How To Get A Leg Up On Stubborn Gobblers

Who doesn’t love a traditional turkey hunt?  One where the birds fly down in the morning and gobblers immediately start putting on a show.  They puff up and strut, and come charging into the decoys either looking for love – or a fight.

That’s the type of turkey hunt everyone wants, after all, that’s the way it appears to work on television.  The fact is though, that many – at least half – of turkey hunts don’t work that way.  Rather, all of the gobbling on the roost as daylight and fly-down time approaches gets us worked up and anticipating an exciting and quick hunt, only to end with the gobblers dropping down, hooking up with hens and marching away.

This is the time when the men are separated from the boys when it comes to turkey hunters.  The boys pack up and head to town for breakfast, feeling as if it just wasn’t in the cards that morning and maybe tomorrow morning things will work out differently.  Chances are they won’t, and history will repeat itself.  This is when the really good turkey hunters shine.

Experienced hunters know that, while things do slow down after the toms hen-up in the morning, being patient and adaptable can be clutch.

 

One good rule of thumb is to stay put for a while, especially if the gobblers were answering your calls earlier in the morning.   They may have left and followed the hens, but once the hens leave them to go nest, the gobblers will start getting lonely again, and they won’t forget where they heard that hen earlier in the morning and return to see if she is still around and bored.  It may take a few hours, but staying put can pay off.

If you just aren’t patient enough for that, or if you have plenty of ground to hunt at your disposal, there is also another method that can help you put a bird in the truck.  If having sat in your starting off spot for a while hasn’t paid off, get on the move.  By either hopping in the truck and cruising by other properties you can hunt, or by slinking from one vantage point to another on the one you’re one, if you can spot a gobbler in the open strutting, you can sometimes make a play.

If you spy a tom strutting in a field or open area and there is a slight change in terrain nearby, consider doing what most hunters wouldn’t dream of; going to the gobbler.

If there is a dip in-between you and the gobbler, use it to your advantage to stay low and out of his line of sight to advance towards his position.  Better yet, if he is on one side of a ditch, or even a fencerow, from you, drop down and walk in the bottom of the ditch, or crawl along the fencerow in an attempt to get within shooting range, or at least close enough to where he will be more easily coaxed into coming in for a peek.

In order for such a move to work, however, you need to make sure that while doing so, the bird will not see you.  So, hunker down in that low spot or stay low in that brushy fencerow, and if need be, only move when he is strutting and facing away, etc.  That only works if you can occasionally get an eye on him though.  Do not get in a hurry.  That is the easiest way to blow the hunt.  Take your time and proceeds cautiously, staying low and out of sight of him.

This method of turkey hunting is not only good for toms in their strut zones, but it can also be your best – and sometimes only – play for birds that are working away from you.  If there are birds that are just not into whatever you are putting down and are so disinterested that they are meandering away from you at an angle, it may be time to cut them off, but only if the terrain allows you to do so.

Have a drainage behind you that will enable you to slide down into it and make your way towards the direction the birds are heading to allow for a possible interception?  Use it.  Did the birds crest a hill making it impossible for them to see you?  Hurry up and shuffle to the nearest patch of cover that will afford you the chance to use it to get closer to where the birds are heading.  This does not only mean being sly and using low spots, etc. to slowly try to close the gap between you and them, it can also mean, once the bird(s) have disappeared out of sight, and you think you have a good idea of where they are headed, beat feet out of there and beat them to the area where you think they are going.  This should only be done if doing so will allow for a good set-up though.  If there is nowhere to make a move or set up on them over there, then let them go for another day.

If the bird you watched walked off and crossed a ditch or headed into another patch of timber, again, use the terrain to make your way over there.

If hunting multiple properties and you struck out at your first sit of the morning, don’t cash out for the day, start driving around looking for birds out and determine if there is any allowable cover that will let you sneak in on them.  All it takes is a small woodlot between you and the bird.  If he is strutting out in a field next to a patch of timber, go around to the other side of the woodlot and sneak through the timber towards the field edge.  He might just come close enough.    Creeks, ditches, rises, and valleys can all also provide the needed cover.

The most important thing you can have when trying this maneuver on a gobbler though is faith.  That and confidence.  You have to have faith that the bird will still be there once you finally do make it there.  It could be fifteen minutes, or it could be over an hour, but without the belief that he will still be there, you may as well not even try.  Sure, sometimes they are long gone by the time you reach within turkey load distance of them…but sometimes they aren’t.

Besides faith, confidence is key.  The reason most hunters won’t try this style of hunting is that they simply aren’t confident that they can get close to a bird this way.  But you can.  Yes, it’s tough.  Yes, you can burger the bird.  But, what is there to lose?  The bird wasn’t coming to you anyway, so sometimes you have to make something happen.

If you spot a bird or group of birds that you reasonably feel will be at a specific place when you get there, and if the terrain is such that you can close that distance to possibly have a chance at closing the deal, then go for it.

Going after turkeys like this means you will be encountering many different types of terrain in a single hunt.  From open hardwoods to brush and thickets and open fields.  This is where it really pays to be wearing our Bullgator camo.  With Bullgator, you won’t have to worry about sticking out, regardless of what type of cover you are hunting turkeys in as it will keep you concealed in almost any environment.

Turkey hunting in this fashion is not the exciting, heart-pounding type of hunt that everyone dreams of.  It can be hard work, and quite frustrating, but learning how to hunt them in this manner will help you kill more turkeys.  Plus, it will teach you a lot about yourself.

Picking The Right Hunting Pack

Backpacks Are A Fundamental Part Of Any Hunt

Besides the obvious items such as a weapon, ammunition, camouflage, etc., a backpack can also be an integral part of any hunt and depending on where you are hunting and what you are hunting for, a quality pack can be crucial on many hunts.

Packs don’t get as much written about them as they deserve.  You often don’t hear or read much about them, but they can be the unsung heroes of a hunt, fishing trip or a simple hike.

There are different packs for different situations and outings.  Some are pretty versatile and others are more specific.  Bull Gator Outdoors (BGO) packs fit the bill for virtually any type of outdoor activity you may be doing and are built with quality and comfort in mind.

BGO Hunt 17” Backpack:

This is the perfect backpack for a multitude of purposes.  Sure, it is awesome for the hunter who needs plenty of room for calls, spare releases, knives, binoculars, snacks, water and the like.  It is big enough to hold all the essentials for an all-day sit, yet compact enough to wear easily, hang in a tree, or even wear while still-hunting without being too heavy, bulky or noisy.  Its streamlined profile will also allow for easy movement through the brush without snagging or getting hung up on limbs and brush.  It holds snugly against your body and won’t grab any branches along the trail.

This pack is also perfect for students and business professionals.  When not out in the field, it can double as a backpack for school books and supplies, or it even fits many laptops and other work garb for when you need it on a business trip or the commute to or from the office.

BGO Hunt 19” Pack:

If a bigger pack with deeper compartments is what you need, then this pack will fit the bill.  Whether hunting out west or needing the space to pack enough stuff for an all-day sit in the stand, our 19” pack has enough room for whatever you need to bring along on just such a hunt.  The larger, deeper pockets also offer enough space for those larger items.  Rattling antlers, spotting scopes, whatever it is, you’ll have the room to take it with you, plus, not be burdened down with a heavier pack while trekking long distances in rough terrain.

Another unique feature to this pack is the multiple lash straps that allow you to secure things to the outside of the pack as well.  Such straps are usually only found on larger, bulkier packs, but we decided to add this handy feature to a smaller framed pack for added convenience.  Temperatures and weather conditions can change drastically in the spring and fall in many areas, having the ability to tote extra clothing and gear conveniently so that you can adapt to varying conditions is important to you, so it was important to us when designing this pack.  This feature allowed us to keep the overall footprint of the pack smaller and lighter, while still making it possible for you to carry everything you need in comfort.

And, just like the 17” pack, our 19” pack also works great for school or business needs as well.  The larger compartments will accommodate larger tablets or laptops plus all of the items you’ll need to make school or work productively when you have to do these things but would rather be outdoors!

BGO Hunt Duffel Bag:

You’ll also need a duffel to store your extra clothes and miscellaneous items that you don’t pack into the field with you.  This is where our duffel comes in.

Just like our packs, the duffel is compact at 24”X14” X14”, yet is not short on room.  With more outside zippered pockets than most other bags, our duffel lets us carry lots of different items with you on your adventure.  From extra calls and strikers to fishing reels, spools of line, tools, pens, calculators – whatever, you can store more items in these pockets, which means less clutter inside the bag, and more room for what belongs in there – clothing and the like.

Our duffel also weighs less than most backpacks.  At only 3 pounds, it packs a lot of punch for its size and won’t weigh you down.  While it may hold as much as many other larger bags, your BGO duffel will also fit in overhead carry-on compartments.

Just like our tough-as-nails garments, our packs and bags are tough, quiet and comfortable.  All of them feature a tight micro-weave construction that is both water and burr resistant.

Look to BGO for your next bag or duffel when you have high expectations and value.  We think you’ll agree, with our products, you get unsurpassed quality and durability at bargain prices.

 

Turkey Hunting in The South

A Better Turkey Hunting Camo

If ever there is a time when camo means everything, it is in the turkey woods.  Wild turkeys can – and will – spot any bare spot or imperfection in your get-up and the time to figure that out is not in the middle of a hunt.  To combat the keen eyesight of a wily old tom, try using Bull Gator camouflage this spring.

Bull Gator camouflage is specifically designed to blend into any and all surroundings by mimicking one of the most successful predators in nature; the alligator.  Alligators have been able to survive since dinosaurs roamed the earth, partly for their ability to disappear in plain sight.  Our camo was designed to help hunters do the very same thing.

Bull Gator camo was patterned off of these prolific predators and is, therefore, able to blend into almost any surrounding a turkey hunter may find himself in.  This comes in especially handy for turkey hunting in the south, where types of terrain and vegetation can be as varied as a wily longbeard’s behavior.

It Disappears in any terrain:

From the cypress swamps of the southeast to the pines and hardwoods of the deep south to the open terrain of the southwest that makes up different reaches of the wild turkey’s range, our pattern will be sure to keep you covered and out of sight at the moment of truth when you strike that ol’ Tom – regardless of where you have to make your set-up at.

Where Bull Gator distances itself from other patterns is the fact that not every turkey hunt occurs in the same type of environment.  This can be especially true in the south, where turkey hunting was a big deal long before it was anywhere else.  Depending on where in the south you may be hunting, palmetto leaves, swamps, and pine thickets can be the norm; areas where most other conventional camouflages may be lacking.

While Bull Gator camo is perfectly suited for turkey hunts in the south, it is just at home in the wood lots of the Midwest or mountains of the West.  There is no need to have different camo patterns if you are one of those die-hards who hunt multiple states each year.  At Bull Gator, we have you covered.

For instance, a morning roost hunt may find a hunter sitting against a tree waiting on a gobbler to fly down into a decoy spread.  When seated against a tree, there usually aren’t limbs or leaves that low towards the base of the tree.  This is where Bull Gator has an advantage.  With its unique design, it blends perfectly into the bark of a tree trunk that most turkey hunters find themselves propped up against for the first couple of hours in the morning.

Other hunts can find hunters without a tree in sight.   Spotting a gobbler in an agricultural field may require a quick set-up in a fencerow or brush pile.  Still yet, reaping a turkey may mean having to disappear in a wide open harvested soybean field; something a bark and leaf-based system aren’t designed for.

Tough, Comfortable and Dry:

Beyond just helping you blend in, regardless of your surroundings, Bull Gator hunting wear is tough, yet comfortable.  With its unique tight micro-fiber design, you can focus your energy on finding gobblers, not worrying about navigating that briar patch or barbed-wire fence to get to them.

Spring weather can also be a big factor in any turkey hunt.  Who has room to pack a rain suit in their turkey vest?  With Bull Gator, there is no need to.  Its water resistance is sure to keep all but a complete downpour from sogging up your hunt, something that you’ll surely appreciate anywhere in the south in the spring, where a spring shower can pop up without warning.

For any hunt, our camo has you covered; From those first of the year hunts in the South, to the last ones in the upper Midwest.  Rain, snow or shine, one camo truly can do it all.  Give Bull Gator a try on your hunts this spring and be the dominant predator, regardless of terrain or weather conditions.

 

Best Camo Pattern for Hunting in the South

Disappear in the South | Best Camo Pattern for Hunting

There’s one universal truth with hunting: if you can’t hide from the game animals you pursue, you probably don’t stand much of a chance in getting one. While there are all kinds of camo patterns and types of hunting camo on the market, you need to always make sure that the one you use matches the environment you plan to hunt in. Without that critical piece of the puzzle, you could risk standing out dramatically instead of blending in flawlessly. For those who like deer hunting in the south, you need the best camo pattern for southern habitats. Using camouflage patterns made for the Midwest might be better than nothing at all, but they’re no match for BGO Gear when it comes to southern swamps and timber. In this post, we’ll look at a couple common southern habitat types and why ours is the best camo pattern for the south.

Common Southern Habitat Types

From the coastal plains of Florida and the Gulf to the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains to the western bayous of Texas and Louisiana, there is a very wide range of habitat types and vegetation across the south. That makes it a little tougher for a single best camo pattern to perform well, but here are some of the most common habitat types you will find.

  • Swamps and Bottomlands – although many deer use swamps only to escape human pressure, some may choose to live there year-round. Whether you look at the vast, marshy sawgrass prairie of the Everglades, the saw palmetto-choked understories of coastal areas, or the maze-like waterways in a large cypress/tupelo swamp, swamps can actually be very productive deer areas. Very few people hunt them because they are tough and frustrating to hunt in. And in most southern swamps, you’ll have to contend with clouds of mosquitoes, poisonous snakes, and alligators. But despite those challenges, these areas usually offer a lot of food sources and security for deer and can be great areas to target. 
  • Pine Thickets / Plantations – if you’ve hunted in the south much at all, you are almost definitely familiar with pine thickets and plantations, such as the longleaf, loblolly, or slash pines. Densely growing pines exclude sunlight and are often very bare underneath – this may be useful to deer for escaping the heat and sunlight, but there are often no food sources in these habitats. Open canopy pine plantations (i.e., those that have been thinned) have abundant ground-level vegetation for cover and foraging, and can be hot spots for deer activity. 
  • Oaks and Mixed Forests – there’s not much that can top oak forests when it comes to abundant and attractive fall food sources. Live oaks are some of the most impressive southern oak species, and their dense and gnarled branching pattern offers a lot of concealment for hunters too. But there are several other common oak species you can find across the south that have good pulling power when it comes to whitetails.

The Best Camo Pattern for Them

When you’re out deer hunting during the southern rut and you want to make sure that you stay concealed, don’t put anything to chance – get the best camo for the south. But first, why is our pattern different from many other hunting camo brands, at least when it comes to these environments? There are a few reasons that make ours a better choice. 

 

  • Like any good camo pattern, ours takes its inspiration from nature. While alligator hunting in Florida, the team was amazed at how well alligators blended in, no matter which habitat they were in. They absolutely have the best all around camo pattern for disappearing in southern environments. Our southern hunting camo sports a pattern that definitely draws on that concept, and it’s probably one of the first things you notice about it. 
  • But the broken, rectangular pattern also resembles the bark of several mature southern tree species, including black mangrove, loblolly or slash pines, and several oak species. The color palette is pretty darn close to them too. The best camouflage pattern for any environment is one that will blend in seamlessly with the surroundings. So if you prop yourself up against a large tree (as wide as your torso, for example), your body could literally disappear to a deer’s eyes, which mostly see patterns rather than colors. That’s why it’s also the best camo pattern for deer hunting. 
  • Besides the best camo pattern itself, our hunting gear is made from durable fabric that is water and burr resistant to get you through an average hunt on southern ground. If you can’t stay comfortable in your hunting clothes, you won’t last long. And dense vegetation, burrs, and thorns are not kind to cheap hunting clothes. Those aren’t a problem with our hunting clothing.

You Have a Few Options

So if you want to use the best camo pattern on the best camouflage clothing for your next hunt down south, here are a few options for you. Obviously, the more concealed you are (from head to toe), the better you will usually be.

  • The short sleeve tee is a good standalone option on really hot days or as a base layer on slightly cooler days. It is very breathable and helps wick your sweat away to keep you cool and your scent control efforts on target. 
  • The button down shirt is a great and tough outer layer when the bugs are nasty or you prefer to keep your arms more concealed (due to thorny vegetation or from a visibility standpoint). 
  • Our cargo pants are incredibly tough to stand up to the tough conditions we discussed earlier, but are super silent and water-repellent. 
  • The neck gaiter is optional, but many hunters prefer to keep themselves completely covered. The gaiter can keep the glare off your face when you’re sweating, so deer have nothing to worry about when they look your way.

So if you agree that the best camo pattern around should help you blend in anywhere you choose and you have a tendency to hunt down south more often than not, you’ve found what you’ve been looking for.

Rut Hunting in the South | Tips to Save the Season

Five Southern Rut Hunting Tips

What is your favorite time of the year to hunt whitetails? The answer doesn’t really matter where you hunt across the country – it’s probably during the rut or immediately before or after it. Why? The rut can be a great time to encounter a mature buck during daylight hours, and any encounters you have will likely be exciting as bucks are actively chasing and breeding does. But there’s a big caveat with this answer. The rut can occur at many different times across the country, particularly in the Deep South. Here are some tips for rut hunting in the south, where the rut can occur much later than other states.

  1. Time It Right

First, what triggers the rut in whitetail deer? It is believed that whitetails use photoperiod (the amount of daylight in a given day) to trigger several changes that lead to breeding (i.e., the rut). In the north, there is a drastic photoperiod swing from summer to winter, which creates a pretty reliable indicator. But in the south, the photoperiod doesn’t fluctuate nearly as much and the climate is generally pretty tolerable throughout the year, which is likely why the rut calendar is so spread out from August to February (QDMA rut triggers).

 Picture: QDMA Chasing an Explanation for the South’s Odd Rut

As an example, the whitetail rut is fairly consistent across large geographies in the Midwest (provided they have similar photoperiods). But as mentioned, deer hunting in the south can be tricky because the rut can drastically swing from one date range to another depending on where you hunt. If you’re specifically bow hunting the rut in central Florida, for example, don’t pay any attention to the whitetail rut predictions in Georgia. It could possibly be weeks or even a month apart. Do your homework ahead of rut hunting by talking with conservation officers, other hunters, farmers, and by looking up a rut report map for your specific hunting area.

  1. Weather and Conditions

If you’re used to rut hunting in the northeast or Midwest, you probably think of brutally cold conditions – subzero temperatures, harsh winds, and lots of snow. But rut hunting in the south is a different ballgame. In some areas, it can still be downright hot (in the 70s or even 80s) and miserable during the drawn-out rut period. To combat the conditions, you need to be prepared in a few ways. One, you should always carry enough water to make sure you stay hydrated. Two, focus on your scent control efforts, since sweat will be inevitable at some point. Third, you should make sure your camouflage clothing is appropriate for southern habitats. Wearing the wrong kind of camo can be almost as bad as not wearing any camo.

The BGO Hunt long sleeve tee is a durable performance shirt that can keep you hidden all day in several different southern wooded habitats and edges. Form fitting and constructed of polyester and lycra, this shirt helps keep you cool and wick your sweat away quickly to keep you as scent-free as possible. It is also tear-resistant (i.e., anti-pill, burr-resistant, etc.) to stand up to the inevitable tough plants you will face and water-repellent to keep you somewhat dry during chance rain events. The BGO Hunt cargo pants are similar in their features and benefits.

 

  1. Know Your Area

You need to know your property well while rut hunting down south. First, if you have a goal of killing a mature buck, do you have any proof that mature bucks even live there? For example, are there sightings, trail camera pictures, or even good deer sign observed while scouting for deer hunting? Additionally, you should know where the likely food sources and bedding areas are. Without those two pieces of the puzzle, it can be tough to identify travel routes. Deer are creatures of the edge, and prefer to travel near or along habitat edges. In the south, that edge might be a subtle transition along a swamp to a pine plantation. Find the edges and scout for deer sign near pinch points, where habitat edges collide or narrow.

  1. Focus on Does to Find the Bucks

Hunting whitetail bucks in rut can often come down to finding the does. This one isn’t only true for the southern deer rut, obviously. Bucks are looking for does during the rut no matter where they live across the country. If you have no other good deer sign or reason to hunt elsewhere, try following does or doe groups to see where they are bedding. If you can sneak in close (on the downwind side) to a doe bedding area, you’ll be well positioned to find a cruising buck scent-checking for does in estrous. You may even want to increase the attraction in one of these areas by using doe in estrous scent.

  1. Covert Operation

In many heavily hunted areas, pressured deer are very good at detecting humans and staying out of harm’s way. This is especially true with mature bucks. To take a mature buck in one of these areas, the best deer hunting tip for the rut is to really pay attention to your access trails. Make sure your entry or exit trail doesn’t cross a likely deer trail. Stay downwind of where you expect deer to be. Overall, try your hardest to remain as scent-free, quiet, and undetected as possible.

If you plan on rut hunting somewhere in the south this season, we hope you’ll consider these deer hunting tips. They should help you get closer to taking a nice deer.