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Final Descent Outdoors is going into it’s fourth year of being a national hunting show and our fifth year overall. With staff scattered from Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas we are yearly able to harvest some great deer and capture some amazing footage for our viewers to enjoy. We take pride in the fact that we are “average joe’s” just like our viewers. We are school teacher, firefighters, ministers, salesmen, truck drivers, and everyday folks. The goal of Final Descent Outdoors is to produce the absolute best outdoor television possible for our fans and feature our sponsors and their products that help make us successful in the woods. 

We are passionate about hunting but we are also passionate about our faith in Jesus Christ. In life as well as the show our goal is to make God look good. Furthermore, we are family men and God has called each of us to lead our families. Our spouses and children come before any hunting season. We want to allow our viewers to walk with us through the unforgettable moments, the laughs, and the heart breaks. Aren’t those the emotions that bring us back to the woods over and over again?

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Attraction and Distraction: Hunting Mineral Sites

Brad Clay

Staffer Trenton Gaines arrowed this Texas panhandle buck coming to Buck Blitz on October 13th, 2018.

Staffer Trenton Gaines arrowed this Texas panhandle buck coming to Buck Blitz on October 13th, 2018.

Hunting mature bucks often crowd my thought bubble. However, if you were to actually tap into that bubble, you’d see large-antlered deer, regardless of age. Lots of them. For me, the preoccupation is a year-round affair. Therefore, I find myself always putting in work with the goal of encountering such animals in the fall and winter. I know I’m not alone here and come springtime, many whitetail hunters will establish or renew mineral sites throughout their hunting grounds. I know firsthand that, once established, deer hit them hard.

Before we go any further, let me give the obligatory warning to educate yourself on your state’s game laws regarding the use of minerals. In some states, it’s illegal to provide minerals to deer any time of the year. In other states, it’s simply illegal to hunt over them.

There are a few reasons to maintain mineral stations including whitetail nutrition, attraction, scouting, and antler development. The latter, however, often results in over-inflated hopes of overnight increases in antler size. While, from a health standpoint, whitetails need nutritional supplementation in the spring and summer, there is no guaranty of any quick turnaround in antler growth. There are simply too many other variables involved, including area genetics and rainfall. Nonetheless, during the spring and summer, deer do need to maintain the minerals and salts in their bodies. While mineral sites may or may not result in large headgear, they still fill a nutritional need. Even on a small tract where it can be darn near impossible to manage for genetics, mineral supplementation will still enhance herd health. The cool thing is that, when used as an attractant, we can leverage it as hunters.


The Benefits of Mineral Site Attraction

  •  Inventory. It’s no secret that trail cameras can help inventory the bucks in our hunting areas. Mineral sites are just another way to aid in the process. Put cameras on them. Not exactly an earth-shattering notion, I know. The resulting snapshots are valuable at all times. This includes summer footage of velvet-laden bucks, the hard antler period, and even the late winter and spring when bucks are devoid of antlers at all. It’s all good intel.

  • Long-Term Go-to Spots. Like food plots and feeders, a well-established mineral station can draw deer to desired locations. Whitetails are intelligent, but are still creatures of habit and will return time and time again to mineral-rich soil; especially if it’s refreshed adequately and often. Even where it’s illegal to hunt over them, you can draw them into optimal pastures or sections of timber; sometimes during precious daytime hours.

  • Setting up on Them. As game and habitat managers, most hunters will still admit that the end goal is shooting a big buck. With that in mind, it’s important to maximize daylight encounters with said buck(s). This means finding locations where deer are most likely to move during the day. Good choices for stations are near bedding areas, consistent rubs, and funnels. Though you want to avoid over-pressuring a buck’s master suite, use game cameras to help narrow down their locations. Start on the outskirts and carefully work your way in.

Western Oklahoma bucks eating Buck Blitz in July of 2018.

Western Oklahoma bucks eating Buck Blitz in July of 2018.

Hunting at a Granular Level

It’s no secret that deer often decrease their visits to mineral sites during the season. For one, alternative food sources like plots and acorns become more prevalent during the fall. Also, vegetation typically holds less water, meaning a lesser need for a sodium source. However, for bowhunting, in particular, mineral stations are great alternatives for early-season sits. If legal in your state, these sites are great for taking advantage of the tail end of the summer-early fall movement patterns. This means that even visits from bachelor groups of bucks are not out of the question. Suffice to say, it never sucks to have encounters with 2 or more bucks during a bow sit.

Creating Patterns

Behavior modification. When effective, there’s something liberating about it! Everything from teaching a dog to work the birds or potty-training a child. Employing mineral stations to reinforce optimal deer travels is a powerful practice. One of my favorites is using them as a staging area by placing them between sanctuaries and food sources. And near bow set-ups. If you’re not allowed to hunt over them, use them to do a little positive reinforcement. If you’re not allowed to use them at all, well, that’s a shame. You might be surprised at the correlation between whitetail movements from Spring and Summer to Fall. At a minimum, think of the possible benefits of doe groups replicating their offseason patterns during the fall, not to mention the rut.

Trenton Gaines recovered his Texas panhandle buck 60yds from his blind.

Trenton Gaines recovered his Texas panhandle buck 60yds from his blind.


Create a Diversion

Finally, if legal in your state, consider locating stations within bow range, but obstructed by clumps of brush or other structure. If you are able to coax deer in to feed comfortably, quality shot opportunities arise as they exit the barrier. Again, this is especially effective during the early days of bow season before mature buck movement patterns change.

Again, nutrition aside, I suspect that most hunters use mineral sites as a means of ultimately arrowing a slobber-knocker buck. If you don’t already do so, embrace the unorthodox and literally hunt near the mineral-rich soil that you’ve worked so hard to create; and frankly, sunk money into. In the spirit of stacking your arsenal, why not? Just like mock scrapes and rub lines, mineral licks represent a great solicitation. While they should be used as just one part of a nutritional regimen, they can play a direct role in the kill.




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Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His content is largely about hunting strategies and the outdoor lifestyle – often from a Christian perspective. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.





Finding The Elusive Morel Mushroom

Brad Clay

An Oklahoma grown morel just waiting to be picked!

An Oklahoma grown morel just waiting to be picked!

Spring means a couple of things. For one, it’s time to start thinking about chasing turkeys. The thought of a spring morning set-up on a long beard is a classic part of spring for many sportsmen. Listening to him hammering in a tree and waiting for his descent is one of, if not the best part of the season. Next up, baseball! As a dad I’m spending a ton of time watching t-ball, baseball, and softball this time of year. Even the professionals are getting it going and nothing beats a baseball game and a bag of peanuts. Yet another awesome part of spring is crappie fishing, or just fishing in general. You have to love catching some slabs.  But our activity of focus today is the hardest one for me to conquer. I can call a turkey, wet a line, and easily watch a baseball game, but finding morel mushrooms continues to be my springtime nemesis. 

On social media, I see people finding them by the dozens, yet I can’t find a single one. I can only think of a handful of times I’ve actually discovered them. I love to eat them and if you haven’t tried one, you have no idea what you are missing.  They’re delicious! I usually have a friend or two that feel sorry for me and spare a few here and there. Therefore, I can at least fry up a few every year. So, for me, writing this article on finding morels is like writing one on how to perform open-heart surgery. Simply put, I have no business giving advice on the subject (except on maybe what not to do) so I asked my buddy Reed Boettcher, the Advertising Director for our friends at Great Plains Kubota. I consider Reed to be a morel guru, based on his social media pictures and descriptions on not only where to find them but how they come about in the first place.

FDO Staffer Daniel Arms with a handful of morels. That Great Plains Kubota Sidekick makes for a nice morel finder!

FDO Staffer Daniel Arms with a handful of morels. That Great Plains Kubota Sidekick makes for a nice morel finder!

Reed said, “Every spring, usually during the months of March and April, a curious looking fungus graces the greening ground: the Morel.  It resembles a brain or something from outer space, but what it lacks in attractiveness it made up for by flavor.  Mushrooms aren’t for everyone, but for those who do eat them, the Morel reigns supreme. These mushrooms signal the coming of warmer weather and are a welcoming site to many avid mushroom hunters.  People who don’t even enjoy eating them enjoy combing the woods in search of them. They are a sign that winter is over and spring is upon us.” Once again, if you haven’t tried them then you have no clue what you are missing!  Reed went on to discuss the strategy for finding them. “Hunting for these delicate delights starts with study.  It is important to know exactly what Morels look like since other poisonous varieties grow during the same time of year. The photos in this blog are of Morels and one could use them to identify them in the field. However, further research on this fungus is strongly suggested.”


I never find morels...I'm constantly in the woods, but doing some yard work I stumbled onto some! Pumped!!!

I was actually lucky enough to find some Morels growing in my yard and to confirm, I FaceTimed Reed to make sure I wasn’t stumbling upon a look- a-like mushroom that was going to cause me to lose my mind and land in jail.  He confirmed it was a Morel growing in my yard and went on to say, “Morels aren’t always found in the depths of the forest.  Some of the best spots are in plain sight. Look for Morels under Cedar trees or in shaded areas where organic decomposition is prevalent.”  So if you are like me, you love Morels but struggle to find them. Hopefully this will help a little in your efforts!  So here is to baseball, turkey hunting, crappie fishing, and finding lots of Morel mushrooms!

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Author Brad Clay is the host of Final Descent Outdoors and a licensed and ordained minister in Oklahoma.  Brad served for 12yrs in vocational ministry before stepping out to do full time outdoor ministry in 2013. Brad resides in Edmond, OK and is married with four children.

Setting My Self Up To Fail

Brad Clay

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 After moving back to SE Iowa after college I embarked on a quest to kill big Iowa bucks with my bow. Easy right? I live in SE Iowa and booners are around every corner and in every 10 acres. Not so much.  After 2 years of pure struggle I finally put a big buck down (an eight that went 154 inches). I had finally put the pieces together and started to consistently kill a pop and young buck 9 out of 10 years even after getting married and having kids.  Using my knight rifle I was able to add to my total 6 more over that 150 inch mark and 7 of those bucks were on camera self-filming. 



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You would think the next step would be to shoot a 180+ while self-filming, right?  For most yes, but for me I love adventure and was reading a lot about DIY public ground back pack hunting and was going to give it a try. I had done some guided hunts in South Dakota and Wyoming and had a great time and had success, but I wanted to be able to go out west once or twice every year, and with a family, a guided hunt was becoming more and more difficult to justify.   Also, I love the satisfaction of DIY, knowing full well that I was setting myself up for years of failure and hard work.   Sounds fun right?  For me it is.  First I started to train and research what I needed to survive off of in the back country 10+ miles deep and over 12000 ft. for 10 days. I lost over 50 pounds and saved and bought the best equipment I could buy. I was going alone with no prior back country experience. So why embark on this journey you might be asking.  Simple; it’s the journey and the adventure that I was seeking not a trophy or accolades that I was someone special because I am not. See for me I DIY Public ground backpack hunt no matter the outcome of success! It reenergizes me to be a better husband, father, and leader.  Having no phone to look at and no Facebook or Instagram to compare myself to others too is a great place to be for 10 days to refocus, slow down, and spend time with the lord with NO Distractions. To push myself physically year round to prepare for it has done so much for my physical health and mental health. I am not a guru on physical fitness nor do I proclaim to be, but I will tell you it is worth it.  I had no idea how bad I felt until I felt so much better by eating healthier and pushing  my body beyond what I thought I could do. I reached out to friend that was a personal trainer to put a plan together for my goals. 

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I would recommend if you are like me with no prior lifting/working out experience to do so and be safe. It’s amazing what our bodies are capable of! Never once did I set foot in a gym.  It was all at home and a lot of times with my sons helping out. I don’t have time to drive to a gym so this was all done after kids went to bed or before they got up, and a lot of times it was after my wife had gone to bed too. Trying to keep priorities straight, but still reaching the goals I set was a real struggle. Finding time to shoot my Matthews more to prepare for those 60+ yard shots that the western terrain demands of you were also something I had to make time for. After saying that, I was all in and loved the discipline it required to prepare for such an adventure. With two trips planned and tags bought (one drawn and one elk OTC both in Colorado and two different spots) it was down to researching my pack list. Trip one High Country Mule Deer Colorado!

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Jeremy Roland has been with Final Descent Outdoors four years and is based in south east Iowa.  Jeremy is in the land of giants and has the deer on the wall to prove it.  Jeremy and his family farm several thousand acres in southern Iowa where he also hunts.  Jeremy actually stumbled onto a Final Descent Outdoors episode in 2013 and sent an email in regards to the show.  Jeremy helps lead a house church and wanted to use his passion for hunting for the Kingdom of God.  The rest is history.

 

Stand & Blind Placement: 5 Tips on Where and Why!

Brad Clay

I recently was talking with our friend Scott Schultz of Scentblocker who has hunted our home state of Oklahoma a bunch of times, matter of fact his two largest bucks have come from the Sooner State.  He talked about a stand he hung in Oklahoma he called the "King Stand" which was 38ft to the bottom of the platform (yes we have a few trees that tall!).  From the nose bleed section Scott killed a booner.  The question each of us have to ask on a property is where will we hang our stands and blinds and why would we put them there.  No matter if you are hunting from a blind or a treestand here are some tips on choosing the best location.

1) Access

Lots of times we look at a tree or the perfect spot for a stand and we don't think about how we will actually access the stand.  You have heard it said that big bucks don't get to be big by being dumb.  Well, dumb mistakes by hunters keep those big bucks alive.  When choosing stand or blind placement we have to factor in where the deer will be when we are accessing the property.  Finding good access to the perfect setup might mean you have to walk an extra half a mile to keep the wind in your favor, to keep walking through a feeding area in the dark or a bedding area in the afternoon.  The perfect set can be ruined by imperfect access.

2) Wind and Thermals

Rarely can you fool the nose on a mature buck.  I understand what its like to get that trail camera pic of the buck you are after in the daylight.  You want to hit the stand or blind as soon as possible!  But if the wind is wrong you might be assuring that you never get a picture of that buck in the daylight ever again.  We recommend actually hanging multiple sets or blinds in an area to hunt it with different winds.  This way you are assuring yourself a chance to hunt without ruining your future chances at your buck!

3) Use Natural Cover

When we find the perfect stand or blind placement we need to use the natural cover around us to make sure we are not sticking out like a sore thumb.  With a treestand I like to have some cover around me, under and above to help break up our set in the tree.  Another factor is what is behind you.  You can't think about what the stand looks like from your perspective but from the deer's!  If you don't have good cover behind you then deer will easily make our your silhouette and the gig is up.  Having good back cover is huge in increasing your odds of going unnoticed.  For a ground blind, I like to use natural shad when possible.  Tuck under a tree or a cedar.  That's not always possibly but either way take the time to conceal the blind properly.  Don't get lazy!  You have come to far to let a cut branches keep you from being successful!

4) Use the Sun

The sun can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy.  No one likes to have to look directly into the sun.  Deer don't like it either!  Having the sun at your back keeps it from being in your eyes and puts it in the deer's eyes if he looks your way.  This can be a huge advantage for you as a hunter!  You are on top of the food chain, hunt like it!

5) Prepare for the Shot

Trim limbs, trim limbs, and trim limbs.  I'm not saying cut down the forest here but I've seen so many hunting shows where a buck came from a different area and no shooting lanes were cut.  The hunter watches a monster buck walk off without getting off a shot.  Look at every single scenario and then trim limbs, brush and grass in preparation for it.  I like to get into my stand and have a buddy walk around my tree from different directions giving me an idea of what I will be looking at if he was the buck I am after.  I then trim accordingly. 

For hanging stands and setting blinds we highly recommend you check out the Zippo Outdoor 4 in 1 Woodsman!  Check out the video below!

Behind the Scenes of Episode 3 of Season 5

Brad Clay

Hunting an alligator wasn't something that i would say was on my bucket list but when our friend Brett Will with Swivelimb Treestands asked if we wanted to tag along on a gator hunt in Louisiana with Hunting' Cajun Enterprises I wasn't about to say no.  I was joined by staffer Daniel Arms, Brett, Kieth Wendt, as well as Steve Quisenberry and Tyler Tate with Born To Kill Bowfishing.  Normally on trips, I am the point man, I wasn't on this one.  I had never spoken to the guide, I was just along for the ride.  Now, I travel and speak at Wildgame Dinners and other events around the country and get comments on my "Okie" accent.  When we met our guide Reggie aka Gator Reggie I had no clue what he said for the first 15 minutes of our conversation.  I just smiled and tried my best to read his body language as to know what to say or do in response.  No doubt Reggie is from the swamp.  

We met Reggie on the first day of the hunt and headed out armed with cameras and a rusty old .22 rifle.  The first line we came to had a gator and the action started!  The kill zone on a gator is small and the reason for the small caliber is to save as much hide and meat as possible.  If you miss that small kill zone the gator will only be stunned and he might just wake back up and he won't be happy.  We learned this lesson from experience.  Nothing will make a 270lb man move quicker than a 6ft gator you thought was dead spinning around hissing at you.  A follow up shot did the trick and we moved on.  All in all, the hunt with Gator Reggie was incredible.  The deep swamps of south central Louisiana are breathtaking.  The hunting was incredible.  We were able to tag 16 gators in two days and make unbelievable memories none of us will ever forget.

Beside the hunt we also went to Scientific Testing Labs in Baton Rouge, an TMA (Treestands Manufacturers Association) certified testing facility and we got to see how they test the treestands and safety harnesses we hunt from.  Pretty amazing how it all works and the measures taken to assure products work properly.  All I can say is, if a stand isn't TMA certified, don't buy it!  It's just not worth it.

The devotion for the episode related to the fact that the gators are dangerous because they lay and wait for there prey.  Romans 6:23 reminds us that sin is also deadly.  We must be aware of the danger of sin and avoid falling for it's temptations.  The only thing that can save us from our sins is Jesus Christ.  If you don't know him today, we hope you will seek Him out!

If you misses episode 3, here is the full episode!