Hunting Terminology

Hunting Terminology List

Hunters have a language that's all of their own. The gear they carry afield and the explanations of their ways are foreign words to others. We've collected a glossary of outdoor-specific terms to help everyone learn a little more about the outdoors.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | V | W | Y


Air scent
Scent carried by the wind.

A bird that lands and doesn't move or falls dead in the air and hits the ground is often said to be "air washed" and gives off very little scent on the ground and is difficult for dogs to find.

Allen wrench
A hex shaped male wrench (in various sizes), used on socket head screws found on all compound bows.

Anchor point
One of the most important aspects of developing good form is to develop a "consistent" anchor point. An anchor point is a consistently repeatable indexing point somewhere near your ear, cheek, behind your ear (if you’re a release shooter), or possibly your lip or cheek, if you are a "fingers" shooter. The point can be most anywhere on you face, as long as it is at your full draw length, and preferable at a place that is easily repeatable. Without a consistent anchor point you will never develop good form, and accuracy.

What we know as "pronghorn antelope" in the American West are actually a member of the goat family. Pronghorns are known for blazing speed that can be sustained for miles, a curious nature, and an ability to tolerate dry, inhospitable terrain. Sometimes called "speed goats."

The growths of bone-like material protruding from the skull of a male member of the deer family. Antlers are shed annually. On rare occasions, female cervids also grow antlers. Antlers are sometimes called "horns" in hunting vernacular, although this term is incorrect.

Arkansas call
A single reed duck call used by hunters in flooded timber.

Arm guard
A protective device worn on the bow arm to protect it in case of a string slap.

Arrow fletcher
Tool used to precisely aligned feathers or vanes that are being glued to an arrow during manufacturing.

Arrow saw
A high-speed abrasive blade is used, along with an adjustable setting to precisely cut an arrows length.

Arrow spinner
A device for visually inspection an arrows "trueness" (shaft straightness, point or broadhead, or nock alignment), used by placing an arrow supported on each end, between two free running rollers. The arrow is spun quickly, and you can visually check to see if all components run true, or run "out."

Arrow straightener
A tool consisting of a precision "dial type indicator," roller supports for each end of the arrow, and an arm used to apply pressure to the arrow to bend it "straight" by using the indicator as a guide.

Assembly call
A long series of yelps made by hens trying to locate a flock of scattered poults. Used in fall hunting.


When a pointing dog freezes upon seeing another dog point. Also called "honoring."

Back weight
A device added to the bow for target shooting (usually in pairs on a V-Bar), and in conjunction with a front stabilizer bar to perfectly balance a bow for a particular archers needs.


A term often used to describe the sound made by a squirrel excited by the presence of a predator or other danger.

Base camp
A large camp with good amenities used as a base for hunting activities.

In trapping, the act of making a leg-hold trap sit solidly in position so it will not tip or move should an animal step on a part of the trap beside the spring.

Bell mare
Where mares go, geldings usually follow. Many veteran horse packers place a bell on the lead mare so they know where to find their horses.

A noisemaker attached to a dog's collar to help the hunter keep track of it in heavy cover. When the bell falls silent the dog is on point. Beepers are electronic versions, which often make a different sound when the dog stops to point.

Bellows call
A type of squirrel call with a rubber device on one end that the hunter taps to produce a sound that imitates a barking squirrel.

Big running
A dog that ranges widely.

A two-legged support often used by varmint hunters, which is attached to the fore-end of a rifle, used mainly for long-range shooting.

A dog gets "birdy" that is, acts excited, when it strikes fresh scent.

Black-mouthed cur
A treeing dog (typically yellow with black around the mouth) often used by squirrel hunters. These dogs are "open-mouthed" on track, similar to hounds, barking while tracking a squirrel. Differ from mountain curs in having longer ears, a trait attributable to their hound ancestry. One of the newer breeds.

A smaller species of deer similar to a mule deer in appearance that are found on the West Coast.

Blind call
Setting up in area turkeys frequent and calling occasionally, hoping a bird will come within earshot.

Lesser scaup.

Bluebird day
A still, calm day. Typically difficult conditions to hunt ducks.

A trapping term referring to the male of a species of furbearer.

Boat paddle
A box call especially designed to make loud, high pitched sounds. Usually used as a locator call.

Body gripper trap
A style of steel trap that catches animals by the head or body, usually killing them quickly; also called a killer trap.

Sage grouse.

Boss gobbler/Boss tom
The dominant male turkey in an area that often does the bulk of the breeding.

Bow press
A mechanical device used to compress a bows limbs, so that the string and cables can be adjusted, otherwise worked on, or the bow limbs taken off.

Box call
A wooden box with a lid screwed to one end. Moving the lid across the top of the box makes turkey sounds.

Break point
When a pointing dog stops pointing and begins tracking again. It often happens with running birds like pheasants.

Breast collar
The leather strap that goes around the chest of a horse to keep the saddle from sliding down the horse's back when going uphill.

Breast sponge
A spongy deposit above the breastbone where adult males store fat prior to the breeding season.

(britching) The straps from a packsaddle that go around a pack animal's rump to keep the pack saddle from sliding forward.

Brow tines
The tines on an elk's or deer's antlers that are closest to the skull. In Colorado, for example, bull elk must have a 5-inch brow tine in many areas to be considered a legal bull during the rifle season. When counting a mule deer's antler points, brow tines are not counted, according to Western tradition.

Food for big game animals.

Brush loads
Shotgun shells containing either flat or square shot or a special spreader wad. In all three cases, the idea is to make the pattern open up very quickly for close range shooting.

Brush-buster pants
Breeches with a layer of thick canvas or other heavy material on the legs to turn briars and other thorny plants when hunting in dense cover.

A male deer.

The distinctive whistling, bellowing, grunting sound made by a bull elk in the rut. This sound can be imitated by skilled hunters to draw bulls in.

A male elk, moose, or caribou of breeding age.

Bullet trajectory
The arc made by a bullet after it is fired from a rifle.

When a pointing dog makes a mistake and flushes a bird it is supposed to point it is said to have "busted" the bird.

Button buck
A deer with small nubs for antlers.


A decoy spread in the shape of the letter "C" with the open end of the "C" facing downwind. Used for puddle ducks.

An almost duck-sized race of Canada geese.

The young of the year for an elk, caribou, or moose.

A turkey that doesn't respond to calling due to having been subjected to heavy hunting pressure.


A nickname in many areas for the swamp rabbit; given because of the swamp rabbit's fondness for young switch cane shoots.

The back of a seat of a saddle.

The process of cutting and removing the hide from the head, shoulders and neck of a game animal.

A percussion muzzleloading rifle ignited by means of a hammer falling on a cap placed on a nipple.

Carbide lamp
An old-fashioned kind of headlight used by coon hunters and others; calcium carbonate (carbide) was added to a receptacle, and when water was added, acetylene gas was produced. Igniting the gas as it exited through a small orifice produced a light for hunting.

When a dog runs on a long line searching for scent.

Cat squirrel
A nickname in many areas for the gray squirrel.

A member of the deer family, such as mule deer, elk, moose, and caribou.

To rub carpenter's chalk on the inside the lid of a box call to improve the sound of the caller.

Leather leggings that protect a rider. Pronounced "shaps." When pronounced "chaps," as in "two English buddies," that means the speaker is definitely not from the West.

Chase for pleasure
A term used to describe fox hunting on horseback.

An unusual antler point.

Loose-fitting chaps for summer riding.

An electronic meter used to measure an arrows speed coming out of the bow. The arrow is shot through a "window" in the device, and gives out readings in fps (feet per second).

The girth on a riding saddle or pack saddle.

The tendency of rabbits to run a somewhat circular path when pursued by dogs, which eventually takes them back near to the spot where they were first flushed.

A device that serves the same function as a "draw stop" (for bows unequipped with draw stops) usually found on Olympic or FITA style recurves. You hear an audible "click" when a certain pre-set draw length is reached letting you know that you are at your full draw!

Close working
Dogs that hunt within gun range of the hunters.

A series of clucks used when geese approach the decoys.

Coffin blind
A one person blind used on land and in shallow water for hiding in sparse cover.

A method of dyeing steel traps by dipping them in a petroleum-based color material that has been thinned, usually with gasoline.

The tendency of a hunting dog to bay at the scent of an animal that passed through the area much earlier.

Comeback call
A series of long, pleading honks/ quacks used as geese/ ducks leave the decoys.

Composite stock
A molded rifle stock made of synthetic materials.

Compound bow
A bow that is made easier to draw by a system of wheels and pulleys.

Confidence decoys
Decoys representing herons, gulls, coots and other water birds intended to reassure ducks that a landing area is safe.

Coues deer
A shy, diminutive subspecies of the whitetail deer found in the deserts of the American southwest and Mexico.

Courtesy gobble
A single gobble in answer to a turkey call by a gobbler who then refuses to gobble again or investigate the call.

A small piece of gamebird habitat, often huntable in a fairly short time. Usually associated with grouse and woodcock hunting. The "t" is silent.

A flock of quail, usually 6-15 birds. The group flush is known as a covey rise.

Covey shoot
To shoot at a covey rise without picking out a single target. Almost always results in a miss.

A mature female elk, caribou, or moose.

Cow call
The act of imitating the chirping sound of a cow elk. Also the name for the devices used to make the sound.

The upper extensions of a packsaddle upon which panniers are hung.

Conservation Reserve Program, a government program that pays farmers to grow grass or other cover on crop fields. CRP has resulted in a pheasant boom across the Upper Midwest.

Crupper or crouper
A leather strap with a ring that goes around the base of a horse's tail and attaches to the skirts of a saddle to keep the saddle from sliding forward when going downhill.

A mouth caller designed specifically for making cuts.

A series of excited clucks made by a hen.

Remains of nuts or other mast left behind by feeding squirrels and used by hunters to help pinpoint their quarry.


Dark timber ("black timber")
Thick stands of coniferous trees that make good bedding cover for deer and especially elk. In Colorado, dark timber is usually comprised of Englemann spruce and sub-alpine fir, and in most cases, it is considered virgin forest that has not been logged.

The two horn-like "toes" located on the ankle slightly above above a cervid's cloven hoof.

Diaphragm/mouth call
A caller made from one to four thin latex reeds stretched in a frame that fits into the roof of the user's mouth.

Diving ducks
Ducks that feed in deep water by swimming down to reach food.

Part of a leg-hold trap that holds one jaw down when the trap is in a set position.

Double O
A simple puddle duck rig consisting of two groups of decoys separated by a landing zone about 10 yards across.

Double reed
A duck call with two vibrating reeds. Often the best call for beginners.

Drag marks
Parallel lines on the ground left by the wingtips of a strutting gobbler.

Draw length
Is the measurement of the length of the nock end of the arrow to the bows grip pivot point for an individual archer. This changes to fit the individuals particular size. (Arm length, anchor point, etc.)

Draw stop
A device on a compound bow that positively stops the draw at a set draw length.

Roughing the surface of a slate call to increase the friction, and therefore the noise, as the peg is pulled across the surface.

A method of rabbit hunting without dogs, in which drivers try to push rabbits from a narrow band of cover to standers up ahead who are ready to shoot in a safe direction if game appears.

Any device rigged on a leg-hold trap to expedite the drowning of a furbearer taken in or near the water.

Another name for ruffed grouse, based on the bird's habit of drumming by beating the air with its wings in the spring to attract females.

An inexperienced guest on a ride or a hunt. A somewhat derogatory term.

Dude string
A bunch of gentle horses that work well together, and may be relied upon to transport inexperienced riders into the mountains.


Eastern wild turkey
The most widespread subspecies of wild turkey now found in 38 states.

1) The vertical point of impact of a rifle, particularly as noted on a scope or rifle sight. If a rifle is shooting too low when sighting in, the shooter must adjust its elevation. 2) The distance above sea level. "At elevation" is a term describing being in the high country where the air has less oxygen and physical demands are greater.

Elk rifle
A matter of endless debate. For purposes of definition, rifles of .270 caliber and above that are accurate at ranges of up to 300 yards. .308, .30-06, 7 mm. Magnum, .300 Magnum (both Weatherby and Winchester), .338 Magnum, and .375 H&H Magnum are all considered adequate elk rifles.

Big game animals that are not native to the terrain they inhabit, such as nilgai in Texas.


False point
When a pointing dog points where there is no bird.

A deer in the first year of its life.

Feed call (feed chuckle)
A staccato "ticka-ticka" call that sounds like a flock of feeding ducks.

Goose decoy with the head down as if feeding.

A small type of squirrel hunting dog, usually black and white or black with tan trim, weighing 20-27 pounds. Often confused with rat terriers, but the ears of feists break over rather than sticking straight up. Usually bark only when treed, unless running a squirrel seen on the ground. Also used for varmint hunting. Breed standards set by Treeing Feist Breeders Association.

The part of the saddle that descends from the seat to the stirrup under the rider's leg.

Fighting purr
A loud, aggressive purring sound made by turkeys before and during a fight.

Fish cop
Game Warden.

A technique for attracting geese and sometimes diving ducks wherein the hunter waves a black (for Canadas and divers) or white (for snow geese) flag at distant flocks.

When ducks or geese suddenly turn away from a decoy spread after detecting danger.

The feathers or vanes on an arrow. Originally made of split turkey feathers, most vanes are now plastic.

Flight birds
Migratory woodcock as opposed to locally hatched "residents". The woodcock is the only migratory upland gamebird other than the dove.

Flight day
A day when ducks migrate, typically in advance of a northern storm front.

A "bad" form habit developed from anticipating the release of the arrow. The result is a poor release, possibly in the jerking of the bow arm, or of the release.

A primitive muzzleloading rifle fired by means of a hammer carrying a piece of flint that strikes a frizzen, showering sparks into the pan below that is primed with gunpowder, which carries a flame into barrel of the gun, igniting the powder within.

Float calling
A two-person tactic in which one hunter sits ready to shoot, while the other retreats, calling, simulating a hen walking away from a gobbler.

Float hunt
To jump shooting ducks by floating downstream in a canoe or small duckboat.

Hunting squirrels while traveling along waterways in a canoe or other craft.

Flushing dogs
Dogs that don't point but roust birds into the air near the guns. Flushers include all retrievers and spaniels except the Brittany.

The most popular type of goose call, generally 8 to 10 inches long.

Flydown cackle
A loud cackle often made by hens flying to the ground from their roost first thing in the morning.

Follow-up shot
The second shot that a hunter must fire if he has wounded a big-game animal.

Fool hens
Spruce grouse.

A deer with two points on each of his antlers, sometimes known as a "two-point" in the West.

The bed of a rabbit or hare, usually a depression formed in vegetation by the weight of the animal's body.

Friction call
Any caller that produces sounds by means of friction as opposed to callers that produce sound by vibrating when they are blown into or sucked on.

A strike plate for the flint attached to the hammer of a flintlock rifle. When the hammer strikes the metal frizzen, sparks shower into the pan and conduct fire into the barrel of the gun, igniting the gunpowder within.

Full body
Field decoys (usually for geese) representing an entire bird including the feet.

Any of the many species of mammals whose fur is of commercial value, such as mink, muskrat, beaver, otter, raccoon, bobcat, coyote, etc.



Gang rig (longline)
Several decoys fastened at intervals to a long line with anchors at each end. Often used by big water hunters for putting out large decoy spreads.

Elbow-length or (usually) shoulder-length rubber gloves worn by trappers when constructing water sets.

A male horse that has been castrated.

Giant Canadas
The largest race of Canada geese, weighing 14 pounds or more. Many are non-migratory.

Giardia lamblia
An intestinal parasite found in many Western streams and rivers that infects people and animals by means of a spore passed into the water supply via feces. Most often called "giardia" or "beaver fever."

The act of searching terrain for game by observing through binoculars or other magnified optics.

Used by "fingers shooters" to protect the abrasion from the string that can lead to blisters. Usually just covers three fingers.

Gobbler shaker/Gobble tube
A caller activated by shaking that produces the gobble of the wild turkey. Used as a locator and occasionally as a call to challenge dominant gobblers. Can be unsafe in crowded woods.

Gobbler yelp
The tom's yelp, slower and lower pitched than hen yelps.

Goose chair
A low slung chair partially covered by a super magnum goose decoy, used as a blind in a decoy spread.

Gould's wild turkey
The subspecies native to the mountains of northern Mexico and southern Arizona and New Mexico. Gould's turkeys may not be hunted in the United States.

Two- or three-pronged metal hook attached to a leg-hold trap with an extended length of chain; used to stop a trapped furbearer from moving away from the sight where caught.

Gray duck

A mallard drake.

Greeting call
Four or five excited quacks; usually used when a flock is approaching the decoys.

Greeting or hail call
Several loud honks made by geese to distant flocks.

Area of the bow riser that is held when the bow is shot. Usually made of wood plastic, or rubber, and in one piece, or two side plates. Locates the bow precisely in the hand.

Ground scent
(also "foot scent") the scent left by a bird's tracks through the cover.

A professional whose job it is to lead hunts for clients.

When a game animal has been shot in the paunch or intestines. A gutshot animal often escapes from the hunter, only to die a lingering death.


Hang up
When a turkey approaching a hunter stops and gobbles from one place out of gun range it is said to "hang up." Often turkey hang up when they reach obstacles like creeks and fencelines.

Hen cover
Light grass in pheasant country which often holds hens but not roosters.

Henned up
A gobbler that is spending most of the day with his harem of hens is said to be "henned up". Such gobblers are very difficult to call.

Herd bull
A dominant breeding bull elk, usually fully mature, and between four and seven years old.

Highball or hail call
A long, loud series of quacks intended to grab the attention of ducks in the distance.

A general term for the series of knots and loops that are used to lash a load to a packhorse. There are many different hitches.

A virtual handcuff for horses by which the two front feet of a horse are tied closely together so that the horse may not range far.

When birds sit still to hide. Birds that hold tight are very desirable when hunting with dogs.

Term used to describe a rabbit or squirrel that has eluded the dogs and/or the hunter by entering a tree cavity, hole in the ground or other such refuge.

Canada geese.


1) A permanent protrusion from a game animal's head, as opposed to antlers, which are shed annually. Sheep and antelope species have horns, while deer have antlers. 2) The protrusion from the pommel of a Western riding saddle.

An area of strong scent left where a bird was sitting. Dogs often false point hotspots.

Hungarian (or Gray) partridge.

Hunting your backtrail/echo trail
Re-tracing your steps while run and gun hunting in order to strike birds that may have come to your earlier calls.

The command used to stop spaniels to allow the guns to keep up with the dog. On "hup" the dog sits.


In the round
A trapping term referring to selling furbearers whole, without skinning them, to a fur buyer.

In-line muzzleloader
A hybrid rifle built to reflect the definition of a muzzleloading rifle according to many states' game laws. In-line muzzleloaders are in many respects modern rifles using primitive technology. The rifles are loaded with black powder or Pyrodex via the muzzle and using a ramrod, but the powder is often pelletized and shooters often use saboted copper-jacketed bullets that would not otherwise be capable of loading in a muzzleloader. As well, the rifles use a modern "in-line" ignition system with a bolt that is similar to a high-powered rifle. The performance of an in-line muzzleloader is something between a primitive muzzleloader and a high-powered rifle.

Inside spread
The distance between an animal's antlers measured at the widest point on the inside of each antler. This distance can be radically different than the outside spread, depending on whether or not the antlers have non-typical points on the outside.

Iron sights
A pair of sights set atop the barrel of a rifle, one on the end of the barrel and the other near the breech of a rifle for accurate shot placement. Iron sights are very traditional and low-tech, and do not magnify the shooter's vision.

The two teeth on the lower jaw of an elk that look like ivory. They're not, really. Also called "whistlers."


J-rig or fish hook
A decoy spread in the shape of the letter "J", with the long shank pointing upwind. Used for both diving and puddle ducks.

A 1-year old, immature male turkey.

A part of a steel trap that comes together because of the action of the springs.

Jerk string/jerk cord
A cord attached to one or more decoys designed to be pulled by a hunter in the blind. Adds motion to a decoy spread by creating waves.

Jump dog
The dog in a pack of beagles or hounds most likely to first pick up the scent of a rabbit or other game animal and begin the chase; also called strike dog.

Jump shoot
To sneak up on ducks, startle them off the water into flight, and shoot them.

Jump shooting
Hunting rabbits without benefit of hunting dogs, by kicking brush piles, traipsing through dense thickets and otherwise inciting the rabbits to flush from hiding.

Jump the string
When an animal hears the "twang" of an archer releasing an arrow and reacts, sometimes moving out of the path of the arrow before it arrives.

Jumping mule
A mule trained for hunting raccoons and other animals, trained to jump fences while pursuing game.


Kee kee
The whistling sound made by young poults, especially when lost. A very important call in fall hunting.

Kisser button
An anchor locating device that is attached to the string, usually a small rubber or plastic disc that you fit in corner of you mouth on full draw and anchor. It helps keep a consistent anchor point, which is very important for consistent form and accuracy.

A botanical term to describe high-elevation Englemann spruce that grow in very thick clusters above the normal timberline. These trees rarely grow higher than ten feet tall, and are a favorite bedding haunt for high-country mule deer and bighorn sheep. Krummholz means "crooked wood" in German.

Cryptogamic soil
In very arid regions of the West, the soil is held firm against sudden winds and rains by a fragile network of organisms that binds it together in clumps. This soil is destroyed by the passage of any large animal or vehicles, and erosion is accelerated drastically with the destruction of cryptogamic soil.


Laminated stock
A rifle stock milled from layers of wood laminated together.

Landing hole/landing zone
An open area in a decoy spread for birds to land in.

Lash rope
A rope with a cinch attached to it that is used to lash a load down on top of a packhorse. The rope is usually 3/8 to 1/2-inch in diameter and 45-50 feet long.

The strap of leather or nylon mesh that is used to tighten the cinch or girth on a riding saddle or pack saddle.

Laydown blind
Low profile blind for field shooting that conceals a hunter lying flat on the ground.

Laydown call
A mixture of honks and growling noises simulating a contented, feeding flock of geese.

Layout boat
A one person boat in which the hunter lies flat in middle of a decoy spread. Usually used in big water with a tending boat nearby.

A special type of leash, which may have multiple lengths of cord or leather thongs, used to maintain control of hunting dogs before they are released to hunt, and after the hunt is over.

Leg-hold trap
A style of steel trap that catches animals by gripping them by the leg or foot; also called foot-hold trap.

As the name implies it is a lens that attaches to target type sights, that adds magnification for increased accuracy. Usually around 2X to 4X for 3D shooting, sometimes more for indoor "spot" shooting.

Leopard cur
A unique squirrel dog with a spotted or striped coat pattern combining gray, black, yellow, other colors. Can be trained for a variety of purposes including wild hog hunting, cat hunting and working with livestock. Breed standards set by Leopard Cur Breeders Association.

Limb bolts
Each limb has a limb bolt that is used to adjust the poundage (draw weight) of the bow. The limb bolts should be "bottomed out," then backed off an equal number of turns to desired poundage on some bows, or set by measuring the "tiller" on others. (Follow MFR directions)!

Limb saver
A newly developed "mushroom" shaped rubber product (developed by Simms Labs Inc.), used in pairs and attached to the limbs of the bow according to instructions (usually a few inches from each end of the limb, where there will be no cable obstruction), helps damped vibration and oscillation in the limbs making the bow "shock" on release much smoother.

Loafing cover
Light grass near a feeding field where farmland gamebirds often spend the middle part of the day in fair weather.

Locator call
A call mimicking the sound of another animal. Locators are used to make turkeys gobble. Crow calls, owl *** and coyote howlers are three of the most popular.

Locked up (cupped)
When waterfowl cup their wings and begin gliding into a decoy spread.

The dome-shaped houses made by beavers and muskrats.

A type of dye product commonly used to dye steel traps to conceal them from furbearers and potential trap thieves.

Lonesome hen call
A series of four of five quacks; the basic call of a hen mallard. All other calls are variations of this sound except the feed call.

Long bow
An old-fashioned wooden bow at least 5 feet long.


Oversize decoys. Super Magnums are even larger.

Main beam
The length of the antler from the base of the skull to the natural tip of the antlers.

Making game
A dog is said to be "making game" when it finds fresh scent.

Mark down
To watch a bird (either dead, crippled or unhurt) land so you can either find it or try to flush it out.

Merriam's wild turkey
The subspecies native to the western mountains and plains.

Something made up of more than one component for adjustability. For example, a lot of cams are modular, allowing variation in draw length, and let-off, by changing the position of one component in relation to the other and reassembling in the new configuration.

A mountainous region.

Motion decoys
Battery operated decoys move and create ripples in the water.

Mountain cur
A popular treeing dog (typically brindle, black or yellow), once known as the Ledbetter Cur. This old breed originated in the mountains of Tennessee. Ears must be short, cur-like. Normally silent on track, barking only when a squirrel is treed. Breed standards set by Original Mountain Cur Breeders Association.

Mountain feist
A mountain cur/feist cross. Mountain curs have an excellent "trailing nose"; feists have "a better eye" for seeing squirrels. Mountain feists have an excellent combination of both traits.

A Western slang term for a mule deer.


NIBB (New Improved Balance Points)
A one piece machined precision weight controlled, and aerodynamic target point made specifically in 7,8 and 9% (FOC) Front of Center balance weights for aluminum arrows.

The notch in the end of an arrow that fits onto a bowstring; the act of nocking an arrow.

An unusual set of antlers, with variations of antler points other than the normal 4x4 or 5x5. A non-typical mule deer may have 12 points on one side and nine on the other.


Oakleaf (spill air)
When geese turn on their sides or backs in the air to lose altitude quickly.

Off-set jaws
The type of jaws on a leg-hold trap that, when closed, retain a gap of approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

Osceola or Florida wild turkey
The subspecies found only in central Florida.

An outdoors professional who contracts with private parties to conduct hunting and fishing trips and other outdoor excursions.

Outside spread
The distance between the two widest points on an animal's antlers.


Pronounced "***-jay," this is a ranger's term for pinon-juniper forest.

Pac boots
Rubberized, waterproof cold-weather boots with a warm felt liner.

Pack frame
A backpack with a stout external frame, most often without the accompanying cloth bags, used for freighting meat and other objects that can't be stuffed inside a backpack.

Pack saddle
A rigid frame made of wood or metal that is used to load gear, food, and equipment on a packhorse.

Pack string
A group of pack animals, which may include horses, mules, and even burros and donkeys, that is used to freight gear, food, and meat in and out of remote camps.

1) A rider who is responsible for loading and conducting pack strings in and out of the mountains. A good packer must be an excellent horseman, a quick thinker, a problem solver, and must have a thorough knowledge of knots and loads. 2) A distinctive style of lace-up cowboy boots favored by Western packers.

A horse used to pack gear, food, and meat.

The knobby growths on the antlers of a caribou, moose, or elk that are usually flat and spread out like the palm of a hand. Palmations are a normal feature on the "brow tines" of caribou and moose, and are an unusual feature on deer and elk antlers.

The small indentation under the hammer and frizzen of a flintlock rifle in which fine grains of black powder are placed. This powder catches the spark from the frizzen and conducts a spark into the barrel of the rifle via a small hole.

The bags that are hung on the crossbucks of a pack saddle that carry the load on a packhorse.

An open meadow or glade in mountainous terrain. A "park" can be located on a fairly steep slope. The term is descended from the French-Canadian trappers' word, "parque."

Party hunting
When a group of hunters collectively pools their available tags and allows one hunter to shoot game for the others. This practice is considered poor ethics and is usually highly illegal.

Pass shoot
To shoot ducks as they fly from one place to another.

Patched ball
A round lead ball that is seated on a lubricated patch of cloth and then rammed down the barrel of a muzzleloader.

The stomach and intestinal area of an animal. A poor spot to shoot an animal.

Piano blind
A square wooden box-shaped blind.

Picket line
A rope stretched between two trees, usually at head height or above, for the purpose of tying up horses and mules so they won't wander away.

A name for the droppings of rabbits, which provide a sign to the hunter that his quarry has been active in the area he is hunting.

Pintail whistle
(widgeon whistle, drake mallard call) A whistle used to imitate the calls of several species of non-quacking ducks.

A canoe-like boat developed in Louisiana for duck hunting in cypress swamps and coastal marshes.

A permanent or temporary hole dug into the ground used to hide in fields. Often holds several hunters.

A person who kills game out of season or shoots more than the legal limit of game.

Point dead
Some pointing breeds will not retrieve but point fallen birds.

Pointing dogs
Dogs that freeze to indicate the presence of birds close by. Pointing dogs include English pointers, all setters, Brittanies and all the various continental breeds.

Pointing Labs
Labrador retrievers specially bred to point.

The swells of a saddle on either side of the saddle horn.

Hunters who stand still at the end of a field to prevent pheasants from running during a drive.

Powder horn
A horn from a cow that has been hollowed out to hold black powder, used for muzzleloader shooting.

Puddle ducks (dabbling ducks)
Ducks that feed in shallow water. Mallards and pintails are the most popular puddle ducks.

A soft trilling call of contentment, usually mixed with clucks.

Pushbutton call/push-pull call
A small box call activated by a rod that the hunter pushes or pulls.

Sometimes called the "alarm putt", a call made by turkeys who have sensed danger.

A modern substitute for black powder that generates less smoke and corrosion.


A Western term for aspen trees, which are known in botanical terms as "quaking aspen."

When a dog hunts by cutting back and forth in front of the gunners.

A bag or attachment to store arrows while hunting.


Rabbit box
A live-trap for rabbits. Also called rabbit gum.

The antlers attached to the skull of a cervid.

Rag spread
A field decoy spread for snow geese made up of several hundred white rags.

A young bull elk, typically a 4x4 or small 5x5 in antler size, and usually 2-3 years old.

A wood, fiberglass, or composite rod used to push a bullet down the bore of a muzzleloading rifle until it is seated.

A government employee responsible for overseeing the health of a forest or range.

Recurve bow
A bow designed so that, when strung, the bow curves back against its natural bend, giving it great power when an arrow is released.

Reelfoot call
An extremely loud duck call with a metal reed developed on Tennessee's Reelfoot Lake.

Rio Grande wild turkey
The subspecies originally found in the dry central and southern Plains states, primarily Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and introduced successfully to the Pacific northwest.

Controversial new decoys that use spinning, battery-operated wings to attract ducks.

Roost/Put to bed
Seeing or hearing a gobbler fly up to roost in the evening in order to know where to begin the next morning's hunt.

Where a deer or elk has staked out his territory by scraping away the bark of a small tree, leaving his individual scent behind.

The ruffed grouse.

Run and gun/Cutt and run
Walking (or sometimes driving) through turkey habitat, pausing to call at short intervals in hopes of making a turkey gobble. Often used at midday.

The breeding season for cervids, which is in the autumn.


A bullet encased in a plastic jacket that falls away when the bullet is fired. In this scenario, a .223 bullet can be fired from a .30-06, and a copper jacketed bullet can be fired from a muzzleloader.

Saddle carbine
A short-barreled rifle made specifically to fit into a scabbard on a saddle, usually based on a lever-action design.

Sage hen
A term for sage grouse, a member of the grouse family found in sagebrush flats in the Western United States. A mature bird can weight 7-8 pounds.

Satellite bull
A younger bull elk who is not the dominant bull in a breeding herd of elk. Satellite bulls may include both raghorns and mature bulls without harems of cows.

A case for a rifle that is hung from a saddle.

Frightening a flock of turkeys in all directions in order to call them back into gun range during a fall hunt.

Scent mound
A small pile of leaves, sticks and wet mud, usually close to the water's edge, made by a beaver to mark its territory and/or communicate with other beavers. After constructing such a mound, the beaver deposits scent from glands on the pile.

Scenting conditions
Dogs can scent birds best when there is some moisture present, the weather is fairly cool and a light, steady breeze is blowing. Hot, very cold, dry, and gusty days make scenting birds difficult.

Short for telescopic sight, a scope is a tube with magnifying optics mounted atop a hunting rifle for accurate shot placement by means of a set of crosshairs that can be adjusted for windage and elevation.

A means of judging a trophy by compiling a set of measurements of an animal's antlers, skull, or horns.

Scratch box
A small, two-piece box call.

Marks left by turkeys' feet as they scratch leaves in search of food.

Scrub oak
A term for Gambel's oak, which covers many Western mountainsides at elevations between 5,000 and 8,000 feet. The acorns from Gambel's oak are important forage for bears and deer, and the tips of the brush provide important winter browse for deer and elk. The brush typically grows in very close thickets, sometimes blanketing entire mountainsides, and typically grows ten or 15 feet tall and 8" at the butt, though in some instances it will grow to 35 feet and 16" or so at the butt.

Scull boat
A one- or two-person boat propelled by a single sculling oar for sneaking up on rafted ducks.

Goose decoy with an upright head, as if watching for danger.

A thinner more abrasive resistant string material that is "wrapped"(served) around the string bundle to prevent wear and damage to bow strings at critical points. Specifically the string and the cable ends where the strings wrap around the cams, and also the "center" serving where the caliper release, or fingers would wear the string.

The specific location and design of the placement of a trap or snare to catch an animal. Sets are classified as either water sets or land (dry) sets.

Shaker call
A hand operated call that, when shaken, makes the feed chuckle.

Sharp-tailed grouse.

Shed antlers
Antlers that have dropped from the skull of a deer, elk, moose, or caribou in the spring without harm to the animal.

Representations of the upper half or three-quarters of a duck or goose. Used in dry field hunting.

Shock gobble
A gobble made by a tom in response to a sudden, loud noise or call.

A derisive term for a dog that doesn't stray far from a hunter's feet.

1) A person who is eligible and licensed to shoot game; a person skilled in shooting. 2) A game animal worthy of taking; of adequate size, legal status, or trophy status.

Shrink tube
Borrowed from our friends in the electrical industry, shrink tube is primarily used on arrow rest prongs to "silence" the arrow on draw and release. Basically it is a plastic sleeve the forms itself to the shape of the prongs when heated.

Sight bait
Any bait, large or small, which is left visible at a trap set as an attractant for furbearers. Sight baits are illegal in most states within a specified distance of traps, because of the danger of catching birds of prey.

Sight level
A bubble level that is attached to the sight (similar to carpenters or plumbers levels) that let you know if you are holding your bow up straight. Aids in accuracy, and developing a consistent form.

A two-dimensional decoy.

After a covey rise, quail scatter. Individual birds are then called singles.

Single reed
A duck call with one vibrating reed.

A semi-submerged water blind now illegal in the United States.

Sitka deer
A subspecies of the blacktail that is found primarily in the Alaskan coastal islands.

Slate call
Originally made of slate, these callers can also be made from glass, aluminum, titanium and other materials. Dragging a wooden, graphite, composite or metal striker across the surface produces turkey sounds.

You might imply by the name that it is a device for carrying the bow, but this is not the case. It is a wrist strap that fits loosely around the wrist and attaches to the bow, so that the bow will not be accidentally dropped when jumping forwards with a loose grip, upon release.

Slob hunter
A hunter or group of hunters who exhibits disregard for game laws and other disrespectful behavior such as littering, poor firearms safety, wasting game meat, poaching, party hunting, or drinking alcohol while hunting.

Snap shot
A quick off-hand shot; often required of a small game hunter pursuing animals in the close confines of thickets and other dense cover.

A loop made of wire or string and suspended in a runway to catch an animal by the head, neck or body.

Sneakboat (sneakbox/pumpkinseed)
A small, low-profile boat for one or two hunters.

Snow roost
Ruffed grouse will often burrow into the snow to stay warm in the late season.

Soil bank
A program similar to CRP during the 1960s. Like CRP, it boosted pheasant populations.

Specklebelly (speck)
White-fronted goose.

Speed goats
A slang term for pronghorn antelope.

A yearling bull elk with spike antlers that have no tines.

Spike camp
A no-frills camp, often with just a pup tent or backpacking tent, which hunters often use to get close to herds of game, then return to a base camp after a day or two.

Spit and drum
A low frequency humming sound made by strutting gobblers. Only audible at short distances.

Split reed
A mouth caller with one or more of its reeds cut or notched to give a raspier sound.

A pintail.

The part of a leg-hold or body-gripper trap that provides the stored power to make the trap close.

Squaw hitch
A basic hitch that is used to lash loads to a packhorse.

Squealer call
A type of squirrel call that imitates the distress cries of a squirrel that has been caught by a predator; squirrels respond to the call by barking and chattering, thus allowing the hunter to determine their location.

A dog that remains solidly on point.

Steady to shot
A dog that doesn't break point when a gun goes off.

Steady to wing
A dog that doesn't chase a bird when it flushes.

Moving slowly through cover trying to spot rabbits, squirrels or other small game. The object is to use your eyes more than your feet. You should spend more time standing still than walking.

A dead branch protruding from a tree trunk. May also mean a dead, broken-off tree trunk.

Stool/ blocks
Terms for decoys.

The distinct stiff-legged jump made by a mule deer with all four feet springing from the ground at the same time, usually when it is fleeing from danger.

To make a turkey gobble with a turkey call or locator while run and gun hunting.

String wax
Originally "bees wax" was used as string wax, but today many modern synthetics are used. Its primary purpose is to increase a string's life, by conditioning the fibers, and also "holds" the individual strands together.

A short loop of string added to the bowstring, and used by release shooters. The arrow in nocked inside of the string loop, and the release clamps onto the loop, causing the pull to be straight back of the arrows center (instead of under), and also helpful in aiding to reduce "torque" induced by twisting of the release.

Strut zone
A spot where a gobbler goes regularly to display and attract hens.

A muzzleloading rifle.

Subdominant/Subordinate tom
A male turkey that has lost pecking-order battles with the dominant gobbler.

Sundown covey
A quail covey that occupies a well-known spot, and is saved for the last part of the day.

Swamp rabbit
The largest member of the cottontail family, which lives in bottomland habitat along rivers, sloughs and such.

Swing (pass)
When ducks or geese circle the decoys in preparation for landing.


Watering ponds in the west that often concentrate gamebirds.

Target animal
The species of furbearer a particular trap is intended to catch.

Target panic
The "bane" of all archers!!! Seems that everyone develops it at some time, and occasionally it can be very hard to get rid of. It is the archer's equivalent of "flinching" that the gun shooter might develop, because of anticipation of the recoil! Some forms it may take, are the pins seemingly "freezing" under your target, and not being able to put the pin on the target, or perhaps premature "punching"(rather than the gentle pressure, and "expected" release) from the properly executed mechanical or finger bowstring release. Lots of concentration, and perhaps "closed eye" blind bale shooting, just concentrating on form will cure you of it.

A turkey that doesn't gobble in response to a call.

The measured distance perpendicular to the bowstring to the point on the limb, where it joins the riser.

Timber buck
A very large mule deer buck that is found at higher elevations in mountainous terrain.

The American woodcock.

The elevation at which trees no longer grow. In Colorado, timberline is usually around 11,500 feet. In latitudes farther north, the timberline descends. In British Columbia, for example, timberline is only about 4,000 feet.

Oversize decoys to attract duck's attention at long range. Many hunters use goose decoys as duck tollers.

Tolling dog
A dog trained to run up and down the shoreline, actually attracting ducks to the hunter's blind.

The dreaded "enemy" of good consistent accuracy. It is a "form" problem. Basically it is holding, gripping, or releasing the bow in such a manner that the bow "twists" (from torque YOU apply), and your shot ends up being poor. Under ideal conditions you should hold the bow "loosely" in your hand, and upon release it should jump STRAIGHT forwards, any "torque" you apply will make the bow twist upon release, causing your well aimed shot to go somewhere unintended.

The classic pheasant flush, which is nearly vertical.

Route followed by a trapper as he checks his sets.

Tree call
Soft yelps made by a hen on the roost early in the morning.

Trophy hunter
A hunter whose primary concern is to bag a large game animal if he or she decides to shoot a game animal.

A little used goose call very similar to a snuff can turkey call.

Tube call
A caller made by stretching a diaphragm halfway over one end of a short tube. Originally made from pill bottles and snuff cans and sometimes known by those names.

An infectious disease of wild rabbits caused by a bacterium that may be carried by ticks and transmitted to man; also called rabbit fever. Hunters who fail to wear rubber gloves when dressing rabbits sometimes become infected.

The fragile soil found in high-alpine terrain and in far northern latitudes.


Varmint rifle
A sporting rifle with a heavy barrel, designed for long-range small-game hunting, firing high-velocity, flat-trajectory bullets.

Versatile breeds
Continental dogs that point birds, retrieve ducks and hunt fur. The most popular continental dogs in the US are the German short-haired pointer and the Brittany.

The region inside the chest cavity of a big game animal where, if a bullet is delivered from a proper big-game rifle or bow, the animal should not survive.


Small, harmless, worm-like parasites (the larvae of the warble fly) often found beneath the skin of rabbits.

Water keels
Decoys with unweighted keels open at the front and back to allow water to flow through.

Snow geese.

Western count
The Western manner of reporting the size of a deer or elk. A four-point buck, for example, has four tines on one side of his antlers, not including the brow tines. In eastern terms, it would be a ten-point buck. A six-point bull elk has six points on one side and six on the other. In cases where an animal has an uneven number of tines, the word "by" is inserted between the numbers, such as "five-by-six bull" or "six-by-eight mulie buck". The word "by" is written with an "X," much as dimension lumber: "3 x 4," "5 x 6", etc.

The command to stop a pointing dog.

A lone quail that flushes after the covey rise.

Wild flush
When a gamebird flushes far ahead of the dogs and/or the guns at the outside edge of gun range or out of range. Wild flushes often occur on windy days and later in the season when the birds have been hunted heavily.

Wind drift
When a bullet is blown off its intended path by wind.

The horizontal point of impact of a bullet. When sighting in a rifle, the shooter must adjust the windage of the rifle if its point of impact is to the left or right of center. Its vertical counterpart is called "elevation."

Windage unit
On more expensive sights you can move the whole sight assembly left or right (windage) to zero in your point of impact. Cheaper sights have individually adjustable pins for "windage" adjustment.

Rags tied into small windsocks. Usually used for snow geese.

Wingbone call
A caller usually made from the wingbones of a wild turkey. The hunter sucks on the call to make sounds.

The ridge on a horse's back just above its shoulders. A good hunting horse has fairly high withers so that the saddle doesn't slip off to the side.

Wolf tree
A large spreading tree, often an oak or beech, which has multiple cavities in its branches and trunk that provide refuge for squirrels.

A small plot of land on which trees are grown and cut, which often provides good hunting for squirrels.

To call to a responsive gobbler who answers or approaches the hunter.

The employee in an outfitting service or on a ranch that is responsible for caring for livestock, catching and saddling horses.


An animal that is in its second year of life. A spike bull elk, for example, is a yearling that is 1 1/2 years old in the fall of its second year.

The basic call of the wild turkey.