Proper Technique for Shooting Semi-Auto Pistols

There is a Right Way to shoot…

Going to the gun range in the Wildlife Management Area or the local chirt-pit is always an interesting experience. You never know what you’ll see. Sometimes you see Military veterans who are an excellent marksman with their long-distance rifles. Sometimes you see older men teaching their grandchildren with .22’s putting holes in pumpkins. And sometimes you see good ol’ boys having a great time shooting shotgun casings off of the fence post. Everyone I have met there is passionate about gun safety, conservation, proper land management, and our constitutional freedoms.  But something I have learned from watching his vast array of people – proper shooting technique is critical if you want to shoot well.

We have all seen the YouTube videos of people getting knocked down when they shoot a gun. This is all because the shooter didn’t know what they what they were doing. They are using improper shooting technique, so the force of the felt recoil knocks them off balance. This doesn’t have to happen.

I love to watch trick shooting competitions. Gerry Michalek makes it look so easy. Watching the competitions is not only awe-inspiring, but it is highly educational. I can’t do much yet, but I can shoot the Annie Oakley Trick (standing backward, shooting over your shoulder, holding a hand mirror) with a .22 revolver. One day I’ll be able to do more.  Until then, I’ll keep on reading articles about technique, watching the Great Marksmen, and practicing.

Please keep in mind, these recommendations are for target shooting, not necessarily the same tactics used in defensive situations. I can’t recommend enough the value of defensive shooting training. If you carry to protect your loved ones, get the training. It’s an invaluable tool that can keep your loved ones safe when every second counts.

Safety First

Always assume the gun is loaded. Everyone needs to be taught gun safety – even children. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to shoot; make sure the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction. Never put your finger on the trigger until your ready to shoot.

Keep your eyes and ears protected. Always.

While practicing the correct grip and stance – its best to go ahead and be standing at the range and facing downrange. Make sure the gun is empty. Remove the magazine – no, it’s not a “clip” –  and pull back the slide a few times to ensure that the chamber is empty. Lock the slide open and reinsert an empty magazine. Release the slide so that it can go forward. Now you’re ready to dry fire!

gun metal barrel

Body Position

Breathing is one of the most underutilized aspects of shooting. Learning to breathe slowly, and deep. Timing your breath with your heartbeat and at the stillest moment in your body, pull the trigger. That respiratory pause is a moment when your chest muscles are completely relaxed. Remember, tension anywhere but your wrists and hands will ruin accuracy. Some trainers will tell pistol shooters to inhale as they raise their pistol to the target, hold their breath as they squeeze the trigger, and exhale during the follow through. I’ve tried both, but I prefer shooting during the natural respiratory pause – this method will carry over rifle shooting, shotgun, and archery.

There are three main standing shooting stances, the Isosceles, the Weaver and the Modified Weaver. From what I’ve seen in competition shooting, most of “the Greats” use the Isosceles. You should stand comfortably, your shoulders relaxed. You won’t shoot well being really stiff or tense in your shoulders. Keep your arms fully extended, when possible, but not locked.

Some trainers will tell you to stand a little sideways with one leg way out in front of you – but you will actually hinder yourself if you do this. It limits your range of motion. Stand squarely facing your target. One foot can be slightly in front, but not much. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. Your knees can bend just a little – don’t let them lock up.
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Your shoulders need to be forward. Its a fairly natural stance. Don’t hunch your shoulders up or duct your head down. Stay relaxed and lean forward slightly. Keep them in front of your hips. Never lean backward. Shooting properly with a pistol requires you to stand slightly leaning forward. Your weight has to have a forward bias in order to counteract the felt recoil. If the felt recoil throws off your balance, lean forward a smidgen more. This allows you to have more control over the gun, to prevent muzzle rise, and to get back on target.

You’ll want to bring the gun up to your dominant eye. Don’t turn your head. This needs to be as natural and automatic of a stance as possible. If you don’t bring the gun up to your dominant eye, you’ll hunch your shoulders or tilt your head – and that’s altogether just too much movement.

A Firm Grip

Proper grip is key to making sure the muzzle stays pointed at the target. The more upwards rise in your muzzle, the more time it takes to get back on target. Also, if your muzzle rises while your bullet is still exiting the barrel, it will throw off your accuracy.

The grip is another one of those areas that a great many shooters will disagree with. Judging from experience as well as from listening to numerous YouTube interviews of competition shooters – some grip techniques are better than others.

Keep both hands on your gun. This will give you tighter groupings as you have more control over the gun. Don’t use your non-dominant hand to brace your wrist, or hold the bottom of your gun grip – that’s called Teacupping and it serves absolutely no purpose at all. Your non-dominant hand serves as a vital stabilizer. If your non-dominant hand is not pretty tired from a long day on the range, you’re not using it enough.

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Make sure the center of the frame of your gun lines up along the center of your arm – along with the Ulna bone. This helps the recoil to be centrally and directly back so that it is more easily managed and you stay on target better.

Your non-dominant hand is to cover as much as the exposed area of the side of the grip as possible. This is very important. Recoil moves along the path of least resistant – so the more control you have over the movement of your gun, the less felt recoil and the more accurate you will shoot. Your non-dominant hand is slightly more forward on the gun than your dominant hand.

Your elbows need to be relaxed, but not floppy. Not locked either. They need to be secure. Hold your pistol with a very firm grip – a little stronger than a good strong handshake. This is not a death grip. There is no need in holding it so tight that your hand shakes. A firm grip reduces the amount of movement your non-trigger fingers will have – which is better for accuracy.

Your wrists need to be locked over center, and you press inward with both hands holding your gun in place. Like Gerry Michalek says, “Don’t noodle” – the front of your gun can’t wobble. You need to be aware of, and in such control of each movement, your gun makes that it is like an extension of your hand. This comes from pressing from your wrists to hold the gun firmly on target. It feels awkward at first – keeping very firmly on center without tensing up in your arms and shoulders.


You’ll want your thumbs to be on the same side as your non-dominant hand. Your thumbs will point generally towards the target. They don’t really do much, just sit over there out of the way.  Your non-dominant fingers have a bit of wiggle room too. They can be over or under the trigger guard – this preference can vary between the way various pistols fit your hand. Whichever one ensures you have a solid grip, one that allows you to naturally hold the gun on target.  Do keep your thumbs still – if you tend to rotate your thumb as you pull the trigger, it will cause you to miss your target in the direction you rotate your thumb. This grip error is called thumbing.


Grip your gun so that the webbing between your thumb and trigger finger is as high up on the grip as possible. The lower in your hand the action sits, the more straight back into your arm the felt recoil will travel. This helps to control muzzle travel and reduces the snappiness of felt recoil. This interesting rule of physics is one of the main thoughts behind the design of the pistol called the Rhino. Ugly gun – but great engineering.

Aligning Your Sights

“Aim small, miss small” is the mantra my Grandaddy said when he was teaching me to shoot. Don’t just aim for the large red bulls-eye. Look at the center speck in that bullseye. Aim for that.


Sight Alignment is dependant upon your firearm being properly sighted in. If you are shooting really tight groupings at the 5- yard line, but then at the 20-yard line they are significantly off center – it may be wise to talk to your local gunsmith.

Just to clarify, sight alignment is simply the relationship between the front and rear sights of the handgun. If the top of your front sight is not perfectly level with the top of your rear sight, then you will be shooting either too high or too low. And if your front sight does not have an equal amount of air-space on either side showing through, then you will be shooting to the left or right of your target.

These two variables lined up correctly creates an accurate Sight Picture. If you are shooting and the target is just littered with holes and you really can’t tell what you’re doing wrong – your probably focusing too much on the target instead of the front sight. When you are focused on the front sight, the rear sight and the target will be slightly blurred. This blurring of the target throws off a lot of new shooters.

Pulling the Trigger

Pulling the trigger is different from mashing or squeezing the trigger. A controlled, deliberate, methodical, straight back pull is what you need to do. If you mash or squeeze, you will move your gun and throw off your sight picture.

black pistol calibrated and brown bullet flies


You will need the center part of your index finger to be centrally on the trigger. Not the tip. Not the first knuckle as shown in the photo above. The padding directly under your nail bed is what needs to be centrally on the trigger, which is parallel to the gun’s frame. This portion of your finger is called the Distal Phalanx. If you are off center, your gun will pull to the left or right.

If too much of your finger is on the trigger, it’s called snatching. It will cause you to hit to the side of your target. If you’re right-handed, you will hit to the right of your target. If too little of your finger is on the trigger, it’s called pushing. This will cause you to hit to the other side of your target. Another common issue is heeling. This is when you squeeze the bottom of the grip too hard as you depress the trigger, sending it slightly forward. This will cause you to hit slightly above your target.

Don’t anticipate the recoil. Allow yourself to be surprised by the sound of the gun firing.  If you anticipate the recoil, your front sight will drop as you depress the trigger. Stay focused on your front sight as you depress the trigger.

Follow Through

Follow through is critical. It is what allows the projectile to completely exit the muzzle, and remain faithfully on target. It is allowing the bullet to exit the muzzle – a pause after you pull the trigger. You maintain sight picture during follow through. Any jerking motions can cause the muzzle to shift as the bullet is exiting and throw off your accuracy.


It is hard to know if you have any subtle movements – so having a friend stand just outside of your arch of peripheral vision and watch you is helpful. If our friend notices that you have to readjust your gun back into position instead of the gun falling into a natural point of aim.

Trigger reset is what happens when after a shot is fired, the slide has slid back, the spent cartridge ejected, the slide comes forward, a new round is chambered and the trigger moves back to the front. On many firearms, the trigger may not have to go all the way forward in order for it to be reset and ready to fire. Some Glocks reset just shy of being all the way forward, you’ll know it when you feel it click.

If you hold your finger just forward of the reset, you’ll have a shorter trigger pull and can fire off the next round much faster – and in competition shooting, timing is crucial.  Dry firing will help you learn where your trigger break is.

Follow through allows you to be ready to accurately fire a follow-up shot. You are already on target and don’t have to waste valuable seconds correcting your sight picture. This is vital to not only competition shooting, but for self-defense purposes. It is impractical to anticipate that ONE single shot will stop whoever is attacking you.  You have to be diligent and prepared – and a big part of that is correct follow through.


When shooting, keep it simple. It all boils down to remain relaxed, have a proper sight picture, pull the trigger, and follow through.

So why not head on over to your local gun range and practice? Practice is the only way to improve! Don’t just shoot to burn through ammo – make a conscious effort to make each motion be deliberate, each shot a learning experience.


Five Dog Breeds that Rock at Hunting

flickr wisconsin dept of natural resources

Hunters and their dogs have an amazing bond. When in action, they partner together in a smooth and seamless dance. Each one reading the motions of the other to function smoothly.

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Watching a dog perform the work that he was bred specifically to do, a dog who had those dominant traits honed in with precise training – it’s genuinely a beautiful sight. Every fiber of that dogs being is engaged and devoted to not only hunting but ENJOYING it. And ultimately, that’s one of the reasons why we hunt with dogs. They live for it just like we do.

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There is really not much of a way to determine which dog breed is the BEST at hunting – it’s like comparing apples to oranges. There are many breeds that excel at hunting certain game and there are breeds that are good at working in certain environments. It’s best to research the dog best for whatever type of hunting you plan on doing.

Hunting Dog Breeds

English Springer Spaniel


The English Springer Spaniel is a small compact dog with a beautiful shaggy coat.  They grow to about 20 inches tall and weigh up to 45 pounds.  Springers have a lush, double coat that is white and brown. The field-bred in this breed differs from the show-bred in that the field-bred tends to be slightly smaller and have more white in their coat. The AKC considers them the very same, though the gene pools have been segregated for over years. The field-bred also tends to have a shorter coat, shorter ears, a more pointy nose. While both are great at hunting, the field-bred will out hunt the show-bred.

Spaniels originated in Spain. There are even accounts in Welsh law documents in 300 A.D. where spaniels were mentioned. There is artwork in the 16th-century artwork of hunting scenes with spaniels that closely resembles the English Springer Spaniel. Then, the spaniels were used to flush out the birds from the dense brush so that the hunter’s falcon could catch the prey. It wasn’t until 1903 that the England Kennel Club had a classification for the breed.


These dogs were bred with the endurance to enjoy long days in the field. English Springer Spaniels are high energy dogs, but they are not typically considered hyperactive.  This means they don’t make very good house dogs, but they do good with children. They need room to run. When in the field they run across it in a zig-zag pattern with a smooth stride.

They received their name from the way they “spring” at game – flushing it out of hiding. That’s where the Springer Spaniel really shines: flushing out birds that prefer dense cover such as pheasants, bob-white quail, ruffed grouse, and woodcock. They can duck hunt, and retrieve open country birds, but the English Springer Spaniel is phenomenal with pheasant hunting.

English Springer Spaniel ,Female

Springers are easily trainable and considered people-pleasers. They love company and participating in family activities. Designed to hunt at close range, typically no more than 30 yards, they do need to be trained on a few command words. English Springer Spaniels can be just as stubborn as a Chesapeake but most tend to be very eager to please and happy to be helping. English Springer Spaniels need a gentle hand in training and they have a tendency to sulk. But like many other high bred hunting dogs, they are known to reach a point in their life where they will test you and in such times a more firm response is recommended. Thankfully, this isn’t often a situation you’ll see a repeat of. But just like other spaniels – they bounce out of their bad moods quickly.

English Springer Spaniels are also used frequently as therapy dogs because of their compassionate eyes and disposition to please. They are great therapy dogs especially for the sick and elderly. My grandparents had an English Springer Spaniel named Champ who was extremely intelligent and loved dove hunting. It was always amazing getting to watch him run.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Chessies are affectionate, sensitive and stubborn. They can get up to 26 inches tall and up to 80 pounds. They are known for their distinctive coat: wavy and oily to the touch. This oil slick helps them to shed water and be able to tolerate cold waters. Their jaws are strong enough to carry heavy game birds and they can be gentle enough to carry an egg. They also have webbed toes. This is an ideal combination for a duck hunters companion. Chessies come in three colors, Brown (of the chocolate variety), Sedge (a reddish brown), and Deadgrass (tan). Their eyes are bright amber.

Chessies are very trainable, but they have a mind of their own so training may take longer with them than with other breeds. They are not overly friendly to strangers and are extremely protective of their owners, which makes them great watchdogs. Chessies are highly intelligent and courageous. Training requires a gentle hand as they surprisingly get their feelings hurt pretty easily.

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Many trainers say that Chessies have to understand why they are doing the task before they will do it – or else their independent streak will take over. The key to training a Chessie is consistency. They are good with children and other animals. Chesapeake Retrievers are determined dogs – they work hard and are quite powerful.

The breed originated in 1807. The story goes that a pair of Newfoundlands were found in an English shipwreck near the Chesapeake Bay. These two dogs bred with other retrievers, English Otterhounds, Irish Setter, etc. After a couple of years, the Chesapeake Retriever was created. in 1878 the breed was recognized by the AKC

Appalachian Coon Hound

turkey trot acres lodge photo featuring dogs Shot and Kelly

John Byrne of Virginia is the man most responsible for the Appalachian Turkey Dog. Mr. Byrne passed away in 2012. Just over 40 years ago, he bred several great hunting dog breeds and came out with a dog that is considered one of the best dogs for hunting turkey in the world, especially for fall turkey season. The Appalachian Turkey Dog may have feathering on their hindquarters and tail that they inherited from the English Setter. It got its genes for tracking, barking, and chasing from the Plott Hound and has the drive, speed, and stamina from its Pointer ancestors.

Boykin Spaniels and English Setters are often used for hunting turkey, but for many hunters, they can’t hold a candle to an Appalachian Turkey Dog. Though the Appalachian Turkey Dog is not officially recognized by the AKC, it is still worth considering when looking into a hunting dog. The American Wild Turkey Hunting Dog Association does recognize them. Since it isn’t an “official” breed, there are not a lot of stats on the dogs size, but generally they are smaller dogs.

appalachian turkey dog

Turkey Dogs cast ahead, keeping an eye on your position, and find flocks of turkey. When the dog finds the turkey flock, he flushes at them, getting them to scatter. As the dog is getting them to scatter, the hunter sets up where they were gathered. Then the dog comes back and waits patiently while the hunter calls the turkey. Turkeys are social creatures. They want to be in a group and will call one another in an effort to locate each other. The hunter calls and lures the turkey towards the blind so that they can be harvested.

So while the Appalachian Turkey Dog may not be on the AKC registry, if you are an avid turkey hunter, you may do well to consider one of these for your hunting companion.

(Thank you Turkey Trot Acres for the picture of dogs Shot and Kelly!)

Bluetick Coon Hound

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Blueticks are beautiful dogs with a musical baying bark. They are fantastic hunting dogs that do well on nocturnal hunts. They can grow up to 27 inches tall and weigh up to 80 pounds. They got their name from the “ticked” or mottled black and blue coat pattern.

The breed began with General George Washington. He recieved 5 hounds from the Marquis de Lafayette. These dogs were Grand Gascon Saintongeois and Grand Bleu de Gascogne. They bred and then later were mixed with the fast running English Foxhound to create what we know as the Bluetick around 1900. It wasn’t until 1945 that they were recognized as a breed by the AKC.

Blueticks excell at night time hunting with thier sharp eyesight. They can track in bad weather just as good as pleasant weather. They have an unshakable tracking instinct. Though slower than other types of hounds, their determination and instinct to chase stands out. The Bluetick is fantastic at finding game on trails thought to have “gone cold.”

Interstingly Blueticks not only bay when they tree their prey, but they bugle throughout the hunt. Hunters can learn what each of their distinctive calls mean to know how to partner with his hound better when hunting. Blueticks are aboslutely fearless and will even pursue bear.

When training a Blueetick, they are headstrong and a little obstinate like other hounds – so strong consistency is key. They are highly intelligent and are good at figuring things out. All hounds have a bit of a sense of humor – they can be slighly clumsy and always want to know “what’s in it for them” during training. But the Bluetick on average is less clumsy than some other hound breeds. Blueticks are deeply devoted to thier owners and are quite affectionate. They tend to be wary of strangers but do well with children. They tend to not do well with smaller pets. Like all working-dogs, they need to have their energy used or else they find ways of getting into trouble.

German Short-haired Pointer

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German Shorthaired Pointers are often called regal looking. They have friendly dark eyes and their coat can come in Liver, Black, Roan with white. They can grow up to 25 inches tall and weigh up to 70 pounds. They were bred with a great deal of endurance, and speed. They are extremely loyal dogs who develop a deep bond with thier owners.

The breed developed in the 17th century in Germany. They are a cross between German tracking hounds, a Spanish Pointer, and an English Foxhound. They have an extroidinary keen sense of smell. in 1925 Dr. Charles Thornton brought the breed to American and began breeding them.

The German Shorthaired Pointer makes a great family pet. They do well with other pets, children and even do well indoors – as long as they received daily excersize to burn off thier high energy levels. They learn fast and are relatively easy to train. German Shorthaired Pointers have a strong prey drive and retrieve well. They also point beautifully.

An all around versatile hunting dog, one that is said to almost “hunt straight out of the box.” They remain one of the main dog breeds in various hunting contests. It will hunt upland gamburds, waterfowl, and even rabbits and other small game. The German Shorthaired Pointer is quite brave and will track wild boar, fox, and even a wounded deer.


Homeopathy Remedies for Autistic Meltdowns and Pandas

Homeopathy Remedies

(I am not a Homeopath. I have a Master Herbalist degree and have a great love for homeopathy – one day I would like to take some classes on it!)

I have used various homeopathy remedies to help my daughter when she is having an autism meltdown and to help her combat Pandas flare-ups. Cina worked for a long time as her constitutional remedy, and now she doing much better. Her constitutional remedy is changing from Cina to Pulsatilla. Constitutional remedy means it works well for her entire being, as the description fits her exactly. For acute or occasional issues, we treat with other remedies as they fit.

Here is a list of some very helpful homeopathic remedies. These remedies can be used for a lot more than I have listed – please refer to your Materia Medica for full description.


Chamomilla is a wonderful remedy that many people know is useful with teething or colicky babies and the pains of childbirth. The Chamomilla temperament is miserable – miserable everywhere they go. So miserable that they can appear angry, sulky, cross, or even in a rage.

Chamomilla children will cry, kick, bite, scream and drive their parents to despair. The stiffen up and will bend backward. Chamomilla children are only quiet when they are being carried – but they don’t want to be touched or spoken to. They cry because they want something and then throw it back, completely unhappy. They are furious that they are hurting and furious at everyone else for not fixing the discomfort.

Chamomilla is overly sensitive to everything. His nerves are completely shot and he lacks patience. Complete intolerance for pain or sensitivity – this person will not bear the pain quietly or calmly.

There may be hot sweat on the head, yellowish green spinach-like diarrhea, toothache or bitter taste in the mouth.


It is most commonly used for parasitic worms. But it also works wonders for autism meltdowns and pandas.

It is common for the Cina Child to be cross, irritable and to grind his teeth. There is also a varying appetite – sometimes Cina will want to eat a lot and sometimes next to nothing.  Cina wants to be held and rocked all the time. This child is highly sensitive to touch – cannot bear to have hair brushed or to be caressed. He is so sensitive that it feels as if he is bruised or sore. In fact, he is so touchy that he does not want to even be looked at. However, this child may rub, poke, pick his nose or scratch inside his ears. Cina also has an aversion to bright light.

Cina will desire things but will reject everything offered – this child typically doesn’t throw them back like Chamomilla does, just rejects them. He will crave sweets and gets hungry soon after eating a meal. It is a painful hungry feeling, a gnawing sensation. He may have a difficult time in swallowing liquid and choke easily on water or his own spit. He is a very anxious child. Occasionally Cina will have spasmodic twitching of his limbs.

Cina has a pale face with very dark rings around his eyes. The sweat on his head is cold. There is a whiteish blue ring around the mouth.  This child will grit his teeth in his sleep and also during sleep his face and hands will make movements while dreaming.  Cina prefers to sleep on and hands and knees or on his abdomen. Sleep is restless for Cina, he has trouble sleeping and he has night terrors, screams, or talks in his sleep. He often wakes up with a start and feels very frightened.

Upon waking, Cina will have a cough that may end in a spasm. It’s a violent cough that can bring tears to his eyes. There is a gurgling sound or sensation going from stomach to throat after coughing. Cina is highly anxious to speak or move after the coughing fit, out of fear that it would start another one. Belly pain, especially after eating is very common too.

For parents of Cina, it is a little frustrating as they have a hard time with punishments – punishments can cause convulsions, or fits. Cina is so sensitive even to emotional disturbances. The stool of Cina are very notable – it’s often white and profuse. Cina is noted for gastrointestinal distress. Ofen with intense pain – so severe that it can contribute to delays in speech and socialization.

Ignatia Amara

Ignatia is excellent for anxiety – that is situational anxiety. It is useful for the sudden anxiety or panic attacks that seem to come out of nowhere. Ignatia is useful for fearful anxiety and worry.  It is highly useful after trauma or with someone who is is having a difficult time trusting again.

It is also given for shock, bereavement, and disappointment. Ignatia is often completely overcome by heartache and depression. His depression will quickly turn into a form of desolation and devastation. He has a painful yearning for that which was lost.

Ignatia is sensitive, easily hurt, and is subject to massive mood swings. When things go wrong, Ignatia takes it personally. He is usually melancholy and sad – sighs and sobs for no apparent reason. Social settings greatly aggravate the anxiety for Ignatia. And he has repeating and intrusive thoughts. Heightened emotional responses are common as is a defensive attitude.

Anxiety will manifest in Ignatia with twitches, spasms in the throat, cramps etc. Sometimes his cough feels so tight that it will suffocate him. Ignatia has irritable bowel issues that can flare up suddenly. This sudden bowel change is reflected in the sudden change of emotional temperament. Ignatia can be laughing and making jokes and then instantly they will be in tears – almost reflective of a hysteria type shift.


Pulsatilla is unstable, emotional and timid. She weeps for nothing and experiences extreme intellectual fatigue.  She is highly anxious and occasionally absent-minded. She will bottle up her emotions when she isn’t weeping. She also holds a grudge for a long time and can feel very depressed, jealous and anxious. She will show a fear of the opposite sex. She rarely feels thirsty and frequently feels aversion to food.

Clingy, sad, needing to be reassured and held are hallmarks of her temperament. She wants to be carried, rocked and loved – while simultaneously fearing suffocation. She is like a flower being tossed around in the wind – lacking the strength to stand upright while the wind blows and being tossed and turned about. She is very needy and is terrified of being abandoned or forsaken. Fears surround her and night terrors are frequent. She craves above all things to feel safe, loved, and content. If she doubts those things – her world shatters. She greatly regresses when under stress and in a warm, stuffy room. Cold, open air makes her feel better – as long as it is a dry cold. She tends to feel worse in the evenings.

Pulsatilla child has a very difficult time sharing toys and crumbles when reprimanded. She is constantly vying for attention by negative means – usually creating a scene or whining irritably. Pulsatilla does not have an angry cry like Chamomilla. Though she wants attention, she lacks the confidence to engage with others – she has no problem playing alone and will contentedly munch on sweets.

Arsenicum Album

The horse typifies Arsenic temperament. Horses constantly move about, are highly nervous – almost restless. He tends to have dry, rough, unhealthy looking skin when he is need of this remedy.

He jerks about as he is falling asleep. Arsenic is highly anxious and desperately angry – almost to the point of being furious. He feels hopeless, full of misery, and suicidal.

Burning pains are a major consideration – no other remedy has burning pains to this degree. However, Arsenic craves hot food and drink. He often licks his lips because they are dry.

He feels rested when sitting but any slight exertion will exhaust him quickly. He has a great fear of being left alone – yet desires to hide. He is indecisive and his humor changes quickly – almost in an angry hasty way. He is terribly upset by small changes in the little details of life. Arsenic is highly compulsive about orderliness.


Sulphur is a firey child – a volcano ready to explode suddenly and intensely in response to any frustration. After his anger subsides the molten lava of sullenness and smolders seep out for a long while. Highly intellectual, creative and artistic. He is immensely passionate about every facet in his life.

Sulphur has an adventurous spirit – his entire being engrossed in his investigation of the world around him. He is determined to succeed and has the drive to do so. However, he can also be critical, irritable and intolerant. He believes that every performance he gives is the very best. Sulphur tends to be hypercritical and arrogant. He is impatient, head-strong, and domineering.

Not all volcanos are active – some are dormant. Sulphur can also be extremely lazy and procrastinates. He will have wonderful ideas – but a massive aversion to work of any kind. While Sulphur has a strong ego – it is a fragile one. He easily feels disrespected and humiliated.  This happens anytime his ego is threatened.

Sulphur is used when driving out toxins and counteract the suppression of physical or emotional symptoms.

As a child, Sulphur was a replica of Dennis the Menace. Always into mischief and high spirited. He is constantly getting into trouble and being disobedient. Sulphur tends to hate bathing (unless it’s a cold shower) and doe not mind being dirty. He can not bear to feel too hot, is not a morning person, and just loves junk food. He is determined to get his own way and almost impossible to reason with when he gets worked up.

When a Sulphur child has Pandas, their rage can even include smearing feces on the wall and aggressively attacking others. The screaming tantrums of a Sulphur child are fierce to behold.


As a child, Carcinosin loves to read and cuddle with pets. In fact, her pets are her best friends. She felt like she was struggling to fly free – rules only made her feel confined. But Carcinosin isn’t a rebel, she is merely passionate.

She is sensitive and very responsible. Almost overly so. She has a high standard and feels highly anxious if her standards are not met. She struggles with feeling like an idiot and of things being out of her control. In fact, she worries so much that she will make herself sick. Fear drives Carcinosin – but it is that fear that drives her. She is determined to cause the change in her life.

When she can’t fix things, she is determined to find someone to take care of things for her.  So much so that she will lose her identity in whoever is taking care of her. This is a key feature – the loss of self as a result from suppressing her will in order to be taken care of. She is cautious, reserved and tends to answer in monosyllables.  After this, she will get resentful. She feels contradictory. At this point, she becomes quarrelsome, discontented, disgusted etc. Eventually, she will come to a point where she needs to break out. She will dance frequently, yearn to travel. She becomes cheerful when there are thunder and lightning. Her excitability keeps increasing – and then she begins getting startled easily, becoming destructive, twitching, not sleeping.

Then the cycle repeats. She goes back into taking care of others, full of a sense of duty, clinging to animals, loving to cuddle, anxious for the well being of others.

She is so determined to endure that she will push herself to the limit. She is very strong and highly intelligent. Carcinosin will have frequent abdominal pain, and bending over helps to make it better. She is prone to schizophrenia, suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. She is fearful of crowds, narrow places, high places, spiders, mice, snakes, and especially fear of failure.

Carcinosin is a perfectionist. Criticism even in the most gentle and mild forms are utterly unbearable for her, she takes it extremely personally. She is highly sensitive to the feelings of others and highly empathetic. Pandas diagnosis is extremely common with Carcinosin.

Can Can Holster Review

As a female, conceal carry can be rather difficult. Women’s clothing fits differently than men’s clothing. It’s generally much more fitted and has thinner material. Dresses and the lack of pockets just add more levels of difficulty. Finding the right holster makes it a lot easier. I have several holsters that I use. I prefer a Kydex IWB for days that I am wearing jeans. And I have a Marilyn Bra Holster for when I wear sundresses.

While it is true that it is important to “dress to carry” sometimes that means getting a bit creative with layers and sizes. Many women resort to only ever carrying in their purse. This is handy, it is not recommended. If an attacker comes up to you and takes your purse – he then will have your weapon. Also, carrying in your purse is most often not as fast to draw from.


Two holsters that I use frequently are by Can Can Concealment ( In this article I’ll be giving my personal review on the Garter and the Hip Hugger holsters.

Can Can Hip Hugger Holster


The Can Can Hip Hugger was one of my first holsters. I wanted a holster that could be multi-functional. It can be worn with skirts, shorts, jeans, or even tunic tops with leggings. There are three sizes to choose from: micro, classic, or big she-bang. The width size you choose is based on the size of your conceal carry weapon. I initially made the mistake of buying the big she-bang, because I thought that a wider band would be more comfortable. But I noticed that my firearm would slip down too low in it to where it wasn’t a fast draw.

While holsters don’t have to be pretty to function – it is nice having a pretty holster. I went with the red details. They have several colors to choose from. You can choose tan or black for the base and details can be red, hot pink, black, or blue.

One feature that caused me to go with Can Can over some of the competition was the hook and eye closures. I abhor velcro. It is thick, loud, and I can never get it perfectly lined up; so it ends up scratching me or pulling at my clothing. The hook and eye closures, though it takes a couple of more seconds to attach, is a HUGE draw for me.


There are little soft little tabs on the edges of the pockets. These are to pull the pocket out so you can holster your weapon. That way you are not fumbling for the edge. I like that the edge of the pocket does not line up with the top of the band.


Wearing the Hip Hugger Holster is very comfortable. I have not had any issues with it riding up from my hip to my waist.  I do have to adjust it slightly when sitting in my car for an extended amount of time – but the same can be said for wearing a cardigan in the car, you don’t want it pulling from sitting on it. It doesn’t add a lot of extra bulges either, which is nice.

When I measured to purchase my Hip Hugger Holster, I measured around my natural waist and then purchased an extender if I wanted to wear it lower on my hips. This way I can wear it high one day and low the next – whichever is most convenient to draw based on the type of clothing I am wearing. A few years ago, Can Can was offering an extender that was also a pouch for your cell phone, I purchased one and LOVE it. I really hope they bring it back (hint-hint Can Can Concealment!)

Can Can Garter Holster

Sometimes, a waistband holster isn’t an option. I like to wear swing dresses – and while a waistband holster MAY work, it isn’t as fast of a draw as I would like. This is where the Garter Holster is an excellent option. I have worn it with and without leggings under it.


Like the Hip Hugger Holster, the Garter Holster comes in several width sizes based upon the size firearm you will be concealing. The Micro is for pistols under 4.5″ long, the Classic is for firearms that are  4.5-6.5″ long, and the Big She-bang is for pistols over 6.5″ long.

For my Garter Holster, I went with the hot pink (because the red happened to be sold out that day and I needed it for a trip so I couldn’t wait an extra week.)  Garter Holsters also come in the black and blue detailing or with a tan background.


I highly recommend going ahead and purchasing the Garter Belt. It comes in a pretty lace pattern, either black or tan. While it isn’t absolutely necessary, I like knowing for certain that it won’t be slipping down too far. The only time I had a little bit of slipping is when I was wearing pantyhose. Since then, I have learned to adjust the hook and eye closures depending not upon only how it feels but also if I am wearing anything under it or not.  The Garter Belt stays securely attached to the Garter Holster with hooks.



Wearing the Garter Holster isn’t quite as comfortable as the Waist Band Holster, and a bit more cumbersome to put on. Especially when rotating it to get it in just the right place for the garter belt to be worn. But once it is on – its great! I have talked to other women who wear it and they don’t find it cumbersome to put on at all, it may just be me. (I have a lot of nerve damage on the leg I prefer to wear it on because I was attacked by a leopard years ago, so I am sure that is clouding my judgment.)

About Can Can Concealment

Can Can Holsters uses compression holsters. The material is thick enough to prevent printing, and still very breathable. The back of the holsters has built-in silicone grips to prevent slipping. They also have their very own (patent pending) reholstering grip tabs with Neodymium rare earth magnets to help with firearm retention.

I really love getting to tell others about this fantastic company. Not only are their products of phenomenal quality, AND made in the USA, but their customer service is top notch. I have had to call them a few times with questions about sizing, and to send back the wrong size that I ordered. Their customer service is so personable and they really go out of their way to help you find just the right holster for your body shape – even if it means doing a custom order. You can tell they truly believe in their product!

I would love to review their Corset Holster but have not purchased one yet.

If you have any suggestions for any holsters that you would like for me to review – send me a message!

Aspergers and Pandas: The First Three Years of Our Holistic Health Journey

Autism Clues

I had everything ready: my detailed birth plan, the Bradley Method book, my calming piano hymns music, Clary Sage and Lavender oils, ice packs, heat rags, birthing ball, honey straws, Vitamin K drops, and a doula who would encapsulate my placenta.  Much to my doctor’s frustration, I was determined to utilize a holistic health approach to giving birth. After a very smooth, natural labor and delivery, the nurse handed me my newborn baby girl.

I had looked forward to that moment of first getting to meet her – cuddling close, looking at her tiny features, counting her little fingers and toes. That moment finally arrived! But Emma would recoil her hands abruptly at the touch of my fingers. Her face would grimace in agitation – almost as if she was in pain –  when anyone touched her, especially her hands and feet. I knew right away that something was amiss. By the end of the day, I had noticed a stork bite on her neck and a sacral dimple – signs to look out for with the MTHFR gene mutation that ran through my family.

Soon, we noticed that she would become inconsolable if more than three separate people held her. Or if a store was too busy, or the tv was too loud. Or if we were gone from home more than a couple of hours. Or when she was placed in the car seat. She was constantly alert and on edge, stiff as a board when held. All of these things I noted and tucked away for further observation and research. When I would bring them up to the pediatrician or in conversation socially, I was told not to worry. She simply was a sensitive baby. Nothing was wrong.

But I knew that she was different in a special way – because I am different too.

Emma didn’t nurse well and refused to take a bottle. It was a rough first few months. Thankfully some Mommy Friends in a private Facebook group told me to look into tongue and lip ties, then told me about their own experiences. Many of whom warned me about how frightfully uneducated so many are in the medical field about the impact ties have on breastfeeding.

She began having meltdowns. It took a while to learn what was a meltdown and what was a temper tantrum – there ARE differences. But occasionally a temper tantrum can go on so long that she works herself into a meltdown. During meltdowns, she would stop making eye contact and it was as if she couldn’t hear or see me. During meltdowns, she could not be pacified. We learned that we had to take her away from the stimulus, preferably to a dark quiet room and just hold her and rock. Emma never would take a paci and she didn’t want toys or a Lovey of any kind.

Sleep Deprivation

After going through four doctors, three lactation consultants, and a local Le Leche League leader (say that three times fast!) – I found a doctor who believed me and told me that my assessment of a Stage 3 lip tie and a posterior tongue tie were correct and were contributing to the difficult nursing experience. A quick lasering of the ties and we were on our way to a more successful and pain-free nursing relationship.

By four months, I knew that she had Aspergers (like I do). Her sensitivity to various stimuli was escalating at a rapid pace. Then, she stopped sleeping. Almost completely. I knew that the Four Month Sleep Regression was supposed to be a hard one – but after a month she wasn’t back to a semblance of a routine at all. Emma was waking up every 15 minutes and not going back to sleep unless she nursed herself to sleep. Once a week she would sleep for 45-60 minutes before waking. My husband and I tried everything. Literally everything. Her pediatrician was baffled but did send us to a specialist for the autism diagnosis. We had an eight-month weight until our first appointment.

The meltdowns increased, her sensitivity increased. I was not able to go to the bathroom or to grab a cup of water without her going into a meltdown because I wasn’t holding her. Emma would panic if she didn’t feel completely safe and secure. It wasn’t her just demanding attention – she would lose the ability function. If anything was different or new – she felt insecure.

Meanwhile, Emma continued to wake up every 15 minutes, just like clockwork. Regardless of what we tried to do – regardless of how consistent we were with habits or what supplements we tried or how her environment was. There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a method of torture – I legitimately thought I was going to die from sleep deprivation. My husband suggested we try co-sleeping so I at least wouldn’t have to walk to the next room every 15 minutes to nurse.

Alternative Health Care and an Autism Diagnosis

Finally, after seven months of no one sleeping, we went to a friend of mine for help (why we didn’t go earlier I have no idea!) She has a health food store and uses Autosomal Reflexive Testing (which is a variation of Applied Kinesiology – more on this in an upcoming article!) Emma was put on some Homeopathy supplements. She needed Hylands Nerve Tablets, Ignatia Amara, and Ferem Phosphates to eliminate a virus she was battling. I gave her the first dose immediately. She slept the whole thirty-minute drive home – which had never happened before. Emma would scream from the moment she was placed in a car seat to the moment we took her out. After three days she was sleeping for three hours before waking. After a week she was sleeping for five hours before waking and would go right back to sleep.

With the exception of one episode of Strep Throat, Emma was very healthy and didn’t get sick apart from seasonal allergies. Granted, she was quite low on the growth charts – but we were seeing consistent growth. (Little did we know the damage that Strep bacteria did. She was so young we couldn’t see a massive amount of difference before and after the illness in her behavior.)

Being proponents of Self Led Weaning (she weaned at 14 months) and Delaying Solids, it was around 8 months of age when we would allow Emma to taste new foods. But she showed absolutely no interest to anything other than the baby melts. By 10 months she finally wanted to try a food – a lemon of all things. After that, she didn’t want to try any foods at all until she was just shy of a year old. That’s when her Nana convinced her to eat – a Cheese Puff. My heart sank, of course, the first actual food she likes would be something terribly unhealthy…

Emma was considered a Non-Verbal. That is, she spoke 5 words with any consistency. She used Jargon a lot – gibberish sounds in lieu of words. She could say: Mama, Daddy, Biscuit (our cat), Nana (my mom), and No. She could sign for “more” and displayed that she fully understood what we told her. Eventually, in her therapies she was tested – at 24 months she had the cognition of a 4-year-old. Her “output” and her social skills were delayed considerably. She would randomly say words – and say them correctly and display that she understood what they meant and how to use them in context, like the word Octagon. She could point to all the correct shapes, colors, numbers, letters, and over 50 animals. She would make animal noises – and knew appropriate noises for a great many animals.

Finally, her appointment with the child psychologist arrived – and to utter dismay it would be a series of visits over the next few months with various nurses, nurse practitioners and finally a ten minute visit with the actual doctor – and we received her diagnosis of Autism Spectrum, and what would have been called Aspergers (oh the frustrating changes in the DSM IV!) This opened the door to various therapies such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and food therapy.

Her meltdowns were intense. They could last HOURS. She would not be able to hear or see us, and she would not feel any pain. We would do everything that we could to keep her from hurting herself or others – and she would try her best to do just that. Emma would bang her head on surfaces, throw herself down – or worse off things. She would scratch her eyes and pull her face – or do the same to others. She would scream and thrash about like a wild animal caught in a cage. It was terrifying to behold – and even more so terrifying to realize that there was nothing that I could do to help her. She was hurting. She was afraid.

Being overstimulated sometimes feels like thousands of fingernails scratching at you – at every fiber of your entire being. All your senses are affected – sound becomes deafening and incomprehendible. Light becomes too bright while simultaneously your vision becomes blurred and tunneled. For a few brief moments its barely tolerable, and then when your body can’t handle any more – your systems crash into a meltdown.

A meltdown would make Emma “teeter-totter” to where it was as if her emotions were fragile and sitting on the edge of a blade. It would take the slightest bump to knock them off in either direction – either for calmness or for another meltdown. A major meltdown could send her nerves into such a state of agitation that she was affected by it for up to five weeks later – the entire five weeks be a series of meltdown chains. During a meltdown recovery period, we could do nothing except sit and rock, or sit and nurse, or sleep.

We wanted to partner up with professionals who viewed Emma the way we did – as a capable, brilliant child who has a great many strengths. We wanted to partner up with people who didn’t view Autism as a disease but as a unique way of processing information. Aspergers does indeed tend to have a great many pitfalls – but a great many blessings too. We just need to help Emma to learn how to navigate her sensory awareness and sensitivity, and how to understand that her emotions and thoughts do not necessarily convey what is true and real – though emotions are a great indicator of the heart.

After researching and trying out various therapies – we found an Occupational Therapist who eschewed ABA therapy (to our relief) and conducted Floor Time Play Therapy. She was such a great fit for our family – and so supportive of our passion for natural health care. She saw Emma as the brilliant child we saw too.

She displayed a large number of autism signs during the first year and a half. She would hand flap, squeeze her hands and shake all over when excited, and didn’t ever play with toys. Emma loved to organize things – she would spend HOURS taking the clothes out of her drawers and arranging them into piles. She loved to draw – but only a single shape – a Circle with a squiggly tail. If she was given grid paper, she would cover each square with this shape. She could sit and draw this shape for hours with fierce attention, the very action consumed her entire being.

Pandas and What We Have Found

Over a series of months, we noticed that there was a correlation between Emma’s very difficult weeks and her bowel. Research led me to be concerned about Pandas, but I had a hard time finding enough information about a child so young to be sure. I knew that we had a leaky gut issue, yeast overgrowth in the gut and that there was such a direct correlation between gut health and Autism.

But with her severe food sensory issues – I had no idea how to overcome her sensory issues. At this point, Emma only ate 12 things: Fruit melts, Goldfish, Club Crackers, Cheese Puffs, Fritos, Grapes, Blueberries, Apples, Banana, Strawberry, Chickfila Chicken Nuggets, and Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets. Regardless of our tactics to introduce healthy foods – even going so far as to refusing the yeast feeding GMO laden processed crackers and only offering healthy versions… but Emma could recognize even a change in Brand name by the taste. And she, unlike most children, will not give in and eat anything when hungry enough. We have tried. Her food therapist even noted that in her entire career she had only seen a COUPLE of other children who had the stubbornness to where they would rather starve themselves than eat something out of their comfort level.

As is typical with Pandas, the bowel will take on a chalky appearance. It becomes watery and very clay like in color. The odor is fouler than any “normal” diaper previously – it smells like a rotting carcass. During this attack, these watery diapers come out in a discharge so profuse and in such large quantity that no diaper is able to contain it all. Cloth or disposable – regardless of the brand. During these bouts, she becomes extremely violent and full of rage over the slightest sensory stimulus.

It was just after one of these episodes that Emma got a rather severe UTI. She refused to drink anything. I used a medicine syringe and would syringe her with water and Gatorade every 10 minutes. My Mom took her through the night and continued. We were trying to keep her from having to go to the hospital. But the next morning her diaper count was still terribly low and she was becoming lethargic. The hospital had to give her a catheter – and a dose of anxiety medicine because the stimulus was causing a massive meltdown. Twice in two months, we had this happen. Once, the hospital messed up and gave her a double dose of anxiety medicine – and had to watch her for a while to make sure she continued to breathe. Each time she was more and more traumatized by the catheter. It was so emotionally damaging that she would have meltdowns if we tried to change her diaper.

We decided the psychologist who had given the diagnosis was not a good fit for our family, so thanks to our wonderful occupational therapist we found a psychological counselor who has a heart for people with autism grow and flourish. He listened to our story and said that he is quite certain Emma had Pandas – especially with the way her violence correlated with the diapers. He was also very knowledgeable about MTHFR gene mutation, Pyroleuria, PTSD, and Porphyria – and other numerous issues that are in our family. What a tremendous relief it was to talk to a medical professional who understood these issues!  We discussed our options, and he was sympathetic to our desire to pursue holistic health care.

It was around this time that I had finished my Master Herbalist degree and was beginning my internship at the health food stores on the weekends with training in Autosomal Reflexive Therapy.

Therapy went well for the most part – food therapy was a bit disappointing, as Emma did not acquire many new foods. She did gain the confidence to try new foods occasionally (though not consistently) and she learned that she likes gummy bears and carrots. Occupational therapy is still going – and she is having a lot of fun playing games where she learns about taking turns, experiencing new textures, change in direction of play etc.  Speech therapy was helpful – having a new friend to interact with and play speech games with, a friend who wasn’t a parent or grandparent also seemed to make the game more appealing. Around the time she graduated, Emma had begun to use around 100 words consistently.

When her little sister, Faith, became big enough to play – this was transformational in Emma’s life. Faith taught Emma how to pretend and play with toys. Now, getting to be the “big sister” and help baby Faith has given her tremendous confidence and has encouraged her to push beyond her previous boundaries.

Over the last few months, I have been testing her consistently and finding out what nutritionally her body is needing. We have had such a remarkable turnaround in a short amount of time! Her vocabulary has blossomed – and so has her sentence structure. While we do still need to be mindful of what can overstimulate – her tolerance level has dramatically increased, as has her bravery in insecure situations.

She also has blossomed in her social skills – now she tries talking with other children, instead of completely oblivious to any game structure or social construct. She happily chatters with adults too and loves to create stories. She still is unsure of how to interact with children her own age, but she loves to watch them and in very confident situations will attempt to join in playing with them.

Unfortunately, the trauma from being catheterized has had lasting effects. She still panics during diaper changes – though considerably calmer than before. If we calmly talk to her about what is happening she handles it much better – but it is still terrifying for her. This has caused her to refuse to attempt any potty training. Which is frustrating – but we are patiently encouraging her growth and confidence. Maybe potty training Faith first will be helpful…

One other area we are still struggling in is in sleeping. She sleeps well – but she still relies on me to go to sleep and to stay in bed. We are in the process of transferring Faith to a big bed – after we get her used to sleeping in her own bed we will then be able to work more on helping Emma to learn. We are hoping that she will want to once she sees that Faith is doing it. And I have to remain in bed with her – if she wakes and can’t find me, she will panic. Panicking can QUICKLY turn into a meltdown.

She has come such a long way! But there is still such a long way to go – we still have to navigate our life based around her sensory needs, be extra cautious about how many activities or outings we do in a day, and with what could potentially trigger a meltdown. Meltdowns no longer affect us for many weeks at a time – now it is just hours at their most severe. We have not had any return of the massive and foul diaper episodes. When I notice her bowl SLIGHTLy become paler, I test her and find she is requiring an increase in dosing. Her behavior may be SLIGHTLY more agitated – but she IS HEALING. We praise God for His blessings in this, and for His provision of nutrients and Homeopathies to help her strengths shine. I am so excited to see how she progresses over the next few months.

I will elaborate on all the herbal supplements, vitamins, and homeopathic remedies I am giving her (in an upcoming article) 

I write this so that if you have a loved one who is on the spectrum or has Pandas to know that you are not alone in your experiences and that there is Hope. God is completely Sovereign over His Creation – even in Autism. There is nothing that happens that is outside the realm of His control, and He will allow only that which is for our sanctification and His Glory. We can rest in that!


Lamentations 3: 22-23 “The LORD’S loving-kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”




Five of the Top Game to Hunt in the Northeast

The northeastern states has hunting similar to what you would find in the southeastern region of Appalachia – deer, bear, etc. But it is also a fantastic place to hunt other game, like bobcat and the numerous waterfowl that migrate along the Atlantic Flyaway.

Hunting in the northeast region tends to be slightly different strategically than hunting in other regions. Old growth forests, reclamation timber, and orchards can be a little tricky. A lot of the timber project territories lack concentrated foodstuffs and the orchards can often lack bedding areas or undergrowth. The trick is to know your game species and their habits where you will be hunting.



The bobcat is a medium sized brown cat with black spots. Its coat will be more of a grey in winter. The ears are large with short tufts at the top and a short tail (hence the name) A bobcat is around two feet tall at the shoulders and can weigh up to forty pounds. They have excellent hearing and eyesight.

Bobcats are found all over the United States and even Canada and Mexico. There are only a few places in the Midwest where they are not typically found. In some areas their numbers are quite high – New Hampshire has a large bobcat population in the several hundred. They are known as the Ghosts of the Forest because these nocturnal hunters are so rarely seen by most people. So far, I’ve only encountered three in the woods.

They eat a wide variety of small animals including ground hogs, squirrels, moles, raccoons, skunks, rabbits, and even larger prey like deer. They can live in a variety of habitats including desert, mountains, farmland and even swamps. They will den in either a rocky crevice or a hollow tree. They don’t spend a lot of time up in a tree, though they can climb well. Bobcats can also swim, but would prefer not to.

Bobcats live primarily solitary lives and come together only for mating season which is in February or March. Then around early May the female will give birth to up to seven kittens. The kittens will stay with the mother for the first year. Bobcats can have a territory range anywhere from one mile to more than 35, this varies tremendously on the location. They mark their territory with scent markings, scat, urine, and scrapes. Scrapes are piles of debris and dirt that is marked with the cats scent.

Rabbits are their preferred prey, so look for rabbits when you are out hunting a bobcat. If you can see a place where a bobcat has made a kill, he will be close by. The first thing you should look for is tracks. It’s useless to try to hunt a bobcat who happens to be miles away on the other side of his territory. The tracks will tell you a lot about the cat you are hunting too. It will show you want sort of cover structure he prefers, the bedding type he likes, where he feels safe enough to cross roads and creeks, and even his hunting methods. Bobcats tend to follow the same paths – even the same paths that the previous territory owner used. These bobcat trails will be used for many generations.


Bobcats respond well to calls – even one that has just eaten. Some hunters swear by motion decoys too since the cats hone in on motion and are extremely curious. It’s advisable to stand up when you are calling with your back against a tree so you can scan a wider area with your eyes. Position yourself with rocks or brush to break up your outline, but don’t be IN any undergrowth – the bush moving around will give away your position. You want to pick a spot with good visibility but also close to really dense cover – bobcats don’t like going out into the open. Avoid using coyote calls, and if you see a coyote you probably won’t see a bobcat.


Bobcats are oblivious to human scent – it’s just your movement or noise that will scare them off.  So no matter what happens, just hold still. If you shoot and miss hold very still and try making a call with your mouth – more often than not the bobcat will be curious and hold completely still long enough for you to get a follow up shot.


Bobcats will stalk up to your range, they are known for creeping up and then standing completely still to determine the location of the call before moving in. It is easy to spook a bobcat – the key is to be completely still and patient. When you are sounding the call – make it sound as believable as possible. Don’t play a distressed rabbits call too loud or for too long. A 20-30 second interval with a few minutes in between is plenty adequate. And a rabbit squeal usually can’t be heard more than 70-80 yards away. After half an hour if you don’t hear or see anything, find your trail markings and move on another few hundred yards down the way and try again.



The eastern cottontail is the most common rabbit in the United States and they are found all over from southern Canada all the way down to South America. The eastern cottontail has brown-grey fur with lighter fur on its nose and underside. The tail of course is white as cotton. In the northeast there is also the New England cottontail, which looks very similar, but it has a black patch between its ears and is usually a little smaller.

Cottontails prefer the habitat that is just between the woods and the open land.  They can be in brushy undergrowth, fields, thickets and even swamps. They especially like briar brambles and honeysuckles. Rabbits eat a large variety of plants including grasses, clover, fruit, vegetables, twigs, and bark. They prefer the bark of dogwood, maple, birch and oak. They are mostly nocturnal and like the early morning hours.

Cottontails can leap an amazing 10+ feet and run up to 15 miles an hour.  They are highly territorial and live mostly solitary lives. When being chased by a predator, the cottontail jumps in a zigzag pattern to break up its scent trail.

Cottontails will mate between February and September. The female will build a nest in a sunken place in the ground and line with fur from her chest and other soft materials. The babies are born after just one month gestation and will have up to four litters a year. They are able to conceive just a couple of hours after giving birth.

Rabbits can be hunted with or without dogs. They can be taken with a bow, a .22 rifle, a pistol or a shotgun. Some people can hunt them with or without dogs. The rabbit will circle around their small home territory when flushed and run typically around a hundred yards or so and will eventually make their way back. Rabbits can’t stand to be out waited. So when you find a good location, walk through it slowly. For every dozen or so steps and then stop and pause for 20-30 seconds. Rabbits will think they are spotted and try to make a run for it. Shooting rabbits is a very fast paced hunt – there is no time to lead them and follow through. That means you need to have your gun at the ready with your trigger finger on the trigger guard.


The beaver is the largest rodent in North America. They can be up to four feet long and weigh over sixty pounds. He uses his tail to balance when gnawing on trees and to slap on the water as a warning when he spots a predator. They have a special membrane over their eyes that allow them to open their eyes in the water. Its dark brown fur is covered in Castoreum, which is an oily substance that helps the water to bead off of it.

Beavers are found throughout all of North America except for Florida, the desert and the far north of Alaska. They live near rivers, ponds, lakes, streams, and marshes. Beavers build dams, which are their homes made out of sticks on mud islands or on shores. They are dome shaped and can be over ten feet tall. The floor is just a little over the water level and is covered in wood chips to help soak up the moisture. It is complete with a front door, under the water, and vents to let in the fresh air.  Not all beavers build dams, some will burrow into the river banks.

Beavers eat tree bark and Cambium – which is the soft tissue that grows under the bark of a tree. They prefer bark of maple, birch, willow, aspen, cottonwood, poplar, beech, and alder. They eat roots and buds of water plants too.

Beavers live in tight nit colonies – or family groups. They are highly territorial and will protect their dams from other beavers. Mating season is from January to March in the cold regions and in the south it is in late November or December.  Beavers mate for life, and when one spouse dies they will find another. After about three months the female will give birth. Kits can swim within 24 hours of birth and are weaned after two weeks. Both parents take care of the young. Beavers will live to be around twenty years old.

Dams will have a positive and negative impact on the land. On the positive, it creates new wetland environments, which can slow erosion, foster new plant growth, and even purify the water. However, on the negative, they slow the flow of streams and cause silt to build up. This causes flooding in the low lying areas which is a big problem for agricultural areas.

Beavers are trapped, because you can’t shoot into the water due to the ricochet affect. In the late fall and early spring beaver are trapped in open water. During the winter, when fur quality is best, the traps are set through the ice. When setting a trap, make sure that the trigger is at the bottom to reduce fur damage. This also ensures that the beaver is killed quickly and humanely. There is a wide variety of traps available – please talk to local fur trappers to determine what works best in your area as some traps are better for certain geographies than others.


American Mink

The mink looks like a weasel, but is semi-aquatic, and is about two feet long. It has short stubby legs and a long neck. One third of its body length is its tail. The American Mink has brown to black fur with a white chin and throat. Its fur is waterproof thanks to its oily guard hairs. There are 15 subspecies in North America, and the differences are primarily noted in slight fur variations.

Mink are found in most of the eastern half of the United States and the northern states up through Canada and Alaska. They prefer forested areas near streams or bodies of water, in which they spend a lot of their time. Mink can dive up to 16 feet deep! However, they are not dependent upon a body of water and will spend a large amount of time foraging in wooded areas.

They also will dig a den into river banks or use an abandoned beaver or muskrat den. They also den in rock crevices or brush piles. Mink never use the same den for long. They eat muskrats, beetles, fish, birds, mice, frogs, chipmunks and will even sneak into chicken pens where the chickens are fairly easy (contained) prey. The American Mink will mate between January and April. There are three to six kits born in a litter. The kits will stay with the mother until fall, otherwise they are solitary.

Mink spray a foul smelling fluid like a skunk, only they can’t aim. Interestingly, they also purr like a cat when happy. They are highly territorial and the males will fight other males that invade their territory – even to the death. Mink are highly tenacious, and are able to kill animals much larger than themselves. They are predated upon by bobcat, coyotes, 03+owls, foxes etc.

Mink spend a lot of time traveling along the water’s edge, which is a great place to look for sign in the mud. Their prints are similar to otters but much smaller. They leave scat on prominent objects in their territory. Mink are hunted with traps such as the Coilspring, Jump Trap and Longspring.  These are used in either Blind Sets or Pocket Sets.


The grey fox and the red fox are the two common species in North America. They are crepuscular and prefer to hunt at night. Fox are highly territorial and will mark the boundaries of their territory with urine. They breed in February and March and the male is responsible for bringing food back to the den. Greys and reds don’t like the same type of territory. Reds will prefer open areas and farmland. Greys will be in wooded areas and orchards. Fox will steal newborn lambs and goats and will eat chickens out of a hen house. They are notorious for killing just for fun.

Grey fox are found as far north as Canada and down to the central and southwestern states all the way down to Venezuela. Unlike the red fox, the grey fox tends to avoid agricultural areas. They den in hollow trees, burrows, and brush piles. They will line their den with grass and leaves.  Its back is a grey speckled color, with rusty red on its tail base, flanks, and legs. Its muzzle is black and it has a black stripe that goes from its eye down towards its neck. It’s the only member of the dog family that can climb trees and will do so to evade predators. The face of the grey fox is more round and feline looking.

Red fox looks very similar to the grey, and is often misidentified. They are found in most of the United States except some areas in the southwest. It can be varying shades of grey and black on its back and a rust red on its tail, flank and upper legs. Red fox looks like they are wearing black boots. This is a key feature in helping you get the identity correct. They also have black tipped ears and a white tipped tail. Their face is more narrow and dog like than the grey.

Fox have an excellent sense of smell so make sure you hunt them with the wind to your face. Fox are hunted with calls and decoys. Decoy movement is key to success when calling if you are hunting in a group. The combo of decoy movement with calls reassures the fox that there is something small and furry that it can eat.

After you start off with the call of a rabbit in distress (or bird distress, especially chicken) it’s a good idea to switch to a fox in distress. Go through a few of these and change it out every few minutes. Once you spot a fox, take note of his behavior. If he is coming in strongly, mute the caller and watch the decoy go to work. If he is hesitant, or starts barking, play the canine puppy in distress sound. Some people hunt fox with dogs and some don’t.


Unique Game to Hunt in the Northeast


With the Atlantic Flyway right smack dab in the middle of the Northeast, it’s an excellent place for hunting migratory waterfowl. Also it’s a great place to hunt some of the great cold water coastal birds.

So get ready to hunt some Brant, Scaup, Eiders, Canvasbacks and Black Ducks this season!

Check out our article on Duck Hunting here.

Five of the Top Game to Hunt in the Northwest

In the northwestern United States, there are ample hunting opportunities and amazing landscapes. Bison, deer, bear, are all game species here. But the Northeast is also home to some really special game that should be on every hunter’s bucket list. In this rugged terrain of mountains, snow, and huge expanses of the wilderness there is opportunity galore for adventure.

Five of the Top Game to Hunt in the Northwest

Mountain Goat

These are members of the Bovidae family, they are closely related to gazelles, cattle, and antelopes – not goats. Both sexes have beards on their chins and horns. Mountain goats do not shed their horns. These black horns stand out in stark contrast to their white bodies. After about two years of age, you can count the rings on a goat to tell his age, much like counting tree rings. Both billies and nannies have horns though the billies horns grow with a greater curve. Older males coat will be more of an aged ivory or light khaki and will have a pronounced hump on their shoulders. Mountain goats will grow up to 180 lbs with the nannies being slightly smaller than the billies.

Mountain goats can be hunted in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Texas, and South Dakota.  Many states have relatively good odds for drawing a hunting expedition – especially when compared to species such as the Bighorn Sheep. There are over 100,000 mountain goats in the united states.

Mountain goats can live in extreme elevations – sometimes above thirteen thousand feet. In those areas, they are the largest mammal around. They stay in these high elevations in the summer, where the newly born kids will be protected from predators, and migrate to the lower elevations during the winter months. 

Mountain goats are best known for their agility. They can walk on narrow rocky ledges and scale extremely steep inclines. Their hooves have very soft rubbery pads on the bottom to help with their traction on the slippery rocks.  They eat grass, herbs, sedges, fern mosses, shrubs, and lichen. 

Just before breeding season in the fall, the males will compete for females. They don’t fight head to head like the Bighorn Sheep, but rather they stab each other’s flanks. It is easier to distinguish males from females during this time of the year because the males typically have dirt on their white fur from battle.

In most states, you have to enter a draw to win a permit to hunt a Mountain Goat. Make sure you pack lightweight gear that is weatherproof – you will have to be in some pretty remote areas to harvest this game. From November on, it will tend to be pretty rainy. But this late in the season will produce a much prettier winter coat.

Having a good set of glass will help you not only locate game but also to judge their horn size. Before you pull that trigger, make sure the goat is in a location where you can retrieve it – and it won’t go tumbling down a ravine in a suicide leap. When looking over the goats, look for a black gland at the base of the horns – only males will have this donut-shaped gland. The more mature males will have thick horns that nearly touch one another at the base. Trophy sized billies will have a fairly consistent mass up the length of the horn. 


Moose have a keen sense of hearing and smell. Their antlers actually amplify their hearing and can grow up to five feet across. They are the largest member of the deer family and the tallest mammal in North America. Moose are found in Alaska, the Northeastern states, and as far south as the Colorado Rockies. They prefer willow bogs, low hanging brush, and dense forest. Males can weigh just shy of two thousand pounds. Their coarse hair is hollow, which helps to insulate the animal and their front legs are longer which helps them to jump over fallen trees.

Mating season is in early fall. The females will call the males with scent and with a deep sounding call. The bull moose will fight over females and create threatening displays with their antlers towards other males.  Their fights involve a lot of pushing and rarely result in death unless their antlers get stuck together. After the mating season, their antlers fall off and are consumed by rodents for their calcium.

Their large size makes it difficult for them to survive in warm climates and they prefer to stay near large bodies of water that will allow them to cool off when overheated. Moose have poor eyesight and are most active at dusk and dawn. They are highly territorial. Moose will charge humans and can run 35 miles an hour – care must be taken when hunting them. 

The word “moose” is an Algonquian word for “twig eater”, which describes them well. Moose will browse through twigs and brush looking for food. They eat twigs, leaves, shrubs, and buds trees like birch, balsam, aspen, and dogwood. They also will eat some aquatic plants like water lilies. 

But for most hunters, the moose is once in a lifetime trophy game. When hunting remembers, spread in inches in the least reliable predictor of trophy quality. So pay attention to what you are looking at before deciding if it is worth your shot or not. Look for bulls with wide and tall palmations – which is the antler material in the paddles of each antler. Tall antlers score well because they are usually very wide. Tines, which are the points that come up from the base of the palm and run parallel to the nose are important to look at. You need at least two front points, preferably more. Each additional point on the perimeter of the antlers earns one inch of trophy score. They are only able to be counted if they are an inch or longer – so the little nubs worn off from rubbing don’t count.

Moose is a pretty difficult tag to draw. Utah has tags for purchase.  These can be anywhere from $5K to $15K, depending on the size of the antlers. When hunting moose – you get what you pay for. 

When on the hunt, remember that moose are extremely sensitive to weather. If it is slightly too warm you are not likely to see a bull at all on your hunt. Moose are rather solitary, sedentary animals and have a very large territory range – so you are not likely to see a large number of moose on a hunt.  On the positive side, moose, unlike other deer species, don’t bolt at the sight of a human. They tend to “wait and see” a moment before deciding what they will do. This gives you just the moment you need to size him up properly.

Grizzly Bear

In North America, we have two species of brown bear: the Kodiak, which is found only in the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago, and the Grizzly Bear. Grizzlies are found in Asia, Scandinavia, Europe, and Russia too. In North America, the Grizzlies used to be all over the western states, even in the Great Plains, and down into the deserts of Mexico. They have been extirpated from 98% of their original habitat. Populations are now in the Northern Rocky Mountains, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and the northern part of Idaho. Alaska has the biggest population in the United States.

Grizzlies will be found in wooded forests, tundra, alpine meadows, and alpine prairies. They prefer locations near rivers or streams. They are omnivores and their diet will vary tremendously. They have been known to eat seeds, berries, roots, grass, fungi, deer, elk, fish, dead animals, insects. They can eat up to three pounds of food a day.

A female grizzly will weigh around 800 lbs and a male can weigh 1,800. Grizzlies have a rounded face and a very distinctive hump on their shoulders. Their claws can be four inches long. While most are dark brown, some will be light cream and others black. In the lower 48, the term Grizzly is used in lieu of brown bear. This term comes from the grizzled appearance the long guard hairs on their back have due to the white tips.

While the grizzly is very solitary, they are not highly territorial. It is not too uncommon to see multiple grizzlies eating together in a place where food is abundant. After about three years a cub will leave its mother but will still stay fairly local.

There is a lot of controversy about hunting Grizzly and within recent years the laws have changed considerably – in some places back and forth. Make sure you double check your state’s laws before venturing out. Please remember, hunting, when done properly is one of the keys to proper wildlife management and species conservation.


Wolves are the largest member of the Canid family but have never been domesticated. There are technically three species and almost forty subspecies of wolf. The most common type is the Gray Wolf or Timber Wolf. They can grow up to 6.5 feet long and weigh 175 lbs.  The Red Wolf is a little smaller growing to be 5.5 feet long and 80 lbs and is critically endangered. The Eastern Timber Wolf is a threatened species and is only found near the in Canada where it is a protected species. Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Alaska allow wolf hunting. Interestingly, in 2016 further genetic testing has shown that these three are actually the same species and that the Eastern and Red are hybrids caused by Wolves breeding with Coyotes.  

The Alpha male and female are typically the only ones who will mate. They mate in late winter and nine weeks later will have a litter of up to eleven pups. All the adults in the pack will care for the pups and will regurgitate food for them after they are 10 weeks of age. By 6 months they have learned to hunt.  Around two years they are considered adults. Most wolves will live up to eight years in the wild. Wolf packs can travel up to twelve miles a day.

Wolves are highly social and will howl to communicate with their pack members. They also communicate through scent markings. Their behavior is quite similar to other dogs – they love to play. Wolves are highly intelligent and require good tracking skills to hunt. Interestingly, most of the wolves hunted in Idaho and Montana were killed by a hunter who just happened to have a wolf tag but was purposefully out to hunt some other game. Most hunters will track wolves with a pack of hounds or will trap them. There are only a handful of hunters in the country who consistently hunt wolves without those tools.

Hunting over bait will vary from state to state – so please check with your state before trying this. If you do hunt over bait – you need to make sure you are far enough away from it. Using calls is helpful when hunting this game. Wolves will respond at roughly the same distance as calling coyotes – which is about a mile or more if you are convincing enough. Even with calls, a lot of time needs to be taken in locating the roaming pack. Wolves are very suspicious – if they get a slight hint of your presence, they won’t come near. 

Packs are typically only about ten in number, though it isn’t unusual to have up to thirty individuals. Wolves will sleep during the day and hunt at night. They will eat up to twenty pounds of food in a single meal! They eat deer, rabbit, rodents etc. 

Hunting wolves is a highly debated subject. Wolves are a threat to farmers – they have been known to kill cattle and sheep. But the conservation groups are quick to point out how crucial the role of the predator is to the entire ecosystem. That’s why hunting is so vital to the species. The numbers are kept in check for the protection of the farmers, and to prevent the spread of weak genes and disease through the population. And the information from the hunters is invaluable for the conservation of the species. 


Caribou is a wild species of deer, one that has never been domesticated. They are related to pigs, hippos, giraffes, camels, antelopes, llamas, and other even-toed hoofed animals. Their brown coats will turn a grey hue in the winter. Caribou and Reindeer are the same species, Rangifer tarandus. However, you can still tell the difference. Caribou is found in North American and Greenland. Reindeer are slightly smaller and were domesticated in Northern Eurasia, while they are still some wild populations left, they are mostly considered a domesticated animal, and are herded by many of the arctic people groups who depend on them for every aspect of their lives. 

The males are significantly larger than the females. Both sexes will have antlers, though the males are much larger. They are the only deer species in which both sexes consistently grow antlers.  They use their forward-facing antlers to help dig in the frozen tundra, where their large hooves also help to dig for food. Their hooves also serve as helpful paddles when crossing the icy waters. 

Caribou are a migratory herd game animal. They have to keep moving to find an adequate supply of food and will cover vast distances during their migration. During the winter, they eat mostly lichens when there are fewer green plants. During the summer months, they enjoy birch, willow, grass, and sedge. 

Population density, predation by bear and wolves, and disease are a huge threat to the Caribou. Hunting is vital for the health of the species. While in some areas the herd size is being diminished, Caribou is being found in places that they have never been before. 

Mating season is in the fall and they will calve in the spring. Males will fight for access to the females. The dominant males may mate with up to twenty females in a season. He will stop eating completely and lose a significant portion of his weight. They will shed their antlers after the rut each year like other deer species. 

When hunting caribou, be prepared to make shots that are 300 yards away.  It takes a bit of patience when glassing out a herd to spot a choice bull. The Main Beams are the long part of the antler that comes out from the skull. It extends outwards and then back, and then curves forward again. It will usually show palmation at its upper portions. Shovels, or Brown palms, is the typically palmated antler that comes out from the main beam perpendicular to the bulls face. It can extend out as far as the nose. The rear point is the rear pointing spike that grows out of the middle of the main beam. Bez is the forward facing lower portion that comes off the main beam. They will branch into two or more fingers and often are palmated. Tops are the finger-like points that come up form the top of the main beam. 

Unique Game in the Northwest

Musk Ox

Musk Ox are massive, bovine animals that rather resemble a bison even with a hump on its shoulders. They are related to the buffalo, and to the Dall sheep, and mountain sheep. The coat is dark brown or black. They have a soft insulating inner layer of fur called Qiviut, under a coarse outer layer. These guard hairs can grow up to two feet long and they do not shed them. Both sexes have long horns which curve downward and then outward. Their thick fur makes them appear much larger than they actually are. Males can weigh up to 900 pounds and females 500 pounds. Mature males will stand 5 foot high at the shoulder. A 900-pound male will equal out to be a little over 300 pounds of meat. 

They are surprisingly agile climbers and one of the very few large mammals that are able to live year around in the arctic. They primarily feed on sedge, grass, and willows that are most often dried and buried beneath the snow. Calves are born only every two or three years. Within just a few hours the calves are able to follow their mothers back to the herd. Wolves and bears are the musk ox’s main predators. And though agile, they do tend to fall off cliffs or drown. The musk ox is also highly vulnerable to starvation. The Cows can live up to twenty years and males tend to die earlier due to the physical strain of fighting for females. When the muskoxen are threatened, they will form a fight circle or a crescent-shaped line of defense. They force their rumps together and face their horns outward.

This game animal can be found in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia, and Scandinavia. There are over four thousand muskoxen in Alaska and while game hunting is permitted, there are numerous laws in place pertaining to harvesting this game species.  

Mountain lions

There are an estimated 30,000 mountain lions in the western United States. They are also called Cougars or Pumas. Mountain lions are not actually closely related to lions, though called lions by Christopher Columbus, the puma is in an entirely different genus. Mountain lions are known scientifically as Puma concolor. They are in the subfamily felinae, rather than the subfamily pantherinae. They are the fourth largest of the cat species weighing in at over 200 lbs and measuring over seven feet long.

Mountain lions are extremely fast. They can jump to forty feet when running and leap fifteen feet up into a tree. They travel around ten miles an hour, sprint up to fifty, and can scale a twelve-foot fence. They walk silently – so silent that it is almost eerie, thanks to the fur on the bottom of their feet.

In the 19th century, a French naturalist coined the mountain lion the “Cuguar” which was a combination of two indigenous terms used to describe the Jaguar (which is a different species and overlaps widely with the Puma) and this term eventually became Cougar. Puma is a word in Peruvian Quechua that means “powerful animal”

The Puma has been called many other names. The Cree Indians called it “Katalgar”, meaning “Greatest of Wild Hunters” and the Chickasaw Tribe called it “Ko-Icto” which means “Cat of God.” The early American colonists used the term “catamount” or “panther”, or colloquial variant “painter.” The puma is also called Ghost Cat because of how rarely they are encountered, and when they are it is for a brief couple of seconds – they vanish in a flash. Even the biologists researching them in the Santa Cruz Mountains have said that it is extremely rare for them to see one in the wild.

In the southeast, the Florida Panther resides and is critically endangered with less than one hundred in number and is the subject of a pretty hot debate. The Eastern Mountain Lion is considered extinct and the Florida Panther is supposed to only inhabit a few small regions in the Florida panhandle. Also, there has been no officially documented black mountain lion. But a great many hunters have seen big cats in the east, me included. I have seen two black panthers and three brown, and know several other people personally who have encountered them.

Mountain lions are highly territorial a solitary animals. Males can have ranges up to five hundred square miles in some areas. It is not surprising that so few people have encountered them in the wild. They are secretive and extremely wary. The stealthy panther is quite possibly the most elusive game in North America.

Mountain lions are almost always brown. They are extremely quiet, until they scream. They do not have the ability to roar. While many animal rights activists are demanding that the Western Mountain Lion be moved to the endangered list – they are quite wrong. Their numbers are strong and the species is highly adaptable. They thrive in territories as far north as the Canadian Yukon and as far south as the Andes Mountains. They have the widest range of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere.


There are only a few states that allow panther hunting. Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota (for residents only), Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. In all states, it is  a requirement that enough tissue is left on the skin to identify the cats gender for documentation by officials. Make sure you prop the mouth open before rigor mortis sets up, the wildlife officials have to collect a tooth for research. Remember that spotted kittens and spotted kittens with their mothers are highly protected and must not be harvested.

When hunting for mountain lions, you need a good pack of dogs and its ideal to have a guide. Cougars have such a broad territory range that you can’t really set up over water and they won’t be baited. In most states, using electronic calls is illegal, but calling can occasionally work. The mountain lion tag holder must be present when the dogs are released and present at all times during the chase.

Using a guide is highly beneficial – it’s their job to know where the cats are most likely to be. And the guide will help you to find tracks using horses or snowmobiles with spotlights. Hunting mountain lion is a long ordeal. It can take hours of searching for tracks. Then you release the hounds onto the tracks for them to get the scent. The dogs run off in search of their quarry. You and your guide will follow along. Following the dogs can take hours as well. Once the dogs tree the cat you have to get their pretty quick or the cat may escape.


Five of the Top Game to Hunt in the Southwest

The Southwest is surprisingly varied in its diverse landscape – which offers a great many opportunities for a wonderful hunting trip. For many hunters, especially those of us in the Eastern part of the country, a Southwest Hunting Trip would be a dream come true simply because of how vastly different it is from anything we have over here.

You can spend time on the prairie looking for Pronghorn Antelope, or tracking Mule Deer through a canyon that looks like it’s straight out of an old Roy Rodgers movie. You can even be in a thick, wooded forest calling Elk. There are millions of acres of public land to hunt on in the Southwest – Colorado alone has 23 million acres. While there are a lot more game species available – here is a list of some game that you want to make sure you don’t miss!

Five of the Top Game to Hunt in the Southwest:

Mule Deer

Mule deer are common throughout most of the western states. They were named for their large ears that resemble a mule’s ears. The tails of mule deer are black tipped. They are much larger than the white-tailed deer – standing up to around three feet tall at the shoulder and weighing up to 300 pounds. Mule deer have excellent hearing and eyesight. 

Mule deer are highly sociable creatures. The does will stay in large multi-generation herds and the bucks older than yearlings will form their own smaller groups or stay solitary. In the fall, during the rut, males compete for dominance using their antlers as weapons. Gestation lasts for six to seven months and the fawns are born in the early summer. 

Mule deer are in high numbers particularly in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Arizona. Their behavior will vary a bit depending upon their location. The mule deer that lives in the grassland will behave a little differently than the mule deer who lives in the desert or mountains. This is important to know before you set out on your hunt. Body size and antler size can also vary a bit depending upon territory.

American Elk

The American elk is also known as “Wapiti,” a Native American word meaning “white rump,” which refers to the color on its hindquarters. Elk tends to get darker in the winter months. The American elk is some of the largest animals in the North American continent and can weigh over 1,000 pounds. The bulls can weigh more than twice that of the cows. They stand on average four or five feet at the shoulder.

American Elk is also highly social animals and live in gangs of up to four hundred members. The bulls loudly proclaim their status by bugling. The cows tend to be attracted to the loudest and most frequent bugles. During the mating season, the bulls will defend their harem from other bulls using their antlers that can weigh up to forty pounds. Elk can live up to twelve years in the wild and will gain three hundred pounds in the first year of life. 

During the breeding season, use the cow call for hunting this game species . It will attract both the herd and solo bulls. If you are just calling with the bull call, it can cause a bull with his harem to flee out of fear of a potential, larger bull. 

Elk hunting is also usually done at much longer distances than the average deer hunter is accustomed to. Some people average that sixty percent of shots were taken between two hundred or four hundred yards. It would be a wise idea to make sure you practice at this distance before going out on a hunt. 

Like other antlered members of the deer family, an elk’s antlers are covered in velvet. The elk’s antlers are the fastest growing antlers in the animal kingdom, growing as much as one inch per day. The velvet is a living organism that has blood pumping through it. This serves a purpose. The blood gets cooled before returning to the heart. It is theorized that this helps an elk to better regulate his body temperature. 

Be prepared to do a lot of walking when hunting this game animal. Their home range can be up to 600 square miles. Also, make sure you plan ahead. After you bring down this heavy creature, you will have to find a way to field-dress it, quarter it, and quickly get it to a cool environment and safely away from bears. 

As you are out walking on this elk hunt, blow the cow call occasionally to mask your noise level. A herd of elk will be much more likely to accept you like a cow and not a hunter. This strategy works during the fall since the cows and calves are chattering a lot.

It is a good idea to be able to distinguish rack size in a flash. When a bull reaches two or two and a half he will have a five-point rack. But just the next year he will have a six-point rack. The dagger is the longest point. If the main beam goes straight back from the dagger its a five-point elk. If there is another point going up behind the dagger its a six-pointer. 

Pronghorn Antelope

The Pronghorn antelope is a beautiful game animal standing about three and a half feet tall. They can weigh up to one hundred and fifty pounds. Pronghorn are reddish brown with white stomach, and some white patches on the throat and face. They have very large eyes that can see 320 degrees around. When startled, they will raise their hair on their rump – this white patch can be seen for miles and serves as a warning to the rest of the herd. 

Fun fact: Lewis and Clark were the first ones to scientifically document Pronghorn Antelope.

The breeding season begins in September. The bucks have gathered their harems and seek to protect them from other bucks who want to wage battles of dominance. The fawns are born in the spring. Does will keep the fawn hidden until he is old enough to join the others in the “nursery” where a group of mothers watch over them. Males will not breed until around three years of age. Pronghorns can live up to fifteen years in the wild. 

Pronghorn can be found throughout western and central North America. They prefer grassland regions but will also be found in the desert. They eat all manner of plants, even cacti. 

During the rut, the bucks are abnormally curious and extremely territorial. This is what makes the young buck decoys rather effective. You can also hunt them without decoys – often hunters will crawl up to a herd and take their pick. Trophy status horns begin around 16 inches. To help you gauge this from a distance, the buck’s ears measure just slightly under six inches.

You need to find a buck whose horn base is at least as massive as the circumference of his ear. The mass needs to be sustained up the horn and well past the prong too. By culling the herds of these older bucks, the younger ones have a better chance at mating. This helps to diversify the gene pool and to weed out the older more potentially defective genes.

Pro tip: find a fence. Antelope don’t like to jump fences and you can use that fence as a border to help predict the herd’s movements. 

Bighorn sheep

There are only two species of wild sheep in North America with large horns: Dall Sheep and the Bighorn, of which there are three living sub-species. Bighorn sheep are gregarious creatures. Most often they will form herds of around ten individuals, but they can form massive herds of up to one hundred.

The rams will form their own herds that stay apart until mating season. Around two years old, males will leave the mothers group and wander around in search of a ram group. Since they are so sociable, this is a difficult time for rams and it is not unusual to see a young ram in a herd with another species out of loneliness until he finds a suitable herd of rams.

Rams have massive horns that curl back around their ears and up again past their cheeks.  By the time a ram is seven, his horns will have a full curl and can be thirty-three inches in length and can weigh over thirty pounds. Rams can weigh more than three hundred and fifty pounds. Ewes are smaller, only weighing up to two hundred and fifty, and can have small horns. Bighorn sheep have excellent eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell. Horns are used by both sexes for eating and for fighting. They fight by ramming their heads together at speeds of up to forty miles an hour. The sound can be heard a mile away.

Bighorn sheep live in the western mountain ranges of North America. They can climb steep terrain – though not quite as agile as the mountain goats. They can travel on ledges only two inches wide. These sheep are a very important food source for many natural predators. They browse on clover, grass, sedges, willow, sage, holly and even cacti. 

Sheep are Ruminants, meaning they have a complex four-chambered stomach that allows them to eat large portions of grass very quickly before they have to quickly retreat to ledges where they will digest their food. The sheep absorb moisture from grass and can go a long period without drinking water. 

The Bighorn sheep is an excellent example of the vital role the hunter plays in conservation. By 1900 the population had diminished to only a few thousand, and one of the subspecies was driven to extinction. Thanks to the conservation movement started by President Roosevelt, the Bighorn sheep is doing better. They are still under threat – particularly by the lack of separation between the wild bighorns and the domestic sheep and goats. 

It is hunters, not taxes, that pay for bighorn sheep conservation and the restoration efforts. The funds come from the tags and hunting license. At the Wild Sheep Foundation’s convention each January, hunting permits are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Most of these go for over $100,000. This is for a SINGLE hunting permit. That is enough to recover 10 sheep into an area that hasn’t seen a wild bighorn sheep in decades. That’s a lot of money going to secure the survival of the species! The older males are the ones targeted. They are at the end of their reproductive lives and are the most susceptible to illness. Harvesting these older rams is healthy for the entire herd. 

Barbary Sheep, Aoudad

The Barbary sheep are an aggressive, invasive species that is a serious threat to the bighorn sheep and mule deer because of competition for food vegetation. They are also a threat to the wheat farmers – though not currently listed as significant agricultural pests. However, if you ask the wheat farmers in the Southwest, there are a great many stories of how damaging the aoudad is to the crop. These sheep are native to North Africa and were introduced to Texas and New Mexico in the 1940’s. There, they have flourished. 

 They can grow to over three feet tall and over three hundred pounds. Barbary sheep are brown in color and get darker with age. The rams horns grow upwards and backward and get can twenty inches long. 

Barbary sheep can be difficult game to hunt because you will most likely have to walk up and down hills and take a long shot. However, not only is it extremely beneficial for the environment to harvest these sheep – it can be an opportunity to bag a sheep for the average hunter. While the hunter’s dream may be to be able to bag a Bighorn, for most hunters that is just simply out of the price range to even enter the high stakes drawing. But a Barbary sheep can offer a similar hunting experience. That’s why Barbary sheep is quite possibly the most underrated big game trips in the country. 

Unique Game in the Southwest

Mountain lion

Mountain lions can be found throughout the United States, but for conservation purposes, they can only be hunted in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, the Dakotas, Utah, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, and Oregon. South Dakota only allows residents to hunt these cats. In most states, using electronic calls is illegal. Spotted kittens or females with spotted kittens are highly protected.

Mountain Lion hunting is vastly different from other types of game animal hunting. You have to use dogs. Cougars are not baitable and you cant set up a stand near water to wait for them. You have to go to an area where cats are known to be, scout for tracks (which can take hours and involve a lot of traveling) and get the dogs on his scent. It can take hours more at this point too. Once the dogs tree the cat, you must get to the tree before it escapes. It is best for most hunters to go with a guide on a mountain lion hunt.

Five of the Top Game to Hunt in the Southeast

Growing up in rural northeast Alabama; hunting and fishing were an integral part of life; as natural as breathing. Nearly every pickup you saw had a hunting rifle or fishing pole behind the seat. And it wasn’t uncommon for kids to run into the classroom late because of spending the first light of morning out in the woods – still dressed in their camo and smelling faintly of doe urine.

For Southerners, hunting is more than a tradition or past-time – it is a part of the people, almost as much an arm or a leg. Hunting in the South is, in part, a fierce pride in being able to provide food for your family and with your own hands. It’s a beautiful song where the hunter works with the land by responsible wildlife management practices, tracking and “readin’ signs” are all a part of the harmony. For hunters in the South – the land they own and work is almost like a precious member of the family.

The Southeast, particularly in the ridges of Southern Appalachia, is world renown for its prime hunting habitats and pristine conservation environments. Within a relatively small area, you can encounter hardwood forest, pine woods, wetlands, limestone caves, and swamps. The South is the most biologically diverse region in the entire United States. Home to the raccoon, opossum, waterfowl, cougar, bear, deer, fox, bobcat, rabbit, and weasel. Not to mention some of the rarest salamander and minnows in the world.

Five of the Top Game to Hunt in the Southeast:

White-Tailed Deer

Are by far the most common game animal to hunt. The White-tailed deer are all over North America – its range is from Canada down to Peru. They are one of the widest distributed hooved animals in the world. They are timid creatures, with a keen sense of smell and hearing.  Their night vision is much better than ours, but they don’t see extremely well during the daylight hours. Their eyes can’t see green, orange, or red – it appears as hues of grey. Bucks can weigh up to 300 lbs and does up to 200. White-tailed deer are very fast, running up to 30 miles an hour.

During the spring summer months, a buck will grow a set of antlers. During these months, the antlers are covered in velvet. This velvet is a living tissue that supplies blood to the antlers. During the summer, their fur takes on a reddish hue, while in the winter it becomes grayish. In the fall, around September, the velvet is rubbed off. Just in time for mating season, called the Rut. On each antler can grow a number of points, or “tines.” The number and length of the points can help to determine a buck age. Nutrition and genetics do play a factor in their antler build too, however.

White-tailed deer are crepuscular, meaning they are most active around sunrise and sunset. They can live alone or in herds. Typically, a deer will only have a home range of around a square mile. Does will be pregnant during the winter and fawn in late April or early May. The Fawn are born with white spots that disappear after a couple of months. Fawns are able to run within 24 hours after birth and are weaned around 6 months. They typically will stay with the doe until she has another fawn. Around 18 months of age, a doe will begin mating. Her first fawn will be a single birth around. But each season after, she will give birth to twins.

A white-tailed deer can live up to 11 years old in the wild, though many don’t live past the age of 5. They have been known to eat up to 600 plant species. Their four-chambered stomach allows them to eat vegetation that is very difficult to digest, including several varieties of mushrooms that are poisonous for humans to consume.

When tracking white-tailed deer, remember that they prefer to feed at dawn and dusk. They like to bed down near a source of water. White-tailed deer are extremely cautious, if they detect human scent on some underbrush days after the hunter was there, they will avoid the area for weeks.

Wild Turkey

This upland bird species is easily the second most hunted game in the Southeast. Adult Toms can weigh as much as 30 lbs and the Adult Hens weighing around 12 lbs. Despite their weight, turkeys are agile fliers. Their legs can be a reddish yellow to a greyish green hue. The body can vary in color from a copper to a brown, with the adult Toms pattern becoming more varied as he ages. Adult Toms also has red waddles on his throat and his reddish head. Tom turkey’s head will change color, depending upon his mood. His head is covered in carucles, which are fleshy growths. The long fleshly growth over his beak is called a snood.

Wild turkey prefers a habit that is either primarily hardwood or a mix of conifer and hardwoods that have occasional openings into a pasture, field or even occasionally a marsh. They seem to prefer woods filled with white ash, cherry, oaks, and hickory. The wild turkey is omnivorous. They eat not only a wide variety of seeds, berries, and nuts (pine nuts, hickory, hazelnut, acorns, chestnut etc) but also insects, lizards, and even snakes.

There are four major sub-species of Wild Turkey in North America (seven total, technically, including a hybrid.) Two of these sub-species are found in the Southeast. Eastern Wild Turkey lives in the eastern half of the country as far north as Maine and as far south as northern Florida. Some Eastern Wild Turkey can be found as far west as Missouri. They can get up to four feet tall and weigh as much as 30 lbs. The Osceola Wild Turkey, which is the smallest of the North American sub-species and weighs only an average of 16 lbs. It was named after the famous Seminole leader Osceola.

Eastern Wild Turkey are very prone to getting leery if they hear the same turkey calling over and over. So when scouting, especially prior to Opening Day, try to use a Crow Call or a Barred Owl call – these turkeys will gobble up to just about any sort of call prior and you don’t want them getting used to the sound of your turkey call.

Hen’s don’t like another hen talking to her tom. Sometimes you will need to call in your hen, and the tom will follow her – mimic her call, only a little more aggressively and see if she will come right on up to you.

Wood Ducks

Are the most stunning of the North American waterfowl species and are extremely abundant in the Southeast. They are a medium sized, perching duck and smaller than a mallard. Both drakes and hens have a crested head. Drakes are iridescent chestnut brown and green with distinctive white, in contrasting markings, and red eyes.  Hens are a muted brown and grey with an elegant white pattern around the eye. Unlike most ducks, they have sharp claws which help them to perch in trees. They are extremely agile fliers and excel at weaving in and out of trees – which makes them difficult to hunt.

Wood ducks prefer a habitat of wooded marshes, sloughs, forested backwaters, creeks, shallow inland lakes, beaver ponds, and wooded swamps. Mainly, they prefer primarily deciduous woodland and places where large trees overhang the water. If there are too few natural wooded cavities in which to nest, they will happily nest in a wooden nesting box.

Wood Ducks forage in the water by taking food from the surface, a technique called Dabbling. They will also submerge to feed completely underwater, and will also forage on land. They eat primarily seeds and aquatic plants but will also eat insects and crustaceans. In some regions, waste grain is a preferred food source. Wood Ducks love acorns – which gives them a very earthy taste.

The Wood Duck has a brilliant display of courtship that highlights the drake’s colorful plumage. There is an average of 9-15 eggs laid per brood, and they are the only North American duck to have two broods in a single season. The hen will stay with the young and watch over them until around six weeks. Wood Ducks will “egg dump” occasionally. This is when the hen will lay eggs in another hens nest. Some hens will catch on to this trick and will destroy the dumped eggs. The ducklings will remain in the nest only for a single day. The morning after they hatch, the young will climb up the ledge and jump to the ground – where their light fluffy bodies allow them to bounce for safety.

When decoying this waterfowl, make sure that you use ONLY other Woodies.  While other duck species will decoy with mallards, wood ducks prefer their own species. They tend to be hard to decoy – they don’t like to veer far outside the destination they already have in mind. They are extremely location oriented birds. So Scouting beforehand is key to a successful hunt. Don’t bother with the usual “C” or “J” decoy formation – just a light spread of a dozen or so.  Motion is critical to a wood duck decoy spread.

American Black Bear

The American Black Bear is widely distributed and is the smallest of the North American Bears. They are the worlds most common bear species, some biologist claim that the black bear is twice as numerous as any other bear species. Interestingly, black bears are not closely related to polar bears or brown/grizzly bears. They are more closely related to sun bears and Asian black bears.

Black bears prefer territories that have a lot of dense undergrowth, and what would normally be considered inaccessible terrain as well as a forest with a large number of oaks and hickory.

The skull of the black bear is wide and has a narrow muzzle. Males tend to have wider set faces than females. Their feet can be up to 9 inches long. Their weight will vary greatly depending upon the season of the year, for example, in the fall their weight will be 30% more than it is in the spring.  Adult males will typically weigh between 125-550, and the largest recorded weighed just over 1,000 lbs. Despite their name, only around 70% all black bears have black fur. Some can be white some brown and some in between.

Even though they are a very large animal, they can run quickly – up to 30 miles an hour. Black bears are extremely intelligent. They have an excellent hearing ability. Their sense of smell is seven times greater than that of a dog. They can be active any time day or night but tend to do most of their foraging at night. American black bears tend to be extremely territorial, with a dominant male getting his choice of feeding locations.

They will feed on acorns, hazelnuts, berries, yellow jackets, bees, ants, larvae, trout, catfish, just about anything they can forage. While there are records of black bear hunting deer it isn’t very common.  They tend to be solitary animals, except for sows with cubs. Two is the most common number for cubs, but a female can have up to 6 in a litter.

While American Black Bears don’t hibernate in the true sense, they do reduce their metabolism drastically for a few months. Here in the Southeast, it tends to be about 3 months.

A lot of hunters will bait a black bear, in the states where it is legal. Baiting gives you the opportunity for a better identification as to the age and health of the bear. Some hunters bait with trail mix and a few pastries like honey buns or twinkies. Just don’t feed them chocolate – it is toxic to a bear just like it is to a dog. Set your bait up where the bear will have to go through some thick cover to get to it. Also, make sure it is near water.

Also, keep in mind that you want your tree stand to be about 15 feet away and about 15 feet high with dense vegetation behind you. Any higher and you’ll be less likely to get that double lung hit. Your goal is not only penetrating both lungs but to also have an exit wound. The exit wound is important for getting him dropped quickly, humanely, and safely.

Mourning Dove

Dove hunting is a highly social event – whole families will gather in the field to enjoy a day of shooting, picnicking, and fall weather. Mourning doves are slender-bodied birds with tiny heads that fly very quickly when startled – up to 55 mph.  They have a long pointed tail, which is a unique trait with North American dove species. While there are a number of other dove species in the Southeast, they will not be discussed in this article. Mourning doves coloring will vary slightly depending upon the region. They can be a light dainty brown to a greyish tan overall with a few black spots on the wings. They live all across the continental United States and they are the most abundant game bird in the country. You can even find mourning doves in the desert, which is due to their ability to drink water with a saline content as high as sea water and not become dehydrated.

During courtship, the male will fly up noisily, and glide in a circular pattern. This is followed by a chest feather display on the ground. During the mating season, you will often see mourning doves fly in a line of three. The first one is the mated male, followed closely by a rival unmated, male. The rival is attempting to run the mated male away. The third is the mated female, who is just along for the show. In warmer regions, a mourning dove can raise up to six broods a year – which is far more than any other native bird species in the country.

When a mourning dove feeds, he is swallowing seeds as fast as he can. These seeds get stored in a special pouch in their esophagus called a crop, along with a few pieces of gravel. Once the crop has been filled the dove will fly to a perch and digest it. They have to consume 20% of their body weight a day in food, which is roughly 70 calories.  The record for the most seeds stored in a crop is a little over 17,000 blueberry seeds. Seeds make up for 99% of the mourning doves diet.

Doves are creatures of habit, which make them a great game to hunt. You want to scout out a place that is between their food source (such as a harvested field, preferably sunflower or corn) and their water source.  Doves respond well to decoys, just set out a few stationary decoys and you’ll be set.

Using a modified choke is a wise move when dove hunting. Most hunters give the birds a long lead – by about 6 feet, which ends up being about 6 inches of a gap between the front of your barrel and the bird. If the bird is flying away from you, let the bird appear to be floating on the top of your barrel before you shoot. And if the dove is coming in for a landing, wait until your barrel just hides the bird before you pull the trigger. Remember, a proper shotgun mount is critical to shooting well.

Unique Game in the Southeast


An American alligator can grow to an impressive 13 feet long and 800 lbs. They are typically black or a deep olive green with a light colored underside. There have not been any reliable records kept for how long an alligator will survive in the wild. The oldest in captivity is 80 years old.  Although alligators walk rather slowly, they can leap, climb, and run quickly on the dry ground.

American alligator can be found along the coast in the Gulf of Mexico and South Carolina. They prefer freshwater environments such as ponds, swamps, backwaters and can thrive in brackish waters as well. In Louisiana especially, alligators have been rather beneficial ecologically since they feed on the coypu and muskrat both of which have caused extensive damage to shorelines.

Remember to bring soap and a squeeze bottle of water with you. Alligator tend to have bacteria on their skin and you don’t want to get any in a cut or on your food. Hunting gator can be a safe sport – if done correctly. Below is a short synopsis I have compiled of how to conduct a safe gator hunt. Amazingly, a .44 mag if shot to the head of an average 10-foot gator will not kill it – only spray lead and bone up. They are incredibly designed creatures with a thick armor-like skin. Gators are exceptionally good at hiding – you would think that a 10-foot long creature in a relatively small body of water would be easy to spot. But it’s quite the opposite. Gators are stealthy, and they can remain unseen when they choose to.

Hunting alligator is typically done with first casting a rod and hooking one. Don’t pull to set the hook – almost always the hook doesn’t penetrate and jerking it will make the alligator go a little crazy. Then a harpoon pole (with a dart line, attached to a float) and a bangstick are used to bring in and dispatch of the large gator. You want to harpoon him in the back of the head, thick part of the tail, or neck. Never in the head or back. The harpoon needs to be thrown or heavily jabbed. You can’t just push it in.

Never keep a loaded bangstick in your boat – always wait to load it when the gator is thoroughly exhausted from wrestling with the line and harpoon. It must be shot underwater and it must be to the back of the head. If you hit the top of the head, or not in enough water, you will spray bone and lead everywhere. You will know it is a thorough shot because you will see blood and you gator will drop limp.

This isn’t the end! Now, the real work begins. You have to find a way to get the gator out of the muck. Sometimes this has to be done with a wench and steel cables or a tractor! Pulling in a massive gator is as much a mental challenge as it is an immense physical one. Each gator hunt will be different.

One common method is this: You have to use your gaff and hook him under the bottom jaw to bring him in. If he starts to fight, pull out the gaff and use the bangstick again. Once you have him in close, pin him to the boat with his belly out and secure his jaws with electrical tape. Then use your knife to cut into the neck at the back of the head and sever the spine.

Important to remember to place your tag on the tale just as soon as you have him completely dispatched and secure.  Make sure he is dead and tied up securely before bringing him into your boat. A gator wallowing around can sink a boat quickly.

It’s very important to make sure his hide stays clean. Bug spray, oil, gas etc can damage it. Also, it’s good to bleed your gator for improving the taste of the meat – if you place his head in and then roll the body on his side it will help to bleed him.

Honorable Mentions

Feral Pig

The wild boar or feral pig has become quite a detrimental nuisance in the Southeast. Pigs will destroy a well-maintained farmland in no time. Hunters often find acres and acres of land utterly destroyed by pigs. In some areas, farmers will pay hunters to reduce the number of pigs from their land. They are highly aggressive animals that breed rapidly. There are over 5 million feral pigs in America. Some scientists speculate that 70% of the population needs to be eradicated in order to prevent further growth.

Wild boar is an invasive species, their numbers and territory range have increased rapidly over the last 50 years.  They are also causing a lot of trouble with native species – killing fawn, destroying nests, and even killing young domestic livestock. Wild boar are host to at least 20 parasite worm species, many of which can infect humans too.

Wild boar are incredibly strong and agile. They can dig 10 cm into frozen ground and flip rocks weighing over 100 lbs. They have long protruding canine teeth that can be up to 5″ long. Adult males can weigh an average of 250 lbs and can jump an amazing 5 feet. The largest on record is from Alabama. It was over 9 feet long and weighed over 1,000 lbs.

Feral pigs feed on roots, tubers, rhizomes, bulbs, seeds, nuts, berries, earthworms, insects, leaves, bark, bird eggs, lizards, frogs, and even carrion and garbage. Pigs will eat just about everything.

Texas, Florida, and Louisiana are top places to hunt wild hogs. Wild boar are notoriously aggressive and hunting them is dangerous even for experienced hunters. Using predator calls is a good way to bring them out into the open – they are always ready for a fight. Another way of bringing them out is to play recordings of piglets in danger. Sows are very protective. It is a wise idea to invest in a kevlar vest for your hunting dog – a tusk can kill a dog in the blink of an eye.

Pigs prefer dawn and dusk but will venture out at just about any time. They prefer to travel around in small groups called Sounders. They have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, but their eyesight is relatively poor. Even the sound of a hunter clicking his safety off can be enough to spook a hog.

The vital target area on a pig is much smaller than that of a deer – and you need to have enough distance to be able to do a follow-up shot… or three or four. Pigs have a lot of energy and many hunters find it is hard to drop them on the first shot. One professional hunter, Jim “The Hogfather” Matthews, who publishes the California Hog Hunter Newsletter, has been quoted in saying “Imagine a 700 lb elk compressed into the body of a 250 lb animal” – you’re going to want some heavy duty ammo. One of the most important things about hog hunting is accuracy in shooting. Accuracy is everything in hog hunting, you can’t be a little close and call it good enough.