Ask the Expert: Q&A on getting the most out of hunting


BAXTER TROUTMAN is a fourth-generation Florida cracker with a long history of success in the citrus industry, business, and politics. Besides his professional history and cultural heritage, Troutman possesses a lifetime of hunting experience. As an avid hunter whose skills have been tested on terrains throughout the country, he saw the desire for a professional, experienced, and reliable animal-processing business to meet the needs of local hunters in the community. Thus, the Chop-N-Block shop in Winter Haven was born and is open for business with each hunting season. Whether you’re a novice or expert hunter, Troutman answers some questions on how you can get the most out of your next hunting experience.

CENTRAL FLORIDA AG NEWS (CFAN): WHAT’S THE LONGEST HUNTING EXPEDITION YOU’VE BEEN ON, AND WERE YOU SUCCESSFUL?

Baxter Troutman: I’ve been on several successful week-long deer-hunting trips in Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia.

CFAN: CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT A TIME WHEN YOU WERE NOT SUCCESSFUL IN THE HUNT, BUT LEARNED A VALUABLE LESSON FROM IT?

Troutman: Often, some of the best experiences in the woods do not include harvesting an animal. Spending quality time with family, friends, associates, or loved ones typically recharges my inner battery, and the experience is worth the investment of time. One particular unsuccessful trip a few years ago taught me a very valuable lesson regarding the impact of wind and scent. I don’t think most hunters give enough thought to their hunting location given the wind conditions.

CFAN: WHAT SAFETY PRACTICES DO YOU MAKE SURE TO EMPLOY ON ANY HUNT?

Troutman: Gun safety, treestand safety, and keeping an awareness of other hunters in the area.

CFAN: WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL “MUST-HAVE” GEAR LIST?

Troutman: For deer hunting, proper camouflage clothing, a grunt tube, doe bleat, cover scent, rubber soled boots, rattling antlers, binoculars, and (in Florida) a ThermaCELL®.

CFAN: WHAT KIND OF GAME WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR THE NOVICE HUNTER?

Troutman: Dove hunting and/or hog hunting.

CFAN: WHAT KIND OF GAME WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR A MORE EXPERIENCED HUNTER LOOKING FOR A CHALLENGE?

Troutman: Elk and mule deer offer a good challenge. For those whitetail hunters looking to raise the bar, I suggest that they begin hunting in other states. For example, an avid whitetail hunter may set the goal of killing a deer in every state east of the Mississippi River or in every county in Florida. Another suggestion to challenge a hunter is to begin hunting with weapons that demand more skill. Weapons such as a long bow require the hunter to be very close to their prey, thus making the experience more difficult and challenging. About five years ago, I began taking my whitetail hunting skills and attempting to harvest deer in different states. The basic fundamentals are the same, but topography, geography, weather patterns, flora, and food sources are vastly different. I’ve now deer hunted in about 12 different states and have an approximately 85 percent success rate.

CFAN: WHAT DECOYS HAVE YOU FOUND WORK WELL IN YOUR HUNTING EXPERIENCE?

Troutman: I’ve only used decoys for spring turkey hunting but have heard of deer hunters having some success with deer decoys.

CFAN: HAVE YOU EVER HUNTED WITH A SMARTPHONE?

Troutman: Smartphones provide the user various applications or Internet services that can be quite useful to hunters. Websites such as The Weather Channel and Google Earth are “must-haves” for nearly all hunters.

CFAN: WHAT’S BEEN YOUR GREATEST HUNTING ACHIEVEMENT?

Troutman: In 2007, I completed the spring turkey grand slam in about a six-week period, which took me to Montana, Oklahoma, Georgia, and South Florida.

CFAN: DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO HUNT ON PUBLIC RATHER THAN PRIVATE LAND?

Troutman: Public land provides a great resource for hunters. In fact, one of the largest whitetail deer ever harvested in Florida was recently taken off of public hunting grounds. Public land hunters need to be very mindful about personal safety. Oftentimes, hunters may not realize that they are setting up in close proximity to another hunter.

CREDIT

story by CFAN staff