15 February 2013One of the great things I get to do when not hunting or traveling is to attend a variety of hunting conventions and consumer shows. Dallas Safari Club (held first weekend of January) was absolutely huge in terms of success. It’s my favorite hunter/wildlife oriented organizations. Run by DSC volunteer members, their annual hunter’s show is beyond compare, worldwide! If you’d like to see a little of what happened there, including an interview I did with actor/hunter/gunbuilder/rancher Brad Johnson as well as others who attended the event, please visit our www.outfittersrating.com website, to see what the event was like. Incidentally, now is the time to start planning to attend the 2012 event. For more information please go to www.biggame.org. Another organization I strongly believe in and support is the Houston Safari Club (www.houstonsafariclub.com) . I have just returned from their annual convention it too was an absolutely huge success! This year’s event was the best attended HSC convention ever. Outfitters, hunters and all attendees were extremely upbeat. If you missed it, you missed one of the best hunting events of the year. I was fortunate to be there on behalf of Houston Safari Club and Outfittersrating.com. I did several interviews from there as well and you can find those on our www.outfittersrating.com website as well. Both these organization are run by volunteers, and they put their money where their mouth is. If you’re not a member of both these, you should be! It’s Monday night and I’m in Las Vegas, Nevada getting ready to attend the annual Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trades Show or SHOT Show for short. Manufacturers and companies from throughout the world have gathered here to show their new and long proven products. I’m sure you’ll be seeing and learning more about the many products that will be introduced here this week. Las Vegas is not one of my favorite cites, to be frank. I don’t like gambling, and I don’t like noisy casinos..but I do enjoy and appreciate seeing old friends and meeting new ones. But even so, frankly I’d much rather be back in Texas hunting whitetails where the season is still open on those properties which are under the state Managed Lands Deer Permit. Matter of fact I’ve got one more whitetail hunt set up for Texas next week on the Whitetail Junction Ranch as soon I get back from Nevada. The property we’re hunting is up north of where I live in the Texas Hill Country where the rut has long since finished. Matter for fact because of dry harsh condition some bucks in the area are casting their antlers. I’m hoping there will still be a few old mature buck that will still have their antlers by the time I get there. While we’re in Texas. I spoke with several hunters at the San Antonio Airport this morning as I headed toward Las Vegas. The general whitetail season in South Texas ended on Sunday. The hunters I spoke with told me they had not seen any signs of rut during the last week. But with that said I did have a couple of emails while I was in Houston, from hunters who said they saw bucks pushing some does this past weekend. But they were also quick to point out the bucks were pushing 6 month old doe fawns. So for the most part with the exception of a few, the rut is over with in Texas, or at least on the way out until next year. Just below Texas in Mexico, I talked to a couple of hunters in Houston who had just returned from the northern part of that country. According to them, they had not seen much in the way of rutting activity, although ranch hands on the ranch they hunted reported still being able to rattle up bucks. Chances are by the time the week is over, the rut with a few exceptions will also be over in Mexico..outside of the far western areas of Chihuahua and Sonora. There I spoke with my old friend Ariel Trevino. According to Ariel, the Coues whitetail rut in western Mexico is about to begin and will continue through the end of the month. I’ve been told by the tv show producers I’m working with that I am not allowed to hunt Mexico because of the various problems they’re having. Travel advisories have been issued suggesting restricted traveling into Mexico by our government. Regardless, I’d love to be in Sonora, Mexico this coming week and the last week of January or for that matter the 1st week of February. The Coues whitetail rut there is about to kick off. And based on what I saw last year and the extremely good antler development growing season they had in the winter of 2010...there should be some extremely monstrous Coues whitetail bucks taken there this year. Moving over toward the Southeast, I spoke with Lee Sells who hunts the Black Belt of Alabama. “Bucks are starting to show real interest in does. The cold weather we had recently has set things up pretty good for a very active rut. There’s still plenty of hunting time left as well. Our season runs through the last day of January.” I also had a chance while attending the Houston Safari Club Convention to talk to couple of long-time friends Jim Jamison and Thad Brown from southern Alabama who told me they felt based on what they had seen the week before, that by the time they returned home the rut in their area would be in full swing. In years past I spent a fair amount of time hunting in Alabama. I loved hunting there, even if I seldom shot anything. In recent years I’ve not been able to hunt Alabama, simply because I’ve not had time due to personal appearances or because I was hunting Coues whitetails in western Mexico. For those of you in the North Country, I’ve been getting reports that in many areas, bucks are starting to cast their antlers. So it’s time to start hunting shed antlers. In years past I spent much time hunting sheds. Unfortunately for me, these days, there never seems to be time any more to hunt sheds. But I will tell you sheds can be a great tool for the undoing of particularly large bucks. Next week will be our last rut report for the year.... Question: Why should I look for shed antlers and what can I learn from them? Jason in Las Vegas Answer: Sheds are a great tool for whitetail hunters. They show a deer made it through the hunting season, they give an idea of relative size and age, and they indicate where the deer was when cast them. When I find sheds I compare main beam circumferences right about the burr to the pedicel attachment area. If the antler is small and the attachment area is small it’s likely a young deer. If the beam circumference and attachment area are essentially the same size the deer is likely a 2 or 3 year old. If the beam above the burr is bigger in size than the attachment area it likely came from a buck that is a 4 to 6 year old, a buck in his prime. If the attachment area is bigger than the beam circumference then the buck is likely past prime. If the antler is relatively freshly cast and it shows signs of being chewed on by deer or cattle, it indicates the area is likely deficient in calcium, phosphorous and trace minerals. Over the years too, I have often shot a buck whose cast antlers I found, and more often than not I’ve shot them in the close proximity of where I found those sheds. On numerous occasions I have shot bucks within less than 100 yards of where I found their sheds from the year previous. There are many reasons for looking for sheds or cast antlers, from a hunting perspective to picking them up to use them as ornaments, or even make buttons out of them, or trying to find sheds from the same buck in successive years to see how they are progressing each year.