Illinois Outdoors at
RulesIllinois Outdoors at

Marc Anthony of Goodfield owns and operates Look Alive Taxidermy and Non Typical Hunter magazine. Anthony grew up in central Illinois and spent eight years as a commercial pilot before giving that up to spend more time with his wife Jan and three children, Victoria, Drake and Elesa. Anthony hunted on and off as a child but started seriously at age 30 and focuses on bowhunting for deer and turkeys. He's arrowed four bucks that meet the Boone and Crockett Club (net) standards and 20 Pope and Young Club qualifiers. Anthony is on the Pro Staff for Muzzy broadheads, Bear Archery, Vital Gear, Natural Predator, Non Typical Hunter and several other companies. He also is a member of the Outdoor writers Association of America, OWAA.


Non-typical Hunter

A Web log by Marc Anthony

Preseason readiness for bowhunters

September 21, 2008 at 04:51 PM

The beginning of deer season doesn’t just begin with scouting, it should be much more involved than that. Although I spend many, many hours in the woods each year looking for that “sleeping buck,” there are other points of interest that can’t be overlooked; safety and deer preparation.

The safety Issue

It’s so boring talking about safety. As I write about safety, I can just “feel” my readers skipping over this topic looking for the next exciting subject to be entertained by. But safety is absolutely everything! I reminded myself this weekend on how dangerous deer hunting can be and how fast things could go south if we don’t heed precautions. There is no excuse for falling out of a tree, cutting yourself field dressing a deer or having your gun go “off” when you trip and fall any more, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Basic techniques

Teaching a new hunter basic techniques in their early stages of the game can really pay off. For instance, walking with their firearm pointed away from anyone nearby, safety switch always “on” until ready to fire, safety switch back “on” after downing a deer BEFORE HIGH FIVING each other or crawling down from a stand, are just some of the subjects needed to be introduced to today’s new outdoorsmen/outdoorswomen. Teaching safety issues by rote (the definition of rote means to be trained repeatedly until that technique becomes habit) can be one of the most successful methods in preparing anyone to become a responsible and safe hunter.

Some things to consider when teaching new hunters safety:

  • When field-dressing deer, always, always, always cut away from your body. Too many people have slipped causing self-induced femur artery wounds in the field, far away from medical aid, only to die in the woods waiting for an ambulance to arrive. Basic cutting technique could have prevented such a disaster.
  • ALWAYS wear a safety harness in a tree stand. Today’s body harnesses are second to none when it comes to tree safety. The older safety belts are all but obsolete and have been replaced with the body harness. When used properly, the body harness will not only prevent serious injury or even death, but also can allow you to step back in to your tree stand, continuing with the hunt if you were unfortunate enough to have fallen out. They’ve come a long way and using them is a must. 
  • Bracing a young child with your hand while they are about to shoot from a tree stand can prevent a good time gone bad. Too many parents overlook this safety issue under the excitement of the moment. With today’s overcrowded public hunting places it is absolutely imperative to teach young hunters good firearm techniques. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the next person’s safety. 
  • For crying out loud, bring a cell phone! In the worst case scenario if you were too injured to respond, most cell phones have a GPS chip embedded within that can aid in locating you, even if you don’t subscribe to that service!
  • If your tree stand has been out in the weather all year long, the time to test it is not on opening day! Check those stands out extensively. Nuts and bolts rust, wood rots, nails loosen (should always use galvanized screws) and trees grow, twisting brackets and so forth. 

The harvested deer

Another overlooked (or not thought of issue) is the preparation of your deer. I’ve broken this down into two basic categories;

The meat issue

You often hear people say “I tried venison once but I didn’t like the gamy taste.” Gamy? Do you think they would serve “gamy” tasting venison in “high end” Chicago restaurants if it tasted gamy? I don’t believe so. Then what’s the difference?

Think about this for a minute. How do you think your delicious Angus steak would taste if the butchers who killed the animal let it sit on the ground for several hours with its entrails still in it, soaking up 70 degree or so heat? While most of us have two tags to fill, it’s pretty common for hunters to shoot their first deer and wait several hours for another one to come by. In the meantime, that first deer is filling up full of gas almost immediately after being shot, thus causing the meat to fill with bacteria, gas and all sorts of stuff that we would normally find disgusting. The trick to good tasting venison is to get that deer field-dressed NOW and to COOL DOWN that meat! If you want to make an impression on who you serve (or just want good tasting meat), heed this advice.

The trophy issue

If only I could be a fly on the wall every time a customer brought a cape and a set of antlers to their taxidermist with the cape cut too short or the hide ruined, (and to have listened what was said after the customer left). But wait! I am a taxidermist, so I can tell you all of those nasty, mean and degrading thoughts that go through our heads (but I won’t, instead, just read below).

Cool it down
The same bacteria that causes gamy tasting meat is also the same bacteria that can cause your hide to spoil. That bacteria will also cause the hair follicles to lose their grip in the hide causing “slipping”. Slipping will ruin your cape. Slipping can’t always be detected right away and very often it is not until the hide is already tanned (and at that point you find out it is ruined). So as mentioned in the “meat issue” above, when harvesting a trophy head, make sure you get that hide cooled down NOW thus preventing any bacteria that will cause such a disaster. 

Cut it correctly
If you have a trophy head and want it to be mounted, do yourself and your taxidermist a favor….don’t cut the cape too short! You cut it short, you don’t get a mount. This happens all too often. A general rule of thumb is to cut the cape past the front legs about 4”. Remember, it’s better to cut too much then it is to cut not enough. If in doubt, just pick up the phone and call your favorite taxidermist for advise.

The brisket
One other point I would like to make when cutting your cape is to NOT cut too far up the brisket when field-dressing your buck. You can field dress your buck just fine by stopping the knife just before the front legs. Now cutting the brisket isn’t the end of the world for your mount as it can be sewn back up, but you will most likely get charged and extra fee by your taxidermist. Bottom line; just be careful where you cut the hide.

The other stuff

OK, now that the technical stuff is behind us, it’s time to have fun! Don’t forget to clean your clothes with no scent suds, have your bleat/grunt calls ready and working, face mask, gloves, etc. handy. For those of you who like to run videos while hunting, make sure your camera braces work as planned and so forth.

I’m taking my wife Jan with me this year for her very first whitetail hunt right here in central Illinois. I’ll probably run the video while she pursues her first deer. There’s no better way to generate a solid interest in hunting than to involve as many people in your family as you can. Now that I will be a regular blogger here on PSO, I personally invite anyone to write me to share any deer or turkey experiences with me. Photos are welcome also! 

Good luck this season everyone!

Illinois Outdoors

New technique for early bucks

September 11, 2008 at 05:46 PM

New and innovative ideas always pop up year after year when scouting for big bucks. When I walk through the woods for the first time each season, I get excited all over again, just like it’s my first time in the woods.

Well, this year has been no different. I rekindled my hunting spirit again, so it’s official, I have the itch! If any of you have been following Non Typical (NTH) for the last several years, you know we do some crazy things like tie string through the woods before the early season in hopes a buck with a tall rack will bust those strings and show us his new home! It’s been a successful technique and we have some monster bucks on our walls to show for our efforts. This year I’ve cancelled the string technique and I’ll tell you why.

I decided why not let Mother Nature do the work for me?

In late August, I started my usual routine of sneaking through the woods, picking up strange objects and examining them, listening to the animals and so forth. It seems inevitable in August and September that I will end up eating a mile of spider webs and picking spiders off of my face at a rate of at least 3 or 4 times per hour.

I hate spiders. I don’t like them crawling up my arms, I don’t like them on my legs and I certainly don’t like them in my face. Every once in a while I will tease one with a stick while I’m bored waiting for a big buck to show his face. I like the kind of spider that gets real tough with me and takes swipes at me with his front legs and then tries to bite my stick. I then teach him a lesson! Wow, did I just admit how sick I am? OK, not to get side tracked, lets focus on the point.

Having admitted I don’t like eating spider webs, I will either duck everywhere I walk just to avoid the webs (which doesn’t work that well) or I’ll pick up a long stick and wave it 5 feet in front of my proposed path just to clear the way for me. Now keep in mind, in August and September, spiders are laying webs by the hours! They’re everywhere. I can’t walk 4 feet without using my stick to clear another path. It’s hard for me to remember the very reason I am walking through this forest is to tie about 1,000 yards of string from tree to tree at around 60 inches or so in height in hopes of having a big buck bust them.

So as I get my knife out, my string ready, etc., I walk over to an area that has no webs crossing the paths. I figure this will be a great spot to set everything down, get situated and so forth, without having to mess with the webs in my face. It was at that point when I thought to myself, “Hey genius”, this clearing of spider webs happens to be a thin path that leads to a very “private” spot in the timber which very well could be a big buck bedding area.

So as I walked carefully through the opened path, I realized that this “opening” has to be very fresh as the spiders are spinning hourly. I continued to follow only the opened clearing to a feeding area. Once there, I decided to back track and travel beyond my original starting point only to find and jump a monster, and I mean a monster 8 pointer that would easily go 160 inches. In fact, we scared each other! I got to within only 15 yards of him before I spooked him.

Still follow the rules

Remember, the basic rules when scouting for early season bucks: Find bedding areas, feeding areas and water all within 200 yards!  When following
downed spider webs, keep in mind to follow the paths that have the webs busted at or around 60 inches high or more. You’ll waste your time with anything else lower.

If you find a big buck early season, don’t worry if you bust him out, he’ll come back. Be sure to not set up too close to his bedding area and remember his habits. He’ll feed late and come home early in the morning. When setting up for the ambush, keep all of this in mind. Of course, always play the wind accordingly. This is THE best time in my opinion, to ambush and kill a big buck ... second to none.

I’ll take an early season buck over a rutting buck any day! Once in routine, you’ll know where he lives. You find where he sleeps early, you’ll have a wall hanger early. A rutting buck is just a gamble. Do your homework early and take the pressure off for the rest of the season!

Anyway, I now love spider webs. What a cheap, accurate and effective way to track down a monster buck! It doesn’t get any better than that.


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