Deer hunting tips and tricks

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Now that deer season is upon us, it’s important to do things right if you want to find success in connecting with that big whitetail hanging around your favorite hunting spot.

Years of guiding for whitetails in Ontario’s Sunset Country Region has taught me a few tricks along to the way that helps to make the experience better for my guests.

Trail Cameras
Trail cameras are the hunters’ best friend for scouting and determining where the biggest bucks are living.  I’m a big believer in putting in long hours in the stand, hunting from dark to dark, just like a day of prefishing for a bass tournament.  If you know there is a big buck living in a specific area, it makes it much easier to sit all day because you have something motivating you.

Trailcam Motivation

Trail cam Motivation

When you set your camera up there are few things to keep in mind.  Always aim your camera away from the sun if possible.  Facing it in the direction of north will keep it from aiming directly into the sun during daylight hours and all of your daytime pictures will turn out great.  If you take photos into the direction of the sun, you risk washing out the photos because of the harsh bright light.

Always keep the batteries fresh in your cameras to get the best possible photos.  Once you start to see the low battery warning on your camera, you must change them because a couple of things will happen that will have a negative influence on your photos.  The flash will not work properly so your night images will not be lit properly, the shutter will slow down so your clarity will deteriorate and eventually they will just shut down.  There is probably no greater let down in hunting than when you go to check your trail camera that’s been sitting in the woods for a week and there are no pictures to check on it because the batteries were too weak.

Another quality buck on Gussy;s Trail Camera

Another quality buck on Gussy’s Trail Camera

Setting up your spots
Whether you like to use tree stands or ground blinds there are few things to keep in mind when you’re setting up your stuff.

In Northwestern Ontario where I live we are on part of the Canadian Shield, so there is a lot of rock in our landscape.  These rocks produce many hills, which help with the use of ground blinds because we can set them up in an elevated position of the area that we want to watch.  This is beneficial because being elevated gives us a better vantage point from which to watch and it helps keep our scent above the deer.

When you set up your stuff, think about the predominant winds in the areas that you hunt.  For us, north and northwest winds are the most common during the fall so I keep that in mind when setting up the majority of my hunting locations.  It’s important to not cheat the wind too much when you’re planning to sit all day like we do in Canada.  You will not fool the nose of a mature whitetail.  You also want to make sure that you have at least a few spots set up for different wind directions because over the course of the season you’ll see some south and east wind that can wreak havoc on your plans.  On some of my best spots I have stands set up to hunt them from two different wind directions.

Payoff for the hard work before the hunt!

Payoff for the hard work before the hunt!

A little planning and preparation goes a long way in helping you find success during the deer season.  Hope you have some success this year and post those photos of your experiences on the FaceBook page for everybody to see.

Plus, you still have time to participate in the FB Page Trail Cam contest, click here.

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (

3 Keys to Fall Walleye Fishing

For starters, in my opinion, it is simply the best time of year hands down! Weather is cooling off and the views of fall colors are spectacular.

Dusty showing off a hefty fall walleye

Dusty showing off a hefty fall walleye

I like to tell people to fish like it is spring again; spring walleyes are hungry after the spawn but they are still lethargic and moody at times.  Fall walleyes are just plain hungry and that’s it!  Before winter sets in I think they feed heavier and even get bigger than in the spring. I actually like fall fishing the best.  Seems like there is less pressure everyone is hunting and watching sports.  So like spring think shallow water and the best part is, you will probably have the lake or river to yourself!

So here are my 3 keys to fall walleyes:

– Use more aggressive baits – Fall walleyes are mad! They are feeding to stock up for a long winter so if the fish are going to be aggressive use lures that you can work fast to get the reaction strike.  My fall favorites are casting crank baits or trolling them, jigging spoons/one eye’s, Jigging Raps or Puppet minnows and snap jigging minnow and jigs.  By using these aggressive lures you will put more fish in the boat.

– Grab the waders!  Often times we think that we need to be in a boat to catch fish.  The fall is the best time of the year to get a good hunt in the morning and some great mid-day fish catching.  This makes for a great surf & turf combo platter at night.  Have you ever had fresh venison and walleye or duck /grouse with walleye?  That’s what I call Surf and Turf! And keep it simple you don’t need a whole lot of gear for this strategy.  Also make sure to be safe depending on the season and dress as if your hunting (base layers are key).

– Fall wintering Walleyes do feed shallow and usually that is your best bet for ambushing them, however don’t forget to try deep!  Later in the fall walleyes can act like winter walleyes where they live in the deep water usually adjacent to shallower water humps or break lines.  Usually the best way to catch these deep fish is to jig or rig live bait using bigger profile minnows.  Also use Jiggin lures such as Jigging Raps and heavier winter type lures.  Don’t be afraid to try 30-50 feet of water; no matter where I have fished across the country fish live in both deep and shallow water…


Dress for the Weather

Good luck and remember to pack the fishing gear on your next fall adventure

Fish On …
Dusty Minke
Pro Staff Contributor and Tournament Walleye Angler

As the Leaves Turn….

5-02.1Right now in the upper Midwest, the trees are turning to brilliant shades of crimson, orange and yellow and at the same time mornings greet us with a cool crisp bite.  These are sure-fire signs that it’s football season and for many outdoor anglers, hunting season.

While many of my fellow anglers start to stow their rods to make room for camo and firearms, I get excited at the bountiful big bass opportunities that come with fall fishing.  As long as you can put up with some cooler temperatures, you will likely be rewarded with hefty hungry bass and empty boat ramps.  Dressing properly with Under Armour Gear and other quality clothing makes it easy to tolerate the dropping temperatures on the lakes & rivers.3-14.1

Many a lunker bass will make themselves available in shallower then normal depth contours.  As much of the green vegetation starts to wane, fish gravitate to the cover remaining.  Look for wood, docks, pads and other remaining vegetation and it can often be easy pickings.  For me, hard cover seems to be a real key in Autumn (i.e. Wood & Docks).

Not all days will produce huge numbers, but often the few bites you will get are from behemoth bass fattening up for the long winter.  Lures like buzzbaits, shallow crankbaits, jigs and spinnerbaits tend to load the boat this time of year.  Perfect example, last week I was out for 6 hours and I caught a pair of largemouth over 5lbs and several in the 3-4lb class, not very often in the heat of the summer will you catch more than a single bass over 5lbs.5-01.2

So pack a radio, listen to your favorite football team, enjoy the solitude of fall fishing and start hunting your local lakes for better than average size bass!

Rich Lindgren is a tournament bass angler living in Lakeville, MN chasing bass all over Minnesota and its adjoining states. Bass blogger, podcaster and fishing promoter. You’ll see him fishing the Minnesota bass tournament scene representing and Dobyns Rods among others. You can like him on Facebook (

Making the Transition

It’s that time of year that really gets every waterfowler excited to be afield.  Early season is coming to a close and the time to chase ducks is almost here.  So what changes do you have to make to have success when heading to your favorite little honey holes?

Finding where the ducks want to be is the first step in being successful.  A lot of waterfowl hunters have the same blind or the same little bay they like to hunt when opening day finally rolls around.  In a way I like that sort of traditional aspect when it comes to duck hunting. Going out there with your close friends and family and having a good time.  You may not always be heading back to the truck with limits but you can always create memories that you can share for the rest of your life.  Now if this isn’t the case for you and finding the “X” is priority one, then you better be ready to put some miles on your vehicle.  Scouting is the name of the game and if you aren’t where the ducks are coming to, your success rate is going to decrease.  Finding those duck magnets and gaining permission will help put more ducks in your freezer.

As for my areas that I frequent the main target is field hunting Canada Geese.  Again scouting is on the top of our list. Splitting up your crew of guys and covering more ground is always a good idea if you can because you just never know what the geese are going to do from day-to-day unless you are there watching their every moves.  Gaining permission from the landowner can be tricky at times. There are certain areas where farmers will give out permission to anyone who comes to their door and asks and then the flip side landowners that don’t allow hunting at all.  If you get fortunate enough to get the go ahead and hunt be sure to thank them and assure them that you will clean up your set up when the hunt is over.  Making the landowner happy will give you that edge for future returns year after year. If you are unsuccessful in gaining permission then you need to just find a way to adapt.  Try to get on an adjacent field and put out more decoys than usual aka. “Run Traffic.” This is because you are not exactly where the birds want to be and therefore you need to show them a reason to come give your spread a look.

NoDak2012Next step is to disappear in the field in which you intend to hunt.  I suggest deciding on what blind to use by the amount of cover or debris left after the field is harvested.  On short cut fields the Avery Power Hunter is my go to blind. It is low profile and easy to stubble up and make you invisible.  And on the flip side if you are able to find a field with a lot of left over cover in it then my favorite blind is the Avery Ground Force.  This blind is a little higher profile than the power hunter and is also fully framed.  It allows for a little more comfort and is very easy to hide as well.  Don’t be afraid to try new decoy spreads as well.  Experiment and see what might work and what doesn’t.  My friends and I have tried all sorts of patterns and have fine-tuned what we think is the most effective when it comes to getting geese feet down.  Setting your blinds outside of your decoys to help keep the incoming bird’s eyes from finding your hide is a great technique and we have used it for the past two years now.  Also shying away from the traditional “U” shaped spread and opening things up more is a good method to try.

Successful Youth Hunt

Successful Youth Hunt

To make your fall hunting experiences the best be sure to share them with friends and family. Take youth out every chance you can as well. They are the future of this sport and we want it to continue for generations to come.  And most importantly, just have fun. Getting your limit is fun but making memories will last forever.

Brian Cote is a website administrator at and a devoted outdoorsman.  He’s eager to take up any opportunity to hunt waterfowl, deer and turkeys in the Midwest region. You can follow him on Twitter @BrianJr22 and find him on Facebook