Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Do Deer See...Really?

It's the last week of August and we are already witnessing the first invasion of cooler air into the majority of the nation.  The grip of summer is beginning to loosen in the northern hemisphere.  With equinox coming next month, we will begin to see very crisp mornings and deer season right around the corner.

Doe at NightAs we have begun our preparations for the season, I began wondering how well do deer actually see.  I mean what do they really, really see?  First of all, deer see nothing like humans.  Their pupils can dilate much larger than ours. They have way more rods in the make up of their eyes than humans.  Which is why they see so well in low-light situations.  To a deer, a starless cloudy night, is like noon time to us.  On the other hand, we have the advantage when it comes to color and the number of cones in our eyes but don't get too excited.

The short of it is that while our eyes focus on very specific things and are not focused on objects in our peripheral vision, deer's eyes have the same focus through their entire field of vision.  In other words, a deer doesn't have to be looking directly at you to see you or your movement.  In fact, their eyes are built to detect movement so well that they have an uncanny knack for ducking when an arrow is fired at them.

Video Courtesy of Bass Pro 1Source and Dr. Grant Woods

Unlike predators, Deer do not have binocular vision.  Their eyes are set on the sides of their heads giving them roughly 300-310 degrees of vision.  This fact coupled with their lack of focus gives good reason why they bob their heads up, down, left and right to try to get a better handle on what they are viewing and if it is a threat or not.

When it comes to color, deer really see only two colors expertly.  They see Blue, Violet and UV rays very well which is the type of light that is prevalent very early and late in the day.  They do not pick up colors in the Red spectrum. But don't forget that while they do not see those colors well, they see movement better than you or I regardless of what color you happen to be wearing.

This brings up an interesting question, which cammo works the best?  Cammo is made for all sorts of situations.  But the truth is, deer cannot detect depth in a pattern even if they tried.  They struggle to view in 3D.  You want to be careful of patterns that contain a lot of Grey and White.  Both of those colors reflect Blue and UV light.  Patterns that contain dark Brown, Tan and Black are best to stay concealed.

Another interesting note is that some detergents include UV Brighteners.  This is like taking a bucket of blue paint and splashing it on your $100 cammo outfit.  Check the pic below.  Notice the Blue from detergents on the right and how the Orange turns to Brown or Grey, which is how a deer sees the world.: 

Courtesy of QDMA.COM
The real trick is being motionless.  Waiting to move at the proper times will likely be the difference in success or failure.  Face-paint and cammo gloves can go a long way to remaining undetected.

All of the information for this article is due to the incredible research done by Dr. Karl V. Miller and Dr. Bradley Cohen.  Reference links are provided below:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Swincar Spider Electric

Every so often, I come to this article completely geeked-up, out-of-my-mind excited about a product, a gadget or new off-road vehicle.  So, you can imagine that if I could combine all three of those categories, I would be almost in orbit, right?  It's true, I am writing this from space!

The Swincar Spider Electric is a complete re-think of all-terrain mobility.  With independently working "legs" which have independently motorized wheels, this chair transcends anything I have ever seen in the electric cart, chair, scooter arena for off-road functionality.  The seat remains vertical to the ground by its swinging design giving the rider much greater control and less worries of tipping or flipping.  Check the video below:

At the time of the writing of this article, three models are offered with the only real difference being the output of the motors.  According to their website, Swincar is in the process of producing a two-seated version and also one with a joy-stick control for the mobility impaired.

The chair has a listed battery life of about 4 hours of non-stop action.  I am certain that this time frame is a variable depending on driver body weight coupled with the type of terrain.  For example, I wouldn't be shocked if the batteries would not last as long if you ran this hard at the beach or in muddy conditions.

Prices were not included on their website and there seems to be an application process.  Sorry, Google translate can only do so much - Oui?

But, I can definitely see this as something comparable for the mobility impaired to the QuietKat for able bodied hunters.  Both are electric and quiet.  Both can handle tough terrain with the Swincar handling super tough terrain probably better than it it's 3-wheeled competitor.

Thanks to the French for Croissants, Begneits (pronounced:  Ben-yays) and Swincar!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Obstacles Are There To Be Overcome

Any adventure begins in the vast landscape of our own hearts and minds.  Traveling, fishing and hunting are marvelous activities that also provide limitless obstacles to overcome.  The task can seem daunting at times for the able bodied outdoorsman, let alone someone who may be limited in their ability.

More times than not, the human heart finds itself with more questions than answers.  We yearn to indulge in the beauty that raw nature can provide while struggling with the limitations that at times seem insurmountable.  "Can I really do it?"  "Am I enough?"  These are just a couple of the questions we find ourselves attempting answer in the bowels of our own psychology.

I want to encourage you.  We all struggle from time to time.  Those who are able bodied as well as those who are not.  We have all found ourselves scratching our heads at some point in our lives over the person who is staring back at us in the mirror.

I will tell you a secret….ready?  The moment you embrace the challenge and are willing to risk everything to overcome it, is the exact moment your heart will come alive.  Your soul will be filled with exhilaration and passion.  You will hear shouts of victory erupting from your body and maybe even some tears will be shed as well.  Nothing can match the sheer exhilaration of beating the odds, of doing exactly what everyone else (maybe you included) has deemed impossible.

Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first men to ever climb to the summit of Mt. Everest on May 29th, 1953.  When the news media asked Hilary why he and Norgay had climbed to the top of the world’s tallest mountain risking their lives along with their fingers, noses, and toes, the story goes that Hillary replied, “Because it was there.”

Get back out there!  Why?  Because it’s there!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Time Is of the Essence

Depending on where you live, deer season is either upon us or quickly approaching.  For instance, bow season in California started in July.  For the majority of the country, it lands somewhere around October.  For this reason, I wanted to write an article focused on a bit of a checklist of what needs to be done while still leaving time for a quiet period before the beginning of your season.

I am going to start from the outside and work my way in to your stand to get us through the necessities.  The first item to discuss is completely outside your hunting's you. You stink... and so do I!  Scent control is premium as you prep your hunting area.  Just think about the fact that this patch of land hasn't had much human scent in it for months and now all of a sudden, there it is.  Ever wondered how deer seem to magically know it's hunting season?  Doe urine (non-estrus) is a very inexpensive and easy way to mask your scent.  It has a very calming effect on deer. It is a signal of sorts to other deer that everything is ok.  If you can walk, spray some on the soul of your boots.  If you are in a wheelchair, DON'T SPRAY IT ON YOUR TIRES!  There is a product called Nose-Jammer that you can spray on your tires to mask your scent and stop your wife from shooting you!

You should be planning your entrance and exit routes based off of the winds you might encounter during the hunting season.  You will want to keep in mind to having a stealth approach the closer you get to your hunting area.  Cutting walk paths is critical for quietly getting in and out. Be sure to leave some cover that will help hide you as you draw near to high deer-activity areas.

Placement of deer stands and ground blinds is premium during this time frame.  Remember to take into consideration the changes that autumn will bring so that you won't need to make a lot of moves during the season.  Acorns are an important ingredient to my success.  Although the deer will be showing sign this month in the food plot in an open area, by October, they will be inside the tree-line and won't venture out very much.  My ground blind will need to be positioned to cover both of these areas.  Once the acorns are finished, the deer will once again target the food plot for forage.

Once your stands or blinds are placed, cutting shooting lanes can be one of those details that may be the difference between success or failure when the moment presents itself to making a shot on a good Buck.  Be sure that your shooting lanes cross natural trails that deer use all of the time.

Corn feeders and trail cams are great tools to attempt to understand the pattern of deer.  They are creatures of habit and are also keen to picking up on your habits also.  I like to place these two items in areas that the deer are already feeding in.  It's less intrusive.  It gives them a new target close to where they are naturally moving.  Having a trail cam adjacent to these areas may help you identify travel corridors, possible bedding areas, herd size and even buck to doe ratios.