Getting to the Heart of Hunting

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Camille Middleton.

Axis deer heart
Eating the heart of your first deer is a tradition that many hunters chose to honor.

With hunting season just around the corner, it’s time to sharpen your knives and dig deep into the heart of controversy. There are a number of long-held—and sometimes odd—rites of passage hunters partake in when killing their first deer. In September 2016, a New Zealand father was ruthlessly attacked by internet haters for letting his daughter take a bite out of a raw deer heart. The dad, Johnny Yuile, posted the pictures on the NZ Woman Hunters Facebook page of his daughter and him over a freshly killed young stag. The young girl had recently taken her first stag after a tricky approach and they commemorated with the age-old practice of eating the raw heart. For many non-hunters, this was a form of barbarism. They criticized the dad for letting the daughter eat the raw heart due to the dangers of uncooked meat—demanding the dad be criminally charged

According to evidence, eating extremely fresh raw meat carries little danger. “There’s risks anytime you eat meat period,” says ER physician Dr. Travis Stork a host on the tv show The Doctors. “That’s just the reality. But there’s also a big difference if that heart had been sitting out for 48 hours. It’s different than coming across roadkill.”

For many non-hunters, it’s difficult to understand the timeless traditions passed down through generations of hunters. For Yuile and his daughter, the pair camped overnight in the woods and made the kill the next morning. When the young girl was asked about it she said, “I saw my uncle bite the heart, so I thought I might bite it too. It tasted quite nice.”

While some hunters take a bite of the raw heart, others have adapted that tradition a bit. In an article published in Peterson’s Hunting Magazine, outdoor writer, Brian McCombie, states,“In Wisconsin, after a hunter makes a kill, they simmer the heart in water with celery, onion and beer, then slice and eat it.” While some hunters eat the heart, others don’t quite take it so far.

Huntress Camille Middleton taking a bite from a fresh, raw axis deer she hunted.
Camille partaking in the rite of “blooding” and takes a bite of the heart of her first axis deer.

After I killed my first axis deer, I decided I wanted to take it further by not only wiping the blood on my face but taking a bite from its heart. I had heard that Native American hunters would eat the heart of the animal to embody the qualities of the animal. Although I did not eat the axis heart to embody the characteristics of the deer, I did take a bite to commemorate my hunt and to symbolize the joining of the small ranks of other axis deer hunters who have come before me.

Did you eat or take a bite of the heart of your first deer? Why or why not? What do you think about this tradition? Tell us in the comment section.

About the Author

Hey, Y’all! My name is Camille and I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I’m currently a senior psychology major at TCU. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in the outdoors industry. I grew up hunting, shooting, and fishing whenever I could with my dad and grandpa. Any time I’m not working or studying you can find me in the woods hunting or on a boat fishing.  

Summer Hunting Guide 2018

Written by Blake Johnson, Sellmark Marketing/Social Media Specialist

For many hunters, the summer months are used to prepare for fall, like checking feeders and getting stands into place. Some like to work on their accuracy at the range, and many turn to fishing. Still, there are those with the itch to get out and hunt, but with temperatures in the South reaching 100 degrees regularly, what is a hunter to do? Night hunting is becoming increasingly popular due to affordable night vision technology and more bearable temperatures. Below is a quick guide to popular summer hunting game, as well as appropriate gun set-ups. Be sure to check your state and local laws, as hunting laws do vary drastically by state.

What can you hunt in the summer?

Hogs

Wild hog in grasslands.
Hogs cause huge problems for landowners and farmers. You can hunt them all year long and take as many as you want.

It is well known that the U.S. has a widespread hog problem. Found in over 75% of states, the invasive wild hog has an estimated population of over 5 million. There are no natural predators to hogs. Hog hunting is beneficial to farmers and landowners to which the hogs cost millions of dollars each year in damages.

Hogs can’t sweat so they need a way to cool down, which is why they are often found rolling in mud. Where you can find water, you can usually find hogs. The problem is that hogs are smarter than given credit for, and most have become nocturnal from hunting pressure and the hot daytime weather. Purchasing a night vision scope is a great investment to successfully eradicate your local hog population.

Hogs are fast, thus a semi-auto modern sporting rifle (MSR) is favorable to use. Picatinny/Weaver rails allow you to add many attachments useful for night hunting. A night vision riflescope like the Sightmark Photon XT allows for clear nighttime viewing and an accurate, precise shot, something you’ll need with hogs. When using a bolt-action gun, I usually prefer to use something in .30 caliber or above. I would also recommend keeping a larger caliber pistol on you just in case. Hogs are vicious and will sometimes run straight at you. It’s always better to have a back-up in case your gun jams or you don’t have time to reload.

Coyotes

Night vision scope mounted to rifle with a wood stock
Compared to other digital night vision scopes on the market, the Sightmark Photon XT offers incredible value.

For deer hunters and farmers, coyotes are becoming an increasing nuisance. They will kill fawns, chickens, and house pets. It’s important to control coyote populations to ensure the survival of other animals. Though it’s entirely possible to spot one during the day, during hot months coyotes tend to limit their movements to the cool period between dusk and dawn. Yet again, you’re going to need a night vision scope of some kind to help spot them.

Using a call is a popular way to hunt coyotes. Electric calls utilizing pup in distress calls tend to work best and will have coyotes running in at a dead sprint. Even more so than hogs, you need to be covert, as ‘yotes are very smart in hiding behind terrain.

Bolt-action guns in lower calibers are well-suited for coyotes. My personal favorite caliber for coyotes is a .22-250 with a Photon XT 4.6x42S night vision riflescope when on a coyote hunt. I keep mentioning the Photon because, at the $500 price point, its value cannot be beaten. You can test Gen I scopes, but if you’re anything like me you will be disappointed until you try out the digital Photon XT’s.

Small Game and Varmints

Varmint hunting is another popular endeavor during the hot summer. Raccoons and other varmints are always getting into trouble: eating corn and other vegetation, getting into trash and preying on ground-nesting birds. Most all raccoon hunting is done at night when they love to cause problems.

Thermal image of a hot gun, hog is down
Night time hog hunts are even more thrilling with digital night vision and thermal imaging.

A lot of people use hounds to hunt raccoon and other varmints, but it can be easily done without them. A .22 with iron sights or red dot sight is a popular small game gun. With ample stopping power for small game, dirt-cheap ammunition, and an incredibly lightweight, .22’s are perfect guns to take in the woods. While a night vision scope is not necessary, having a night vision device is very helpful. The Sightmark Ghost Hunter series offers a variety of night vision monoculars and binoculars at affordable prices and in different magnifications. Use the night vision sight to spot raccoons then shoot ‘em down with the .22. A powerful flashlight like the Sightmark SS600 Tactical is great for spotlighting coons in trees before you take your shot.

There is no reason to hang up the hunting gear just because it’s summer. Though the days are hot, a night vision device enables you to scratch your hunting itch without having to wait until fall.  It also gives you something to look forward to during those long summer days. So, get out there and hunt!

Click here to shop Sightmark’s night vision products.

 

First Focal Plane vs. Second Focal Plane

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Clayton Costolnick.

There are many factors you need to consider when purchasing a new variable-power riflescope. Many shooters only focus on the magnification range and price. A potentially but overlooked factor is the placement of the reticles on the first and second plane. What’s the difference?

First Focal Plane

Pinnacle TMD tactical mil-dash reticle illustration
The Pinnacle’s tactical mil-dash first focal plane TMD reticle gets you on target and keeps you there.

First focal plane scopes have the reticle placed towards the front of the optic. When the magnification of the scope is increased, the reticle’s size increases with it. In doing so, the reticle remains the same perspective on the target’s size as you increase or decrease magnification. These scopes allow for long-range and tactical shooters more accuracy due to the constant MIL/MOA values. Sightmark’s Citadel and Pinnacle riflescopes have first focal plane reticles.

Second Focal Plane

Picture of the Sightmark Latitude F-Class competition second focal plane reticle
The Sightmark Latitude has a second focal plane reticle.

Second focal plane reticles are placed towards the back of the scope. When the magnification of the scope is adjusted, the reticle’s size does not increase. The MIL/MOA values are only correct at one magnification. When the scope is adjusted to a different magnification, the spacing changes and is not consistent. A shooter would have to do some math to calculate the actual values of the subtension. Second focal plane scopes are most useful when using the same magnification. Sightmark’s Latitude riflescopes have a second focal plane reticle.

Hunting

First focal plane scopes are increasing in popularity with hunters because they are more versatile than second focal plane systems. Whenever you are hunting, you cannot predict the outcome before the hunt. The animal could walk out at 25 yards or 500 yards. Using a first focal plane scope allows hunters to make accurate adjustments, again, because they know the subtension values are consistent throughout the magnification range. Additionally, having a larger reticle means more precise holdover adjustments. Many Europeans prefer to a first plane scope because they are legally able to hunt later into the evening than in America. A first focal plane scope is generally more expensive than a second focal plane scope, however it is worth the money. Many hunters have switched to a first focal plane scope without looking back. Many long-range shots can be easily adjusted by using a first focal plane scope at any magnification. Furthermore, if you miss your first shot but see your point of impact, you can place your second shot more accurately.

Final Thoughts

A first focal plane scope might be more expensive than a second plane scope, but it is well worth the price difference. Being able to adjust your magnification without second-guessing your subtensions is beneficial when shooting. Additionally, if you happen to miss, this will allow for you to place an accurate follow-up shot.

Which scope do you prefer—first or second? Tell us in the comment section.

About the Author

Clayton was born and raised in Cypress, Texas just outside of Houston and is currently a senior at Baylor University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Corporate Communications. Clayton hopes to pursue a career with Sellmark, or continue his education after graduation. Clayton is an avid deer, waterfowl, dove, turkey and exotics hunter. Growing up around guns, Clayton’s dad and grandfather are hunters as well. When Clayton isn’t in the office, at school or in the field, he’s on the water pursuing another favorite hobby—fishing. Clayton says, “Whenever an animal is not in season, I occupy my time with fishing while I wait for the next season to start hunting again.”

Sightmark Sets Sights on TTHA Fort Worth Extravaganza

A woman and man hunting
Stop by the Sightmark booth to check out the Pinnacle and Citadel riflescopes.

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/07/16) – Sightmark is happy to announce participation at the upcoming Texas Trophy Hunters Extravaganza, August 10-12, 2018 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The event is comprised of hundreds of vendors, numerous hunting and shooting clinics, contests, celebrities and some of the most passionate and dedicated hunters from around the world.

Sightmark plans to display optics and firearm accessories geared toward hunters, including the new Citadel and Pinnacle riflescopes, Ultra Shot RAM series red dots and Photon RT digital night vision riflescopes. If you’re planning to attend the Ft. Worth TTHA Show, be sure to stop by booths F877 and F879 to visit with Sightmark’s knowledgeable staff about their first-class product lines.

About TTHA

The Texas Trophy Hunters Association is the “Voice of Texas Hunting” and will continue to promote, protect and preserve Texas’ wildlife resources and hunting heritage for future generations. For over 40 years, the Texas Trophy Hunters Association has promoted the sport, science and heritage of hunting in the great state of Texas.

Trailing Blood: 7 Steps to Find Your Deer

Dead deer
If your shot isn’t perfect, you will have to trail your deer.

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Clayton Costolnick.

Following a blood trail is one of the last things a hunter wants to do. Knowing that you wounded a deer is not a pleasant feeling to have. It takes a lot of blood trails and experience to become a talented tracker. Helping other people locate their deer is a great way to gain experience. Check out these seven tips to help you become a more experienced and successful blood tracker.

Point of Impact

One of the most important things you can do when you shoot is to watch your arrow or bullet hit the deer. Slow down your breathing and focus when you take the shot. Knowing the point of impact can help you establish if it was a good shot or not. An alternative option is to record your hunts and watch where the impact is. Additionally, watch how the deer reacts when they are hit. If the deer kicks like a bronco, it is sometimes a lung or heart shot. However, if the deer hunches over like it is sick, it is usually a gut shot.

Stay Put

Many hunters rush out of their stand filled with excitement after they shoot. Deer are strong animals and sometimes take multiple hours to die. The length of time it takes for a deer to die depends on your shot placement. Make sure you give the deer enough time in case you made a bad shot. As a rifle hunter, I like to wait 30 minutes after I shoot to let the deer die. If you are too quick to approach the deer, you risk spooking the deer and causing them to run further. This results in more work for the hunter.

Starting Point

To save time and effort, always start blood trailing where the deer was standing when you shot. Use a physical marker to help you remember that location. Starting from the beginning allows you to get a feel for what the blood trail is like. It is much easier to start there because when you climb down from the stand your perception of everything is changed.

Blood Analysis

The color of the blood is the dead giveaway to your shot placement. Seeing red or pink blood is a positive sign that you placed a good shot on the deer. Dark red blood indicates you hit the heart or liver. Pink blood can mean you hit the lungs and you will also see bubbles within the blood. Green matter indicates you have a gut shot. Obviously, the more blood the better. Sometimes high lung shots will not bleed as much because it takes longer for the body cavity to fill up. When looking for blood, do not look for a definite trail, sometimes the smallest droplets can help you locate the deer.

Tracking

Getting low to the ground can help you see small blood droplets easier. It might be painful on your knees, but you will forget about that when you find your deer. The most important thing to do when tracking for blood is to mark the last spot of blood. As you are trailing and looking down at the ground, it is easy to get turned around with directions. Flagging tape is a great way to mark last blood. You will slowly establish a general idea of the direction the deer is traveling in with the flagging tape. Do not move forward until you have located more blood. Walking aimlessly through the woods will ware you down and cause you to become hopeless. When walking pointlessly through the woods, you have the chance to smear blood or cover blood up with vegetation. If you lose the blood trail, continue in the same direction walking in small half circles looking for the next drop of blood. Many times you will find blood on the side of vegetation, not just on the ground. Getting down at the deer’s level is a great way to locate additional blood

Habits

Many hunters have noticed that deer have circle backed, or double backed on themselves. If a deer does a hard double back, it adds difficulty to the tracker. If the blood trail suddenly stops, turn around and see if the trail continues in a different direction.

Help

Having multiple sets of eyes looking for blood greatly increases the chances of finding more blood. Make sure you do not have too many helpers or you will all be walking on top of each other. I have found that one or two additional people is a good compromise on extra eyes verses too many people. If needed, you can use a dog to find your deer. This is not legal in some states, so double check with your local hunting laws before using a dog.

Final Remarks

Make sure to use all the legal tools you can to help you find the deer. Watching your point of impact will help you understand the situation that the deer is in. Make sure to give the deer enough time to lay down before you pursue the deer. Always stat trailing where the deer was standing when you shot. Identifying the color of the blood will help you know where your shot placement was, and possibly the state of health that the deer is in. Make sure to grab an extra pair of eyes, so you do not overlook any blood. Make sure you find your deer before the predators do!

About the Author

Clayton was born and raised in Cypress, Texas just outside of Houston and is currently a senior at Baylor University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Corporate Communications. Clayton hopes to pursue a career with Sellmark, or continue his education after graduation. Clayton is an avid deer, waterfowl, dove, turkey and exotics hunter. Growing up around guns, Clayton’s dad and grandfather are hunters as well. When Clayton isn’t in the office, at school or in the field, he’s on the water pursuing another favorite hobby—fishing. Clayton says, “Whenever an animal is not in season, I occupy my time with fishing while I wait for the next season to start hunting again.”

Upgrades Come to Sightmark Core SX Crossbow Scope

MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/07/09) – Sightmark, known for bringing top-performing optics in a rugged yet lightweight aluminum body, has updated the Sightmark Core SX 1.5-5×32 Crossbow Scope (SM13060), the scope designed for avid crossbow hunters. The Core SX will deliver precision quality optics alternatives for serious professionals, hunters and shooting enthusiasts who prefer a slightly less traditional method.

Black crossbow scope
The Core SX crossbow scope has an illuminated reticle.
Woman crossbow hunting with a camo crossbow and black crossbow scope
The Core crossbow scope has variable zoom and is waterproof.

 

Tuned to 260-450 fps crossbow speeds, the Core SX 1.5-5×32 Crossbow Scope achieves arrow drop compensation with extraordinary accuracy. The etched glass reticle is red or green illuminated with variable brightness range, making visibility optimal even in low-light situations. Featuring variable zoom, the Core SX Crossbow Scope adjusts easily to a wide range of hunting environments. This crossbow scope is IP67 waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, fogproof for reliability in different environments.

Flying With Firearms

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Nate van Noort.

Flying with firearms seems like it would be complicated and nerve-racking for any passenger or airline but truth is that if you follow the fairly simple rules, chances are you’ll never have a problem. All airlines are required to follow TSA rules and regulations, though it is important to know your airline’s rules on flying with firearms because some have additional rules.

Front view of airplane landing
Flying with firearms is relatively easy and painless if you follow this guide.

Packing to Keep Your Gun Safe and Legal

In a world where pocket knives, snow globes, and even gel insoles can’t be stored in carry-on bags, it should come as no surprise that you can’t take a gun in your carry on. They must be unloaded and stored in a locked hard-sided container that can’t be easily opened. Cases with two or more locking points are recommended. This case can then be placed inside your checked baggage or, as a checked bag itself. Multiple guns can be placed in the same hard-sided case. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use a regular TSA lock used for regular baggage, which is actually illegal to use for firearm storage because they can be opened by anyone that has a TSA master key. You should have the key on your person and not in your checked baggage. Otherwise, what’s the point of the lock? You should invest in a really good protective case for both your peace of mind and for the TSA’s. After all, your case is the primary protector from the less than careful baggage handlers. In addition to being sturdy and durable, many gun owners also like to travel with gun cases that don’t obviously look like a gun case. In that situation look for a hard-style case used to transport golf clubs and other equipment, just cut foam inserts to keep everything protected and in place during transport.

Picking Up Your Gun from Baggage Claim

View from inside an airplane out the window of a orange, red, pink and yellow sunset behind a tall palm tree
Before flying with your firearm, check the laws of the state you are traveling to.

Once you land, large gun cases that are checked as an individual piece of luggage rather than stored in a checked bag may have to be picked up with large or unusual items, like skis, instead of with other checked baggage. Usually, they’ll just come down the carousel with everything else though. Ammunition also has to be checked and must be stored in containers specifically designed for carrying small amounts of ammunition. Shotgun shells and ammunition .75 caliber or less can be stored in the same hard case as a firearm. Loaded or empty magazines and clips must be stored the same way as guns, but firearm parts like bolts and firing pins can just be stored in checked bags. Even though TSA says boxes made of cardboard, like the box the ammo comes in, are alright for storage, you may want to go with a more solid container to avoid the risk of your ammunition being scattered in your bag.

Breeze Through Declaring Your Firearm

When checking your baggage, you need to declare any guns or ammo to the airline. You must do this every time you travel, so don’t forget to declare your guns and ammo again if you switch airlines during the same trip. What does it mean to declare your gun, though? Declaring a firearm is not a big deal and it won’t get you funny looks or suspicious treatment. Just go to the ticketing desk inside the airport (you can’t declare a gun curbside) and tell them you need to declare a firearm. They’ll give you a card to fill out with your primary contact info, verifying that you’ve properly stored your gun. The agent will check that the case is locked. After a few questions to make sure any accessories or ammunition are stored properly, you’re usually good to go, but the agent may want to look inside the case. TSA and airline agents also shouldn’t handle your firearms. If they feel it needs inspection, they are supposed to call over a law enforcement officer. Once you’ve finished declaring your firearm, stick around the desk for 20 or so minutes in case they need to call you back for an inspection. Declaring is usually a quick and easy process, but you want to allow yourself at least an extra hour in the case of one of the rare occasion where it does take longer.

Other People’s Rules

The TSA isn’t the only person who makes rules about flying with a firearm, and you need to know which ones will affect you. Most airlines have rules for flying with guns on top of the TSA’s, and exactly what these rules are varies from airline to airline, so you’ll need to check what your airline of choice requires. For example, Delta requires that guns be stored in a manufacturer’s case and puts a weight limit of 11 pounds of ammunition, among other limitations. You’ll also need to know the laws for wherever you’re flying to. Airport staff is only checking to make sure you’re following the airline and the TSA’s rules, so even if your gun is legally checked, you may be in violation of local laws once you reach your destination. For international travel, booking a direct flight as much as possible minimizes the countries you pass through, and cuts down significantly on the number of customs requirements that you have to deal with.

Final Thoughts on Flying with a Firearm

outside an airport tarmac at sunrise
Using this guide, you should be able to fly with your gun with relative ease, but when in doubt, contact your airline or the TSA directly.

To sum up:

  • Guns and ammunition both need to be in checked baggage.
  • Store your gun unloaded in a hard case with a non-TSA approved lock.
  • Using a solid container to store your ammunition is safer and easier.
  • Be sure to declare your firearm.
  • Know your airline’s rules.
  • Know the laws of wherever you’re going.

Using this guide, you should be able to fly with your gun with relative ease, but when in doubt, contact your airline or the TSA directly. For international travel, refer questions to the local consulate or embassy of the country or countries you’re visiting.

Have you flown with your firearm? Leave your tips in the comment section.

About the Author

Aspiring pilot Nate van Noort is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Arlington majoring in Marketing with a minor in Finance. His family are big pheasant hunters, sharing hunting land in the Texas Panhandle near the city of Perryton. Nate enjoys sporting clays and shooting his Glock. When he’s not studying, working or out at the lease, he’s playing disc golf, reading or wakeboarding.

7 Highly Effective Habits for Big Buck Hunters

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Camille Middleton.

Don’t ProcrastinatePicture of a deer and the words, "There is deer season and there's waiting for deer season."

There is nothing better than the sweet-smelling aroma of the woods on opening day. Conversely, one of the worst feelings is taking your treestand down and packing everything up on the last day of the season. Take advantage of these deer-free months to start preparing for a successful upcoming season; after all, preparation and hard work in the off-season can mean the difference between bagging a booner and coming home empty-handed. For die-hard deer hunters, the off-season months, most often, February through August, may feel like the longest, slowest time of the year—this is the perfect opportunity to leverage your future hunting success.

Christmas in July

Some of the best deals on hunting-related merchandise can be found in the summer. Big-name stores clear out their inventory by dramatically reducing the costs of such items before they get new gear in for the following season. If you are looking for stellar prices on good quality hunting clothes, I advise you to do most of your camouflage shopping during those hot summer months instead of waiting until the season opener.

Food Plots—A Key to Success 

The off-season is not limited exclusively to shopping. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu suggested, “the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” His statement bodes a glaring similarity to hunting… and many other facets of life in general. Preparing for the fall hunting season takes real work if you want to bring in the big boys of fall. The hunter who sweats in the off-season building food plots is probably going to be more successful when the season kicks off. Food plots and other habitat improvements are by no means quick and easy, they take time and hard work but I assure you, that juice is worth the squeeze

Predator Control—Deer Management

Picture of a wild hog through the lens of a scope
Predator control during the off-season helps ensure you have a healthy deer population when it’s time to hunt.

One of my favorite things about the off-season is predator control. No matter if you hunt on a lease, farm or public land, it is important to keep the predator population down. Hunters, landowners, and managers all have a vested interest in the well-being of fawns, lambs, calves, turkey poults, or whatever they may be raising or trying to conserve—in this case, our deer population. Pure, raw, logic here—without babies, there are no adults, plain and simple.

Predator control is not eliminating a species, it is merely controlling the number of predators capable of harming your targeted game. For a deer hunter like myself, I focus primarily on coyotes, bobcats and feral hogs. When it comes to predator hunting, it’s important to set up with wide-ranging visibility, most often, in a big, open field. Although cheap, hunting with a spotlight is not as effective as using digital night vision or thermal. For night vision, I prefer the Photon RT on an AR-15. It allows the hunter to be able to send multiple rounds, ideal in fast-paced hunting situations.  If you are looking to spend the extra money it costs to get a thermal, Pulsar offers top of the line riflescopes and monoculars. Thermal scopes have burst onto the hunting scene and, to be honest, once you go thermal you won’t go back to anything else.

Fine Tune Your Weapon

Before hunting season begins, it is important to take your gun to the range to practice and to re-check your zero. Even if it has been sitting in a gun safe, it is possible your scope could have been knocked off zero. When sighting-in your rifle, it is important to use the same grain ammunition you plan to use when you actually go hunting. A quick solution to seeing if it is still sighted-in is to purchase an in-chamber boresight and check for a 100-yard zero. Both Sightmark and Firefield offer great quality boresights, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced shooter.

Sharpen your Knife and Make a Survival Pack

One thing that many hunters overlook is preparing for their hunt with emergency supplies. I always make sure my truck is stocked with warm blankets, extra water, and a first aid kit. You never know what might happen and if you end up getting stranded where you are hunting, you will want to make sure you don’t get cold or thirsty and have adequate supplies to care for wounds. The UltraLite Mini First Aid Kit is a great option to keep in your truck or in your hunting backpack for emergency situations. The kit is lightweight and includes 90 pieces of medical supplies to treat most injuries. While first aid is critical, one of the most important pieces of equipment is a sharp knife. Your knife must be sharp before a hunt so your buck of a lifetime can be field-dressed and capped-out, and if necessary, the meat processed in the field. A dull knife simply won’t make clean cuts and you risk puncturing vital organs—never a pleasant experience.

Scout—Know Your Game and Ground—Prepare Accordingly

Understanding the deer activity and environmental features of your hunting ground play an important role in optimizing your opportunity to put meat in the freezer. Prepared public land hunters routinely study the areas they are hunting—the strategy is nothing new and always offers valuable insight into what-where-whens of hunting. The easiest way to do this is by mapping out your property. Start by drawing the perimeter of the land and marking key features—water and food sources, bedding areas, open fields, wooded areas and visible trails, paying special attention to high-traffic intersections and pinch-points.

The result is a map that tells you quite a bit about routes to and from water sources, better stand locations, and the best spots to place trail cameras. Trail cameras are a great scouting tool to reveal deer hot-spots, feeding times and more, all great information to help you pattern activity and target mature deer. I also suggest scouting multiple times through the off-season to stay on top of patterns and adjust accordingly. I also suggest scouting in a hunting frame of mine—practice scent control, slip in to observe, slide out just as quietly and do your best not to push the wildlife around.

What do you do during the off-season to ensure you have a successful hunt? Tell us in the comment section.

About the Author

Hey y’all! My name is Camille and I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I’m currently a senior psychology major at TCU. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in the outdoors industry. I grew up hunting, shooting, and fishing whenever I could with my dad and grandpa. Any time I’m not working or studying you can find me in the woods hunting or on a boat fishing.  

Six Ways to Sabotage Your Deer Hunt

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Clayton Costolnick.

Many articles share how to have a successful deer hunt but finding one that reminds you of what not to do are few and far between. Busting your hunt can be one of the worst feelings for a hunter. Hunting season is only for a limited time, so make each hunt count.

Tardy to the Party

Arriving fashionably late to the deer stand is a great way to start off a miserable hunt. Beauty sleep isn’t necessarily essential for a successful hunt. So wake up early and have some coffee… but not too much. It’s okay to be early, but never okay to be late. If you are tardy to the party, sneak into your stand as quietly as you can. Try not to startle anything by taking it slow and quiet. Being on time for a morning hunt means slipping in under the cover of darkness. It is one of your best advantages. Once you get situated in the stand, you are ready to go and your prey is none the wiser.

The Munchies

Woman hunter dressed in camo eating a Whataburger meal
Munchin’ down on burgers in the stand is not a great idea.

If the deer are eating, you can eat, right? It depends. Make sure you find quiet snacks to eat in the stand like jerky, sausage or trail mix. Test them out at home before you take them to the stand and see how quietly you can eat. Some loud snack options to refrain from eating are carrots, chips and apples. Smacking is also prohibited in the deer stand. Equally as important, play the wind. Do not bring food that smells, like a sandwich. Deer have keen senses and can zero in on your Whataburger from quite a distance. The two senses deer rely on the most are smelling and hearing. The sandwich you eat might smell good to you, but its an alert to the deer.

Smells

If you cannot go anywhere without bringing your lucky perfume, then hunting may not be for you. The sense of smell is one of the main tools deer use for navigating their habitat. Deer tend to avoid unfamiliar scents. They’re pretty smart animals and are known to maneuver downwind of you in an effort to pick up your scent. Make sure you do not spray any extra scents on yourself and avoid washing your clothes in a detergent that smells like spring cleaning. Suppressing your scent is crucial for bow hunters, as you have to get close to the deer. Rifle hunters have an easier time hiding their scent, typically because of sheer distance. Many companies make an earth scent spray to cover your scent. I recommend using it.

Hibernation

While I said no beauty sleep, you still need rest. Sleep is crucial when hunting; waking up early and going to bed late drains the body of energy. Taking a snooze in the deer stand might seem like it will help solve the problem. I know the stand can get boring, but avoid sleeping at all costs. Many hunters have slept through hunts and missed shooting a deer that they never knew came out. Your chances of seeing a deer dramatically drop when your eyes are closed; If you want to sleep, stay in bed while the rest of us get out and enjoy nature.

Social Media

Everyone gets lonely in the stand waiting for a deer to show. Many hunters use this time to Facebook and update everyone on their adventures. This is a costly mistake because your eyes are on your phone and not on the field. More than one deer has slipped into view and left without Facebooking hunters and you ever noticing. Additionally, always keep watch on the deer to make sure one of them does not sneak up on you and give away your position. The deer aren’t prone to sending Facebook messages to announce their arrival.

Dance Party

Woman dressed in camo bow hunting
You might get bored, but resist being distracted. You don’t want to miss your shot

Moving inside the blind can be noticed by a deer’s keen eyesight. Even the smallest movements can spook a deer and cause them to run off. Keep movements to a minimum and consider stand positions that obscure your silhouette. Deer can see the image of your head and upper body through the stand, especially if you move. Hiding in front of a structure, like a tree or corner of the stand will help break up your image and perhaps some light movement.  Don’t bust a move of any kind while hunting.

Abandon Ship

Being the captain of the ship means you leave whenever you like; however, leaving the stand early can alert deer of your presence. Never leave the field when there are still deer in the area. Scaring deer away is one of the worst ways to ruin a current and future hunt. Having a human emerge from the stand is not natural for the deer to see. Making the environment look as natural as possible is a key to success.

Final Remarks

Sleep is important when hunting but never press snooze. Bring snacks that are quiet in case you get the munchies. Find natural scents around you like cedar to rub on you to help mask your scent. Do not sleep in the stand. Stay off of social media– the deer are not going to message you. Stay still as deer can see even the smallest movements. Never abandon ship early. Show up early, leave late and hunt hard!

Have you ever missed a shot due to something you weren’t paying attention? Tell us about your hunting mishaps in the comment section.

Click here to shop Sightmark.

About the Author

I was born and raised in Cypress, Texas which is just outside of Houston. I am currently a senior at Baylor University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Corporate Communications. I plan on either pursuing a career with Sellmark, or continuing my education after I graduate. I am an avid hunter in which I pursue deer, waterfowl, dove, turkeys, and exotics. I have been around guns my entire life because my dad and grandfather are hunters as well. Another one of my favorite hobbies is fishing. Whenever an animal is not in season, I occupy my time with fishing while I wait for the next season to start hunting again.

The Sightmark XT-3 Magnifier: A Game Changer

Written by Jamie Trahan, 18-year Law Enforcement Officer and Sightmark Pro Staff Member

It eventually happens to us all.

One day, your range day just doesn’t go right. One day, you miss the shot on that deer you’ve been seeing on your game cam.

One day………

It may be your life, the life of a loved one, or the life of a stranger you are trying to help that hangs in the balance of the shot you don’t trust yourself to take.

The common denominator? Your eyesight. It may be low-light vision loss, or it may be just a loss of clarity in your vision itself. Vision impairment can present itself in a myriad of ways and is specific to each one of us.

Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro Spec NVG QD and XT-3 Tactical Magnifier mounted to a patrol rifle
The Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro Spec NVG QD and new XT-3 Tactical Magnifier are a great combo for aging eyes.

Luckily for us, we live in a time of rapidly advancing technology in the field of firearms and firearm optics—like advanced red dot and reflex sights—and have companies bringing products to the market to help us fight back against our eyes as they betray us.

According to the American Optometric Association, adults between 19 and 40 typically have healthy eyes and vision and only suffer from visual issues due to visual stress and eye injuries. When it comes to vision, 40 is where we tend to hit the wall. The odds aren’t in our favor and eventually, nearly every one of us will need to fight back against our aging eyes. That help is just a few keystrokes away at Sightmark.com.

Let me introduce two products to you that the folks at Sightmark have that may alleviate those problems. First up is the Ultra Shot Pro Spec NVG QD (SM14002.)

Directly from Sightmark.com:

“One of the most feature-rich members in the Sightmark® Reflex Sight line, the Ultra Shot Pro Spec Night Vision QD provides shooters accuracy and durability to enhance any shooting experience. Equipped with a night vision mode, shooters can mount the device in front of a night vision monocular to create a co-witnessed riflescope set up. Its four reticle patterns allow for maximum customization and precision accuracy day or night. The featured double-pane glass lens system eliminates parallax and retains accuracy when fired from the periphery of the lens. Users can quickly and effectively adapt their firearm to the situation at hand with the included quick-detach mount. Its Interlok™ internal locking system holds zero extremely well, so the shooter does not have to continually re-adjust the sight in the field.”

I chose this model for two specific features—night-vision compatibility and the quick-detach mount.  This model has two NVG settings (Gen 1-2 and Gen 3+) in addition to three standard brightness settings. It has four selectable reticles, and I opt for the circle/dot configuration. That’s home sweet home for me. The LQD (locking quick detach) was not yet released when I purchased my Ultra Shot. For my specific use (tactical law enforcement), I would have opted for the ability to physically lock the QD lever. I’ve had over 50 entries (with it mounted) between real-world missions and training and the non-locking QD has not been an issue.

SWAT team member with an AR-15 rifle with a red dot sight and tactical magnifier from Sightmark
The author ran his red dot and magnifier set up at a instructor class and a training day.

For those with weakening eyes, you can rest assured that the bright red circle will enable you to put the bullets where you want them. No more squinting and eye strain to focus on that front sight. The circle/dot reticle that I use is a 50 MOA circle with a 3 MOA dot. It is also parallax-free, so once it’s zeroed, wherever the dot is in the lens, is where bullet impact on the target will be.

Now on to the newest product in this combo—the XT-3 Tactical Magnifier. It is a 3x magnifier with a locking quick-detach mount that flips to the side. Neat, right?

In their own words directly from Sightmark:

“Designed to mount behind a reflex sight or red dot to increase magnification, the Sightmark XT-3 Tactical Magnifier allows shooters to engage targets at further distances with a 23mm objective lens and 3x magnification. Compact and lightweight, the Sightmark XT-3 features a flip-to-side mount, providing rapid transition between your gun’s optic system, and 4-inch eye relief, improving overall comfort for shooters. External adjustments eliminate the need for tools for reticle alignment while fully multi-coated optics and rubber armored housing increase the XT-3 Magnifier’s image clarity and durability. EOTech® and Aimpoint® compatible, the Sightmark XT-3 is quickly mounted and removed via a locking, quick detach mount.”

So, even if I haven’t sold you on the Ultra Shot, Sightmark has designed their magnifier to be compatible with the optics from other manufacturers that you may already own. Sightmark is here to help us, the end user. By bringing down overall costs, enjoying our lifestyle and hobby doesn’t break the bank. Just because something costs more doesn’t necessarily make it better.

Two photos comparing the Ultra Shot red dot sight with the red dot sight combined with the magnifier
See the difference between the Ultra Shot alone and then combined with the Magnifier.

I had the XT-3 mounted on my rifle for roughly three weeks. During that time, it was used on several tactical incidents—an 8-hour range training day, and a 3-day advanced firearms instructor class. During the tactical incidents, the magnifier was mounted and flipped to the side during residential entries as it was not needed. On the range day, the magnifier was used in a limited capacity but at the end of the day, I was able to take a comparison photograph to show you the difference between the standard view through the Ultra Shot and then with the XT-3 flipped down into position. The photograph speaks for itself.

My time during the three-day instructor class is where I was able to push the magnifier, and myself, during training drills. In one drill, we began at the 50-yard line with an empty weapon and 3 magazines. One magazine was loaded with 10 rounds and 2 were loaded with 5 rounds each. On the beep of the shot timer, the shooter loaded the 10-round magazine and then 5 shots were fired standing from the 50-yard line. The shooter then sprinted up to the 25-yard line and fired 5 more rounds while utilizing cover. At that point, the shooter dropped to a kneeling position while reloading and then fired an additional 5 rounds from cover before reloading a second time. The shooter then sprinted back down to the 50-yard line, assumed a prone position behind cover and fired an additional 5 rounds. On my first run, I ran this drill in roughly 30 seconds with a slight miss. I was switching between the magnifier and non-magnified optic during positions. I account my miss to rushing shots for the timer. On my second run, I ran the optic with the magnifier the entire time and ran the drill quicker in just under 28 seconds with zero misses.

I will be the first to admit that a 3x magnifier was not 100% necessary at 25 yards, however, the magnifier didn’t slow me down when acquiring my target and getting hits on paper where they needed to be.

In the end, you will have to decide as to whether the magnifier is for you. This was my first experience running a magnifier on a red dot type sight. It’s definitely a game changer, and for under a pound of added weight to your rifle, it’s hard to beat.

The XT-3 is something to think about. With more time, I think I would’ve been pushing myself to run the XT-3 full time, except for engagements 25 yards and in.

Get out there, make your mark, and enjoy the rights granted to you by our Second Amendment. Stay safe and happy hunting.

Jamie Trahan is a career law enforcement officer with over 17 years of experience and works for a Sheriff’s Office in southern Louisiana. His full-time assignment is as a Detective in the Crime Scene Investigations Unit where he holds the rank of Lieutenant. He is also the entry team leader for the SWAT team, a member of the department’s Honor Guard and a LA POST Firearms Instructor. He is a member of the National Tactical Police Officer’s Association and the Louisiana Tactical Police Officer’s Association. First and foremost, he is a husband to his wife, Tara, and a father to his two sons, Luke and Liam. He is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights for all law-abiding citizens of this great country. He plans to pass the love of shooting on to his sons in the hopes that after he is gone and they are spending time with their own children, that they will reflect back upon the memories of what Jamie taught them as they are teaching their own, just like Jamie’s father taught him.

 

 

 

 

 

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