Outdoor Life

Vol. 228, No. 3 - 2021

Our readers' hands-on spirit is reflected in the magazine's comprehensive gear tests and personal adventure stories. Whether shopping for a new rifle, searching for the hottest fishing holes this weekend or thirsting for exciting adventure tales, Outdoor Life is the ultimate resource.

United States
Camden Media Inc.
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4 期号


deer of the years

I’M NOT MUCH OF a record-keeper when it comes to hunting. I have no idea how many ducks I shot last year. I’ve never had any of my bucks or bulls officially scored. I can’t remember the last time I put a tape measure to a turkey spur. After all, you can’t measure the things I’m really after, like the joy, hope, awe, frustration, and heartbreak of hunting. But there is one record I do keep: I’ve killed at least one whitetail deer every season since I started hunting as a kid. Some seasons I’ve shot multiple big bucks (there have been plenty of small ones mixed in too), while other seasons I’ve been lucky to tag a doe. But for 23 seasons and counting, I’ve killed at least one whitetail…

back 40

I SHOT my biggest buck over a cut cornfield not a quarter mile from the farmhouse where we were staying. He stepped out just before the end of legal shooting light, and when I first spotted him, I nearly fell to pieces. My hunting buddies and I had all kinds of trail-camera pictures of this deer, and I’d been hunting him for months, but this was the first time I’d seen him on the hoof. I held it together just long enough to make the 100-yard broadside shot. Even after a half hour of waiting, I was still shaking as I walked up to him. I’ve since hunted bull moose and elk deep in the wilderness and caribou on the tundra. But no critter has ever gotten to me quite…

ground game

JARED SCHEFFLER’S IDEAL ARCHERY SHOT on a whitetail buck is either quartering to or facing head-on. He hunts exclusively from the ground. Scheffler shoots a longbow, and he uses heavy arrows that are tipped with stout cut-on-contact broadheads. He wants his shots to be so close that they’re measured in paces. Because of his setup and his style of hunting, Scheffler argues the forward-facing shot is even better than a broadside shot. He has no problem punching his arrow through a big buck’s front leg bone. If a deer ducks the string (as mature bucks so commonly do), a head-on shot is still likely to hit vitals. If a deer ducks on a broadside shot, he’ll likely hit no man’s land. Plus, when Scheffler stalks into close range on a mature…

the evolution of food plots and habitat management

JASON HEWETT KNEW how to grow food and habitat for wildlife. He’d been managing land in one way or another since he was 16 years old, and he oversaw 15,000 acres covering three counties in South Carolina. Those properties raised plenty of quail, but they weren’t producing the quality of deer Hewett had hoped for. “We had a lot of resources, and 600 acres of food plots with the average food plot at 3 acres,” Hewett says. “But we weren’t growing 160-inch deer.” He knew South Carolina wasn’t a typical big-deer state—the state record is 176—but still, Hewett had a feeling the bucks on his properties weren’t reaching their full potential. So Hewett called Craig Harper, a University of Tennessee professor with a reputation for a new way of thinking about land…

the rarest whitetail

THE FOURTH TIME I saw the Columbian whitetail buck, he was slipping through a stand of moss-draped oaks at first light, following twitchy does into the blackberry briars that bristle the shoreline of the South Umpqua River like unruly razor wire. The third time, I saw the buck as a series of spectral images from a trail camera, his glowing eyes buggy in the flash and enough of his many-pointed rack frozen in the phosphorescent night to get me jacked. The second time, I saw him from an aluminum jet sled, circa 1999, as I drifted three pounds of dead herring along the sandy bottom of the Columbia River. He was standing in tag alder on an island that my sturgeon guide told me the government had bought for the remnant population…


IF THE BACK 40 is a hunter’s domain, then the backcountry is a deer’s turf. Humans don’t make the rules here. There’s no development, no granular herd management, no excessive gear, no distractions. Instead, we must adapt to the deer’s behavior. We learn new terrain, scout on the move, glass patiently, strategize quickly, and improvise when a stalk goes to hell. Hunters prepare mentally and physically simply to survive where deer thrive. The stakes feel higher in the backcountry, and success more elusive. And that’s part of the appeal. In the wilderness, most every subspecies of deer still exists as nature intended. It’s where we can hunt deer that, despite never having seen a human before, are still experts at eluding us. True deer hunters value wild deer, and the wildest…