean captures the moment well with both still shots and riveting video. Check out the kill shot on this buck at www.seanmorganoutdoors.com. Great time and effort goes into Sean’s harvest photos and film. This photo is no exception. Nice work Sean! If you are not following @seanmorganoutdoors today, get over there and click follow.

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8. @skylerrichards1325 (Skyler Richards): This guy continues to impress. CCO and Skyler kill some of the biggest mule deer in the West. This buck was actually featured in Utah’s Top 10 Monster Mule Deer of 2014. I am a huge fan when photography pays due respect to a harvested giant. Skyler does this on each and every hunt. Follow @skylerrichards1325 for some spectacular hunting photos. Skyler’s track record indicates there is more to come!

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9. @chase_christopher_ (Chase Christopher): What an absolute giant. This husband and wife team, this buck, and a spectacular backdrop is a solid recipe for a photo finish. I love everything about his picture. Follow @chase_christopher_ for some great content and visit www.themountainiscalling.com for some must see films. These guys are putting together some awesome stuff!

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10. @drivenhunter (Mike Jahnke): I love big whitetail. There is still a big ole’ bruiser that haunts my dreams from a tree stand in Monroe, Michigan. You win some, you lose some. Mike @drivenhunter and www.drivenhunter.com won one here. This picture is simply fantastic. Be sure to follow @drivenhunter and watch Driven TV on the Outdoor Channel Tuesdays at 9:30 ET. Mike killed this buck with Wicked Outfitters. Check them out at www.wickedoutfitters.com.

Now the only question remaining is are you now following these 10+ instagram users? If not, you are missing the boat on amazing content. While you are at it be sure to follow me @jdheinerblog.

If you like this article, take a look at some of the other articles at http://www.jdheinerblog.com and click the little follow button in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

Idaho’s Top 10 Monster Mule Deer of 2014

Monster mule deer are one of many reasons why I love the state of Idaho. I went to school in Idaho. My wife is from Southeast Idaho. It is a place I also called home for several years. We brought our firstborn child home to a single-wide trailer in Hibbard, Idaho. We loved that trailer and we loved Hibbard. On a clear day you could watch the sun rise over the Tetons. It is a view that is unmatched. To top it all off, Idaho is the land of monster mule deer and trophy big game! For outdoorsmen and women it is a perfect combination.

This Top 10 is full of spectacular mule deer. As with my previous Top 10 articles including Utah, Colorado, and the Arizona Strip, these bucks are in no particular order. From 1-10, these mule deer deserve a spot on this list.

Take a quick minute and follow my blog by hitting “follow” in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Visit me on instagram @jdheinerblog.

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Nate Jones

0. Nate Jones: The readers always send pictures and stories of big ole’ bucks that should have been considered. Sometimes the readers are right. Sometimes they are wrong. When they get it right, I add those bucks to a BONUS section at the bottom of each article. Whether a buck makes the list or not, I love seeing your pictures big or small.

Ryan Thomas sent me a picture of Nate Jones’s monster 2014 archery buck. I am placing this buck in a very special #0 spot for 2 reasons. First, The buck is a giant. This buck green scored 225 7/8″ and dried at a impressive P&Y nontypical score of 215″.

The second reason for placing this buck at the top of this list is the bowhunter simply deserves it! Killing a 200″ buck can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Accomplishing it with a bow places the hunter in a whole new bracket. For the sake of this article, that bracket comes in the form of #0. That means we get to enjoy 11 massive bucks on this list of 10! Nice work Nate on an absolute giant. Sorry I missed it! Readers… Enjoy!

Gary Webb Idaho 14
Gary Webb / South Creek Outfitters (801) 836-8411

1. Gary Webb: South Creek Outfitters seem to get it done every year. 2014 was no different for owner Gary Webb. At 221 7/8” this buck really is a giant. I love the character of this buck. You could say I’m a sucker for big ole’ eye guards coupled with some mass n’ trash. Congratulations Gary and South Creek Outfitters on an absolute stud.

To learn more about this buck check out the following links: South Creek Outfitters, South Creek Outfitters on Facebook, on Instagram @southcreekoutfitters

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Shawn Stanley

2. Shawn Staley: Can you say MASS! This is the sort of mass and character that you don’t see every day. As a result, this buck lands on Idaho’s Top 10. Throw in that cape and a wide 31″ and this buck is truly a unique specimen! Nice work Shawn on an absolute stud late season Idaho moose buck.

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Wyatt Johnson

3.  Wyatt Johnson: At 14 years old, Wyatt just notched this big ole’ 200 incher to his belt. That is an achievement many will not accomplish in a lifetime. To say this 6X8 32” mule deer is a monster would be understatement. Congratulations Wyatt on this Unit 40 216” giant.

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Michael Wright

4. Michael Wright: Non-typical mule deer are gnarly but a perfect typical is simply sexy! This 30 ½” wide typical is beautiful. Well done Michael on a record book Idaho monster. This buck is one of my favorites on this Top 10! Nice work.

Tyler Hobbs 2014 Idaho
Tyler Hobbs / Bear Lake Fishing Charters (435) 890-4551

5. Travis Hobbs: It’s time to share simply one of the best! No matter the state, this 239 1/8″ giant would show up on any Top 10. It didn’t come easy and after a long 5 year chase, Travis was finally able to connect on this bad boy. This should come as no surprise considering Travis’s business is chasing down trophy animals and fish. In 2014 alone, Travis whacked 2 bucks totaling 430″. He also owns and operates one of the best fishing charters on Bear Lake. If you are into big fish, look him up!

For more information on Travis’s monster deer and catching monster fish in Bear Lake, check out the following links: Bear Lake Fishing Charters on facebook.

Ryan Christensen Idaho 14
Ryan Christensen

6. Ryan Christensen: This 36A buck has got it all.  Deep forks, huge main frame, some trash, and incredible eye guards are characteristics of this once in a lifetime buck. This buck really is a dream. Nice work Ryan on an absolutely stunning Idaho muley!

Rick Yellowhair 2014 Idaho
Rick Yellowhair

7. Rick Yellowhair: This list just keeps getting better and this buck is no exception. Rick is no stranger to big deer but this one will be tough to top. Nice work Rick on a giant Idaho muley.

Lance Cole Scout Outdoors Idaho 14
Lance Cole / http://www.scout-outdoors.com

8. Nate Archibald: The Scout Outdoors team simply know how to find and hunt huge mule deer. From Brian Cole’s monster Utah buck to this big ole’ Idaho buck, these guys get it done. Visit www.scout-outdoors.com and you will quickly learn Scout Outdoors has great deal of passion for the sport. They have some great apparel, galleries, and forums. Go check them out online. Congratulations Nate on an absolute pig.

To learn more about Nate’s buck and Scout Outdoors, visit the following links: www.scout-outdoors.com, Scout Outdoors on Facebook, on Instagram @scoutoutdoors

Jake Kobetsky ID 2014
Jake Kobetsky

9. Jake Kobetsky: Jake whacked this monster buck in Eastern Idaho. I love the tripod and mass on this old buck. Is there a better feeling than getting a monster mule deer into the back of a truck? Well done Jake on an absolute toad and a well deserved spot on this list!

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10. Mike Pimentel: This buck has some incredible character. I’d imagine this ole’ boy has spent some time in the sun with those light horns and cape. Everywhere you look this buck has something going on. Well done Mike on an absolute trophy Idaho mule deer.

Several Top 10 caliber bucks fell off this list. This speaks volumes to the quality of mule deer found in Idaho. I appreciate every one of the recommendations that came in for this article. You guys killed some bruisers.

So what do you think? Is there a 2014 Idaho buck that I simply missed? Please share! I love adding undisputed BONUS bucks to these lists.

If you like the content of this blog, please take a quick minute and hit the little “follow” button on the bottom right side of your screen. Follow me on instagram @jdheinerblog.