Hunting Buck Rubs

Hunting Buck Rubs and Buck Rub Lines

Buck Size From Rub Size: What would you say about the buck that made this rub? It is rumored that only big bucks rub big trees. That depends on how you define big rubs. I’ve seen plenty of small bucks rubbing forearm-size trees. Biologists R. Larry Marchinton and Karl Miller, of the University of Georgia, studied rubs for several years with the conclusion that a rubbed tree must be at least six inches in diameter before you can assume, with reasonable confidence that a fully mature buck was the crafter. The rub in this photo definitely meets that criteria!

Though I don’t think October is the best time for a trophy buck, it is a great month to shoot solid representative bucks and that’s exactly what I set out to do a few years back while hunting in Illinois during the last week of the October.
Actually, I did see a nice 3 1/2 year old 140-class eight-pointer on the third day of the whitetail hunt.  The buck was freshening a scrape just 15 yards away at the time.

The next day I went back to hunting fresh scrapes and rubs; I moved on to anther good-looking spot I had found while scouting. Early the first afternoon in the new stand, a decent buck followed the trail up the slope from below and proceeded to work two scrapes before coming within 20 yards of my tree stand. He was far from the biggest buck in the woods but he was a nice buck, typical of what you can expect when hunting fresh deer scrape and rub lines during October.
Hunting rub lines during the early deer hunting season, right up until the rut begins to kick, is an effective strategy. Generally, the most mature bucks in any herd are the first to rub, so the big rubs you find in September are the ones to hunt as soon as possible. Ideally, you would like to find rubs back in the cover where the odds are higher that a buck will come past during daylight hours.
Everything you need to set up in the right spot is there in front of you. You just look for deer scrapes. A tree stand located along a trail that ties together several fresh deer scrapes is a great place to shoot a buck at this time. Deer scrapes located back in the cover are a good choice morning and evening, while deer scrapes near field edges are better in the evenings.

Rub Age and Rub Lines

To unravel the mysteries of buck movement and finally wrap your tag around a trophy, you have to learn how to properly scout a buck.

Rub lines will tell you more than individual rubs. They reveal a travel route rather than just a location where a buck stopped once. The rubs shown in this photo (which was taken in early November) are dried out and brown: signs that they are old and were probably made at least a month earlier. Old sign reveals little about current buck travel patterns. Look for fresh rubs, and focus on rub lines.
Some rubs also give clues about the buck that made them. I hunted a buck several years ago that had a big hook near one antler base. He had very distinctive rubs with huge gouge marks. I found them littered all over the place near the area where I finally arrowed the buck. If you find odd similarities between several rubs more than likely they were all made by the same buck, and chances are good he has at least one non-typical point.

Speckled Trout Report

We just spent a week in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed our time with the kids.  We spent our days lounging near the pool or the beach.  My highlight was my guided trip for Speckled Trout.

There are several ways to fish for Spec’s, but we focused on Drift Fishing over oyster beds and near gas rigs.  Drift fishing is often done over oyster beds, sand flats, rocky bottoms, or near structures.  Some of the favorite lures are the artificial cocahoe minnow, split tail beetle, but we had our best luck with Baby Bass colored Zoom flukes.   According to the guide it is the closest in color and size to the natural bait fish of the area.
In order to locate specks, we began fishing the top and worked our way to the bottom. In many cases the fish will be near the surface or at mid level depths.  If the water is very rough they may head to the bottom.

We had our best luck using a slow retrieve with a twitch in 10-15 feet. In several cases we caught fish while just letting it drift with the current.  This pattern was found by accident as on of the guys was fixing his line.  After the third fish caught during his tangle time, we all decided to try it. It turned out the fish were hanging out near the middle and the bottom and they wanted it very slow.

Bottom/Bait Fishing
Although we didn’t use bait this time, it is often times the best way to catch trophy Specks.   The best bait to use is baitfish such as croakers, pogies, or menhaden, live shrimp and live cocahoe minnows. A number 5 or 6 kale hook works well for the larger trout.  Hook the bait fish through the lips or the dorsal fin.  Do not use weights.  This allows them so swim freely.  If you are fishing deeper water or if the current is strong, use a carolina rig.

Read the Water –  Locate the Game Fish
Feeding Seagulls are a sure sign.  Another sign to look for is called a Slick.  These oil slicks are from the the game fish eating bait fish. Fish near or under these slicks to locate Specks.

Be sure to use your trolling motor instead of your large motor once you are close. Do not spook these fish!  Longer casts get allow you to sneak up on the big fish before they know you are there.

Night Fishing
Many of the larger Specks feed at night when there is less traffic.  Give it a try near lighted boat docks.

Other Lures that worked well for Specks –
MirrOLures, Spoons, Zara Spooks, Riplin Redfins, plastic cocahoe minnows, and 52-M18 MirrOLures.

Gulf Shores Guide
My guide did a great job.  His contact info-  (251) 279-1224

Lake Ozark Fishing Report

On Saturday a friend and I began fishing near the dam at daylight.  The water was like glass and his boat glided across the lake.  What a beautiful way to start the day.

Lake conditions : 
Air temp was 55-75
Water temp 62-66
Slight breeze in the morning with increased wind in the afternoon.

Lures: (lures listed based on effectiveness. * indicates fish caught)

*brush hog – darker colors
*money minnow 6″
*fluke – white
*jig – PBJ color
*spinner bait -chartreuse
shallow crank – chartreuse
medium depth crank bait – crawdad
buzz bait – chartreuse

We began the day working as a team. We both tried different lures until we figured out the pattern.  Our first fish was caught on a baby brush hog in 4-8 feet of water.  We immediately began to work the bottom with brush hogs and jigs.   Our best fish were caught while sitting in 15-20 feet while casting to the bank.  Most of the fish were caught at a depth of 4-10 feet with chunk rock on the bank.  We had very few fish in areas with pea gravel or sand.   By 830 we had six keepers ranging from 3.5 to 4.5 lbs.
By 930 the large fish simply quit.  I am not sure why they decided to shut down, but several conditions changed.  The temp began to rise, the wind picked up, then it clouded over.
It was time to try different tactics.  We tried deeper water, spinners, crankbaits, and several others, but had no luck.  We did find some large females on beds, but they refused to bite and were difficult to locate.
Fishing was slow the rest of the day and we called it quits when the storm rolled in around 2pm.
Overall – brush hogs were a hit in 4-10 ft on chunk rock banks.

Fish Hatcheries and Trout Parks in Missouri

From MDC
Missouri hatcheries and trout parks not only support our state’s great fishing, they’re also fascinating places to visit. Some feature visitor centers with displays, films and exhibits. Several have tour schedules or will accept appointments for special tours. Check under “Related Information” for more information about specific hatcheries and trout parks.

Cold-Water Hatcheries and Trout Parks

Missouri’s trout hatcheries are located at each of Missouri’s four trout parks and on Lake Taneycomo. They provide high-quality trout fishing on cold-water streams in Missouri.

Warm-Water Hatcheries

Missouri’s has five hatcheries that produce warm- and cool-water fish. Lost Valley Hatchery near Warsaw is one of the nation’s most advanced and largest public hatcheries. Lost Valley is known for raising paddlefish and white bass/striped bass hybrids. Chesapeake hatchery near Mount Vernon warms its water to get catfish to spawn early, producing 12- to 14-inch catfish in one growing season. Blind Pony Hatchery near Sweet Springs is known for producing the endangered pallid sturgeon, which is being used to restore populations in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Hunnewell Hatchery raises hybrid sunfish, which grow fast and large and are used in kids’ fishing clinics. Indian Trail Hatchery near Salem produces largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish for farm pond stocking.

Trout fishing near St Louis -Maramec Spring Park and Hatchery

Maramec Spring Hatchery produces about 100,000 trout a year, and all are stocked in Maramec Spring Park. Trout are received as 3-inch fingerlings from Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery. The trout are fed three times a day and will grow 3/4 to 1 inch a month. The fish are reared in a raceway fed by the water from Maramec Spring. The fish are stocked at a rate of 2.25 fish per tag sold and are at least 12 inches in length. An additional 40,000 trout are hauled in from Montauk Hatchery each year to be stocked in the park.
Maramec is a privately owned and operated by the James Foundation. The fishery is administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Area Information


Contact the Maramec Spring Hatchery office to schedule a tour for your school group or organization. Tours must be arranged in advance. Tours usually last around 45 minutes.


Maramec Spring Park is located six miles east of St. James Missouri on Highway 8. From St. Louis: I-44 west to St. James. Highway 8 and 68 run together east through St. James. Approximately three miles out of St. James, Highway 68 turns south. Continue on Highway 8 three more miles. The park is on the left.

Missouri Bears are on the rise

Bears in Missouri

During my years out west I was surrounded by these amazing creatures, but I didn’t expect to come home to Missouri and see them.  Hopefully leaving my trail cams out year round will pay off.

Although black bears are native to Missouri, they were nearly wiped out during settlement. Now they’re making a comeback. Use this section to follow our black bear research project, report bear sightings, camp safely in bear country and control nuisance bears.
bear sightings map

Southeast Missouri Bears

Southeast Missouri black bear trapping to begin in May

From the MDC
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — Bear sighting reports are more important than ever to Missouri Conservation Department (MDC) biologists and agents in southeast Missouri. MDC embarked on a cooperative black-bear research effort with the University of Missouri-Columbia and Mississippi State University last year in Missouri’s southwest region. The study, funded through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration program with help from Safari Club International, will bring bear trapping to the southeastern portion of the state this May.
Though black bears were found across Missouri when the first settlers arrived, unregulated hunting and habitat destruction drastically decreased their numbers. By the 1950s, black bears were considered to be extirpated from Missouri.
Arkansas completed a successful bear restoration program in the 1960s and it’s thought that many of the bears we have in Missouri are the outgrowth of that program.
Recent data indicates some bears in southwest Missouri are genetically unique and likely the result of a Missouri bear population that was never completely extirpated, according to MDC biologists.
In past years, MDC biologists conducted some bear monitoring, but the bulk of data obtained from these efforts merely showed spots where bears could be found and revealed little information about their habits and annual life cycles in Missouri. This study will provide further information, such as movement patterns, population densities, habitat preferences, male-to-female ratios and overall numbers of Missouri bears.
Conservation employees met in Ellington recently for training that will prepare them to collect the needed data. According to the training facilitator and wildlife biologist, Scott McWilliams, biologists will use hair snares and barrel traps to trap the bears.
Bears that are trapped will be tranquilized while biologists take 40 measurements and samples, which will include DNA, weight, length and other data. The bears will be radio collared with GPS monitors that will give biologists a means to track their movements.
“We will use pastries to lure bears into traps, which we will monitor daily,” McWilliams said. “We will arrive quickly after a bear enters the trap. Once our measurements are complete, we’ll monitor each bear from a distance to ensure it exits safely.”
McWilliams said the MDC is working with private landowners throughout the study to avoid trapping on public land, which will eliminate conflicts with public land use during the bear trapping process. Landowners within the southeast and Ozark regions who have witnessed bears on their property are encouraged to contact the MDC for possible participation in the study. McWilliams said landowners in the southwest region who participated gained valuable information about resident and transient bears on their properties.
To report a bear sighting or for more information about the bear study, contact your local conservation agent or the MDC’s Southeast Regional Office at 573/290-5730

The Breeding Cycle of Wild Turkeys

Learn the Breeding Cycle of a Wild Turkey

As hunters, it is impossible to know what a gobbler is thinking, but we do have a good idea about what his motives are during the spring.
Quite simply – women.  During the rest of the year a gobbler’s movements will be determined, in large part, by his food supply. As the days grow longer, they turn their attention toward more important things like breeding hens. Learning how a gobbler reacts to hens can help you improve your chances of tagging a longbeard this spring.
In principle, spring turkey hunting is not difficult. Find a gobbling bird in the predawn darkness and set up nearby. As the sun starts to break the horizon, let out a few hen yelps and sit at the ready. When the bird flies down and walks within 30 yards, take him.
In the woods, however, it doesn’t always work that way. Oftentimes, the trick to turkey hunting is finding the right bird at the right time in the right place. The same bird that ignored your calls in the morning may run you over later that afternoon.
Here are a few general tips about turkey behavior in the spring:

  • Gobbling is used to bring hens to the gobbler. Remember that you are trying to do the opposite when you are turkey hunting. Be patient and adjust your calling intensity to suit his mood. You will typically want to try and get him fired up.
  • Strutting is a close-range technique to attract hens to the gobbler.
  • Dominant toms usually gobble more than subordinate ones.
  • Jakes do gobble and strut. However, they are often afraid to, especially later in the spring after a dominant bird has whipped them a few times. Just because the spring woods are quiet doesn’t mean there aren’t any turkeys around.
  • Gobblers are usually surrounded with hens early in the morning. Toward midmorning, the hens will often leave them to sit their nests. The time to be there is when a old tom is alone. Did you ever have a vocal bird at predawn working your calls only to have the bird shut up when he flew off the roost? It is probably no surprise, but he most likely had hens all around him.
  • Gobblers still mate in the rain — they just don’t gobble as much or you can’t hear them as much due to the noise. There is no reason why hunting rainy-day gobblers can’t be successful. Look for birds in fields and pastures when it is raining.
  • A common misconception is that toms sometimes just get tired of gobbling and shut up later in the season. This is not true. Gobbling will peak just before hens are ready to breed (usually just before your hunting season starts) and again after most hens have started to incubate their eggs (usually toward the middle to later part of your season). Late-season hunting is a great time to find a lonesome tom.

Hunt Open Places for Turkeys

Open Places

Openings and fields are important to wild turkeys. In the summer, the majority of the turkey’s food sources are found in open, sunny places. Newly hatched broods may be seen along the borders of fields and other openings, which provide the poults’ primary meal of insects, as well as a variety of seeds and berries.
Grasses, berries and insects also are the primary foods for adult turkeys during this time of year, with plant material providing more than half of the summer diet for the turkey.
Fields are good places to view the attentive hen teach her brood the ways of the wild turkey. And when the following spring rolls around, they are also good places to set-up and wait for a feeding longbeard when the birds refuse to gobble.

How to Recognize the Dominant Gobbler

Pecking Order: Recognizing the Dominant Gobbler

Most of us would like to shoot the biggest, oldest gobbler on our property. The problem is that it can be hard to tell which gobbler this is until you actually have him in hand.
Fortunately, there are a few clues that may give a turkey hunter an advantage in picking out the dominant tom.
Most of the time, the biggest and/or oldest gobbler is likely to also be the dominant one within a flock. He can often be identified by the way he acts. When watching a small group of gobblers in the spring as they approach a hen or come to your calling, look for the longbeard that does all or most of the strutting. He will be the dominant bird nearly every time.
The other gobblers around the dominant bird will often strut, too, but usually they will not strut as long or as fully fanned. The boss gobbler may not come out of strut at all, his head is usually pulled in close to his body, and his fan is sticking straight up.
Another clue to identifying pecking order is to watch for attacks from the dominant tom toward other gobblers. The big boy may chase the others, or he may just turn their way, causing them to move off or break strut.
Gobbling behavior may also give clues to pecking order. Many times, but not always, the first turkey to gobble on a given morning is the dominant bird. However, on occasions when he doesn’t gobble first, you may note that other gobbling turkeys suddenly fall silent when he finally sounds off. Another clue is that the hens may yelp back more often and with more excitement to the dominant bird.
Pay close attention to the turkeys’ behavior, and you can take that top trophy we all dream about.