The regular Northern Zone firearms deer season will open Oct. 20, the Southern Zone on Nov. 17.
Hunters are already visiting their local gun shops, checking out new guns and trading buck tales. Even the sportsmen’s clubs’ shooting ranges are filling up with wise hunters making sure when they pull the trigger, they’ll have venison for winter.
One thing I’ve noticed at the range is a number of hunters who had new deer rifles, and I decided to ask them, “Why the new gun?”
I got a number of answers (excuses), but the best, one I firmly believe in, was, “Why not?”
I think I’m one of the best at fabricating reasons for adding a new gun to my cabinet. Even when it’s well-rehearsed, she laughs and says, “Sure.”
This week, I’ll provide a list of items for the deer woods, all reasonably priced.
Let’s begin with a new deer rifle. Savage Arms introduced the Axis rifle several years ago, and it’s become quite popular with big game and predator hunters. It is available in eight calibers from the .22-250-7mm 08.
I shot several (.243, .25-06 and the .308) when they were first introduced and was very impressed with their accuracy. It’s what you would expect from Savage.
When I shouldered the Axis, I immediately noticed (besides the new look) the hand grip area was small and I could get a better, more solid grip, and the one-piece synthetic stock had a generous recoil pad that added to the comfort. Other features of the Axis are a matte black, carbon-steel drilled and tapped
22-inch barrel and detachable four-round capacity magazine. It weighs 6.5 pounds. A combo package with mounted scope and bore sighted is also available. It’s definitely a lot of gun for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price that ranges from $363-$464. I recently saw an ad in The Gazette for a Camouflaged Savage Axis blued combo (scoped) for $349 (www.savagearms.com).
Have you ever been in the woods at sunrise or with 10 minutes of legal shooting time left, and in walks a deer that you “think” is a buck, but you’re just not sure because you really can’t see horns through your scope? Or how about those overcast and dark days in dense woods when there’s little light? If you can’t be absolutely sure there are horns, a new scope may be needed.
Scopes transmit available light through lenses to the eye, but they lose a bit in the process. Expensive scopes can provide 98 percent of the light to pass through, but average scopes give about 90 percent. I’m not sure that the 8 percent difference is really worth the additional dollars. I’ve found that my 68-year-old eyes like 40mm objective lenses. The larger the objective lens, the more light comes through the eyepiece. With that in mind, let me introduce the scope on my deer rifle.
I’ve been using a KonusPro M30 1.5-6x44mm with an illuminated blue dot option for several years, and have taken bear and deer with it. The longest ranges were 201 yards on a Texas buck and 207 yards on a Javelina. In New York state, my shots are seldom that long, and 1.5 power is ideal for North Country hunting.
Konus Optics is an Italian company based in Verona. Established in 1979, it offers a large variety of scopes and binoculars and a long line of other optics. On my first outing with this scope, I was in a ground blind in a heavy wooded area in Allegany County, about 80 yards from a well-used deer trial. About 10 minutes before sundown, I saw the outline of a deer moving cautiously along the trail. I couldn’t see any antlers until I raised the scope. Then that big seven-pointer was mine.
The Konus 30/30 reticle can be used to roughly estimate range when the scope is set at 4 power. Among other features, it’s water- and fog-proof, has finger adjustable turrets, fully multi-coated optics and precision 1-4 Minute of Angle adjustments.
And I have found that the red and blue illuminated dot options work well in various light situations, aiding target acquisition. I found this Konus out on the Internet for as low as $194.
Last but not least, is the Konus Lifeline Program. Let’s say somehow your scope is damaged a few days before your hunt or even worse, when you’re away from home. If the scope is a Konus, you can call a special number, tell them what happened and they’ll overnight a new scope free. If overnight isn’t possible where you’re hunting, you can purchase a new scope of equal or less value and when you return you send them a valid receipt and they’ll reimburse you (www.konususa.com).
To be a successful deer hunter, you have to fool a deer’s nose and ears. It can be done with a good scent covering system and good calls. Here are two that work for me.
They say that a whitetail deer can smell a human a half-mile away and sometimes farther, so a covering scent is a must. The process should really begin at home with proper washing and storage of hunting clothes, then continued in the woods. The Hunter Specialties Scent-A-Away system I use in the woods includes Carbon Clean laundry detergent that cleans and de-scents hunting clothes. It works in a regular washing machine.
When I step out of my truck, I spray down with their Acorn Spray that gives off a natural odor. I keep the spray bottle in my backpack at all times and use it throughout the day to freshen up. There’s no such thing as too much, so don’t be afraid to use it.
The other nose-fooler is an attractant called Primetime Premium Doe Estrus Plus. It’s collected during the 24- to 36-hour estrus cycle and spiked with potent sexual and territorial deer musk. I also use the company’s scent drag combo, dipped in the Estrus Plus, when I head in to my watch. Here’s a dragging tip you might want to try. When possible, drag the scented cloths at right angles to the breeze to keep the bucks from circling downwind (www.hunterspec.com).
Ten years ago, I met Jerry Wilson of Wilson’s Game Calls at an outdoor writers’ hunting safari in western New York, and he gave me one of his hand-crafted Executioner grunt calls. Since then, I’ve taken six good bucks (all eight points or better) in Texas. Several years ago, on opening day of the New York archery season, I used the Executioner to call in and shoot my biggest bow buck ever. He tipped the scales at 190 pounds, dressed, and carried an eight-point rack. It works for me. Click here and watch his short demonstration video, and you’ll see what I mean.
I think I probably have at least a dozen hunting knives, and I’m sure you do, too. But this year, I found one in a New York Outdoor News ad that was really different because it really does everything a deer hunter needs in the field. It’s the Viscerator by FieldTorq Knives, and its unique design caught my eye. Designed by Chris Stuckel of Wisconsin, it has a two blades-in-one design that makes field-dressing big game much easier, faster and safer. The dual blades have three uses: gut hook, pelvic bone splitter and utility knife all in one. The concept of these opposing blades, with each blade facing the other, protects the user by eliminating all exterior cutting surfaces. It means user safety. The Viscerator can easily be sharpened with a fillet knife sharpener.
You might expect this knife to be big, but it isn’t. The overall length is 7 1⁄2 inches, the primary blade is 3 1⁄2, the other three. The distance between the blades is one inch.
Its hollow ground, has an extremely comfortable resin-infused, laminated hardwood handle and comes with a leather sheath. To see the Viscerator in action, go to www.fieldtorqknives.com. Suggested retail price is $60.
Don’t forget Buck Tales. Email yours to me at email@example.com. Include your full name, city where you live, where you shot your deer (buck or doe), whether from the ground or a tree stand, shot distance, number of points, weight and anything else you think would add to the tale.