Month: May 2019

Can Whitetail Be Totally Black?

Melanistic whitetails are the absolute rarest form of whitetail known; Although, a few hunters in parts of Texas have actually had the chance to harvest these animals. Truth be told, not very much is known about melanistic whitetails, while experts believe the genetic mutations that cause albinoism actually reduces the survival rate of the animal due to predators, melanistic deer are believed to be the opposite.

What is Melanism?

Melanism is the complete opposite of albinism. In albinism the pigment melanin is completely absent, in this circumstance, there is an excess of melanin. According to Biology-online.org, “Melanism is a condition in which a bodily part is morphologically dark due to the unusually high deposition of melanin. Melanin is a dark pigment produced by the specialized cells called melanocytes. This pigment attributes to the dark coloration of the hair, eyes, skin, plumage, pelage, and other bodily parts of a living organism”. The word melanism is derived from the Greek word μελανός.

Have you ever seen a totally black whitetail?! Me either, check this out!

What Causes Melanism?

Melanism is a random mutation that can occur in many types of animals. It is believed to be a mutation of the melanocortin 1 receptor gene (MC1R). Just like albinism, Melanism is a recessive gene, so the gene will likely not be passed down, but it is not impossible.

Photo: mapmyranch.com

Survival Impact

Mutations happen all the time in all organisms. They are a large part of natural selection and evolution. When animals have a mutation that is beneficial to their survival rate, and therefore their breeding rate, it tends to stick around. Being melanistic is not a giant game changer for whitetails from a survival standpoint, if it was, they would all be melanistic. It is possible that being melanistic could give whitetails a slight advantage but this would be negligible. Whitetails are already fairly well camouflaged for their environments so we do not see large populations of black whitetails across the United States.

Rarity

While everyone has heard of albino whitetails, different reports claim that their rarity is between 1 in 20,000-100,000. While chances of a piebald whitetail being born are believed to be 1 in 1000.

Brooke Bateman 2016

That being said, the chances of a deer being born melanistic are considerably less than that of an albino. So small in fact I could not even find a general stat for their numbers. Melanistic deer are not harvested every year; however, in 2016 a young girl named Brooke Bateman harvested a wide melanistic buck off their 1,800-acre lease deer lease in Stephens Texas, one of the few ever recorded. That year, Texas harvested 600,000 whitetails, while according to the QDMA The United States as a whole recorded over 6,000,000 whitetails harvested.

Melanistic Deer Distribution

Texas January 3rd, 2004

Melanistic deer have been sighted across the United States. Some of the documented states include Mississippi, Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, and South Carolina. The largest population seems to be in Texas. A 1999 study by Texas Tech University professors Dr. John T. Baccus and John C. Posey found that in a southwest region close to the Edwards Plateau Ecological Region, melanism had an incidence rate of 8.5%. The reasoning behind this concentration is still unknown. It is possible that the dark color helps them better camouflage themselves against predators, aiding natural selection.

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19 Essential Items For Your 2019 Whitetail Hunting Pack

What Items Should I Always Have In My Hunting Pack?

Every hunter has a basic load out of items that they make sure to bring every single trip. In this list, we make sure to cover every item you will need in the woods and in your pursuit of happiness. If you don’t already have a good pack and find your self asking ” what backpack should I use for hunting?” well our suggestion is the Timber Hawk Kill-shot Backpack.

Here are Our Top 19 Items to Pack For 2019

1. Skinning Knife

We have all been in that situation after you have got a deer on the ground and go after your Skinning Knife and you left it at home… A Skinning Knife is one of the basic necessities for a hunt. obviously, you won’t be using this in the stand but after your successful hunt, you will defiantly need a high-quality knife that can Hold a Real Edge.

2. Flashlight

Leaving for a hunt without a Flashlight is one sure way to derail your hunt. Hopefully, you got up on time and are headed to the woods before daylight. On the walk in you will definitely need a Good Flashlight.

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Photo: Primos Hunting

We recommend a flashlight with an integrated Blood Light for when you shoot that big buck close to sunset.

A Flashlight will be an even larger asset on the walkout from the stand. The last thing you want to do is to get lost after a long day in the woods.

3. Binoculars

One thing you definitely need is an advantage in optics. If you are bow hunting this is even more crucial because you do not have a good scope to look through. Binoculars are useful for looking over fields and through the woods in your stand.

Most seasoned hunters will tell you, it can be difficult to see slow-moving deer far away or even deer in a farmed field. Deer can hide in plain sight in fields and a pair of good binoculars can give you that edge you need.

Check out this complete list of 19 things you will need for a hunting trip in 2019 from Omega Outdoors! I need to get a few of these.

4. Utility Knife

Stat Gear Utility Knife

Whether you are on a hunt or just a walk through the woods, something you should never leave without is a Good Knife. What I call a utility knife a knife that you can use in any situation and not just for skinning. I always carry one in my pack no matter what, I do not always use it but it is nice to have if you do need it. I also recommend getting a Knife with a Firestarter as well as an added layer of preparation.


Hi, I’m Patrick, the sole author of Omega Outdoors. I work on this blog whenever I get a chance in between school and my different jobs, but I would greatly appreciate it if you subscribed to my email list so I can keep you updated my content and giveaways.


5. Gloves

Unless your hunting in 70-degree weather, a pair of gloves is something you definitely need to pack. I normally have two pair, one light pair and one heavier pair for the really cold days. Keeping your hands warm is more important than you may realize. Other than cold hands being uncomfortable if you can not feel your hands’ chances are you can not make a well placed shot on that Boone and Crockett you’re waiting on. I have definitely been in my stand before on a 20-degree day and realized I forgot my heavy gloves… definitely will not do that twice!

6. Rangefinder

Now if you are bowhunting I will not even bother telling you about the importance of a rangefinder, that is a no brainer. However, if you are rifle hunting, a rangefinder can be more useful than you may think. In the early season, you probably did not have a chance to see your stand before the leaves fell and a rangefinder can give you the edge to know exactly how far away your shooting lanes are.

7. Haul Rope

A haul rope can be useful for many reasons but it is definitely always safer and easier to have a haul rope to get your gear in the stand.

David Blanton from Realtree Outdoors made an exceptional video about the correct way to climb you stand and use a haul rope effectively.


David Blanton, Realtree Outdoors

8. Rain cover

If your sitting in the stand all day, some sort of rain cover is a good thing to have. You could wear a waterproof outer layer, bring a poncho, or stand umbrella. Either way, covering up is key to staying dry and warm so you can make that perfect shot on a big buck.

9. Water Bladder

Any hunter will tell you that sitting all day in a tree stand is not an easy thing to do. Staying hydrated is an important aspect of any sport. A bottle can be quite noisy in the woods especially if you have to pull it out of a pack. Most well-made backpacks will have a built-in water bladder, and you can fit your own in most cheaper backpacks. Oh and do not worry about peeing in the woods, it has no adverse effects on your hunt.

RELATED POST: Top Five Deer Hunting Myths

10. Tree Hanger

I know you have been in a stand at least once without a hanger. You’re sitting there holding your pack between your feet facing constant scare/uncomfortable feeling that you may drop your pack, and you know what that means… no more Little Debbies. Let’s not chance it, use a hanger.

Big Whitetail Hunters LLC Coated Gear Hangers

11. Folding Saw


Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw

A folding saw can almost be the same as your utility knife, but a folding saw can be much better to get through a larger tree or through the back end of a whitetail. I much rather pack the little extra weight of a saw than trying for 30 minutes to chop through a thick tree.

12. Mobile Battery Pack

Never be without a phone in the woods

Other than checking your virtual farm world while in the stand; having your phone is actually very important. You can use your phone for a few important things in the woods, such as reporting your harvest or texting your hunting buddy about lunch. Not to mention the safety factor of being able to communicate with your hunting buddies or the police in case of emergencies. So having a mobile charger in your pack is a definite no brainer.

13. Grunt Call

Grunt calls can be a game-changer during the rut. I know you have seen a buck mid-November on a fast trot not even thinking of stopping. A grunt call can be just the ticket! Gunts also work very well when there is a buck farther away from you. If he hears your gunt he will differently raise an ear in curiosity and if you’re good enough he will even come your way.

Photo from Realtree.com

14. Hand-Warmers

Seasoned hunters will tell you, having hand warmers can make or break your day. When the thermostat gets close to zero you definitely need to have hand warmers with you. Most of the time I put one in each glove, and one in each pant pocket to stay nice and warm.

15. Ozone Generator

Scent control is a major priority in hunting. I assume you are already using scent free body soap and laundry detergent for yourself and clothes. But now a new technology actually releases ozone to cover your scent and the nearby areas scent. The ozone breaks down scent on a molecular level so it is undetectable. This would be an added layer of protection for your scent game.

16. Basic First Aid

One of the most important pieces of gear for anyone who steps foot off the pavement, a solid first-aid kit is especially important for hunters. Whether you are heading into the backcountry for a multi-day hunt or simply hitting your favorite trails for the day while setting trail cams, a first-aid should always be in your backpack. Don’t think of the kit as a fixed item—the contents within your first-aid kit should change per trip… you’re going to want a beefier assortment for 11-day Dall sheep hunt in Alaska than you will for a simple morning in the tree stand five miles from home. You may choose to go with an ultralight kit to save weight and space or a broader selection if you are in hunting camp. Never assume the outfitter, your hunting buddy or someone else along the trail will have a medical kit—always be ready to take care of yourself.

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD – Wilderness First Aid Pocket Guide

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD – Wilderness First Aid Pocket Guide

17. Lighter/Matches

Even if you do not plan on staying in the woods, some items fall into the “rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it” category. If you’re on a camping hunt than you better make sure to pack a lighter or box of matches but if your just a hotel hunter(no shame) then they are probably not as important.

18. Shooting Sticks

Quik-Shot Predator Shooting Stick

On a hunt where you need to make a lot of miles and do not want to settle in one spot, a solid prop to shoot off can make or break that hunt that you have worked so hard for. Even if you are staying local, on the days where you just feel like walking instead of sitting, shooting sticks are a much better rest than a random tree or a freehanded shot. Shooting sticks come in many varieties, but the common denominator is that all sticks provide an added measure of stability in the field and can dramatically increase the effective range of any hunter when they’re used the right way.

19. Extra Sd Cards

I hope I am not the only one that goes to check my trail cams after hunting in a different spot and realize I forgot to bring extra cards… To combat this I started to just put a few extras in my pack that I do not plan to use. That way I actually forget to bring them I still have sd cards for my trail cameras.

Thanks for reading my article I hoped you enjoyed it and learned something you didn’t already know. If you like my content subscribe for my weekly update.

Can Whitetail Does Have Antlers?

Are antlered does real?

It seems that every year we get a few reports across the country of so-called “antlered does”. According to science, it is more likely that these deer being reported are actually hermaphrodites. They are two types of hermaphrodites,

  1. True hermaphrodite. This deer would have both male and female organs, but the male organs are faint and/or not outwardly identifiable.
  2. Pseudohermaphrodite (also know as cryptorchid). This deer would have internal male organs that would not be easily identifiable.

A true antlered doe will exhibit this kind of antler growth. The condition is extremely rare. Most reports of antlered does are more likely cases of hermaphrodism. Photo courtesy of Larry's Taxidermy of Ogdensburg, NY.
A true antlered doe will exhibit this kind of antler growth. The condition is extremely rare. (Photo: Larry’s Taxidermy of Ogdensburg, NY.)

Yes, they exist!

While actual antlered does are possible, they only grow small antlers and do not produce the testosterone needed to harden their antlers so they stay in velvet year round. The chance of a true antlered doe happening is a small 0.01%.

What does science say?

A group of scientists in Pennsylvania did a study on the 160,000 bucks registered between 1958 and 1961. While this population was only bucks hunters had killed and reported the percentage of antlered does is considerably less than recently said, I am sure this is because most antlered does are considerably smaller than actual bucks which makes them less attractive to hunters.

Here is the abstract of the study:

Forty-seven antlered female deer (Odocoileus virginianus borealis) were reported among 162,000 bucks killed during four hunting seasons in Pennsylvania, 1958-61. Their distribution in the state was not uniform. The viscera of 31 antlered does, so-called, were examined. Of these, 17 were functional females, 4 were males with undescended testes in the intra-abdominal fat, 1 was a hermaphrodite, 1 bore an adrenal-type tumor, and 8 others could not be classified with the material available. The antlers of 25 were in the velvet, while only 6 had polished antlers, normal among males at that season. The condition of the antlers when related to that of the internal organs correlated very well with the theory of antler growth as developed by the late George B. Wislocki and his associates, and now under investigation by R. J. Goss. The adrenal glands showed no consistent abnormalities.

Read the full report here

Hunters who shoot an 'antlered doe' likely have killed a hermaphrodite, which has ovaries and testes, neither of which would be noticeable to an untrained eye. The deer may appear to be female, but the branched (and sometimes hardened) antlers are an indication that it most likely not a true antlered doe.
Hunters who shoot an ‘antlered doe’ likely have killed a hermaphrodite, which has ovaries and testes, neither of which would be noticeable to an untrained eye.  (Credit: DDH)

Every now and again we will get a report of a rather large “antlered doe” such as this 220 lbs as we know this is not a true antlered doe but these false deer can be classified in these 5 categories.

  1. True hermaphrodite
  2. Pseudohermaphrodite
  3. Does with degenerated ovaries
  4. Does with diseased ovaries
  5. Deer with no recognizable pathology(extremely rare)

 

Thanks for reading my article I hoped you enjoyed it and learned something you didn’t already know. If you like my content subscribe for my weekly update.

 

Top 5 Deer Hunting Myths

 There are many misconceptions about deer and deer hunting throughout the country. Everyone believes that one crazy thing that an uncle or granddad told them, and you probably never thought twice to question it. Don’t worry, after some research I sadly realized I was also one of these gullible young hunters. Here are 5 quite popular deer hunting myths

1. Peeing in the woods

If you’re like me, you probably thought that peeing in the wood was a giant cardinal sin in the woods! However, peeing in the woods is absolutely fine and has zero negative effects. All urine turns in to ammonia within 20 minutes and the deer can’t even tell the difference between deer and human urine. Some hunters even admit to peeing in their own mock scrapes. This sounded crazy to me but hey now I don’t need to carry a pee bottle or hold it during all day hunts.

Did you know that peeing in the woods does not matter? Check out this and other debunked myths from Omega Outdoors.

2. Dry Does

Many people define a dry doe as a doe that hasn’t produced fawns this year. So many management hunts choose to take out these does not think about why she doesn’t have does. According to wildlife biologists a doe will always have fawns unless she is very unhealthy and dying. Although some does may have had fawns still, but they got lost or eaten. There are many reasons why a doe doesn’t have fawns around her so next time try not to judge your does so quickly.

3. Buck Always Bed Downwind of Does

There is a big misconception about bucks bedding downwind from does. While this may happen on the off chance bucks do not outgoingly try to do this. Imagine you’re a buck and you bed down and the wind changes every little while. are you really going to get up just to be behind the does? No you wouldnt, Neither will the bucks. If anything they will get up and move along.

4. Dew Claws In Tracks

So many nieve hunters say that when you can see the dew claws in a track that it is automatically a huge buck. Any deer can leave dew claw prints depending on how it stands, how fast they are going, or if they are scraping. There are many ways to tell the story of a track but remeber all deer have dew claws not just the giants!

Muddy Deer Track

5. Scent is not That Complicated

While dressing in scent free clothes and making sure you wash in scent free soap is important, many hunters are very paranoid about their scent. Placing your stand in the right spot and be virtually undetectable. Try to secluded, the higher ground you can get the better so try hunting a valley if your having trouble with scent.

Thanks for reading my article I hoped you enjoyed it and learned something you didn’t already know. If you like my content subscribe for my weekly update.

Becoming a Good Shed Hunter

Whitetail season is a month past us now. For those of us that already want to be out back in the woods, now we have an excuse! Shed hunting is a popular pastime for the hunters during the postseason. For some it is just a hobby or fun experience, others use it as a management strategy to keep up with certain bucks. Whichever you do, hopefully, these tips can help you out.

What is Shed Hunting?

If you don’t know what shed hunting is, it’s when you go out looking for bucks antlers that have been “shed” hence the name. After the rut, the day starts to shorten and this sends signals to specialized cells to start eating away at the base of the antlers. After a while, they will fall off to make way for new growth. Whitetail bucks can begin to shed their antlers in January, with most bucks shedding by late April. Depending on what type of land you are on or how your deer are behaving can determine when exactly you should start shed hunting. Do some reconnaissance, place cameras and scout your deer. When the majority of bucks have lost their antlers it is about time to get in the woods after them. If you are on public land you might want to go in a little earlier because those sheds are going to go like hotcakes.

I’m excited about shed hunting this year! Check out these tips I found from Omega Outdoors. #shedhunting #outdoors #hunting

4 Questions From Shed Hunters

1. When do I start hunting?

Well, obviously this doesn’t have a defined season like the a actual whitetail. So timing is very important. this could vary depending on if your hunting private or public land, and also what your weather is like.

If you’re on Public land then you should be wary of other hunters getting out and finding sheds first. So, in this case, you might want to get out a bit earlier. Make sure to check the local deer population either by cameras or in person, because if you’re still seeing bucks with antlers then you’re thinking about sheds a little to early.

The weather also has more input then you might think. If you are farther north then you probably still have snow on the ground through January and into February. Finding sheds in snow can be super difficult and is going to hinder your success greatly. That being said if you are on private property and can afford to wait a month or two extra for the weather to clear and for all the antlers to drop, you will likely be much more successful.

2. What type of day is right for shed hunting?

Honestly, most of us shed hunt whenever we have time, and it is not a planned event. But if you could pick the perfect day, it would actually be gloomy, dark, and lightly rainy. 

Think about it, most of these sheds are a brown-white color and during a beautiful sunny day, they are going to blend in with everything. but if the leaves are flat and the woods are a little darker then they will stand out much better and you should be more successful.

3. Where Do I Find Sheds?

Sheds mainly come from three places: food sources, bedding areas, and the trails in-between. If you decide to go shed hunting early then you might want to stick to tree lines or food plots or else you will be rooting around in the woods turning deer. One great tip for hunting sheds in a food plot is to always bring binoculars. Shed hunting is a lot of walking and if you can see farther that means you have to walk less!

Food Sources

Coming out of the winter months deer are packing on the pounds and will spend a sizeable amount of time around food sources. If your property is corn fields, by shed season they will be cut but stalks and sheds look a lot alike over a big field. The key to hunting sheds is to cover as much ground as possible, so when out at your food plots try to see as much of it as you can. Covering ground does not necessarily mean walking, get a height advantage and glass a area around 50 yards around you and then move farther down the plot.

Food Plot, Photo: Advancedhunter.com

Bedding Areas

When deer are ready to bed down, the simple act of laying down and getting up throughout the night, which they do about every 30 mins, can be enough to shake those antlers off. The bad part is that deer love to bed down in the thickest areas they can find. In the middle of a brier thicket or if you are lucky maybe it is just a secluded grassy patch. But if you can find these areas of high traffic, check them weekly.

Trails

Trails are probably the easiest way to find sheds. The trails themself are easy to find compared to the bedding locations, and chances are you already know where a good bit of trails are on your property. A good place to check is around hills or a drop down into a creek. these areas can cause the buck to produce a lot of movement which could be enough for a weak antler. Some times limbs or brush can knock sheds off, or just the act of walking is enough, but make sure to go all through those trails and do it weekly.

Fences

Similar reasoning to looking at hills or creek beds, when bucks jump fences that obviously jars the deer to an extent and makes a high possibility that their antlers will shed. Not many hunters think of this but I have found a good amount of sheds around fences.

At the end of the day, the more ground you cover, the bigger and better your chances are to find sheds.

4. Do I Need a Shed Dog?

You do not NEED anything to shed hunt, except permission. But does it hurt? No way! Shed hunting dogs can be very useful. Even if you haven’t trained your dog to find sheds, just bringing them along can be a ton of fun. Actual shed dogs can be much better than you at shed hunting and they will probably find the majority of sheds.

Photo: Field & Stream

Training a dog to find sheds does not take all that long, just in 4-6 weeks you can have your dog ready to go. Labrador retrievers are a great dog for hunting in general, they love to please and love to be in the outdoors right by your side. Do not worry about messing up your duck dog either, other hunters that trained their duck dogs to find sheds said that it did not interfere with their performance during duck season.

Thanks for reading my article I hoped you enjoyed it and learned something you didn’t already know. If you like my content subscribe for my weekly update. If you have any questions about shed hunting that I did not talk about here, feel free to comment or shoot me a email at Patrick.long@omegaoutdoors.net and I will be more than happy to answer it for you.