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Trophy bucks are on the decline. Here are some reasons why you should consider shooting does this year instead of a buck.

Many wildlife management experts have taught us that an ideal buck-to-doe ratio is 1:1, meaning there is at least one buck for every doe. But ask any deer hunter which of the two (bucks or does) they more commonly see out in the woods and they will unhesitatingly say: “does!”

Harvest reports and management statistics confirm this assertion. In fact, in many states the buck-to-doe ratio has a much larger spread. For example, after the 2013 hunt in Utah, biologists estimated that there was an average of 19 bucks for every 100 does. That ratio is a long way off from the 1:1 ideal.

The enormous imbalance in the buck-to-doe ratio is caused by many factors. For instance, statistics show that does are approximately 13% more likely to have a doe-fawn than a buck-fawn. But that small difference can’t possibly explain the near 500% disparity between the ideal 1:1 ratio and Utah’s 0.19:1 ratio. The logical explanation is simply this: most hunters want to hunt bucks rather than does.

The reasons for this desire may be implicitly tied to the history and legacy of deer hunting, but the justifications for it are becoming less persuasive. With an ever-growing hunter population, the need for good wildlife management practices is becoming increasingly important. In the coming decades, hunters will need to do more than simply depend on their state’s suggested harvest allowances.

This reality may be hard to stomach for the die-hard buck hunter. Hopefully the following list — the five reasons why shooting a doe is better than shooting a buck — will provide some consolation.

1. Doe meat tastes better than buck meat.

Doe-Venison-Rib-Rack1Image via: Buedel Meat Up

Admittedly this is a very subjective claim, and the way you field dress and care for the game will probably have more affect on the quality and taste of the meat than will gender. But, biologically speaking, doe meat will generally be less “gamey” because does have less testosterone than bucks.

Many hunters with will argue that bucks and does taste exactly the same. They claim that each can taste great or horrible depending on how the game was harvested, dressed, stored and cooked. While this may be true, those with a more discerning taste palate will tell you that if all other variables the same, doe meat is more tender and tastier than buck meat.

2. Shooting does will produce more bucks.


Image via: Noble Foundation

Many people believe that shooting bucks instead of does will produce more bucks. Their theory suggests that a higher doe population will have more fawns, and more fawns equals more bucks. This harvest strategy works when the overall population is low. However when doe populations grow too large, does begin to give birth to less fawns. And if the high buck harvest continues, their numbers will exponentially decline.

A better strategy is the quality deer management (“QDM”) strategy, which suggests that hunters harvest less young bucks and more does. As the doe population declines, they will produce more fawns per doe. And when this strategy is executed correctly, the deer population is more likely to move toward the ideal buck-to-doe ratio of 1:1.

3. Does are less expensive to harvest.


Unless you full mount your does, you don’t have to fork out all that money to mount it as you would with a trophy buck. That’s money in your pocket to put towards more hunting gear.

4. Better chances of successfully harvesting a doe than buck.


Because the current buck-to-doe ratio is extremely unbalanced in most states, you are more likely to see a doe than to see a buck. And if you are hunting for meat, that’s a good deal. However, if you hunt for the challenge and adventure, you’re in luck too—does are a smaller target. Use the opportunity to hone in your accuracy for next year’s buck hunt.

5. Reducing doe numbers is an essential element of herd management.


Image via: R.G. Bernier

Many states have implemented the earn-a-buck program. The program requires hunters to harvest a certain number of does before they can harvest a buck. This mandate has helped in those states, but it may not be enough.

Fortunately, more and more hunters are realizing that doe harvest is an important aspect of deer management. Unless you have a critically low doe population in your area, consider setting your sights on a trophy doe this year. It’s a great step to becoming a more responsible and experienced hunter.


If you’re trying to call, bugle, or otherwise outsmart a big bull elk, it’s possible you’re being too quiet.

As of this writing, I’m hunting elk in Wyoming’s Birdger/Teton National Forest, where two fellows in our camp ran onto a most interesting elk-calling tactic.

This is totally public land, so a mature bull has been called to by humans hundreds of times, making them very cautious. My two friends were bivouacking way thCWPW5EU6back in the mountains and were having little luck with cow calling, bugling, or both. In three days, they saw 17 bulls and had their best luck by approaching elk by snapping small sticks and rustling stones.

“As long as we were making noise, the bulls held their ground and often bugled at us, thinking we were elk.”

Using this tactic, they got within 50 yards of several bulls and had one at 25, until our most ambitious archer got caught drawing his longbow and busted.

I once hunted with Darwin Vander Esh in the Seven Devils Mountain region. We were finished for the day and the four of us walked noisily to our horses when a bull suddenly bugled aggressively 200 yards ahead of us. In the next 10 seconds, he was 100 yards and screaming.

“He’s coming,” whispered the guide. We all ducked for cover, our bows at the ready. I was downwind and at full draw, but the bull charged right into the center and I couldn’t shoot. I’m certain that the bull thought we were a herd of elk and was coming to take charge.

Many guides and outfitters often make ambient noise in conjunction with calling to give their lure extra attraction. Keep natural sounds in mind and make it part of your elk-hunting stratigies.


Ready to pop a cold, but can’t find a bottle opener around your campsite? We’ve got you covered.

So, you’re back at camp ready to crack open a cold one after a long day on the trail. Or maybe you’ve been sitting around at camp all day. Whatever you’re doing, you’re ready to enjoy an ice cold beer. But there’s one problem: you can’t find a bottle opener. No sweat. You can use just about any object as a bottle opener. It’s all about leverage and using your thumb as a fulcrum. Here’s 12 common camping objects that can quickly pop open a beer.

1. Use your car keys

2. Use a cararbiner

3. Use a lighter

4. Use another beer


5. Use a spatula from your mess kit

6. Use a compass


7. Use a spoon

8. Use the blunt end of a fork

9. Use your hiking pole

10. Use a car seat belt

11. Use your wedding ring

Hook the cap edge on the ring and apply proper pressure. Careful: this could warp the ring.


12. Use a rubber band

Wrap a rubber band around the edges of the cap and twist it off with your hands.



Want to learn how to impress your camp by making them chicken fried backstrap? Check out this recipe.

If you want to be a badass camp chef and need some guidance, look no further than Jody Peck, the ultimate bush cook. Her blog Rock ‘N Roll Bush Cook, is pretty sweet. According to her, the backstrap is the easiest part of wild game to prepare out in the bush.

This is all you need…

Backstrap steaks
3 eggs
1 package crushed soda crackers

The backstrap is the meat on each side of the spine. From sheep to moose, it is arguably the most tender part of the animal and clean to remove.

Slice the backstrap into thin steaks, 1-2 inches thick, removing the sinew. Pound the steaks until they are thin and tender.

Whisk about 3 eggs and add to a plate. On a separate plate, add crushed crackers (you can put the crackers in a bag and crush with a rolling pin; they should be fine crumbs) and mix with your choice of seasonings (salt, pepper, Montreal steak spice, seasoning salt, basil etc.).

Put your cast iron skillet over the fire with some oil to heat it up. Dip the steak into the eggs and then into the cracker/seasoning mixture. The egg will make the coating stick.

Pan fry until golden and use a meat thermometer if you are worried about doneness. Internal temperature is usually 130-140 degrees.

Jody’s trick?

“Wipe pan with paper towel and re-season between each batch of steaks so the oil doesn’t start smoking with the pan drippings.”


Check out this camping tent fail and don’t let it happen to you.

Pitching a tent and camping out can be a breeze, if you do it right. It can also be a breeze when the wind takes over and blows your tent from its spot.

Watch this video from anthonyrose2010 and take notes: some sturdy stakes might have taken care of this.

How would you have avoided this camping tent fail?


Popper fishing is something that I’m relatively new to doing  It’s done a lot when fish are active on the surface of the water. Typically, that scenario plays out in warmer waters than I normally get to fish, but 2014 has been an unusual year here in Southern California, marked by much warmer than normal waters. All of a sudden, poppers have become a hot lure to target primarily yellowfin tuna. Popper fishing is popular as much for its effectiveness as the way in which it attracts fish. Vicious strikes with fish flying out of the water are not uncommon.

Florida anglers aren’t new to popper fishing. If, like me, you’re intrigued by this style of fishing, check out this helpful article from Florida Sportsman.

tbird_dunham_popper_082814A popper is a lure that usually tapers toward its widest at the front, where it has a concave or slanted, flat face. The line tie is near the center of the face. When jerked forward in the water, the lure makes a popping sound as it throws air and water forward. Weighted, sinking poppers can be cast a little farther. Much more common, floating poppers are easier to work.

The action of a popper is imparted by the angler, with the rodtip movement, or quick stop-and-go reel cranks, or both. The width and shape of the face, and the overall size and weight of the popper, determine how much water it can throw and how much noise it makes when jerked forward. Some have internal rattles. The width of the face, compared to the total size, makes it a loud, aggressive popper or a more subtle one. Slower speed or longer pauses can produce a more subtle presentation. Fast swimming fish species may demand a rapid retrieve.

Photos: Florida Sportsman (top); Thunderbird Sportfishing (above)