Preparing Youth Hunters for Their First Turkey Hunt

Preparing a Youth Hunter for a First Time Turkey Hunt

Preparing a youth hunter for their first turkey hunt can be exciting and daunting at the same time. For a first time experience that will bring the highest shot opportunity, plan the youth’s first turkey hunt in an area during a time with the greatest chance for success. In many areas, the highest percentage of kills are between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. These results are typically due to hens going to set on the nest during those hours leaving lovesick toms on the hunt for lone hens. Try to find a location to hunt with a good turkey population.


Youth Hunting Safety

Safety is the most important factor any time a firearm is being handled. It is imperative that you not only teach the safety rules to the youth hunter prior to the hunt, but it is also critical to keep reminding them at any given opportunity; repetition is key to instilling firearm safety. If the youth is under ten years old, it may be a good idea for the adult to carry the gun in and out of the field. However, the youth still needs to have a clear understanding as to the safety rules of handling a firearm.

Preparing Youth Hunters for the Shot

Once the youth is well versed on firearm safety, it is time to work on marksmanship. Before the youth ever takes that first shot at a turkey target, a mentor needs to take the time to explain turkey anatomy and the perfect aiming point for a swift ethical kill. It is important that the youth has the opportunity to experience some range time with the weapon they will be hunting with. For safety reasons and greatest results, the equipment should properly fit the youth hunter. It is critical that the youth is comfortable with whatever weapon they will use on the hunt.

A youth model 20 gauge semi-automatic shotgun would be the perfect combination for smaller framed youth hunters; whereas a 12 gauge can be handled easily by larger framed youth hunters. Shorter barreled shotguns will weigh less but have been known for a little more recoil. The shotgun should have a highly visible sight system such as a bright bead system or a red dot scope. Using light loads on the range will result in the lowest recoil and will allow the youth to become comfortable with shooting while building marksmanship. For accuracy and correct sight picture, use life-size, realistic targets such as Primos Shotgun Patterning Turkey Targets.

If they are a young bow hunter by chance, make sure you outfit them and prepare them with the right gear. The Cruzer G2 is the perfect starting bow for a youth hunter. From 5 – 70 lbs, and 12- 30-inch draw, the bow is versatile to supply a tool for any age.

Youth hunters shooting crossbows and compound bows is on the rise and is quickly becoming a “one-size-fits-all” solution for families. Again, it is important that the youth hunter knows the anatomy of a turkey, knows where to place the shot, and is comfortable with shooting the crossbow or bow. This again goes back to teaching them where to shoot in relation to the position and body of a turkey. A real-sized 3D turkey target helps them get dialed in quick, ensuring that they are comfortable with the shot ahead of time.

What to Plan for and Expect

Parents often struggle with deciding what age is acceptable to introduce turkey hunting to youth hunters. Every child is going to be different, but the most important factor is that the youth is mentally and physically ready. Young kids can be restless because their attention span is much shorter than that of an adult. Occupy their mind with as much as possible but not at the sake of the hunt. Keeping the hunts short will be advantageous in efforts of ensuring that the youth has a positive experience. With younger children, hunting in a blind is the best solution for maximum coverage of any movement. The Primos Double Bull Blind has ample room in it for two people and offers a great range of view with maximum window adjustability for shorter shooters.

It is not a good idea to introduce turkey hunting on a day when harsh conditions are in the forecast but often this is something mentors will have no control over. Harsh conditions require adequate clothes and boots and when in doubt take extra layers or rainwear. Comfort is critical to the enjoyment of the hunt. Try to use a route to your hunting spot that is easily accessible and if that is not possible, take extra efforts in assisting the youth on the walk by carrying the gear and providing a low light source.

Not all hunts have to start before sunrise. Younger youth hunters may be fearful of walking in the woods before daylight. It is also easy to get disoriented and harder to get set up properly with minimal movement. The time before daylight added to the time spent in the field waiting for fly-down light will make for a long hunt. If at all possible leave a little later, after sunrise, for those areas that you have scouted and know that the birds will take longer traveling to.

If you can involve the youth hunter in the hunt by allowing them to set up decoys or strike a call a few times, this will not only be memorable for the youth hunter; it will also give them a sense of pride that they have helped in the hunt. The knowledge of hunting must be learned through experience, and this is the most effective way of passing on knowledge to the next generation.

Hunting Gear and Items to Bring

As mentioned, practicing with a lighter magnum load is a good way to improve a youth hunter’s marksmanship, but once in the field, a heavier, denser ammunition will need to be used. On the hunt, 20 gauge 2 ¾” magnum ammunition will be plenty of shot for up to a 25-yard shot. For older, larger framed youth, a 3” 1-1/4 ounce turkey load will give the shooter up to a 30-yard shot max to ensure a clean kill. Using a turkey choke such as the Jelly Head Maximum or Tight Wad will ensure a denser pattern keeping most of the shot within the targeted area. Briefly reminding the youth hunter where to place the shot on the turkey is never a bad idea.

A shooting stick that sticks into the ground, one that attaches to the shotgun, or a tripod such as the Primos Trigger Stick Short Tripod is recommended to steady the shot and can also assist a youth hunter in holding all of the weight of the shotgun up when a gobbler is taking its time coming into the setup.

Decoys are not only helpful in catching the interest of a gobbler and enticing it to travel into the decoy setup, but they can also assist in preoccupying the Tom so that slight movements by the youth hunter can go unnoticed. There are numerous decoys available but it is always good to have at least one hen and one Jake or Tom decoy so you can entice a Tom to your setup. There is a myriad of ways to set up decoys for and effective set. However, the most important factor is to have the decoys close enough to the youth hunter that if the Tom hangs up just before reaching the decoys, it will still be within a comfortable shooting distance.

Make sure that the youth hunter has a pair of quality binoculars. Binoculars are not only good for passing the time, but they will also come in handy for viewing birds and bird activity from a distance.

Passive voice ear protection is important and should be worn by the youth hunter. Passive voice allows the youth hunter to hear your instructions without them removing the protection from their ears. There are a variety of styles on the market, from inner-ear to over-the-ear protection, a youth specific model will ensure that the ear protection fits properly affording the most protection available from the product and doesn’t interfere with the shotgun stock.

Full and complete camo is crucial and must include a face mask and gloves for the maximum amount of concealment. Again, it is important to buy youth specific apparel for proper fit and best performance. A quality pair of boots that fit properly is vital to the comfort of the youth hunter. Waterproof boots are always a good idea turkey hunting because you never know when you will need to use creek lines, cross through ditches, or traverse across a muddy AG field to cut the distance on a gobbling tom. Snake boots or gaiters may be necessary in some areas such at the southern states. A turkey vest is not necessarily needed, but it is a good place for the youth hunter to keep any items they will take on the hunt and often offer a cushion for those times it is necessary to sit on the ground.

As mentioned, utilizing a blind not only gives the maximum amount of concealment, it also offers the mentor the freedom of allowing younger or more active youths the opportunity to entertain themselves with a game, book, or to snack on food to occupy their time. When selecting a blind chair for the youth hunter, make sure it is adjustable to see over the blind windows, and the youth hunter is still able to touch the ground to sturdy or brace themselves for the shot.

It is important for hunters to pass on the hunting heritage and conservation efforts to our youth; they are the future of hunting. As mentors, we should always strive to teach safety and ethics to the youth interested in hunting. Taking a youth on their first hunt is not only exciting for the youth, but it is also something that the mentor will cherish from the experience if the hunt is laid out properly and planned for. Above all things, never hunt a youth longer than they want to be out in the woods or if they are uncomfortable. If the youth is ready to end the hunt, always remember, it is their hunt; end it on a good note and encourage them to return to the woods.

Shed Dog Training Tips

Shed Dog Training Tips and Kits

The shed hunting craze is at full throttle. Come mid-March the majority of deer have shed, and the white gold left behind is up for grabs. When you look for deer sheds in certain habitat and topography, such as food plots, open timber, and large fields, it is fairly easy with enough eyes looking for white gold to find the majority of the sheds. However, some habitats such as thick timber and corn fields are some of the hardest areas to shed hunt in. Unfortunately, these are some of the best places to find deer sheds. While it might be impossible for us to find a shed in a corn field, using a dog to find sheds could be the ticket. How effective can a shed dog be at finding deer sheds? How many more sheds does a shed dog find than just you or a couple of friends? What habitats do shed dogs excel in finding sheds, what habitats are they not so effective in? How easy is shed dog training?

With the addition of Dan to the Holder family, Raised Hunting discusses using a shed dog and addresses these questions. Part of this discussion focuses on how effective a shed dog can be in certain habitats, and other considerations to think about when considering using a shed dog when you shed hunt this year.

How To Find Shed Antlers | Shed Hunting Dog Training (Pt 5)

Shed Dog Training Kits

Shed dog training starts with small steps. From indoor training to finding sheds on their own, dog training requires patience. To start you could use expert training tips and techniques, including a step by step guide for training dogs to find sheds. These include shed dog training kits from Dog Bone™. The Dog Bone™ Shed Antler Retrieving System allows you to teach your dog how to retrieve sheds by supplying not only information and a step by step process but the shape and smell of a shed antler. This shed dog training kit allows you to train gun/bird dogs or brand new pups.


shed antlers

Where to Find Shed Antlers | Shed Hunting

The Best Places to Find Shed Antlers


Prime shed hunting season is upon us and if you have not been out looking yet, no time is better than now. Finding shed antlers is not easy especially if you have not trained yourself to find sheds. It is downright impossible to pick up any sheds with even the most trained eye if you are not searching in areas where bucks may have dropped them.


Find Deer First, Then Look for Sheds


Deer, and bucks particularly, can move into their winter patterns sometimes right after the conclusion of deer season. Those bucks that have survived will be finding ground that offers secure bedding areas and amble food sources to get them through the tough months ahead. Pressured bucks will often remain in secluded areas such as those off limits to hunting or designated sanctuary areas of a hunting property. Learning how to shed hunt in areas like these will increase your chances simply because they are likely to hold bucks that have survived long enough to shed their antlers.


Another way to up your chances of finding deer sheds is to eliminate ground. It is senseless to walk ground that has little to no winter deer activity. Again, first and foremost it takes a buck to find sheds and if no bucks are in a particular area you should spend time shed hunting somewhere else. One way to eliminate ground is to do some high-level scouting. Whether it be driving around looking for tracks in the snow around farm fields or using maps to identify areas that may have been hunted lightly or not at all, you can start to focus on where your time will be well spent shed hunting and where it will not.


Primary Areas to Find Shed Antlers

Now that you have found places deer are actively using this time of year, the next step is to hit the ground hunting for deer sheds. There are two primary areas to find shed antlers. Neither one will be surprising since both relate to the primary winter patterns of deer.


How To Find Shed Antlers | Best Places To Find More Deer Sheds (Pt 4 of 5)

(Video) In this fourth of 5 episodes, the team discusses the best places to find deer sheds. Searching bedding and feeding areas can yield the best results, because of the amount of time deer spend in those areas each day.

The first primary area for shed hunting is food sources. Deer are looking to not only recover lost energy during the rut, but they are also trying to maintain reserves throughout winter until spring brings renewed options to feed on. Unlike early fall where food is readily available, the shed hunting season falls within a harsh time for finding food for deer. Lush agriculture fields, food plots and vast acorn flats have all but diminished by now. What this means for those hunting for deer sheds is that deer are concentrated on just a few available food sources.



Focus on these three winter food sources as a primary spot to find shed antlers:


  1. Leftover farm fields. Agricultural fields such as cut corn and soybeans offer leftover high-carb foods needed to meet the whitetail’s energy needs. Bucks will spend most of their time feeding in winter on these fields. Also, sometimes farmers will leave parts or whole corn fields still standing at this time of year, which are deer magnets in winter.


  1. Oak lined ridge-tops. Two-fold here. If there was a good acorn crop, bucks can still find some scattered acorns for calories along these ridges, Also, winter weather like ice, snow and wind can blow tops out of trees providing adequate and easily accessible browse to keep bucks fed through winter.


  1. Edges are always good. Edges offer young shoots and stems perfect for browsing. Deer will work the edges of woodlots along fallow fields browsing the first several feet of low, brushy growth left to flourish from the extra sunlight.


The second primary place for shed hunting is bedding areas. Bucks bed most of the day, usually near feeding areas like the ones discussed above. If you have not already pinpointed potential bedding areas on a property you are searching for deer sheds then start by following trails back from food sources. Additionally, use aerial maps to delineate possible bedding areas to check out by finding thick cover on southern exposures.


When hunting for sheds in bedding areas, consider these three types of areas:


  1. Thermal pockets. Since the pressure is gone, bucks are mostly looking to survive and survive comfortably. When winter weather is in full force, bucks will bed in natural thermal pockets such as hollows and dense conifers to avoid the heaviest of snows and high winds. These areas are typically a few degrees warmer and have less snow, making for much more habitable conditions for bucks.


  1. Southern exposures. Not every winter day is packed with sub-zero temperatures and snow. On these days, bucks will often bed in open, southern exposures. Southern exposures are not only warmer but thaw out quicker than other areas making travel easier (for deer and shed hunters alike) to move to and from food sources.


  1. Thicket beds. If bucks are not bedding on southern exposures and they are not seeking thermal pockets then they are bedding in thickets. Bucks are likely to be bedding in thick, dense vegetation in areas that have extended late season hunting or places with high predator populations.


Bedding areas are only second to food sources for finding shed antlers because it is harder to see sheds in bedding areas. Sheds stick out in a cut bean field but are much more difficult to spot in tangled thickets that you can barely walk through.


Secondary Shed Hunting Areas

After exhausting food sources and bedding areas looking for deer sheds, there are two secondary areas that may land you a shed or two.



First, remember that a buck’s focus is mostly feeding and bedding, which is why those were the two primary areas to find shed antlers. However, a buck will have to travel back and forth and these trails can be where his antlers drop off. Worn trails with fresh tracks and scat leading from a food source are a good place to check out during shed hunting season. In extreme winter conditions, deer will condense into the same areas and these trails may hold several sheds from multiple bucks trying to access the only remaining food left on a property.


Another spot to look for sheds are crossings. These are areas like stream crossings and fence rows. The energy exerted and sometimes the force required to cross can jar a ready to fall off antler free from a buck’s head. When searching for sheds here, be sure to not just look right at the crossing but also a few feet on either side as the shed may have been tossed to the side from the act of crossing.


In conclusion, where to find deer sheds comes down to finding deer. The best places to shed hunt are where you will find bucks in February and March. Start with available food sources and bedding areas then move on to deer trails and crossings to maximize your chances of finding shed antlers this shed hunting season.

deer sheds

What You can Discover by Finding Deer Sheds

What You Can Learn From Deer Sheds


Shed season is reserved from February to March for the most dedicated outdoorsmen. This season is devoted to hitting mile after mile high and low to find deer sheds! The basics of shed hunting, besides when to go shed hunting, and where to find sheds, is how to find shed antlers. Perhaps an even bigger question is what can you find out from finding sheds?


In case you missed the recent posts part 1 and part 2 of this 5 part video series is featured below.


Part 3 | Matching Antlers Year after Year


How To Find Shed Antlers | Matching Antlers Year Over Year (Pt 3 of 5)


Why do you go out in search for deer sheds? Most of us would answer with one of these answers. “I like shed hunting just to get out there after hunting season ends. I shed hunt to scout the areas of my property that I normally stay out of. I shed hunt to simply find sheds, but see what bucks survived and to hopefully not find dead heads of bucks that did not.”


These answers are common but there is much more to shed hunting that we do not normally discuss. Just the fact of finding sheds to deer that you have seen before have not seen before, had trail camera pictures of, or are surprised to find thinking that they did not survive the season. One thing is for sure, finding the sheds, and getting the white gold in your hand is what it is all about. So why do you shed hunt?


What You Find Out By Finding Deer Sheds

When the shed is in hand you get several things that are addicting. Confirming the score of what you estimated the deer to be is one thing, but the biggest thing we deer hunters start to love as our passion grows is building history with deer. Trail camera pictures, sightings, encounters, close calls, multiple years of sheds, they all start to add up into a long history of somewhat of a nemesis out in your woods. Each and every year all of this data, and the location of where you find the deer sheds starts to add up and an incredible story of that deer’s movements, habits, and life takes shape. Knowing this confirms what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, and shows you how and what to do with hunting another deer in similar areas.

Shed hunting can tell you a lot, it’s more than just an addicting hobby, its history, satisfaction, and information to fuel your passion! Looking for antlers provides a great sense of satisfaction as it connects you to the animals you chase. There is a great enjoyment to the activity since there are few barriers to heading afield to look and explore.   Each shed antler teaches you more about the animal and how they use the land they live on because it shows you at one point they stood in that spot for a particular reason.  That reason is up for you to decipher and put into your bank of knowledge for the coming fall.


shed antlers

Why Do We Hunt For Shed Antlers?

Finding Shed Antlers | Why Do We Shed Hunt?


The desire to find shed antlers from deer and elk have created a die-hard passion within the tight-knit community of hunting.  Reasons to work hard in the late winter, spring and summer to find white gold vary from person to person.  There is the intrinsic value of finding antlers and building history with particular animals year after year.  Shed antlers are a large part of working to unlock the secrets of a mature deer or elk’s movements.  In part two of a  five part shed hunting series, David and Easton Holder and their taxidermist, Wayland, express why they love finding deer sheds. This is where the anticipation begins to build for the upcoming fall.  Making clear notes of where shed antlers are found can help build your scouting and hunting strategies for the entire year.
In case you missed it, find “How to Train Yourself To Find More Shed Antlers | Part 1” below!


Part 2 | Why Do We Hunt For Shed Antlers?


“Shed Hunting Tips, Part 2, why do you shed hunt? What is it about deer sheds that force us out into the bitter cold of February and early March? Have you asked yourself that question and thought or came up with a solid answer? Some may answer to scout my property, other may answer to simple find a shed, or to get a picture of a shed in my hand. Whatever it is that drives us to the cold woods every winter, it’s a good thing. Raised hunting discusses the reason for why we shed hunt. On the discussion, we reveal some eye-opening opinions. First is satisfaction without anything spent, it does not require a license, does not require a set in season. It is going out to the woods for one goal, to find deer sheds and the rewards of finding a shed go much farther than just holding a deer antler. Finding a deer shed provides more history, more information, the locations, and habits of that buck. It confirms that he has survived the season, and knowing that he will be bigger than what you are currently holding. Reversely, finding a dead head is the end of a long story, it can be frustrating, but knowing where your hunt stops is key. Early or late, we still get out there, enjoy the outdoors, share the memories and frustrations, and share the passion of hunting. Why do we shed hunt? Why do we go out looking for deer sheds? What is your answer?Shed Hunting Tips Part 2 – Why Do We Shed Hunt


Taking the time to look for shed antlers is not just about preparing for the coming fall. David says in the video that the best part of looking for antlers is, “You don’t need a license.”  Unlike sitting in a tree during the fall, looking for shed antlers does not require a license.  Finding shed antlers is one of the best ways to get someone new interested in hunting as it opens the door to a new world of adventure opportunity.  Because antlers are a part of the mystery of the wild which peaks the curiosity, it is easy to introduce new people and kids to the hunting community through shed antler hunting.  Now, some states in the West may have restrictions forcing people to wait until much later in the year to begin looking for antlers, which has more to do with not putting extra pressure on animals trying to recover from a harsh winter.  Other states may have rules in regard to finding dead animals, or deadheads as David refers to them in the video.  Quickly checking your state regulations is always a good way to stay proactive in order to have a full understanding of the laws.


What To Bring


Chances are, regardless of where you are going to look for antlers you are going to be out for a while and walking a few miles. David says in the video he recommends people carry a small backpack to pack snacks and water in.  Even in the cooler temperatures of the late winter and early spring, you can still become dehydrated and lose focus in the field possibly walking by antlers.  A good backpack is also needed for when you need a place to put your coat or sweatshirt after walking for a while, not mention a place to carry antlers when you do find them.



Binoculars are also a necessity for shed hunting. Having a great pair saves you a lot of walking to decipher whether or not that “thing” in the field is another corn stalk or an actual antler!


Did these basic shed hunting tips help? Don’t miss the other shed hunting videos in this five part series!

Shed antlers

How to Train Yourself to Find More Shed Antlers | Shed Hunting

Training Yourself to Find More Shed Antlers


You can search high and low, far and wide, mile after mile, but that doesn’t mean you will find one. Shed antlers are in demand this time of year and there is no doubt that they are the main focus of every hunter once February arrives. Whether you are in search of elk sheds, mule deer sheds, or whitetail sheds the fact is that shed hunting in general always comes down to one harsh reality…the ability of your eyes to spot sheds!

The common saying of “miles equals piles” might hold true until you get down to comparing the piles themselves. The pile of a shed hunter with trained eyes versus a first time shed hunter will be substantially larger! Point being, training yourself to find shed antlers before actually searching will drastically improve your results!

The Best Set of Eyes Might be Your Taxidermist’s!

Breaking shed hunting down to the bare bones allows many hunters to arrive at the same conclusion each and every year. The hunter that has his eyes trained on the shape, color, and size of antlers the most, is likely the best shed hunter. You then might ask yourself “who looks at antlers on a daily basis?”. No, some antlers laying around the house here and there, or stacked in the “man-cave” does not count! We are talking about someone that eats, sleeps, and breathes antlers!

Your taxidermist, the artist who takes in seemingly hundreds of antlers and is around thousands upon thousands of inches of bone each and every year, is often the best shed hunter you will come across in your life. Your Taxidermist has a set of eyes that have studied, picked apart, undressed, and most likely even dreamt about antlers year after year. This is the guy or girl you want in your shed hunting group!

How to Train Your Eyes!

The sad thing about the best shed hunter around (your taxidermist) is that he or she is swamped this time of year! Being around all those antlers comes at a cost, it is more than a full-time job! The reality of the best shed hunter you know is that they probably don’t have time for shed hunting, leaving most if not all of your shed season entirely in your hands (actually your eyes)!

The question to ask now is… “How do I quickly train my eyes to become as good of a shed hunter as my taxidermist?”

How To Find Shed Antlers | Training Yourself To Find More Deer Sheds (Pt 1 of 5)

(Video) In this first of a 5-part series, the crew will discuss how to train yourself to find more sheds, focusing around tricks to train your eyes to identify sheds tucked away in the landscape.

One of the best tactics to train yourself at spotting shed antlers is to simply replicate the scenario. Toss a shed in multiple habitats and ground cover types…simple yet effective! A corn field, thick grass, open pasture, thick timber, or within a food plot, really just about anywhere and everywhere you would expect to find sheds. Seeing the outline, color, shape, and size of the antler in the elements (different ground cover types and light conditions) will slowly build your eye’s ability and skill to spot the shed antlers.

Do this each and every time you shed hunt! Always take an antler or two with you on a shed hunting trip. Before moving into a new ground cover type, say a cornfield, simply toss a couple antlers and have everyone in the shed hunting group look the antlers over. After sweeping the cornfield and before moving into another ground cover type like timber, run the antlers through the group again. This time the group will be trained to what antlers look like in the timber, as they are now searching new ground cover type as well as a bit more shaded light conditions. By training your eyes just before searching and practicing this repeatedly shed hunt after shed hunt your eyes will eventually be at a level comparable to that of your taxidermist!

Training your eyes stacks the favor in your odds, however, a big player in shed hunting success comes down to the time you go, the weather, and what the specific conditions of the property are in terms of ground coverage.

When to Shed Hunt

Weather, ground cover height and characteristics, as well as the time of day all are factors to consider when planning a shed hunt. The absolute best conditions for shed hunting would be the following (this is often debated).

  • Weather:

The gloomier the better. Bright days make it hard to spot glistening antlers as shadows and bright light drastically alter the surrounding habitat and ground coverage. Gloomy days allow the whites of antlers to still pop, yet keep the white of the sun off the surrounding sticks, leaves, or corn stalks.

  • Time:

Anytime you can is the best time to go shed hunting…period. The timeframe, however, is a different story. Late February-early March usually has you arriving when most deer have shed, ensuring you are not busting deer off the property before they shed.

  • Ground Coverage:

Just after rain or if snow is covering the ground completely but has melted off slightly often creates the best possible conditions. When the brush, and ground coverage is laid over and mashed down, or slightly melted snow is on the ground it is very easy to spot shed antlers!

Raised Hunting’s Shed Season

This information is the beginning of several shed hunting tips that could significantly increase your piles of sheds this year. This is just part 1 of a 5 part shed hunting video series. Check out all the shed hunting videos and tips by Clicking Here. Also be sure to stay up to date with the Holder family by following Raised Hunting on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter!


archery form

How to Correct Your Archery Form Problems

Perfect Archery Form Through Perfect Practice


Most people don’t think of archery practice throughout the winter. The weather’s not exactly great for outdoor sessions and it can get old practicing indoors (if you even have a barn or shed big enough to do that). In most cases, bow hunting seasons also just ended and there are tons of winter activities to keep us busy. Plus, it’s always nice to take some time off between bow hunting and jumping right back into offseason archery practice. But before too much time passes, it’s best to practice a little before your archery form slips. Letting too much time go by is a recipe for small mistakes and form issues to creep into your routine. If you let those small problems go unaddressed until mid-summer, it can be too late to really fix them before hunting season starts back up again in the fall. So if you’re wondering how to shoot a compound bow the correct way, read on.


To really stay in good archery form throughout the year, you need to address physical strength and conditioning, archery gear, and your specific archery technique. If you can dedicate some time each week (starting now) to each of these areas, you will be more prepared for hunting season than you’ve ever been. Why is that important? First, your body will be more capable of longer sits in the woods or dragging a deer out of them. You’ll also be more confident in your shooting abilities, and will be much more likely to make a great shot on a deer even in poor conditions. While all of those will help you on any standard hunt behind your house, they will also prepare you for a trip to some place new. Even if you don’t plan on it, it doesn’t hurt to be willing and able. Let’s dive into the specific archery form preparation steps you should take right now.

Physical Strength and Conditioning


You’ve probably heard it from your doctor more times than you care to admit, but staying in good physical health should always be a priority commitment. It’s not only important for general health purposes as you get older, but it’s actually a very critical part of hunting. Whether you are hiking to your tree stand in the morning or climbing up into it, field dressing a deer or dragging it out of the woods, having a good physical base level is important no matter how you look at it.



The nice thing about archery exercises is that you don’t have to dedicate your life to them to see some benefits for hunting purposes. Granted, the more effort you put in, the better results you will see. But there are two things that a bow hunter needs most: a good aerobic capacity and a strong core and upper body.


Basic conditioning exercises will help you develop your aerobic capacity, which is your ability to bounce back from increased heart and respiration levels. When you stress your body (through dragging a deer or hiking with a loaded backpack), your heart beat and breathing increases, right? If you train for this capacity, you can basically raise the level of activity at which your body starts getting more labored. This is important for archery form when you have to hold your bow for a long time. But shooting with an elevated heartbeat and breathing also simulates shooting at a deer with high adrenaline levels. To get your body used to this, try combining your conditioning exercises with shooting your bow. At the Holder obstacle course, we combine running with strength exercises that will all build our aerobic capacity and increase our agility and strength. At the end of the obstacle course, we shoot at our 30 yard 3D archery targets from Delta McKenzie®. After running through the course, your heart is pumping, your lungs are gasping, and your muscles are shaking, which almost simulates the nerves you get from shooting at a mature buck.




From an archery standpoint, having the strength in your back, shoulders, and core is vital. Obviously, you use your back and shoulder muscles to raise, draw, and hold your bow. The more you can develop these archery muscles for that specific purpose, the better off you will be. You can eventually raise your draw weight to provide a little more punch or hold your bow for longer in those situations where a deer pauses behind some brush after you draw. Having strong core muscles (abdominals and lower back) is critical for holding your bow at full draw, climbing into your stand, or general stability.


You can set up a similar training course in your back yard to practice this summer. But right now, focus on building your conditioning and strength however you can. Do a combination of pushups, pullups, rows, squats, and planks to build your muscles. Burpees or jogging are good ways to build your aerobic capacity.

Archery Equipment Problems


The next category of things that can affect our archery form is our actual gear itself. Shooting a compound bow that doesn’t fit your body can produce some pretty sloppy and inconsistent shooting. If the bow itself is too big, it will be hard to hold steady. If the draw length is too long, you will have to overextend your bow arm to fully draw it to the back wall; whereas, if it is too short, you will have to stop awkwardly and hunch up your body. These issues aren’t easy to correct after buying a bow, so do your best to get the right fit from the start. This is especially important for youth hunting, but it’s also critical if you buy a new bow. If you suspect your bow doesn’t fit you quite right, you can measure your perfect draw length at home. Check out the video below for some easy ways to measure your draw length and determine your eye dominance too.

As you can see, it’s important to determine your eye dominance before you buy a bow. If you get that wrong, you will always fight your bow and that will make shooting accurately an issue. It’s also critical to consider your archery accessories. You should include a quality bow stabilizer on your hunting bow if you’ll likely take long shots or hunt in an open area (most western hunts come to mind for these conditions). While stabilizers are usually more associated with target archery, they offer a tremendous benefit to western hunters too. LimbSaver® stabilizers balance the bow and keep it steady throughout the shot, which will help you make a more accurate shot and keep the bow from jumping out of your hand.

Archery Form Problems


The last and probably most critical issues that affect your shooting form have to do with your actual routine. If you practice the right moves, you will shoot more accurately in the field. If you have a sloppy archery form, you will shoot poorly. Check out the following archery shooting tips to tighten your groups before next hunting season.


Start with your archery stance, which is the very base of your stability. An improper stance will put you off-balance and introduce a lot of error to your archery form. Generally, you can use the following archery practice tips to fix your stance. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, which provides the most stable base for you. You should also practice on different contours (where one foot is higher than the other) so you can get used to adjusting your feet in hilly areas. Each person is different in terms of shooting preferences, but usually an open stance (quartering 45 degrees to your target) will produce the best shots. The leg on the same side as your bow arm should be in front, with your other foot shoulder-width away. Consciously think about keeping your torso upright and straight so you don’t hunch over. The more consistent you can keep your body, the less likely you will be to miss the shot. Try to hold your bow using back tension instead of your arms because your back is stronger and will keep you more stable, while your arms will start to shake. Keep your knees slightly bent so you don’t lock them. Locked knees will make you tipsy after standing still for a while, but bent knees allow you to adjust your core easily.




Similarly, your bow arm should be slightly bent (not locked) for the same purposes. The archery elbow position is an often neglected area that most people don’t think about. Focus on keeping your elbow rotated up and down, instead of giving into the tendency to rotate the inside crook of your elbow up. If you don’t keep your elbow up and down, the bow string will more often than not slap your forearm as it fires. That will get old quickly if you practice in a t-shirt. But if you have your hunting clothing on, which is bulkier, it can get caught in the string and cause some more archery form issues.


Your archery grip is really important too for making consistent and accurate shots. Most beginning archers tend to grip their bows tightly because they think it makes it more stable. While that makes sense at first, the truth is actually pretty counterintuitive. When you grip your bow tightly, you essentially introduce a small amount of torque that twists the entire bow to one direction. While the string will still be anchored at your face, the bow frame will be twisted one direction, which will cause your Gold Tip® arrows to wobble like crazy when they leave the rest. Instead of tightly gripping it, try this instead. Make an L with your thumb and pointer finger on your bow arm. Your bow grip should rest right on the meaty part of your thumb below the inside corner of the L. You can loosely wrap your fingers around the grip as you draw it to make sure it doesn’t move. But after drawing your Bear® archery bow, let the grip rest against your hand in the position above and relax your fingers. Basically, you will use your archery release to hold the bow in position without grabbing the bow grip.




Where you decide to place your archery anchor point (or points) will determine how consistent you shoot. An anchor point is usually where your draw hand or bowstring rests against your face, and it is a really important part of good archery form. While one anchor point is a must, having multiple points is even better because it really dials in on the specific position. By having very clear and consistent anchor points, you can easily repeat good shots. One very common anchor point when using a bow release is to put the crease between your thumb and pointer finger along your jaw bone or at the corner of your mouth. Another common one is to rest the bow string on your nose, which puts the archery sights right in line with your eye. One of the best archery secrets for consistency is to keep your anchor points rock-solid on every shot, practice or hunting.


Finally, as you squeeze your archery release to fire an arrow, make a conscious effort to hold your bow arm still until after the arrow reaches your archery targets. It’s a common problem for hunters to quickly drop their bow arm after they fire. It’s a natural tendency; after all, we want to see where exactly our arrow went. But this can create problems too. We start to anticipate dropping our bow arm, and even start to do it as we hit the release. Even though it’s only dropping for a few milliseconds, it can affect the arrow’s flight path after it leaves the bow. One way to combat this tendency is to count out loud. After you shoot an arrow, count out loud to five before you drop your bow arm or move your draw hand from your primary anchor point. This will help you develop some muscle memory that will carry over into a hunting scenario.

Tackle Your Archery Form Now


Even though we still have months left until spring weather returns, you should start practicing your archery form now and keep after it throughout the summer with specific archery practice drills. Most of these exercises above can be started indoors. If you don’t have anywhere to shoot your bow right now, simply practice your stance or drawing your bow until you can get outside and start shooting again. It will go a long way to helping you prepare for next fall.

The First Episode | The Beginning of Raised Hunting

Season 1, Episode 1

Raised Hunting

Here it is, the very first episode of Raised Hunting that aired back in July of 2014! This is the beginning of the story, the first episode of the show that represents “Raised Hunting”. In this episode, you will see a family truly realize how hunting brings them together and the lessons that can be learned from it.

Raised Hunting Season 1, episode 1 – “Proud”


This is a story, of a 12 year olds first deer season through the eyes of a father, and the guidance of a big brother.” -David Holder
Newly planted in Iowa, Warren and Easton Holder look for permission to hunt Iowa whitetails. It is the story of how Easton harvests his first buck, with the help of his older brother. The boys take it upon themselves to find land, ask hunting permission, scout it, set up their own stand, and put in the time and patience to achieve success. Nothing comes easy, and by working together the boys can accomplish their goal.

About Raised Hunting

Raised Hunting is about an average American family that has used hunting as a platform to teach ethics and values to their family. The Holders share their North American hunting experience and use real adventures from their journeys. Raised Hunting captures the raw emotion that comes from an animal at close range, all while focusing on bringing you ultimate adventures with the highest regard to cinematography. Raised Hunting is the show that keeps you on the edge of your seat and looking for more when it’s over.

Where to Find More from Raised Hunting

Want to see more of Raised Hunting? Subscribe to the Raised Hunting YouTube Channel to get updates of when other episodes and videos are uploaded!

Predator Hunting | Late Season Tactics and Gear

Predator Hunting | A Late Winter Past Time

For many hunters, the late winter months can really be hard to handle for many reasons.  For starters, many of the game species that we look forward to pursuing all fall are no longer in season.  That fact alone can send most of us into withdrawals.  On top of that, the late winter months can often be downright unpleasant.  Cold, brutal north winds and snow often dominate this time of year, and while the gray overtone of the late season may put most of us in a bit of a funk, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel, and it is called predator hunting!  Predator hunting has continued to grow in popularity over the last several years, and with many states having abundant predator populations, liberal bag limits, and long seasons the late winter months can be the best time to predator hunt.


Predator Hunting Gear 101

There is a popular misconception that predator hunting is a gear intensive sport, which requires a significant investment in equipment in order to be effective.  While there are plenty of predator hunting accessories for hunters to enjoy, predator hunting generally requires very little investment to get started.  In all actuality, the predator hunting gear needed to effectively call and hunt predators is really very minimal when compared to other game species, and there is often a good chance that you may already possess most of the gear that you will need.


Aside from your actual weapon of choice, probably the most crucial piece of equipment that someone needs to have to effectively predator hunt is an excellent pair of optics.  Predator hunting typically takes place in open landscapes, where having excellent visibility can make all the difference.  Being able to see a great distance, and monitor your targets response to calling as well as how they respond to other techniques such as using a decoy can certainly help you adjust your set up which will ultimately increase your chances for success.

Nicon Optics

Late season hunting can be very hard on your gear and equipment, so it is very important to not only have an effective set of optics but also a durable set as well.  Nikon brand spotting scopes and binoculars are extremely durable and dependable, can take any amount of abuse that late season hunting can dish out.  If you plan to chase game that prefers more secluded or wooded environments such as bobcats, coyotes or various species of fox, investing in a pair of Nikon 10×42’s will more than address the need.  If you find yourself predator hunting in a more open landscape such as the black hills or the western prairie areas, then it will be important for you to have the ability to see a great distance as well as close by.  In this case, a pair of Nikon 10×42’s will help you to quickly identify any potential targets that slip in within a few hundred yards while a Nikon 16-48x60mm Field Scope will help you keep a keen eye peeled at greater distances.  Predators are very wary by nature, and in many cases success hinges on your ability to spot them before they spot you, and a great set of optics will certainly give you a leg up every time.


It is undeniable fact that concealment is the name of the game when you hit the woods for big game, and predator hunting is absolutely no different.  As the name implies, predator species have very refined senses and this is especially true when it comes to vision.  Predator hunting is often a sport of opportunity, and because of this fact, you need to be able to rely on your camouflage to do the trick in a wide range of landscapes and cover types.


For us, there is no better camo pattern than Realtree AP.  This camo pattern has worked for us, regardless of the terrain or the game we are after.  Predators can often make out the outline of a hunter, especially if you are making a set in open country.  This is one of the most common situations that results in your target hanging up just out of range.  A camo pattern like Realtree AP has the contrast and tones that you need help break up your outline and keep you concealed, even in the wide open!  Do not fall victim to eyes of your target by underestimating their ability to pick you out.  Face makes and gloves are often a necessity in the world of predator hunting.

Weapon of Choice

One of the most challenging and exciting facets of predator hunting is the fact that it provides the hunter with the opportunity to take game with a wide range of equipment.  In many states, you can legally harvest predator species by any method you wish.  If you prefer to stick with the traditional high-powered rifle or shotgun as your method of choice, then you are good to go!  If you like to spice things up and break out the handgun, rifle, or Bear bow then you are free to do so as well, which helps to keep things interesting!


Selecting the right weapon for the job is really dependent upon which game species you are after and the conditions you will be hunting in.  More open landscapes clearly call for more tactile firepower such as a .243 or .22-250, however, when you start getting into close quarters is when things start to become very interesting.  With the right wind, and the right set up it is not uncommon to coax various predator species such as coyotes and foxes into close range, at which time a shotgun with buckshot or a heavy load or even and high powered air rifle can be very effective and still very challenging.  A benefit to hunting predators with light caliber equipment is it allows youth hunters the opportunity to get out and enjoy this very exciting sport as well!  At the end of the day, it is ultimately about selecting a weapon that you feel comfortable with and that can ethically do the job, however, it is very nice to have options!

Predator Hunting Accessories

The tactic of predator hunting is continuing to evolve with new calls and decoys being developed each and every year.  If you are a hunter who really enjoys trying something new, and picking up a few small accessories here and there that can really help make a difference in the field, predator hunting can certainly scratch that itch!


When you think of decoys the first thing to come to your mind is likely not predator hunting, however, utilizing a decoy can be lights out when calling and hunting predators.  There are typically two types of predator decoys that are used by most predator hunters.  The first is the “distress decoy”.  This is a decoy such as a rabbit that when used in conjunction with distress calls give the impression of a wounded or trapped animal.  This is a set up that most predators are completely unable to resist.  Decoys like the Stray Cat or the Sit-N-Spin from Primos can trigger an immediate response from predator species like coyotes, fox, and even bobcat and really are a must have for any predator hunter.


The second and likely less utilized predator decoy is simply a confidence decoy.  These decoys are designed to be used with group vocalizations of specific species and are designed to keep the target animal content and comfortable, bringing them to within range.  While this method of decoy set certainly has its place and can be very effective it does have its limitations as opposed to the wounded animal set.

Predator Calls

If you were to ask a turkey hunter or a waterfowl hunter what they truly enjoyed the most about their respective sports, most likely the response would be “tricking them into coming in”.  Predator hunting is no different!  In fact, many who have tried it would tell you that successfully calling a coyote or fox into range might just be on par with a hen’d up gobbler or a late season flock of mallards.

There are a couple of different methods for calling predators.  The first is utilizing a mouth style call to either exhibit social vocalizations.  Utilizing a call such as the Mini-Howler from Primos can be very effective in this regard.  The second technique is to utilize a mouth call to exhibit a distress call which would be intended to mimic a fawn deer or rabbit that is in distress.


The challenge that most hunters appreciate with these types of calls is that there is a level of skill or technique required to use the effectively.  Much like calling turkey or waterfowl, you are the operator of the call so there is a sense of satisfaction when you outsmart a slick old coyote, not to mention the certain appeal that exists to when you hit the field with your baby howler hanging off your C4LL!

The second method of calling predator employs the use of an electronic caller.  This method is very popular simply because it can be very effective, and most electronic calling systems can also be used for other species (snow geese, crows, etc.).  At the end of the day, it really is hard to beat using the real vocalizations of the game you are after.  While both calling methods allow you to be mobile, the electronic predator call is always on point and never wavers as far as quality and volume are concerned.  This reliance offers a certain appeal to many who hunt predators.  The electronic predator calling systems such as the Boss Dogg or the Dogg Catcher from Primos are excellent when used in large landscapes or when the wind and other conditions may limit your ability to effectively utilize your mouth caller.  These electronic predator calls a very versatile when it comes to the type calls them make, and can often be used in conjunction with a mouth caller, offering you the best of both worlds!


The best thing about predator hunting, whether you are using a decoy or just hitting the woods with your predator calls is simply that you can literally hunt them anywhere.  From your own property to public land, there are hunting opportunities are abundant everywhere you look.  Predator hunting not only provides you with an opportunity to kick the winter time blues but controlling the predator population only benefits a wide range of other species that we as sportsmen and women care deeply about!  So grab your gun, and lace up your boots and put a few miles on the truck and a few coyotes in the truck bed this winter!


Goose Hunting

Late Season Goose Hunting | Two Tricks to Bag More Geese

Goose Hunting I Late Season Tips and Tactics


When the cold winds blow and the snow is on, there is really nothing like being tucked away in the comfort of a warm box blind or seated high in the air in your favorite tree stand with your Bear bow in hand.  Chasing white-tailed deer during the late season is often a solitary sport.  That is something most hunters enjoy and appreciate about that style of hunting.   Whether it’s chasing whitetails or other large game, pursuing these species provides the hunter with a chance to pit their wits against the great outdoors.  Just you, your gear and the wild! There is truly something magical about that!

Hunting is a very versatile activity.  It is what most has come to love and appreciate about our sport.  If you like the opportunity to be alone and connect with the great outdoors there are plenty of opportunities to do so, however, if you enjoy the more social side of hunting and yet are still interested in testing your grit and hunting prowess there are still plenty of species that you can pursue that will do just that.

The sport of goose hunting is rooted in American history and has a rich tradition and legacy that has continued on to present day. Goose hunting offers an excellent opportunity to spend time afield with family and friends, and certainly offers a new set of challenges to help keep your instincts and reflexes fine-tuned.  Late season goose hunting can be a fun packed and rewarding adventure, with large flocks of migrating Canada geese covering the lower 48 states.  However, with much of the waterfowl season behind them, the birds that remain have truly heard it all and seen it all, which can make goose hunting during the late season extremely tough.  That being said, with a little skill and know-how you can level the playing field and make some memories goose hunting during the late season.

Late Season Goose Decoy Strategies:


There many components that make for a successful late season goose hunt.  Without a doubt, putting your Nikon’s to work and spending your time scouting is 90% of the game when it comes to late season goose hunting.  However, once you have the geese located and have gained access to the property it is time for the real work to begin.

Late season goose hunting often affords the hunter little margin for error.  This attributed to one simple fact, and that is you are often hunting educated birds.  Late season geese have had everything thrown at them by the time the late season rolls around and as a result will not be likely to set their wings and commit to the decoys unless everything is absolutely perfect.

Mimic What you See

Without a doubt, it always helps to observe the behavior of the geese in the field you plan to hunt before you hunt it.  We have probably all tried to set up in a new spot without observing it beforehand and very seldom does that approach work exactly how you thought it would.  It always pays to see how the geese are behaving in the area you plan to hunt, as their behavior will tell you exactly how you should set the goose decoys the following day.  A few things to pay close attention to are whether the geese are bunched in large groups, or are they broken into family groups?  Are there any geese sitting or sleeping in the field or are they all feeding with a few “lookers” scattered throughout?  Where exactly in the field are the birds, and how do they enter and exit the field?  Are they calm and collected, or spooky?  The answers to all of these questions will help you to begin to set up your decoy spread to look as natural as it can, which is what late season goose hunting success is all about.

Visibility is Key

Visibility is really important when it comes to late season goose hunting in two ways.  First, you want to make sure that your goose decoys are set in the most realistic manner possible.  Second, you need to make sure they are visible.  Hopefully, in most cases, you are hunting a field where the geese have been coming to feed or loaf.  That being said, sometimes it is hard to gain permission to be on the X, so the next best thing is to get in front of the birds and attempt to “run traffic” or in other words pull geese to you as they fly overhead.  In order to be successful in this approach, you need to make sure that they geese see your spread first, as it is often critical to getting that first group of geese to commit to ensuring the groups that follow do as well.  Making sure that you are using a high quality, realistic decoy is step number one.  The second step is to attempt to locate the highest point in the field.  Often a hill or terrace is a great place to start and gives your decoy the advantage of being visible from a greater distance than if they were down over a hill.

One final point as it relates to visibility, it is very important that your goose decoys be visible and it is equally as important you as a hunter are not.  During the early part of the goose season, hunters can get away with spending a little less time camouflaging their blinds.  That all goes out the window during the late season.  Without a doubt, it is absolutely critical that you ensure that you are putting your Realtree Max 5 to good use and are as well-hidden as possible.  Late season geese are wary beyond compare and the slightest shine off a blind or the slightest movement can send the flock heading for the hills, so budget for the extra time strictly devoted to camouflaging your set up.

Calling Late Season Geese

Calling late season geese can sometimes be tricky.  Having heard it all and seen it all, you can quickly find yourself in the Goldie Locks zone, where you can either be too aggressive, too passive and sometimes just right.  One of the best tips for calling late season geese is to simply let the geese dictate what they want to hear.  This can be a very successful technique if you are disciplined enough to use it.  What can separate a good goose caller from a great goose caller is having the ability to read the reaction of the birds.  Many times, we tend to stick with the same old calling cadence and series that we are used to, rather than responding to what the birds are doing.  This can truly be a hindrance to success.

Let the geese tell you what they want to hear, by simply listening to geese as they are coming your way.  If the geese are loud and vocal, then grab your Shock Caller and attempt to be loud and vocal.  If the geese are being mostly silent, then do your best to match them.  If you can marry this calling technique with realistic decoy spread and a high level of concealment you have all the ingredients you need for a successful late season goose hunt!