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Tag Archive | "Jack Payne"

Excitement abounds during the rut

Jack Payne with a recent 2013 buck shot with a weird rack and loaded on the deer cart.

Jack Payne with a recent 2013 buck shot with a weird rack and loaded on the deer cart.

By Jack Payne


The hurried sound of leaves crunching under hooves meant one thing. A buck was chasing does that were not ready for his advances. Sure enough a group of deer came trotting by and a buck in pursuit.

Scrapes and rubs are all excellent items to consider but other things can spell success quicker. First and foremost is hunting the does. The does normally dictate what scrapes will be re-opened and used the most.

Find out where the does are bedding and feeding and the bucks will show up. The best locations are where the deer feel most secure during the daylight hours. The closer the security area is to a hot food source the better buck potential.

Cornfields are a magnet in our area. A thick swale, a pine plantation, river bottoms or a swamp are examples of good daytime cover. An overlooked area is a drainage ditch.

Having shot a buck on October I decided to try some fall turkey hunting. Jumped two bucks bedding in a corn field and one was an eight pointer. Bow in the truck and the buck looking at me a mere ten yards away. Can’t get a bedding area closer to a food source than a cornfield.

Carrying my camera while filming a few geese I jumped a nice fork horn bedded in a dried out drainage ditch. A cornfield on one side, a soybean field on the other with a briar patches on the end. Perfect area for a buck to rut and stay fairly hidden.

Keeping a stand just for the rut or having two stands to hunt from is a good idea. Don’t burn out a stand during the rut. Only hunt the stand when the wind is right and when accessing the stand without disturbing the deer.

Avoid walking over the runways when traveling. You heard this before but I will say it again, watch your scent. I wear Scent Lok from head to toe. Have a back up plan on how to get to your stand and the same when leaving. Don’t spook the deer and don’t leave any scent behind.

High ground in a swamp or a cattail marsh is an excellent all day location to hunt. The key is sliding in early and being undetected. Another good choice would be a small woodlot or briar patch that the other hunters walk right by thinking that it is to small to hold any deer.

Locating a hot scrape that reeks is always fun. I don’t see a lot of deer when scrape hunting but normally you will see a hot doe and the buck. Using buck lure has proven productive for many. I’ve had excellent luck at times and other outings only luke warm. Rarely have I had any negative responses when using scent. I use scent all season! Tinks and Buck Fever are my favorites.

Decoys can be fun to use but only during the archery season for safety purposes. Placing a decoy between a hot scrape and your stand or on the fringe of good bedding cover might work. Spray the decoy with some buck lure and try grunting. My experiences with decoys is less than thrilling unless watching a deer jump up in the air and then busting out. Only once did it actually draw in a buck for me but a friend has enjoyed great success.

Besides having faith in scent we use calling on each hunt. I call softly 3-5 one-second burps every 15-30 minutes. If I see a deer I call immediately. Once again, soft and short works the best. Get the buck to turn his head and let curiosity take over. Nearly every archery tag filled had calling involved.

Staying alert and checking out all sounds is important. After a few hours and especially after a month of sitting in a stand hunters get a bit lazy. Any sound could be a deer and often the soft and slow noise is a feeding deer heading your way.

The rut normally heats up around Halloween and continues through the opener of the gun season. Nothing beats the sound of leaves rustling and seeing a nervous doe file bye followed by the sound of a deer grunting. Hunt the rut properly not only will you see a buck, one might end up in the freezer.

www.jackpaynejr.com, realtor/writer


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Structure hunting your buck

by Jack Payne


It was Halloween before my first opportunity on a buck came along. Well actually my first since opening night, when I blew a wide-open shot. The rut was just hitting full stride and I had mapped out what I thought was a few strategic locations.

The early morning quietness was broken by a grunt and the slow crunching of leaves. Sure enough a buck was working the scent line. I hit my deer call and the buck took notice and slowly continued onward.

The buck would walk a few steps, grunt, raise his head up and sniff the air. It quickly became obvious that the buck would travel into my lap following the drag line. I was sitting in my Lone Wolf Stand that was hung just that morning.

Using my Ten Point Crossbow I was able to shoot sitting down. The Carbon Express shaft tipped with the Muzzy head found its mark. Buck number one was down for the count.

Fish use travel routes and have a deep water sanctuary from cold fronts and when spooked. Deer use certain travel paths and have a prime bedding area that they call home. Migration routes are used to travel primarily from a bedding area to a feeding area.

A thick cattail marsh bordering a set of pines is one example. Another is a clear cut bordering a thick set of pines or a swamp or possibly an oak grove. A corn field or a bean field bordering thick cover is another good example.

A deer’s sanctuary is its prime bedding area. A good bedding area can be a thick grove of pines, a cedar swamp, a cattail bog or often times in Southern Michigan an isolated patch of cover. In the farm country these small parcels might be only a quarter acre to an acre in size.

The best migration routes have something unique about them. In fishing you look for the breaks or the objects on this path from the deep water to the shallows. In hunting these objects could be a small finger of trees that stick out. It might be a small inside turn or cup that is formed by the change of terrain or ground cover. Any type of change is a potential spot for a stand.

An inside corner or an outside corner where two types of ground meet is perfect. Deer love to follow edges and if both types of terrain have something that the deer needs then more deer will be using it. A stand of oaks bordering a young clear cut offers two types of food and the young clear cut doubles up as a bedding ground.

An over looked piece of structure especially in Southern Michigan is the usage of a ditch or gullies. These two types of structure allow movement of deer to be nearly invisible. Very critical when hunting thin cover or near open areas.

In hilly areas deer love to run the edge of a gully where they are completely out of sight from danger on the flats or the use the bottoms and play the ever changing wind currents to their advantage.

A young clear cut has plenty of lush grasses and many new buds in the fall. Finding a secondary food source close to a primary food source is critical. Weather conditions can alter a food source being used. Hunting pressure will alter a preferred food source.

Trail cameras are the same as underwater cameras to many anglers. Both show fish or game. While I do not own an underwater camera, I do own one trail camera. This camera gets moved each week and is fun in showing you an actual photo.

Waterways are fun to hunt. A river or even small creeks that you can jump across are great pieces of structure to hunt. Streams twist and turn creating natural pinch points. Follow a stream and mark each time that the stream takes a hard turn.  Hang a few ribbons in the tree and after the second or third hard turn you should be able to spot a location where a stand would be able to watch both of these hard turns or points.

Protect your areas, slide in quietly and don’t over hunt a particular stand. Whatever you do, don’t spook the does. I want as many does filtering through my area as possible. The bucks will show up if the does are there.

Hunting open fields requires a change of strategy. Bucks have a tendency to hang back until darkness takes over. They also love to stage or watch over the field from a safe distance. A lone tree or a small group of trees in the middle of a field can be golden.

Just like in fishing where an angler can alter a travel route, a hunter can do the same. Blocking a trail with fallen limbs will force the deer around the obstacle. This is one trick that we use a lot.

If you can force the deer to funnel through a location that is more desirable to you the higher your odds increase. Just remember to wear gloves when altering the terrain.

During the rut scent is huge. Making mock scrapes before the season starts and continuing throughout the season is an easy and very effective technique.

During the season we try and find an active scrape line or a least an area with sufficient deer traveling through. The best mock scrapes will have a licking branch so look for a bush or a limb that a deer can reach. One option is that you can snap a branch downward, just don’t cut it off.

Saturate both the ground and the licking branch with scent. This is where I like the scent from Buck Fever. It comes in a large bottle and really works great on the drag lines and the mock scrapes. Be extremely careful with your scent, the ideal is to lure in a deer, not give away your presence.

Think of deer hunting as you should when fishing. Edges, corners, change of elevation, areas where two types of terrain meet and your success will rapidly climb.



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Fall fishing for game fish

A large pike, caught on a spoon.

A large pike, caught on a spoon.

by Jack Payne

Fall fishing is a tale of opposites. Early fall you will find fish in their summer haunts, then as the evenings cool they will move shallower. Near the end of October many game fish can be found very shallow, almost on the shoreline feeding on frogs, as the frogs make their migration for the winter.

Once the fall frog or shallow water bite dies down, then the deep water and steep breaklines produce. Quick drop-offs near a large feeding flat are good bets. Sharp breaks that are close to any remaining green weeds are a sure thing.

Where the baitfish goes, so goes the game fish. Sometimes this means suspended fish, other times very deep water and on those Indian Summer days you might enjoy shallow water fishing.

Big baits become more popular in the fall and, as the water cools, a slower speed is needed. Walleye anglers often go with 3-5 inch minnows on spinners or jigs. Bass anglers step up to the magnum size worms early in the fall and then possible a shorter but heavier profile bait as late fall takes hold. Pike feast on large baits and are suckers for slow wobbling bait or lure.

A good bass and pike bait would be the Stopper Spinner Bait in the 3/8 ounce size. When the fish moves deep, try vertically jigging the spinner and add a piece of pork or a plastic tail to increase the bulkiness of the lure. By all means fish it slow.

Another dandy fall pike lure would be the Swim Whizz. The Swim Whizz has two depths setting to select from. One lure can be used while fishing over and along a cabbage weedbed and then over a deep water rock pile or a deep water flat. It is also fabulous alongside of a deep drop-off.

Our best fall walleye lure is the Jig Heads from Stopper lures. Most often we grab the two tone colored heads in the 3/8 or the ¼ ounce heads. If the fish are shallow then a 1/8 ounce head works great. Depths deeper than ten feet go with a heavier head.

We tip the head with meat unless the bite is strong and fast. Active fish that are hammering the jig will devour plastic tails. Slow action or under a typical fall cold front requires a more stealth approach and a large minnow worked vertically over a school of walleye is the ticket. The heavier jig heads work best in keeping the bait near the bottom.

Fall smallmouth bass love minnows. Smallmouth bass enjoy hanging around steep drop-offs and deeper water. A jig bounced along the base of the drop-off with a lively large minnow is virtually impossible for a bass to pass on.

Walleye and bass anglers can also use the Double Drop Fly rigs from Stopper Lures. As the name indicates this rig is set up with two flies and ready to be vertically bounced over deep water structure.

Fall fishing locations can change by the day. Do not waste time in one location unless certain of the results. We check the weed line quickly for active fish and we check the muddy areas to see what the frogs are doing.

If the fish are shallow, then casting a spinner or a Swim Whizz might do the trick. A small jig head with a minnow rarely fails. If the fish are deeper, then a slow drift or the use of the trolling motor while vertically jigging either a Double Drop Fly rig or the jig and minnow combo works great.

If the fish are scattered then trolling a Swim Whizz or a spinner works best. Just remember to fish slowly. Fall fishing produces the largest fish of the year with minimal fishing pressure.

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Black Jack, 21 tips to a better deer season

_OUT-Jack-Payne-nice-buck-walking-under-the-treeBy Jack Payne


The perfectly quiet morning silence was broken by the slightest splash from behind. Slowly a small group of deer was entering the swamp from the oak forest. As the deer filed by each decided to cross the creek in front of me and then cross the creek a few yards down stream. The last deer in the group wore headgear. Pulling back the PSE bow and placing the Nikon red dot on the chest cavity the arrow was released. The Muzzy broad head did the trick and the buck was down within 50 yards.

Talk to the folks that get a deer each year or close to it and a number of items pop up that spells success. The majority of the work is done prior to the actual hunt. To me the work is fun.

1) Scouting should be fun and an easy way is by the seat of your pants. My daughter and I take rides around the general areas that I plan to hunt. Carrying a camera captures many great photos. As a bonus I often find new turkey locations as well.

2) Hunters need to tune up their bows, sight in their rifles and practice well before the opener. Get the bow tuned and shoot a few arrows through a paper test before the opener. Shoot a dozen shots through the rifle to get reacquainted with the gun. Archery hunters should practice each day or every other day. Shooting 1-3 dozen arrows each time pays huge dividends. I shoot my broad heads when practicing.

3) Equipment needs vary for each hunter. I experiment during the summer with new products and found a few items that I would not hunt without again. A long rope to pull up your weapon. A high quality safety harness and a lightweight portable rain gear are a must.

4) Locating a hot location is key. Don’t hunt memories or locations that have worn down trails with no fresh tracks. Some runs will look worn down years after any use.

Locating that special spot takes a bit if work. Tie thread across any runway that shows promise. Keep it two feet above the ground. Often when a deer breaks the thread the ends point in the direction that the deer are traveling. After tying thread over a dozen potential runs and verifying which runs have had the thread broken, it’s time for the orange survey ribbon.

Follow each runway 100-300 yards marking the run on occasion. Hang the ribbon up high for easy visibility. Wherever two runs cross mark with a few extra pieces of ribbon. You will be amazed at how often two hot looking runs either merge or end up fairly close to each other.

5) Crop fields are always a prime area to spot deer. They can be hard to hunt because of the openness and various entry points. Often the hunting is better when staying away from the field edges by 50-100 yards.

Fence rolls and drainage ditches are prime traveling routes. A key location will be where they meet the main woods. This is especially true in the farm belt areas where cover is sparse.

6) Hunt the corners of the small woodlots for best action. I try to sit 5-10 yards from the field edges when hunting small woodlots. This gives you a chance to shoot at two edges of the field and still get a good shot behind you.

7) Hunt the oaks when the acorns drop. This was perhaps my number one mistake over the years. I hunt swamps and left the oaks alone. Now I hunt the swamps and bedding areas early in the season but keep a constant watch for the trees dropping the most acorns. If you don’t have oaks then hunt the prevailing food source that is at its’ peak.

8) Hunters need multiple stands to cover wind direction, hunter pressure and to keep the stands fresh. We set numerous stands and have one ready to back pack in.

9) An additional tip that I use is setting up with the sun at your back when possible. Whenever possible I try to set my stand so that a traveling deer will have the sun in their eyes. This might mean that a good run will be hunted where it makes a bend or travels around some obstacle. Better the deer with the sun in their eyes than the hunter squinting while attempting a shot.

10) Prescription sunglasses really help me out. I use the yellow tinted color lenses because they gather the most light under low light conditions.

11) I love pine and cedar trees. These are the easiest trees to hide in and offer a great place to hang a daypack. An oak tree with multiple limbs is the next best bet. Use the natural cover to help conceal your location regardless if you hunt from a tree or from the ground.

12) I hunt the ground 100% with a gun and maybe 20% with a bow. A thick group of pines or cedars works great. Sit in the thick stuff maybe 3-5 feet and prune out a few shooting windows. Thick cattails also work well and are used with great success. The sound of sucking muck or water will tip you off that a deer is close.

13) This brings up the next location to concentrate on. Hunt bottleneck areas. Hunt areas where the terrain forces the deer to pass through a narrow spot.  A river or a creek often can be used as a funnel. Two ponds or a pond and a stream within 100-200 yards of each other are one of my favorites.

Fences can be great. Walking slowly along a fence will often show an area where the deer prefer to cross. Hair on the fence or a section where the fence is bent down is a sure give a way.

14) Hunters need good cover and attraction scent. If you don’t stink the deer are less apt to smell you. I use one of the scent eliminator spray products and a mixture of vanilla and water. I spray every thing before heading into the woods and at least once during the hunt.

Cover scent is critical and is practiced by a number of hunters. Carry it one step further than the rest. Keep your cloths in a plastic bag. I throw in fresh leaves each time out as well. Spray your cloths, hats and gloves and then your heads, boots and hands.

15) Wear rubber knee high boots and keeps a change of cloths in your vehicle. I repeat, never go into a restaurant or store with your hunting cloths on.

Scent control also includes clothing. Scent gathering suits can easily be the last link for total coverage.

16) Mock scrapes can work and the best scrapes are started before the season starts. Like anything it takes some planning and not every spot will produce. Locate a good runway near a bedding area and make up a scrape. Add some of your favorite scent and check back in a week. Make sure that you have a licking branch above your scrape. Tinks and Buck Fever are my two favorites.

17) Use a deer call. I like a deer call that makes fawn bleats, doe grunts and rutting grunts. Hunters Specialties carries the True Talker that is hands free. This is critical for the bow hunter. Blow on the small mouthpiece and stop the deer dead in it’s tracks without using your hands or getting the call in the way of the shot.

18) During the rut hunt the does. The bucks will find the does and this is the easiest way to a shot. Once again locating a bedding or feeding area that the does are using is the prime area to hunt.

19) If you located a bedding area then hunt there during the mid-day hours. This is especially true during the gun season. Without a doubt my hunting party has shot more bucks between 10:00 am and 3:00 p.m. than any other time.

20) Use other hunters to your advantage. Identify where hunters will enter the woods and use their movement to help push deer to you. When scouting I carry along some papers and make a rough map. Mark down the runway locations, the two tracks and any blinds or stands that you run across.

Part of my success comes from knowing where other hunters will be and how they will enter the woods.

21) Be in the woods when the weather changes. If it rained hard all morning and now is letting up, hustle to your favorites feeding location. High winds and heavy rains will change the patterns of the deer. The same applies just before a big storm blows in.

Deer can sense when a storm is coming and if they will be down for a few days. Just prior, regardless of the time they will be feeding. Most of our bucks shot after opening day have fallen during this type of condition.

Following the twenty-one tips and paying close attention to small details will dramatically increase your deer sightings. Archery or gun, staying focused will pay dividends. All it takes is one well-placed shot to enjoy some fresh tenderloin in mushroom gravy this season.

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Bass fishing

Eric Payne with a bass caught on a molded worm.

Eric Payne with a bass caught on a molded worm.

by Jack Payne


Thump, thump, thump and bam! A fish hit and game on. After trying to play bulldog with me on the bottom the bass finally came up and tried shaking its head to dislodge the hook. This fish was not successful in its try to be free.

Most days you will find me throwing finesse style baits, small worms, light weights, or a spinner bait. But on the dog days of summer and leading into fall it is often best to use a larger bait and fish deeper.

We were throwing the large Garter Worm or the Magnum Bass Stopper Worm from Stopper Lures. We fished this bait very similar to the drop shot rig. In our case we use a heavy bell sinker with the plastic worm tied onto a loop knot a few inches above the sinker. One angler might fish four inches up and the other angler might try a foot. See who gets the best action and duplicate it.

We like tying on a short leader, 6-12 inches long to the plastic worm. This gives the worm some movement, some added flutter and lift. We feel that we get more strikes when fishing in this manner than compared to a very short or no leader.

Sinker weight varies between three eighth and possible up to three quarters. It depends on the wind and the depth. Fifteen feet to thirty feet is our preferred depth. Deep long points are our first target and then sunken islands, mid lake humps and other off shore deep water structures.

Yes, we basically fish with our backs to the shoreline. Not what you would expect from many bass anglers. The next difference is that we fish vertically and we drift with the boat or move slowly with the trolling motor.

Once again, using a trolling motor while actually fishing is taboo with some anglers but I fish to catch fish and enjoy myself. I grew up chasing walleye and learned the fine art of vertical fishing. For many years my trolling motor was on the back of my boat and I back trolled. It’s only been a few years that I’ve enjoyed a front bow mounted trolling motor. I still run a tiller motor and that might change in the future.

When you walleye fish you learn how to fish deep water, how to find the spot on the spot and how to finesse fish or how to fish vertically. If you don’t then a live well becomes better suited as a cooler.

I really believe that anglers would catch more bass during the late summer and into the fall if they spent more time fishing the deep water. Sharp drop-offs are easy to find with your graph, many of the points that you would fish can be located by looking at the shoreline.

The idea behind a drop shot rig or the rig that we use is in maintaining contact with the bottom and keeping control of the plastic worm. I like the leader to the worm instead of it being tied tight to the line. I like the way it floats and flutters. Some anglers like it tight because they can feel any hit instantly from a bass. Try it both ways and see which way you enjoy best.

A larger bait matches the late summer forage. In the next month you will see a direct change in the size of the baitfish with less smaller fish and larger baitfish. In addition the metabolism is higher and many game fish want a larger meal while expanding less energy to fill up.

Deep water haunts with larger baits worked near the bottom will produce bass during the dog days of summer and leading into the fall. Deep water will continue to produce bass right through the turnover period just before the snow flies. Fish with your back to the shoreline and enjoy some great bass action overlooked by many anglers.

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