Balance – Key to Better Deer Hunting Day 4:...

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Balance – Key to Better Deer Hunting Day 5: Stability and Balance Take More Deer

John Phillips and Jacob Nichols at physical therapy
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Photos were taken by: Caroline Fischer

Editor’s Note: Balance is the key component to being able to:

* steady your rifle or your bow to make an accurate shot:

* keep from falling when you’re going up or down steep terrain or across rocky terrain;

* prevent a fall if you make a misstep in your tree stand.

Often many outdoorsmen have problems with balance because the muscles that are needed to maintain proper balance are rarely if ever strengthened. After I’d fallen twice – one was a hard fall – I assumed I had inner-ear trouble. I went to my family physician, and after checking me out, he sent me to a doctor who specialized in hearing and balance. After about two hours of testing, this doctor said, “John, from the waist up, you’re fine. You don’t have any hearing problems. However, from the waist down, you’re a wreck, and you need to see a physical therapist to improve your balance.” When I left his office, I wondered, “What does the waist down have to do with my falling?”

But since then, I’ve learned so much about falling and maintaining balance that I’ve never known before – although I took anatomy and kinesiology as part of my college curriculum. Here’s what I’ve learned that has helped me and may help you, if you have a balance problem, fall sometimes or can’t keep steady when you take a shot in the field. I spoke with Jacob Nichols, a physical therapist at Drayer Physical Therapy in Birmingham, Alabama.

John E. Phillips: After walking forward and trying to step over the cones, we do have an exercise where we step sideways over the cones without looking at them. Why do we do that?

Jake Nichols: Moving side-to-side is not a motion we use often in everyday life. We want the same muscles that are adding to your stability as you’re going forward to add stability as you step sideways. Oftentimes, when you’re watching a game animal or walking through the woods, you must step sideways to dodge an object. So, we want you to be stable when you make that sideward step. Even if you step on a cone, we want your muscles to react to help stabilize you and keep you from falling.

If your eyes are focusing on something in front of you, and you must step to the side to see the object better or to prevent running into something, we want you to be able to make that movement as safely as possible. What these exercises are designed to do besides strengthen muscles you don’t ordinarily use to keep you from falling is to make your body aware of objects that may cause you to fall and then be able to react quickly enough to prevent a fall.

Phillips: As we go through the tandum walking and cone exercises, why are you holding onto my belt?

Nichols: Many times, we use a gait belt to put around your waist, so I can give you the extra support needed if you start to fall. However, you personally have graduated basically from having to wear that type of belt. So, I just want to keep my hand on you as you go through the exercises to prevent any falls. The purpose is to get your body to recover when you stumble, so that you don’t fall. I’m holding onto your belt as an extra safety factor.

John Phillips and Jacob Nichols at physical therapy
Photos were taken by: Caroline Fischer

Phillips: Another exercise you have me do is called squats. Why?

Nichols: Everybody, every day either sits-down, stands-up, halfway sits-down to pick-up something, bends over and/or bends their knees so they’re not in an erect position. Every morning you must get out of bed and stand-up. You must sit down to get into and stand-up to get out of your car. So, Squats are an everyday move. We want to make sure: your muscles are strong enough to prevent you from falling over when you’re standing or sitting; and you’re activating the right muscles with the right technique and form. So, when you do squats, we want you to keep your glutes and quads (the muscles on the tops of your thighs) activated to keep pressure off your knee joints.

Phillips: Why do you want me to only go halfway to a full squat and then stand back up?

Nichols: We start with only a 1/4- or 1/2-squat to make sure that you have your form and technique correct before you start sitting further down. That’s why we put a triangular-shaped foam barrier in your chair. Then once you start to sit down, you can feel the foam on your glutes and begin to stand back up. Eventually, we’ll have you sitting in the chair, rather than having your butt touch the triangle obstacle in the chair.

Stability is important in every movement you make in life. So, we must work on the muscles that can help you become stable whether you’re going forward, backward, left, right, up or down. All those movements must be done with balance and stability. Many times, because we don’t use many of these muscles in our everyday lives, they become weak, and you’ll have a balance problem. That’s why we do all these exercises – to strengthen the muscles and reteach them what they’re supposed to do any time you start to lose your balance. Then they can prevent you from falling and help you be more stable to look through your binoculars, draw and/or shoot your bow, or steady your rifle to make the most-accurate shot.

How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties
In this book, you’ll hear from 14 hunters who either have gained permission or leased properties as small as six acres to as much as 250 acres, and how they consistently take older-age-class bucks off these little lands.


Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer
Using a black magic marker and a gray work jumpsuit, Jim Crumley of Buchanan, Virginia, drastically changed the nature and purpose of hunting camouflage when he created the first sportsman’s camouflage – Trebark. Crumley’s love of bowhunting and his desire to be more invisible changed hunting clothing forever. 

In this hunting guide, he shares the wisdom that he’s learned throughout his lifetime about how to be a hunter, how to find a deer lease, how to scout for deer, and more.

Special features include how to:

  • Have a magic 60 acres to hunt 
  • Decide the best equipment to use
  • Find deer year-round
  • Locate land to hunt
  • Know the best place to put your tree stand
  • Get bucks within bow range


How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro
How do you know if the land you hunt has a trophy deer on it? Wildlife manager Bob Zaiglin, of Uvalde, Texas and Jim Crumley, the father of modern-day hunting camouflage, tells you how to find out. GPS can make finding and taking that trophy buck easier. This hunting guide will teach you how to hunt big bucks where no one else can find them, how to call deer, and how to become versatile as a deer hunter, so that if one deer tactic doesn’t work, another one will.

In the chapter, “How to find Bucks at Scrape,” Dr. Keith Causey, retired professor of Wildlife Science at Auburn University, describes the best way to hunt a scrape.

Brad Harrison of Neosho, Missouri, is a nationally-known videographer, professional deer hunter and master at calling deer. Another master is Will Primos of Primos Game Calls. These two experts will tell the best deer calls and when to use them in this book.

And for over 20 years, Bo Pitman, lodge manager of White Oak Plantation, has been studying deer movement patterns. He explains what types of conditions are best for predicting deer movement.


How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro: Volume II
Deer hunting and deer hunters are drastically changing each year. To learn new techniques for hunting deer and have more places to hunt, I’ve interviewed some of the best deer hunters in the nation and share their tactics in How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro: Volume II.

In Chapter 10, Jacob Lamar tells you his tactics for consistently taking older-age-class bucks on public lands in several states. Chapter 11, Bob Walker explains how to find places on public lands where you can hunt that 99 percent of the other hunters never have considered hunting. The Bonus Chapter with David Ramey tells you how, where, when and with what equipment to take big Kansas bucks on public lands by hunting in 100-degree weather when others won’t hunt.

Chapter 13, Mark Drury, his family and his guests take mature bucks every season by having more small places to hunt rather than one large property. Drury explains the strategy of having satellite farms to hunt that only may be 50-150 acres each or less. Chapter 15, Pat Reeve, who hunts far-northern states and Canada, says, “I don’t like hunting for mature bucks until the weather is 20 degrees or less.” Chapter 4, Dr. Larry Marchinton says that funnels are the most-reliable stand sites to hunt for big bucks and tells why. 


Expert Guidebooks on Elk Hunting: Best Sellers

Secrets for Hunting Elk
The quickest, easiest (if there is an easy way), and safest way to find and take that bull elk of a lifetime will be to hunt with a guide.

Chad Schearer, a longtime Montana guide and TV personality, told me, “My hunter is my gun. If I get to the elk, and my hunter isn’t with me, then we don’t take the elk. My job is not only to find the elk but also to help the hunter get to the elk and make the experience as enjoyable as I can for him.” That’s the kind of fella with whom I want to go elk hunting. 

An elk hunt can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be so tough that you don’t enjoy it. That’s why this elk hunting book starts with the confessions of an elk guide and with Chad Schearer’s philosophy of what the guide and the hunter’s relationship should be.

A good portion of your success will depend on your physical condition, and Matt Morrett of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania explains how an eastern hunter can get ready physically during June and July to hunt western elk, the animals he describes as, “Like deer or turkeys on steroids.”

Wayne Carlton, well-known elk hunter and TV and video personality from Montrose, Colorado, tells us what types of elk calls to use and what to say to the elk. Mike Miller of Colorado, another elk guide and Mossy Oak video personality, has tactics for the best equipment for bowhunting and gun hunting elk.

You’ll learn helpful strategies and hunting tips in this book, as well as some straightforward hunting methods that will help to make your elk hunt more successful.

“Thanks to the advice in your elk hunting books, I was able to call up a nice 6-point (6X6) bull elk! He was bugling like crazy. I called him in from about a ¼ mile away. Called him into bow range (about 40 yards away). It was a thrill!” ~Rob Brannon


Elk: Keys to 25 Hunters’ Success
Often just one tip or tactic makes the difference in whether you take an elk home to dinner or have to hike back to the truck by yourself. In John E. Phillips’ latest elk book, Elk: Keys to 25 Hunters’ Success, you’ll learn from successful elk hunters the strategies they use to find and take elk.

Many know that the technique that seems to work most often is to hunt where other elk hunters don’t and understand where the elk are before you go on a hunt by studying data from each state, visiting HuntData (see chapter 1), examining maps, and reading postings on elk forums.

This book also tells you how to get ready physically for an elk hunt, including participating in Train to Hunt Competitions, what gear you need to take, how to enjoy a successful do-it-yourself elk hunt, or how to pick the best elk guide for you. You’ll also hear about the X System and the Broken Y System of hunting elk. 

Although no one person has all the answers on how to help you find and take your elk, I’m convinced that this book’s outdoors men and women will teach you how to have satisfying elk hunts.

As my friend Karl Badger once told me, “Elk hunting doesn’t get any better than when I ride horses into the high backcountry, see two grizzly bears, hear a pack of wolves howl close to camp all night long, eat plenty of delicious food prepared on a fire and enjoy the company of good friends.”


How to Find Your Elk and Get Him in Close will teach you the tactics of 10 nationally known elk hunters, to help put that giant bull that’s been screaming at you from afar, in your lap. You’ll learn what some of the best guides, outfitters, and successful elk hunters do to find elk and get them in really close.

Also in this audiobook, you’ll notice that the majority of the experts call elk to within bow range. We selected numerous bowhunters and bowhunting guides, since the bowhunter has to get much closer to a bull than the gun hunter does – often less than 20 or 30 yards – practically in your lap.

On one elk hunt, I’d heard this bull bugle all morning. My guide had called him within 30 yards, and he was standing just inside black timber. I saw the smoke from his nose wafting out into the icy air less than 30-yards away. All the bull had to do was step out, and I could take the shot with my bow. But then, through no fault of my guide or me, the bull vanished.

The only conclusion I could come up with to understand why the bull I wanted to take with my bow hadn’t stepped out and given me a shot, was because he got raptured. He evidently had left the earth with no trace of himself.

This hunt was when I started wanting to learn more about hunting elk up close. In this book, I’ve tried to find some of the most knowledgeable, experienced, and practical elk hunters. I’ve always found that the best way to learn any outdoor skill, is to either hunt or fish with the best sportsmen in that field.

Often, in elk hunting, that means elk guides, who generally hunt every day of the season and receive a salary for every hunter they guide. So, I’ve put together a group of some of the best elk hunters I know to help us all learn how to find bull elk and get them in close.


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