The Cabin

Jeremy Elbert, Wildlife Pursuit

Smoke rolling from an old cabin signifies one thing in Wisconsin’s heartland: the Wisconsin gun deer season is moments away. Surrounded by open fields, towering timber, steep ridges and beautiful valleys stands an old cabin that comes to life every November. As the old saying goes, ”if these walls could talk” comes to mind as I reflect on the stories absorbed within those old cabin walls. The hunters that occupy the rustic cabin all agree that deer season is not just about chasing the elusive whitetail, but instead it encompasses so much more. It’s a time when stories are told, young hunters are introduced to rich traditions, and past hunters are remembered. Each year we give a salute to those hunters that have fallen and we remember them as legends of the fall.

The noise of crackling logs in the fireplace fill the air as hunters gather to play cards and tell hunting stories. Laughter fills the silence, as memories are unleashed during the nightly celebration. Coats, hats, and an assortment of clothing hang from all corners of the cabin as the preparation for the morning hunt begins. The clinging of bullets sound like bells as they are sorted and organized.  The television flickers in the background with an old western as snacks are consumed by the dozens. As the snow gathers throughout the night bringing strong winds that spread across the landscape snoring echoes throughout the cabin. Soon the morning will arrive and a sea of orange will enter Mother Nature’s living room.

This hunting tradition is woven deep within the hearts and minds of every hunter who has journeyed to the cabin during the fall of the year. This article is a tribute to family and friends who have contributed to this rich tradition. Thank you for the memories and stories. They will live on forever.


Pre-Plan for Bowhunting Success

Jason Wright | Co-Host Ultimate Outdoor Adventures TV

TYSyxm9Se3Zvv5lXPeLPxzWm27Du42E3TFUN8CJSRd4It’s no secret that bowhunting is a sport of detail and oftentimes biased opinions about the best brand of bow or archery accessories as well as the best way to successfully hunt and harvest a trophy animal.  In my opinion you have to do everything you can to put the odds in your favor to harvest a mature animal whether you are in pursuit of a monster spring black bear in Canada, early season pronghorn antelope in Wyoming or a trophy whitetail right here in North Dakota.  In order to get within forty yards of most big game animals you either need to have inherited the “lucky horseshoe” or you must do everything nearly perfect.  Human scent control is just one of those details that need to be managed very closely along with deer patterns and movement.  No matter the big game animal, whether in North America or even Africa, you need to do everything you can to manage your scent and cautiously monitor the wind in order to be provided the opportunity to let an arrow fly.  Combine this with the early season conditions such as the heat and pesky bugs and it makes it even more difficult to harvest that animal.  The reality is there can be big rewards with early season bowhunting.  Below are a few tips on how to manage these conditions during the early season as well as what to think about as the season progresses.

Three Strategies to deal with heat and control scent…

1. What type of Clothes to Wear?

2. How to Store your Clothes?

3. When to get Dressed?


I like to wear a light weight type of base layer that is a moisture-wicking and very breathable type of top and bottom such as the quality light weight apparel by First Lite which is a cohesive system of Merino Wool + 37.5TM Cocona fabric.  My first layer will usually include the Red Desert Boxer Short, Allegheny Bottom (when necessary) and either the Llano SS or the Llano Crew which are all First Lite products.

The First Lite apparel is a game changing technology because of its wicking qualities, enormous temperature spectrum and natural resistance to odor. This type of base-layer will absorb and wick away perspiration keeping you much cooler than cotton during warm weather hunts.

In my opinion, the first mistake many bowhunters make, and hunters in general, is to wear any type cotton base layer or cotton clothing including socks and underwear. Clothing made from cotton doesn’t wick moisture away from the body, but rather, it absorbs perspiration/moisture like a sponge next to the skin and doesn’t dry quickly which can provide for an uncomfortable hunt.  I don’t wear any base-layer that contains cotton and I recommend when shopping for hunting clothes to check the label to be sure it will provide the benefits necessary to keep you comfortable and stay away from cotton – look for apparel that is 100% ultrafine merino wool or polyester.

On top of my base layer I like to wear a long sleeve quarter zip shirt such as the Chama QZ by First Lite teamed with the Kanab Lightweight Pant both in a camouflage that is appropriate for the terrain or foliage found in the hunt area.  First Lite has many apparel options from Light weight to heavy weight and an incredible outer layering system.

qkNcIe2S6Wx1Gs-JmFsFeQhVUpBX7aPEc4BDRh0JGQsPrior to the start of the season I wash all my cloths with Lethal® Human Scent Eliminator Laundry Detergent which contains OdoBan and hang them outside to dry.  Next I choose to store some of my clothes such as gloves, light warm-weather shirts and my base-layer items in large clear Ziploc bags and then along with the rest of my gear I place it in a Rubbermaid ActionPacker (approximate dimensions 17.0”H x 26.0W x 18.0”D) which can be stored most anywhere indoors/outdoors and easily travels to any destination.  This storage system keeps my clothing away from outside odors and has been very successful for me.

Inside my ActionPacker I also keep my safety harness, boots, day pack and any other item(s) or accessories that I will take into the field.  Because we are fortunate to live in a state with four seasons I find it easiest to have an ActionPacker for each of the seasons that I hunt.  For example, I have one early/mid-season ActionPacker strictly for warm weather hunting whether I am heading to Wyoming in August for an early season antelope hunt or preparing for September whitetail hunt at the ranch.  This particular tote will get me through the end of October pending any early season wintery blasts.  I have another ActionPacker which contains my late season bowhunting clothing/gear.  This is much easier than unpacking and repacking depending on the big game hunt, weather conditions or the time of year.  This storage method also provides the added benefit of making sure the majority of my gear is away from unwanted odors year round.

The multiple ActionPackers have required me over the years to purchase extra items such as beanies, facemasks, lightweight gloves and other items which are more universal throughout the year so that I don’t have to steal from one storage container and then forget to replace it.  This has taken time and I am still working at making it as organized and easy to head into the field no matter the time of year – just grab my ActionPacker and go.

In my opinion when possible, it is best to wait until the very last moment to put on the clothes which you are planning to hunt in and this isn’t always easy.  Instead of getting dressed at the house or camp, where you may pick up some unwanted odors, get dressed in the field prior to hunting.  This helps to keep you as scent free as possible.  Once I get dressed I do spray everything down with Lethal® Human Scent Eliminator Field Spray to remove any potential odors that may get me “busted” in the stand, blind or while walking to my spot.

Another little tip in the early season when the temperature is unseasonably hot is to wait until you get to the stand or blind to put on your outer layer and/or safety harness.  This will help minimize perspiration and body heat while walking to your destination.  Finally, I always make sure I have Lethal® Field Body Wipes in my daypack and use them once I am in the blind or tree stand (after my safety harness has been secured).  These moist wipes are a great way to wipe off the sweat from your head, underarms and body after you are settled in for the hunt.  They will also help to cool you down, remove unwanted human odor/perspiration and they are biodegradable.

I am confident that no matter the type of clothing, sprays and electronic odor eliminating devices that it is still most important to put the wind in your favor!


Sick to his Stomach

Levi Nesvold, Wildlife Pursuit

o27TnEyHURhoWU8-H7rtKDfgufuVHvPBysEbB-tOYuAAs I pull into to the Nesvold Deer Camp in northern MN, I can see smoke coming out of the old wood stove and the warm glow of the light shining through the windows. When I get out of the pickup, I can hear the usual sounds of laughter and the ever growing argument about who is going to sit in which stand. But something is different this year; there is a bigger feeling of anticipation and excitement as I walk in, that’s because it is the year of my youngest brother’s first deer hunt!

Now being the youngest of four boys he has some big boots to fill, the stories of big bucks missed and the sight of all the racks from years before hanging in the cabin can be a little overwhelming. While we sit and talk about the plan, we decide that he and I will be going to the famous rock pile stand. On the way out to the stand that opening morning we talked about gun safety, and then quietly climb in!

About 10 minutes before legal shooting we were sitting there looking for deer and warming our fingers over the heater when I heard a very familiar and unfortunate sound. I turn around to see my first time hunting partner getting sick over the side of the stand. When I ask if he feels ok, he says “no, I would like to go home”. As I turn around to shut off the heater and gather our gear, again I hear that same sound as my brother gets sick one more time. But this time he looks at me and says “I feel better” and “could I please have some water?”

Now with all the noise and commotion I would have never imagined what would happen next. Not even five minutes after all of this, out walk three yearling does onto the bean field! We pick one out, he gets lined up, and I say “ok whenever you are ready”……. Booooom! There she lays, a perfect shot, his first deer!

As he is hastily making his way out of the stand to claim his trophy I laugh to myself, It wasn’t the flu, something in the water or dads famous bean and weenies that made him sick to his stomach, but maybe a slight case of Da Buck Fever coupled with the excitement and nervousness of trying to fill those boots and join the ranks in the Nesvold Deer Camp.


A Shed Hunt to Remember

Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

When the snow starts slowly melting in spring, it is the perfect time to look for shed antlers. Dropping down deep draws, walking ridge lines, scanning fields, navigating riverbanks, and crawling through thick bedding areas, are all parts of what make shed hunting an incredible time in the great outdoors. During my time living in Ames, Iowa, pursuing my graduate degree, I spent many hours shed hunting on public lands nestled nearby the Des Moines River. I searched high and low, and would usually stumble upon multiple shed antlers on my travels. It was during my time in Iowa, I discovered my love for shed hunting.

I love shed hunting for three reasons. First, it provides an opportunity to get back into the woods and begin taking inventory and scouting for the upcoming hunting season. Second, the peaceful tranquility of walking through a chunk of property and knowing Shed huntingyou are the only human in the forest is quite serene. Finally, the absolute excitement associated with finding a shed is wonderful. It is because of all of these reasons that I enjoy spending time in the wilderness in search of antlers.

A lot has changed since my days in Iowa. I am now married with two young daughters. We are no longer in Iowa; instead we call Fargo, North Dakota home. When my daughter was one year old, I decided I would take her on her first shed-hunting trip. I loaded the truck with the diaper bag, jogger, and plenty of snacks. We were off to find the elusive shed antler.

When we arrived at our destination I quickly buckled my daughter into the jogger and we were off on our adventure. At one point, I remember stopping and having some serious regrets about our trip. I was knee deep in mud and it looked like my baby girl was riding in a mud mobile. To top that off, I was face to face with 50-pound beaver and a rat the size of small dog went scurrying past us heading to a nearby field. With all the excitement, I almost missed the tines of a beautiful shed antler radiating from a nearby riverbank. My daughter and I dodged the beaver and climbed the bank to finally claim our prize! In that moment, it dawned on me that I found my first shed with my daughter. What a memory!

If you decide to take a young child out looking for sheds, remember to use something with big tires like a jogger. This will help you navigate the woods easier. Also, when you feel like your backs against the ropes and everything is going wrong, remember to take a look around, you may just find a shed. Never miss the opportunity to take a young one into the wilderness and create everlasting memories.


A Shot to Remember

by Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

During the last weekend of the 2012 North Dakota Gun Deer Opener, I found myself settled in western North Dakota at my father-in-law’s ranch, optimistic about the opportunity to harvest a trophy. We had several trail camera pictures of a nice 160-class buck on the ranch, and I was hopeful the right moment would lead me to this beautiful creature.

It was mid-day and my father-in-law and I climbed into a tower-stand north of the ranch to overlook the two fields surrounded by shelterbelts. As we scanned the fields we noticed a couple of small bucks fighting and an uneasy doe weaving in and out of shelter. As the evening progressed, the activity began to slowdown. We remained, patiently awaiting the main attraction.

Eventually the evening sun started to resolve in the western sky and we noticed activity in the cut-sunflower field, just north of the two fields we had been scanning. Finally, we detected a nice buck chasing does, but because of the distance, we were unable to determine the exact size of the buck. However, with it being the last weekend of the season, we decided to try for the shot. At one point, the buck gave us a broadside shot at 400 yards. My father-in-law encouraged me to try and take the shot. I agreed, and positioned myself as my father-in-law looked on with binoculars. I soon squeezed the trigger. After the dust settled, the buck was still standing in the same spot and I could tell immediately, I underestimated the distance and shot low.

As we regrouped, the buck began to walk further away to the north. I pulled my grunt call from my hunting vest and grunted several times. The buck finally turned and gave another broadside shot at 420 yards. Once again, I positioned my gun and prepared for a killing shot. After I pulled the trigger, deer began darting everywhere in the sunflower field and the buck was no longer visible.

We waited a few minutes and decided it would be a good opportunity to see if we could find any trace
of blood. I walked up and down the rows of sunflowers hoping to stumble upon the buck, but had no luck. When I returned to the pickup, my father-in-law and I retraced our steps and walked in circles stealthcamtrying to find any trace. By this time it was getting darker and we decided to call our search off until morning. As my father-in-law made his way back to the pickup, I completed one last search. As I climbed the null in the center of the field, I spotted antlers towering above the cut sunflowers, and immediately made my way in that direction. When I arrived, I was ecstatic to find the monster we were after. The buck was killed immediately with a fatal heart shot.

As I reflected on this hunt a few lessons came to mind. First, always have a good gun you can rely on to make long-range shots and second, have confidence you can make these types of shots. I put complete trust in my gun and optics. Third, deer have wonderful hearing and a good grunt call could make all the difference in the world, it did for me. Finally, never stop tracking after the shot has been made unless you are absolutely sure you missed the animal. This was an incredible moment and I am grateful I get to share this memory with my father-in-law. This was certainly a shot to remember.


Stop, Look and Listen

Tom Anderson, Wildlife Pursuit_DSC5953

This is the classic lesson we learn as children when we are first trusted to venture out in the neighborhood streets. It was given to us as a mantra whenever we approached a road for our safety.
_DSC5953As hunters it is also vital to our success in the field, whether we are trying to find game before they see us, stalk within range of spotted game or even just going to our stand. If you’ve been in the woods for any amount of time you’ll have to grudgingly acknowledge that you have seen the back end of fleeing animals far too many times.

This is usually because we do not follow the safety rule given to us as children. We are often too anxious, excited, or focused on spotted game, or getting to our stand, to stop and look all around, and be quiet enough to hear game that we would have busted or walked by.

So, to summarize, ALWAYS:
“Stop, Look, and Listen”
“Walk Less, Watch More”
“Talk Less, Listen More”

For more fun and success in the field. It also gives us old or tired hunters well-needed rest to succeed at the moment of truth!


Decorating Your Home, Raised Hunting Style


by Raised Hunting

You, your kids and your husband spend countless hours scouring the woods every year for the antler sheds of the deer that live in your area.  It’s almost like a treasure hunt as you follow the trails and Raised Hunting_Decorating blog 2paths that you’re aware the deer travel. When you find one, the excitement is contagious to nearlyeveryone around you.  Not only is this an easy way to spend quality time outside with the family, it can also be a fun way to see which bucks made it through the past hunting season and allows those who don’t hunt to participate in the sport to some degree. Shed hunting doesn’t require a 4:30 am alarm, intentionally covering your body in the smell of dirt, or special camouflage clothing.  Therefore, it can be done by anyone at anytime.

Those are just a few of the benefits of looking for Whitetail deer or Elk antlers; and sadly, I see many farm houses with piles of old antlers stacked up against the side of the barn or laying around in the yard where mice, squirrels and the elements can destroy them.

My family and I lived in Montana for seventeen RaisedHunting_DecoratingBlogwonderful years and now reside in Iowa.  Out west, finding an Elk shed is like finding gold; they sell for $12 per lb. In our experience, we have watched many individuals make a living by finding the antlers, trading them and then making all kinds of home decorations, such as lamps, chandeliers, baskets, drawer pulls, pens and the list goes on and on.

Our family doesn’t trade or sell our antlers but we do decorate the home with them.  Recently I visited our local Scheels and spent a good amount of time in The Gift Lodge. They carry a wide variety of home decorations that can compliment or add spice to any home and any style of decor.  I happen to love a more rustic approach, which fits in well with all the animal mounts on our walls in our home.  The result was taking a pile of antlers that I didn’t know what to do with and turned it into fun way to add warmth, style and memories.

Hunting isn’t just about killing something, it is much more than that and sometimes doesn’t involve killing anything at all.  Check out the Scheels Gift Lodge and have tons of fun with your antlers or Turkey tail feathers.  Good luck and happy searching!


Rich Traditions and Monster Mule Bucks

by Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

In western North Dakota, my father in-law has worked cattle his whole life. When he was a young man he took over the family ranch and continued the rich tradition of raising superb cattle while positively representing the family name. His ancestors settled the place where the ranch is located when they came to North Dakota from Czechoslovakia. My father in-law has a tremendous amount of pride for the conservation of the land, as well as upholding the family roots. He has ensured the land’s beauty through decades of soil conservation and a diligent commitment to maintaining and preserving God’s creation.

When my father-in-law isn’t working cattle, he devotes countless hours to ensure his sons-in-law and
grandkids experience the beauty of western North Dakota during every hunting season. He provides2014 - Rich traditions 1 scouting reports, sets cameras, and documents the wildlife he encounters. To say I have a wonderful father-in-law would be an understatement. During this particular hunt in the fall of 2011, we had three mule deer buck tags and I had a mule deer doe tag. We had an outstanding hunt, encountered amazing wildlife and had the chance to harvest this terrific mule deer buck.

It all started on a November morning when the hunting crew decided to start the day walking deep draws. We drew a makeshift map on the hood of the pickup and discussed our strategy. My brother-in-law and I were given the task of walking the draws while my father-in-law and hunting advocate neighbor posted nearby. After the game plan was established, we took our specific areas and began the adventure.

When we arrived at the deep draw north of the ranch, multiple pheasants startled my brother-in-law and me as they flew overhead. After being rattled by the noisy pheasants, we pushed our way through the thick and snarly draw. Halfway through, I noticed a white patch in the thicket, about 50 yards ahead. As I approached the white spot, I noticed the body of a deer and, within seconds, the massive rack of a mule deer buck. I was now only 20 yards from the creature. My heart was beating rapidly and I felt overwhelmed with excitement. As I focused on the beast, I could see my brother-in-law making his way down the draw. I did not have a buck tag, so I began to do all I could to get my brother-in-law’s attention.

As my brother-in-law approached, he finally got the hint, and snuck in closer. Eventually, he shot the mule deer buck and created yet another outdoor memory. After harvesting the buck we took pictures and celebrated a successful hunt. Hunting with family and friends and creating these types of memories is priceless. Sadly, the hunting advocate neighbor recently passed away. Luckily, we are left with these photos and memories of hunting in western North Dakota. This upcoming fall will be different, but his memory will live on as the relentless pursuit of monster bucks continue. This article is for him, and all he has done to create memories for young hunters like me. I am thankful to have been able to hunt with such a giving man.


A North Dakota Coyote Hunt

by Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

2014 - Coyote 2It was late January, and I was beginning to experience the negative effects of the arctic temperatures and tremendous amounts of snow covering the plains of North Dakota. I called a friend and we decided there was only one solution to the problem, a solution that would require a rifle, coyote call and a good pair of snowshoes. As we went on our way to chase the elusive coyote on the bottoms of the Wild Rice River, we could not help but notice how Mother Nature’s snowfall decorated every inch of the marvelous landscape.

As we approached our destination, the wind picked up and the blowing snow made it challenging to steer the roadways, but finally we made it to our starting point. We strapped on our snowshoes, loaded our rifles and started our journey. As we navigated our way through, we stumbled upon fresh coyote tracks that we followed to a nearby hidden meadow. The meadow was tucked out of the western wind and provided a great place for us to setup. We used a variety of calls and waited. After a bit we packed up and continued on our journey stopping periodically to call and regroup.

During our time in the wilderness we could not help but comment on the beauty of exploring areas that would be nearly impossible to reach without snowshoes. Throughout the adventure we found ourselves gliding past snow depths of nearly three feet. As the sun began to set in the western sky we began making our journey back to the pickup. Unfortunately, we did not meet up with a coyote that day, but we sure created a lasting memory. This experience was exactly what we needed to combat a long North Dakota winter.

When you live in an area that averages 50 inches of snow in a given year, winters seem to last forever. The cold blowing snow can create hermits out of all of us, but only if we allow it to. If you ever find yourself sick of the long winter and craving fresh air, grab a rifle and a pair of snowshoes, and hit the slopes. The moment you step out into the wilderness you will forget about the winter and your focus will be on your soon to be epic adventure into the great outdoors.


Lessons from Grandpa (Part 2)

by Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

Blog_grandpa2aNestled on the outskirts of a 400-acre tree plantation is a little sanctuary known as the “square woods.” This piece of property is a 5-acre morsel of timber shaped like a square where grandpa and I did most of our hunting.

Over the years, deer and turkey were harvested on this land… and who could forget the truckloads of firewood taken each year?

As a kid, Grandpa and I would spend many hours in the pickup truck circling the tree plantation and square woods looking for wildlife and documenting all we observed. I even learned how to drive on those old dirt roads. Grandpa would take me down a dirt road on the plantation, and let me steer the truck while he operated the pedals. Even after I hit my first tree, Grandpa found it in his heart to let me try again.

When I was not dodging trees, we were documenting our encounters with all the deer, turkeys,
bald eagles, squirrels, and all other varmints we came across on our travels. After every trip, we would
have a story to tell about the magnificent wildlife we stumbled upon.

During our travels, I learned rather quickly how much Grandpa cared about keeping the great
outdoors a clean place for wildlife. After every trip, we would encounter a spot where a litterbug had
tossed garbage, and it was my responsibility to jump out of the pickup and throw the trash in the back of his old pickup. Grandpa would always tell me how it was important that we kept the forest floor clean for the wildlife that inhabited the area. The cleaning of the landscape became a significant tradition on our outings.

The tradition of cleaning the forest floor is something I’ll never forget. Even though Grandpa has
joined the angels, I will always remember the importance of taking care of the land. Today, I always keep a trash bag with me in case I encounter the footprint of a litterbug, so I can keep our tradition alive.

Remember as you pursue monster bucks, unbelievable gobblers, and all other species, we are in the living room of some amazing creatures. It is our responsibility to keep our sanctuaries spotless. Future generations of outdoors enthusiasts need to learn this lesson, and it is our responsibility to show them the way.