I’ve got to admit, this might be the most unusual deer hunting tip I’ve ever received from a hunting pro.
Unusual or not, it comes from well-known Sportsman Channel hunting personality Fred Eichler, one of the very best bowhunters anywhere around and one of the top hunting outfitters in the western part of the country.
And while elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope make up a good portion of his Full Draw Outfitters business each fall, whitetails also rank pretty high on Eichler’s list.
Especially when his camp empties of Western big-game bowhunters and he has a collection of unused whitetail tags from several states resting in his back pocket.
Not to mention some filming chores left for his popular Easton Bowhunting TV show.
During an interview concerning a number of different bowhunting subjects, I posed the question of whether Eichler had any unusual deer hunting tips to share.
“Yes,” he chuckled. “Check their stomachs.”
Ummm … did I hear that right, Fred?
“It is unusual, yes, but when one of my clients shoots a whitetail – or a mule deer or an elk – one of the things I do when skinning the animal out is to check it’s stomach contents,” said Eichler.
The reason should be obvious – Eichler wants to know what the whitetail, mule deer and elk are eating from one day to the next on the hunting properties he has at his disposal.
The knowledge helps Eichler gain a leg up on getting the next client into the right stand.
“I was skinning one (animal) out,” he said. “And by checking the stomach, I was able to make some deductions about what these bucks are eating, be it agricultural food, grass or even browsing on oak brush leaves and such.
“When I know what they are eating, it gives me some clues (about) how to go after them.”
Eichler says what he is doing with big-game animals is quite similar to what a turkey hunter does in numerous states each spring when they examine the craw of a gobbler for acorns, wheat seed, insects, alfalfa, etc.
Over time, such information has given Eichler solid clues about where to look for his own hunting activities and that of his clients as the various seasons progress.
“I’ve learned that as winter gets closer, the elk here will go from browse to ag foods to oak brush,” he said. “In the winter, almost every elk I cut open and dress is full of oak brush. It’s got to have a really high protein content.
“And on whitetails, I can often tell that this guy was into corn just a few days ago but now he’s into hitting the alfalfa,” he continued. “Their daily tastes and food needs change, so this helps me stay a step ahead in the game.”
Even if it is a bit of an unusual step at that.
But then again, that’s one reason why Fred Eichler is one of the best bowhunters in the land, not to mention a successful guide skilled at helping clients fill their tags.