To answer your questions this week is F&S Hunting Editor Will Brantley, and he’s done a good job of putting you on the spot: on his blind hatred of 6.5 Creedmoor, how he feels about naming males, the mountain fried lion, and the advice of the parents. Not to mention some practical hunting questions. Here are his responses.
Q: The idea of making catfish noodles scares me a little. What is the most dangerous part of this? —Mac Jones, via email
A: Everyone assumes that they will be hit by a snake, a turtle or a beaver. But the fact is, when you’re up to your neck in a lake, it’s the drunken yuppies on jet skis that pose the greatest danger.
Q: I am having trouble finding places on public land to hunt. That I have to do? —Justin Chestnut, via Instagram
A: You should go to an online hunting forum (I recommend The Duck Hunter’s Refuge) and simply ask for the GPS coordinates of some of your favorite spots. Not only is it the easiest way to find places, but it’s also a great way to make new friends.
Okay, seriously, the best way to find good public places is to get down to business: study maps or use mapping software to find places other hunters will hesitate to go, call the state agency biologists for any information they can provide, and then go. walk and walk
Q: Is there anything that doesn’t taste good fried? —Kerry Callahan, via email
A: I’m still testing that. I once fried a mountain lion tenderloin, and while it tasted like lean pork, it also tasted like big cat, with hints of a litter box. I wouldn’t go so far as to call him right. But it was damn better than if he hadn’t fried it.
Q: How can I take my duck calling and decoy placement to an advanced level? —Tate Miller, via Instagram
A: A quick exercise is to go out, make some calls and record the audio. Playing it back can be terribly embarrassing, but it will tell you what needs practice. Beyond that, watch and listen for mallard ducks. They never shut up or stay still. You’ll hear as many whistles and beeps as you do squawks and responses, and you’ll see the true value of movement in a lure cast, whether it’s a tug-rope, a spinner, or both. And keep in mind that lure money is better spent on less quality fakes than a giant spread that looks like a bunch of faded plastic ducks.
Q: Why do hunters, most of whom avoid increased and excessive government regulations and taxes, seem to reach for the “government button” every time they want to impose their hunting preferences on other hunters? —Silence Dogooder, via Instagram
A: I think it’s because funding for hunting and fishing usually doesn’t come from income taxes or other “government buttons” but rather from licenses and equipment that we voluntarily purchase and tax in the name of keeping the creatures around . That gives us all a voice, and we’re bound to disagree on some of it. So I will point out that crossbows belong in crossbow season, and you will go to hell for shooting turkeys with rifles.
Q: Turkeys or whitetails, if you had to choose? —Stanley Finneran, via email
Q: What is the best muzzleloader bullet for expansion, penetration, and killing ability? —James T Schmitz, via Facebook
A: The best I have used is Federal’s 270 grain BOR Lock MZ copper bullet. I’ve used them to kill who knows how many whitetails, as well as some large hogs and a bull moose. They tick all the boxes you listed above, plus they generally shoot very well.
Q: Is camouflage overrated? —Jarod L, via Instagram
A: I suspect that both Bill Jordan and Toxey Haas would say that standing still in a good spot is more important. But camouflage does work.
Q: What land and water features should I look for when exploring for diving ducks? —Alex P, via Instagram
A: Feeding areas are the best. Diving ducks of all kinds are attracted to shell beds, and some of the best golden-eyed shoots I’ve had have been on tarpon kills. Diving Ducks generally do not like to end up with an extended decoy if they can see the bottom and do not like to fly over dry ground. If I’m setting up in a new area, I’ll start at a large, rocky spot that sticks out well in fairly deep open water.
Q: What is the biggest deer you have shot? —Reid T, via Instagram
A: I’ve never had a deer officially listed, but I shot one in Missouri years ago, with a large tooth knocked out, which we measured at camp at 162. By antler size, it’s the largest. I consider my personal best whitetail to be a 137-inch 6-point shot I shot on the family farm in 2016. I hunted that deer for years, he was Methuselah’s age, and it still gives me the creeps to think of him walking to the bow. .
Q: Seriously bro, what’s your problem with 6.5 Creedmoor? —Ben S, via email
A: I now have three of them and have probably spent more time hunting animals of that caliber than any other over the last five years. It is an excellent light recoil hunting round and is incredibly accurate. Still, I look at him with pure disdain. I really don’t know why.
Q: I see that your son is very fond of hunting. At what age should I start my children? —Rodger T, via email
A: Parenting tips are tough and I’m loath to share any. When to let your child hunt is up to you, but I don’t think they are too young to at least go with you. My son, Anse, used to go squirrel and turkey hunting with me when he was 3 years old. He was very scared, but he also learned to be quiet surprisingly quickly. He started shooting when he was 4 years old and killed his first squirrel and deer when he was 6. He has never known anything different, and he loves it. But now he is only 8 years old and he also loves Pokémon. Ask me the same question 10 or 12 years from now, and maybe then I can tell you if my path was the right one or if I screwed up.
Q: What’s the worst name for a deer you’ve ever heard? —Fred Balkus, via email
A: This is a ploy to get me to condemn the naming of the males. I won’t be fooled because some males deserve a name. One gun season, my father-in-law shot an eight-point shot with a giant scrotum; I mean a bag of balls so big you couldn’t help but gather around the truck to comment on it. This was before trail cameras were common, but imagine how much fun we could have had naming that deer. I would have called him Squirrel.
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Email questions to David E. Petzal, Phil Bourjaily, Will Brantley, Richard Mann, or Joe Cermele at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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