Big Game – Outdoor Empire Gear Up and Get Outside! Thu, 03 Aug 2023 23:16:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Big Game – Outdoor Empire 32 32 Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States) Tue, 09 May 2023 07:52:19 +0000 Shed hunting is a great hobby that gets you close to the thrill of the hunt without all the fuss of getting a hunting license, lugging around a gun, etc. Plus, most places let you pick up shed antlers outside of deer hunting season, allowing you to extend your adventures. But where are the best ... Read more

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Shed hunting is a great hobby that gets you close to the thrill of the hunt without all the fuss of getting a hunting license, lugging around a gun, etc.

Plus, most places let you pick up shed antlers outside of deer hunting season, allowing you to extend your adventures.

But where are the best places to find these sheds?

The best place to find shed antlers is where there is a high deer population, low human population, and lots of food for the deer to eat.

In the USA, you’ll have the best success shed hunting from Nevada & Utah to Illinois & Iowa. Virginia and West Virginia are suitable for people in the eastern half of the US. In Canada, people tend to have the most success in northern Alberta.

However, you can find shed antlers anywhere bucks spend their late winter and early spring.

What State Has the Best Shed Hunting?

Shed hunting is a thrilling outdoor activity that requires skill, patience, and knowledge. However, choosing the best state to go shed hunting can be a daunting task due to various factors.

One such factor is the fluctuation in deer populations, which can result in a great shed hunting spot one year being barren the next. Additionally, some states have imposed regulations that limit shed hunting during certain periods, restricting access to prime shed hunting areas.

For instance, Colorado could be one of the top states for shed hunting, but unfortunately, the activity is prohibited on public lands from January 1st to April 30th. However, if you have connections, you can still explore the state’s potential for shed hunting.

Wyoming also has similar regulations but boasts some of the best shed hunting in the US, especially if you can find private land. Here, you can discover a diverse range of antlers, including elk, moose, mule, and whitetail deer sheds.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a state with an abundance of sheds, Nebraska is the place to be. With its vast fields of corn, soy, hay, wheat, oat, and peas, deer thrive and leave behind many antlers for you to find. Coupled with Nebraska’s low human population, you’ll have a higher chance of discovering more antlers.

Choosing the best state for shed hunting can be tricky, but with the right information, you can increase your chances of finding impressive antlers.

Where to Go Shed Hunting in Canada?

The same criteria used to pick out the best shed hunting states in the USA also apply to Canada: You want to visit areas with lots of food and little human activity.

This means that you’ll want to head farther north of the border. Most shed hunters find success in Alberta, especially the northern portion.

The province has a suitable environment for deer and other animals to thrive. Plus, the fish and game departments are relatively permissive when it comes to picking up shed antlers. You can keep and sell them without a permit so long as you didn’t gather the sheds in a protected area.

Northern Saskatchewan and northwest Ontario also have great shed hunting opportunities.

Despite having similar specs, Manitoba is the best place to live, but not visit, if you’re hoping to pick up antlers. That’s because non-residents are prohibited from possessing shed antlers. Manitoba residents don’t have any such restriction, though!

Remember that bringing wildlife parts across the border may not be worth it (or legal) for American tourists.

You’ll have to follow the regulations of your home residence and the location where you’re picking the sheds. Also, you may need to file an expensive wildlife import/export permit if you’re transporting more than a few antlers across the border.

Where Should I Look When Shed Hunting?

shed antler during spring

An excellent way to understand where you’ll find sheds is to learn where the bucks spend their time.

After all, sheds are antlers that have fallen off of male deer. If a deer doesn’t visit an area, you won’t find any sheds!

This means you’ll want to prioritize areas that provide food, water, safe bedding, and also warmth.

7 Places to Look for Shed Antlers

  1. The southern-facing sides of hills and clearings are commonly-suggested areas to find sheds for a good reason. It’s often cold out when deer lose their antlers, and these locations attract deer that want to gather as much of the sun’s warmth as possible.
  2. Also, check out creeks, streams, and even rivers. Deer will visit running water to stay hydrated in winter because other drinking zones are likely to freeze over.
  3. Deer need food, too, and will travel to find plants that are still green even in winter. These are sometimes called late-season food sources.
    If you find such an area, then check around the edge for sheds. Deers prefer to stay at the boundary between food and safety whenever possible.
  4. As for where deer bed down, you will want to find areas where deer feel safe that are also close to food and water.
  5. Look in thickets, around evergreens, and in areas where trees and foliage provide protection against sight and wind.
  6. It’s also a good idea to search along the trails deer travel between these areas. Antlers can get knocked off as the deer travels through areas thick with branches.
  7. Similarly, fence lines can be a surprisingly effective location to find sheds. That’s because antlers can dislodge when the buck jumps over a fence or lands on the other side.

States to Avoid When Shed Hunting

Now that we’ve discussed the tips on where and how to find shed antlers successfully, let’s take a closer look at some states that may not be the best option for shed hunting.

While deer hunting is prevalent in the Sunshine State, Florida may not be the ideal location for shed hunting due to several factors. In fact, many of these reasons are common throughout most southern states, but particularly apply to Florida.

I’ve already covered the advantage of certain crop types. In a state like Florida, you won’t find nearly as many large corn and soy fields so the deer won’t be as well-fed.

And Florida is full of people.

But it gets worse!

Florida has a climate that is very friendly to deer. The mild winters mean bucks won’t spend as much time on warm southern ridges, so some of the best shed hunting tips won’t help you find shed antlers in the South.

And those warm winters mean that smaller mammals, from squirrels to coyotes, will be more active. This is bad for you because antlers are a great source of calcium and other nutrients. It’s hard to find good sheds when they get all chewed up by other little critters.

The South is also known for its denser foliage, which can make shed hunting much more annoying. Plus, all the extra underbrush will keep the antlers hidden from your view.

It can be quite challenging to find an uncrowded spot for shed hunting in southern states, as there is a limited amount of public land available.

And did I mention that shed hunting in the South can be dangerous? While venomous snakes may be hibernating during shed hunting season up north, they’ll be out and about when you’re tromping through their woods. They’re out even as early as March!

Add in the swamps and alligators, and it’s no wonder shed hunters don’t head to Florida to collect sheds.

The US’s Eastern and New England regions are also poor shed hunting areas because of their dense human populations.

The wild areas of Virginia and West Virginia are the best places to look for sheds if you’re on the East Coast.

The Best Places to Shed Hunt

The best places to find shed antlers are, annoyingly enough, far from most people.

If you’re in the United States, you’ve got a dozen states or so that are great for shed hunting.

And for our neighbors up north, you’ve got some prime locations if you’re willing to venture a bit farther north from the US-Canadian border.

You don’t have to limit yourself to these states to find sheds, though. Bucks will leave their antlers behind anywhere they spend the late winter and early spring.

So, if you have a monster buck in your backyard, that’s a good place to start looking!

The post Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

How Much Shed Antlers Are Worth & How to Make Money on Them Sat, 22 Apr 2023 12:31:44 +0000 Shed hunting is a fun hobby you can add to your usual outdoor adventures, whether hiking or hunting. Did you know that you can also make money off of your finds? Shed antlers are used as decorations, knife handles, dog chew toys, and furniture. Naturally, the people selling those products must get the antlers from ... Read more

The post How Much Shed Antlers Are Worth & How to Make Money on Them appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Shed hunting is a fun hobby you can add to your usual outdoor adventures, whether hiking or hunting.

Did you know that you can also make money off of your finds?

Shed antlers are used as decorations, knife handles, dog chew toys, and furniture.

Naturally, the people selling those products must get the antlers from someone. Why not be that someone?

On average, shed antlers can be sold for roughly $10 per pound. Since antlers weigh three pounds or more, that’s good pocket change with just one rack!

Where Can You Sell Shed Antlers

To sell antlers, you have to connect with people who want to buy them.

This can be easy or hard, depending on your existing hobbies.

Selling Deer Antlers Online

Perhaps the easiest way to get started with selling antlers is to put them up for sale online. There are several websites you can use that already have a large and willing audience of people seeking antlers.

If you’re willing to ship the antlers, then the two best websites are eBay and Etsy. Both are easy to use.


I’ve sold products on Etsy before! Before you’re ready to sell, you’ll have to sign up with the website and connect some financial information to pay fees and get paid.

Etsy has a listing fee for every item you sell, though it’ll cost you less than a quarter for a four-month listing. They also have transaction fees, roughly half the amount eBay charges.


eBay is free to use until you sell your antlers. Then they’ll charge a moderate fee based on the sale price.

Both websites will track your sales so you can accurately handle your taxes.

Once you’re notified of the sale with a *cha-ching!* noise, you’ll have to package and ship the antlers. Don’t worry. That’s easy, too.

Local Pick-up Websites

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of packing and shipping your antlers, then Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are good resources for selling to people within driving distance.

You’ll probably have less competition this way, too.

Your own website or social media accounts

Another option is to use a platform like WordPress to host your website.

This lets you avoid paying fees to eBay or Etsy. However, you’ll have to drive traffic to that website yourself, and that’s not easy!

You can also use social media, such as Facebook groups and hunting forums, to connect with potential buyers.

For example, I’ve seen antlers for sale on Hunt Talk’s classifieds forum.

Selling Deer Antlers in Person

Of course, you can make money selling antlers the old-fashioned way: By making social connections with people interested in buying antlers.

This can take many different forms.

As a hunter, you’ll probably meet people with knife-making as a hobby. They might be interested in buying antlers.

Historical reenactors often need antlers to make their period-accurate products, especially people engaged in “living history” because they demonstrate old crafting skills to the public.

I’ve also seen tables of antlers for sale at gun and knife shows.

You can also connect with companies that use antlers for making rustic furniture and offer to supply them with antlers. They tend to be more interested in bulk sheds than fancy antlers.

How Shed Antlers Are Valued

How much shed antlers are worth depends on the species, condition, color, and how much you’re selling.

Generally speaking, the larger the animal, the more valuable the shed.

Moose antlers are worth the most, followed by elk, caribou, then mule deer. Whitetail antlers tend to be worth the least.

However, this also depends on whether that species is common in your area. What’s common for you may be rare for a buyer in another part of the country!

Darker coloration tends to bring in more money. That’s because lighter antlers have faded from the elements. A darker antler is both fresher and tougher.

Somewhat faded sheds tend to be labeled Hard White. Fully faded antlers are called Chalk antlers.

And, naturally, perfect antlers will be worth more than ones with evident damage, such as chips, missing tines, and bite marks.

This is why some people use a 5-step grading system: Grade A Brown, Grade B Brown, Grade A Hard White, Grade B Hard White, and Grade C Chalk.

Symmetrical sheds are worth more, but only when sold as a rack.

Larger antlers are also worth more, of course. A large, symmetrical rack of brown moose antlers can sell for a grand or more!

Finally, whether you’re selling in bulk as a supplier or selling retail to a consumer will affect the price.

These factors make it difficult to convey how much any particular shed will sell for accurately. However, here are some guidelines:

  • Whitetail Deer: $6 to $18 per pound
  • Mule Deer: $7 to $20 per pound
  • Elk: $7 to $16 per pound
  • Caribou: $7 to $20 per pound
  • Moose: $6 to $15 per pound

(Though the above numbers make deer antlers look like they’re worth more than moose antlers, deer sheds are much lighter than moose sheds, so the larger species are worth more in the end.)

A Caution Regarding Antler Selling Legality

As with any animal product or any business endeavor, there are legal restrictions you may have to follow.

Some states have laws regulating how you can harvest sheds and whether or not you can sell them. Some states don’t.

Look up your local fish & game department’s regulations to learn if you can even go shed hunting, let alone sell the antlers for a profit.

For example, Missouri requires you to record detailed information about every antler sold and identify who purchased them.

Speaking of profits, the government will want its due. Make sure to record each transaction so you can pay the tax man his money.

Staying on the side of the law will help both you and the deer enjoy their antlers for generations to come.


Can you make money selling deer antlers?

Yes, though it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Anybody who can hike can make a few dollars finding and selling antlers.

Making an income with shed antlers requires just as much work as any other occupation, though.

The post How Much Shed Antlers Are Worth & How to Make Money on Them appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

How To Shed Hunt: A Complete Guide With Tips Wed, 08 Mar 2023 13:05:26 +0000 Hunting is a great sport enjoyed by many. It’s an enjoyable challenge between you and the beast. However, regular hunting requires certain skills and equipment. And you’re limited to specific hunting seasons. Plus, you have to pay for licenses and fees, and… What if I told you there’s another type of hunting that just requires ... Read more

The post How To Shed Hunt: A Complete Guide With Tips appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Hunting is a great sport enjoyed by many. It’s an enjoyable challenge between you and the beast.

However, regular hunting requires certain skills and equipment. And you’re limited to specific hunting seasons. Plus, you have to pay for licenses and fees, and…

What if I told you there’s another type of hunting that just requires you to go into the woods armed with nothing but your wits and some sturdy footwear?

Shed hunting, also called antler gathering, is a “hunting” method that’s been taking off in recent years. It’s fun, challenging, and free. All you need is some dedication and knowledge about where to find sheds. They are typically spotted in and around places where the deer bed down or where they eat and drink. You don’t need any special gear to gather them, just some hiking boots and a good set of binoculars.

Let’s look at what goes into this sport so you can go from beginner shed hunter to expert in just a few hunts.

What is Shed Hunting?

deer with one antler

The word “shed” can be used as a noun to refer to an animal part that’s fallen off the animal, whether it’s a snake’s skin, your dog’s winter coat, or a deer’s antlers.

So, when most people say they are going shed hunting, they’re telling you about their plans to search for discarded deer antlers.

That’s why some people refer to this activity as antler gathering. The word “hunt” implies more adventure, though. And some people call it bone-picking!

Any animal that sheds its antlers can be the subject of this activity, not just deer. Some people are lucky enough to find elk or even moose antlers!

Why Go Shed Hunting?

People can go shed hunting for a variety of reasons.

For some people, it’s a way to hunt deer without dealing with the expense or legal hurdles of actually hunting deer.

Plus, you can pay attention to where you’re finding antlers to learn the animal’s behavior so you can be more successful with a traditional hunt in the fall.

Other people find it to be an enjoyable hobby. It encourages you to head outside. And finding a high-quality set of shed deer antlers is satisfying.

There can be an economic purpose, too.

An antler makes excellent material for everything from knife handles to jewelry to chandeliers. This is great for craftsmen and DIY enthusiasts.

But deer antlers are also worth money.

A good set of whitetail antlers can sell for over $10 a pound. Some people make hundreds of dollars, or more, selling shed antlers to crafters and rustic furniture manufacturers.

Don’t expect shed hunting to be a get-rich-quick scheme, though. Finding enough antlers to make the big bucks takes a lot of time and effort!

Does Shed Hunting Hurt Deer?

A good question is whether hunting for shed antlers can harm the animals.

Well, antler shedding is a natural part of a deer’s life. They grow and then fall off every year. You won’t physically harm an animal by picking up its shed antlers.

However, shed hunters can disturb deer who are just trying to survive the harsh winter. Deer feel stressed when they’re disturbed by large numbers of shed hunters. They’ll expend precious calories trying to get away.

If repeated, this can reduce the animal’s chances of surviving the winter.

That’s why some states have limited antler gathering seasons. It’s also possible your state can shut down shed hunting across the state to help reduce the stress experienced by wintering animals.

Pay attention to your local laws when you go shed hunting and, whenever possible, avoid disturbing wildlife.

How to Start Shed Hunting: Beginner Skills

shed hunter

Antler gathering is the easiest possible way to go hunting.

At its easiest, you go for a hike and keep your eyes open for lost antlers. But you won’t find many if you stay close to the trail.

Put on some good hunting boots and grab a hunting backpack and prepare to go off the beaten path. You’ll find antlers where the deer, caribou, or elk spend their time, and these animals do not like to hang out around people.

This means you should look for feeding areas, bedding areas, drinking zones, and frequently used travel corridors.

But first, let’s look at when antlers are even available.

When Should You Look for Antlers?

While it’s theoretically possible to find shed antlers any time of the year, they degrade over time and are chewed up for their protein content. This means you should look for them when they’re freshly fallen.

Antlers are grown so the male animal can engage in mating behaviors. Once the rut is over, those antlers are excess weight so they fall off and a new pair grows.

The specific time when the animal starts to shed its antlers depends on the species and your part of the world.

Generally, though, antlers start to fall off in December and can continue into April. February and March are generally considered to be the two best shed hunting months.

Earlier is better for finding higher-quality antlers. They’ll have less time to be damaged by weather and other animals.

Later in the season is better for sheer volume. More deer will have lost their antlers so it’s easier to find some. If you’re new to shed hunting, I’d recommend starting later for this reason. It’s frustrating to tromp all over the forest and not find a single antler. You’ll still find good antlers from deer who delay dropping their rack, even late in the season.

However, if you’re in an area where the woods will be crowded with other bone pickers, you’ll want to start your search earlier in the season to avoid competition.

Where Do You Find Shed Antlers?

Deer love places where tree cover meets wide open areas. This lets them keep an eye out for predators as they eat or drink. This environment also lets them swiftly escape into the safety of the woods.

But they won’t hang out in an open field just because. They have needs to be fulfilled: food, water, and shelter.

Food sources are scarce in winter, and deer will search for as many food remnants as they can get.

Related: Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States)

Crops such as soy and beans are frequent feeding grounds for deer. Corn is even better. Deer love corn and any stalks left over can help knock off old antlers.

Later in the season, though, look for areas of new greenery. Deer will snack on the freshest greens they can find when winter starts to give way to spring.

Hydration is necessary at all times of the year so make sure to check out all watering holes for freshly-dropped sheds.

Deer also spend a lot of time sheltered down in their bedding areas. Be careful when investigating known beds, though, since you don’t want to stress out the animal and force it to relocate.

What connects food, water, and shelter?

Travel corridors!

It’s worth finding need zones even if you don’t see any shed antlers because this lets you find the trails deer will make from point A to point B and back.

Follow these trails and you may find where a low-hanging branch has knocked the perfect rack off a buck.

How to Spot Fallen Antlers

Just like the deer that bears them for part of the year, antlers can be surprisingly tricky to spot.

They’re brownish or whitish objects found in nature, which is full of brownish and whitish objects.

Training your eye for spotting antlers in the woods takes a while. A big help is not actually to look for antlers.

Instead, look for specific antler parts.

Keep an eye out for tines. It can be easier to recognize a point instead of a whole antler, especially when there’s just a little nub sticking out of the snow.

Also, watch for the types of curves antlers take. An antler may be buried tine-down in the ground, tricking your brain if you’re trying to spot a whole antler. But that distinctively textured arch can draw the eye if you’re looking for a part of the antler, not the whole.

Binoculars can be helpful in your search so you can identify whether that bone-white object across the creek is an antler or something not worth your time. You can also use optics to glass a field for antlers.

And some people recommend going shed hunting during prime deer hunting time. The low morning sun can help cause an antler’s tines to pop out amongst its drab surroundings.

Once you’ve found one antler, chances are the other half of its set is nearby. Antlers come in pairs, after all. Stop where you’ve found the shed and look in a slow 360 degrees around you.

If you can, identify the deer’s direction and search in both directions. You may have found the first shed antler or the second one.

And if you can’t find that antler’s mate?

Well, sometimes a deer loses one antler and keeps the other one around for a day or two.

Tips to Help You Become a Better Shed Hunter

shed antler on the ground

You must get out into the wild to become the best shed hunter. There’s nothing like real-world experience for learning the intricacies of antler gathering, especially since animal behavior varies by location.

However, you can boost your knowledge by learning from other shed hunters’ experiences.

Tip #1 – Look Where Deer Jump

For example, a good bone picker will look over the land and take note of any features that will make a deer jump.

Rough terrain, fences, creeks, and anything that causes deer to leap or stumble can be the perfect spot to check for antlers. The impact can jostle antlers and cause them to fall off.

Tip #2 – Look Where It’s Warm in the Morning

Deer often prioritize warm areas in the morning to help fight off the chill of the night. This means the savvy shed hunter will look to the south and east of large geographical features.

Southern slopes tend to be excellent sources of sheds.

Tip #3 – Look From Up High

Speaking of high areas, don’t be afraid to climb boulders to take advantage of the height.

Being farther up lets you glass your surroundings better. You may spot a shed that you’d miss right next to you!

And, unlike when hunting animals, you don’t have to worry about spooking your quarry by being too visible.

Tip #4 – Map What You Find

If you’re serious about shed hunting, you will want to track everything you find, from bedding areas to individual sheds. This will allow you to build up a body of knowledge that you can reference in regard to the movements of deer in your area.

You can do this manually with a map or GPS unit and notebook. Or take advantage of a hiking or hunting app on your smartphone.

This will help make your antler gathering trips more and more successful in succeeding years.

Plus, with enough tracking, you can identify individual bucks and catalog their development.

Deer are animals of habit. Use this to your advantage.

Tip #5 – Train Your Dog to Shed Hunt

Speaking of animals, dogs can be trained to sniff out and recover antlers.

You’ll want to start training them when they’re young. Partly to teach them that antlers aren’t chew toys!

Many professional hunting dog trainers can teach your canine this skill. It’s one they can learn alongside other hunting skills, too.

Tip #6 – Wear Soft Soles

Finally, I recommend wearing footwear with a thinner than usual sole when shed hunting.

You won’t need a thick sole to handle the heavy weight of carrying out a deer carcass. Instead, you want to be able to feel what’s under your feet.

This is because sheds can be surprisingly hard to see. However, they do not feel like a stick or rock when you step on them. More than one shed hunter has found great antlers with their feet instead of their eyes.


All the gear you need to go shed hunting is the same type of clothing you’d use for a hike.

Add a good backpack, a pair of binoculars, and a phone or GPS, and you’re as well kitted out as a bone picker can be, especially if you have your trusty dog by your side.

Shed hunting is a fun and rewarding hobby. Get out there and you’ll find the perfect rack lying there, just waiting for you!


Can You Make Money by Shed Hunting?

It is possible to make money shed hunting but it requires a lot of time, effort, and luck.

Antlers can be sold on eBay and Etsy. Also, some companies advertise online when they are buying antlers.

Is Shed Hunting Hard?

Shed hunting is easier than usual hunting but is harder than hiking, though not by much.

Are Shed Traps a Good Idea?

Shed traps are a bad idea. They are designed to catch a deer’s loose rack and pull it off. However, bucks can get stuck in a shed trap before their antlers are ready to fall off and they can injure themselves as they try to escape.

The post How To Shed Hunt: A Complete Guide With Tips appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Where to Shoot a Black Bear: 6 Shot Placements with Graphics Wed, 15 Feb 2023 13:41:44 +0000 Bear hunting is quite different from deer hunting. You might expect me to delve deep into how one animal is a predator and one is a prey and how that affects their behavior to make them different. Actually, the main difference is their anatomy. Deer are lean, with thin fur, and easily-hit hearts. You can ... Read more

The post Where to Shoot a Black Bear: 6 Shot Placements with Graphics appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Bear hunting is quite different from deer hunting.

You might expect me to delve deep into how one animal is a predator and one is a prey and how that affects their behavior to make them different.

Actually, the main difference is their anatomy.

Deer are lean, with thin fur, and easily-hit hearts. You can pass a bullet or arrow through them at an angle to hit several vital organs. They also bleed a lot.

Bears, on the other hand, are filled with fat and are covered in thick fur. It’s harder to get good penetration. They’re also notorious for leaving a poor blood trail.

So, some good shot angles at a deer are a horrible idea when you aim at a bear.

The best shot angle for a black bear is a broadside double-lung shot. This applies to both rifle hunters and bow hunters. That’s not the only shot you can take, but it is the safest.

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Good Black Bear Kill Zones

Bears have thick, loose hides, varying amounts of fat, and thick, shaggy fur. This makes it hard to conclusively identify a bear’s anatomy when you’re out in the woods.

They also have thick bones and dense muscles, which reduces your projectile penetration, whether a bullet or a broadhead.

No matter the type of large game you’re hunting, your goal is always to deliver a singular strike to the largest number of vital organs you can devastate at once.

So, you want to hit the bear with a shot against the narrowest portion of its body, aiming to devastate one or more vital organs.

1. Double Lung Shot: Behind the Shoulder

With black bears, this means going for their lungs with a broadside shot.

If you can get a bullet or arrow to penetrate both lungs and then exit through the bear’s far side, you’ll be in a great position to kill the bear and be able to track it down.

Having both an entrance and an exit wound will increase the size of the blood trail you have to track. Additionally, hitting both lungs will ensure the bear can’t run far.

Graphic of black bear walking broadside with crosshairs just behind the shoulder
This is arguably the most certain way to take an ethical, clean kill shot on a black bear.

The lungs are comparatively large on a bear. This is part of why such a shot is recommended.

Another reason is the proximity of other vital organs to the lungs.

A bear’s heart is just below its lungs. Though that organ is hard to aim for normally, it being close means you have a larger margin of error when aiming for the lungs.

The liver and front of the gut are also right next to the lungs. Though a gut shot is not ideal, putting an arrow through a bear’s liver is better than barely penetrating the animal’s thick shoulder.

When taking a broadside shot to a bear’s lungs, the main consideration is to wait for just the right part of their stride.

You want to take the shot when the bear’s front leg is far forward. That’s because the upper leg and shoulder have a lot of dense muscle and can otherwise block a shot from penetrating the lungs.

You can find this area by observing the bear as it walks. Find the rearmost area of its shoulder (with the leg straight down) and aim about six inches rearward.

With perfect aim, this will put your projectile in the middle of the bear’s lungs, ensuring a quick kill.

2. Broadside Shot: Middle of the Middle

A phrase most commonly used by Canadian hunting guides is to aim for the “middle of the middle” of the bear.

This puts your sights farther behind the shoulder, reducing your chances of striking the muscles without getting through to the lungs.

Graphic of a brown colored black bear standing broadside with crosshairs on the center of its body
Bears have big lungs so aiming at the middle of the middle is generally good shot to take, especially at longer ranges or for hunters with less experience.

However, aiming for this point is not recommended by some hunters for two reasons:

1. This puts your aim at the rear of the lungs, lowering your chances of a double-lung hit and increasing your chances of a gut shot.

2. It’s confusing! Where exactly is the middle of the middle of a bear? The answer changes as the bear moves and angles toward or away from you.

However, if the bear is perfectly perpendicular or broadside to you, then you can identify the middle area of the bear as being between its legs. Then aim for about six inches forward of the point halfway from one leg to the other.

This isn’t exactly the middle of the middle but it’ll get you more into the lungs for a better shot.

3. High Shoulder: Break Their Bones

Another tactic by some rifle hunters is to purposefully aim for the shoulder.

There is a lot of blood flow through this area. If your rifle is powerful enough, you can penetrate through these blood vessels and pass your bullet through both lungs.

This works best in a quartering-toward shot, so you have the angle for the bullet to hit the shoulder and lungs.

graphic of crosshairs over front shoulder of a black bear walking toward you
When a bear is quartering toward you, a high shoulder shot works well with the right cartridge.

This does require a bullet with greater than average mass, though.

For example, I would feel comfortable hunting a black bear with my 6.5 Grendel rifle, but only with a broadside shot.

However, with my .45-70 Government Marlin 1895 and a hard cast 500-grain bullet? I’d feel comfortable taking the high-shoulder shot.

Not with the lighter 350-gr bullets, though.

Another reason to take the high shoulder shot is to shatter the shoulder bone.

The thought here is that doing so immobilizes the bear. This prevents it from running away and causes a large amount of blood loss, making recovery easy.

Shattering the shoulder bone also means the bear cannot attack you in reprisal.

However, this is more of a brown bear hunting technique, not a black bear technique. Black bears are not nearly as likely to attack humans.

Note: If you’re an archer, never aim for the shoulder!

4. Facing Presentation: Square Shot to the Sternum

Another rifle-only place to shoot a black bear is to put a bullet into its heart through its sternum as it faces you.

Graphic of a black bear standing up with crosshairs centered on its sternum
This presentation may not occur often, but aiming straight at the sternum is the best shot placement when it does.

Bear hearts are lower than you think. To complicate matters, a bear has a lot of loose skin and fur under its chest so if you aim too low you won’t cause any real damage.

However, sometimes a bear will notice something odd and stand up to try to see or smell you better.

This gives you a nearly perfect shot at its heart.

Its lungs will be between its shoulder and elbows and its heart just a bit above its elbows.

Aim at the bear’s midline above its elbows, but below the middle of its bicep, and you’ll break through its sternum and into its heart.

I wouldn’t take a sternum shot with the bear on all fours, though.

Black Bear Angles and Shot Placements to Avoid (Most of the Time)

Now that we’ve covered the best angles and places to shoot a bear, let’s go over some places that seem tempting but are a bad idea to aim at when hunting a black bear.

5. Quartering Shots

If you’re an archer, then it’s a bad idea to aim at a black bear that’s quartering away from you. If you have a particularly heavy arrow, then you may be able to hit both lungs. However, you’ll likely fail to pass through and cause an exit wound, reducing the blood trail.

Graphic of black bear quartering away with crosshairs on the center and a do not shoot symbol over top
Quartering away shots pose too great a risk of a non-lethal hit.

A rifle hunter can take a quartering-away shot but it’s not as sure a shot as the good ol’ broadside double-lung hit.

A bow hunter should never take a quartering-toward shot. The muscles are too thick and the bones too big to guarantee you’ll be able to penetrate through to both lungs.

6. Headshots

Bears have large heads. This means that it’s easy to shatter their skull and lethally damage their brain, right?

Not so fast.

Whether black or brown, any bear has an excessively thick skull.

Graphic of a black bear facing camera with crosshairs centered on its head and a do not shoot symbol over top
Bear skulls are super thick which makes headshots largely ineffective. Most hunters would consider this unethical.

I know a hunter who took a shot at a bear that was facing directly toward him at close range. It was an easy headshot.

He pulled the trigger and the bear charged. His second shot broke the bear’s shoulder, causing it to stumble. He put his third bullet through the bear’s lungs.

Once he started cleaning the bear, he investigated his entry wounds to see why the headshot didn’t knock the bear down.

He found that the bullet had struck the bear in the forehead, directly in line with the brain. Then it curved over the skull through the fat layer, passed along the neck, and exited over the bear’s left shoulder bone.

Don’t try to headshot a bear. Take out its lungs or shoulder.

Arrow and Bullet Construction Considerations

Because bears are tougher than deer, you don’t want to use the same projectile against both animals.

You want to prioritize penetration over expansion when choosing your weapon for bear hunting. Black bears are smaller and lighter than brown bears, but because of their tough anatomy, it’s still a good idea to err on the side of penetration.

For Rifle Hunters

Five hunting rifle cartridges with red and silver tips sitting on a table close up
Be sure to use large caliber hunting rifles and the right cartridge to shoot a bear.

Generally, you want to use a heavy bullet for the caliber. More mass means more penetration, even if you’re using hollow point bullets.

And you can use hollow points against black bears. However, remember that HP hunting bullets will reduce the angles you can use to put down a bear confidently.

Controlled expansion hunting bullets are great for black bear hunting as they let you take both broadside shots and quartering-away shots.

Maximum penetration bullets, however, let you shoot through the shoulder and into the lungs. Examples include hard-cast lead and all-copper bullets that don’t have petal cuts.

These are sometimes called “dangerous game” loads.

For Bow Hunters

Close up of fixed blade broadhead on an arrow
Heavy, fixed blade broadheads are the preferred choice of many bear hunters.

If you’re hunting a black bear with a bow and arrow, you want to maximize penetration.

Use the heaviest arrows you can for your bow’s draw weight and length to get as much mass behind the arrowhead as possible.

Also, use a fixed broadhead instead of an expanding mechanical broadhead.

A black bear’s thick fur can gunk up a mechanical broadhead’s works and prevent it from swinging out the blades properly. This will cause you to lose much killing power, potentially letting the bear live.

Or allow it to escape and then die slowly, far from where you’ll give up even after you search for a tiny blood trail into the wee hours of the morning.

Where to Shoot a Bear in Self Defense

Circumstances are different when a bear is charging you.

Even if you’re not bear hunting, you may find yourself facing down a hungry or irate bear.

These animals can learn that gunshots mean dead deer. So what if you’re between them and having that deer carcass as dinner? Everyone enjoys an appetizer.

What are usually good targets when hunting bears, the lungs and heart, are a poor choice when you have to stop a bear in a matter of seconds. That’s because even a heart shot won’t drop a big bear.

And your priority during an attack is to stop the bear from moving toward you.

Generally, a bear charges straight at its prey, whether it’s hunting or trying to defend itself.

Black bear charging toward you

There are two places you can shoot a bear to get it to stop moving: the nervous system and the shoulders.

The best way to neutralize a bear is to kill it instantly and the only way to do so is to deliver a bullet into its skull.

I’ve already covered why it’s a bad idea to go for a headshot, but there is a difference when the bear is looking straight at you:

Its nose hides an opening to its brain covered by cartilage, not bone.

A bear’s nose is a tiny target that bounces up and down as it comes at you, but this is generally regarded as the best place to aim to put down a bear.

Another option is to break its shoulder so it can no longer run toward you. This is also a hard target against a charging bear.

Your best chance to defend against a bear attack with a firearm is to use highly-penetrating ammo and lots of it. Take aimed shots but get them out as quickly as possible.

10mm Glocks are common in Alaska because they can be worn in a chest harness. When drawn, you have 15 or more rounds of 220-gr hard cast lead to throw at the aggravated beast.

Even if you don’t hit the bear’s nose, enough lead will injure it to dissuade it from continuing the attack or break a bone and prevent it from moving toward you.

Semi-automatic hunting rifles and shotguns loaded with slugs also make great bear-defense firearms.

And if you’re ever deer hunting in bear country, never set your rifle outside of arm’s reach when cleaning a deer.


A black bear is a mighty predator but it’s no match for you.

With a good projectile and smart shot placement, you can put down your dream bear with a single shot.

Your best chances are waiting for it to go broadside and to take a step forward so you have a direct line through both lungs.

Have patience and you, too, can snack on bear sausage and show off your new bear rug!

Related: Where To Shoot A Deer: Kill Zone Shot Placements with Graphics

Bear Shot Placement FAQs

Where Do You Aim at a Charging Bear?

The best place to aim at a charging bear is its nose, and the second place is its shoulder. Putting a bullet through its nose, into its brain, will kill it. Whereas shattering the shoulder blade will immobilize the bear.

How Far Will a Bear Run after Being Shot?

A black bear can easily run at over thirty miles per hour. It’ll likely drop within fifty to one hundred fifty yards with a double lung shot. But with a less lethal shot, a black bear can travel for miles before dying.

Where Do You Shoot a Bear with a Bow from a Tree Stand?

The best area to place an arrow is through one or both lungs. Aim behind its leg, to the side of its spine, and you can angle that arrow through a lung and into its lower chest, potentially striking the heart.

Can You Shoot a Bear in the Head?

Thick bones protect a black bear’s brain and spine. It’s recommended to aim at the lungs instead.

The post Where to Shoot a Black Bear: 6 Shot Placements with Graphics appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Best Coyote Calibers and Cartridges (Including Long Range) Sat, 04 Feb 2023 11:29:29 +0000 Coyote hunting has become more popular in recent years for various reasons. Some hunters want to harvest them for their beautiful fur pelts. Others appreciate the challenge these clever varmints provide. And some hunters try to cull the number of these predators to relieve pressure on livestock populations. There are many ways to hunt coyotes, ... Read more

The post Best Coyote Calibers and Cartridges (Including Long Range) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Coyote hunting has become more popular in recent years for various reasons. Some hunters want to harvest them for their beautiful fur pelts. Others appreciate the challenge these clever varmints provide. And some hunters try to cull the number of these predators to relieve pressure on livestock populations.

There are many ways to hunt coyotes, from calling them to stalking them at night. But what’s the best gun to use so you will humanely and effectively put down a yote with one shot?

The most popular and best caliber for hunting coyotes is .22, especially .223 Remington and .22-250 Remington. .243 Winchester is the perfect long-range coyote hunting round. The .357 SIG is a coyote-capable handgun round and the .17 HMR is the best rimfire cartridge for short-range coyote hunting.

Let’s go over why these cartridges are so popular, then delve into more options.

Top 5 Best Coyote Hunting Cartridges

  1. Overall Best Cartridge for Hunting Coyotes: .223 Remington
  2. Best High-Velocity Cartridge for Hunting Coyotes: .22-250 Remington
  3. Best Long Range Coyote Hunting Cartridge: .243 Winchester
  4. Best Rimfire Coyote Hunting Cartridge: .17 HMR
  5. Best Pistol Cartridge for Coyote Hunting: .357 SIG

Why these cartridges? I’ll explain.

1. Best Overall: .223 Remington/5.56 NATO

5.56 NATO.223 Remington and its military version, 5.56 NATO, is probably the most common coyote hunting round in use today. It’s not the most effective cartridge for taking yotes but it’s more than good enough.

The main advantage of .223 Rem is that it’s already a common round. Whether you have an AR-15 or a Winchester XPR, you have an excellent gun for harvesting coyotes.

Effective ammo is common and inexpensive, making this cartridge the best choice for most coyote hunters.

2. Best High Velocity: .22-250 Remington

.22-250 Remington

While the .223 Remington wins the overall best slot because it’s a common and versatile cartridge that’s effective against coyotes, the .22-250 Remington can be considered an upgrade pick.

.22-250 Remington is the second-fastest commercial .22 cartridge, losing out only to .220 Swift, with over 4,000 fps performance!

This means the .22-250 is flat shooting and carries lots of kinetic energy past the yardage at which .223 loses oomph, about 300 yards.

Despite the added power, .22-250 rifles don’t have much recoil and aren’t known for damaging pelts, so I recommend this cartridge if you want a dedicated rifle for hunting coyotes.

3. Best Long Range: .243 Winchester

.243 Winchester

If you want to tag yotes at extreme ranges, 500 yards or more, then the .243 Winchester is a great choice. It uses a 6mm bullet for better ballistic performance than .22 caliber bullets at long ranges. Plus, it’s a common cartridge, so you can find a variety of hunting loads at your local store.

There may be other 6mm cartridges with slightly better velocity but that’s not necessary when taking a 30-lb animal, even at 400 yards.

Plus, you can use a .243 to take deer, giving your rifle more versatility!

4. Best Rimfire: .17 HMR

.17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire

.17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire is the smallest I’d go when hunting coyotes.

Rimfire cartridges are not known for their knockdown power. However, keep your shots within 50 yards and wait for the perfect shot, and a .17 HMR will put down a yote with minimal damage to the pelt.

The only other rimfire I’d consider using to take a coyote is a .22 Winchester Magnum, though you will lose out on some needed velocity.

5. Best Pistol: .357 SIG

.357 SIG

According to Massad Ayoob, the .357 SIG is well known for stopping violent dogs with one shot, something 9mm Parabellum cannot claim.

Load a pistol with Underwood ammo and the .357 SIG is a high-velocity, flat-shooting pistol round, well suited for taking coyotes at ranges farther than any other pistol cartridge.

What Caliber is Best for Coyotes?

Coyotes are varmints and medium-sized pest animals. They’re smaller than deer, so the best deer calibers may be too large for hunting coyotes.

Your local coyote can range from 20 to 50 pounds, depending on where you are in the United States. The average yote stands 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 30 pounds.

So, you don’t need something powerful to take one down. And if you use something too big, well, you can damage the pelt past the point of usability.

.30 cal is the largest caliber I’d use against a coyote.

These predators are small enough that it’s actually hard to have a caliber too small to take them. Many coyotes have been harvested with .17 cal rifles, though at short range.

Light bullets just don’t hold enough kinetic energy for effective terminal performance at mid to long ranges.

A heavy .17 Hornet bullet is 30 grains and travels at about 3,000 feet per second, delivering about 800 foot-pounds of force right after the muzzle.

.223 Remington can send a 69-grain bullet at about the same speed, resulting in 1,340 foot-pounds. More than twice as heavy as the .17 caliber bullet and over twice the kinetic energy (KE).

Momentum equals mass times velocity so that heavier bullet will also have more momentum.

Go up to .308 Winchester and you can get the same speed with a 125-grain bullet. It’ll put out 2,600 foot-pounds at the muzzle, an excessive amount of energy to dump into a 30-pound animal!

So, if you want the best combination of effectiveness and lack of damage to the pelt, you want a .22 caliber firearm. (Not a .22 long rifle!)

Best Long-Range Caliber for Coyotes

However, if you want to shoot past 300 yards, stepping up in caliber will give you a boost to your ballistic performance. Longer, heavier bullets maintain velocity longer and buck the wind better.

You don’t want to go too big because big bullets mean big holes, excessively damaging the coyote’s pelt.

.243/6mm caliber is the sweet spot for long-range coyote hunting.

You can go larger, but then you risk devastating the animal if you have to take a short-range shot. .30 cal goes a bit far as the bullets get wider but not longer, so many coyote hunters will actually lose hunting range by using .30 caliber rifles.

Remember, you want to harvest animals with a clean kill, not blow them apart.

Next Best Rifle Cartridges for Coyotes by Caliber

Now that you have an idea of how caliber will affect your coyote hunt, let’s look at specific cartridges.

I’ll go over my favorite cartridges in each caliber and explain why you may or may not want to use them.

Smaller than .22 Caliber

It’s perfectly valid to shoot a coyote with a gun chambered in a cartridge smaller than .22 cal.

However, keep in mind that you’ll have to get awfully close to the yote to deliver enough kinetic energy for a swift kill.

.17 Hornet

Perhaps the most famous .17 caliber cartridge, the .17 Hornet is great at taking down coyotes if you have great shot placement and the patience to let them get close.

A .17 Hornet rifle will be light and relatively quiet.

However, you’ll have to pass on shots that could only be accomplished with larger rounds.

.204 Ruger

If you aim to minimize damage to the coyote’s pelt, then you want to consider using a rifle chambered in a .204 Ruger.

This cartridge is actually based on the .222 Remington Magnum, which is larger than the .223 Remington, so you’ll get blazingly-high velocities (up to 4,200 fps!) and tiny entrance wounds.

.22 Caliber

As mentioned before, .22 is the sweet spot caliber for coyote hunting for most folks. Every .22 bullet below will give you good velocities and small entrance wounds while dumping enough energy into the coyote to drop it, provided you do your part.

.223 Remington and .22-250 Remington are among our top 5 picks for best coyote cartridges, but they aren’t the only good options in this caliber.

.22 Hornet

The larger cousin of the .17 Hornet cartridge, the main reason to use a .22 Hornet over other .22 options is the lack of recoil.

It carries only slightly more KE than .17 Hornet, so keep in mind it’s still a short-ranged hunting round.

.224 Valkyrie

.224 Valkyrie was developed to maximize the distance one can shoot a .22 caliber rifle.

The round succeeds at this task and has even greater velocities than .22 Nosler, even with heavier bullet weights, making it a fair long-range hunting round.

.224 Valkyrie gives you the best performance you can get with a .22 caliber round in an AR-15.

However, this cartridge suffers from being overhyped. Ammo can be expensive and hard to find in stock.

.220 Swift

One of the most powerful .22 caliber rounds out there, the .220 Swift lives up to its name by being able to push a 50-grain bullet almost 4,000 feet per second!

This makes it a flat-shooting .22, great for hunting coyotes at longer ranges than people who stick to .223 Remington.

Of all the .22 caliber coyote hunting options, the .220 Swift will be the most effective at the longest ranges, almost making it the best choice.

.220 Swift has a reputation for burning out barrels, though. It’s also somewhat expensive to buy and reload.

Dishonorable Mention: .22 Long Rifle

Some people have used .22 long rifles to harvest coyotes.

This underpowered round requires you to get very close to the animal and is likely to just wound it even with the perfect shot.

Never use a .22 LR gun to shoot coyotes unless you’re in a survival situation and there are no other options.

6mm Caliber

Jumping up in caliber increases bullet width, allowing you to load more massive bullets for greater momentum.

This gives you both better knockdown power and a farther range, making the various 6mm cartridges perfect for hunting those pesky yotes.

As previously mentioned, the .243 Winchester is my top pick for the best long-range coyote cartridge. But here are a couple more worthy options.

6mm Creedmoor

“Creedmoor” is a well-known name for maximum-range shooting. However, it’s only a good, but not great, coyote hunting round.

That’s because the 6mm Creedmoor is a necked-down 6.5 Creedmoor developed as a target shooting cartridge. Maximum velocities but lower barrel life and excessive power when used on yotes.

If you already have a target or deer hunting rifle like the Ruger American Predator in 6mm Creedmoor then you can use it for coyote hunting.

However, if you’re picking up a rifle specifically for coyote hunting, I’d recommend one of the other 6mm choices.

6mm ARC

My favorite coyote hunting round is the 6mm ARC, also called the 6mm Advanced Rifle Cartridge.

Hornady developed this round to fit .243 potential in an AR-15 platform.

It’s a great long-range shooting round for both target shooting and hunting and has comparatively low recoil.

6mm ARC doesn’t reach .243 Win velocities because it fits the 6mm bullet into a shorter case.

This is an advantage for coyote hunting because the slightly weaker energy potential means you’re less likely to blow apart the animal’s hide.

The main problem with 6mm ARC is that it’s a new round so it can be hard to find commercial ammo.

For reloaders, though, I’d recommend 6mm ARC over any other coyote hunting cartridge!

6.5mm Caliber

Here we start to get into the realm of too effective.

You’ll put down the coyote at extreme ranges. Expect a damaged pelt, though.

6.5 Creedmoor

When people think of long-range shooting today, the 6.5 Creedmoor is what pops into their heads.

Like .243 or .308 Winchester, you can use 6.5 Creedmoor to hunt coyotes. And you can do so at ranges farther than either of those rounds.

If you want to brag to your friends about taking yotes farther than anybody else, 6.5 Creedmoor is a good choice.

But if you want to recover the fur, consider something weaker.

6.5 Grendel

My favorite hunting rifle is chambered in 6.5 Grendel, which I believe to be one of the most versatile chamberings possible for AR-15-style rifles.

6.5mm bullets are a bit big for coyotes, though.

However, since 6.5 Grendel is weaker than 6.5 Creedmoor, you can use it as a very effective coyote-hunting round at extreme ranges with less pelt damage.

.30 Caliber

Here we get into the largest bullets I’d recommend for coyote hunting.

Any bigger and you shouldn’t expect to recover much of the carcass!

7.62×39 and .30-30 Winchester

Some say that the venerable .30-30 Winchester cartridge has taken more deer than any other cartridge.

.30-30 and 7.62×39 are almost identical ballistically and both will knock down a coyote with one shot.

However, their medium-velocity, heavy bullets will limit your range and potentially spoil the animal’s hide.

If you’re going to use a lever-action rifle for hunting coyotes, then .30-30 is a great choice. If you already have an AK, it’s a capable coyote hunting rifle.

In other words, using these cartridges is fine if you already have them. If you’re looking for a coyote gun, pick something else.

.308 Winchester

.308 Winchester is a great all-around hunting cartridge because it can take a large variety of game and, due to its popularity, has a large variety of commercial loads available.

The main problem with the .308 Win is that it’s a full-size rifle cartridge and thus can be too powerful for 30-pound yotes.

However, Federal and Underwood both manufacture dedicated varmint loads that turn your .308 rifle into a great coyote gun.

.300 Blackout

My favorite .30 cal cartridge for hunting coyotes is .300 Blackout, and it’s not because it’s the most powerful or the farthest shooting.

Instead, it’s because this cartridge is optimized for suppressed shooting.

Whether you’re hunting at night or just want the advantages of a suppressor during the day, .300 Blackout will let you take advantage of this advanced hunting technique.

Unsuppressed, .300 Blackout is still a fair coyote hunting round, roughly equivalent to 7.62×39 or .30-30.

Next Best Pistol Cartridges for Hunting Coyotes

pistol and bullets on wood

Because of their high mass and low velocity, Pistol rounds are only good hunting rounds at short ranges. You can still hunt with pistol cartridges, though, with some caveats.

While .357 SIG is my preferred cartridge for coyote hunting, here are a few more capable options to choose from.

9mm Parabellum

Please don’t hunt coyotes with a 9mm pistol.

However, a 9mm carbine can make for a good, if short-ranged, coyote hunting platform.

.40 Smith & Wesson

.40 S&W is slightly more powerful than 9mm, though it’s only a good coyote round when used in a carbine.

10mm Auto

In contrast to 9mm and .40 S&W, 10mm is an acceptable cartridge if you want to hunt coyotes with a pistol.

Use full-power loads and stabilize your arms against a solid object.

.38 Special and .357 Magnum

If you’ve got a revolver, both .38 Special and .357 Magnum are good at knocking down coyotes.

Keep your shots within 75 yards for .38 SPL and 100 yards for .357 mag, use hunting (not high-penetration lead round nose!) ammo, and your wheel gun will serve you well.

Larger revolver cartridges, such as .44 Magnum, run into that too-powerful problem where you’ll blow through the coyote instead of making a clean kill.

Quick Note: Shotguns for Hunting Coyotes

Basically, any shotgun can take down a coyote if you load it with a slug or buckshot. #4 buck is recommended for shorter ranges and 00 buck if you want to maximize your range

This applies to .410 as well, though I’d stick with slugs only.

However, larger-gauge shotguns will let you load more pellets, increasing your chances of striking the animal with a pellet.

Remember that “long-range” for 00 buckshot is 75 yards. With #4 buck, stick to 50 yards or less.


Coyotes are tricky yet satisfying to hunt.

They’re smaller than many expect, so .22 caliber rifles are perfect for taking down these smart predators.

.223/5.56 is one of the most common coyote hunting cartridges.

If you want a better yote-taking cartridge then try .22-250 Remington.

.243 Winchester is an excellent choice if you want to stretch your legs and take coyotes past 300 yards.

You can go down as small as .17 HMR to put down this wily varmint, though keep in mind that you need perfect shot placement at less than 50 yards.

What’s your favorite coyote hunting round?


Is 6.5 Creedmoor Too Big for Coyotes?

6.5 Creedmoor is not too large to take coyotes, though it’s on the large side and can damage the pelt more than a smaller round.

Is 5.56 Good for Coyotes?

5.56 NATO is a great round for hunting coyotes. It has enough power, low recoil, and is inexpensive.

Is a .223 Big Enough for Coyotes?

.22 caliber bullets are a good size for harvesting coyotes. .223 Remington has more than enough power to put down a yote with a .22 bullet.

Can You Hunt Coyotes with a Rimfire?

Rimfire cartridges tend to be on the weak side, though you can still hunt coyotes with .17 HMR and .22 Magnum if you let the animal get close and have a perfect shot placement.

Is a .22LR Good for Coyote Hunting?

.22 long rifle is too weak to hunt coyotes ethically. It’s more likely to wound a yote than kill it.

The post Best Coyote Calibers and Cartridges (Including Long Range) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

When’s the Best Time to Shed Hunt? (A Regional Guide) Thu, 16 Jun 2022 09:10:09 +0000 If you’re an avid outdoors person, shed hunting is probably something you’ve done before or something you aspire to do. Shed hunting, on the outside, seems pretty easy and simple. However, you should know a couple of things before you go, including what time of year is best in each region. The best time to ... Read more

The post When’s the Best Time to Shed Hunt? (A Regional Guide) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.


If you’re an avid outdoors person, shed hunting is probably something you’ve done before or something you aspire to do. Shed hunting, on the outside, seems pretty easy and simple. However, you should know a couple of things before you go, including what time of year is best in each region.

The best time to shed hunt is typically right after deer and elk have dropped their antlers. This happens anytime between November and April. But the best time to shed hunt is during February and March. This is true for nearly all the regions in the United States. In Canada, the best time is usually March or whenever most of the snow has melted.

Now that you know what time of year you should be shed hunting, you should be good to go, right?

Well, not quite, because there’s a bit more to shed hunting than meets the eye. It’s also important to know a little bit about what kind of sheds to look for, what month is best, and the rules surrounding this activity.

Shed Hunting: Different Regions

So, when exactly should you go shed hunting? Most animals shed their antlers at the beginning of the year when the snow starts melting and spring begins. This tends to be anytime between January and April, but February and March are when the largest concentration of antlers can be found on the ground.

Regions of the USA

In the United States, it’s easy to determine the best time to shed hunt. All regions in the United States have populations of animals that shed their antlers, mostly in February and March.

A few variables might impact shed numbers, such as snowfall and hours of daylight. However, the drop time is pretty consistent among most species and regions.

As for the best time to go shed hunting, the earlier in the spring the better. You don’t want to go too early (January) because you’ll have a tough time trekking through the snow, and you may come up empty-handed. Waiting until February and ideally, early March, is probably your best bet.

By going in February and early March you’ll have some of the first pickings. This is especially true if you live near a region where it’s popular to go shed hunting. Many people will be competing to find the best antlers first. If you wait too long, you will be disappointed.

There will be plenty of other shed hunters to compete with, so if you go out too late, say mid-March or later, you’ll find that all of the good racks will likely be taken. This often happens early in the season.

Another thing to compete with is the snow. As mentioned earlier, most animals drop their racks when the snow has melted, and spring has begun. However, there can be many unexpected snowfalls in spring.

If too much snowfall occurs after most animals have shed, you are likely to come across a few racks that have been broken, weighed down by snow, or damaged by other animals. To avoid risking this, it’s wise to go as soon as the shed has started rather than wait until later in the spring.

Related: 25 Experts Give Their Best Shed Hunting Tips For Those Who Can’t Find Any

Regions of Canada

Canada is much larger in area than the United States. It has 5 distinct regions—the Atlantic region, Central Canada, Prairie Provinces, North Region, and the West Coast Region. Each region has its own territories.

While there is some differentiation/variability between some of these regions, the best shed hunting time is fairly similar to that of the U.S.

February and March are great times to shed hunt in all regions of Canada as well as the United States. The only difference is that Canada is often colder, and the snow might not melt until a little later.

Regardless of the snow, you’ll still want to get out and go hunting as soon as possible, ideally in March. You may have to deal with a little snow, but if you’re determined to get yourself a good rack of antlers, it will be worth it.

Best Month to Find Shed Antlers

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So far, we’ve been able to talk about two different months (February and March) which are ideal for finding sheds. The truth is, either one of these months works, but you may want to dedicate your shed hunting to one of them in particular.

February is a good month for shed hunting in both the United States and Canada because snow will have started to melt near the end of the month.

However, dedicating your shed hunt to just February is risky. Going too early means there could still be a lot of animals that haven’t dropped their antlers yet. Plus, if it’s still too snowy and cold out, you may not be productive.

If you have to choose just one month to go out for your shed hunt, March is the ideal time. In March spring has begun and, most of the time, there isn’t too much snow. So you’ll be able to find the freshest racks that are in good condition and haven’t been damaged yet.

Shed Hunting: Ethics and Rules

Shed hunting has grown increasingly popular in recent years. It’s a great way to spend the waiting time between hunting seasons. It’s also great for introducing family and friends to hunting in a simple way. Another bonus is your ability to scope out potential areas where there may be lots of deer, elk, or moose.

Since many people have picked up this hobby, many states and regions throughout North America have strict regulations. These are intended to protect animals during the winter and early spring months.

The period between mating season and spring is difficult for many deer-related species. The weather is harsh and food is scarce. The last thing they need to worry about is human harassment. This is why it’s all about timing and ethics.

Basic Ethics and Gear

The most ethical way to collect new sheds from an animal in the process of shedding is to give it space. Watch from a distance. A trail cam can be a great way to do this. We have a great article about the best trail cams. Often, the animal will shed one antler in one place, and as it moves away, the second will be shed in a location miles from the first.

If you want the full set from a certain animal, you’ll have to be patient. Do not chase or harass the creature, and never send a dog or other pet to chase them. Not only is this unethical and ineffective, but it is also illegal in many areas.

It is also important not to feed wild animals during the winter.

Some shed hunters have been known to use food to attract a shedding animal in an attempt to pick up their antlers more directly. Unnatural sources of food can increase the spread of disease, attract new predators, harm their unaccustomed digestive systems, and cultivate an unnatural reliance on sources that will not always be available during the winter months.

The most successful shed hunters are patient and respectful of the wildlife. As you take the time to observe these creatures from a distance, you will not only allow them to shed in a natural, stress-free environment, but you will also come to learn more about their behavior.

In turn, this knowledge will allow you to become an expert on the best areas to find antlers. You’ll also learn the typical habits of the animals. Shed hunting can be the ideal time of year to scope an area out.

Large deer shed with white points lying on the ground in mountains

State Shed Hunting Regulations

Those are the basics of shed hunting ethics, but here are the more specific details regarding state regulations for shed hunting in some states:

Arizona: Stay on approved roads and trails while shed hunting; review road and trail access with local USFS, BLM, and state offices.

Fish and game departments caution hunters to only pick up naturally shed antlers. Hunters who discover skulls or deadheads are required to report the location to Arizona Game and Fish for further research.

Colorado: No permits are required and no seasons are restricted, but the collection of antlers from public land is prohibited from January to March. From mid-March through mid-May, shed hunters may only collect antlers before sunset.

Idaho: No license is required and no public areas are restricted. Hunters must abide by rules regarding access to and travel on local trails.

Indiana: No permits are required for antlers, but a permit is required for the collection of a skull.

Iowa: Shed antlers can be collected on public land including state parks, but permission must be granted by the landowner on private land. Skulls cannot be picked up without a tag and approval.

Missouri: No authorization is needed to possess, buy, or sell shed antlers not attached to the skull plate.

Montana: Only bighorn sheep heads are illegal to collect. Other than that, Montana’s wildlife agencies typically open areas for shed hunting between May and June. Check local organizational resources for guidelines that may adapt to varying circumstances each year.

Nebraska: It’s legal to collect antlers that have been shed by antelope, deer, or elk. It’s illegal to collect any part of mountain sheep.

Nevada: Review open road/trail access with local USFS, BLM, and state offices. Follow the aforementioned rules and ethics in the treatment of the animals.

New Jersey: Shed antlers are legal to be picked up, but it is illegal to harvest antlers from road-killed deer.

New Mexico: No permit is required, and antlers may be picked up during any season, but local regulations may vary, so check to be sure. Heads, horns, and antlers from larger species require a receipt from New Mexico Game and Fish. Hunters must remain on approved trails using approved means of travel.

Oregon: Many of Oregon’s wildlife areas are managed by local and state departments, and shed hunting is prohibited to protect the big game. See pages 98-100 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for details.

South Dakota: Shed antler hunting is now allowed on GFP-owned lands, including state parks, recreation areas, and Game Production Areas. However, permission from the landowner is required for shed hunting on private land.

Utah: If you want to shed hunt between February 1 and April 15, complete an ethics course online. Children under the age of 17 do not have to complete the course if accompanied by an adult guardian who has taken and passed the course.

The course requires a printed verification and a signature, and in turn, you will receive a certificate of completion that may be presented to wildlife officials if necessary. This would only be requested during the aforementioned dates.

Review road and trail access guidelines, as certain areas are closed during the winter. Only naturally shed antlers may be picked up, not antlers attached to a skull or “deadhead.”

Virginia: Antler traps are illegal because they are designed to entangle or trap the antler while it is still attached to a living animal. Collecting, possessing, buying, and selling shed deer antlers is legal.

Washington: It is legal to possess naturally shed antlers of deer, elk, and moose.

West Virginia: Antler sheds are considered parts of wildlife. You cannot keep, maintain, or possess parts of wildlife unless you legally kill it.

Wyoming: Shed hunting is prohibited from January through April on most public lands west of the Continental Divide, excluding lands in the Great Basin. Winter ranges in Teton County are off-limits during the winter. Hunters should consult local resources for approved roads and trails.

Which Animals Shed Antlers?

Animals in the Cervidae family (any animal related to a deer) shed antlers.

A common misconception about antlers is that they are basically horns. But horns are permanent bones grown by animals in the Bovine family (bison, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, cattle, goats, and sheep.)

Among bovine species, both males and females grow horns. These bones are coated in permanent layers of keratin, the same material that makes up fingernails on a human.

Unlike horns, antlers are branched bones that grow incredibly fast and are shed annually. Mere weeks after an animal sheds its antlers, it will begin to grow a new pair.

Antler growth increases when the animal is exposed to more sunshine because the sun and Vitamin D are associated with increased levels of testosterone production. Testosterone is a necessary hormone for healthy antler development in the male of a deer-related species.

Deer antlers can grow as quickly as 1/4 of an inch per day, while elk antlers can grow up to an inch per day. Impressively, a healthy moose can grow up to a pound of antler material in a single day!

In the midwestern United States, the most common antler shedders are white-tailed deer, elk, and moose. Moose are the largest deer-related species, so their antlers are particularly impressive.

In other North American regions, mule deer, elk, and caribou (also known as reindeer) are common deer-related species, and they shed antlers around similar times throughout the spring. Caribou antlers are easier to find because they are the only deer-related species in which both males and females grow antlers.

Why Do Animals Shed Antlers?

Some antlers have an outer layer that resembles velvet. These antlers are likely immature because the velvet acts as a short, dense layer of fur that allows more blood (and therefore more oxygen) to reach the antlers and promote sustainable growth. The growth begins as cartilage and then calcifies into bone.

If the animal has a poor diet or lives in a habitat where it is difficult to sustain life, its overall bone density will likely decrease. This is because up to a quarter of the energy obtained from grazing will be directed toward antler growth.

Some biologists speculate that because growing antlers takes so much biological energy, females that do not grow antlers live longer than males.

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Mature antlers will have dry, itchy velvet layers. So you may see an animal with antlers rubbing it on a tree or other objects in the wild. Because the velvet is technically a layer of skin, the process may look bloody and gruesome. Rest assured that it is not harmful to the creature and is both natural and necessary.

Rubbing antlers on nearby objects is also a way that male animals spread their scent and claim areas of territory. After antlers are fully developed, the process of shedding the layer of dry velvet can be as brief as a single day.

Antlers are an important physical feature of animals in the Cervidae family. They are necessary for sparring during mating season. Dominant males may train younger males by sparring with them or may challenge other males for the right to mate.

The sound of antlers clashing will often draw other deer or moose to the surrounding area. This is important because it allows the animals to witness which male is the most dominant.

Usually, the animals simply posture to ward off competition, but occasionally, equally-matched males will be locked head-to-head until a loser concedes. The winner has his choice of mate.

At the end of the mating season, these animals shed their antlers because the extra weight is not worth carrying or sustaining during the winter months when it is already difficult to survive.

Shedding antlers increases animals’ mobility, lightens overall body weight, and lowers the number of nutrients they need to forage during snowy months.

When Should You Go Shed Hunting?

Because antlers grow so quickly and are shed frequently, hunting for sheds is humane and sustainable. Just be aware of the policies and standards associated with shed hunting in your area.

So get out there and find some trophies for your wall. Just make sure you are ready in February and March when the best shed hunting happens.

The post When’s the Best Time to Shed Hunt? (A Regional Guide) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

How to Hunt Pronghorn Antelope (A Seasoned Guide Explains) Mon, 28 Mar 2022 21:27:36 +0000 If you like hunting big game then you’re most likely always looking for a new challenge. Or perhaps you’re seeking a different species to add some diversity to your hunting accomplishments. Learning how to hunt pronghorn could certainly scratch that itch and offer a tremendous adventure. No other big game animal today portrays, nor is ... Read more

The post How to Hunt Pronghorn Antelope (A Seasoned Guide Explains) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Hunter with recently shot pronghorn buck
Note the black cheek patch that all male pronghorn have.

If you like hunting big game then you’re most likely always looking for a new challenge. Or perhaps you’re seeking a different species to add some diversity to your hunting accomplishments. Learning how to hunt pronghorn could certainly scratch that itch and offer a tremendous adventure.

No other big game animal today portrays, nor is associated with, the wide-open spaces of our country’s western prairies and grasslands more than the American pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana). 

Having pursued these animals myself and guided pronghorn hunts for many years, I compiled this guide to summarize what you need to know to get started.

Hunting Pronghorn, The Prairie Speedster

Standing pronghorn with atypical horns that stick straight out
This buck is truly unique with horns going straight out instead of straight up. The mass on these horns is impressive. Photo by Robert Turner.

Despite popular belief, pronghorn are not actually antelope like the species found in Africa or Asia. Pronghorn are truly a unique North American species that use their incredible vision and speed to evade predators going all the way back to the Ice Age. 

The pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in the western hemisphere. Top speeds can reach 55 mph with the pronghorn often being cited as the second-fastest land animal, second only to the African cheetah.

Horns and Appearance

Both males and females (bucks and does) can have horns. Bucks also have a distinctive black cheek and neck patch on both sides, while the does do not.

A female’s horns, if she has any, rarely exceed the length of her ears. Males shed their outer black sheath once a year leaving the boney inner core atop their head for a short time until the sheath supporting the prong grows back.

Pronghorns are the only ungulates (hoofed mammals) in the world that have horns and shed the outer sheath.

How to Identify a Trophy Buck

Hunter sitting with trophy class pronghorn buck
A trophy class buck, over 16 inches in length with nice prongs and deep hooks on top.

So, what factors do you look for to determine a good buck when it comes to trophy class horns?

Three things to consider:

  • Horn length
  • Prong length
  • Circumference of the horn, or mass of the horn itself

From my experience, a buck with a horn length of 12 to 13 inches should be easily obtainable in most locations. That’s a good first pronghorn.

A 14-inch buck is beginning to be more interesting, while a 15 to 16-inch buck will be viewed as a trophy. With good prong length and some mass, a buck of that size could even make Boone & Crockett.

The longer the prongs, the better the buck will score. Trophy bucks will usually have prongs in the 3 inch and above category. If the prongs start above the ears, and the buck has good hooks on top, he is worth a very hard look.

A buck with 17 inches of horn length or greater is not common and, without a doubt, would be a trophy class animal.

States That Have Pronghorn Hunting

Huntable pronghorn populations exist in the following states:

  • Wyoming
  • New Mexico
  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • Arizona
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • South Dakota
  • Texas

Pronghorn numbers today are somewhere between half a million to one million animals scattered across western states. Wyoming is the top producer of pronghorn.

Dry high desert prairie with mountains in background
Some typical pronghorn habitat.

How to Hunt Pronghorn Antelope

Hunting styles are usually based around a spot and stalk approach.

Normally a good tactic is to be positioned on any elevated ridge or hilltop early in the morning with the sun at your back. Once the sun begins climbing any pronghorn to the west of your position will literally shine with the morning sun reflecting back off of them.

A good pair of binoculars and a spotting scope are a must-have, especially when trying to determine horn length. Some years, when there has been excellent grass growth, all I have spotted while glassing is the black horns of a buck sticking up above the grass while bedded.

Recommended: Best Binoculars for Hunting Deer, Elk & Other Game

If you don’t spot a buck that you like, keep moving and repeat the process until hopefully finding a buck that meets your criteria. Once you have pinpointed the buck you want to try for, a stalk may be in order. But be advised, pronghorn have excellent vision and they can run like the wind.

One interesting trait that these animals possess is that they are very curious. You may have heard of a hunter “flagging” a pronghorn to them. Although I have never taken a buck in this manner, I have concealed myself in tall grass and waved a cap or neckerchief when the animals were already watching me. They did in fact move closer to me out of curiosity, so I believe the tactic could be worth trying in a hunting situation.

Bowhunting Tips

If you are an archery hunter, you will most likely need to utilize a blind.

Some states have archery hunts beginning in late summer or early fall. Hotter temperatures mean water sources will be your best bet at getting within range for a bow shot, especially if set up with a ground blind. 

Rifle Hunting Tips

Hunter holding up antelope head with rifle laying in front
A nice buck in the 14 to 15 inch category, taken with an AR Platform rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor.

Any flat shooting rifle caliber is appropriate for hunting pronghorn. I have taken them with everything from a .243 Win, to .270 Win, to .30-06.

A .308 Winchester will also take down a pronghorn just fine, along with most big game animals in North America.

Recommended: Best .308 Rifles Reviewed

Pronghorn Hunting FAQs

1. What Time of Day Are Pronghorns Most Active?

Pronghorn generally live in open country, where tree cover is limited or non-existent, therefore it’s possible to hunt pronghorn throughout the day. It’s not necessary to start hiking or driving into your hunting area well before daylight. 

2. How Hard Is It To Hunt Pronghorn?

Pronghorn are not considered tough to bring down, so any well-placed shot is usually adequate. Shots could be from less than 100 yards to as far as you can see considering the flatness of the terrain that pronghorn occupy.

Your ability and skill for longer shots rest on your shoulders. Be responsible and ethical, always striving for a clean kill.  

3. How Is Pronghorn to Eat?

Like any wild game, pronghorn can range from just ok to excellent as table fare. Personally, I have the whole animal made into breakfast sausage and summer sausage which puts the meat in the excellent category in my book.

Final Thoughts

Kid sitting and holding horn of recently shot pronghorn antelope
A successful and happy youth pronghorn hunter.

The American Pronghorn is well, truly American and no trophy room is complete without one in my estimation. Plenty of opportunities abound across many states for hunting the pronghorn. If you have never taken the time, maybe this next hunting season should include a pronghorn hunt in your crosshairs.

Photos by Terry Nelson, unless otherwise noted.

The post How to Hunt Pronghorn Antelope (A Seasoned Guide Explains) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

How Much is a Cellular Plan for a Trail Camera? (Real Costs) Fri, 21 Jan 2022 08:34:13 +0000 If you are thinking about buying a cellular trail cam, you need to have a good understanding of cellular plan costs for trail cameras so that you can plan accordingly. Many types of trail cameras are available from various manufacturers, many of which now have built-in cellular modems. If you invest in a cellular-enabled trail ... Read more

The post How Much is a Cellular Plan for a Trail Camera? (Real Costs) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

If you are thinking about buying a cellular trail cam, you need to have a good understanding of cellular plan costs for trail cameras so that you can plan accordingly.

Many types of trail cameras are available from various manufacturers, many of which now have built-in cellular modems. If you invest in a cellular-enabled trail cam and pay for a cell plan, you can have pictures from the camera sent directly to your phone. 

A basic cellular data plan for a trail camera costs an average of $10 per month. Some trail cam companies offer subscriptions for $5-$20/month for 100 to unlimited low-res thumbnails. For high-res photos, a data plan from a major network like Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile costs between $10-$100/month.

Whether you are an avid hunter or just want to get a better look at the wildlife on your property, a trail camera is one of the best tools to get. Here’s what you need to know about how much a cell plan costs for a trail cam.

How Do Cellular Data Plans for Trail Cams Work?

If you want easy access to your trail-cam pictures, you need a cellular plan covering your cameras.

In some cases, you can choose to purchase a plan from the manufacturer of your trail cam. These generally sell for a fixed price per month, quarter, or year. 

That subscription and the level you select will determine the maximum number of images which can be transmitted from the trail cam to your phone.

Trail cam photos are generally transmitted via a cloud service and app provided by the manufacturer.

Still, it’s important to remember that these third-party options often use the same cell towers as the biggest cell network providers such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.

Some manufacturers lock the hardware down so that you have to purchase their data plans for the cellular functionality to work. Others leave it open so you have options.

You Pay Based on How Many Images are Sent

Data only cellular plans generally charge by the amount of data transmitted. The more data, the more money it costs. For a trail camera, that means the more images you want to transfer, and the higher the resolution of those images, the more data you need in your plan.

For reference, a high-res photo from a high-end 16 MP trail camera is about 10 MB in size. So 50 GB translates to more than 500 photos.

Most trail cams will transmit compressed images with much smaller file sizes, often around 100 kb per image. In that case, 50 GB could be thousands of photos. 

Most cheap plans (under $20/month) from the trail camera companies only transmit thumbnails. These can be blurry or hard to see, but are usually sufficient to identify a big game animal.

If you want high-res photos or video on your phone, you gotta pay more. Many trail cam companies don’t even offer this as an option while others may charge a pretty penny. If you want this feature, it might be best to go with one of the big networks.

But first you will want to ensure it is even possible with your camera through the trail cam company’s app or a third party service.

Separate SIM Cards for Each Device

You must have a separate device and SIM card on your plan for each trail cam you have. You can’t use the same SIM for multiple trail cams, whether you purchase coverage through a trail cam manufacturer or directly through your cell phone provider.

Depending on the carrier, this might mean multiple plans are also required, one plan per SIM. Other companies, such as Spypoint, will allow you to have one plan that covers multiple SIM cards and cameras.

Bundled Plans Reduce Costs

If you have four different trail cams and want to receive pictures from each of them, you may need four separate data plans to accommodate the cameras.

It may be easier to keep track of all of your plans if you purchase cell coverage directly from one provider. This is especially true if your cameras are not all the same brand.

You can often add a trail cam cell plan to your monthly phone bundle if you use one of the major providers for coverage. This is often referred to as a data only device add-on and will come at an incremental cost increase.

How Much Does a Cellular Trail Camera Cost per Month?

Trail cam data plans range from free to about $100 per month. The average cost of a basic trail cam data plan is $10 per month. However, the cost varies widely among coverage providers and available plans.

The number of pictures you receive each month and the quality of those photos varies drastically depending upon your cell plan.

For low-resolution thumbnail images only, an inexpensive plan provided by a manufacturer may only cost $5 or $10 per month. Whereas a plan from a major cellular network provider that allows full resolution image transmission (and more than just a couple of images per month) could cost up to $100 per month.

When it comes to the cellular plan cost for trail cameras, the price of paying for coverage from your trail cam manufacturer can be comparable to buying coverage from your regular cell phone provider.  Though, it may be easier to set up coverage through the trail cam manufacturer.

Trail cam companies often offer free plans that supply you with a few low-resolution photos each month, which could be a good option to get started. However, avid deer hunters who rely on trail cameras to track the movements of large bucks may be willing to pay up to $1,000 annually for unlimited high-quality photos.

Do Cellular Trail Cameras Require a Subscription?

Data plans for trail cameras work similarly to cell phone plans, except that they are for data only (no phone calls or SMS). Pricing is almost always defined by the month. 

Depending on the carrier or if you buy direct from a trail cam company, you may also be able to subscribe to a cellular data plan for your trail cam quarterly or yearly.

It may be slightly more cost-efficient to buy a quarterly or annual plan. However, you may not want to pay for coverage throughout the year if you only use a trail camera during deer season.

Not all carriers require a contract. Month-to-month subscriptions are an option.

To choose which type of subscription is best for you, determine your individual needs. If you want to monitor the trails throughout the year and can afford the upfront payment for a yearly subscription, you may prefer to pay annually. On the other hand, if you can’t afford a large annual payment or only want to use your trail camera for a few months out of the year, you may opt for a quarterly or monthly subscription.

If you pay for an annual plan, you may not be able to change to a higher package until your subscription is ready for renewal. On the other hand, you may be able to change packages every month to accommodate varying needs throughout the year if you purchase a month-to-month subscription.

Price of Data Plans Through Trail Cam Companies

There are many different trail camera companies who offer data plans directly for their cellular-enabled cameras. For example, Bushnell charges as much as $1 per full-resolution image. Tactacam only transmits thumbnails with their plans, which keeps their plans pretty cheap as long as you don’t get too many photos. Here are some examples.

Covert by Feradyne

Covert trail cam data plan price chart
The 2022 pricing chart for Covert Scouting Cameras data plans.

Covert trail cam data plans start at $5 per month for 100 images and go up to $20 for unlimited images. Additional cameras can be added to the same plan for $5 per month. Quarterly and annual plans are also available as well as international and object recognition add-ons.


Spypoint claims to be one of the biggest trail camera companies and they have a wide array of impressive products. As of 2022, they offer the four main data plans. Here are the monthly fees:

  • Free: 100 photos = Free
  • Basic: 250 photos = $5
  • Standard: 1000 photos = $10
  • Premium: Unlimited photos = $15

They also offer annual plan discounts and an Insiders Club discount with some additional perks.

Spypoint also provides full-resolution HD photos upon request. You can pay a flat fee of $5 for 50 full-HD photos to your phone.


Tactacam makes the Reveal cellular trail camera series and at press time their data plans are priced as follows:

  • Starter: 250 photos = $5
  • Intermediate: 500 photos = $8
  • Pro: Unlimited photos = $13

You can add more cameras for a small discount.

Cost of Trail Cam Data Plans From Major Cellular Networks

Outside of the trail cam company data plan options, there are three major cell phone providers in the US that you can choose from.

While you may be able to find a smaller provider, coverage and compatibility could be questionable. It is usually best to purchase a plan from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile. Even trail cam manufacturer data plans generally piggyback on the these major cell phone providers.

Verizon and AT&T are the most commonly supported networks by cellular-enabled trail cameras. Just be sure and confirm your camera’s compatibility with these networks. In most cases, a camera is only compatible with one of these networks, not all. 

You may be overwhelmed by choosing which provider to work with. Each provider has its own advantages, but you can expect the following packages and coverage.

Don’t count on having a signal with any carrier in remote backcountry areas in the Mountain West, however.


Estimated cost: $10-$100 per month

Verizon logo

Verizon offers various data only plans that are prepaid. As of press time, these start at $40/month for 5 GB of data (promo for $10).

WiFi hotspot only plans are slightly cheaper, which could be compatible with even non-cellular (but WiFi enabled) trail cams.

If you’re already a Verizon customer, shared plans may allow you to add a data only device for a $10 per month access fee on top of your existing plan. Or they may offer you up to 10 GB of data at no charge. 

If necessary, you can also purchase a booster package to strengthen the signal to your trail camera so that you still have plenty of data to use on your phone for other purposes.

Verizon cell towers provide coverage to 99% of America, so you can be confident that your trail cam will get a strong signal when you have a trail cam cell plan from this provider. 


Estimated cost: $20-$60 per month

AT&T logo

AT&T data plans have both unlimited and mobile share options when you have an existing cell phone plan with them. These generally offer the greatest savings.

They also offer prepaid and recurring data only plans (AT&T DataConnect) that start at $20 per month. 

If your trail cam is compatible (e.g., Covert Scouting Cameras), a great option with AT&T might be an IoT data plan. IoT data only plans start at $3/month and go up to $60/month. You also need to buy the SIM card for $2, which is not uncommon with any carrier.

The company also offers unlimited data or a high-speed 8 GB plan for people who don’t want unlimited access. You can easily adapt your plan to include multiple devices. The cost varies based on how much data you think you’ll use and your device compatibility, which might dictate the type of plan.

AT&T has excellent coverage in all 50 states. Outside of the backcountry, you will rarely have to worry about your trail cameras not receiving a signal. 


Estimated cost: $5-$50 per month

T-Mobile logo

T-Mobile offers data only plans starting at $5/month for just 500MB of data, which may or may not be sufficient for transmitting a whole lot of photos from your trail cam. These plans scale up to $50/month for 50 GB, which converts to a LOT of thumbnails or even full-res photos. 

You can choose a prepaid plan that offers anywhere from 2 GB to 22 GB of data. If you prefer to have a pay-as-you-go plan, T-Mobile also offers various unlimited plans. 

Then you can add a data only device to a traditional T-Mobile cell phone plan for between $10 and $20 per month.

The nationwide cell provider Sprint falls under the umbrella of T-Mobile.

Are Cellular Trail Cameras Worth the Cost?

To know if the cost of a trail camera is worth it, you need to know how often you will use it and plan accordingly.

The combined cost of your data plan and the trail camera varies widely depending upon the package and camera you choose, but it can easily add up to a significant expense. You may wonder if the expense of a trail camera is worth it.

If you just want to keep an eye on what happens on your property, you can select a low-cost or even free data plan that only provides you with a few low-res images each month. This will allow you to identify the types of wildlife on your property and catch any trespassers who come near the camera. It’s a more cost-efficient solution that gives peace of mind.

However, if you are an avid hunter, you may want to select a more expensive cellular data plan that will provide you with unlimited pictures each month. A better plan allows you to see more of what happens in front of your lens. You’ll better understand which deer you want to track during hunting season.

If you use the camera throughout the year, it can be an invaluable tool worth the price. If it is a tool that you only want for peace of mind or to watch the wildlife that passes through your property occasionally, a trail cam may not be worth the price for you.

Why is a Cellular Plan for Trail Cameras Beneficial?

The primary benefit of purchasing a cell plan for your trail cameras is that every time your trail cam detects movement, it takes a picture and sends it directly to your phone so that you are aware of what is happening on your property or at your hunting spot. It also helps store all the photos your camera takes in a safe location. 

Trail camera data plans also offer the following benefits:

  • Customized plans for individual needs such as how many cameras you own and how often you plan to use them.
  • Access to your photos from anywhere, provided you have a cell signal. Regardless of how far away you are from your trail camera, you can use a mobile app or log in on the website to see all of your trail pictures. Not only does this feature make it easy to share your photos with friends, but it also helps you stay aware of what happens on your property at all times.
  • A wide variety of helpful features like push alerts, image filtering, and built-in AI capabilities that help identify what’s in the image.
  • Cloud-based storage that keeps your photos secure and accessible even if something happens to your phone or trail cam.

Once you have chosen a trail cam, you can select from a wide range of data plans to find one that meets your needs and won’t blow your budget. Consider your coverage options carefully and see which data plan will best help you accomplish your trail cam goals, whether you want to hunt or just observe the wildlife on your property.

A trail camera is an excellent investment if you want to know what types of wildlife frequent your property. Now you are more aware of cellular plan costs for trail cameras so that you can choose the one that best meets your needs and budget.

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How Big Are Wolves: Variation, Record & Wolf Size Comparison Sat, 08 Jan 2022 16:01:38 +0000 How big are wolves? If you’ve never been up close and personal with a wolf, it’s tough to imagine just how large these canines are. While a distant relative of the domesticated dog, you’d be better off comparing them to their canid family members, coyotes, and jackals.  On average, a wolf measures about 2.8 ft ... Read more

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pack of wolves in the woods

How big are wolves? If you’ve never been up close and personal with a wolf, it’s tough to imagine just how large these canines are. While a distant relative of the domesticated dog, you’d be better off comparing them to their canid family members, coyotes, and jackals. 

On average, a wolf measures about 2.8 ft (85 cm) in height and 5.2 ft (160 cm) in length. A mature male wolf typically weighs 100 pounds (45 kg) but can weigh more than 150 pounds.

What we commonly refer to as a wolf is typically a gray wolf (Canis lupus), which has numerous subspecies all over the world. To understand their size, you need to understand how they vary based on species, subspecies, and region. 

How Big Do Real Wolves Get?

Before modern wolves, the largest ancestral canine competed with the likes of saber-tooth tigers. In the La Brea Tar Pits, thousands of dire wolf skeletons were found. From head to tail, they were about five feet long. It’s estimated that they weighed between 150 and 200 pounds or about 25% heavier than the largest modern wolves.

With such large ancestors, how big does a modern wolf get? When it comes to weight, you may see wolves that range in size from 40 to 170 pounds. Generally, wolves do not exceed 100 pounds, but it can happen.

How Big Is a Full-Size Wolf?

When judging how big a full-sized wolf is, you need to think about your region. Different sizes are common depending on the area of the globe.

North America

In North America, there are at least 24 subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Then there also exists the rare and endangered red wolf (Canis rufus), a distinct wolf species. 

The grey wolf’s range covers Yellowstone in Wyoming, western Montana, Alaska, northern Wisconsin, and northeast Oregon.

A northern gray can grow to be 30 inches tall and 100 pounds. In interior Alaska, an adult male weighs between 85 and 115 pounds. On the other hand, females weigh about 10 to 15 pounds less than the males. For a female to weigh more than 110 pounds is rare.

The Mexican grey wolf is the smallest subspecies in North America. It weighs between 50 and 80 pounds, stands about 28 to 32 inches at the shoulder, and is about the length of a German Shepherd. While Mexican grey wolves used to roam from central Mexico and throughout the southwestern US, the majority can be found in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Though more are being reintroduced in Mexico.

Europe and Asia

Europe is home to the Eurasian wolf. Eurasian wolves are a subspecies of grey wolves. Generally, Eurasian wolves are smaller than their North American relatives. They have shorter, denser fur, with sizes that vary based on region. The heaviest Eurasian Wolf recorded weighed 158 pounds. On average, males weigh about 70 to 130 pounds, whereas females are about 20% smaller.

When it comes to location, you can find them throughout Europe and Asia, including Scandinavia, Western Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China, and the Himalayan Mountains.


At one time, it was thought that there were no gray wolves in Africa. However, as of 2015, genetic findings revealed the golden jackal is a gray wolf. Now known as the African golden wolf, it can be found in North Africa and the Horn of Africa. Both males and females weigh between 15 and 33 pounds and stand about 40 cm in height.

How Big Is an Average Wolf?

So how big are wolves on average? It may be difficult to answer the question without considering various subspecies of gray wolves. After all, there is such a variation between different regions and species.

With the exception of the elusive red wolf, all the wolves listed below are some of the most common gray wolf subspecies. This is but a limited selection.

Arctic Wolf

Arctic wolf

The Arctic gray wolf may also go by the name polar or white. They are found in the Arctic regions of Greenland and North America. When it comes to size, Arctic wolves range from 70 to 175 pounds, with a length of 3.2 to 5.9 feet.

Yukon Wolf

Yukon Wolf

The Yukon wolf is a subspecies of the gray, also known as the Alaskan black or interior Alaskan wolf. They are bigger than most wolves and tend to have dark fur. With a thick undercoat to withstand the climate, they may be black with a mix of gray and brown coloring. An adult weighs between 100 and 120 pounds and may be between five and seven feet long.

Timber Wolf

Timber Wolf

Timber wolves refer to a number of gray wolf subspecies that include Eastern, Northern Rocky Mountain, and Northwestern wolves. The Eastern is found in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Generally, they stand about 30 to 32 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 65 pounds. However, the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf stands about the same height but can range between 70 and 150 pounds. The Northwestern may weigh over 100 pounds.

Indian Wolf

Indian Wolf

Indian wolves are on the small size for a gray wolf subspecies. They only measure about three feet in length, with the tail providing them with an extra 11 to 20 inches. When it comes to weight, they only reach about 55 pounds. Generally, the Indian can be found in west and South Asia.

Arabian Wolf

Arabian Wolf

The Arabian wolf is one of the smallest of all gray wolves and adapted to the desert. While small for a wolf, it is one of the largest canids in Arabia. They are about 25 to 25 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 40 and 45 pounds. To survive in the desert, Arabian wolves need to be lean.

Red Wolf

Red Wolf

Red wolves are the most endangered of all wolves. They are only about four feet long from nose to tail and weigh between 45 and 80 pounds. While native to the Eastern and South Central United States, there are only a few wild ones in eastern North Carolina. As of late 2021, it was estimated that there were only about 15 to 17 in the wild, with 241 in captivity.

How Big Are Wolf Paws?

If you were to track a wolf, you would find that their paw tracks are much bigger than a dog’s or a coyote’s. A gray wolf, for instance, may have paws around five by four inches. There are four toes, all symmetrical, with large claws.

Comparison of wolk, coyote, fox, and dog tracks
Source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

What Was the Largest Wolf Ever Recorded

The largest wolf documented in Alaska was 175 pounds. If you want to know where some of the biggest wolves are, you need to head to Alaska and Fortymile Country. In 1939, a legendary trapper and hunter named Frank Glaser caught the 175-pound canine.

Now, when it comes to the weight of the canid, their weight may fluctuate depending on when they ate. The 175-pound canid had a stomach full of meat when it was caught. Generally, a wolf may eat about 5 to 15 pounds of meat when it feeds in the winter.

If caribou or moose is available, the animal may eat about 20 pounds in one sitting. A wildlife biologist named Craig Gardner caught a 140-pound male in 1997. The male had an empty stomach. Similarly, in 2001, a male and female were caught, weighing 148 and 110 pounds respectively. The two had been on a recent moose kill.

What Is a Wolf’s Size Compared to Other Animals?

bear vs wolf

Have you ever wondered how big a wolf is compared to other animals or even yourself? When answering the question “how big are wolves,” the best way to picture it is through a wolf size comparison with humans and other wild animals.

Wolves vs. Humans

If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t been up close and personal with a wolf. If you were to meet an Arabian wolf, it may be a similar size to a large dog. It would come up to an average person’s knees. However, the larger wolves may come up to your waist, and if they stand on their hind legs, they may be able to balance their front paws on your shoulder.

Wolves vs. Mountain Lions

Mountain lions or cougars are bigger than wolves on average. It may be difficult to make a one-on-one comparison because the size of mountain lions and wolves varies based on their region. Mountain lions in Brazil, for example, may be smaller than gray wolves. Whereas Canadian mountain lions are larger.

The length of a male Canadian mountain lion is just over seven feet with an average weight of 156 pounds. A cougar from Brazil, however, is just over six feet long and weighs between 91 and 150 pounds. 

Wolves vs. Coyotes

When viewing coyotes and wolves at a distance, you may have difficulty determining between a coyote and a wolf. The biggest difference between the two canines visually is that one is much larger than the other. A coyote only weighs between 20 and 50 pounds and appears much smaller. In addition, they have taller, pointed ears and a more narrow pointed nose. 

Wolves vs. Bears

All species of bear are much bigger than wolves. Even the smallest bears, American black bears, weigh 200 to 600 pounds, compared to the largest wolves, whereas they are about five to six feet in length.

Related: Largest Bear Ever and 8 Biggest Bear Species in the World

Brown bears have two subspecies, the grizzly bear and the Kodiak bear. The grizzly can weigh between 400 and 790 pounds and are about six and a half feet long, with a shoulder height of three feet. On the other hand, Kodiak bears weigh between 600 and 1400 and are eight feet long with a height of four feet at the shoulders. Polar bears stand at about seven to 10 feet with a weight of 800 to 1300 pounds.

Wolves vs. Huskies

Dog lovers often recognize the similarities between wolves and huskies. Huskies have thick fur to protect them from the elements and have similarly shaped heads. While the husky is large for a dog, standing at about 23.5 inches from paw to shoulder, a wolf stands at 26 to 32 inches. Despite being great runners, Huskies have shorter legs than wolves. Additionally, huskies have smaller heads in comparison to their body.

Wolves vs. Moose

The moose is the largest member of the deer family. Seeing a moose in the wild can be an intimidating experience, with their towering bodies and long legs. A large bull can be up to seven feet tall at the shoulder and may weigh around 1300 pounds. Generally, the largest moose are found in Alaska and Siberia, whereas smaller moose in Wyoming may be about 660 to 770 pounds. Moose tower over and outweigh wolves but may still become prey when the snow is too deep to defend themselves from the pack.

Related: How Big Are Moose? Weight, Height, Length & World Record

Where Do Wolves Thrive?

There are more questions to ask, aside from “how big is a wolf?” It’s normal to wonder how and where they can thrive. 

In general, people used to consider wolves to be a wilderness species and one that had difficulty surviving around humans. However, they have begun to wander into areas with more human disturbances. As long as they have sufficient food and human tolerance, they can survive.

Whether they can survive near cities and towns depends on the people who live there. Some areas near cities have enough prey to support wolves. However, conflict arises when wolves begin to prey on domestic animals and livestock. Likewise, there are other hazards, such as humans and vehicle traffic.

A pack may have a territory of up to 50 square miles in the wild. They may expand over large areas to hunt and travel around 30 miles every day. While a wolf can reach speeds as high as 40 mph, they usually move at about five mph. When young wolves reach about age three, they will travel away from the pack they were born in. Some dispersing wolves travel up to 600 miles.

Remembering the Size

So how big are wolves? When you ask the question, there may be various answers, depending on species, subspecies, and region. Even when you look at the averages, you have to keep in mind that there will always be outliers. 

We take all things outdoors seriously, including the wildlife. When it comes to size, our wolf size comparison may help you win an argument or get an answer right in a trivia game.


Additional Sources:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Gray Wolf Biology Questions and Answers
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Wolves in North America
The National Wildlife Federation

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How Long After Shooting a Deer Do You Have to Gut It? Thu, 23 Dec 2021 13:03:44 +0000 One of the oldest rituals in deer hunting is cleaning the animal you just harvested. It’s a gory process, but there’s something satisfying when you’re arm-deep in a warm deer when it’s below freezing. However, we don’t always knock the deer down with our shot, nor can we always gut the animal where they fell. ... Read more

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One of the oldest rituals in deer hunting is cleaning the animal you just harvested. It’s a gory process, but there’s something satisfying when you’re arm-deep in a warm deer when it’s below freezing.

However, we don’t always knock the deer down with our shot, nor can we always gut the animal where they fell. Darkness is falling, but camp is an hour away. Do you clean the deer now or drag it back to the camp and gut it in the morning?

Spoilage starts immediately, so you should gut a deer as soon as possible. If possible, gut the deer in 2 hours or less. Even in below-freezing temperatures! However, it may not be dangerous to leave a deer ungutted overnight if you need to.

Want to learn why? Read on!

Do You Need to Clean a Deer?

Some hunters will be surprised by this, but you don’t always need to clean your deer!

There’s one circumstance in which I’d feel safe were I to leave a deer uncleaned. That’s when I’m hunting close to a venison processor.

If I can toss the carcass in my car or truck and make it to the nearest deer processing facility in an hour, why go through the mess of cleaning the deer? Have them do it!

The rest of the time, though, it’s vital you gut the deer as soon as possible.

What’s the Danger in Not Gutting a Deer?

Bacteria, mostly. 

A variety of microbes start trying to decompose the deer’s remains immediately after it dies in a process called putrefaction.

Once the deer is dead, you’re dealing with what’s effectively a large amount of raw meat, much like you’d get from the butcher. Just covered in skin & fur and filled with bones & guts.

And, just like raw meat, you want to keep it out of the “Danger Zone” that leads to the rapid growth of disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella. This is between 40 F and 140 F (Source: USDA).

Those microbes double in population every 20 minutes under good conditions. Don’t let them!

Do You Need to Gut a Deer Immediately?

whitetail deer trophy on wooden plank

The USDA recommends you leave raw meat out for less than 2 hours. A dead deer is more complex than just “raw meat” but that’s still a good timeline to hit.

Note that various factors can affect bacterial growth rates. Higher temperatures help bacteria grow faster. So does the humidity. If it’s cool and dry, then you have time to spare. If it’s warm and wet, gut the deer now!

But do you really need to gut a deer if the temperature is below freezing? That’s cold enough to safely leave the deer until tomorrow, right?


How Long Can You Wait to Clean a Deer?

Even in below-freezing temperatures, the inside of the deer can stay in the danger zone for a day or longer.

A deer’s body temperature is between 100 F, and 107 F. Deer are also fairly well insulated by fur. This means that their insides stay warm far longer than their outsides, allowing those nasty gut microbes to flourish and spoil the meat.

A large deer shot when the temperature is 25 F may maintain a temperature inside the thigh above 40 F for 24 hours (Source: University of Nebraska – Lincoln)!

This is why gutting the deer quickly is so important, even when the temperature is below freezing.

Once you have the guts out and the rest of the meat open to the air, it will cool quickly so you can take advantage of the cold.

So, how long can you wait to clean a deer?

You shouldn’t wait. You can finish field-dressing the deer later, but you need to gut it as soon as you can.

Which Part of the Deer Goes Bad First?

The guts, which is why they are often discarded.

Just like a human’s, a deer’s intestines are filled with bacteria. These will start to escape the innards once blood flow ceases, heading outward.

Stomach gasses can also escape, causing spoilage.

If you hit the deer with a gunshot, then you just gave those unwanted bacteria access to the delicious venison, kickstarting spoilage.

Also, any openings, such as the ears, mouth, and anus, can allow bacteria inside.

Related: Where to Shoot a Deer: 6 Kill Zone Shot Placements with Graphics

Is it Dangerous to not Gut a Deer Overnight?

While you should clean your deer quickly, that doesn’t always happen. You may have to give up the blood trail due to darkness and try again in the morning.

Is it still safe to field dress that deer and eat the meat?

Thankfully, bacterial growth at this stage affects the quality of the meat more than its safety. (You’re not eating raw venison, right?)

So long as the meat doesn’t have maggots, a green color, or other visible spoilage, and it smells like venison instead of rot, then cooking the meat should be sufficient to render it safe.

Spoiled meat is fairly obvious to the eyes, nose, or both. Don’t discard good meat just because you shot a deer in the evening and couldn’t find it until morning.

In cooler temperatures then the meat will stay safe longer, despite the innards staying warm. You may have to discard the nutritious organs if you don’t clean the deer in time, though.


It’s essential to gut deer as soon as you have the deer’s body in your hands.

After recording the kill and taking an impressive picture, of course!

Gut bacteria and stomach gasses will soon start spoiling the meat. It’s a natural part of decomposition, and, thankfully, it’s a process. This means that, depending on the ambient temperature, a little bit of spoilage may pass unnoticed when you’re tearing into that venison steak.

So, my advice is to gut the deer and get the meat’s temperature down to 40 or below as soon as you can. If you can’t get to the deer immediately, though, avoid being over cautious and don’t waste meat unless it’s obviously spoiled.

What’s more important than gutting a deer immediately, though?

Making sure it’s dead before you approach the body!

A scared, injured deer is capable of injuring an unwary hunter. Confirm your kill before you gut your deer!

Recommended for you:

The Art of Deer Stalking: Stealthy Hunting on Foot

Is It Cheaper to Hunt or Buy Meat?

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