NSSF, Project ChildSafe Elevate Call for Responsible Gun Storage During National Safety Month

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  • Project ChildSafe’s S.A.F.E. Summer campaign reminds firearms owners to securely store firearms when not in use.

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Project ChildSafe®, the nationwide firearms safety education program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), is urging all gun owners to make responsible firearms storage a priority — and providing the tools to do so — with the launch of its sixth annual “S.A.F.E. Summer” campaign.

Launched in conjunction with “National Safety Month” every June, S.A.F.E. Summer emphasizes the importance of storing firearms responsibly when not in use, especially during the summer months when children are home and more likely to be unsupervised. “S.A.F.E.” serves as an acronym for Store your firearms responsibly when not in use; Always practice firearms safety; Focus on your responsibilities as a firearms owner; and Education is key to preventing accidents.

“Summer is an important time for firearms owners to make sure they’re properly securing their firearms, both in the home and in their vehicles, as children may be spending more time unattended in these locations,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. “NSSF and Project ChildSafe encourage firearms owners and non-owners alike to talk with their families about firearms safety to help prevent firearms accidents, thefts and misuse.” Secure storage of firearms also can play a role in helping to prevent suicide by placing time and distance between an at-risk person and a firearm.

Through Project ChildSafe, firearms owners can obtain free firearm safety kits, including a gun lock, at local law enforcement agencies across the country. Project ChildSafe also offers a variety of educational resources free on its website. These include a S.A.F.E. Summer Quiz, information on safe storage options, brochures and a video series. New videos for 2018, developed in partnership with the National Crime Prevention Council, feature McGruff the Crime Dog, and teach children the four important steps to remember if they find a firearm or if someone they know brings one to school. Another video offers guidance to help parents talk about gun safety with their kids. Also available is the AFSP-NSSF Firearms and Suicide Prevention brochure developed by NSSF and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

NSSF launched Project ChildSafe (originally known as Project HomeSafe) in 1999 as a nationwide initiative to promote firearms responsibility and provide safety education to all gun owners. While children are a primary focus, Project ChildSafe is intended to help children and adults practice greater firearms safety. Through partnerships with more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies, the program has provided more than 37 million free firearm safety kits to gun owners in all 50 states and the five U.S. territories, which is in addition to the more than 70 million free locking devices manufacturers have included with new firearms sold since 1998. Project ChildSafe was also recognized as one of three finalists in the National Safety Council’s 2018 “Green Cross for Safety” Awards.

About NSSF
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.

 

New York DEC Announces 2018-2019 Waterfowl Season Dates

Joe Forma Photo

STEM Model of American Black Duck Abundance during the week of December 12th (Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2018)

A complete list of season dates and bag limits for each zone can be found on the DEC website. The waterfowl hunter task force rationale can be found at Duck Season Dates. Hunters interested in printing the pocket guide can find it at 2018-2019 Waterfowl Season Pocket Guide (PDF). Hard copies will be available from the Regional Offices or by e-mailing wildlife@dec.ny.gov later this summer.

Season setting for the 2019-20 season and beyond

Deciding on the “best” or the “right” waterfowl season dates is a difficult task that has been a contentiously debated topic since regulated duck seasons began in the 1900s.To provide guidance for this challenging task, DEC began a two-year effort to expand on the current hunter task force process.

The modified season-selection process will directly incorporate the opinions and values of a representative sample of duck hunters and will use the most comprehensive migration data available. Last fall, DEC and Cornell University worked with the Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces to develop a survey that was sent out to over one-third of the registered duck hunters in New York State.

The goal of the survey was to identify how hunters defined a high-quality duck hunting experience (i.e., what makes the “best duck season”). The survey avoided asking “what days do you want to hunt” and instead focused on what hunter’s value in their hunting experience. DEC can use this information along with migration data specific to each waterfowl zone and evaluate how well various season dates match hunters’ values and migration chronology.

Results of the hunter survey are currently being analyzed by Cornell University and are expected later this fall. The next step in the decision-making process will occur later this summer when DEC meets with the Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces in each zone to establish a list of possible season date alternatives.

The last step in the process will occur this fall when DEC and Cornell University evaluate the tradeoffs and consequences of each season alternative to identify the optimal season based on hunters’ values and migration data (see Cornell Lab of Ornithology “STEM” Models for more on migration data). More information on the season setting process, results of the 2017 Duck Hunter Survey, and proposed future duck season dates for 2019-2023 (barring any changes to the federal regulations framework) will be posted on the DEC website during late fall 2018.

How to Find Turkey Hunting Success on Public Land

  • Scouting, Listening, Tuning-In
  • State Game Lands can offer Best Hunt Days!

By Mike Joyner

With a full day’s rest from an epic road trip to Ohio, mother’s day morning hunt proved to be much a surprise in so many ways. Having spotted turkeys in farm fields below public game lands in Truxton, New York – in Cortland County, I thought I might give it a go for a few hours before having to pick up flowers I had on order.

I found myself running behind and arrived too late to just march into the woods without listening for a bit. On my way there I spotted no other vehicles in the usual places and none parked anywhere in the state forest I had decided on for the hunt.

Mid-season on a weekend you would expect a few trucks to be parked along the roads and especially on state game lands. I eased up to where I hoped to start my hunt and to my surprise that along with gobblers sounding off that I knew I would barely able to hear, I had a bird not only on my side of the road, but not 200 yards from the seasonal road. To my advantage a heavy fog had rolled in, and the birds were still on the roost.

Knowing the terrain between us, I was able to cut the distance to a hundred yards and settled up against a big old maple tree. Mind you the bird was gobbling every 60-90 seconds without any encouragement.

With a barely audible set of tree yelps the bird gobbled back with a triple gobble, and spun around to face me as the gobbling got much louder. You could hear him rattle from the tree limb.

Knowing that there would be hens 300-400 yards below the ridge I would space out any calling by only responding after 3-4 gobbles. Even then it was very light confidence calls. Well past fly down time, the gobbler stayed in the tree and I went silent for 15 minutes. I heard his gobble change, become more insistent, and got drowned out with just a few whines and clucks. With a short cackle and a few very light purrs I went silent again as we were past 6:30 and the fog had eased up. I heard better than 70 plus gobbles and was surmising he would call up hens from somewhere out on the ridge.

Just past 6:30 AM the gobbling ceased and I would hear him gobble far to my left and down the hill what sounded to be 200-250 yards and on to private property. After trying him several times I decided to move as far as I could out on a shelf and hoped I could maintain contact with the bird.

After several attempts he gobbled once to let me know he had sailed down a long ways down the ridge. Although gobbling could be heard from birds we had spotted the night before and over a quarter mile from me. My side of the road went quiet.

Although I heard a change in his gobbling, nothing came of it until I made my next series of soft calls. The tom blasted out a gobble well under a hundred yards from me, and what I thought to be closing fast. Thirty seconds later along the edge of the shelf I was set up on, the familiar bright colors of a gobblers head bounced up and down as he ran up along the path he had chosen. At twenty five yards his head came up one last time as I squeezed the trigger.

The entire hunt lasted a little more than an hour and twenty minutes, with a ton of gobbling and a gobbler after all said and done that ran back up the hill in one big hurry. All in all, a very memorable hunt. Every bit as fast and furious as any hunt I have had on private property. It was a very short walk back up the hill to the truck.

I did make it in time to pick up the flowers and spend the rest of the day with my bride and in remembrance of the important women in my life.

© 2018 Mike Joyner- Joyner Outdoor Media

 

 

New York Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1

  • NYS Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1 at 30 minutes before Sunrise, thru Noon each day
  • Spring Turkey Season Ends May 31, Bag Limit is 2 male birds/season
  • Chautauqua County, NY had Highest Hunter Turkey Harvest in 2017
Courtesy NYSDEC

Spring turkey season opens May 1 in all of upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary.  With reproductive success below the long-term average in 2016 and 2017, coupled with harsh winter conditions this year, it is anticipated that the spring harvest will be down from last year. However, good hunting opportunities can be found throughout the state, particularly in regions with good nesting and poult success the last two years.  The estimated turkey harvest for spring 2017 was about 17,500 birds.

Summer Turkey Sighting Survey 2017

Courtesy NYSDEC

DEC conducts the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey annually during the month of August to estimate the average number of wild turkey poults (young of the year) per hen statewide and among major geographic regions of the State. This index allows us to gauge reproductive success in a given year and allows us to predict fall harvest potential. Weather, predation, and habitat conditions during the breeding and brood-rearing seasons can all significantly impact nest success, hen survival, and poult survival.

View, print, or download the complete 2017 Summer Turkey Sighting Survey report (PDF) (572 kB).

In 2017, we received over 900 reports of turkey flocks during the August survey, similar to last year, but significantly higher than previous years. The primary reason for the increase in the number of reports is improved awareness of the survey and the ease with which observations can be submitted on-line through the DEC website.

We received reports of 785 hen-flocks and the average number of poults per hen was 2.5. This is a decline from last year (2.8 poults/hen) and is the second year in a row where productivity declined. Reproductive success (as measured by this survey) gradually improved from the low observed in 2009 through 2015, but the past two years have been below the 10-year average. It is also important to note that reproductive success is lower over the past decade (2007-2017) than during the first ten years of the survey (1996-2006).

This year’s poult/hen estimate was the lowest observed since 2009. Only DEC Region 1 (Long Island) and 9 (Western NY) observed above-average reproductive success (about 3.7 poults/hen). About 23% of the hen-flocks observed in 2017 did not have poults. This is higher than last year and above the ten-year average (20%). Data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service indicate that rainfall averaged about 2.6 inches above normal from April through May and 4.8 inches above normal from April through June. Above-average rainfall in May and June likely negatively affected nest and poult success.

Based on the decline in reproductive success from 2016 to 2017 we expect the fall harvest to be lower than fall 2016. In areas with good hard and soft mast production, birds will be less vulnerable to harvest. Based on average to above-average production in 2014 and 2015 and two mild winters, there will be a greater proportion of adult birds on the landscape than last year.

Are You Using the Right Turkey Choke Tube?

  • Trulock Chokes Can Improve Your Shooting

By George Trulock

The answer is obvious – every turkey hunter wants better performance in the field. But the solution to getting better performance may not be as obvious. Usually, hunters try, more or less at random, different shotshells to see if they can find something better than what they are using.

The truth is, pattern density, uniformity, and downrange energy are a product of not just the shell and pellets, but of how the shot interacts with the choke tube as it leaves the barrel.

Trulock, an industry leader in cutting-edge choke tube design and manufacturing, knows that with the right choke tubes, you don’t have to randomly search for a load that works in your shotgun.

The right choke tube starts with the kind of quality in Trulock’s Turkey Choke tubes. Designed in-house at their headquarters in Wigham, Ga., these chokes are manufactured with cutting-edge numerical computer control (CNC) equipment and are tested at the range to assure high-quality performance. Just using one of these high-quality chokes will improve your patterns.

Trulock doesn’t stop there. They also have new lines of chokes designed to achieve maximum performance from specific, popular brands of high-quality turkey loads.

For example, this year Trulock has introduced a new line of chokes engineered to achieve maximum performance with Federal’s new Heavyweight® TSS 7 and TSS 9 turkey shells. The Trulock TSS chokes were designed from the ground up, with the best internal configuration and exit diameter for each Heavyweight TSS load. At 40-yard targets, these shells deliver nominal 100 percent patterns in a 30-inch circle, 90-percent patterns in a 20-inch circle and 60 percent patterns in a 10-inch circle. That means that every time you pull the trigger, hundreds of pellets end up in that 10-inch circle.

Almost no turkey hunters are getting patterns that effective out of their guns. You can, this season, with Trulock.

If you prefer a shotshell from Winchester’s line of XR Longbeard series, Trulock also produces 12-gauge chokes designed for #4, #5 and #6 Longbeard shells. As with the Heavyweight TSS chokes, Trulock built their Longbeard series specifically to get maximum pattern density and downrange energy from these shells. You can take the guesswork out of finding an effective load in the field with these Trulock chokes and Winchester loads. It really is that easy.

Effective turkey hunting takes a lot of work – scouting, judgment, execution in calling, as well as choosing the right set-up. Making sure that your pattern is extremely effective no longer has to be that much work. Trulock has put in the hours for you.

This turkey season, resolve to step up the effectiveness of your shooting with Trulock choke tubes. When the goal is to improve your shotgun’s performance, Trulock Choke Tubes doesn’t compromise on that goal. In fact, they guarantee it.

Any customer who is not satisfied for any reason can return the tube for their money back or an exchange within 60 days of purchase. And any customer who likes the choke tube knows that the best customer service in the industry stands behind it: all Trulock choke tubes are guaranteed against failure for life.

For more on the full line of Trulock products as well as some technical information on how shotguns and choke tubes work, check out their homepage at WWW.TRULOCKCHOKES.COM.

The staff at Trulock Chokes prides itself on providing excellent service and an excellent line of products. In the event you are not completely satisfied with your purchase you can return it for a refund or exchange within 60 days from the date of purchase – with other firms, the moment you open it, you own it.  For more information, please visit WWW.TRULOCKCHOKES.COM or on Facebook. Like us on Facebook

 

Hunter Safety System Introduces the Lady Hybrid Harness

  • Lady Hunter’s Need to be Safe…and Looking Good!

DANVILLE, Ala. (April 23, 2018) – In recent years, the number of women spending time in tree stands and putting fresh meat on the table has continued to rise. In order to keep these women hunters safe, comfortable and looking their best, HSS now offers a Lady Hybrid Harness.

The Lady Hybrid’s streamlined cut is designed to be the most comfortable and most technologically advanced safety harness available. Built on the patented lightweight HSS harness system, which provides unparalleled strength and comfort when seated or standing, the Lady Hybrid upper features a lightweight, breathable mesh to keep the hunter cool during hot days. The lower features six pockets, including four storage pockets and two deep-well hand pockets. The Lady Hybrid also comes standard with an upper adjustable chest buckle for proper fitting.

Unique to new Hunter Safety System harnesses this year, the HSS Lady Hybrid features a convenient integrated USB port. Simply insert a compatible USB battery pack into the vest, and charge devices anywhere.

The new Lady Hybrid will include ElimiShield® Hunt Scent control technology. ElimiShield utilizes a proprietary nanotechnology that kills over 99.99% of odor-causing bacteria at the cellular level and forms a bond with the treated article that lasts for more than 50 commercial washes. By treating the harness with the ElimiShield in the manufacturing process, it will be protected from mildew and odors after being exposed to sweat and moisture while in use and then packed away in storage during the off-season.

Each Lady Hybrid comes with sound dampening buckles, deer drag, suspension relief strap and a Lineman’s Climbing Strap. This new lightweight ladies harness, weighing only 2.5lbs, will be available in limited quantities by mid-June. It is offered in S/M and M/L in Mossy Oak® Bottom Land® Classic and will retail for $119.95.

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Danville, Ala., Hunter Safety System is a leading designer and manufacturer of innovative deer hunting gear and hunting equipment for the serious hunter. The company has exclusive rights for use of ElimiShield in the hunting industry. For additional information, write to: The Hunter Safety System, 8237 Danville Road, Danville, AL 35619; call toll-free 877-296-3528; or visit www.hssvest.com.

 

New York State DEC Announces 2017 Deer Harvest Results

  • Hunters in New York Harvested More than 200,000 Deer during 2017-18 Hunting Seasons
New York offers giant deer and lots of them. Joe Forma Photo

By NYSDEC

Hunters in New York State enjoyed another successful year, harvesting an estimated 203,427 deer during the 2017-18 hunting seasons Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

“Deer hunting in New York is a cherished and economically important tradition safely enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors each year,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Through the careful work of our conservation experts, hunting is a sound wildlife management tool that benefits all New Yorkers by reducing negative impacts of deer on forests, communities, and crops while providing millions of pounds of high quality local meat to families throughout the state. I commend our staff for once again making this a safe and successful season.”

The 2017 estimated deer take included 95,623 antlerless deer and 107,804 antlered bucks, an estimated five percent fewer deer than the previous year. Statewide, this represents a 10-percent decline in antlerless harvest and a buck harvest nearly identical to 2016. Hunters in the Northern Zone took 25,351 deer, including 18,074 adult bucks. In the Southern Zone, hunters took 178,076 deer, including 89,730 adult bucks.

The decline in antlerless harvest occurred despite DEC issuing more antlerless permits last season. DEC wildlife biologists have noted two important and encouraging items that emerged from the 2017 deer harvest. First, with 53.3 percent of the adult buck harvest averaging 2.5 years or older, hunters took an estimated 57,494 older bucks, setting a record in total number and greatest percentage of older bucks in the harvest.

“This is great news for New York hunters,” Seggos said. “Many hunters are choosing to voluntarily Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow, and all hunters are now having greater opportunity to see and take older, larger bucks.”

Second, the portion of successful hunters who reported their harvest as required by state law increased from 44 percent in recent years to 50 percent in 2017. Along with our Take It · Tag It · Report It campaign, DEC has made the process of harvest reporting substantially easier for hunters, providing phone, internet, and mobile app options. Harvest reports are critically important for accurate monitoring of deer harvests, and DEC encourages hunters to continue to contribute to the management process by complying with the reporting requirements.

DEC’s 2017 Deer Harvest Summary report (PDF, 6.31 MB) provides a suite of tables, charts, and maps detailing the deer harvest around the state. Past deer harvest summaries are available on DEC’s website.

2017 Deer Harvest Summary & Comparison
2017 Total 2016 Total Change
(2016 to 2017)
Previous 5-Year
Average (2012-2016)
Total Take 203,427 213,061 -4.5% 228,246
Adult Male 107,804 107,006 0.7% 109,778
Adult Female 67,702 78,288 -13.5% 83,809
Antlerless 95,623 106,055 -9.8% 118,468
Deer Management
Permits Issued
617,839 588,430 5.0% 628,436
Deer Management
Permit Take
74,421 81,507 -8.7% 90,426
Deer Management
Assistance
Program Take
8,962 9,134 -1.9% 11,078
Muzzleloader * 15,288 15,369 -0.5% 14,617
Bowhunting * 43,708 46,735 -6.5% 38,541
Crossbow 11,758 9,439 24.6% NA
Youth Hunt 935 1,162 -19.5% 1,250
Harvest Reporting
Rate
50.3% 43.5% 43.7%
% Older Bucks
(≥2.5 years) in
Harvest
53.3% 50.6% 49.4%

* Values for Muzzleloader and Bow Season Take include deer taken on Bow/Muzz tags and DMPs. Prior to 2016, the Muzzleloader and Bow values only reflected take on Bow/Muzz tags.

Notable Numbers

  • 14.5 and 0.5 — number of deer taken per square mile in the unit with the highest (WMU 8N) and lowest (WMU 5F) harvest density.
  • 46.7 percent — portion of the adult buck harvest that were yearlings (1.5 years old), the lowest in New York history and down from 62 percent a decade ago and 70 percent in the 1990s. Excluding units with mandatory antler restrictions, 50.9 percent of the adult buck harvest were yearlings, still the lowest percentage on record.
  • 65 percent — portion of eligible junior hunters that participated in the 2016 Youth Deer Hunt.
  • 14,372 — number of hunter harvested deer checked by DEC staff in 2017.
  • 2,402 — deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in 2017-18; none tested positive. DEC has tested more than 50,000 deer for CWD since 2002.

Deer harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all successful hunters and DEC’s examination of more than 14,000 harvested deer at check stations and meat processors. Statewide harvest estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources and calculating the total harvest from the reporting rate for each zone and tag type. A full report of the 2017-18 deer harvest, as well as past deer and bear harvest summaries, is available at Deer and Bear Harvests.

In Florida? Go HOG WILD this spring and summer!

  • Outta’ the Woods – Monday, April 02, 2018
  • Where to go hunt

By Tony Young

Wild pigs can reach weights of more than 150 pounds and be 5-6 feet long. Florida Fish & Wildlife Photo

Did you know the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers late spring and summer hog hunts on several wildlife management areas across the state? And you don’t even need a hunting license to participate in these great opportunities.

Wild hogs, also called wild pigs, wild boars and feral pigs, are not native to Florida but were introduced over 500 years ago by Spanish explorers. They can be found in all of Florida’s 67 counties within a wide variety of habitats, but prefer oak-cabbage palm hammocks, freshwater marshes, sloughs and pine flatwoods.

Wild hogs are not protected by law as a game species but are the second most popular large animal hunted in Florida (second only to the white-tailed deer). Wild hogs can weigh more than 150 pounds and be 5-6 feet long. They eat plants and animals, and feed by rooting with their broad snouts, which can damage native habitats and ground cover vegetation. It’s easy to spot where hogs have been because they often leave areas looking like plowed fields.

Because of their destructive nature and prolific breeding, and because hunters want more hog hunting opportunities, the FWC, along with help from other public land managers, have been establishing more hog hunts over the past few years. This spring and summer, there will be numerous hog hunts (mostly on weekends) on several WMAs – two of which kick off this month, with the majority of these hunts starting in May. Some offer still hunting for hogs during daylight hours, others are nighttime hog-dog hunts – and half of them offer both.

Most of the areas are walk-in and don’t require a quota permit. All that is needed to hunt hogs on the following areas during these listed spring and summer dates is a $26.50 management area permit, which can be purchased in Florida at county tax collectors’ offices and at most retail outlets that sell hunting/fishing supplies, and with a credit card by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA (486-8356) or at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

But before you go, be sure to go online at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures and check out the area’s regulations brochure to find out all the specific details on the hunt, including access, allowable methods of take, hunting hours, rules on camping and more.

2018 spring and summer hog hunting is available on these WMAs during the following dates, and no quota permit is needed:

Terry Horton Hog

Andrews
(Levy County) Still hunting only: 25 daily quota permits available each day at check station on first-come basis

May 4-6, 11-13

Apalachicola Bradwell Unit
(Liberty County)

Dog Hunt

May 4-6
June 1-3
July 13-15
Aug. 3-5
Sept. 7-9

Still Hunt

May 18-20
June 15-17
July 20-22
Aug. 17-19
Sept. 21-23

Apalachicola River
(Franklin and Gulf counties)

Dog and Still Hunting

May 18-20
June 15-17
July 20-22
Aug. 17-19
Sept. 21-23

Aucilla
(Jefferson and Taylor counties)

Dog and Still Hunting

May 11-13
June 8-10
July 13-15
Aug. 10-12
Sept. 7-9

Hog Matt ShulerBeaverdam Creek
(Liberty County)

Dog and Still Hunting

May 11-13
June 8-10
July 13-15
Aug. 10-12
Sept. 14-16

Blackwater
(Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties)

Dog and Still Hunting

May 4-6, 18-20
June 1-3, 15-17
July 6-8, 20-22
Aug. 3-5, 17-19
Sept. 7-9, 21-23

Blackwater Hutton Unit
(Santa Rosa County)

Dog and Still Hunting

May 18-20
June 15-17
July 20-22
Aug. 17-19
Sept. 21-23

Chipola River
(Jackson and Calhoun counties)

Still hunting only

May 11-13
June 8-10
July 13-15
Aug. 10-12
Sept. 14-16

Escambia River
(Escambia and Santa Rosa counties)

Still and dog hunting

May 11-13
June 8-10
July 13-15
Aug. 10-12
Sept. 14-16

John G. and Susan H. DuPuis Jr.
(Martin County)

Still hunting only

April 14-22
May 12-20

Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Area
(Osceola and Polk counties)

Still and dog hunting

Open to year-round hog hunting

Management area permit not required

Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Rolling Meadows Unit
(Polk county)

Still and dog hunting

Open to year-round hog hunting

Management area permit not required

Ochlockonee River
(Leon County)

Still hunting only

May 4-6
June 1-3
July 6-8
Aug. 3-5
Sept. 7-9

Richloam
(Sumter and Lake counties)

Dog hunting only

April 27-29

Royce Unit – Lake Wales Ridge
(Highlands County)

Still Hunting Only

May 5-6, 12-13

Yellow River
(Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties)

Still hunting only

July 13-15
Aug. 10-12
Sept. 7-9

 


These hog hunts (below) require a quota permit, and they can be applied for between May 15 – June 15 at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com External Website:

Box-R
(Franklin and Gulf Counties)

Dog Hunting Only

May 11-13 *
June 8-10 *
July 13-15
Aug. 10-12
Sept. 14-16

Jennings Forest
(Clay and Duval counties)

Still hunting only

May 4-6 *, 18-20 *
June 1-3 *

 

Early Spring TURKEY SEASON – a Special Florida Resource

  • Florida Turkey Season is OPEN
  • Osceola Turkeys are Common in Florida
  • Wild turkeys are a Conservation Success Story in Florida & Across North America

By Tammy Sapp, Florida FWC

Osceola wild turkeys. FWC photo by Chad Weber.

Florida’s spring turkey season opened on Saturday, March 3, on private lands south of State Road 70, making it one of the first spring turkey hunting opportunities in the country. Florida is also the only place in the world where the Osceola subspecies of wild turkey is found. Also known as the Florida wild turkey, abundant populations of this subspecies live only on the Florida peninsula. It’s similar to the eastern wild turkey subspecies, which is found in north Florida and throughout the eastern United States, but tends to be smaller and darker with less white barring on the wings.

Hunting wild turkeys is popular in Florida and throughout North America. One reason people enjoy it is the range of calls wild turkeys make. The most recognized call is gobbling, which is most often associated with male birds, or gobblers, during spring when they breed. The gobbler will fan out its tail, puff out its feathers, strut and gobble to attract hens. Hunters pursue this wary bird by imitating various turkey calls to bring gobblers in close.

Getting to see a male wild turkey’s courtship ritual is exciting for new hunters as well as those with years of experience.

Another benefit of turkey hunting, for those lucky enough to harvest a gobbler, is that the meat is a good source of healthy, organic protein.

“Spring turkey season gives hunters the chance to share a delicious wild game meal with friends and family. It’s also a great time to share the turkey hunting experience with someone who has never tried it,” said Roger Shields, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Wild Turkey Management Program coordinator. “The weather is mild, the spring woods are beautiful, and the thrill of hearing a gobbler respond to your calls is a wonderful memory you can share with a new hunter.”

Wild turkeys are a conservation success story in Florida and across North America. They had almost disappeared by the turn of the 20th century, with populations remaining only in remote pockets of habitat. However, thanks to science-based wildlife restoration efforts, today Osceola and eastern wild turkeys are flourishing throughout the state.

North of State Road 70, Florida’s spring turkey season on private lands opened on Saturday, March 17. Florida’s wildlife management area system also offers opportunities for turkey hunters, and because dates and regulations can vary, hunters are encouraged to review the regulations brochure for the WMA they plan to hunt.

FWC wildlife professionals use scientific data to conserve wild turkey populations and provide regulated and sustainable hunting opportunities. Hunters also play an important role in wild turkey management by purchasing licenses and permits, and along with other shooting sports enthusiasts, contributing to the successful Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. External Website

Get a snapshot of Florida’s wild turkey season dates and bag limits by visiting MyFWC.com/Hunting and clicking “Season Dates.” Learn more about wild turkeys by choosing “Species Profiles” at MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats.

DAY DREAMS and NIGHT DREAMS

  • Turkey Hunting, a Giant Gobbler, I Raise my Gun
  • Geese Fly Overhead in V-Formation, it’s a Signal
  • I Draw My Bow…that Green Arrow, “Oh Yea, My Story Takes a Turn

By Larry Whiteley

The old gobbler is searching for me.

I’ve done a good job making him think I’m a hen.

He’s literally tripping over his beard as he comes in looking for love.

His bronze feathers shine in the light of the early morning sun and the red, white and blue of his head stands out against the emerging spring greenery.  

I give a soft putt with my mouth call and he comes in a little closer. To show me how handsome he is, he puffs out his body and spreads his tail feathers.

My heart is pounding out of my chest as I stare down the barrel of my 12 gauge and slowly move to click off the safety. Suddenly there is a buzzing in my ear.

What is that? The biggest gobbler I have ever seen disappears as I reach across my body to shut off the alarm clock.

My wife sleeps peacefully as I lay there for a moment trying to get the cobwebs and thoughts of turkeys out of my head. My feet hit the floor and my morning daily work week ritual begins. It’s off to the kitchen to put on the coffee, a quick visit to the bathroom and then turn on the TV to catch the weather forecast. When I drink too many liquids before going to bed, the order of events sometimes changes. It can’t be because I’m getting older. 

It’s back to the kitchen to pour my first cup of coffee, check the thermometer in the kitchen window and back to the TV just in time to see the local weather girl.

After thirty minutes of exercising, it’s on to the bathroom again to shave, shower, brush my teeth, and get rid of the first cup of coffee. Back to the kitchen I go again for my second cup of coffee.

Now it’s shirt, pants, socks, shoes and I’m dressed for work. I grab my briefcase and head for the kitchen again to fix my lunch. Before I head out the door to my truck, it’s usually one more visit to the bathroom to get rid of the second cup of coffee.

As I wash my hands, I look in the mirror and wonder if it really is because I’m getting older.

I stop by the bedroom to tell my wife I love her and then it’s out the door and another morning routine has ended.

As I start my truck, back out of the garage and head down the driveway, I wonder if I am the only one who does things in the same way, at the same time every morning. I think not.

As I drive my eyes are always on the watch for deer at the forest edge. Maybe I’ll see that fox pouncing on a mouse in the field again. That is if the red-tailed hawk doesn’t beat him to it. Man, six road-kill skunks at the side of the road within two miles. That has to be a record! Around this curve is where I nearly always see turkeys. There they are: Six hens, a gobbler, and two Jake’s. I wonder if that’s the gobbler in my dream?

I’m sitting at a stoplight waiting for the green arrow and I see geese flying in a V-formation heading north. I wonder why we seem to notice them more when they’re heading south for the winter rather than north for the summer. I want to roll down my window and yell at the lady next to me, “Hey, look at the geese flying north! Do you know why they fly in a V-formation?” She would think I was a crazy man, so I think I’m better off keeping them to myself.

Did I hear a goose honk? No, that’s the guy behind me, telling me the light’s not going to get any greener. I make my turn and he passes me. Is he pointing at the geese in the sky too? If he is, it’s the wrong finger.

I exit on to the interstate highway filled with cars and trucks driven by people who have just finished their daily morning routine and are now off to work like I am. It’s only a few miles before I will exit again, but this is a special time to me. Unlike those around me, I don’t have the radio on listening to loud music or talk shows. This is my time for day dreaming.

My day-dreaming each morning takes me to many places far from the busy highway. Sometimes I’m on my way to our cabin. I’m watching all the hummingbirds swarming like bees around the feeder or I’m down at the creek and I’m fighting a big smallmouth.

Other times, I’m heading north to the hunting cabin. You can’t believe all the morel mushrooms and deer sheds I’ve found in my day dreams. I’ve also drawn my bow back on the biggest buck I’ve ever seen.

Day dreams have also taken me back to the mountains of Colorado, Montana, and Idaho. I’ve also been to the mighty oceans, walked the sandy beaches with my wife and battled saltwater fish.

My day dreaming this day was of a special grandson and playing in the waterfall at the cabin, using toy road graders to make roads in the gravel bar, and fishing with him in the creek. Someday dreams come from your imagination, others from fond memories.

The clicking sound of my turn signal interrupts my day dream and brings me back to reality. One more stoplight and I’ll be at work. I pull into the parking lot, shut off the engine and take a deep breath. No time for day dreams here.

One of my most useful tools, my camo Costa sunglasses.

At the end of the work day I will get back in my truck and head back down the same roads and I will day dream again on my way home. Day dreaming is my escape from worrying about the price of gas, work that needs to be done, or our inept politicians in Washington.

Yes, I’m a dreamer. Always have been, always will be. I enjoy my day dreaming and tonight, I look forward to where my night dreams will take me. Maybe I’ll get that old gobbler this time.

Outwit the Wiley Spring Gobbler, Fit Right In with X JAGD’s Net Top Layer

  • How to Morph Into the Woods…Dress Right
  • Conceal Your Location by Choice

BESSEMER, Ala. (March 1, 2018) — There are few things more agonizing than working a wild turkey almost into shooting distance, only to have him bust you because he didn’t like what he saw. X JAGD, the acclaimed Austrian-based clothing company that utilizes the most high-tech materials in its clothing, offers the Net top-layer line that is the perfect head-to-toe camouflage mesh for the turkey hunter that allows him to dissolve into his surroundings and deceive the wild turkey’s keen eyesight.

For the most part, temperatures during turkey season can range from mild to downright hot, and as such, X JAGD’s Net camouflage can be worn over any clothing to provide complete concealment without body heat retention. The X JAGD line of Net clothing includes the Jacket, Cape, Pants, Balaclava and Gloves. The material is lightweight and produces no noise when moving.

Each piece of clothing in the Net line is available in two specially designed X JAGD Demorphing® patterns that are perfect for turkey hunting: The Woodland Effect (best suitedfor wooded areas) and the Mountain Effect (the perfect choice for areas mainly characterized by stone and rock formations). This clothing packs very small and takes up very little space, so it can be on hand any time it may be needed.

“The X JAGD Net clothing is perfect for the two million turkey hunters that will be heading to the woods this spring in hopes of successfully bagging a wary gobbler,” said Scott O’Brien, CEO of Steyr Arms, the exclusive importer and distributor of X JAGD products in the U.S. “Because the X JAGD Net clothing goes over other clothing for complete concealment, it is perfect for any weather conditions and for any hunt, not just turkey hunting. Just wear the appropriate clothing underneath, and then put on the lightweight and silent X JAGD Net top layer to dissolve into the environment.”

All X JAGD Net clothing is currently available online at www.xjagd-usa.com for the following suggested retail prices:

  • Jacket – $101 (M, L, XL)
  • Cape – $118 (M, L, XL)
  • Pants – $90 (S, M, L, XL)
  • Balaclava – $53 (M, L, XL)
  • Gloves – $36 (M, L)

About X JAGD – X JAGD outdoor clothing brand utilizes exceptional, cutting-edge “intelligent materials” to create top-tier performance and reliability. The five X JAGD Demorphing camouflage designs are truly unique and allow hunters to completely dissolve into their environment. Steyr Arms is X JAGD’s exclusive U.S. importer and distributor. For more information, contact Steyr Arms at 2530 Morgan Rd., Bessemer, AL 35022; call (205) 417-8644; or visit www.xjagd-usa.com for more details.

 

 

Chronic Wasting Disease is a Deer Family Disease – Hunters be Aware

Photo by Warden Micheal Hopper, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism

Provided by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease in deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family, known as “cervids.”

The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado, and has since been documented in captive and free-ranging deer in states and two Canadian Provinces.

The first case of CWD in Texas was discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in an isolated area of far West Texas.

This disease presents numerous challenges for state wildlife agencies across North America. Of concern is the potential for decline within deer, elk, or other susceptible cervid populations.

In addition, CWD could have indirect impacts on hunting, hunter participation, and economic benefits derived from big game hunting.

In Texas, hunting is a $2.2 billion economic engine, supporting many rural towns across the state.

Learn more about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) at this Texas Parks & Wildlife website, and sign up for their newsletter for more updates about this serious issue.

Because eradication is thought to be impossible once CWD becomes established in a population, it is imperative that a sound CWD management program is established to reduce the severity of implications resulting from the disease.

Of course, disease prevention is the best approach to protect cervid populations and prevent social and economic repercussions. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) have developed a cooperative CWD management plan to guide both agencies in addressing risks, developing management strategies, and protecting big game resources from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in captive or free-ranging cervid populations.

 

Kent Cartridge – Three New Loads for Dove Hunters

Dove hunting is a long-standing hunting tradition, especially in the south.

Kent® Cartridge has three new loads designed to specifically help dove hunters fill their limits this fall.

Our Diamond Dove™ loads feature heavier payloads and higher velocities than standard dove loads, making them a great choice for fast, high flying birds like White Wing doves, or late season birds.  Our Diamond Dove loads use proprietary Diamond Shot® technology with unmatched uniformity for consistently tight patterns and results in shot that is harder than standard lead, offering increased down range energy.

Our Steel Dove™ loads are the only load specifically designed for dove hunters who are required to use non-toxic shot. Available in both 12 and 20 gauge loads, with velocities up to 1400 fps for high performance, Steel Dove loads use specially blended clean burning powders for reduced felt recoil.

The new First Dove™ loads from Kent Cartridge offer value priced performance for high volume shooting situations. First Dove loads use clean burning powders with quality components to ensure consistent patterns and reliable functioning.

Diamond Dove

  • K12HD32 12 Gauge 2 ¾” 1 1/8 OZ 1250 F.P.S. #7.5
  • K12HVD32 12 Gauge 2 ¾” 1 1/8 OZ 1350 F.P.S. #7.5
  • K12HD36 12 Gauge 2 ¾” 1 ¼ OZ 1300 F.P.S. #7.5

Steel Dove 

  • K12SD28 12 Gauge 2 ¾” 1 OZ 1400 F.P.S. #6
  • K12SHD32 12 Gauge 2 ¾” 1 1/8 OZ 1350 F.P.S. #6
  • K20SD24 20 Gauge 2 ¾” 7/8 OZ 1400 F.P.S. #6

First Dove

  • K12D28 12 Gauge 2 ¾” 1 OZ 1300 F.P.S. #7.5
  • K20D24 20 Gauge 2 ¾” 7/8 OZ 1300 F.P.S. #7.5

Founded in 1997, Kent® Cartridge produces a line of high-quality shotshells for hunters and competitive shooters, including Bismuth Non-Toxic, Silversteel®, Tealsteel®, Fasteel®, Elite Target™, Diamond Dove™, Steel Dove™, First Dove™, Fast Lead®, Ultimate™ Turkey, ProTrial™ Field Blanks, Tungsten Matrix®, and Elite Bio-Fiber™.

For more information, visit the Kent Cartridge web site at www.kentgamebore.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kentcartridge.

 

TURKEY HUNTING SECRETS: “Tag Them” – Part 3 of 3

  • Read the Bird, Listen to his Gobble
  • Understanding Gobble Talk and RESPONDING, or NOT
  • Over-Yelping, Biggest Secret to a Wise Old Bird
Some of the biggest turkey can be fooled with one simple trick that you can learn, see below. Jim Monteleone Photo

By Jim Monteleone

You can read a bird by listening to his gobble and I want to explain the different types of gobbles that you might hear.

A “volunteer gobble” is one where the bird gobbles on his own. Generally that means he is searching for a hen.  If all is quiet you use an owl hooter before good light or a crow call at first light to elicit a gobble. You Tube has examples of owls hooting and crows calling if you need to hear the realistic sounds of either or both.

If he gobbles it’s a “shock gobble” and you are ready to do business when he hits the ground.  You can tell when he has come out of the tree by hearing wing beats or when his clear gobble becomes muffled by the trees and brush. 

A “strutting gobble “is when the bird gobbles repeatedly to your calls but seems stuck or only moving ten or twelve feet and never gets closer.  He is in a strut zone and nature is telling him the hen will come to him when he displays.  In the natural order of things this happens every season.  This is especially true when he has already been breeding receptive hens.  

A “going-away gobble” is when he gobbles frequently and you can tell he’s moving away.  He probably has been joined by a real hen who will lead him to her territory.  You might as well look for another bird or you can wait him out, but it’s going to be a while.

The “come here gobble” is when he gobbles every time you call.  Don’t be fooled.  Go silent on him and make him gobble on his own several (two or three) times before calling again. I call this a “breeding gobble.”  Repeat the same calling sequences and alternate some clucks and purrs with your yelping.  If he stops coming, start cutting if you are well hidden or blending in and have a hen decoy (or hen and jake in the early season), then you’re in business.

If he is cutting your calling sequence off with a gobble or a double gobble before you finish he’s committed to coming.  I call that a “hot gobble.”

No sudden moves and try to restrain yourself from over-calling.  I use only clucks and purrs for the last fifty yards of his approach to gun range. This is where a diaphragm mouth call is my go-to tactic.  A slate or “pot” call is my second choice in avoiding too much hand movement. Patience is your greatest weapon, other than your shotgun now!

Without any doubt my greatest success and most exhilarating hunts have come after a prolonged sequence of back and forth calling.  My nature is not one of great patience, but turkey hunting has taught me to work to lure turkeys in with sweet talk.  Over-calling causes a bird to stay put, and as fired-up as he and you can be.  Slow and steady is the best advice I can offer.

There are those times when a bird will rush in, but this isn’t the norm for mature birds. They have experience in gathering hens and also instinctively seem to know when something is unnatural.

If you follow the earlier tips, knowing the bird is closing the distance and your gun is on your knee waiting, watching and calling sparingly increases your odds dramatically.

There are those times when a bird will rush in, but this isn’t the norm for mature birds. Read what to do. Joe Forma Photo

I use two “secret” tactics for my toughest birds.  The first is yelping over a gobbler when he tries to gobble. As soon as the first note comes out of his beak I cut him off with some fast yelping or cutting.  Do this after you have him fired up if he stalls.

The other “secret” is the mock challenge of two hens cutting at each other.  It simulates the scene of two hens sparring for dominance over the right to breed in the territory.  I use one box or slate call and a mouth call, and cut like two girls arguing.  I do some alternating cuts on each call or some cuts like they are trying to “yell” over each other simultaneously.

I hope there’s something in here for hunters from “newbies” to veterans with decades of experience. Think safety in every move you make and never take chances.

You now have the “secrets” and you’re ready to experience. 

Good Hunting and Great Memories!

      

TURKEY HUNTING SECRETS: CALL THEM – Part 2 of 3

  • Learn the Language of Turkey Talk
  • Clucking, Yelping, Cutting, Cackling and more
  • Realism, Patience, Sounds and Tones

By Jim Monteleone

Try to learn with as many calls as possible, there are box calls, pot calls, tube calls and mouth calls (the most effective).

A lot of folks believe that the skill in calling turkeys is the most critical element of hunting.  Although it plays a significant part in filling a tag, I consider it about 33 percent of the outcome.  

Part one focused on finding turkeys.  You can’t call what you can’t locate!  

Part one also mentioned the knowledge of the bird, so understanding turkey talk is the key to what specific vocalization will work and when to use it.  This is what I call getting into the gobblers head.

Turkey talk begins with the most simple of sounds, the “cluck.”

Turkeys make this sound more than any other, by far.  It means “Here I am.”  It can mean “come here,” or in conjunction with some purring, it can mean “this is my feeding area.”

The cluck is generally made throughout the day.  

It’s worth mentioning turkeys can recognize each other’s “voice.” This is especially true in the fall when hens and poults form a flock.

The yelp takes on multiple meanings depending on the rhythm, volume and cadence of the sounds.

Call just enough to make the birds try to find you. Patience is key. Joe Forma Photo

There is an assembly call that gathers a flock and a mating yelp as well.

Yelps and clucks are used in very low volume tree calling.  They (yelps) are also incorporated with an excited and loud fly down cackle.

The other loud call is “cutting” and this can be a game changer for spring hunting.

Cutting to a gobbler is from a receptive and frustrated or angry hen.

Cutting can be used along with yelping to impart a scenario where the hen is “pleading” to the gobbler to join her.  In nature, this becomes a standoff between the hen and the gobbler when neither is yielding ground.  

Hens have territorial boundaries and my theory is that the hen knows that leaving her territory is likely to cause another hen to fight.

Gobblers travel in overlapping boundaries to find and breed as many hens as possible.

I have literally taught young hunters to call using nothing but a yelp and a cluck on a friction call at seminars.  They learn in minutes.

Realism is another factor in raising your skill level.  

Birds call in one form or another all day, but situational realism is what fools a turkey.

A fly down cackle includes a couple of clucks after a series of fast yelps.

A cackle is only seven or eight notes that begins with a few yelps and leads to quick excited yelps.

An assembly call starts with moderate volume yelping and goes a little faster and louder with each note for a total of maybe twelve to fourteen notes.

Mating yelps (from the hen) can start slow and speed up or just the opposite, starting fast and tailing off.

The gobbler will let you know what he likes if he is cutting the distance by moving toward your location.

This bearded hen is a bit unusual in nature, but it happens. Joe Forma Photo

Realism isn’t calling back to him every time he gobbles.  

Yelping too often will generally cause the bird to stand his ground.  Make him look for you by throwing your calls from what seems to be a different direction.  Using a mouth call, you do this by moving the palm of your hand in front of your face like a baffle to simulate the bird’s movement.

There is more on calling and closing the deal in the next segment.

In regard to calling, nothing beats practice and most of the hen vocalizations can be heard on You Tube with keys words “Turkey calling.”

Try to learn with as many calls (box calls, pot calls, tube calls and especially mouth calls) as possible.

With practice, you can replicate all the sounds a hen turkey makes with a diaphragm mouth call.  

A diaphragm mouth call is the most versatile and requires no hand movement.  Except it requires one thing more: practice, practice, practice!

 

 

TURKEY HUNTING SECRETS – What’s Your Secret??? Part 1 of 3

  • Learn How to Develop Your Own Turkey Hunting Expertise
  • Learn Where to Sit, What to Look For, Where to Locate Turkey
  • Learn about Calls to Use, Decoy Set-Up, Location

By Jim Monteleone

This mature Missouri tom came in to visit for the last time in a place I never hunted before.

A friend of mine asked me a long time ago what my secret was to killing two turkeys in Virginia every year.  I could have offered up some tactic that he would have accepted as borderline magic, but the secret is that there are no secrets!

Experience over 40-plus seasons has taught me a few things, but the key to filling tags is simple.

I had an outline for seminars entitled “FIND them, CALL them and TAG them”.  This will be the focus of a three part series. Each of these elements are critical to your potential success.

Knowing the bird and his habitat – therein lays the most critical knowledge in the sport of turkey hunting.  I know this because I’ve hunted turkeys in many states.  I’ve hunted in places that I knew very, very well.  And I also have hunted in places that I walked into for the first time as a guest.

From the Deep South to the far north, and even the western states, I’ve seen and called in birds that were chased and harassed almost on a daily basis in the spring.

Here is what I know.

I know there are places were turkeys like to be in the morning and what they do after “fly down.”  It’s a huge advantage to know where they roost.  Someone once said, “Roosted ain’t roasted,” and that’s true, but being within a hundred yards at sunrise is a huge advantage.

Instincts play a huge role in getting into the brain of a turkey.

Hens go to the gobbler (usually a dominant bird) in order to breed.

Hens seek out openings in which to nest. The places like pastures and clear cuts draw insects and that’s what young turkeys eat.

So a hen will stake out a territory near an opening.

Gobblers strut to gain the attention of receptive hens.  They do this in fields and on open hardwood ridges.  So you might want to sound like a hen, but you have to think like a gobbler.

The fun to be found turkey hunting is endless.  It’s exciting.  This series is about sharing some things I have learned to help you be successful. Joe Forma Photo

Finding turkeys is not just in locating openings.

They need water every day, so there has to be a water source in the area.

They need grit to process the foods they ingest and they like to dust in warm weather that supports insect life.

Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes get into their feathers and dusting is the turkey’s way of getting rid of them.

Roost trees can be anywhere, but most often they are on the fringes of an opening or within a hundred yards. If you can locate these trees you are ready for business.

Although be careful not to crowd the tree and possibly scatter and spook the birds.

Birds will gobble and yelp from the roost.

Being there an hour before official sunrise is always my goal.

I’m there to listen!

I go in quietly and I listen.

I set up my decoys and I listen.

When I hear the first turkey sound, I wait to see if there are both hens and gobblers or just hens.  If there are any birds, I’m glued to that spot.

You won’t often find just hens.

If all you hear are gobblers it may be a small group (2-4) of jakes.

A single bird gobbling is a pretty good bet to be a mature long beard.

Your set up is critical.

I try to be on higher ground than the bird because my outline won’t be totally visible if he’s coming up a rise.

My back is against a bigger tree, but not the biggest tree.

The biggest tree is where our eyes go and I believe that holds true for the gobbler too.

I have one knee up to rest my shotgun and I alter my position slightly to allow a solid aiming point in the direction of the last gobble I hear.  I make small adjustments (an inch or two) slowly until I can see the bird.

In summary for part 1, birds need food, water, open woods or a clearing to be found in an area.

Preseason scouting should reveal at least a starting point.

No preseason calling unless it’s a locator call like an owl hooter or a crow call.

Educating the birds in preseason by yelping is a really poor idea.

Birds tend to gobble more on clear, cool days when there is very little wind, but I hunt every chance I get. I have killed birds before, during and after some rain on gray, windy days.

More on calling and bringing a bird into shotgun range in Part 2, tomorrow.

 

Gobble! Gobble! Gobble! It’s Nearly Opening Day in Florida

  • 2018 Turkey Season is Just Ahead, BE PREPARED
  • Follow Jim Monteleone in his 3-Part “Turkey Expertise Series”
  • Learn “HOW-TO-HUNT TURKEY” – Series Starts February 15, 2018

By Forrest Fisher

The turkey view that every turkey hunter would like to see on opening day morning right at sunrise. Joe Forma Photo

That’s right, it’s February, but each year in early March, just when many Major League Baseball teams are holding spring training out west and down south, turkey hunters are training too, gearing up for opening day of the turkey season just ahead.. 

In Florida, the 2018 spring youth season will run Feb. 24-25, the adult season starts March 3, with other southern states are not far behind. Hunters travelling with their families to share in the sandy shorelines of warming saltwater beaches have an opportunity to do more than collect seashells, they can hunt Osceola wild turkey too.

As the spring turkey hunting season nears across the country, the NWTF provides their annual Spring Hunt Guide as an overview of each state’s up-coming wild turkey hunting season.

The 2018 NWTF Hunt Guide provides the most up-to-date wild turkey population and harvest data available from state wildlife agencies across the country. Visit the links provided for each state and assure that regional sectors regulations are clear for exactly where you plan to hunt.

You can also search the NWTF Wild Turkey Records database and discover where the largest birds in the country can be found. 

Following this very brief introduction from NWTF in getting prepared for the 2018 spring turkey season across our great country, follow the new 3-part “Turkey Expertise Series” provided for your education and enjoyment from one of the most knowledgeable and humble turkey-hunting experts you may ever meet, Jim Monteleone.  He has taken the birds all across America.

It’s going to be an exciting year. Follow us through this 3-part series on www.ShareTheOutdoors.com.

Enjoy!

A Girl’s First Deer

  • Learning about Nature, Patience, Heritage and Traditions
  • Hoping for Sweet Venison of my own
  • Using my Savage Axis 6.5 Creedmoor Deer Rifle

By Hanna Lucey w/Forrest Fisher (Hanna’s words are in italics)

One happy Hanna Lucey with her first deer, a beautiful doe taken near Ellicottville, NY. Terry Lucey Photo

Hunting is about sharing the heritage of our forefathers and conservation, and understanding it, about leaving the protection of home and finding new solace and a new undefined protection in the hunting woods.

For Hanna Lucey, a senior high school teenager from Amherst, NY, it was the time to discover deer hunting, something that she said, “I have always wanted to do.”

“This was my first year deer hunting, I was certified to hunt from a course in Rochester, New York, and I was so excited to be at hunting camp with my dad (Terry), mom (Joie), Uncle Danny, cousin Brendan, my sister Serena and Serena’s boyfriend, Fred.  We were hunting on 85 acres of private land near Ellicottville, New York, about 60 miles south of where we live. There are lots of deer where we live in Amherst, but we are not allowed to hunt there.”  

Hanna discovered that hunting teaches us about nature and each other, and about developing respect for wildlife. Hunting is about forming a new understanding with nature and with our outdoor hunting family, and it’s about tradition, mentoring, listening closely, and the unforgettable experience of new encounters in the wild. It is also about the discovery that deer hunting is a big challenge, but that hunting is also about fun too.

Deer hunting for younger hunters provides them with hands-on, life-long, learning experience, and it is about much more than big bucks. It is about learning patience.

Hanna was hunting for her first deer on the second weekend of the New York State southern zone big game hunting season. It was Nov. 25, 2017. She had spent much time prior to this learning from her hunter family and mentors.

 “I was excited, a little scared, but I wanted to be brave, cautious and accurate in case I did see a deer and could take a shot, so I was trying to stay calm. Nothing happened in the morning, but my afternoon hunt started just before 2:00 p.m. Uncle Danny and Brendan went behind the hill, I was going to hunt alone and was heading to our chairs in the ravine.   

Finding deer sign, a new buck rub, all part of the learning experience for new hunters. Joe Forma Photo

 

The weather was perfect and almost too warm, it was sunny and 45 degrees. As I walked above the ravine to get there, I stopped and looked around every few steps, like I was taught.

My plan was to sit and wait for a deer. Just then I heard a noise and watched three deer running away. They stopped and were around 20 yards away from our chairs.  I stayed quiet, just watching, and then I saw them. There they were, two deer through the trees.  The one right behind the other staring right at me. I was trembling a bit. I slowly lowered myself to a squat so I could aim steady, then I shot the deer that wasn’t looking at me.

It was 2:05 p.m., my sister texted me when she heard the shot asking if it was me. I was holding my Savage Axis 6.5 Creedmoor bolt-action rifle and I was trembling.

After I took that shot, I’ve felt feelings that I’ve never felt before, such as the biggest adrenaline rush of my life, especially when I walked up to the deer laying on the ground. 

I called my sister to tell her to come to me because I was so shaken up and clueless on what to do next. Then she called my uncle and all of them came down to me. We field dressed it and took it back to the cabin to hang. I felt so proud and so lucky!

 

Hanna is looking forward to the moment that she has a big buck in her sights, the things that dreams and lifelong hunters are made of. Joe Forma Photo

 

I’ve always loved venison and thought it would be great to be able to eat a deer of my own.  

I had plans to hunt the rest of the season to see if I could get myself a big buck.”   

Hunting encourages quality family time and can result in great table fare that can be shared together. When starting kids out in the world of hunting, the parents know when the time is right.  In this case, it took this young lady a few more years than when most kids start. Right now, it looks like she may become a lifelong hunter.

At the end of the day, after shooting her first deer, when you hear this young lady hunter say, “I can’t wait for next week,” you know that Hanna’s dad and uncle, all her mentors, have done their job of teaching responsible hunting very well.

 

 

Find Your Next BIRD HUNTING ADVENTURE at the 2018 SCI Hunters’ Convention

When people think of the SCI Hunters’ Convention, visions of big game hunts in Africa, Asia, South America and North America come to mind.  What may come as a surprise is that several outfitters displaying at the Convention offer outstanding game bird and waterfowl hunting opportunities all over the world.

One of the outfitters who again will be exhibiting at the 2018 SCI Hunters’ Convention is Ramsey Russell with GetDucks.com.  When you talk with Ramsey, you can’t help but get excited about booking one of his dozens of game bird and waterfowl hunts available all over the world.

“The response to our hunts at our first SCI Convention was a total surprise,” says Russell. “Because we offer such a variety of hunts for virtually every bird, duck and goose in the world, our booth was swamped.”

Many avid bird hunters are looking for the next place to hunt for a bird they have never taken.  Much like big game hunters who add to their list of game taken, bird hunters are looking for exotic hunts in places where they can take birds they may never have even seen before.

“We specialize in hunts, not only for birds, but for the accommodations and amenities that make for an enjoyable and lasting experience,” says Ramsey. “One of my biggest joys in this business is seeing client/friends at the SCI Convention and hearing about how much they enjoyed a hunt they booked with us. Many come back to look for their next adventure.”

So what type of hunts can you book with Getducks.com?  You can book a hunt for one of 49 species of waterfowl in North America.  When you go to the GetDucks.com website, you will find hunts available for each species. All you have to do is click on the one you want and the hunts pop up.

If you are looking for an exotic bird like a Western Capercaillie or dozens of others, you can book hunts for them, too, with GetDucks.com.   It really is amazing to see the number of hunts Russell has put together.

-more-

In addition to GetDucks.com, there are several other outfitters offering bird hunts at the SCI Convention.  It has been a growing area of the Convention as more and more hunters start collecting the multitude of game bird and waterfowl species in North America and around the world.

If you’re interested in wingshooting and looking for the next great adventure, be sure to attend the 2018 SCI Hunters’ Convention and visit with the outfitters who specialize in bird hunts.  There are hundreds of hunts to choose from.

To register to attend, click here – www.showsci.org. 

 

About the SCI Hunters’ Convention:  Safari Club expects upwards of 24,000 international hunters to visit

Las Vegas, January 31-February 3, 2018.  The SCI Hunters’ Convention represents the largest and most successful event to raise money for advocacy to protect hunters’ rights. The 2018 Hunters’ Convention will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center with over a million square feet of exhibits and almost 1,000 exhibiting companies.

ook rooms at http://www.showsci.org/hotels/

Becoming an SCI Member:

Joining Safari Club International is the best way to be an advocate for continuing our hunting heritage and supporting worldwide sustainable use conservation, wildlife education and humanitarian services.

JOIN NOW:  https://www.safariclub.org/join-and-participate/join-now

Safari Club International – First For Hunters is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI has approximately 200 Chapters worldwide and its members represent all 50 of the United States as well as 106 other countries. SCI’s proactive leadership in a host of cooperative wildlife conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian programs, with the SCI Foundation and other conservation groups, research institutions and government agencies, empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and participants in sound wildlife management and conservation. Visit the home page www.safariclub.org or call 520-620-1220 for more information.

 

Episode 4 of Mossy Oak’s Web Series “Family Tree” Shares the Story of Jeff and Bob Shelby as They Hunt Kansas Waterfowl

Click on Picture to visit the video.
WEST POINT, MS – Mossy Oak Capture Digital Productions has released its fourth episode of  “Family Tree,” a web series that highlights the importance of spending time outdoors with family, teaching and guiding through hunting and conservation efforts, which serves to preserve the outdoors heritage.
This episode of “Family Tree” features Mossy Oak’s Jeff Shelby as he shares his gratitude for his upbringing in the outdoors. Their father/son experience in the outdoors was one of sacrifice and Jeff sees it full circle on a Kansas waterfowl hunt.
“Looking back on it now, the weekends my dad sacrificed to help me further my passion is pretty special,” said Jeff Shelby. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The values he’s instilled in me, hopefully one day I can pass on to my kids.”
Watch this latest episode of “Family Tree” on the all-new mossyoak.com.
 
The all-new mossyoak.com delivers Mossy Oak’s extensive library of free, original and engaging content accessible on any device. With new content added daily, mossyoak.com features a deep archive of hunting, conservation and outdoors lifestyle articles, over 10 years of TV episodes, and newly added original short films and video series from our all-new Capture Digital Productions. The outdoors obsessed all over the world can now access everything the Mossy Oak Brand has to offer – outdoors information, entertainment and products – at one place, mossyoak.com.
 
Haas Outdoors Inc. is headquartered in West Point, Miss., was established in 1986 and is home of Mossy Oak. For more than 30 years, Mossy Oak has been a leading outdoors lifestyle brand that specializes in developing and marketing modern camouflage designs for hunters and outdoors enthusiasts. The Mossy Oak Brand and patterns can be found on a multitude of products worldwide. Haas Outdoors Inc. is the parent company of Mossy Oak, BioLogic, Mossy Oak Productions, MOOSE Media, Nativ Nurseries, Nativ Living, GameKeepers, GameKeeper Kennels and Mossy Oak Properties.Mossy Oak is the official camouflage of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Quality Deer Management Association and Mack’s Prairie Wings and the official pattern of B.A.S.S., MLF and Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series.

Follow Mossy Oak on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube

 

 

 

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: The Epitome of Remoteness

  • If you are opposed to drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, now is the time to speak up and let your senators and representatives know.

Posted by Don Carpenter | December, 2017; w/Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA)

As an avid elk hunter in Idaho and Wyoming, I often marvel at how elk country, even when very close to cars and civilization, can feel wild. Entering a tight, timbered canyon, especially when elk may be near, is awe inspiring, even when the trailhead is only a quarter mile away.

Click on picture for the Video Story of ANWR in the eyes of Don Carpenter.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge feels wild in a different way. The 19-million-acre refuge is the epitome of remoteness. The feeling of being immersed in such a large tract of land largely untouched by man is staggering. It is a truly intact ecosystem that stretches from the southern slopes of the Brooks Range over high, glaciated peaks and across the Coastal Plain to the Arctic Ocean. This place is unique and there is nothing else like it. We would never be able to create its equal. But you don’t need to take my word for, check it out for yourself here: 

I have had the opportunity to travel to the Refuge several times. Prior to my most recent trip last June, I had the chance to meet Dr. Bob Krear. Dr. Krear is a biologist and was part of the 1956 Sheenjek Expedition to the Brooks Range, which was organized by conservation legends Olaus and Mardy Murie. A biological survey and a film created by the team were used to convince Congress and President Eisenhower to designate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1960.
Dr. Krear is also a World War II veteran. He fought in the mountains of Italy with the 10th Mountain Division. In his memoir, he writes that the 1956 Sheenjek Expedition and the small part he played in the formation of the Arctic Refuge were was among the proudest achievements of his life. Those are powerful words coming from a World War II veteran.
The Central Arctic around Barrow and Prudhoe Bay have been developed into the some of the largest oil fields in the country. The Western Arctic is designated as the National Petroleum Reserve. The Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the only remaining segment of our Arctic Ocean Coastline, is now being strongly considered for oil and gas development. This debate has gone on for decades, but now there is language in the recently passed Senate tax bill that would allow drilling in the Refuge. The Senate and House need to reconcile their bills that will go to the president.

If you are opposed to drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, now is the time to speak up and let your senators and representatives know.

These words from Mardy Murie are even more powerful for me today, as drilling in the Arctic Refuge becomes a real possibility, than when I first read them:

“Beauty is a resource in and of itself. Alaska must be allowed to be Alaska, that is her greatest economy. I hope that the United States of America is no so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by – or so poor that she cannot afford to keep them.”- Mardy Murie, Alaska Lands Bill testimony June 5, 1977, in Denver, Colorado.

 

 

Bear Hunting BANNED in British Columbia

  • POLITICS TRUMPS SCIENCE IN BC’S GRIZZLY BEAR DECISION
  • 100 Outfitters Negatively Impacted
                                  Photo courtesy of Guide Outfitters of British Columbia (www.GoABC.org)

One week ago, we learned from the Guide Outfitters of British Columbia (www.GoABC.org) that the provincial government announced the complete ban on grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia (BC).

Two independent scientific reviews confirmed that grizzly bears are well managed in British Columbia.  Experts estimating that there is a healthy population of approximately 15,000 grizzly bears.  Strict hunting regulations have been in place since 1976 and the harvest rate is consistently at 2%, well below the sustainable harvest rate of 6%.  In the Auditor General’s report, Carol Bellringer stated, “The greatest threat to grizzly bears is not hunting, but rather, human activities that degrade grizzly habitat.”

In August Minister Donaldson said, “It’s not about the numbers. It’s a matter of society that has come to the point in BC where they are no longer in favour of the grizzly bear trophy hunt.”

“It is truly disappointing that we throw history and science out the window,” says Michael Schneider, president of the GOABC.  “We expect our government to make informed decisions for wildlife conservation based on the best facts and best available science.  Emotional decisions have great risk of unintended consequences.”

About 100 outfitting businesses will be negatively impacted by this decision; many will not be able to survive the financial loss.   For more information, contact Scott Ellis at (604) 541-6332.

About the GOABC: The GOABC is a nonprofit society that was established in 1966 to represent the guide outfitting industry to government, and advocate for science-based wildlife management. Currently, the industry directly employs approximately 2,000 people in rural communities and our industry generates over $116 million annually.

Our vision is for a province with a strong and stable guide outfitting industry and abundant big game populations for all to enjoy, both today and in the future. As passionate advocates for wildlife, the GOABC is the recognized voice of the guide outfitting family. With integrity and professionalism, GOABC promotes conservation, stewardship, and sustainable use of wildlife. Learn more at www.goabc.org.

 

 

 

An Open Letter to the Anti-Hunter, Makes us ALL THINK

  • Animal Lives Matter, All Animals
  • Are We Divided?
  • 13 Million Americans Hunt, What Are They Thinking? 

If you don’t approve of hunting, for whatever reason, I want you to know I appreciate you taking a minute to read this letter. My intention is to offer a couple facts about hunting you may not know. I don’t expect to change your mind altogether, but I do hope to provide some information that may create a more informed conversation.

You’re right. Our civilization has changed such that many people no longer need to directly participate in the food chain. Cities of us can go to grocery stores for the food we once grew or killed for ourselves. So, why then does hunting still matter?

You’re right. All living things have value. Animal lives matter, and that’s all animals, not just the one whose hair is stuck to your shirt right now. If that’s true, how can someone argue killing an animal is not only justified but important?

The on-going debate surrounding the value and ethics of hunting litters our news feeds and newspapers, often serving to divide those that hunt from those that don’t. I hunt. If that divides me from you, we need to talk, because it’s possible the very reason you oppose hunting may be among the most important reasons to support hunting.

The biosystems of our planet are under attack, and humans are largely to blame. Earth is experiencing record high average temperatures each year, and humans are devastating natural habitat on all continents at record pace. So, what are the facts about hunting? If they were better understood, could all people who love animals, and all people who care about the health of our planet find common ground?

Annually, over 13 million people hunt, nearly 40 million people fish, and more than 40 million people target shoot. The only emotion-based fact I’ll present in this letter is the following: hunting is a way of life for a lot of people. Most are ethical, well-meaning people. Some are not, just like any other cross-section of humanity. I started with this, because we’re already at an impasse if we can’t agree here. I’m an example of a hunter, so I’ll speak for myself. Many of my most cherished memories are times when I’ve been hunting. Hunting and fishing are a part of who I am, part of the way I look at the world, and part of my value system. Hunting doesn’t define me, no more than does being a Bernie Sanders voter, or homosexual, or Muslim define someone else. But hunting is absolutely part of my identity. There is literally nothing anyone can say to make me change that. Can we agree hunting is important to lots of people like me?

Okay, enough of the feely stuff.

Wildlife and wild lands are owned by the public, as prescribed by the Public Trust Doctrine. Each state has a fish and wildlife agency, which was given the responsibility to manage all wildlife via what’s called the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Where success is measured by the proliferation of wild animals, this model of wildlife management is among the most effective in the history of mankind. See, we humans are a highly invasive species. Every day we till up wildlife habitat to grow more food, to build more infrastructure, and to meld the natural world to fit our every whim. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is one of the only proven barriers standing between wild places and animals and their decimation. And its implementation is not cheap.

Nearly every economic, social, and cultural trend is eating away at the prospect of wild animals thriving into the future. Except, perhaps ironically, hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. You’ve probably heard the argument, “hunters pay for conservation.” The extent to which this statement is true can be debated, but it is a fact that hunting plays a major role in conservation. Between 50-80% of all money spent on conservation in the United States, nearly three billion dollars, comes through one of three sources (in order of size): hunting/fishing license sales; excise taxes paid on hunting/fishing/recreational shooting gear; and donations to conservation non-profits. Hunting and fishing license sales are a pretty well understood concept. However, most people don’t know that sportsmen of generations past lobbied for and passed Pittman-Robertson (PR), the act that placed a tax on hunting and recreational shooting gear, then later Dingell-Johnson (DJ), the act that placed a tax on fishing gear. The funds from all three sources; licenses, donations, and excise taxes are used by your state fish and wildlife agency, as well as a myriad of non-government organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited, to do the work of managing wild places for wild animals.

Without PR/DJ, sustainability of our wild lands and wild things would face serious headwinds. One must have only a rudimentary understanding of economics to understand why. If left without protection and management, wild places would soon turn into farms, ranches, and housing developments. To fund that protection, some wild animals were given a “value,” quantified by the license fee paid to hunt or catch them. No true sportsman or woman would argue the value of a living thing can be quantified in dollars; it’s simply the only scalable way anyone on earth has come up with to ensure the necessary habitat exists to sustain all species. It’s a trade-off – kill some of the deer to make it economically viable to keep and manage the land on which all deer and most all other species live.

But, couldn’t we get conservation funding into the budgets of all levels of government; local, state, and federal?

The answer is probably yes, but the economics again tell a dooming story. Public lands, such as state recreation areas or national forests, are largely viewed as a sink on the tax base, especially in more developed or more agrarian areas of our country. No one pays property taxes on this land, and it’s more difficult to tie tax revenue back to it from tourism or other uses than it is to tax income from corn production on the same parcel. Thus, privatizing land for development or production is a strategy governmental entities use to increase their tax base. If you were a politician and your constituents were asking you to choose between health care for babies or keeping our public land public, what would you do? The debate over control of our public lands is a shining example of what will happen to our wild places when it’s time to sharpen the budget pencil.

Some of the favorite non-profit organizations of anti-hunters have taken to buying land. An example is the Humane Society of the United States’ Wildlife Land Trust. The novice biologist in me says, “Great, more land for wild things.” But any wildlife biologist, for or against hunting, will tell you leaving land unmanaged is an untenable solution. Sure, it’s cheaper for the Wildlife Land Trust, but unmanaged land does little or nothing for wildlife. Nature used to do the management work for us. For thousands of years prairie habitat burned, invigorating successional habitat growth. Ignited by lightning, forest fires would burn until they simply went out. Today, firefighters feverishly dowse wildfires with chemicals and water in hopes of saving human life and assets. Ever been on a hike through a dense forest? Did you notice how animal diversity was most prolific outside of the most dense areas – perhaps where the forest opened up to a grassy area? Most woodland species are not adapted to compete in the most dense, unbroken forest cover. Just as most prairie species are not adapted to compete in the most dense, unbroken grassland areas.

The way I see it, it’s perfectly reasonable that you do not hunt.

But, I want you to understand hunting plays a very serious role in the real-world conservation that sustains nearly all species of plant and animal on Earth.  All people are in a lifelong dogfight to preserve the living things that inhabit our planet, especially you and me… since I took the time to write this letter and you took the time to read it.  The left and right, the greenies and oil barons, the anti and pro-hunters – we’re all bound to this watery rock and can only take from it so much before we endanger the wild animals and places in our way. Let’s stop arguing and get to work.

Sincerely,

Eric Dinger, Founder of Powderhook

About Powderhook: Powderhook is the outdoor help desk. With free maps and depth contours, thousands of events, plus the local scoop you can’t get anywhere else, a good day in the outdoors is only a download away no matter your experience level.  http://blog.powderhook.com/an-open-letter-to-hunters/.

 

 

Can-Am Defender XMR: CONQUER the MUD…and ANYTHING ELSE!

  • 72hp Rotax V-twin HD10 engine
  • 30-in ITP Cryptid mud tires
  • 13.5-in ground clearance

The aggressive Defender XMR-HD10 side-by-side vehicle is factory built to tackle the nastiest of mud, where traction and torque are in high demand. An authentic mud monster, the muscular Defender not only reinforces the Can-Am brand’s leadership in the mud-riding spectrum, but it does so with unmatched styling and engineering ingenuity. The specialized Defender XMR HD10 vehicle — available in either a Carbon Black & Sunburst Yellow finish or premium Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo — includes all the Defender XT HD10 package features, but expands upon those conveniences with its own advancements for greater success in the mud.

The state-of-the-art Smart-Lok lockable front differential and large 30-in. (76.2 cm) ITP Cryptid mud tires, when mated to the existing 72hp Rotax V-twin HD10 engine, durable PRO-TORQ Transmission supply unprecedented levels of grip and sure-footed control in the mud. The Smart-Lok differential includes dual modes (Trail and Mud) for added convenience and ingenious terrain adaptation. The factory-installed snorkeled CVT and engine intakes ensure flawless execution when tackling wet and muddy conditions.

 

 

DEFENDER XMR  FEATURES 

  • Smart-Lok™ front differential
  • 72hp Rotax V-twin HD10 engine
  • Snorkeled CVT and engine intakes
  • Double arched A-arm Front Suspension
  • X-Package Front bumper
  • Aluminum Rock Sliders
  • 30-in ITP Cryptid mud tires
  • 13.5-in ground clearance

NY Deer Hunting Season is LONG, Cost is CHEAP – Still TOO MANY DEER

  • Imagine 79 days of Legal Big Game Hunting
  • Imagine 79 days of Hunting for $52 Cost
  • Imagine 7 Deer Harvest Bag Limit
  • All True, yet there are STILL TOO MANY DEER
  • New York NEEDS MORE HUNTERS!

By Forrest Fisher

Car collision rates say New York has too many deer, but hunters have trouble finding them. There is a cure. Joe Forma Photo

Remember those days in school when the teacher said, “Time up, pens down!”

New York deer hunters take note, time is almost up. The close of the New York southern zone firearm season (shotgun, rifle, handgun) for deer and bear hunting is just ahead, ending this Sunday, Dec. 10, at sunset. The next morning at sunrise, the extended combination late big game season opens for an additional nine days, to include crossbow, late archery and muzzleloader (black powder) season, ending on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at sunset.

When you consider that the big game season in New York’s southern zone (area south and west of the Adirondacks) actually started on the first Saturday of October, then ran for 6-1/2 weeks through the start of firearm season that began on Nov. 18 for three weeks and two days, and now the late season for nine days. That adds up to a little more than 11 weeks of big game hunting season for deer and bear. Wow, that’s 79 days of big game hunting!

The annual cost for the regular resident season firearms hunting privilege (license) in New York is $22 (includes big game and small game), the resident archery privilege is an additional $15 and the muzzleloader/crossbow privilege is also an additional $15. Total cost for all possible combinations during the big game season is a mere $52 for those 16 years of age and over (through 69 years old), or about 65 cents a day.  AND, if you purchase the archery and muzzleloader license, you are provided with a free (no additional fee) either-sex deer permit and a free antlerless deer permit.  So for $52, you can harvest 2 bucks and 1 doe over those 79 days of New York big game hunting seasons.  The regular season license will allow the hunter to bag one antlered deer (a buck).

For just $10 more, the hunter can purchase an application to enter a random drawing for two deer management permits allowing the harvest of one antlerless deer (doe) per permit in a designated wildlife management unit (WMU) of the hunter’s choice – if the management unit doe harvest is deemed available by the DEC and you are among the lucky hunters to win in the random drawing to help control deer overpopulation. Hence, while it is common knowledge that scientific deer management is based upon controlling the population of female deer, in New York, hunters have to pay for the privilege of helping to administer the science.  

New York is so interesting.

In addition, if you happen to hunt in a wildlife management unit where there are too many deer, additional doe permits can be purchased for, you guessed it, $10 for two.  For example, in WMU-9F, that is Elma, northern East Aurora and related adjacent areas, a hunter could obtain two more permits. If you have a lifetime license, those permits are free.

New York is so interesting.

If you add all that up, that’s seven possible deer for the freezer or the food pantry. Over 79 days of hunting, that is an average of about one deer every 10 days if you’re really good at this hunting thing, but if you are like me and many other hunters at this point of the season, you might still be looking for your first deer for the year. Hmmm, so what’s up with that?

Well, in a state with about 590,000 big game hunters, the annual harvest is 230,000 deer or so (buck and doe). While the numbers say that only about one in every three hunters will even harvest a deer, the DEC seems to be doing their part in providing hunters with access (long season), affordability (low cost) and opportunity (many state forests and access areas open to hunting).  Kudo’s to New York for this. 

Not without purpose, New York wildlife management groups appear to be working with safety management and insurance groups that report about 70,000 deer-vehicle collisions annually in the Empire State, with an average cost of about $4,000 per incident.  Across the country, 238 people were killed in 2015 when their vehicle struck an animal or when they tried to avoid striking an animal.

Add that deer also are also responsible for transportation of deer ticks that carry Lyme disease, it would seem New York needs even more harvest by hunters to control the malady of too many deer. So why is New York charging hunters $10 to purchase a deer management permit application?

New York is so interesting.

Because this is New York, the land of nothing is free. Your guess is as good as mine.

It would seem that with these data, the doe permits should be cheaper than free for every hunter. I like that hunting for deer is affordable in New York when compared to other states, but understanding the issues present (collisions, Lyme disease, property damage), New York needs to do more to raise the number of hunters out there and reduce the numbers of deer.  

How about if NY were to pay every hunter $25 for every deer harvest? Yes! Could such a simple incentive help the deer management group and would it also achieve the goal of accurate hunter harvest reporting?

How about if NY were to plant food plots in state forest areas?  We would see far less deer, safer highways, etc., etc.

New York is so interesting.

C’mon NY.

That’s my 2 cents.

 

TREASURE on the Beach! Metal Detecting is FUN

  • Too Windy to Fish? Fish another Way!
  • On a Small Beach central Florida, a retirement community…4 gold rings, 1 silver ring, over 100 coins, toys, fishing lures, and some trash.  All in one day.
  • How? “Cold wet hands loosen rings, as does hot, sweaty hands, then throw a ball or Frisbee, the ring flies off.  Not lost forever if you are looking.”

By Rich Creason

The author provides hands-on instruction for a newcomer to the art and fun science of metal detecting…treasure hunting, on the beach.

Most folks who enjoy metal detecting start by looking for lost coins in backyards, but once given a choice to try beach hunting, it often becomes their favorite spot to search.

This is the case with my wife and me. We have detected for over 40 years, from Montana to the east coast, and from Florida to northern Canada. We have searched yards, fields, school grounds, Civil War camp sites, seeded hunts, and beaches. Sifting through the sand is the best.

Unfortunately, we live in central Indiana, about as far from a saltwater beach as you can get, but we are fairly close to all of the Great Lakes, plus some fresh water lakes and reservoirs with large beach areas. Another unfortunate fact is many State Parks have water with swimming beaches, but they don’t allow metal detecting. I’ve never understood why, because kids can take their buckets and shovels and dig in the sand all they want with no problem. Also, when we are detecting, we take a lot of pull tabs, bottle caps, hooks, scrap metal, and other trash off the beach which are dangerous for those enjoying the sand without shoes.

Another very productive area is a campground with a swimming beach. These are often busy and sometimes no one has ever detecting these areas. As any other private property, we always ask for permission to search. Since we are causing no damage and usually show the owners all the trash we cleaned up for them, permission is seldom a problem. So, regardless of where you live, some type of sand beach is probably close to where you live.

It doesn’t matter whether you detect around fresh or saltwater beaches, close to water is the best place to find lost jewelry. Not the only place, but the best. Cold wet hands will loosen rings, as does hot, sweaty ones. Throw a ball or Frisbee and the ring flies off. In the water, or even in the sand, it will be hard to find without a machine. Teenagers horseplay and a delicate gold chain is broken and both the chain and the pendant, locket, medallion, or whatever is on the chain is lost in the water until someone with a detector finds them. My best water find so far is a gold ring with three large garnets which appraised at $500.

Another way valuables get lost at the beach is by placing a nice watch or other item on a blanket or towel. It gets accidentally knocked off by kids playing or when the towel is picked up to shake sand off and the item is forgotten. And this happens many times a day on a popular beach.

Of course, the east coast of Florida is famous for giving up gold and silver coins and relics from sunken Spanish ships, especially after strong storms. These items are washed in from offshore and brought close where someone with a detector can find them. This brings up the question, how do you get your share of these lost treasures?

Naturally, the first step is getting a metal detector. New ones range from around $200 up to ten times that much. The basic difference is like a Chevrolet and a Mercedes. Both will get you around. One just has more bells and whistles. Most detectors are waterproof from the coil at the bottom, up to the control box. The electronics inside the box tend to freak out when they get wet. Some brands offer water proof machines up to, and including, the earphones. These are more costly, probably starting around $500. But, one good ring (see above) can pay for this machine. Add a sand scoop for retrieving your finds from the beach ($20) and you are ready to find some treasures.

As soon as you find a sandy beach (gain permission to hunt if needed), you need to decide where to start. If it’s a small fresh water pond or lake, it’s fairly obvious where people hang out. On a huge saltwater area, you need to decide where the most activity is located. If possible, check it out on a hot, summer day. Blankets are usually placed above the high tide line. If young people are having a volleyball game, move into that spot as soon as they are finished. While the girls often are in tiny bikinis with no pockets, we have found several nice rings there. They tend to fly off when hitting the ball. Of course, spend some time hunting in the water. I usually search in water up to my knees. It’s easier to stand in the waves and more people use the shallow water.

If you are walking the beach and notice an area which looks like rain has washed a trough out from the high sand line down to the water, hunt that carefully. Anyplace the sand has been disturbed can bring treasures from deep up to near the surface.

If you are lucky enough to live near big water, search the shoreline (or in the water) after a large storm. The high winds will turn the sand over, bringing treasures to the top. You will often see people with detectors out looking almost before the hurricane winds are gone. Remember where the large crowds were active when the days were nice. Hunt there!

Metal detecting in the water can be fun, provide exercise and a can provide a nice, small payoff in treasure too.

Think outside the box. If you can hunt an out-of-the-way spot, which is not frequented a lot, you may be the first one there. I hunted a small beach on a neighborhood lake in central Florida. It was a retirement community and not a lot of folks spent time there. But apparently enough. I found four gold rings, a silver ring, over100 coins, toys, fishing lures, and a lot of trash in one day. My wife hunted the dry part of the sand and found coins, toys, and a large silver belt buckle. We have hunted several small campground swimming holes and had the same kind of results. If we find any valuable jewelry, we try to find the owner, but usually, there are no markings on the item to identify the owner. The only exception to the rule is class rings. Usually, they have the school, year, and a name or initials on them. We Goggle the school, and call the office. We tell them what we found, and ask if they can look in their yearbooks and help us find the owner.

When we leave home on a fishing trip, or any other kind of vacation, we always pack our machines. Many times when planning a trip on large waters, weather changes our mind. Fishing is out when the wind is too high. Rather than having our visit turn into a bust, we find the nearest beach and start hunting. I have never been west of Montana, but I imagine finding treasures on the west coast is the same as on our side of the continent.  

I always consider metal detecting as the best hobby. Like other activities, (fishing, bowling, golfing, etc.), you must purchase your original equipment to start, but any of those other hobbies will cost you more money each time you participate in it.  Then realize that every time you use your detector, you make money. Sometimes only a few clad coins, but occasionally a nice ring or a valuable coin or relic. My only additional cost is batteries once or twice a year. 

See you on the beach!

The author may be reached at eyewrite4u@aol.com.

        

Deer Hunter’s…5 BIGGEST MISTAKES, May Still be Time to Fix Your 2017 Hunt – Part 2 of 2

  • Know the Deer You Hunt
  • Scouting, Being Detected
  • Gear & Gadgets, Over-Dependence
  • Patterning our Hunting Pattern
  • Where, When and How 

By John Sloan

Mistake #4: We get patterned doing the patterning.
Can we pattern a mature buck? I don’t think so. If we could, the odds are that we’d get patterned long before we could pattern the buck. We spend too much time at the wrong time walking, exploring, hanging stands and generally polluting the woods with our scent when we should have been prepared and just biding our time, waiting for the perfect day.

The very best chance we have to kill a mature buck is the very first time we hunt him. Yet we continue to walk around our stands, looking for fresh sign, freshening scrapes and generally messing things up. We repeatedly walk to our stands on the same trail. We think our scent spray will keep him from smelling us, or our rubber boots will keep him from smelling where we walked.

But we push limbs out of the way with our hands and we wear the same hat every day. Deer smell where we place our hands far more than they smell where we walk. Rubber boots are of no advantage, I believe, and our hats stink (our hair holds odors for a long time). To think otherwise is a mistake, a big one.

Proper stand placement is crucial to success. Good scouting will give you the necessary info.

Mistake #5: Despite knowledge to the contrary, hunting the wrong times.

When do deer move? The plain fact is they move whenever they want. Except for truly hot weather, as a general rule deer are no more active at daylight than they are at 10:30. In fact, more mature deer are killed between 10 a.m. and two p.m. than at any other time. The hunter who can effectively hunt all day has a huge advantage, but very few can. The operative word is effective. After three or four hours, most of us are just occupying space, not effectively hunting. By limiting our hunts to three or four hours in the morning and afternoon, we often miss the prime hunting time for mature whitetails.

During the rut, I routinely hunt four stands in one day, spending two or three hours in each. My final stand is usually on an approach trail or edge of a field. Often it is a ground blind, because a deer in a field is twice as likely to spot you in a tree stand as when you are in a properly placed ground blind. The other stands are in the timber.

I have killed as many bucks from 10:30-11:30 a.m. as at any other time. Think about it. Often, I am the only hunter in the woods at that time. And the deer know it. To skip midday hunting is a mistake.

Obviously, there are other mistakes we make and, just as obviously, we can make these five mistakes and still get lucky.

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. If you are making these mistakes, you are not properly prepared.

Until Now.

Deer Hunter’s…5 BIGGEST MISTAKES, May Still be Time to Fix Your 2017 Hunt – Part 1 of 2

  • Know the Deer You Hunt
  • Scouting, Being Detected
  • Gear & Gadgets, Over-Dependence
  • Patterning our Hunting Pattern
  • Where, When and How

By John Sloan

Deer cross obstacles such as roads and fences in the same place, most of the time. Learn to recognize these crossings.

Each year deer hunters, all of us, make mistakes. Sometimes they are minor mistakes, sometimes major. Not always do even the major mistakes turn out badly in terms of killing a deer or getting a shot. But sometimes they do. Over the 60 years I have hunted whitetail deer, I have determined what I feel to be the five biggest mistakes a hunter makes. Here they are in the order I rank them.

Keep these items in mind for hunting now, for scouting after this season, and for scouting next summer and fall for next year’s season.

Mistake #1: Failure to understand the animal you are hunting.

I have been a student of whitetail deer for more than six decades. I am still learning. I am still constantly reminded of how little I know. I have always wondered how a hunter can expect regular success on bucks over age 3-1/2 if they don’t work to learn all they can, and then test what they have learned.

Persimmon is a preferred food source when dropping. Did you know there are two types of persimmons, early and late, and deer don’t always eat them?  

Just reading and asking questions are not enough. You must get out in the woods and read sign, see what the deer has done. Then ask yourself why. Why did that deer do that? What caused that reaction? Will it happen every time?

If you ask any deer hunter what the deer’s preferred food source is right now, and they don’t know, they have not learned enough about the animal they hunt. Does the hunter know what will be the next preferred food source? Does he or she know why the deer are crossing a road in a particular place?

The questions and the answers are endless. It takes much more than just spending time in a stand. The more you ask and the more you learn, the better prepared hunter you will be, and it is a serious mistake not to be prepared.

A successful deer hunter will always have more questions than he or she has answers.

Mistake #2: Improper Scouting

Nothing prepares you for success more than proper scouting. Nothing costs you more than improper scouting.

Far too many hunters wait until the week or maybe the month before the season to begin scouting. However, proper scouting never stops. By far the most informative scouting is done in the weeks just after the season closes. That sets the stage for the rest of the scouting. It is then you learn what the bucks were doing when you were hunting them. It is then you find their hiding spots and secure travel trails. It is then you formulate your game plan for the next season.

Summer means long distance, non-invasive scouting with good optics. It is a prime way to spot where a buck enters and leaves a field without spooking him and may be a clue to finding autumn food sources.

In the summer, your scouting is non-invasive. You glass open fields just at sundown. There is little to be learned other than there are some deer here. That’s all you need to know at that point. There is little reason to be in the woods. That starts when the mast begins to form on trees. You are now looking for food sources. You couldn’t care less if you see deer. In fact, you hope you don’t. You are looking for where the deer are going to be, not where they are.

Hang a stand in the right place and stay away until you plan to kill him.

In early fall, you combine your hunting with your scouting, you are looking for new rubs, early scrapes, previously unknown creek or road crossings. You adjust as the deer do, as new travel patterns emerge.

In late season, you adjust again. The stand that was so hot in November may be useless now. Look for the trails in deep cover and secure food sources. Look for the trails that lead to agricultural crops and, in doing so, pass through the really thick stuff.

To scout for only a day or so in September or October is a serious mistake. It will cost you deer.

Do plenty of post-season scouting and make notes. This often can be the key to next year’s success.

Mistake #3: Over-Dependence on Equipment and Gadgets

As technology developed new and improved products, deer hunters got lazy. Magic potions in bottles or in spray cans replaced knowledge and work and study. We began to depend on our equipment to compensate for inaccurate shooting, good yardage judging, clean clothes and proper stand placement. We began to believe the advertisements and all the new theories. The latest call couldn’t fail. The hottest new camo couldn’t fail. The most popular new scent couldn’t fail. The new scent eliminators couldn’t fail. But they did… and do.

Don’t be afraid to hunt from the ground. With the right setup in the right place, it can be productive. Doesn’t always need to be a ground blind.

There are no magic potions or gimmicks. They are all aids and, yes, they are an aid. Properly used, under the right conditions they do work sometimes. None of them work all the time and some of them are counterproductive. Unless you understand what the product is; know how it works; know how to use it properly and understand the limitations of the product, you are making a mistake. If you depend on a spray or clothing to prevent deer from smelling you and do not take advantage of the wind, you are making a mistake.

These products and others can be invaluable for the unforeseen vagaries of hunting. But to depend on them alone is a mistake and it will cost you.

Consistently successful callers (deer, elk, turkey, etc.) always anticipate success and prepare for a response.  This anticipation is what I call the confidence factor, and it usually comes from experience and a working knowledge of the language of the game you’re hunting.  You don’t have to learn the hard way.  Learn the language, and when you make a deer call expect a deer to show up.

 

Muzzy Expands Trocar Hybrid Broadhead Line with New 125-Grain HBX

  • Crossbow Broadhead Blends Fixed and Mechanical Technology
SUPERIOR, Wis. (Oct. 3, 2017) — Due to customer demand, the popular Trocar HBX hybrid crossbow broadhead that blends the most lethal and accurate fixed-blade broadhead with a pair of center-pivot blades that deploy on contact for massive cuts on large animals is now available in a 125-grain.
Like the 100-grain, the new 125-grain Trocar HBX features 0.35-inch-thick surgically sharp stainless steel mechanical blades that remain tucked in tight to the solid-steel ferrule during flight, but they deploy on impact for a total cutting diameter of 2 5/8 inches on impact. For added accuracy and stability, the 0.35-inch thick fixed blades are slightly offset. The new heavier Trocar HBX also features the popular Muzzy bone-crushing chisel tip.
This new 125-grain hybrid broadhead is now available at retailers nationwide and conveniently online at www.muzzy.com. Suggested retail price for a three-pack of either the new 125-grain or the 100-grain Muzzy Trocar HBX broadheads is $39.95.
Founded in 1984, Muzzy is the number-one name in fixed-blade broadheads, and it is a pioneer in the art of bowfishing. A division of FeraDyne Outdoors, Muzzy is headquartered in Superior, Wis. For more information on the full line of Muzzy’s fixed-blade broadheads and state-of-the-art bowfishing equipment, contact Muzzy Outdoors, LLC, 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; call 866-387-9307; or visit www.muzzy.com.

New York State DEC Announces Nov. 18 Start of Regular Firearms Season for Deer and Bear Hunting in Southern Zone

Hunters are Encouraged to Pass on Young Bucks

NYSDEC encourages hunters to pass up the shot on young bucks. Joe Forma Photo

With the start of New York’s most popular big game season slated for Saturday, Nov. 18, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is encouraging hunters to be safe, enjoy the natural beauty of the environment, and consider passing up shots on young bucks.

“New York has some of the best hunting opportunities in the nation, and our ongoing conservation efforts and hunter safety programs are providing ample opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy all New York has to offer,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Deer and bear hunting is also an important tool for New Yorkers to assist our wildlife management efforts and critical for controlling populations especially in areas and habitats where deer overabundance are causing ecological damage. The opening of the Southern Zone regular season is a cherished tradition for many families, drawing friends and relatives together for a weekend afield. I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”

Deer hunting has been changing in New York, with more hunters opting to voluntarily pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks in favor of letting them grow to be older, larger bucks. DEC is encouraging hunters to make a difference for the future of the deer herd and increase their likelihood of seeing older, larger bucks by choosing to Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow.

Regular Firearms Season for Deer and Bear Begins Nov. 18
The 2017 regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York’s Southern Zone begin at sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 18, and continue through Sunday, Dec. 10. The Southern Zone regular season is New York’s most popular hunting season; approximately 85 percent of New York’s 575,000 licensed hunters participate. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest and between 30 to 60 percent of the statewide bear harvest.

Maybe some of the most fun is just seeing deer come toward your stand on opening day, but choosing to take a doe early or not, especially during the rut, is a tough call for many hunters.  Joe Forma Photo

Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will run from Dec. 11 through Dec. 19. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess a hunting license and either bowhunting or muzzleloading privilege(s).

In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 21, and will close at sunset on Dec. 3. The Northern Zone includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys. A late bowhunting and muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from Dec. 4 to Dec. 10.

DEC Encourages Hunter Safety
While statistics show that hunting in New York State is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. DEC believes every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and Commissioner Seggos is encouraging hunters to use common sense this season and to remember what they were taught in their DEC Hunters Education Course.

Firearms Safety:

  1. Point your gun in a safe direction.
  2. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  3. Be sure of your target and beyond.
  4. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

DEC also encourages hunters to wear blaze orange or pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in a hunter’s direction. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.

When hunting in tree stands, use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, hunters should never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded rifle and never set a tree stand above 20 feet.

Help Protect New York Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease
Although no new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in New York deer have been found since 2005, DEC continues to take the threat of CWD seriously. CWD is fatal to deer, and if introduced, could spread rapidly. Once established, CWD is practically impossible to eliminate from the wild deer herd. Preventing CWD from entering New York is the most effective disease-management strategy. Hunters can help protect New York’s deer herd from CWD by following these tips:

  • If hunting outside of New York, debone or quarter the deer before returning to the state, and follow the law about importing carcasses or carcass parts from outside of New York. CWD Regulations for Hunters.
  • Use only lures or attractant scents that do not contain deer-based urine.
  • Dispose of carcass waste in a landfill, not on the landscape.
  • Report any deer that appears sick or is acting abnormally.

Report Your Harvest – Remember: Take It – Tag It – Report It
Hunter contributions to deer and bear management don’t end when an animal is harvested. All successful hunters are required to report their harvest of deer and bear within seven days. Failure to report is a violation of the Environmental Conservation Law and reduces the data DEC uses to manage deer and bear populations. Hunters may report via DEC’s online game harvest reporting system or by calling the toll-free automated reporting system at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).

Additional Reminders for the 2017 Southern Zone Regular Hunting Season
Choose non-lead ammunition for high quality meat and reduced risk of lead exposure to humans and wildlife.

Hunger Has A Cure… The Venison Donation Program (link leaves DEC’s website) is a great way to help those less fortunate while assisting with deer management in New York.

For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2017-2018 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide available on DEC’s website. Hunters are urged to review all regulations and safety tips in the guide. Hunters may also be interested in DEC’s Hunting the Black Bear in New York (PDF, 727 KB) or reviewing DEC’s unit-by-unit Deer Hunting Forecasts.

Call that Deer to You, TIPS THAT WORK for Deer Calling Success

  • How to Be Ready
  • See a Deer, What to Do
  • Using the Right Call

By Gary Sefton

Big, healthy bucks follow hot and ready doe’s, the hunter has many options, learn some of them here. Joe Forma Photo

Be Ready

“You’re not going to believe this,” the excited deer hunter said.  “I haven’t seen anything all morning, so I let my bow down and started to unfasten my safety belt.  I remembered my brand new, never used, deer call and thought “What the heck”.  I let go with a couple of parting shots on the call before beginning to climb down.  Just then, the buck of a lifetime came boiling out of the brush like his tail was on fire.  He stopped broadside, 20 yards from my stand, but I’m holding 25 feet of rope with my bow tied on the other end. “He was huge,” he said, holding his hands about two feet apart.

I had this conversation at one of the early Deer Classics and have had many more like it since.  I believed him.

This hunter’s experience was not that unusual, especially for first-time callers or callers trying a new technique.  With no confidence in the call or the technique, he’s thinking “I never heard a deer make a sound like that” or “This will probably run off anything within hearing”.

He has no idea what he is saying when he makes the call.  He has no clue what it should sound like, and/or he has never had a deer respond to calling, so he has no real reason to believe his deer call will work. So he sets himself up for failure by making a call and not expecting anything to show up.

I began working with game call companies in 1986, doing field testing and research on every aspect of deer calling, including interpreting and dissecting unusual and possibly significant vocalizations.  There’s not much you can do or say to a deer that I haven’t tried for experiments’ sake and/or in hunting situations, and there aren’t many reactions to calls that I haven’t seen. This article is from my book CALLING WHITETAILS: Methods, Myths & Magic. It is available at www.targetcommbooks.com.

When he’s trailing and he’s grunting!

I can’t begin to tell you how many tales of woe I’ve heard from seasoned deer hunters who missed out on golden opportunities because their brains were on pause when a buck showed up.  If you believe in something enough to buy it and haul it to the woods with you, then you should believe something is going to happen when you use it. You want the deer to come into the area to investigate the deer making the call.  He may come in hard and fast or he may slip in and be gone before you know he was there.

Make the call, then wait for him! Look for him!  Stay on ‘red alert’ for 15 to 20 minutes after you make the call.  Expect a response and anticipate success.  You will still get caught with your guard down from time to time, but you won’t feel so dumb about it.

Consistently successful callers (deer, elk, turkey, etc.) always anticipate success and prepare for a response.  This anticipation is what I call the confidence factor, and it usually comes from experience and a working knowledge of the language of the game you’re hunting.  You don’t have to learn the hard way.  Learn the language, and when you make a deer call expect a deer to show up.

When You See a Deer

Deer have big ears.  They are good at pinpointing the precise location of a sound’s origin, so my rule is: If you can see a deer coming toward you, let it come, even if it is dawdling and taking its time.

You are in good shape as long as it is headed your way.  If you make a sound while it is enroute, you will call its attention to your location and increase the possibility of getting picked off.

She smells a rat!

The doe’s that are ready to breed are in charge. Learn the details to pay attention to.  Joe Forma Photo

If the deer veers off in another direction, a soft doe or buck grunt could be the right invitation to bring it back on course.  You don’t have anything to lose in those situations.

When I’m in this situation (the deer is not heading my way) I’ll call to any deer I see wandering around, but I keep it soft and passive unless I see or hear a buck trailing a doe.  When that happens, I’m going to get more aggressive, with some heavy breathing doe bleats to try to turn his head.  I have called several bucks to me that were trailing does. They thought the bleating doe was the same one they were trailing.

When you are doing blind calling, always take a hard look around before you make a call, to be sure the immediate area is clear of deer that could bust you. If you get busted, let him go.  There’s no reason to call to a deer that you know you have spooked. He won’t come back once he has you pegged, and he might very well associate the call to human presence.  What do you think he will do the next time he hears a call?

Learn the Language

Before your start blowing on your deer call, be make sure you know what you are saying so you don’t say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Deer can’t change their language, so just be sure you are familiar with the basics.  Beyond that, you have to be the judge of what is right for you.  Knowing the right sound to make to trigger a specific response gets you in the game.  Making the proper sound in the correct sequence gives you a chance to score.

When she talks, they listen!  Set Up to Call

An important but often overlooked aspect of calling success is in the caller’s location and set-up. Do your calling in a high-deer-use area where deer are comfortable making and responding to calls.  You are not going to call many deer when they are alarmed or distressed.

“What do you do when a buck comes almost close enough to shoot and won’t come any closer?” I wish I had a quarter for every time I’ve been asked that question.

The reason he won’t come any closer is because he can’t see the deer he’s been hearing.  He wants visual reinforcement to the audio signals he’s been getting. A warning – if you call to him while he’s looking in your direction (he usually will be if he’s responding to a call), he’ll most likely look you right in the eye and the hunt will be over. Your best bet is to let him walk, then try to call him back when he gets out of sight.

If you plan to call, try to position your stand on a rise or in thick cover so the deer will be in range when he comes into view.  Don’t forget: if you’re going to do aggressive calling or horn rattling, always try to set up with a natural barrier downwind of your stand.  If you can keep a buck from scent checking your position when responding to your calling, your chances for success are much better, especially with older, smarter deer.

Gary is an expert caller of deer and turkeys and has been so for a long time.  A competition caller as well as an active hunter, he won the 1993 and 1994 World Deer Calling Championship and has conducted far more than 1,000 deer calling seminars throughout the U.S. to help hunters understand and successfully communicate with deer. He has written articles for Deer & Deer Hunting magazine and other regional and national outdoor publications.  He has appeared on nationally syndicated radio and television outdoor shows and is featured on several DVDs.

His book – CALLING WHITETAILS / Methods, Myths & Magic –is a no-nonsense, back-to-basics guide to calling deer, and other deceptions to help. Chapters include whitetail deer practical vocabulary, deer calling basics (why deer respond to calls), calling during the rut (mating anticipation), antler rattling, other deceptions (scents, blinds, decoys), tips to increase your calling success, be familiar with your calls, and have a plan. CALLING WHITETAILS is available at www.targetcommunications.com. 

 

DEER CAMP – It’s About CHARACTERS

  • Memories, SPECIAL Times and Mice
  • Practical Jokes, Sunrise, Sunset, Nature and DEER 
  • Great Food, Great Stories, Great People, FUN

By Larry Whiteley

Sitting around a campfire at deer camp offers time for “deer talk”, secret camp recipes and special moments in time.

Every deer camp has its cast of camp characters. Individuals with their own special uniqueness, but when blended together like spices and seasonings in a recipe, make deer camp so special.

My deer camp has Dean. He is a bundle of energy and wise cracks that hunts deer and moose and elk, but is afraid of a little mouse. His mouse-phobia has brought great joy to all the rest of us camp characters. We’ve never seen anyone get out of a sleeping bag as fast as when a stuffed mouse “accidentally” got in the sleeping bag with him. I will also never forget how high he climbed and the look of horror on his face when he thought the noise in the old wood stove was a rat instead of the bird it turned out to be.

You could call Dean our “camp coordinator.” He makes sure the camp cabin is properly stocked and clean, collects the dues, buys groceries, and helps hang stands. His most notable contribution is the annual Saturday night “boil”, a grand feast of shrimp, kielbasa, mushrooms, broccoli, potatoes and corn on the cob boiled together in a big pot and dumped on the table for hungry hunters. He always cooks too much, but taking home a bag full of “boil” is part of deer camp.

Dean is constant movement, washing dishes, emptying trash, picking up the cabin, bringing firewood in for the night, setting the alarm clock, and asking everyone where they will hunt the next day. His energy is endless and he is always the last one in bed. The rest of us wouldn’t want him to know it, but we don’t know what we would do without him.

He may put up a front for being a fun-loving tough guy, but I know the real Dean. He’s the guy who takes his young son Conrad on a youth turkey hunt and cries when he gets his first gobbler. He’s the guy who helped my son when he first came to camp and took time to guide him on a successful turkey hunt one spring. He is also the guy who caused the lump in my throat when he showed up unexpected at my mother’s funeral.

Conrad is the youngest of our deer camp characters and like his dad, he’s a bundle of energy and constant movement. I love his imagination. Computers, television and video games keep a lot of kids from developing an imagination in today’s world. What a shame! When I was a kid, my imagination took me to the mountains where I trapped beaver and muskrats and fought wild Indians and grizzly bears. I don’t know where Conrad’s imagination takes him, but it will help shape his life, along with mom and dad (and maybe some deer camp characters), into the man he will be.

Our deer camp characters even include a celebrity, although I don’t think he really considers himself one. Jerry co-hosts an outdoor TV show, is a member of a pro hunting team, and has hunted and fished around the world with country music stars, NASCAR legends and even generals. I’m sure if you asked him, he would say “I’m just an old country boy who has been lucky enough to get to do some things I never dreamed would be possible.” I think he would tell you being in deer camp with the rest of us deer camp characters and his son Flint or daughter Chase is one of his favorite places to be.

Then there’s John or “J.B.” as we call him. Deer camp wouldn’t be the same without J.B., his Wisconsin accent and holey underwear.

Through his wise cracks and jokes, he doesn’t fool me. He has a heart of gold. There’s nothing fake about J.B. He is who he is. He’ll never change and I’m glad because I wouldn’t want him any other way.

Ed is a business executive, who is under a lot of pressure and stress so he looks forward to deer camp with the rest of us characters. He enjoys his time in the woods not caring whether he gets a deer or not. Ed was with Dean when Conrad got his first turkey and he too shed a tear. He delights in the hunting success of Daron and Flint and Chase. I will never forget my son’s face when Ed passed on to him, one of his still very good and very expensive bows. Like some of the rest of the characters, Ed’s an old softy too!

Mike adds his own uniqueness to the mix. He’s the consummate outdoorsman, serious about his hunting with the knowledge to back it up. Slow to smile, he was the object of probably one of deer camp’s best practical jokes. Mike had taken a nice buck and brought it into camp with the adhesive tag around its antlers. Where he is from that’s the way they tagged them, but in our state they must be tagged around the leg. Dean told him the rule and that he better switch the tag to the leg or it could be illegal. Of course, this was next to impossible without tearing up the tag. Dean and I left to check our deer at the local fire station and set up a mock arrest of Mike for “mis-tagging” a deer. Although Dean and I weren’t there, those that were said the firemen played it perfectly. They even took a picture of a very serious looking Mike posed with his illegal deer thinking he was about to lose his hunting license, rifle and deer because he tagged his deer wrong. I’m sure Mike will find a way to get even.

Larry’s book still waiting to be finished.

The last member of our camp characters is a very special young man, my son Daron. I am so thankful that Jerry got me in as a member of deer camp many years ago. If he hadn’t, I’m not sure Daron would ever have gotten to take as many deer as he’s harvested over the years and especially wouldn’t have had the chance to take some of the quality bucks that now hang on his wall. Unlike most of us, he doesn’t drink, chew, smoke or cuss, but he sure enjoys being around all the deer camp characters and they all think the world of him. Deer camp has brought us closer together as father and son, and created memories that will last a lifetime.

I forgot to mention one camp character and that’s me. I’m the “old man” of deer camp, the one who cooks the annual opening morning breakfast and helps Dean with his “boil”. I’m the one who is content to harvest doe’s to help fill our quota. Most years I tag out as early as possible so I can use my ATV to help others get their deer out of the woods or help with deer drives. I look forward to deer camp every year. It is important to me to be with the rest of the deer camp characters. It’s more special for me because there are fewer deer camps left for me than the others.

Deer camps are not just about filling your deer tags. They’re about wood ducks whistling through the trees or the ka-honk of a goose high overhead. They’re about a wild turkey, a coyote or a bobcat happening by your secret hiding place. They’re about two fawns playing chase underneath your tree stand, squirrels rustling in the leaves, birds flittering through the tree tops, sunrises and sunsets. They’re about sitting around the campfire or the old wood stove and telling stories and jokes.

Most of all deer camp is about sharing these special moments in time with your fellow deer camp characters.  That’s when we wish we all had more time.

This story is a chapter in a book called “Seasons” Larry Whiteley has been working on for 20 years. Some day he swears he’s going to finish that book.

 

 

HELP FEED THOSE IN NEED THIS DEER SEASON

When I take my truck full of venison to the food pantry it is usually close to Thanksgiving and again near Christmas. At these special times of the year, it is a blessing to know the venison I am delivering is going to help someone in need. Please join me.

  • Donate All or Part of your Deer
  • 4,280 Hunters Donated 198,277 Pounds of Venison in 2016
  • SHARE THE HARVEST Program is Sponsored and Coordinated

By Larry Whiteley

There are thousands of struggling, needy people here in Missouri (and everywhere). Even with government assistance, it’s sometimes hard to have enough food to put on the table and feed their families. If you end up taking more deer than you can use or you’re trying to control your buck to doe ratio, here’s a great way you can help these people. Many states across the country have a program to help the hungry.

In Missouri, for example, the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) administer a program called “Share the Harvest.” It is available to deer hunters like you so you can donate any extra venison you might have to help feed those families through food banks and food pantries.

There were 4,280 hunters that donated 198,277 pounds of venison last year. That’s a lot of high-quality, naturally lean protein for people who don’t get near enough of that in their diet. Since the program started back in 1992, over 3.6 million pounds have been donated by deer hunters just like you.

To participate, you will need to take your deer to an approved meat processor and let them know how much venison you wish to donate. To find an approved processor in your area go to www.huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer/deer-share-harvest or call the MDC at 573-751-4115 or CFM at 573-634-2322. It can be as little as a couple of pounds of venison burger to as much as a whole deer.
The processor will then package the meat to be picked up by a sponsoring organization who in turn takes it to a designated food bank or food pantry in your area for distribution to those people who pass their guidelines for receiving the meat.

When you donate a whole deer, the cost of processing is your responsibility, but CFM reimburses processors a pre-determined amount for each whole deer donated when funds are available. That helps the processor to reduce his processing fee to you. Some processors have other money available from local groups so that processing fees are free or at a reduced cost. This program is usually for whole deer donations only.

Sponsors of this cost-reduction program are the Missouri Department of Conservation, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Missouri Chapter Whitetails Unlimited, Missouri Chapter Safari Club International, Missouri Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, Midway USA Inc., Missouri Deer Hunters Assoc., United Bow Hunters of Missouri and Missouri Food Banks Association as well as numerous local sponsors.

Volunteering to help local organizations is another way you can be involved. You simply donate your time and vehicle to pick up and deliver the venison to the designated distribution organization. I have been involved in both, donating deer to Share the Harvest and also delivering deer for Share the Harvest in southwest Missouri for over 20 years.

When I take my truck full of venison to the food pantry it is usually close to Thanksgiving and again near Christmas. At these special times of the year, it is a blessing to know the venison I am delivering is going to help someone in need.

To me this great program would not be possible without the generosity of Missouri deer hunters.

They spend a lot of time and money in pursuit of the white-tailed deer and then to turn around and donate all or part of their venison to those less fortunate than themselves is truly exceptional.

It’s #DeerWeek for 7-nites on your TV, through Oct. 21…Outdoor Channel & Sportsman Channel

  • Non-Stop Deer Action Starts at 7PM E.T. Each Nite
  • Get Educated with hosts Michael Waddell and Tom McMillan
  • Learn Hunting, Unique Recipes, Countless Tips

The world’s largest content provider of outdoor lifestyle programming (Outdoor Sportsman Group – OSG) is providing 7 consecutive nights of deer hunts for outdoor enthusiasts with “deer-centric” television from Sunday, October 15 at 7 p.m. ET through Saturday, October 21.

Michael Waddell offers tips, tricks and helps others learn more about the fun of the outdoors through deer hunting this week.

#DeerWeek will provide the best of deer hunting television show programming during prime-time from 7 p.m. to midnight ET each night.  Hosted by Michael Waddell and Tom McMillan”, this premier television event will allow viewers to experience non-stop deer action and incorporate educational information, unique recipes, hunting tips, and more through OSG’s print, digital and social media platforms.  The action will air on both Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel.

During every October, many hunters are in the woods during the day, at night they’ll want to flip on for tips and experts in the field with more strategy and deer action.  This week, hunters and viewers can do that with shows that canvas all of North America in search of big deer and lots of bucks.

Tom McMillan adds expertise and provides information for use in the woods for every deer hunter.

The Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel will include a mini-marathon featuring the best deer hunts, watch for these:

  • The Bone Collector
  • Luke Bryan on Buck Commander
  • The Drury Outdoors shows
  • The exciting premiere episode of Bowhunter
  • The best of MCMILLIAN with Tom McMillian filming nearly the entire episode
  • The premiere episode of North American Whitetail entitled: “Sweet Home Alabama”
  • …so much more

No matter if taken deer with a compound bow or rifle, recurve or slug gun, each episode airing during #DeerWeek was carefully curated to show the best cervid-centric moments.

“As we prepare for the fall hunting season, we are thrilled to be offering an entire week of prime-time uninterrupted deer content and special programming for our viewers,” Outdoor Sportsman Group President and CEO, Jim Liberatore said. “We are confident #DeerWeek will be fun, entertaining and informative. We look forward to growing this event in the years to come.”

For more information, visit www.deerweek.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #DeerWeek.

 

Quantum Gravity Fright, RISING MOON Hunting Night

  • Big Bucks, Acorns and Apples
  • Dreaming about Scent Control
  • Elevated Hunting Stands REQUIRE SAFETY AWARENESS
  • Prusik, Gravity, Your Whitetail Deer Hunting Future

By Forrest Fisher

Healthy bucks roamed near the field edges along the apple trees and oak woods, captivating my attention with scrapes and rubs.  Jim Monteleone Photo

The phrase “Whitetails Unlimited” is catchy if you are a deer hunter, especially a whitetail deer hunter.  It’s also the name of an organization that has more than 100,000 members because the hunting messages they share are effective, useful and are delivered from the experience of real hunters and field contributors.  There is more than beginner value.

Whitetails Unlimited Communications Director, Jeff Davis, was his usual self. Modest and humble, unassuming, friendly and confident, as he extemporaneously addressed more than 150 outdoor communicators at the opening luncheon of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) Annual Conference at the Sportsman’s Lodge, on the Lake-of-the-Woods in Baudette, Minnesota.

His voice was passionate, descriptive and implicit with experience from encounters with an army of ardent whitetail deer hunters.  Davis has met hundreds of hunters and shared in many their most exciting tales and hunter secrets.  Hunter’s trust this hunter-gentleman because not many questions are ever left unanswered, at least not until the next issue of their extensive quarterly conservation and hunting magazine.  Magazine issue content is an art and delivery science.

Jeff Davis, Whitetails Unlimited Communications Director, is modest, humble, unassuming and highly experienced.  Davis delivered the message of “Tree Stand Safety” to outdoor communicators at the 61st Annual Conference of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, held at Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake of the Woods in Baudette, Minnesota.  Forrest Fisher Photo

With a slight grin that emerged to also offer a note of truth and sadness, “Not every tale has a happy ending,” Davis said.  He postured his oncoming message from experience and history, with an element of approach intended to share and impart his high concern for hunter success and safety.  His audible expression was unmistakable and optimistic. He was delivering advice for hunting and addressing an eager and robust audience that was all ears.  We all felt comfortable to learn more.

As Davis continued, my mind drifted off. Was his smooth delivery hypnosis? Not sure. Was I bored? No, but my tummy was full from lunch. Like listening to a short sermon in church, my brain had transcended into an imaginary place and I was on a hunt. All the elements of what Davis had been talking about were in my dream. I think I drifted into dreamland for just a minute or two, but I clearly remember the details of my dream.

There was a succulent white oak tree forest with mounds of sweet acorns next to a row of apple trees where my trail cams had chronicled bucks rumbling antlers with each other in the previous weeks. There was a highly traveled rub line and it was near sunset in my aspiration.   A full moon had just started rising in the eastern sky, it had a tinge of orange color.  Scrapes every 25 yards were visible. There were the sounds of apples and acorns crunching in the distance from my tree stand about 95 yards downwind. Yes, I had audio, and many deer. Imagine such unlimited whitetails. I was in my place of reverie as a deer hunter.

As summer wanes, the bucks lose their velvet and seek safe resting spots in heavy cover for daytime vigils and the annual “doe watch” in wait for the upcoming rut cycle. Jim Monteleone Photo

My tree stand was situated where it was because I wanted to be safe about human scent dispersal.  There I was, sitting in a hanging tree stand elevated 20-feet, vertical access from a stick-ladder and feeling very happy and safe.  I knew this was a good spot.  It was so quiet, except for those inconsiderate munching deer chewing in the distance.

Sitting on my butt in my stand, full-body harness in place – I wear it every time, my bow was resting on my lap. The deer on this night had dispersed and had no interest for my grunt and bleat combinations. Probably a wind direction issue. The sun had disappeared and it was time to head back. Disappointed, I started to think about what to do next time.  I dropped my bow down on the lift-line, my backpack too.  Then I started down the ladder.  Oops!  My foot slips on the top step and I was suddenly airborne.  In a split second, I crashed hard into the ground and could not move.  I could not feel my arms or legs.  What happened I thought to myself?  I had been in my dream spot.  I started to grunt a bit from my perceived pain when my better half woke me up and said, “Hey Forrest, the speaker just called your name from the raffle.”

There were people clapping warmly. “Oh, I said, sorry honey, I must have dozed off.”

I got up and approached the speaker’s stand when Jeff Davis said, “You win a THE Safe-Line from MUDDY!  Congratulations!  Enjoy.”  Wow.  Thank goodness I was dreaming!  I was literally trembling as I walked back to my seat, the dream had been so real for a brief moment, then at the end, a nightmare.  I smiled, trying to hide my brief moment of fear from far away in dreamland.

When used with a full body harness (fall-arrest system), the MUDDY Safe-Line allows hunters climbing up or down to stay connected to safety and avoid a fall that could result in serious injury or death. (Photo Courtesy of GoMUDDY.com)

As I sat there in a semi-stupor, I realized that in the dream I had been so focused on the next hunt, that safely getting down from the tree came second.  My safety came second.  My life came second.  My safety and how important I was to my family was not even part of my thinking in the dream.  It was now.  So I took a step back to really think about it.  I knew that another force from far away must have been talking to me to even have this dream, or maybe that Jeff Davis was one of those magic-maker speakers where everyone can get up and talk like a chicken upon request.  You’ve seen the act.  I laughed to myself and grinned over to my wife who said, “You’re so lucky!”  No kidding, especially this time, I thought.

So I continued in my post-dream thought, how could this accident have been prevented?  We know how my safety was compromised because every solid hunter has thought about the next hunt at the end of a fruitless day.  We can lose our focus for safety during “thinking moments” like that.

A MUDDY Safe-Line for secure descent would have saved me from this dream accident.  Under $40 worth of gear (www.gomuddy.com), the same gear I had just won.  I felt connected to another source of energy for a second or two.  Sort of unreal.  For a moment, no kidding, I felt an angel must have been telling me that I need to be more aware of safety.  Thank you Lord.

To use the Safe-Line, you attach the line to the tree just above your tree stand with the loop knot provided.  You leave this rope in place now during hunting season.  The body harness Carabiner Clip latches right onto the Prusik knot loop of the Safe-Line – it comes with two Prusik slip knots (for a two-man stand), the Prusik loop slides down the Safe-Line as you proceed one step at a time and down you go.  Safely.  The bottom of the Safe-Line is then tied around the tree at ground level.  Going up or down on slippery steps wet from rain, snow or ice is no longer a safety concern.  The Prusik knot will go with you as you gently push it up or slide it down with you in either direction.  If you should drop quickly, it immediately locks into place, saving you from rapid descent, a fall and possible death.

Fall arrest systems are comprised of a full body harness such as these from Hunter Safety Systems and include a tree belt, lanyard, relief device and climbing belt. When used in conjunction with a “Safe-Line” and Prusik Loop Knots, hunters are protected from ever falling to injury during ascent or descent. Photo courtesy of www.hssvest.com.

Davis’s message from Whitetails Unlimited Magazine for the attending outdoor journalists visiting from across the country was TREE STAND SAFETY.

I think I got the message. In my case, Davis had help even he did not know about. No, I’m not superstitious, but I am listening to thoughts of safety much more now.  The dream honestly scared me.

My grandkids are just coming of age to hunt deer and the kids will be just like many of us in the outdoors, hunting from that one place that deer rarely see, an elevated tree stand.  Safety will be the first concern for each of us when we consider the future safety of our grandkids.

Write it down as a MUST-HAVE:

One (1) Safe-Line (MUDDY, www.gomuddy.com) for every tree stand and one (1) full-body harness (HUNTER SAFETY SYSTEM, www.hssvest.com) for every hunter in your party. 

Then and only then, can you go up and down from your elevated tree stand in total safety while thinking about the strategy for the exciting day ahead, or for the strategy on that next deer hunt.  I had a lucky dream, then a lucky raffle.  Don’t you be unlucky by choice.  Conquer safety. Make it habit. Start now.

Pass it on. Please.

About Whitetails Unlimited: Founded in 1982, Whitetails Unlimited is a national nonprofit conservation organization that has remained true to its mission, making great strides in the field of conservation. We have gained the reputation of being the nation’s premier organization dedicating our resources to the betterment of the white-tailed deer and its environment.  On behalf of our 105,000 plus members, we welcome you to browse our site and learn more about WTU, our past accomplishments, and the organization’s commitment to caring for our priceless renewable natural resources. We appreciate your interest in Whitetails Unlimited and hope that after reviewing our site, you will consider joining the whitetail team “Working for an American Tradition.”  The Whitetails Unlimited quarterly magazine (60-80 pages, 4 times per year) is not available on newsstands, only through membership.

New Rear-Deploying, SlipCam, “Trypan” Broadhead from RAGE

  • 2+ inch Cut, thickest blades ever
  • Low flight drag, high accuracy
  • Titanium blades, lightweight, tough, lethal

By Forrest Fisher

Last week, I had the pleasure to spend some time with a few outdoor friends that understand archery hunting, arrow flight, broadhead efficiency and the needs that many hunters have for when they hunt big game: penetration and durability.  Talking with product experts, Karen Lutto and Mike Nischalke, I cited my proud success history using Rage broadheads in the past, but I asked if Rage was working on anything new for the future, not that they needed to.  Indeed, they had been.

How does a company improve upon a design that has proven as wildly successful and immensely popular as the Rage Hypodermic?

Rage engineers answered that question with a new broadhead that boasts ridiculous strength, huge slap-cuts on entry and a sweptback blade angle for unprecedented penetration.  They named it the “Trypan.”

Trypanophobia is the fear of needles.  The new 100-grain Hypodermic “Trypan” is just about the scariest broadhead that Rage has ever introduced to the hunting woods.  With its needle-like, streamlined titanium ferrule and 2-inch cutting diameter, the “Trypan” creates a slap-cut entry hole well in excess of 2.5 inches.  Afterward, the Trypan’s .039-inch-thick razor-sharp stainless steel blades settle into a sweptback blade-angle configuration.  These are the heaviest and thickest blades from Rage so far, hence, they are made from super-light, super-tough titanium alloy.  Even though the blades are monstrous once deployed, they create only a 3/4-diameter in-flight profile.  The result is low aerodynamic drag in flight.

In summary, check out these features:

  • 100 Grain, 2″ Cutting Diameter, 3-Pack
  • Super Swept-Back Blade Design w/Trypan-specific SHOCK COLLAR
  • .039 Blade Thickness Titanium Streamlined Ferrule

The grey polymer Trypan-specific Shock Collar™ provides exceptional blade retention and consistently reliable blade deployment. The one-time use Shock Collars are indexed to notches in the Trypan’s titanium ferrule, so they never can be put on incorrectly.

The new Rage Hypodermic Trypan comes in a three-pack with a practice tip, and it is available at retailers nationwide and conveniently online at www.ragebroadheads.com.  I stopped into Cabela’s last night and they are in the $50 range retail.

I coined a new word after one use in the woods, these new Trypan broadheads are “Out-Rageous.” They are also effective, deadly, tough, lightweight and if you are a good shot, they are surgical.

Try ‘em.

Rage Broadheads is the world’s number-one manufacturer of expandable broadheads. It also manufactures quivers and accessories. A FeraDyne Outdoors brand, Rage is headquartered at 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; call 866-387-9307; or visit www.ragebroadheads.com.

CWD Testing More Important NOW Than Ever

  • MDC will conduct mandatory CWD sampling in 25 counties Nov. 11 and 12.
  • Check the fall deer and turkey booklet to see if your county is included.
  • Hunters can get deer tested for free throughout archery and firearms deer seasons.

By Jim Low

The thrills of deer hunting – not to mention the pleasure of eating venison, are worth taking precautions to protect.  Jim Low Photo

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) needs help from hunters to keep the deadly deer disease called chronic wasting disease (CWD) from spreading to more deer in more areas of Missouri. In light of recent developments, hunters might want to take advantage of free testing for personal reasons, too.
MDC will conduct mandatory CWD sampling of hunter-harvested deer in 25 counties during the opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season, Nov. 11 and 12. Counties included in this year’s sampling effort are: Adair, Barry, Benton, Cedar, Cole, Crawford, Dade, Franklin, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Moniteau, Ozark, Polk, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington. These counties comprise Missouri’s CWD Management Zone. It includes counties where MDC conducted mandatory CWD testing last year, plus St. Clair County, where a new outbreak was detected earlier this year, and five adjacent counties.

Concerns about possible exposure to CWD can be addressed by taking advantage of free testing. Jim Low Photo

MDC also has added four counties along the Arkansas border in southwest Missouri to the CWD Management Zone. CWD has not been detected in any of these counties yet, but a serious outbreak of the fatal deer disease just across the border is cause for extra vigilance there.
Hunters who harvest deer in these 25 counties during opening weekend must present their harvested deer at one of the Department’s 56 CWD sampling stations so staff can collect tissue samples to test the animals for CWD. You can find a list of sampling stations at www.mdc.mo.gov/cwd, or in the 2017 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations booklet, which is available wherever hunting permits are sold.
In addition to the mandatory testing, MDC offers free testing for hunters who wants their deer checked for CWD. This is particularly important considering recent news about the susceptibility of some monkeys to the brain-wasting disease.
In a study led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, macaques that were fed venison from CWD-infected deer developed the disease. The researchers noted that there still is no known case of CWD affecting humans. However, the apparent susceptibility of physiologically similar primates led them to conclude that, “the most prudent approach is to consider that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”
I am not an alarmist person by nature, and I am not going to let the small risk of shooting a CWD infected deer or the equally small risk of contracting CWD from eating infected meat, deprive me of a sport that I love and the pleasure of eating venison. However, with free testing available, I certainly will take every deer I kill to one of the eight MDC offices and 55 taxidermists around the state who are participating in the voluntary CWD sampling program. I put venison in the freezer, labeled with the date I shot the deer, and wait for test results before consuming it. That just seems sensible to me.
I also do what I can to avoid spreading CWD. For years, I put corn around my trail cameras to get better deer pictures. I stopped several years ago, when it became clear that anything that unnaturally concentrates deer and increases the potential for CWD transmission. I stopped putting out salt licks and mineral blocks for the same reason. The prions that cause CWD are shed in deer urine, so I also have stopped using urine-based deer lures.

Baiting the area around trail cameras brings deer up close, but it also increases the likelihood of disease transmission.  Jim Low Photo

After field-dressing deer, I usually take them home and process them myself. In the past, I got rid of carcass by putting them in the woods behind our house and letting scavengers dispose of them. No more. Now I put them in heavy trash bags and send them to the landfill, just in case they had CWD. If you take your deer to a commercial processor, you’re covered. In Missouri, they are required to send all their carcasses to approved landfills.
MDC’s regulation guide has more ideas for reducing the spread of CWD, along with tips for making the sampling process quicker and easier.
-end-

Enjoy MISSOURI’S GREAT OUTDOORS this September

  • Hike and Explore the Deer Trails
  • Hang Your Tree Stands
  • Enjoy Watching the Bird Migrations
  • Fall is On-The-Way
Acorns are not the only thing you’ll find walking the September trails.

By Larry Whitely

August has been unusually mild and wonderfully cool and comfortable here in Missouri.  Some mornings call for a light jacket and pants instead of shorts and t-shirt.  It has felt more like late September or early October.  I didn’t hear anyone complain about the weather.

Most years, September can still be hot, muggy and buggy here in Missouri, but this year the weatherman is telling us to continue to expect even cooler weather than we had in August.  Here in southwest Missouri they are even predicting some nights in the 40s.  Lake water temperatures have already dropped into the low 70s in some places.

After Labor Day the summer crowds will be gone from our local lakes and rivers, and the waters will be quieter and more enjoyable.  Because of this cooler weather, fish are starting to become more active and fattening up for the long winter months ahead.  It’s a great time to stock the freezer with fish to enjoy on the cold days to come.

Mornings are beginning to chill early this year.

If you don’t fish, it’s a great time to paddle around the lake or go float a river.  Maybe stop for a rest on the bank or gravel bar and build a campfire to sit around to relax and enjoy the flickering flames.

The cooler weather has also got the squirrels busy storing nuts sooner than usual.  The whitetail deer coats are changing from reddish brown to gray.

If you’re a hunter it’s time to get ready or go hunting.  Dove hunting opened September 1st and teal season opens September 9th.  

A handful of delight for our wildlife abounds this year.

Deer and turkey archery season opens September 15th.  Firearms turkey goes from October 1st to the 31st.  If you’re one of the lucky ones that head west to hunt, the majestic elk are waiting, so are the mule deer and pronghorn antelope.

This cooler weather will also make all your preparations for the hunting seasons a lot more tolerable than usual too.  Now you can make sure you can get those deer stands up and blinds set, get in more bow practice, make sure your rifle or shotgun is properly sighted, and get all your gear inventoried and ready.

If you are not a hunter but love to camp don’t put away your camping gear yet.  Campgrounds are a lot less crowded than summer days.  Sometimes you may even have the whole place to yourself.

The cooler September weather this year is also great for hiking the multitude of trails Missouri has to offer so get out there and enjoy. There’s no better way to get the exercise we all need and enjoy nature’s beauty at the same time.

Birds tell us that fall is at hand long before our human senses detect it. At wetlands and marshes throughout the state, shorebirds are already beginning to head to more exotic places than here.

Bird watching trips might offer the opportunity to see migratory birds that you don’t normally see at any other time of year in Missouri.

A cool and foggy September morning.

The bug-eating Purple Martin’s are growing restless and some are already bound for their winter home in Brazil.  Hummingbird feeders are suddenly abuzz with hummers energizing for their long flight south.

Other winged creatures sensing the cooler weather are also on the move.  Bats flutter and dive through the early night sky consuming the last of the insect crop.  What few Monarch butterflies we still get coming through Missouri are getting ready to begin their incredible journey to Mexico or have already left.

Leaves are turning on the Dogwood trees.

The buckeye tree has already lost most of its leaves, but a few buckeyes might still cling to the bare branches.  I was always told a buckeye in your pocket brings you good luck.  Maybe I need to make sure I have one in my pocket for deer season.

Papaw and persimmon trees have fruited and will soon be ripening for the enjoyment of the wildlife, and those of us humans who still enjoy them too.  Acorns are also falling to the ground, much to the delight of the squirrels, chipmunks, deer, turkey and other critters. 

The leaves of poison ivy and Virginia Creeper vines have begun to turn a crimson red.  So have the leaves of our Missouri State tree, the Dogwood.  The rest of the trees will soon follow with their special colors to give us the glorious fall kaleidoscope of colors that awaits us in October.

All of these are signs that summer is almost gone and come September 22nd it officially is.  Now, let’s just hope the weatherman’s predictions are accurate and we can get out in this year’s cooler September weather and enjoy Missouri’s great outdoors.

  

Tru-Fire® Introduces the Bulldog Foldback Buckle Release

Made in the USA, Tru-Fire, has introduced the single-jaw Bulldog Foldback™ Buckle strap-style archery release. It’s time to hunt!

SUPERIOR, Wis.. (Aug. 15, 2017) — Tru-Fire, the leading brand for mechanical archery releases, has introduced the single-jaw Bulldog Foldback™ Buckle strap-style archery release.  Like all Tru-Fire releases, the new Bulldog is made in the USA, and it features several patented Tru-Fire innovations and a wide range of adjustments.  It also fits both left- and right-handed archers.

The Bulldog’s hardened-steel single jaw provides versatility and allows it to be used on aluminum loops as well as string loops.  Its ultra-smooth roller jaw is spring-loaded and works in unison with the trigger, so it automatically returns to the closed position when the trigger is released.  The trigger travel is adjustable via a single Allen screw at the trigger’s base.  The compact, machined-aluminum head is clear anodized for a corrosion-resistant natural finish, and it is length adjustable.

The Bulldog’s Foldback Buckle strap is comprised of high-strength nylon webbing sandwiched between two layers of felt for maximum comfort and sound absorption.  A TrapTab™ at the end of the elastic portion of the strap and a clip integrated to the strap prevents it from completely opening when putting it on or taking it off.  The patented Foldback Ring design allows the release’s head to be easily flipped back 180-degrees, where it stays in position against the buckle strap and tight to the archer’s arm to prevent the head from hitting anything while moving around the stand.

The head can be flipped forward in an instant to engage the string loop.

The new Tru-Fire Bulldog release is available at retailers nationwide and conveniently online at www.trufire.com for a suggested retail price of $69.99.

About Tru-Fire:  Headquartered in Superior, Wis., Tru-Fire is the world’s largest manufacturer of bowhunting releases, and all of its products are proudly made in the U.S.A. Every Tru-Fire release is designed to provide years of trouble-free use and dependability. Before any new design can wear the Tru-Fire logo, it is tested extensively on the company’s exclusively designed pneumatic release tester that can automatically load the release to 100 lbs. for 5,000 consecutive pulls, then an additional 100 pulls at a staggering 200 pounds. The release is then live fired 2,000 times to evaluate component fatigue and string loop wear. All of this testing proves that your Tru-Fire release will be absolutely reliable the moment you need it most. For more information on the company or its products, write to: Tru-Fire, 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; call 800-282-4868 or visit www.trufire.com. Like Tru-Fire on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TruFire.

Mepps Squirrel Tail Recycling Program

Antigo, WI – Aug. 24, 2017 – Mepps® continues to ask hunters to save their squirrel tails. The tails are used for their hand-tied, dressed hooks of their world-famous, fish-catching lures. They’ve been recycling squirrel tails for over half-a-century.

“Squirrels are good eating and we can reuse their tails for making the world’s #1 lure,” explains Mepps® Communications Director, Josh Schwartz. “Consider harvesting squirrels for the 2016 hunting season.”

Mepps buys fox, black, grey and red squirrel tails and will pay up to 26 cents each for tails, depending on quality and quantity. Plus, the cash value is doubled if the tails are traded for Mepps lures.

Schwartz reminds everyone, “We do not advocate harvesting of squirrels solely for their tails.”

For details on the Squirrel Tail Program, either visit our web site www.mepps.com/squirrels or call 800-713-3474.

For additional information contact:
Josh Schwartz
715.623.7556
jschwartz@mepps.com

 

Montana Elk Habitat Conserved, Opened to Public Access

For video and details, please visit: https://youtu.be/cEXi4RB8lsc.   Photo Credit: RMEF

MISSOULA, Mont. – Aug 22, 2017 —A key wildlife landscape previously threatened by subdivision in northwest Montana is now permanently protected and in the public’s hands thanks to a collaborative effort between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a conservation-minded family and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

“This property lies within the popular Holland Lake recreational area of the scenic Swan Valley and there was some pressure to develop it,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “We appreciate the landowners for recognizing the wildlife values of the land and reaching out to us to help conserve it.”

The 640-acre parcel offers important summer and winter habitat for elk and whitetail deer. It is also provides key habitat for grizzly bears, Canada lynx and a vast array of other wildlife. Additionally, it contains riparian habitat via springs and a chain of wetland ponds that feed a tributary of Holland Creek.

Located about 65 miles north of Missoula, the property lies west of the Swan Mountain Range and is nestled between the Bob Marshall Wilderness to the east and Mission Mountain Wilderness to the west. It was previously an inholding within the Flathead National Forest but thanks to its conveyance, it now falls under the ownership umbrella of the USFS and belongs to all citizens.

”This acquisition will improve public land access, and help to preserve the recreation setting and valuable wildlife habitat in the popular Holland Lake area,” said Rich Kehr, Swan Lake district ranger.

The Holland Lake project is one of the first to receive 2017 funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. To see the video with details of this area, please visit: https://youtu.be/cEXi4RB8lsc.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 967 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Montana with a combined value of more than $160.2 million. These projects protected or enhanced 818,826 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 289,532 acres.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. Take action: join and/or donate.

 

The GREATEST Scent-Control Whitetail Apparel Ever Made

  • Gain the ScentLok Advantage with Full Season Taktix™ 
  • Every Year We Learn from Successful Hunters: They admit, CONCEALING Human Odor is at Top of List
  • We Found this Affordable, Comfortable, Concealable

Muskegon, MI (August 14, 2017) – Fooling a deer’s eyes and ears can be relatively easy.  Stealth and woodsmanship play critical roles, as does modern camouflage.  His nose, on the other hand, takes more, a lot more.

The most successful hunters employ comprehensive scent-control regimens and follow them with great discipline. Involving more than just sprays and scent-control clothing, an effective scent-control regimen like the ScentLok Seven helps hunters like John Eberhart, from Michigan, experience consistent success.

Eberhart is a whitetail bow-hunting guru and says he has never owned, leased, hunted a relative’s property, or ever paid a dime to hunt anywhere.  Eberhart has never hunted in a managed area, over a food plot, or over bait.  He exclusively hunts state, federal, and free walk-on properties, and knocks on doors for free permission to hunt private properties in a state with some of the most pressured whitetails found anywhere.  Over 53 hunting seasons – the last 20 in ScentLok clothing – Eberhart has connected with 30 Michigan record book bucks.

Other hunters like Don and Kandi Kisky are equally passionate about defeating the four common types of odors that kill hunts. The self-proclaimed Whitetail Freaks harvest massive mature whitetails year after year through meticulous property management, endless scouting and the ScentLok advantage.

HOW MUCH IS YOUR HUNTING CLOTHING HELPING YOU?

In today’s virtual sea of hunting clothing, trendy camouflage only gets a hunter so far.  The new ScentLok Full Season Taktix™ Jacket and Pant for men and women goes beyond comfort and aesthetics.  It is the only hunting apparel to combine three unique performance attributes that help hunters stay comfortable while allowing their quarry to get closer them without scent detection than ever before.

Full Season Taktix features proven Carbon Alloy™ odor adsorption to neutralize the three pillars of human odor.  Next, it utilizes a superhydrophobic NeverWet™ treatment that permanently protects hunters from water and rain without stiff and noisy waterproof membranes.  Inside, Taktix employs advanced internal moisture wicking to keep hunters dry and comfortable.

Full Season Taktix Jacket

In addition to its trifecta of unique features, ScentLok upped the ante with Full Season Taktix to deliver additional touches any whitetail hunter will appreciate.

  • The outer micro tricot fabric is deadly quiet.
  • The low-bulk wrists will not interfere with a bow hunter’s release.
  • The exterior look is a blend of overlay color panels.
  • There are 13 easy-access pockets.
  • There is also a harness opening to keep stinky fall restraint gear enveloped inside the jacket’s Carbon AlloyTM barrier.

Better whitetail-hunting clothing simply does not exist.  This extraordinary new apparel is priced for any hunter at just $149 per piece, is available in four of today’s top camo patterns, and also comes in women’s sizes XS – 2XL and men’s sizes S – 3XL.

Over the course of 25 years in business, ScentLok hunting apparel has been proven deadly in the field by some of the world’s most dedicated hunters.  Ask and receive more from your hunting clothing.  Start hunting with the ScentLok advantage.  See the full line of proven ScentLok products.

About ScentLok: ScentLok Technologies, headquartered in Muskegon, MI, USA, is a leading worldwide designer, marketer and distributor of performance, hunting and casual odor-controlling apparel, footwear and equipment. Founded in 1992 on scientific principles, ScentLok is the only company with access to all scent-controlling technologies including their patented activated carbon technology, which is consistently proven to outperform other technologies tested. ScentLok is a pioneer in the hunting industry, which many credit with creating a market based on the elimination of odors to get closer to big game.

New York Announces Comprehensive Plan to Minimize Risk of Chronic Wasting Disease to Wild Deer & Moose Herds

  • Public Comments on the Draft Plan Accepted Through September 1
  • Goal: Protect Wild Whitetail Deer, Moose and Captive Elk and Other Species
  • New York is Leading Way to Protect Wildlife and Hunter Resources
Resident and non-resident hunters may reap the resource of GIANT whitetail deer harvest, and deer of any size, for decades to come as a result of this conservative objective by NYSDEC.  Forrest Fisher Photo

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the release of a draft New York State Interagency CWD Risk Minimization Plan for public comment. The plan describes proposed regulatory changes and actions that DEC will take to minimize the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) entering or spreading in New York and was designed to protect both wild white-tailed deer and moose, as well as captive cervids including deer and elk held at enclosed facilities.

DEC biologists worked with New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets veterinarians and wildlife health experts at Cornell University to craft a comprehensive set of steps that are the most advanced CWD prevention strategies in the nation.

“New York is leading the way in protecting our valuable deer and moose herds,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Not only does this horrible disease kill animals slowly, but wild white-tailed deer hunting represents a $1.5 billion industry in the state. Our CWD Risk Minimization Plan is in the best interest of all of us who care about wildlife and especially about the health of our wild white-tail deer herd. Governor Cuomo’s commitment to high-quality hunting opportunities in New York also supports our taking action now to prevent a serious problem down the road.”

Disease prevention is the only cost-effective way to keep CWD out of New York. Together with the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York is using cutting-edge science and common sense to ensure that everything possible is done to protect the state’s wild deer and moose and captive deer and elk herds from CWD.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Department’s veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians were responsible for the early detection of New York’s only CWD incident and played critical roles in the response to the discovery of CWD in 2005. Our staff continue to work hard to control the risk of this serious disease and maintain our early detection system. This plan will further support these efforts to protect our wildlife.”

CWD, an always fatal brain disease found in species of the deer family, was discovered in Oneida County wild and captive white-tailed deer in 2005. More than 47,000 deer have been tested statewide since 2002, and there has been no reoccurrence of the disease since 2005. New York is the only state to have eliminated CWD once it was found in wild populations. In North America, CWD has been found in 24 states and two Canadian provinces including neighboring Pennsylvania and Ohio.

This nice 8-Point buck was taken by Dieter Voss in Erie County, New York., on the opening day of the season at high noon. Such wild whitetail resources are the intended GOAL to SAVE” for future hunters through the new directive. Forrest Fisher Photo

CWD was first identified in Colorado in 1967 and is caused by infectious prions, which are misfolded proteins that cannot be broken down by the body’s normal processes. They cause holes to form in the brain. Prions are found in deer parts and products including urine and feces; they can remain infectious in soil for years and even be taken up into plant tissues. CWD is in the same family of diseases, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, as “mad cow” disease in cattle. Millions of cattle were destroyed because of mad cow disease in England and Europe in the 1990s and the disease also caused a fatal brain condition in some humans that ate contaminated beef products. Although there have been no known cases of CWD in humans, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that no one knowingly eat CWD-positive venison.

The proposed plan would streamline operations between DEC and the State Department of Agriculture and strengthen the state’s regulations to prevent introduction of CWD. Some examples of the proposed changes include:

  • Prohibit the importation of certain parts from any CWD-susceptible cervid taken outside of New York. Require that these animals be deboned or quartered and only the meat, raw hide or cape, and cleaned body parts, such as skull cap, antlers, jaws, and teeth, or finished taxidermy mounts be allowed for import into the state.
  • Prohibit the retail sale, possession, use, and distribution of deer or elk urine and any products from CWD-susceptible animals that may contain prions, including glands, or other excreted material while allowing New York captive cervid facilities to continue to export deer urine outside of New York State.
  • Maintain and reinforce the prohibition on the feeding of wild deer and moose in New York State.
  • Provide DEC Division of Law Enforcement the necessary authority to enforce Department of Agriculture and Market’s CWD regulations.
  • Explore possible penalties or charges to defray costs associated with the removal of escaped cervids from the environment or the response to disease outbreaks.
  • Require all taxidermists and deer processors (people who butcher deer for hire) to dispose of cervid waste and waste byproducts in compliance with 6 NYCRR Part 360, such as in a municipal landfill.
  • Promotion of improved fencing methods for captive cervids to further prevent contact with wild deer or moose.
  • Partner with the State Department of Agriculture and Markets to enhance captive cervid testing while continuing DEC’s rigorous surveillance testing in hunter-harvested deer.
  • Improve record keeping and data sharing between departments through joint inspections of captive cervid facilities, electronic reporting, and animal marking.
  • Improve handling requirements, record keeping, and disease testing of wild white-tailed deer temporarily held in captivity for wildlife rehabilitation.
  • Develop a communication plan and strategy to re-engage stakeholders, including captive cervid owners and the public, in CWD risk minimization measures and updates on CWD research.

The New York State Interagency CWD Risk Minimization Plan has had extensive outreach and vetting by sporting groups in the state to address the concerns of myriad stakeholders while maintaining the strength of purpose to protect the public and the environment. The plan updates reporting requirements, improves communication to stakeholders, and simplifies regulations to reduce confusion while protecting our natural resources.

The draft plan is available for public review on the DEC website. Written comments on the draft plan will be accepted through September 1, 2017. Comments can be submitted by e-mail (wildlife@dec.ny.gov, subject: “CWD Plan”) or by writing to NYSDEC, Bureau of Wildlife, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.

New Speed-Load Browning Tactical Knife

  • Handy hand-hold knife handle
  • Four blade inserts
  • Any common utility knife blade will fit  as a replacement blade!
  • Priced under $40

A Speed Load Tactical model knife has been introduced by Browning for 2017.  The new knife features a folding liner lock blade with four replaceable 420J2 stainless steel razor blade inserts.  The four inserts include one partially serrated drop point, one modified tanto, one modified sheepsfoot and one standard utility blade.  

A handy feature of the Speed Load Tactical knife is that it will accept any replacement blade for a common utility knife, easily purchased at most hardware stores.

The handle is sculpted black G-10 scales with anti-skid grooves on rear of handle. The knife also features a steel pocket clip, thumb stud and rugged flapped nylon belt sheath with polymer hard case insert for storing extra blades.

Overall length is 7-5/8” and blade length is 3-1/4”. Suggested Retail, $39.99.

For more information on Browning products, please visit the website at www.browning.com.

Show Me the Grouse!

  • Part 2 of 2
  • Missouri hasn’t given up on this native game bird.
  • Grouse need old and young forest to thrive and that means cutting trees.

By Jim Low

Thrup! Thrup-thrup! Thrup-thrup, thrup-thrup-thrupthrupthrupthrupthrup!!!

Ruffed Grouse Drumming – The sound of a ruffed grouse drumming to attract a mate has been absent from most of Missouri for the better part of a century. The Missouri Department of Conservation hopes to change that. Jim Low Photo

Goose bumps roughened my arms and a chill crept up my spine.  I continued to listen to what could have been someone trying to start a balky pickup truck on a distant hilltop.  But it wasn’t a pickup, and it wasn’t in the distance.

A scant 100 yards uphill from where I sat in the growing dawn, a handsome brown and black bird strutted atop a fallen tree trunk.  Every couple of minutes, he stopped, threw out his chest and beat his wings to a percussive crescendo, hoping to attract the attention of a mate.  It was thrilling evidence that the ruffed grouse was back in the Ozarks.

This was in the 1980s, and although grouse restoration was new to me, it was anything but new to Missouri.  The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) had been trying to bring back this native game bird since the 1940s, but in the last quarter of the 20th century, MDC made a strong effort to re-establish the species in the Show-Me State, bringing in cocks and hens from the Upper Midwest.  They were released in the central Ozarks, north-central and east-central Missouri.  By the mid-1990s, more than 4,500 grouse had been released in areas thought to have the combination of old, young and middle-aged forest that grouse need to thrive.

Initial results were encouraging.

The birds seemed to be multiplying.  The MDC eventually approved a limited grouse hunting season and expanded it in the late 1980s, but then, what once seemed success gradually turned to failure.  In Missouri, as in other states at the southern edge of the species range, grouse numbers declined.  Acting on advice from hunters and biologists alike, the Conservation Commission closed Missouri’s grouse season in 2010.  Lack of suitable habitat was cited as the cause of the decline.

“Ruffed grouse need a mosaic of old and young forests to prosper,” said MDC Resource Scientist Jason Isabelle.  “They need areas where timber harvests or storms have removed or killed all the trees, creating early-successional forest habitat.  They just can’t survive without scattered areas of disturbance in a larger forest setting.  Over the course of the last several decades, the amount of young forest habitat has declined substantially throughout the southern portion of the ruffed grouse’s range.”

Small remnant pockets of grouse survived in a few of the original restoration areas, including the wooded hills just north of the Missouri River in east-central Missouri.

When the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation (QUWF) persuaded MDC to revisit the idea of grouse restoration, their attention turned to this area.  Working with QUWF and the USDA Forest Service, MDC conducted an analysis of habitat in the river hills region in Callaway, Montgomery and Warren counties.

One of the things the River Hills Conservation Opportunity Area has going for it, in terms of grouse habitat, is several Conservation Areas (CAs) totaling more than 20,000 acres.  Using cutting-edge technology, MDC was able to quantify habitat variables on this large acreage at a level of detail that had never been possible before.

Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) was the key.  LIDAR uses airborne lasers and global positioning system (GPS) technology to identify vegetation type and height and map its extent.  This, along with ground surveys of remnant populations, showed what habitat the birds were using, and enabled MDC to focus on producing more of it.  That work will take place on the Grouse Focus Area consisting of Little Lost Creek and Daniel Boone CAs, and on nearby private land included in the larger Grouse Emphasis Area.  MDC will provide assistance to landowners who are interested in creating grouse habitat on their property.

Isabelle and other MDC biologists concluded that a renewed reintroduction program in the River Hills area was not likely to succeed with habit that existed there in 2013.  However, they believed that grouse restoration could take hold at Little Lost Creek and Daniel Boone CAs if they could increase the amount of high-quality grouse habitat there by 20 to 25 percent.  With that goal in mind, MDC set out to create the conditions needed to bring grouse – and eventually grouse hunting – back to Missouri.

MDC has long understood that small, even-age timber harvests create conditions critical to the survival of a wide range of wildlife that depends on “edge” habitat.  Species from wild turkeys and songbirds to chipmunks and lizards thrive in the wake of such “even-age” timber harvests, as lush, diverse vegetation springs up.  Grouse will use regenerating acreage for as long as 25 years following an even-age harvest.  However, usage falls off sharply beyond 15 years.

Some people deplore even-age harvests as “clearcutting.” But decades of experience and a growing body of scientific evidence supports the position that carefully regulated small-scale timber harvests can enhance wildlife diversity without damaging soils or water quality.  The eco-friendly, 10- to 50-acre even-age harvests employed by MDC to enhance wildlife habitat today are very different from the rapacious denuding of hundreds of thousands of acres that devastated the Ozarks at the turn of the 20th century.

MDC has been working to create grouse habitat – hardwood forest regeneration sites – on Little Lost Creek and Daniel Boone CAs since 2015.  At their meeting last month, the Conservation Commission received a report from Isabelle outlining the next steps on Missouri’s renewed grouse restoration program.  By the years 2020 and 2026, Isabelle expects the combined efforts of government agencies and private cooperators to increase the amount of high-quality grouse habitat in the River Hills Focus Area by 23 and 27 percent, respectively.

The plan outlined by Isabelle calls for 120 grouse from donor states in September and October of 2019 and 2020.  Twenty grouse will go to each of three sites on Little Lost Creek CA and three on Daniel Boone CA.  After that, MDC will track the transplanted birds’ progress with roadside surveys of drumming grouse each spring.  If all goes well, these two CAs will become the source for grouse expansion into habitat on surrounding public and private land.

Most Missourians alive today have never heard the thrumming serenade of a ruffed grouse cock.  If MDC and its partners succeed, that could change in our lifetime.  To learn more about how MDC intends to reach that goal, check out the management plan for Little Lost Creek CA.

-end-

Learn Elk Hunting: Archery Details, Step-by-Step

Bugle Magazine is a hunter’s bi-monthly resource package, with tips, advice, gear know-how and humble stories from successful experts. Photo Courtesy of RMEF

By Forrest Fisher

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) has gone beyond the norm to help people everywhere learn more about conservation and hunting, and why hunting is so important to conservation.

Just having returned from a visit to Medora, North Dakota, and the National Park that Teddy Roosevelt created there, I am sure that our late President Roosevelt would be so very proud of the dedicated folks at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

I joined RMEF this past year and keep asking myself why I took so long to find RMEF, but at least now, I’m a member and their BUGLE magazine is not just a magazine, it is a learning tool.  In this latest issue (Jul/Aug 2017) of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation BUGLE, story author – Kurt Cox,  shares intimate, in-depth details of those many things a first-time archery elk hunter might be wondering about.  Veteran hunters too, can learn from Kurt’s tales of hands-on truth in easy-to-read lessons and descriptions.

He describes his manner of calling, his movement in trailing an Elk for a shot opportunity and how he survived through his consumption of spring water, wild berry picking and frosty overnight chills. All this amidst the wonder of the visual expanse of mountain peaks, dark timber and an internal impulse to use cow calls. All hunters can learn from his shared experiences in this story.

Cox shares his hope and wonder, all the while looking for that perfect spot that he might send his arrow and put some meat in the family freezer.  Then after much effort, significant effort, there is a cow, then a bull, then an arrow shot and a score.  We learn about ethics here too, since Cox takes a second arrow shot and a third too.  There is explanation for the harvest in this manner, clarification that hunters country-wide need to know more about.

Check out this story, then read much more in this ARCHERY ISSUE of BUGLE Magazine, in the nearly 40-page special edition section.  Learn about cows and bulls, elk habits, use of camo, scent, sound, the excitement, the right gear, making the right noises, the reality of the experience, and perhaps you will find in you, like me, the inspiration to travel thousands of miles to hunt an elk.

Hunting for elk is an escape for some, but it is an inspiration for all hunters.

The mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to insure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.  I came late to embrace this RMEF group – I’m from the east, my poor excuse, but I’m here to pass the word to all of my hunter friends, especially bowhunter colleagues, to join up with RMEF and start the complete learning of how to better yourself for your next hunt.

What you learn from the BUGLE magazine will help make you a better hunter every time you step into the world of the woods.

Visit www.rmef.org and sign up soon.  After just one or two issues, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  Reading this magazine is an adventure in learning.  Don’t delay. Remember, hunting is conservation.

 

Aldo Leopold would say, “START GROUSING!”

  • The ruffed grouse has had a long run of bad luck in Missouri, but time is still turning.
  • The father of modern wildlife management spent time here documenting the bird’s decline.
A hardbound copy of Leopold’s grouse report occupies a reverential place on my bookshelf, thanks to my alert and indulgent wife who spied it in an antique shop. Jim Low Photo

By Jim Low

In 1886, legendary trap shooter A.H. Bogardus reported shooting 50 ruffed grouse as a diversion, while spending most of his time chasing turkeys in Clinton County, north of Kansas City.  In 1918, an observer reported seeing 30 “partridges” a day in Oregon County in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks.

The next year, he could find none.  The story was much the same in other parts of the north-central United States, as documented by no less an authority than Aldo Leopold.

The man who would become the father of scientific wildlife management spent part of 1928 and 1929 crisscrossing a huge triangular area defined by Ohio, Minnesota and Missouri.  He focused on the current and historic abundance of bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbits, ringneck pheasants, prairie chickens, wild turkeys, waterfowl and white-tailed deer.  His sources included direct observation, popular hunting literature and interviews with hunters and landowners.  The resulting Game Survey of the North Central States was commissioned by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute.  It was an early example of how hunting and the industry that supported it would put up the cash to make conservation a reality.

A hardbound copy of Leopold’s report occupies a reverential place on my bookshelf, thanks to my alert and indulgent wife who spied it in an antique shop.  For the princely sum of $15, I acquired a window into conservation history.  I had occasion to take it down today after reading through a report by Jason Isabelle, a resource scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The report was intended to update the Missouri Conservation Commission on a collaboration with the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation.  The report documents Missouri’s stubborn refusal to give up on a magnificent game bird that has continued to hold a place in Show-Me State hunters’ hearts and imaginations, long after it lost its place on our landscape.

Leopold’s work showed that ruffed grouse once occupied all but Missouri’s southwestern and northwestern counties.  Although Missouri was at the far southwestern edge of the species’ original range, the plucky little birds were locally abundant wherever there was forest.  Until the 1920s, that was most of the state.  Ruffed grouse probably benefitted from early settlement.  Their habitat requirements include impenetrable thickets that spring up when tracts of hardwood forest are logged off and then allowed to regenerate naturally.  A patchwork of mature forest interspersed with regenerating clear-cuts of various ages is what “ruffs” need.  Logging only becomes the enemy of ruffed grouse when cut-over land is converted to row crops or pasture.

Leopold’s work showed that ruffed grouse once occupied all but Missouri’s southwestern and northwestern counties.  Jim Low Photo

 

That worked to the ruff’s advantage throughout the 19th century.  Settlers and city dwellers alike used wood to heat their homes, and farmers needed pole timber for fence posts.  Annual timber harvested guaranteed the renewal of habitat for grouse, not to mention quail and rabbits.

The LEGEND of the Leopold Map shown above provides interesting insight into Leopold’s findings. Jim Low Photo

Then things changed.  Leopold made a perceptive connection between the fate of ruffed grouse and America’s transition from renewable to fossil fuels when he wrote, “Petroleum, coal, and steel are rapidly making the woodlot a useless appendage to the farm, which must be grazed ‘grouseless’ to pay its keep.  Sportsmen should realize that a wood-burning gas plant for farms, or even an efficient wood-burning furnace, would do more to keep woodlots, and hence, grouse, on the map of rural America than many new laws or sermons on conservation.”

 

Of course, that was not in the cards.  Progress proceeded apace and continues today.  The 19th century’s patch-quilt of forest, regenerating clear-cuts, crop fields and pastures has disappeared.  In the northern half of Missouri, it has been replaced by mega-farms where corn and soybeans extend as far as the eye can see, unbroken by fence or woodlot.  In southern Missouri, we increasingly have unbroken tracts of forest.  Most Missourians are unaware that their state currently has significantly more forest acreage than it did before European settlement.  And since clearcutting became a dirty word, the supply of prime grouse habitat where hunters can experience the thrill of the ruff’s explosive flush, has steadily dwindled.

But Missouri’s state motto isn’t purely negative.  Citizen conservationists – hunters once again – have always taken the attitude that someone has to show them that the ruffed grouse can’t be brought back.  Next week, we will look at Missouri’s long – and continuing – history of grouse restoration efforts.

-end-

Rocky Mountain Introduces New 5-Pin Sight

  • Durable, hard-coat anodized finish 
  • 5-Pin Sight Markers, Adjustable 2nd & 3rd Axis
  • Micro-Adjust Windage and Elevation is Lockable
Rocky Mountain 5-Pin Dovetail Sight, complete with micro-adjust features.

Rocky Mountain has expanded its archery sight line-up with the introduction of the new 5-Pin Sight that will feature a hardy, protective, hard-coat-anodized all-aluminum construction available in two mounting configurations: a Direct Mount and a Dovetail Mount.
Both versions are highlighted by several features:
Tool-free, micro-adjustable, lockable, windage and elevation in the bezel.
Five fully captured .019-inch pins.
Adjustable 2nd and 3rd axes.
Laser-etched windage and elevation markers.
The 5-Pin bezel incorporates a bubble level.
A light adapter is built-in.
The Direct Mount affords nearly effortless mounting and set-up in a standard configuration. The Dovetail Mount provides up to 3.3125 inches of sight-radius travel with six locking positions and allows for easy removal of the sight for transport and storage.
Available at retailers nationwide and conveniently online at www.huntrockymountain.com, the new 5-Pin Direct Mount and 5-Pin Dovetail sights have a suggested retail of $79.99 and $99.99, respectively.

Rocky Mountain 5-Pin Direct Mount with lockable, micro-adjust features.

Headquartered in Superior, Wis., Rocky Mountain is a wholly owned subsidiary of FeraDyne Outdoors. Renowned for its fixed-blade technology since 1979, the Rocky Mountain brand was relaunched in 2017 and has expanded its offerings to other archery accessories, including a line of archery sights.
For more information on Rocky Mountain, visit www.huntrockymountain.com; or write to 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; or call 866-387-9307.

Rapid-Adjustment Sight Leads the New Sight Lineup

RM_Driver_1-Pin_Sight

From their home in Superior, Wi., Rocky Mountain brand has roared back to life with the introduction of innovative new broadheads as well as a new lineup of archery sights.  Leading the sight lineup is the new Rocky Mountain Driver sight that can be adjusted for elevation quickly, easily, and very reliably.

Available in either a 1-pin or a 3-pin configuration, the Rocky Mountain Driver features hard-coat-anodized all-aluminum construction with a dovetail mount design.   The dovetail mount provides up to 3.3125 inches of sight-radius travel with six locking positions and allows for easy removal of the sight for transport and storage.  The Driver’s radial-arc elevation adjustment ensures fast and repeatable tuning to user-determined distances, while keeping the bezel square in relation to the eye.  Elevation adjustments are made via a large wheel on the side of the sight, and an adjustable reset block allows a quick return to the minimum-distance zero stop.

The Driver’s windage and pin elevation markers are laser etched, and the windage is tool-free micro-adjustable.  The 2nd and 3rd axes are also adjustable. The .019-inch fiber-optic pins are fully captured, and the pins are removable on the 3-pin version.  The bezel incorporates a bubble level, and a light adapter is built-in.

Available at retailers nationwide and conveniently online at www.huntrockymountain.com, the new Driver 1-Pin and Driver 3-Pin rapid-adjustment sights have a suggested retail of $129.99 and $149.99, respectively.

Headquartered in Superior, Wis., Rocky Mountain is a wholly owned subsidiary of FeraDyne Outdoors.  Renowned for its fixed-blade technology since 1979, the Rocky Mountain brand was relaunched in 2017 and has expanded its offerings to other archery accessories including a line of archery sights.  For more information on Rocky Mountain, visit www.huntrockymountain.com; or write to 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; or call 866-387-9307.

RM_Driver_3-Pin_Sight

TOTAL INSECT PROTECTION for Hunters and Everyone Else

  • Total Protection from Mosquitoes, Deer Ticks, Chiggers
  • Total Protection from No-See-Ums, Black Flies, Sand Fleas, Ants, Gnats
  • Prevent Zika, Malaria, West Nile, Dengue, Lyme disease, others
  • Made in the USA
Photo Courtesy of RYNOSKIN® TOTAL

By Forrest Fisher

This article is not an ad, but I suppose it could be.  I just want all of my friends and neighbors of the outdoors to know about this for only one selfish reason that I have, Lyme disease prevention.  In New York State, a recent study shows 1 out of every 2 deer ticks have Lyme disease.  Period.  You must protect yourself from this beast of a disease, and the affected deer tick population is  increasing logarithmically as it spreads across the country. 

For the record, deer ticks get Lyme disease from white-footed mice.  Mice are where Lyme disease comes from, but it is the deer ticks that can give Lyme disease to us humans when they bite us because they are so small, their bite is nearly painless and we simply cannot see them most of the time.

When two of my grandkids came down with Lyme disease last year, we researched so many products to help find protection.  Most of the protections are chemically based and work well, but there was always a concern about the chemicals and possible effects years down the road.  Then one day in our research, we discovered Rynoskin Total. It’s chemical free, is comfortable, does not retain heat (in summer, this is important), and is impervious to Mosquitoes, Deer Ticks, other Ticks, Chiggers, No-See-Ums, Black Flies, Sand Fleas, Ants, Gnats and many other biting insects.  It is a positive measure toward preventing Zika, Malaria, West Nile, Dengue, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and other vector borne illnesses.

Could there be anything better?  Not for me.  At least not yet in our world of technology.  This suit brings total comfort and peace of mind to me as an outdoorsman and to my family. 

My first question was, why didn’t I know about this sooner? I’m a turkey hunter, deer hunter, walk-in-high-grass trout angler, and if you get the picture, I’m outdoors a lot in the places where deer ticks that carry Lyme disease like to be too.

Rynoskin Total is specifically designed to be worn underneath your clothing.  This unique concept provides for comfort, breathability, stealth movement and eliminates snags against brush.  The Rynoskin is stretchable and it fits snuggly and comfortably on your body over your under-garments, but under your exterior clothing.

It provides insect protection in a form that will stretch to accommodate all different body sizes.  Many over-garment insect protection suits are hot, make noise when you move and snag against the brush as you sneak about the woods stalking that next trophy deer. I tried this suit. It does it all.  Rynoskin Total is ultra-lightweight, body-forming, cool, and comfortable.

My entire body suit – which is comprised of socks, bottoms, tops, glove and face mask/hood – weighs under 6 ounces!

For my grandkids, the best part about Rynoskin Total is the chemical free nature of this product.  They have a future to live.  It is completely safe to use and it is effective no matter how many times you wash it over time. The suit protects the user by the unique weave of the fabric and the form fitting elastic cuffs that create the ultimate barrier against biting insects.  This body suit is so comfortable that you forget you have it on.

Photo Courtesy of RYNOSKIN® TOTAL

If it matters to you, the suits come in various colors, but a lighter color will allow you to find ticks on your suit more easily, the whole time knowing that they cannot penetrate your Rynoskin.  That’s comfort.

Here is a video with a hands-on, eyes-on, narrative to see: https://youtu.be/wENkNvNPEKA.

The Rynoskin Total suits are scientifically tested and made in the USA.  I’m sold. A little over $100 for the whole thing. Cheap at 1,000 times the cost if you have been affected by Lyme disease and understand you might be taking 32 pills and one injection every day for years while you moan in pain. That all makes it really affordable for my way of thinking.

Wish they made one for my dog!  How good is it?  It’s guaranteed.  If you are not satisfied with your Rynoskin, just call (866) 934-7546 within thirty (30) days of purchase for a full refund with proof of purchase.

Check it out on line at: http://rynoskin.com/. 

Browning’s New Cynergy CX Shotguns Are Designed For Multiple Shooting Disciplines

Gun owners looking for an over and under shotgun they can use for everything from trap, skeet, sporting clays and upland bird and small game hunting will want to take a look at the new Cynergy CX shotgun from Browning.

Two models of the Cynergy CX are available, the Cynergy CX with a wood stock and the Cynergy CX Composite Charcoal model. Both models have a 60/40 point of impact (POI) and a light, nimble feel to please the most demanding shooters, both on the range and in the field.

The Cynergy CX is available with 30” or 32” barrels. The Cynergy CX model has a Grade 1 walnut stock with an Inflex recoil pad. The CX Composite model has a charcoal gray composite stock with black rubber overmolding in the grip areas and an Inflex Technology recoil pad.

Additional features:

  • ·         Steel silver nitride finished engraved receiver
  • ·         Ultra-low profile
  • ·         MonoLock hinge
  • ·         Lightweight profile
  • ·         Ventilated top and side ribs
  • ·         Floating top rib
  • ·         Matte blued finish
  • ·         Vector Pro lengthened forcing cones
  • ·         Three Invector-Plus Midas Grade choke tubes
  • ·         Adjustable length of pull
  • ·         Ivory front and mid-bead sights

Suggested retail prices:

  • ·         Cynergy CX – $1,739.99
  • ·         Cynergy CX Composite Charcoal Grey – $1,699.99

For more information on Browning products, please visit the website at www.browning.com.

Sandbar Hunting – Discovery, Ancestors, Archaeology

  • A great way to spend a post-flood summer.
  • The Missouri River is a conveyor belt for fossils and artifacts.
  • Finding bits of the past is like stepping onto a time machine.
The author’s son found this Bison antiquus vertebra on a sandbar across the river from Jefferson City.

By Jim Low

A wetter-than-average spring has the Missouri River bank-full today, but it’s only a matter of time until it falls to summer levels, exposing hundreds of sandbars or, as I like to think of them, time machines.

During spring floods, the Missouri River and its thousands of tributaries carve away at geological deposits between the Rocky Mountains and St. Louis.

Missouri River sandbars seem featureless at first. Look for areas where receding flood water has deposited larger articles. Eroding banks and the upstream side of wing dikes are productive spots, too.

It digs out bones of long-extinct animals, collects artifacts from Indian camps and unearths shark teeth that fell to the bottom of the inland sea that once divided our continent in two.  Along the way, it also plucks trade goods from the rotting hulls of wrecked steam ships and objects whose origins and functions are mysteries.

Discovering an arrowhead or a huge leg bone triggers a welter of questions and speculation.

Intact arrowheads are more common than complete fossils.

Was the animal killed by a hunter or a saber-toothed tiger?

Who made the arrowhead? How did he or she lose it?

Was it carried to this spot in the vitals of a deer… or perhaps a mastodon??

The result is a pleasant sort of temporal vertigo.

One moment you have both feet planted firmly in the present.  Then, in an instant, the currents of time are tugging you back to the Pleistocene period and beyond.

This year’s natural exhibit of historical artifacts is being arranged right now beneath the mocha-colored waters of the Big Muddy.  When it opens, admission will be free to anyone with a kayak, canoe or motor boat.

The Missouri Department of Conservation maintains dozens of river accesses at convenient intervals, making it easy to plan an expedition.  The exhibit changes every time the river overtops sandbars and islands, and the first explorers get their pick of newly deposited prizes.

Sandbar archaeology has a small but dedicated following in Missouri.

The holy grail of this group is a skull of a Bison antiquus.  These huge grazers were 25 percent larger than modern bison and had horns a yard across.

Every few years, a photo of a proud beachcomber displaying such a treasure appears in a river town’s newspaper.  My own personal best find was the topmost 1/3 of an elk antler.

University of Missouri-Columbia Archaeology Professor Dr. Lee Lyman examines an Indian artifact. He estimated the age of the elk antler in front of him at 7,000 to 8,000 years.

I nearly walked past it, because only one eroded tine poked a few inches above the level surface of the sandbar.  At first, I thought it was a stick of wood.  Then I noticed that it had a hollow core and looked as if it had been gnawed by a rodent, which made me think of antlers.  Imagine my awe when I pulled on it and a massive, 2-foot end portion of an enormous antler emerged from the sand.  The whole antler likely would have had 7 points.

Investigate anything that protrudes above the sand. It could be the find of a lifetime.

Lee Lyman, then a professor of archaeology at the University of Missouri, identified my antler fragment as coming from an elk.

North American elk are descended from Eurasian red deer that crossed the Bering Land Bridge into North America during the last ice age.  The pattern of forking and slightly webbed junctions are intermediate between the typical antler shape of ancient red deer and modern-day elk.

Based on the degree of divergence from red deer, he estimated that my specimen was 7,000 to 8,000 years old.

Aside from Bison antiquus skulls – which are, let’s face it, unbeatable – the coolest thing I ever saw rescued from a sandbar was an intricately carved piece of personal ornamentation.

Lyman identified it as a robe fastener.

It was made from half of a turkey wing bone split lengthwise.  It was jet black with age.  The carving was exquisite in its detail and symmetry.  What I wouldn’t give to know the story of this piece of art!

Professor Lyman speculated that this exquisitely carved turkey wing bone might have been a robe fastener.

Pillaging artifacts and fossils from archaeological sites would be both unethical and illegal.  However, once the river washes objects away from their original locations, they lose their geologic and geographic contexts, greatly reducing their usefulness in unraveling the history they represent.

What are these? Darned if we know, but they were cool enough to come home in a pocket.

For this reason, items found on sandbars are fair game for collectors.

If no one picks them up, they will only be washed downstream – and probably reburied forever – by the next flood.  The exception is human remains, which must be reported to law-enforcement officials, even if they appear to be very old.

Artifacts found on the river are not entirely without scientific value and professional archaeologists take a lively interest in amateur finds.

If you make an interesting discovery, contact the archaeology faculty at the nearest university or the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ State Historic Preservation Office.  They can provide fascinating insights about its identity and origins.  Then you can legitimately say you have added to the body of archaeological knowledge.

Looking for artifacts and relaxing on Missouri River sandbars is a wonderful way to spend a summer day.

-end-

Black Powder Bushytails

  • Made to order method for early-season squirrel hunting.
  • Muzzleloaders lend new excitement to the old game of squirrel hunting.
  • Where to go, What to do, How to call, Packing your game sack.

By Jim Low

There’s no need to wait until fall to enjoy the thrill of hunting squirrels with a rifle.

With turkey season in the rearview mirror and Memorial Day just around the corner, Missouri hunters’ thoughts naturally turn to squirrels.  Squirrel season opens on May 27.  Hunting is mostly done with shotguns during the early months of the season, because lush foliage makes bushytails hard to spot.  When you do spy one, it’s usually just a fleeting glimpse.  However, there is a way to hunt summer squirrels with a rifle that is, paradoxically, both easier and more challenging.  I’m talking about hunting with traditional black-powder rifles with iron sights.

Daniel Boone might have been able to shoot the eyes out of squirrels at 80 paces with old Tick-Licker, but most modern-day hunters find it much harder to head-shoot squirrels with iron sights.  For consistent success, we need to get within 25 yards of our quarry.  This puts a premium on woodsmanship that can pay dividends during later, big-game seasons.

Choice of muzzleloader is mostly a matter of personal preference.  Hard-core traditionalists will opt for flintlocks, but there’s no shame in opting for the more certain ignition offered by percussion models. Since you are aiming for squirrels’ heads, it makes little difference whether your smoke pole is spitting .32-cal pellets or .54-cal marbles.  Larger projectiles do provide a slight advantage, simply because their greater diameter increases the chances that some part of the ball will make contact with the target.  They also offer the possibility of “barking” squirrels – aiming at tree trunks or limbs adjacent to the squirrel’s head so death results from concussion.  A .535-cal round ball weighing 230 grains packs a serious wallop that a .31-cal ball, weighing a mere 45 grains, can’t match.

Do not, however, let anyone tell you that small-caliber muzzleloaders won’t kill squirrels outright.  The first squirrel I shot with my .32 CVA Varmint caplock was a full-grown gray squirrel.  I had 20 grains of FFFG black powder under the .31-cal ball.  When I went to pick up the deceased rodent, all that was left of the head were flaps of skin from the lower jaw and pate.  I have since decreased my squirrel load to 15 grains of FFFG.  The heavier load simply is unnecessary.

If you don’t already own a muzzleloader, look for one with a set trigger.  This second trigger – typically located behind the main trigger – is pulled just before taking a shot.  It “sets” the main trigger, dramatically reducing the amount of pressure needed to release the hammer.  This lessens the tendency to pull the rifle to one side as you squeeze the trigger.  Traditional muzzleloaders’ lock time – the time elapsed between the moment you release the trigger and when the projectile leaves the barrel – is much longer for smoke poles than it is for modern firearms.  So, the time during which you can drift off-target is much greater.  Reducing trigger-release pressure helps offset this inherent disadvantage.

Hunting with a muzzleloader is an excellent fit for summer squirrels.  The same factors that limit hunters’ vision apply to squirrels, so they are much less likely to notice your approach.  And because last year’s leaf fall has had seven months to weather, you can slip through the woods with greater stealth.

Summer squirrels are not concentrated around nut trees, as they are in the fall.  That doesn’t mean they are randomly distributed, however.  Early in the spring, I have seen as many as a dozen squirrels in a single elm tree, harvesting the fresh, green seeds.  Later, they consume the succulent flower and leaf buds of a succession of trees.  Later still, they focus on mulberries and other fruit, such as hackberries and wild cherries.  You don’t need to know which trees provide food each week throughout the summer.  It’s enough to know that where you find one squirrel, you are likely to find more.

Sound is more important than sight for finding summer squirrels.  Take a seat or lean against a tree when you enter the woods and spend five minutes listening for the telltale rustle of squirrels foraging in the treetops.  If you hear nothing, move 50 yards and listen again.  When you hear feeding activity, gradually move toward it until you make visual contact.  Then pay attention to the squirrel’s feeding cycle.  Typically, they will spend a few minutes gathering food from one branchlet, then move on to another.  Often, they pause to rest for a few moments between forays.  Move into shooting position during the active feeding phase, freezing when your quarry moves between branches.

The Mr. Squirrel distress call, sold by Haydel’s Game Calls, is an effective tool for harvesting summer squirrels.

Another advantage to hunting squirrels in the summer is the fact that they are more susceptible to calling than at any other time of year.  Male and female squirrels respond dramatically to young squirrels’ distress calls.  You can use this habit in two ways.  One is to blind call, which will cause any squirrels in earshot to reveal their location.  A better approach is to find actively feeding squirrels, sneak in and take a position in their midst, and hit a few licks on the distress call.  Thrash the ground violently with a small, leafy sapling while calling to mimic the sound of a baby squirrel caught by a predator.  Not only will squirrels leave the treetops to investigate, some will run toward you and perch on branches, barking and offering a shot.

My squirrel distress call is sold by Haydel’s Game Calls under the name Mr. Squirrel.  Flambeau offers a different version of the same thing, called Mr. B’s Distress Squirrel Whistle.  You also can make your own out of a plastic jug.

Because most of the activity occurs high in the tree tops, most of your shots will be at steep angles.  This makes a shooting stick invaluable.  You can use a store-bought rifle rest, but I prefer an actual stick – an ironwood sapling that I cut nearly 40 years ago.  I grasp the stick with my left hand and rest the barrel of my rifle on top of my hand.  This arrangement works for any elevation.

One problem unique to summer squirrel hunting is meat spoilage.  I carry a couple of frozen water bottles in my game pouch.  Gutting squirrels as soon as you shoot them hastens cooling, and keeping them inside the pouch avoids attracting flies.

You can do all the above with a modern rifle, too.  That’s the best bet if you are dead set on bringing home a limit of bushytails.   But if you are looking for a way to make squirrel hunting more challenging and interesting, nothing beats a muzzleloader.

SPOT & STALK TURKEY HUNTING

  • Effective, but BE VERY CAREFUL
  • Recommended ONLY ON PRIVATE, SECURED LAND
  • Tactics & Techniques

By Tyer Mahoney

When everything goes right, your stalk the long way around to expected turkey location is rewarded.

Heavy rain and wind can put the turkeys in a funk where they don’t gobble or respond to calls.  Severe rain can wash out nests, which means hens must breed again, thus prolonging the “henned up” effect every turkey hunter dreads.  Other times, such as late season, gobblers can be plain uncooperative and won’t investigate decoys or your calling.

So what do you do?

Simple.  It’s time to get on your feet and close the distance.  Although it’s not quite the same as a strutting tom marching into your decoys, spot and stalk turkey hunting can be just as exciting and rewarding, though your safety is of key interest in manner of hunting.

I have enjoyed much success stalking turkeys on secure, private land, but learned the most from my failures.  Whether you are by yourself or with a hunting partner, I have learned several strategies to follow when you begin your stalk.

Before you begin any spot and stalk, be sure of your surroundings and possible hunters that may be in your area.  I highly recommend you only do this on private land.

SPOTTING

This might seem like the easy part, but there are several factors you must keep in mind.

First, turkeys always find a way to be where you least expect.  As you approach your glassing point, stay in cover and below the line of sight of the area you think may have turkeys.  Always abide by the rule that if you can see out in the field, then whatever is out there can see you.

Also, stay in the shadows as much as possible, which should be relatively easy if you have good timber.  Ideally, you will make your way to a spot where you can see a good distance across a field that may be a strutting zone.  Along with a large field of view, your glassing point should be accessible to a good route to make your stalk.

Next, move slowly until you spot your bird.  One of the biggest mistakes I have made is quickly glancing across a field, seeing nothing, and then hustling to my next viewing area.  It is only then I realize I’ve spooked a strutting tom standing below a rise in the field I could not see from my first position.

Many people hunt from a blind to start their day.  If you’re like me, you have had plenty of times where birds hang up in the distance or won’t commit because they are with hens.  During set-up, be sure to position your blind so the entrance is facing away from where the turkeys are likely to be located.  In case you need to close the distance on foot, that allows you to exit your blind into cover without disturbing the turkeys.

STALKING

Once you have eyes on a gobbler, the fun part begins.  You will proceed with many of the same strategies you used to spot him.

Stalking works best in certain conditions.  After a rain or in the early morning when everything is still damp, you can move much quieter.  In addition, use the wind to your advantage.  If you must cover a large distance quickly, move as far as you can when the wind picks up and stop when it dies down again. And remember the golden rule, if you are in sight of the field, whatever is in the field can see you too. Stay below their line of sight!

If your turkey is on the move, always take the long way around to get out in front.  It might be more work, but I have failed most of the time when I tried to take the most direct route to the birds.  Taking the long way around allows you to stay in better cover and leaves more room for error on your part.  For example, you will inevitably step on a fallen branch in your haste.  If you’ve maintained a wide circle, inadvertent noises or movement shouldn’t spook the turkey.

As you get closer, you will more than likely lose sight of the birds at times.  When you stop to check the position of your gobbler, be sure you are next to a large tree or thick brush.  This will allow you to hide quickly in case he surprises you.

SHOOTING

If you follow the above guidelines, you will most likely end up with a shot opportunity.  You can always increase your chances by carrying a turkey fan with you as well.  Pop that up in front of you, in sight of the tom and many times he will close the distance running right at you!

Most importantly, remember to use the rules of hunter safety and to always be aware of your surroundings!

Spot and stalk is best done in an area where you are certain no other hunters are around.  In some parts of the country, this manner of hunting is not permitted.

Good luck and happy stalking!

Apply for Florida Alligator & Fall Hunt Permits in May

  • Phase 1 Drawing May 12 – 20, 2017
  • 6,000 Permits Issued by Random Drawing

By Tony Young

May is here, and so is the start of the Phase I application period for applying for alligator and fall quota, special opportunity and national wildlife refuge hunt permits. Mark your calendar, set yourself an alarm, whatever you have to do to remind yourself – just don’t forget to get in all of your fall hunting permit applications in time for Phase I.

Alligator hunt permits

Since 1988, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has offered hunters the opportunity to take part in its annual statewide recreational alligator harvest that runs Aug. 15–Nov. 1. These special night hunts provide a hunting adventure unlike any other. Alligators are a conservation success story in Florida. The state’s alligator population is estimated at 1.3 million and has been stable for many years.

Phase I application period

The application period for the Phase I random drawing begins May 12 at 10 a.m. and runs through May 22. More than 6,000 alligator harvest permits will be available.

Hunters can submit their application for a permit that allows the harvest of two alligators on a designated harvest unit or county. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by Aug. 15 and have a valid credit or debit card to apply.

Applications may be submitted at any county tax collector’s office, license agent (most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies) and at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. External Website Applicants must provide their credit card information when they apply. If you change your mind on where you’d like to hunt, you are able to make updates to your hunt choices all the way up until the application period closes.

License/permit costs

The alligator trapping license/harvest permit and two hide validation CITES tags cost $272 for Florida residents, $22 for those with a Florida Resident Persons with Disabilities Hunting and Fishing License, and $1,022 for nonresidents. The cost for applicants who already have an alligator trapping license is $62.

Phase II and III application periods

Any permits remaining after the first phase will be offered during the Phase II random drawing May 26–June 5. Those who were awarded a permit in Phase I may not apply during Phase II. Remaining permits will be available in Phase III to anyone who did not draw a permit in either of the first two phases, and they may be applied for June 9-19.

Leftover application phase

If any permits remain after Phase III, there will be a fourth-phase issuance period beginning at 10 a.m. on June 22 until all permits are sold. Anyone may apply during Phase IV, even if they were awarded a permit in one of the earlier phases. Customers who are able to purchase additional permits will be charged $62, regardless of residency or disability.

What to expect if you get drawn

Within three days of an application period closing, applicants can expect to see an authorization hold on their credit card, verifying there is a sufficient balance to cover the cost of the permit. However, this does not mean they were awarded a permit. Once the credit card authorization process is complete, the lottery drawing will be held. All successful applicants will be charged, while those who were unsuccessful will have the authorization hold lifted from their credit cards.

Successful applicants should expect to receive their alligator trapping license/harvest permit and two CITES alligator tags in the mail within six weeks of payment. Alligator trapping licenses are nontransferable. All sales are final, and no refunds will be made.

For more information on alligator hunting or the application process, see the “2017 Guide to Alligator Hunting in Florida” by going to “MyFWC.com/Hunting” and then click on “Alligator” under “By Species.”

Fall quota hunt permits

The FWC offers thousands of quota hunt opportunities each year. Hunters can choose to apply for fall quota hunts for deer and wild hogs. There also are special hunts for families, youth, people with disabilities, bowhunters and those hunting with muzzleloaders.  

A quota is the maximum number of hunters allowed on a particular wildlife management area. The FWC’s Quota Hunt Program prevents overcrowding on such areas and provides quality hunts. Quotas also help control game harvests. The FWC sets quotas based on an area’s size, habitat, game populations and regulations.

There are several types of quota permits, most of which are issued by random drawing, and the Phase I application period for these fall quota hunts is May 15–June 15. I’m talking about archery, muzzleloading gun, general gun, wild hog, youth, family, track vehicle, airboat and mobility-impaired quota hunt permits.

You may apply for each of the hunt types, and there is no fee to do so. But unless exempt, you must have an up-to-date $26 management area permit (or a license that includes one) when applying for a quota permit. If you do not have this, the system won’t accept your application.

The FWC offers youth deer hunts on Camp Blanding WMA in Clay County and on Andrews WMA in Levy County. If you have children between the ages of 8 and 15, and you want them to have a chance to experience one of these great hunts, apply for a youth quota hunt permit – 160 kids will get this opportunity. During these hunts only the youngsters may hunt, and they, along with their adult supervisors, are the only people allowed on the area.

There will be family quota hunts on 28 WMAs, and if drawn, the permit requires one adult take one or two youths hunting. The adult may not hunt without taking along a youngster.

Hunters certified by the FWC as mobility-impaired may apply for Mobility-impaired Quota Permits that allow exclusive access to general gun hunts on nine of the state’s public hunting areas.

If you want to get the jump on one of these hunts, apply May 15–June 15 at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, External Website or have a license agent or tax collector’s office apply for you. To find out if you’ve been selected, log onto your customer account at that same web address after 10 a.m. on June 19.       

If you don’t get drawn for a particular quota hunt, you’ll get a preference point for next year’s drawing, which will improve your chances of being selected. If you’re unable to use your quota permit and you return it at least 10 days prior to your hunt, you’ll get your preference point restored.

Special-opportunity fall hunts

If you haven’t been seeing the quantity or quality of game you’d like, I suggest applying for a Special-Opportunity Fall Hunt Permit. For the past 20 years, the FWC has offered these unique fall-season hunts for deer, wild hog and released quail on arguably the state’s best public hunting lands. Maybe it’s time you looked into getting in on the action and experiencing the hunt of a lifetime.

These extraordinary hunts offer large tracts of land with an abundance of game and low hunting pressure. All deer hunts allow you to take only mature bucks with at least one antler having four or more points, 1 inch or longer. Wild hogs also are legal to take during the deer hunts, and there is no size or bag limit on hogs.

These special-opportunity deer and wild hog hunts take place in central Florida on Fort Drum, Lake Panasoffkee, Triple N Ranch and Green Swamp West Unit WMAs. Camping is legal on all areas.

There is one seven-day general gun deer and hog hunt on the 20,858-acre Fort Drum WMA in Indian River County. The hunt costs $50, if you get drawn. 

Lake Panasoffkee, in Sumter County, has eight four-day archery hunts for deer and hog on 8,676 acres. The permits are $100 for each hunt.

There are two seven-day general gun deer and hog hunts at Triple N Ranch in Osceola County. The permit costs $175 for each of the two hunt dates.

Pasco County’s Green Swamp West Unit, where the state’s highest-scoring deer on record was taken, has two archery hunts for deer and hogs on its 34,335 acres. There are also three general gun hunts for deer and hogs. All are four-day hunts costing $100.

All special-opportunity permit holders can bring one non-hunting guest if they wish during the deer and hog hunts.

The FWC also has released-quail hunts on the Carr Unit of Blackwater WMA in Santa Rosa County. With these hunts, you must bring and release your own pen-raised quail. These are seven-day (Saturday through Friday) hunts that run 16 consecutive weeks. 

There’s just one permit available for each week, and if you’re lucky enough to draw one, you and up to three of your friends will have the entire 250 acres to yourselves. The permit costs $100 for each week.

Special-opportunity hunt permits are transferable by simply giving the permit to another person. Permit holders under age 16 or those who are certified mobility-impaired, may have a non-hunting assistant accompany them during all special-opportunity hunts.

If you’d like to take part in one or more of these hunts, you may apply at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, External Website county tax collectors’ offices or most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies beginning 10 a.m. on May 15. The application period runs through midnight of June 15.

You may apply for as many special-opportunity hunts and dates as you like to increase your chances of being selected, but you must include the $5 nonrefundable application fee for each one. Hunters are limited to drawing only one permit per hunt area, though.

Special-opportunity results are available in rounds, and you may pay the cost of the selected hunt at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com External Website or at any license agent or tax collector’s office. If you don’t claim your permit by paying for it in full by the claim deadline for each round, you forfeit it, and it’ll be available to the next customer waiting in line in the next round.

National Wildlife Refuge hunts

There are also several fall hunts on five national wildlife refuges that you may apply for during the same Phase I application period of May 15–June 15. These National Wildlife Refuge hunts offer yet another unique and limited opportunity to hunt on well-managed habitat with healthy game populations and low hunting pressure. However, no guest permits are available for any of these hunts. And if you get drawn, you must pay for your permit by the claim deadline, or you forfeit it, and it’ll be available during the next application period which is first-come, first-served.

On the 21,574-acre Lake Woodruff External Website in Volusia and Lake counties, you can apply for archery and muzzleloading gun hunts for deer and hog. There is no fee to apply, but if you get drawn, the permit costs $27.50.

You can apply for archery hunts on Brevard County’s 140,000-acre Merritt Island. External Website External Website There is no cost to apply, but if you get drawn, the permit is $27.50.

Just south of Tallahassee, you may apply for archery, general gun and mobility-impaired hunts on the 32,000-acre St. Marks. External Website Each of these hunts cost $5 to apply for and if you get drawn, the permits are $27.50.

On Franklin County’s 11,400-acre St. Vincent Island, External Website you can apply for primitive weapons hunts for the exotic and enormous sambar deer. It’s $5 to apply, and $37.50 to buy the permit should you get drawn. 

Lower Suwannee, External Website in Dixie and Levy counties, has a $15 permit you can purchase that allows you to hunt the entire fall and spring season on the 53,000-acre refuge. You may purchase this permit anytime between May 15 and up to the last day of spring turkey season.

So whether it’s a gator permit you want, or a fall quota, special-opportunity or refuge hunt that you’re after – or all of the above– here’s wishing you success getting one of these great permits.

Turkey Flocks Weather the Missouri Rainstorm

  • Last weekend’s deluge won’t cut too deeply into this year’s production.
  • Expect normal breeding behavior for the rest of the season.
Difficult hunting conditions during the 2017 spring turkey season should allow more birds to hunt this fall and in 2018. Jim Low Photo

By Jim Low

Like everyone else, I was astonished at how much rain fell on southern Missouri over the past weekend, and I was riveted by news of the flooding it caused.  At one point, more than 350 roads were closed in Missouri alone. Flood crest records fell like dominoes, taking dozens of bridges with them.  People lost their homes, their livelihoods and their lives.  But, being a turkey hunter, my thoughts naturally turned to how the unprecedented deluge would affect the state’s wild turkey flock, not to mention my prospects for tagging a gobbler.  The news from Resource Scientist, Jason Isabelle, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) turkey biologist, was surprisingly positive.

Isabelle had a good idea of how wild turkey mating and nesting were progressing, thanks to a multi-year study MDC is conducting in northern Missouri.  The work involves radio-tracking wild turkeys to learn about their habitat preferences and population dynamics.  It also allows researchers to determine when hens begin laying eggs.  Isabelle said that by the middle of last week – a couple of days before the big rain – only five of the 45 or 50 radio-tagged hens had begun laying.  The progress of nesting might have been slightly more advanced in southern Missouri, but even there, nesting wasn’t in full swing yet.

Last weekend’s toad-floating deluge isn’t good news for turkeys by any stretch of the imagination.  It surely flooded out some nests in low-lying areas, and 48 hours of continuous soaking undoubtedly caused some hens to abandon eggs that they could not protect from cold and wet.  The good news is that the impact would have been much more serious if the flood had come a week or two later.  Most hens won’t be affected at all, and those that lost nests will try again.

The last four days of the 2017 spring turkey season should have good conditions for tagging a gobbler.  Jim Low Photo

You might wonder, as I did, if the big rain, followed by relatively chilly weather, might disrupt Missouri turkeys’ breeding behavior.  This morning I staked out a pasture that usually attracts a mixed flock of hens, jakes and gobblers.  I got there around 5:15 and was disappointed not to hear a single gobble from any direction in the first hour and a half.  The sky was clear, and only a slight breeze rustled the treetops, conditions I associate with active gobbling, especially after several days of bad weather.  But there wasn’t a peep out of any gobbler within earshot.  By 6:30, about 50 minutes into legal shooting hours, I was ready to pull my decoy and go home for breakfast.

Taking one last look around before standing up, I spied a hen at the far side of the field.  I propped my shotgun on my knee and settled in, hoping for more.  Sure enough, another three hens soon appeared and worked their way methodically across the field in front of me, scratching up cow patties and gossiping back and forth.  The idea that four hens could wander around without at least one gobbler attending them never occurred to me. While watching the hens, I constantly cast glances at their back trail, expecting to see a fan or hear an explosive gobble at any moment.  It never happened.  The hens exited the pasture, leaving only scattered cow pies in their wake.

I assumed this aberration was the result of recent weather and sought Isabelle’s confirmation of my theory that every flock of hens should have a gobbler escort. I asked if this morning’s scenario seemed unusual to him.  It didn’t, or at least it didn’t seem any more unusual to him than wild turkeys’ normal, contrarian behavior.  He said turkey flocks shuffle and reshuffle daily.  The flock of four hens I watched today could be bigger tomorrow, or not.  It could have jakes and gobblers with them the day after tomorrow.  Or not.  That’s just turkeys.  With normal weather predicted for the first week of May, Isabelle said he expects turkeys to be doing the same things they do every year around this time.

Isabelle said more of the radio-tagged hens in his study have started going to nests in the past few days.  That means that gobblers will be getting lonely and increasingly receptive to hunters’ calls.  Even with a good final week, however, Missouri’s 2017 spring turkey harvest isn’t likely to regain lost ground.  The harvest during the first 10 days of the season ran 7 percent behind the same period in 2016, possibly due to rainy weather in southern Missouri.  The harvest during the second weekend of this year’s season was 62 percent below the 2016 figure.  This brought the deficit for the first two weeks to 15 percent.

Every cloud has a silver lining.  If this year’s spring harvest is down, there will be more birds to hunt in the fall, and more jakes will mature into lusty-gobbling 2-year-olds by the 2018 spring turkey season.  Don’t let that hold you back, though.  You still have four days to tag a longbeard.

Just because they don’t gobble doesn’t mean all the mature toms have left town. Jim Low Photo

-end-

Finding a Place to Deer Hunt

  • Where to Look and Why You Need to START NOW
Hunter Whiteley and a nice tree farm buck.

By Larry Whiteley

I know it’s a long time until fall, but if you don’t have your own land to hunt or know somebody that will let you hunt on their land, or have a deer hunting lease; now is the time to start looking for a place to deer hunt.

Go talk to school bus drivers and even the kids that ride the bus. Odds are that while they have traveled to and from school, they have seen lots of deer and can tell you exactly where and when they saw them, plus how big the bucks were.

You can also go to the local post office, as well as UPS and FedEx offices, and talk to delivery drivers. These people are out and about every day and I am willing to bet they are seeing deer. Highway department workers are another option.

Once you have identified areas with lots of deer sightings, contact the local Farm Bureau, Department of Natural Resources or Conservation Department office and ask if there have been any complaints of deer damage by crop farmers in those areas.

Kelly Whiteley with a big doe from a sheep farm.

If there were, go knock on doors and politely ask if they would allow you to hunt their property to help control the population of deer causing their problem.  Crop farmers will be more likely to allow you on their land than a beef or dairy farmer.  Deer can also do a lot of damage to tree farmers.

Nationwide, deer cause more than $120 million annually in crop damage. So if the farmers don’t hunt or have family that hunt, they should be very receptive to you asking permission.  If the husband is a little reluctant, his wife might not be, and especially if deer are enjoying dining on her flower or vegetable garden.

If he lets you, clutch him to your chest like a wealthy uncle, because verily I say to you, he is worth his weight in gold.  I’m just kidding.  Don’t clutch him to your chest, but do shake his hand and thank her too.

If there are no farms where the deer are being observed, go to the local county offices and check the tax records to find out who owns the land. It may be rugged, hilly land that the owner can’t use, but the deer sure do.

Now here is another crazy idea for you.  We see them all the time, but how many of us ever think to use deer crossing signs to find a place to deer hunt?

These signs are always put up at locations of numerous car and deer collisions to warn people to slow down and watch for deer.  That means deer consistently cross at that location so much that they have to put up the sign.  Find out who owns the land on both sides of the road and seek permission to hunt.

Always ask in person.  Phone calls are impersonal.  Make a favorable first impression.  Dress neatly and be polite.  Let the land owner know that you are safety minded and responsible.  Respect their land.  Do not drive in fields, litter or damage property.  Honor any of their special requests.  Offer to share your venison and even help them around the farm.  Follow up with a thank you card or gift at Christmas and you should have a place to hunt for many years to come.

Anna Whiteley with her doe that she wouldn’t have taken without getting permission to hunt.

Now, if all that doesn’t work it probably means finding somewhere to hunt on public land.  That can be good too if you find the right place.  Your state wildlife agency should be able to provide information on areas with the best opportunity for deer.  Other sources include National Wildlife Refuges, the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

Large timber companies sometimes allow hunters to purchase passes to hunt company owned land.  Even some military bases and federal installations now allow hunting opportunities.

All of this can take a lot of time and effort.  That’s why you need to start right now and not wait until September.  The sooner you find a place to hunt the more time you will have to scout, hang stands, put out game cameras and all the other things you will need to do and have them done long before deer season begins.

Learn to use the internet effectively to help you find a place to hunt and provide contact information. You can also find more deer hunting tips like this on www.sharetheoutdoors.com that can help you become a better hunter on the deer hunting land you worked so hard to find.

 

New York State Spring Turkey Opens May 1

  • Spring 2017 will be Above 20,000 Bird Hunter Average
  • Successive Mild Winters Help Reproduction
  • 2-Bird Season Bag Limit, May 1 -31, 2017
Experts predict that a rising turkey population and healthy tom gobblers will be the norm in New York State for 2017, mild winters have helped the birds survive and thrive. Joe Forma Photo

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is opening spring turkey season on May 1 in upstate New York north of the Bronx-Westchester County line, the agency announced today.

“Hunting is an excellent way to connect people to the natural world,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Spending time afield with a new hunter is a chance to teach them about conservation, the environment, and wildlife. It’s the perfect opportunity to put novice hunters on the path to becoming safe and responsible hunters.”

DEC reports that the turkey population experienced reproductive success in the summer of 2015, and combined with relatively mild winters in 2015-16 and 2016-17, it is anticipated that the spring harvest will be up from last year and above the five-year average (about 20,000 birds). The estimated turkey harvest for spring 2016 was 18,400 birds, and nearly 6,000 junior hunters harvested an estimated 1,300 birds during the two-day youth hunt in 2016.

Details: NYS Spring Turkey Season: May 1-31, 2017

  • Hunting is permitted in most areas of the state, except for New York City and Long Island.
  • Hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their hunting license.
  • Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.
  • Hunters may take two bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only one bird per day.
  • Hunters may not use rifles or handguns firing a bullet. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8, or with a bow or crossbow.
  • Successful hunters must fill out the tag that comes with the turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested.
  • Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report a harvest online at DEC’s website.

For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2016-17 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the “Turkey Hunting” pages at DEC’s website.

New York has an extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters, largely due to the annual efforts of more than 3,000 dedicated volunteer sportsman education instructors. DEC suggests hunters follow the cardinal rules of hunting safety: assume every gun is loaded; control the muzzle; keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot; be absolutely sure of your target and what may be beyond it; and don’t stalk. Set up with your back against a large tree and call birds to you. To find a sportsman education class in your area, go to the Sportsman Education web page on DEC’s website or call 1-888-HUNT-ED2 (1-888-486-8332).

To view a video on hunter safety tips, watch DEC’s Hunter Safety video on YouTube. 

 

 

 

Rocky Mountain Warhead Broadheads for Compound Bows and Crossbows

  • Deployment System is Durable, Deadly,
  • Stainless Steel Blades
  • Inexpensive: Under $20 for 3-Pack
The Rocky Mountain Warhead features an aluminum ferrule with a 1.75-inch cutting diameter and a cut-on-contact tip blade design that starts working the instant it makes contact.

From Superior, Wisconsin, a well-known name in the archery broadhead market, Rocky Mountain, debuted its new product line at the ATA in Indianapolis this year.  As part of the new line up, Rocky Mountain introduced the new Warhead, a 100-grain 2-blade cut-on-contact mechanical broadhead with wing blades for superior hide penetration and bone breakage. Once inside the animal, the wing blades of the Warhead force open two larger blades providing deep penetration and massive wounds.

The Rocky Mountain Warhead features an aluminum ferrule with a 1.75-inch cutting diameter and a cut-on-contact tip blade design that starts working the instant it makes contact.  The Warhead’s jackknife blade-deployment system will not open until the blades have made full contact with the animal, making broadside and even angled shots more deadly.  With its aluminum ferrule and durable 0.035-inch-thick stainless steel blades, the new Rocky Mountain Warhead slices through hide and soft tissue on contact, yet it has the strength and sharpness to bust through bone.

Available in standard 100-grain, the Warhead is easily identified by its black ferrule.  An anodized orange ferrule identifies the 100-grain WarheadX version for crossbows.  The new Rocky Mountain Warhead and WarheadX are available at retailers nationwide and conveniently online at www.huntrockymountain.com.  Suggested retail price is $19.99 for a three-pack.

The Warhead’s jackknife blade-deployment system will not open until the blades have made full contact with the animal, making broadside and even angled shots more deadly.

Headquartered in Superior, Wis., Rocky Mountain is a wholly owned subsidiary of FeraDyne Outdoors. For more information on Rocky Mountain, visit www.huntrockymountain.com; or write to 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; or call 866-387-9307.

Aging Turkeys, by the Numbers

  • Older gobblers aren’t always bigger, but their spurs are.
  • Keep an outdoor journal, like building a time machine.

By Jim Low

Spurs tell more about a turkey’s age than its weight or beard. Jim Low Photo

Math has never been my strong suit, but a recent trip down memory lane sent me reaching for pencil, paper and a calculator.  As I often do when a hunting season approaches, I pulled my outdoor journals off the shelf to refresh my memory about past turkey hunts.  Reading the vital statistics of gobblers that have fallen to me and friends got me wondering how old those birds were, and how their ages related to their weight, beard length and spur size.

Turkey biologists learned long ago that the most reliable indicator of a gobbler’s age is spur length.  A bird with spurs measuring less than half an inch are sure to be jakes.  Nine times out of 10, if a bird’s spurs are ½ to 7/8 inches long and straight, with relatively blunt ends, it is 2 years old.  Spur growth slows down after that, making it difficult to separate 2- and 3-year-olds.  Birds with slightly pointier, curved spurs measuring 1 to 1½ inches long can be either 2 or 3 years old.  If you bag a gobbler with needle-sharp, scimitar-shaped spurs longer than 1½ inches, you’ve got a bird that has survived at least four summers and winters.

Curious how my birds stacked up, I made a table listing these characteristics for the 21 gobblers that I took the trouble to record in detail.  Nine had spurs long enough (averaging 1¼ inches) to fall into the 2- to 3-year-old cohort.  Seven were 2 years old, with spurs averaging eight-tenths of an inch.  The remaining four, and four were jakes, with mere nubs for spurs.

The older gobblers’ beards averaged 10.1 inches, compared to 10 inches for 2-year-olds.  This is leaving out one gobbler that had 1-3/16-inch spurs and no beard at all, only a patch of thick, dark skin where a beard should have been.  Also, I only counted the longest of three beards sported by a 2-year-old killed last year.  If you include the two shorter ones, the 2-year-old birds average beard length climbs to an impressive 11.9 inches.

The longest spurs among the older toms measured 1-3/8 inches.  They had pronounced curves and were sharp enough to be dangerous, but their length leaves little doubt that I have never killed a truly old bird.  The heaviest gobbler in my records was a 2-year-old that had 7/8-inch spurs and tipped the scales at 26.5 pounds.  Overall, the two 3-year-olds were heavier than the deuces, but only by 14 ounces.  The four jakes (yearling males) averaged 14.75 pounds.  The honors for longest single beard – 11.5 inches – also went to a 2 to 3-year-old gobbler.  But on average, the older gobblers’ beards were virtually identical length.  All this proves the rule that weight and beard length are not reliable measures of age.

Seeing how gobblers bulk up between one and three years of age, you might expect older birds to outweigh 2-year-olds by a bigger margin.  The fact that they don’t is probably because the older, more dominant gobblers have less time to eat while they are busy kicking 2-year-old toms’ butts and chasing hens.  Those same gobblers likely weigh more in the fall, after they have time to bulk up on acorns.

Delving into journal entries reminded me how written records bring memories to life like nothing else, including pictures.  Details that make days afield special quickly slip away unless captured while they are still fresh in our minds.  This hollows out our recollections.  If you don’t keep a journal, consider starting.  It doesn’t have to be time consuming.  I use 6- by 8-inch books with blank, lined pages.  They are available in most book stores or online for next to nothing.  One lasts me two to four years, depending on how much time I spend outdoors.  I keep the current one on my bedside table and make entries before going to sleep.  Once you establish the routine, it’s automatic.

Most of what I record is factual – when and where I went, who was with me, what we caught, killed and saw, weather and habitat conditions and animal behavior.  But I also include thoughts, feelings and anecdotes, like when someone’s dog made a spectacular retrieve or knocked his new Citori into 10 feet of water.

The accumulated knowledge has practical uses, but I expect the real payoff to come years from now, when I no longer can do the things I love most.  Then, I will be able to sit by the fire, reliving my outdoor life.  If I’m lucky, there will be some tykes to regale with tales from my storied past.

Fire!

It’s not a four-letter word if you are trying to maintain high-quality habitat.

It’s a prescription for healthy wildlife

A drip torch is an indispensable tool for setting fires quickly and efficiently, allowing land owners to conduct controlled burns with fire. The Burn allows Nutrient Cycling, Invasive Plant Displacement and Healthy New Growth, and is a Prescription for the Health of Fish, Flora, Fauna and Wildlife. Jim Low Photo

By Jim Low

They probably didn’t understand the role of fire in nutrient cycling, but they knew that fire renewed landscapes.  They might not have known that periodic removal of dead vegetation from ground level makes it easier for quail to move and find food beneath the protective canopy of new growth, but you can bet they knew that bobwhite cocks called more often on land that had been blackened by fire the previous spring.

Modern-day land managers have new reasons for using fire.  Introduced plants like fescue grass, bush honeysuckle and sericea lespedeza can displace native flora, turning once-productive fields and forests into wildlife deserts.  When applied at the right time of year, fire is a powerful tool for controlling these pests and improving hunting.  In marshes, fire releases nutrients and sets back cattails and other native plants that can blanket wetlands, making them useless to mallards, Canada geese and shorebirds.  Invasion by woody plants is a problem faced by prairie and wetland managers alike, and here again, fire is a highly effective process treatment.  Fire also is less expensive than mowing, disking or other mechanical methods of creating the patchwork of exposed water and vegetation of different heights that spells “H-O-M-E” to migrating wildfowl.

Despite the brisk morning air, my back was starting to sweat as I stepped lively along the edge of 20 acres of tinder-dry foxtail, cordgrass, ragweed and fescue grass.  Moments later, the breeze picked up and heat blazed on the exposed back of my neck.  A growing roar told me I needed to pick up the pace, and soon I was almost trotting as I trailed a drip torch behind me.  Another 200 yards and I closed a circle of flame around the field.  I traded the torch for a gas-powered leaf blower to snuff out errant fires kindled by embers carried aloft on the wind.

One key to controlling a prescribed fire is starting with a backfire on the downwind side and then encircling the area with flame, so it burns itself out somewhere in the middle.  Jim Low Photo

Such spot-over fires were few, thanks to careful planning.  With time to enjoy the results of our work, my partners and I pulled out cell phones for photos and video of the spectacle.  Flames leapt 50 feet in the air, creating a true fire storm.  The plume of smoke from our little field soared thousands of feet into the cloudless sky.  Eleven-year-old Emmett Wright was too awed by the power of the blaze to do much besides repeatedly exclaiming, “Whoa!”

Within minutes, the field that had been clogged with dead vegetation was a study in black and gray.  A casual observer might think torching a field was easy or irresponsible.  This fire was neither.  The wide swaths of bare ground surrounding the field were the result of year-round work, mowing and re-mowing to create fuel-free zones capable of stopping a fire after its work was done.  Our burn boss, Emmett’s grandpa, Brad Wright, pored over weather forecasts for weeks, watching for a combination of wind speed and direction and relative humidity that would allow us to burn several sections of our 200-acre duck and upland game hunting club without endangering neighboring property.

There were false starts.  We set a burn date two weeks earlier, only to have our plans ruined by a sleet storm that blew up at the last minute.  We were ready to burn again the following week, and again, the forecast seemed perfect.  But two days beforehand, the U.S.  Weather Service revised the forecast to include strong, gusty wind and dangerously low humidity.  Officials in neighboring counties issued burn bans.  Starting a fire under those conditions would have been reckless and could ruined the reputation we have been re-building with the Chariton County Fire Department since an unfortunate incident a few years ago, which we no longer mention – except to razz Brad.

But last Saturday was finally right.  We would have preferred a southerly wind, which would have allowed us to burn all our upland acres and most of the marsh.  As it was, we got about half the upland and a third of the marsh burned.

You might wonder why we would give up a Saturday to burn a bunch of grass and cattails.  In a word, “habitat.” We want our 200 acres to be as attractive and productive as possible for ducks, geese, quail, rabbits, deer, turkey, beavers, muskrats, otters, herons, snipe, bass, catfish, and the whole array of wild things that inhabit healthy land and water.  One of the surest ways to achieve this is with carefully planned burning.

The human inhabitants of North America have used fire in this way from time immemorial.  The first Americans knew that burning let the sun warm the ground earlier, and that deer, turkey, elk and bison would quickly arrive to take advantage of the resulting flush of succulent new growth.  They probably didn’t understand the role of fire in nutrient cycling, but they knew that fire renewed landscapes.  They might not have known that periodic removal of dead vegetation from ground level makes it easier for quail to move and find food beneath the protective canopy of new growth, but you can bet they knew that bobwhite cocks called more often on land that had been blackened by fire the previous spring.

Even a relatively small fire seems impressive close-up, or when you see the plume of smoke from a distance. Always notify fire officials ahead of time, or you might be billed for an unnecessary visit when neighbors call 911.  Jim Low Photo

Modern-day land managers have new reasons for using fire.  Introduced plants like fescue grass, bush honeysuckle and sericea lespedeza can displace native flora, turning once-productive fields and forests into wildlife deserts.  When applied at the right time of year, fire is a powerful tool for controlling these pests and improving hunting.  In marshes, fire releases nutrients and sets back cattails and other native plants that can blanket wetlands, making them useless to mallards, Canada geese and shorebirds.  Invasion by woody plants is a problem faced by prairie and wetland managers alike, and here again, fire is a highly effective process treatment.  Fire also is less expensive than mowing, disking or other mechanical methods of creating the patchwork of exposed water and vegetation of different heights that spells “H-O-M-E” to migrating wildfowl.

Fire is an important part of management plans that the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service helped us develop for our marsh, prairie and woodland acres.  Because it’s part of a formal plan, such use of burning is usually called “prescribed” fire.  Learning to burn safely and effectively isn’t simple.  That is why MDC offers prescribed fire workshops throughout the state each year.  With the knowledge gained in these workshops, and with management plans prepared in cooperation with wildlife professionals, you can make your little bit of hunting heaven the best it can be.  To learn more about the possibilities, visit MDC’s web page for private landowners.

What looks like utter devastation rapidly turns into a verdant field that draws wildlife like a magnet. Jim Low Photo

 

 

Rage Offers Brand New Turkey Broadhead

  • Tested and Proven, Slip-Cam Mechanical is Deadly
  • New Meat-Hook Design for Turkey  

SUPERIOR, Wis. — Rage has designed a new broadhead specifically for turkey hunters that will eliminate the problem of a flopping-then-fleeing gobbler following an otherwise fast and deadly pass-through. The new Rage Turkey broadhead features a new cut-on-contact tip with a pair of massive Meat Hooks to inflict maximum lethal damage, all while slowing the arrow enough to anchor the bird. This Turkey Broadhead combines a gigantic 2 1/8-inch-cutting-diameter, two-blade Slip-Cam broadhead with the Meat-Hook Tip to stop a turkey dead in its tracks.

This new Rage Turkey broadhead features a pair of surgically ground, .035-inch-thick stainless steel blades that produce an initial slap-cut entry hole of nearly 3 inches, and while the Meat-Hook Tip has a 9/16-cutting diameter in its own right, a pair of blunt notches on each side of the tip were designed to slow the arrow as quickly as possible upon impact to potentially impair one or both wings for a faster, safer kill.

The 100-grain Rage Turkey Broadhead also features an extremely aerodynamic, precision-machined and anodized aluminum ferrule paired with the proprietary Rage Shock Collar™ for optimum blade retention and consistently reliable blade deployment. The 100-gr. weight on this new broadhead offers archers the ability to change broadheads with little, if any, adjustment to their bow setup between seasons.

The new Rage Turkey Broadhead is available at retailers nationwide and conveniently online at www.ragebroadheads.com for a suggested retail price of $29.99 for a two-pack.

Rage Outdoors is the world’s number-one manufacturer of expandable broadheads. It also manufactures quivers and accessories. A Feradyne Outdoors brand, Rage is headquartered at 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; call 866-387-9307; or visit www.ragebroadheads.com.

 

 

 

Delta Waterfowl Report Explores Looming Crisis: Declining Numbers of Duck Hunters

  • USA Waterfowl Hunter Population Down 50%
  • Canada Waterfowl Hunter Numbers Drop 70%
Picture reprinted with permission from Delta Waterfowl Foundation, The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America. Visit deltawaterfowl.org.

Read the full report online at deltawaterfowl.org or in the Spring Issue of Delta Waterfowl magazine

By STOadmin

BISMARCK, N.D. — We need more waterfowl hunters, and so do the ducks. A Special Report in the Spring Issue of Delta Waterfowl magazine explores why we’ve lost hundreds of thousands of waterfowl hunters since 1970, the threat this poses for the future of hunting and conservation, and what we can do about it.

The 10-page report is posted in its entirety at deltawaterfowl.org/looming-crisis.

Among the findings: There were 2.03 million active U.S. waterfowl hunters in 1970, and only 998,600 in 2015. The steepest declines have occurred since 1997, despite high duck populations, lengthy hunting seasons and liberal bag limits.

Canada’s waterfowler numbers have fallen even more drastically, peaking in 1978 at 505,681 and declining to fewer than 170,000 today.

This trend should alarm anyone who cares about waterfowl hunting and wetland conservation.

“We tell folks to support conservation — to replace the ducks they shoot every year,” said John Devney, vice president of U.S. policy for Delta Waterfowl. “We should also be telling them that you must replace yourself as a duck hunter. It’s as important as buying a federal duck stamp.”

 

 

Meeting the Next Challenge: Chronic Wasting Disease

• Once again, it’s time for Missourians to stand up for wild resources
• White-tail Deer Herd in Trouble
• Missouri Constitution Change Required, Needs Voter Help

By Jim Low

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The growing menace posed by chronic wasting disease (CWD), if left unchecked, will ultimately destroy Missouri’s wild deer resource.  If you have any doubt about this, read up on either of these two links:

Unlike blue tongue and other familiar deer diseases, CWD’s spread is inexorable.  CWD is 100 percent fatal.  There is no cure or vaccine.  It is slow, but after it is well-established, it is only a matter of time until deer numbers decline drastically.

The only hope of preventing this awful scenario is quick action to limit the spread of CWD.  So far, all of Missouri’s CWD outbreaks have occurred near captive-deer operations where deer are shipped in and out – a practice made to order for spreading CWD.  The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has done its best to regulate such facilities to prevent the spread of the disease, but its efforts have been stopped cold.  Political pressure has eroded MDC’s regulatory authority over deer, which it now shares with the Mo. Dept. of Agriculture.  Agriculture officials are not governed by an independent citizen commission, and they are not obligated to protect wildlife.  And the Missouri Legislature holds the Agriculture Department’s purse strings, so state agriculture officials are inclined to do what legislators want.

A bit about history.  In 1935, Missourians realized that politicians couldn’t or wouldn’t protect the state’s wildlife.  To fix the problem, they amended the state’s constitution, giving authority for managing the state’s wild resources to a non-partisan, citizen commission that we know today as the Missouri Conservation Commission.  It was the first time in history that a state or nation had replaced politics with science as the basis for resource management.  Over the following 80 years, however, we have grown complacent, forgetting another famous adage: The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Political influence is like water.  Eventually, it finds its way into everything.

Eight decades after the creation of the MDC, politics once again has seeped into the water-tight system Missouri’s conservation pioneers tried to create.  If it isn’t stopped, the results will be catastrophic.  That is why, at its annual meeting last weekend, the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) passed a resolution that could mark another watershed in conservation history.

The resolution came out of the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) Deer, Turkey and Furbearer Committee.  It puts CFM – representing more than 80 affiliated groups and more than 100,000 individual members – on record in support of a new effort to amend the Missouri State Constitution.  The goal this time is to stop political incursions that threaten the future of Missouri’s white-tail deer herd.

The resolution and the initiative petition drive it supports have deep historical resonance.  CFM was the organization that spearheaded the 1936 initiative petition drive that established the Conservation Commission.  Forty years later, CFM lead another initiative petition drive to provide stable, permanent funding for conservation.  And now, another 40 years down the road, Missourians again are rising up to tell politicians to keep their hands off our precious wild resources.  There seems to be a 40-year cycle for conservation action in the Show-Me State.

What authority MDC has left was cancelled out last year by a court order in a lawsuit brought by captive-deer breeders who don’t like MDC regulations. 

Meanwhile the Missouri Legislature currently is busy with legislation that would take regulation of captive deer and elk operations out of MDC’s hands entirely.  The result would be shipping deer willy-nilly around the state with the predictable consequence of accelerating the spread of CWD.

MDC might prevail in the lawsuit, but even if it does, effective action to stem the tide of CWD could come too late.  And even if the lawsuit was resolved in MDC’s favor tomorrow, the Missouri Legislature undoubtedly will continue chipping away at MDC’s ability to respond.  And there’s no guarantee that the captive-deer industry won’t continue to stymie regulatory efforts with lawsuit after lawsuit.

As in 1936, the only sure-cure solution to save the Missouri white-tail deer herd for future generations is to express the will of the people in the Missouri Constitution.

That’s what the initiative petition drive that just won the support of the CFM aims to do.  If the petition garners enough signatures, Missourians will get to vote on the issue in 2018.

Two different approaches are being weighed:

  • One would be to stop the spread of CWD by prohibiting the transportation of captive deer between breeding facilities and shooting pens.
  • The other would achieve the same end by making it illegal to charge clients to shoot deer inside high-fence enclosures. Such “canned hunts” are repulsive to ethical hunters, who believe that real hunting involves fair chase.

If the effort to revise the Missouri Constitution is to succeed, it must have citizen support.  Later this year, volunteers will be needed to gather signatures on petitions, but what is needed most now is financial support to get the word out.  If you are willing to help, visit fairchasemissouri.com and click on the “donate” link.  You also can follow the effort on Facebook.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  Today, bringing what we have learned (knowledge) to create a chance for white-tail deer herd survival will require our courage and effort.  Let’s not repeat the history of the early 20th century, when white-tailed deer nearly went extinct.

-end-

Start Early to Learn Blackpowder for 2017 Hunting Season

• Part 2 of 2
• CVA Video – About Blackpowder Bullets
• New Sabots vs. Old Ball Bullets, Details

By Forrest Fisher
While there are many other blackpowder firearm models that cost much more, the Optima™ Pro 209 Magnum Break-Action represented the state-of-the-art blackpowder gun building technology when I got started about a decade ago. They make the same model today with even more improvements.

To simplify blackpowder firearm use, watch this video on how to load and shoot a blackpowder rifle, it’s about 4-minutes in length, from CVA:

The Optima Pro 209 barrel is an impressive 29″ inches in length and is fully fluted at 1:28. This provides plenty of barrel to burn “magnum” charges. At the same time, the overall rifle length and weight remain comfortable and easy to handle. The firearm is furnished in the box with Dura-Bright™ fiber optic sights that are all metal, with fully protected fibers, just in case you choose not to add a scope. The fiber optics are guaranteed for life. The neat thing about the Optima family of rifles is that they offer the option of barrel length (26 – 29 inches) for special game and shooting considerations. The barrel options also include nickel or matte blue color.

Based on the volume of “blackpowder jargon” everywhere we travel, it seems the new blackpowder hunting boom took off for good and it is now accepted as another great way to hunt big game. Local stores can’t keep some popular models in stock during hunting season, which is why I’m sharing this now. Experts at local stores say, “The new break-action designs bring the bore cleaning activity into a more reasonable scheme that a larger population of hunters are now willing to accept. Before models like this, cleaning a blackpowder barrel could take an hour, now it’s only a few minutes. Big difference.”

I checked with local stores where I live in Western New York to learn more about the blackpowder grain and blackpowder pellet options. One counter gentleman was a chemist in a previous life and said, “Blackpowder is really a formula combination of many elements including salt peter, charcoal and Sulphur. It is very dirty when burned and must be cleaned from the barrel the same day it is shot or serious oxidation (rusting) will occur.” That’s why, today, the two new blackpowder substitutes, Pyrodex and Triple Seven, have become the most popular blackpowder fuels. Both made by the Hodgdon Powder Company, the Pyrodex is also available in an easy to use “Pyrodex Pellet”, with 30, 50 and 60 grain pre-formed pellets available.

With two 50 grain pre-formed Triple Seven pellets stacked in series, a 225 grain Powerbelt sabot bullet will deliver about 2000 feet per second from the Optima™ Pro 209. That’s what I use. The end of the pre-formed pellets is coated with an ignition compound for easy start once the primer is ignited by a trigger pull.

Bottom line? Muzzleloading is fun and affordable. The new in-lines will allow older black powder traditionally styled rifles to be recognized in modern focus too, thereby allowing growth of the sport. In my travels to learn as much as possible in the shortest time on this subject, I discovered a very helpful book “SUCCESSFUL MUZZLELOADER HUNTING” written by Pete Schoonmaker. The author covers all the various styles of muzzleloader guns, the different muzzleloader hunting projectiles, various powders, plus safety and proper loading techniques, including older style ignition system and the hot 209 primer ignition in-line system. The book is a 144-page paperback book with 150 color photographs through 20 chapters to include hunting strategy, planning, and identification of the most common muzzleloading problems and issues. Amazon carries the book in used versions for under a dollar. Yep, true.

Even though blackpowder shooting is over 300 years old, it is still growing! Not only is it a thrilling sport, it is fascinating too. According to field representatives at Connecticut Valley Arms, “For some hunters and shooters, blackpowder hunting opens a whole new way of life. “ I can believe that, after watching how these new firearms perform at the target range.
The use of a modern muzzleloader combines a respect for traditional American hunting standards with the technology of today. A good blend for developing and nurturing newcomers to the blackpowder world, and for an appreciation of our pioneering past.

Share the outdoors with someone that would like to know more about the outdoors, but is afraid to ask.
Be safe.

Managing Black Bear: the Mid-Atlantic’s Apex Predator

• Black Bear Sows Have 1-3 cubs Every Other Year
• Black Bear Males are Bigger than Sows
• Bear Super-Abundance: West Virginia has a 2-Bear Limit

By Joe Byers
Black bears thrive in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia as hunting seasons expand to meet the challenge. New York is not far behind.
An eastern Pennsylvania man watched the big game intently when suddenly his TV set sharply turned. Shaking his head in disbelief, the homeowner walked toward the set when it moved again. Freaked out by the experience, he examined the set cautiously and noticed that the cable cord was stretched taught and surmised that something was under the house. “There’s a bear hibernating down there,” an animal control specialist told him the next day and it’s wrapped around your TV cable. We can call the DNR or wait for it to wake up and move on.”
Black bear encounters have become common for homeowners in Allegheny and Garrett Counties in Maryland, where homeowners must be cautious about garbage containers and any type of food that may attract foraging bears. Bear populations have spread eastward into Washington and Frederick counties and for the first time the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has authorized a bear season to reduce the population.

Managing the Abundance

The Tri-State area abounds with game and by selecting the proper dates, hunters can pursue deer, bear, and wild turkeys at the same time, even hunt multiple states

West Virginia has so many black bears that several counties have a two-bear limit and a long archery and crossbow season that runs from September 26th through November 21st.
Bears have no fear of water and swim the Potomac River as they travel and migrate through the Tri-State area. The Mountain State has huge tracts of public land such as the Monongahela National Forest that are easily accessible and provide a nearly wilderness hunting experience. Beginning October 10th, an archer can pursue wild turkeys, whitetail deer, wild boar, and black bear at the same time and may find them in the same habitat.

Pennsylvania’s DNR relies on hunters to harvest about 25 percent of the state’s black bears annually to keep numbers in check. The recent addition of an archery season allows hunters to hunt deer and bear at the same time, including an early season in designated units that opens September 19th. The Keystone state abounds with public land including 2.2 million acres of big woods and 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands. Even 120 state parks are open for hunting. Pennsylvania’s state-wide archery bear season runs November 16-20.
Maryland doesn’t offer a separate archery bear season, yet bows, crossbows and firearms may be used to hunt bears during the limited season, October 24-27. Since the Free State’s bear population is smaller than bordering states, perspective hunters must apply to a lottery licensing system which limits the number of bears that can annually be taken. One-in-five hunters bagged a bear in 2015, less than a 10 percent harvest of the estimated 1,000 adult bears in Maryland.

Black bear management has been very successful and each year DNR scientists crawl into bear dens, tag cubs, weight and take samples from the sow and then allow everyone to go back to sleep. This information plus data from hunter-harvested bears helps the DNR make informed decisions.

Why Bowhunt Black Bears?

If you saw the bear attack scene in The Revenant, you’d probably question the sanity of anyone choosing to hunt the apex predator with a stick and string. Ironically, an arrow through the lungs of a black bear is almost instantly lethal. I stalked a bear in Quebec with a camera operator one step behind me. After shooting the bruin with an arrow, we reviewed the tape and saw that it made four bounds, crashed, and expired in five seconds.
Black bears have a keen sense of smell and hearing, but relatively poor eyesight, such that wearing camouflage, reducing human scent with ScentBlocker gear, and waiting or stalking near places of feeding activity may allow a bear to wander close to you. Bear scat is easy to see and the bigger the pile, the bigger the bear.
Archery bear hunting in Maryland, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia is much like hunts done by Native Americans centuries ago, a time when human survival depended on bagging game and you may also be able to harvest wild turkeys, whitetail deer, or a black bear. Check the season dates. Falling leaves, cold crisp weather, and the chance to sneak solo through the woods is powerful medicine for a world with technology overload.

 

 

 

 

Many hunters prefer to hunt deer and bears from tree stands, the difference being that bears can climb trees.

Bear Facts
Black bears are doing well as a species, partially due to scientific management. One Pennsylvania researcher routinely crawled into a bear den with a rectal thermometer to gather data…that’s dedication.

Here’ are a few facts about the bears in the Tri-State region:

• Black bear females have litters of 1-3 cubs, but one sow in Pennsylvania recently had six offspring in a single litter.

• Black bears breed every other year and the mother stays with the cubs 24/7 the first year of life.

• A female black bear has a home range of about 10 miles while a male will roam over 25 square miles. Young bears can travel 150-200 miles searching for a new territory. (Why they show up in cities.)

• Black bears average 125-400 pounds in weight with some males reaching 600 pounds. Typically, males grow larger than females.

• Many bears in our area do not hibernate in dens, but curl up in a brush pile or large pile of leaves. Females hibernate before males.

• Black bears are omnivores and eat plants, berries, hard and soft mast, insects, prey animals such as white tail deer fawns, carrion, and human garbage or food leftovers. Maryland law forbids baiting bears as it lures them into contact with humans.

 

Tri-State 2016 Bear Seasons at a Glance:

 

 

 

 

Check current regulations for your hunting state carefully.

Author’s Note: Lifetime resident of Washington County, Joe Byers just published “A Comprehensive Guide to Crossbow Hunting.”  Autographed copies are available, plus a 10% discount by contacting the author directly at joebyers@erols.com

Start Early in Year to Learn Blackpowder for 2017 Deer Season

Part 1 of 2
• In-Line Firearms are Safe, Affordable, Accurate
• In Line Firearms are Handsome, Easy to Clean

Cabela’s carries CVA Blackpowder kits like this one for under $400, but the time to decide if you want to go blackpowder hunting is now, not two weeks before the season starts. CVA Photo

By Forrest Fisher

All across America, hunters and game management groups have brought the considerations for ancient firearms and science closer together for the fun of new and exciting blackpowder hunting options.

Most states have held public meetings to discuss big game season restructuring options and for several years a new kind of curiosity and buzz hovered amidst circles of hunters talking all about new hunting season possibilities.  Today, many states allow the new blackpowder firearms for hunting and there is a definite advantage with the modern blackpowder firearms, among them is safety.

There were debates everywhere, some were friendly, some hunters felt infringement on “their” sacred short season ritual with powder and ball, but one thing seems sure, many more sportsman are going to try black powder shooting with one of the new in-line muzzleloader firearms very soon.

The new in-line muzzleloaders use a 209 primer ignition system that offers a sure-fire shot (even in the rain), they are easy to clean and they offer extremely accurate shooting of a sabot-lined copper bullet.  As I learned in my first year, “The shotgun is out and the new in-lines have become the preferred choice for many hunters on opening day of the regular firearm season.”

It’s all about one-shot safety and accuracy at longer distances.  Many hunters add a scope to their muzzleloader for optical distance advantage and simple eyesight assist.  Lately this is most useful when there is a lack of opening day snow across many northern hunting zones.

From this group, there are stories of 150 yard shots and more, and surprising complaints from hunters waiting for a deer to get within 45 or 50 yards when someone from across the field drops the deer from 200 yards away. Yes, that can be an eye-opening surprise.

One very good part about this new hunting trend is that blackpowder hunters are one-shot shooters.  They can’t fire off 4 or 5 rounds at a running deer, so they aim slowly and deliberately, and can only take one good shot.  One-shot shooting is very safe.  I like safe. There is time to look beyond the target.  Required planning is much like an archer, except longer than a 15 yard shot is possible. That is not only safe, it is very efficient.

I must admit that all the jawboning in the first year of arguments among the old time blackpowder shooter helped push me to the edge of the “one-shot trend” in considering blackpowder.  So the next year, I splurged for purchase of an Optima™ Pro 209 magnum break-action in-line blackpowder rifle made by Connecticut Valley Arms.  I added an affordable Bushnell Banner 1.5 – 4X variable power scope to expand my aging vision.  The gun was inexpensive and even today, more than a decade later, is one of the most beautiful items in my locked firearms safe.

The full mossy oak camo rifle features a handsome high neck stock for a total cost of about $400, then add another $100 for the Bushnell (same color) camo scope.  Today you can buy this same model in a version 2, (V2) for about $400 with the scope, see the Cabela’s kit for a total cost of under $400.

Unlike conventional in-line muzzleloaders, there is no receiver on the Optima™ Pro, just a break-open action orifice at the end of the breech plug where the 209 primer fits.  Close the break action and the primer stays dry forever.  To learn about this visually, check out this one minute video at this link: https://youtu.be/Q3AYL-0bY94.

One thing to note: NEVER put regular high power smokeless powder from your usual high power firearms into your blackpowder firearm.  You must ALWAYS use simple muzzleloading propellant powders such as Pyrodex or Triple-7 at the recommended volume.

In Part 2, you’ll learn more about powder loads, options with optics and advice from experts.

Doing the Right Thing

  • It’s seldom the easiest, but always the best course 
  • Hunting Teal in the Morning Fog 
  • When No One is Watching, There is Friendship, Kinship, Honesty

By Jim Low

Foggy conditions are common during Missouri’s early teal season, complicating waterfowl identification.

My blood ran cold.  Moments earlier, Scott and I had been elated at doubling on a pair of dive-bombing teal.  Now, as my retriever returned with the first bird, my worst fear came true.  In her mouth was a juvenile wood duck.

The combination of shirtsleeve weather and lightning-fast gunning makes Missouri’s early teal season one of my favorites.  Inherent in this season, however, is the risk of shooting a wood duck.  It’s easy to mistake a woodie for a blue-wing in the heat of action.  The potential for mistakes is multiplied by dim, often foggy conditions.  That’s why shooting hours for the early teal season begin at sunrise, not 30 minutes before, as they do for regular duck season.

Scott and I had been talking in hushed tones as we squatted among willows in Pool 11 at the south end of Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area that September morning.  Our attention snapped back to hunting when two birds hurtled into view from the right.  I shouldered my gun instinctively and Scott followed my lead.  Imagine our astonished delight when both birds fell.  But our jubilation was short-lived.  With predatory autopilot disengaged, the thinking part of my brain recalled hearing the faint “weep-weep-weep!” cry of a wood duck just before the birds appeared.  I realized that I hadn’t had (or hadn’t taken) time to actually look at the birds before firing.  The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach became a bottomless gulf when Guinness delivered the second bird, another juvenile wood duck.

Sick-hearted and ashamed, we gathered our gear and left the marsh, leaving the two illegally killed ducks behind.  We had a tough decision to make.  We had committed a serious violation of Missouri’s Wildlife Code.  The road to recovery for North America’s wood duck population has been long and arduous.  The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) underscores the importance of protecting woodies by imposing stiffer penalties on those who shoot the beautiful perching ducks out of season.  Much more important to me than paying a fine was the fact that I was employed by MDC.  Wildlife Code violations are potential firing offenses for conservation workers.

Worrysome as these things were, a larger concern gnawed at me as we trudged back to the parking lot.  I had known Scott, who was then in his late 20s, for more than 10 years.  No one in his family hunted or fished, and I had become an outdoor mentor to him.  He was as fine a young man as I had ever known, and the idea of setting an example of breaking the law and then covering it up troubled me more than all the rest.  After a few days of reflection and continued conversations with Scott, I called Boone County Conservation Agent Robyn Raisch and laid our cards on the table.

Raisch thanked me for coming forward, but said that, because I was an MDC employee, he had to send the case up the supervisory chain to the Director’s Office for disposition.  Suddenly, the pit was back in my stomach.  Who would hire a middle-aged writer who got fired from his last job? At that point, I could only trust Director John Hoskins’ to put my good intentions and my 17-year record as an employee in the balance when weighing my fate.

I never heard anything from Hoskins, but at a meeting of the Conservation Commission a few months later, Assistant Director John Smith pulled me aside.  The pit returned to my stomach, but my faith had not been misplaced.  Alone in a courtyard, Smith told me that he admired my handling of a bad situation, and wished that everyone who committed Wildlife Code violations acted with equal integrity.  That meant more to me than he probably knew.

My experience is not unique.  A guy I know once mistakenly shot a buck with fewer than four points on one side.  Since Brad was hunting in a county where the antler-point restriction was in effect, he called the local conservation agent and reported himself.  The agent came and inspected the deer and, recognizing that Brad had made an honest mistake and done the right thing, cautioned him to be more careful in the future and left it at that.  Brad got to keep the deer, and he didn’t have to keep looking over his shoulder, wondering if someone had noticed his transgression.

Another guy I know accidentally killed a second turkey when he shot a gobbler.  He turned himself in and also got a warning.  I don’t know how often scenarios like this occur.  But those I do know about carry two lessons.  One is that doing the right thing, while seldom easy, is always the best course.  The other is that mentorship benefits mentors as much or more than it does mentees.  If I had been hunting alone at Eagle Bluffs that day, I probably would have taken the easy way out and never told anyone what happened.  I would have saved myself a $229 fine and a good deal of worry, but what I had done and what it told Scott about us would have haunted me for the rest of my life.  Being Scott’s mentor forced me to be a better man.

Individual ethics determine behavior in traditional outdoor sports, where the hunter is the only witness.

I’m not suggesting that we call a conservation agent every time we kill two doves on the last shot when filling a limit or when we forget to take all the lead shot shells out of a parka pocket before hunting ducks.  The measure of hunting ethics is how you conduct yourself when no one is watching, not whether you commit an occasional blunder.  If you know in your heart of hearts that you could and should have done better, when your conscience whispers that you have crossed a line that is important to you, don’t shy away from a voluntary mea cupla.  You might or might not earn a ticket, but you certainly will earn respect from the conservation agent, not to mention yourself.

Colorado Elk Herd in Crosshairs

  • Wolves May Be Added to Colorado Landscape
  • Elk Population Recovery in Question
  • Wolf Population Management Control in Question

By STOadmin

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is raising a word of warning about a “quiet” movement in Colorado seeking to place wolves on the landscape. It also has grave concerns about the tactics used by environmentalists and animal rights groups behind such efforts.
A representative of a wolf advocacy group, the Turner Endangered Species Fund, recently addressed a gathering of Colorado citizens claiming the placement of wolves on the Colorado landscape is “most germane” to the state’s future, and added “there’s no downside and there’s a real big upside.”

RMEF strongly disputes those claims.

“Wolves have a measureable and oftentimes detrimental impact on big game management wherever they go. Their reintroduction into the Northern Rocky Mountains led to a reduction of the Northern Yellowstone herd by more than 80 percent,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Among other things, wolves also greatly reduced elk numbers to dangerously low levels in central Idaho and have a profound impact on declining moose and deer populations in the Western Great Lakes region.”

The Northern Yellowstone Elk herd numbered more than 19,000 before wolf reintroduction in the mid-1990s but dropped below 4,000 in 2012. Increasing grizzly, black bear and mountain lion populations also played a role in the decline. Minnesota’s moose population numbered approximately 8,840 in 2006 but since dropped 55 percent to an estimated 4,020 in 2016.

“We have also witnessed time and time again that  pro-wolf groups seek to ignore agreed upon population recovery goals, thus moving the goals posts, so to speak, by filing obstructionist lawsuits designed to drag out or deny the delisting process altogether and  allowing wolf populations to soar well above  agreed upon levels,” said Allen. “These groups totally ignore what they themselves agree to once they get wolves on the landscape and they use lawsuits to manipulate the system, ignoring state-based management. And, in many cases the American taxpayers are paying for their legal fees,” Allen added.

Animal rights groups filed at least nine lawsuits regarding wolf populations in the Northern Rockies and at least six others affecting wolves in the Western Great Lakes, as well as several others that have impacted the listing status of wolves across the contiguous 48 states. Currently, two cases are pending in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, affecting listing status in Wyoming and in the Western Great Lake states.

As part of the wolf reintroduction efforts in the mid-1990s, federal and state agencies agreed to delist wolves and place them under state management when the original minimum recovery levels reached 100 wolves each in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Wolves met those delisting standards in 2002 but 2015 minimum populations were nearly 500 percent above that—786 in Idaho, 536 in Montana and 382 in Wyoming. The original population objective for wolves in the Western Great Lakes was 1,350 but at last count the overall minimum population numbered greater than 3,600.

Though well above minimum population levels, federal protections remain in place for wolves in the Western Great Lakes region and Wyoming due to environmental lawsuits.

“An unhealthy and litigious precedent has been set that once pro-wolf groups get a foot in the reintroduction door, they kick it open and file lawsuit after lawsuit to stymy the delisting process while using the wolf as a fundraising tool. Colorado’s elk population will be next in the crosshairs,” cautioned Allen. ”And by the way wolves are nowhere near endangered.”

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Possums – Odd and Ancient (Part 2 of 2)

Possums are 70-million-year-old survivors from the time of dinosaurs and have none of the normal qualifications for survival, making them a bit different in the world of wildlife.

  • Trappers Hate to Trap Possums 
  • Possums Live Slow, Die Young
  •   Possums Are Used for Alzheimer Studies
Possums are 70-million-year-old survivors from the time of dinosaurs and have none of the normal qualifications for survival, making them a bit different in the world of wildlife.
Possums are 70-million-year-old survivors from the time of dinosaurs and have none of the normal qualifications for survival, making them a bit different in the world of wildlife.

By Jill J. Easton

At two years old a possum is timeworn.  By their second birthday, a possum is starting to look and act like a codger.  Their fur loses whatever gloss and shine it once had, and bones develop arthritis and other aging diseases.  They also start exhibiting signs of senility.  They forget and eventually have problems doing even simple tasks like getting food and water.  In the wild, a possum that makes it to their third birthday is almost unheard of.

Possum’s May Help Provide Answers for Alzheimer’s

Several scientific studies are currently underway on possums since they age out so young.  Biologists hope to discover ways of combating human diseases like Alzheimer’s and senile dementia based on what happens to the animals during their rapid aging process.

Little Use for Possum Fur

Unfortunately, American possum fur is not in high demand for clothing.  Opossum skins are thinner than most furbearers, which makes them a poor choice for coats or other heavy garment uses.  In recent years, the pelts were used as a cheap substitute fur for trim, but the fur glut has made other skins more popular.

For fly-tying dubbing, possum is considered the best natural substitute for harp seal and is also used for Atlantic salmon and steelhead flies.  In the 18th century squares of the fur were commonly used as bathtub sponges. 

Trappers Hate Possum’s

Trappers hate possums because they clog up traps that could be catching more valuable animals.  Right now in the year 2017, a prime XXL possum pelt may bring seventy-five cents.  The skinned and fleshed grinner I recently sold – a good, big, prime pelt – brought fifty cents.  This is less than they were worth 70 years ago.

That seems to be about it.  No wonder possums have so few friends.

Love or hate them, it doesn’t much matter.  Possums will continue colonizing the world in their slow-moving, simple-brained way, eating chickens, stealing dog food and being the unique animals that they are.

How Not to Catch Possum’s

If there is a possum anywhere in range it will get caught. Given the chance it will get caught several times.  If you want to trap in an area where grinners are present: plan on several days of gray bonanza, or put out lots of traps and hope that a few will be left to trap animals that are actually causing problems, or have value as fur.

Possums respond to almost every lure and bait, they usually blunder into traps that are set for other animals.  The only places I haven’t caught possums is in coon and mink sets right on the edge of water and in cage traps.  Evidently, going through a door is too complex for their simple minds.

Killing a possum is much more difficult than catching one.  The best place to shoot a possum is in the ear with the gun angled toward the nose.  There are stories about trappers who have put half-a-dozen bullets into a possum, left it for dead and found the same possum in the same trap the next day.  You aren’t going to win with possums, the best you can do is grin and bear it.

Possum’s Eat Deer Ticks

One good thing is, they eat deer ticks.  In that way, they help control the spread of Lyme disease.  Maybe one good reason why we should always let them live unless they are a schoolyard nuisance or are diseased.

Shed the Winter Blahs

Finding a shed antler is a thrill on par with being dealt a royal flush. Jim Low Photo

  …by hunting antlers (Jim Low)

Finding a shed antler is a thrill on par with being dealt a royal flush.  Jim Low Photo
Finding a shed antler is a thrill on par with being dealt a royal flush. Jim Low Photo

I needed to get out of the house yesterday, so I took a brisk, 3-mile walk on trails at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City.  At one point, I spied half a dozen deer.  The three bucks were easy to pick out, because they were still rocking their autumn headgear.  I was a little surprised that all three males still sported antlers.  Missouri whitetails typically begin shedding their antlers around Jan.  1.  That’s one reason why MDC moved the antlerless deer season from early January to early December several years ago.  With the original timing, hunters were legally shooting quite a few bucks that had already dropped their antlers.

Anyway, it got me thinking about hunting for shed antlers.  It’s easy to slip into a cabin-fever rut this time of year, when most hunting seasons are closed.  Shed hunting can be done any time of day.  You can do it on your favorite deer-hunting land or anywhere deer live, which is pretty much anywhere in the state, including suburban parks, wildlife refuges and other areas that aren’t open to hunting.  You don’t need a gun or a permit.  You don’t even have to be a hunter.

The benefits of shed hunting go far beyond gathering dust-catchers for your mantle.  For one thing, it’s a much more pleasant way of getting exercise than grinding out miles on a treadmill in a gym that smells of moldy sneakers.  The off season – when you aren’t spending every spare hour in a tree stand – is a great time to scout new hunting areas.  And shed hunting can turn up useful clues about the size and habits of bucks that survived the past hunting season.

The most basic principle of successful shed hunting is to focus your efforts in areas where deer spend the most time.  Having just undergone the rigors of the rut, bucks are hungry at this time of year, so they are actively feeding.  If you can find standing corn, that is an excellent place to check.  So are grain bins and other places where grain gets spilled on the ground.  Clover and alfalfa pastures are favorite feeding areas, too.  If you planted turnips or other food plots to attract deer, be sure to include those on your rounds.  Orchards and tree plantations are deer magnets as well.  Be sure to thoroughly comb through sumac thickets and other brushy cover adjacent to food sources.  That’s where loosening antlers are most likely to get snagged and pop off.

Next, check travel lanes between food sources, watering spots and bedding areas.  Logging roads, fencerows, utility rights-of-way and streams – even dry washes – tend to funnel deer movement into predictable routes.  Game trails along these landscape features often are as obvious as superhighways, and are worth checking thoroughly.

Cedar thickets are favorite spots for deer to hunker down during severe weather.  Bushwhacking through them can be a challenge if you are standing up, but they are surprisingly open at ground level.  Pick your way through these, pausing every 50 feet or so to get down on your hands and knees and scan the surrounding ground for sheds.

Deer also spend lots of time resting on south- and west-facing slopes at this time of year. It doesn’t seem to matter much whether these slopes are wooded, brushy or covered in prairie grass.  Hillsides with this orientation receive direct sunlight, which helps deer stay warm.  Their elevation allows deer to see approaching danger while they chew their cud and digest food consumed the previous night.  When checking these areas for sheds, start on one side and methodically walk parallel lines until you have scanned the whole area, watching for matted leaves or grass that indicate day beds.

February and March are the best months for shed hunting.  Once antlers hit the ground, they quickly attract mice, squirrels and other rodents that gnaw on them to take advantage of the calcium and other nutrients they contain.  Even deer go after shed antlers, which is an interesting example of recycling.  Nothing goes to waste in nature, and if you want intact sheds, you have to get there first.

Searching for shed antlers is similar to other types of hunting in that the more you do it, the better you become.  Long-time shed hunters sometimes bring home dozens of trophies in a year.  Neophytes aren’t likely to do that well, but be patient and don’t get discouraged if your initial efforts fail to pay big dividends.  Half the fun of shed hunting is having an excuse to get outdoors and seeing things you would never see if you were sitting in front of the television.  On my recent walk, I got to watch a flock of turkeys feeding.  A pair of Cooper’s hawks entertained me with their aerial courtship, and a juvenile barred owl eyed me curiously, but without apparent fear, as I walked beneath its perch.  Those things seem different with a breeze in your face than equivalent views on The Nature Channel.

I didn’t find any sheds on that walk.  But I’ll be back next week, hoping to glimpse a one-antlered buck and turn his loss into my conversation-piece

Born to Hunt Pheasants

  • Well-Trained Bird Dogs
  • Timeless Moments with Old Friends  
  • Tasty, Beautiful, Ringed-neck Pheasants
  • One Surprising Modern-Day Youngster

For STO 02072017, picture 1of5By Joe Forma

The well-trained pointing Lab whirled into the red brush and a gorgeous Ringed-neck Pheasant clawed his way airborne.  The first of some 50 such flushes for my son, Andy Forma, of Penfield, New York, and his four companions on their 4th annual hunt with F&B Upland Birds in Hamlin, New York.

The companion hunters were Safari Club stalwarts Judge Bill Boller, George Cipressi and his grandson Dom, and also Dr. Pat Baranello, owner of the Calibre Shop ammo source, and Ron Bullard of Collins, New York.  Yours truly was the group photographer.

For STO 02072017, picture 2of5The hosts at F&B Upland are Fred Paye and Bill Surridge.  These great guys run a superb hunt in what they maintain as traditional Western New York bird cover.  As we step afield, we are transported back to the 1970’s when Ringed-necks were so prevalent locally.  The 200 plus acres of hunting land features standing corn, soybean fields, hedgerows and acres of natural red brush.

Fred and Bill provide wonderful, well-trained bird dogs, featuring Pointing Labs and Shorthair Pointers.  They are without a doubt the very best bird dogs I have ever hunted over.  They even respond to Fred’s command “get a drink” by immediately jumping into one of the large water tubs sprinkled around the area. Neat to see.

The morning hunt was for 25 randomly released roosters.  This is no walk ’em up and shoot in a 4-inch clover field.  Every bird was a challenge to locate and bag especially in the thick red brush and well grown hedgerows.  The dogs did a great job.  Many of the birds ran like the wily birds of old.  The group all had great shots and needed about 3-4 flushes and misses to settle down and then they rarely missed.

For STO 02072017, picture 3of5A real highlight of this hunt was George’s grandson, Dom, a 12 year-old super hunter.  Andy was really glad to have a youngster along to promote the future of his sport.  Dom couldn’t have been a better sportsman even at his young age.  He always held his cut-down Remington 20 gauge pump at a proper port arms position, as instructed.  He showed no impaired nerves or excitement, but hunted like he had done it a dozen times, not his first time.  He was an excellent shot.  He downed at least six hard-flying pheasants with single shots.  I didn’t see him miss.

After a great morning with about 22 birds brought to bag, we broke for a luxury lunch of roast venison, deep fried Canandaigua Lake yellow perch and Lake Erie walleye.  Fred and Bill fed us well in their spacious and heated tent.

For STO 02072017, picture 5of5The afternoon hunt was for an additional 25 Ringnecks.  The dogs continued their excellent work and showed no signs of fatigue.  They are well trained and well exercised, so they never quit, though some of us older sports slowed down just a bit.  The shooting was right on the mark though and the birds flushed hard with disconcerting cackling.

For STO 02072017, picture 4of5A tribute to all was that not a single bird was lost as a cripple.  Great shooting and great retrieving by the dogs.  By around 3:00 p.m., there five happy hunters and one old photographer, me, who decided one last push thru the soybean field would do it.  It produced our last kill, a long-tailed, beautifully feathered cock bird.

The boys finished with 45 to be delicious pheasants and the feeling of a day well spent.  Andy booked again for a hunt next November.

Bowhunting Woman of South Africa

Jack Coad and Anne O’Leary teamed up with Numzaan Safari to harvest this beautiful Zebra about 200 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa.

  • Adventure, Conservation-Oriented, Sacred Moments
  • Full Accommodations, Meals Included, Max Comfort
  • Professional Hunter Guide is Part of Package
  • Exciting, Relatively Low Cost
Anne O’Leary arrives in Thabazimbi Province in South Africa to unpack her Elite Archery bow to assure shot accuracy.
Anne O’Leary arrives in Thabazimbi Province in South Africa to unpack her Elite Archery bow to assure shot accuracy.

By Forrest Fisher

When Jack Coad and Anne O’Leary made a plan to hunt Africa, they planned the hunt of their lifetime.  They discovered that South Africa offered more than 30 species of animals and that some study of which animals to hunt would be needed.   Among the most common animals to hunt are Plains Game animals such as Impala, Wildebeest, Kudu, Gemsbok, Zebra, Eland and many others.

Hunting in South Africa is exciting, an adventure, it is about understanding nature and conservation.  There are wonders in the natural world of Africa that are breathtaking and extraordinary, these elements help hunters to develop a new perception of all things wild when you hunt in Africa. This is especially true for archery hunters.

It is often about observing wild animals that have the power to feast on you and your guide, face to face, while with archery gear in hand.  Animals such as the Cape Buffalo.

The safety of the hunter and the effectiveness of the hunt can depend on the structure and location of the blind such as this one, where Anne harvested her 900 pound Zebra.
The safety of the hunter and the effectiveness of the hunt can depend on the structure and location of the blind such as this one, where Anne harvested her 900 pound Zebra.

Choosing the right place to hunt and the right guide may appear to be complicated, but after conversation with other hunters that have travelled there, decision making is lessened to a manageable numbers of safari facilities.

Jack and Anne chose to hunt with Numzaan Safaris in Thabazimbi, a village in the Limpopo Province South Africa, located about a 3-1/2 hour drive northwest from Johannesburg.  There are multiple airlines that service this area and your travel from the airport is part of the Safari fee.  Upon arrival they met their “PH” or professional hunter (guide), Brent Van As, who advised their every move for safety and effective hunting of several species.

Hunting with a trained guide and effective gear in South Africa hunting may present an opportunity for the reverence of a perfect shot.

The hunter may accept the challenge to make that shot.  It is a sacred moment.  It is awe-inspiring.  It requires mental focus and an understanding with perceptive sense of the role that the hunter takes when hunting in Africa.  It is a role quite different from the role of hunter nearly anywhere else.  It is a role where indigenous natives applaud your success because you will share with them in your bounty, but also a role unpopular to some in the western world.  The locals keenly understand that you part of natural resource management.  They welcome you.

A prerequisite is that hunter skill in the gear of choice is necessary.  Bow, arrows, broadheads, release, sights, counterbalance, and the aim of the hunter in brief duress for the moment of brief encounter.  Your skill must be dominant.

Jack Coad and Anne O’Leary teamed up with Numzaan Safari to harvest this beautiful Zebra about 200 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Jack Coad and Anne O’Leary teamed up with Numzaan Safari to harvest this beautiful Zebra about 200 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Your understanding can be reduced to a simple few things:  arrow flight and distance to target.  You must recognize and understand the limits and boundaries of your shooting skills, like hunters everywhere, but many fail to recognize this transitional crossroad for taking a shot.

Bow hunts in Africa with many outfitters are usually a minimum of 10 days in stay and run during the African winter that occurs from July through September.

In Africa, accepting that you have the right gear, have developed adequate skill and you are healthy enough to embrace the excitement of the hunt and potential sharing of the harvest, know that you will have a trained and skilled guide.  A guide that has meandered the African wilderness and networks of animal trails that identify preferred hunting areas.

One look at the night sky to see tens of thousands of stars in the unspoiled air of Africa is enough, all by itself, to wish for a quick return to Africa.

The night sky tells a tale of purified and simple living.  Hunters in Africa form an important arm of required balance to keep poachers in check.  Hunter funding pays for poacher policing, without hunters that pay for this privilege to share in the harvest, the capacity for nature to support wild animal populations would have already been compromised.

Winter temperatures in Africa vary between the low 40’s to about a high of 70 in mid-afternoon, but it is sunny most of the time, so use of sunscreen is common.

Africa needs hunters.  African villagers and wild game species needs hunters.

As you explore this need, you realize there is a renewed sense of community.  You better understand the vulnerable community of African wild animals and the necessary role of hunters.  Hunters in Africa are a precious commodity subject to maltreatment from others without understanding of the rescue mission that they perform.

When you accept the challenge to hunt in Africa, and then after you have gone on the hunt and you return, it is only then that you realize how important it has been for you to form this new kinship with nature and our Creator.  A kinship that is vulnerable to confrontation.

Therefore it is important to realize that hunting in Africa requires moral courage and a new understanding that, in fact, as a hunter in Africa, you are a gift.  You are bound to respect, bound to scientific management of the species you harvest and share, bound to support the costly licensing procedure, bound to the reciprocity of the timeless bond with nature and the wilds that is shared by all hunters who respect their hunting moments as sacred.

To learn more about hunting and what it costs, what you should pack and how far in advance to plan, visit this website: http://www.numzaan.com/.  One thing that is surprising is that you will learn it is far less costly to hunt Africa than it is the Rocky Mountains in western United States or up north in Alaska.  I was surprised at this, but it accentuates the need for hunters to visit Africa.

If you have additional questions, you might email their guide, Brent Van As, directly, at brent@numzaan.com.  

For it is you and I that must understand there is reciprocal balance and you and I are part of that delicate scale.

RAGE Arrow Packages Now in KIT FORM

  • Pre-Cut to 29.5 inches
  • SC-2 Blade, 100 Grains
  • Advanced Shock Collar, Non-Fouling Design

For STO 01272017, HUNTING and PRODUCTS, Picture 1of2Posted by Forrest Fisher

Folks don’t need to tell me personally about how effective the Rage broadheads are.  They have proven their value with me the last 7 years.  They are deadly effective.

For STO 01272017, HUNTING and PRODUCTS, Picture 2of2Rage, the number-one-selling mechanical broadhead on the market, now offers two complete arrow packages so archers can spend less time building arrows and more time shooting them.

The new Rage Simply Lethal Arrow package combines a popular Gold Tip pre-fletched carbon arrows with the archer’s choice of either the Rage SC 2-Blade 100-gr. or the Rage SC 2-Blade Chisel Tip 100-gr. broadheads and a set of field points for practice.  Extremely tough and very dependable, these arrows come out of the box pre-cut and fully equipped with nocks, inserts, and 2-inch GT vanes installed.

Designed for draw weights up to 70 lbs., the arrows in the Rage Simply Lethal package are pre-cut to 29.5 inches to fit most archer’s setups.  They have a straightness ±.006-inch and weight tolerance of ±2.0 grain.  The deadly cut-on-contact Rage SC 2-Blade is a proven 2-blade Slip Cam™ design with advanced Shock Collar technology that keeps the blades in place until the moment of contact.  This delivers full kinetic energy to provide extremely large wounds and better blood trails.  The Rage SC 2-Blade Chisel Tip incorporates a bone-crushing chisel-tip design and features the Shock Collar retention system for dependably devastating entry and exit wounds.

Both Rage Simply Lethal packages come with three fletched arrows, three broadheads and three field points. The Rage Simply Lethal arrow packages are now available at retailers nationwide with a suggested retail price of less than $60.  They are easily distinguished apart by the red packaging of the Rage SC 2-Blade and the yellow packaging of the standard 100-grain Rage SC 2-Blade.  Spend your time shooting instead of getting your equipment prepared to shoot.

Rage Broadheads is the world’s number-one manufacturer of expandable broadheads. Rage also manufactures quivers and accessories.  A FeraDyne Outdoors brand, Rage is headquartered at 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; call 866-387-9307; or visit www.ragebroadheads.com.

Duck Ship of Fools

  • Fog, Friends, Food, Fun – All About Duck Hunting
  • Farms Ponds Frozen, Search Reservoirs for Quacker’s
  •   Using Google Maps and Digital Reckoning
The fog might not have contributed to hunting success, but it did create some memorable moments.
The fog might not have contributed to hunting success, but it did create some memorable moments.

By Jim Low

Like a faithless lover, duck hunting is hard to give up on.  I, along with many other Missouri waterfowlers, wrote off the 2016-2017 duck season as a bad job weeks ago.  But when hunting buddy and long-time friend Bill Powell asked me to join him on one last hunt at Pomme de Terre Lake, the siren’s song was irresistible.  Here was a chance to redeem an otherwise disappointing season with a mixed bag of divers and puddle ducks.  Who knew?  Maybe a brace of canvasbacks awaited us.

For STO 01252017, TRENDING NOW-MO, Picture 1of3
Despite difficulties with equipment and fog, we arrived in plenty of time to set up a convincing decoy spread.

A large part of Bill’s motivation lay in testing the blind he was building for his new duck boat.  I might have seen the handwriting on the wall when, the night before our departure, he admitted that work on the blind had not progressed as hoped.  Instead of hunting from the comfort of his boat, we would motor to our chosen spot and hunker down in brush at the water’s edge.

My misgivings vanished when I woke to dress at 2 a.m. and peered out the bedroom window.  The fog was thick enough to stir with a spoon.  Duck weather!  By the time we got to Wheatland Park on Pomme de Terre’s northwestern shore, the air was so thick I had to ground-guide Bill as he backed the trailer down the boat ramp.  Launching the boat turned out to be the least of our problems.  The new 25HP Mercury motor stubbornly refused to catch, despite repeated mental review of the starting checklist.  Tank full?  Check.  Fuel Line connected?  Check.  Vent open?  Check.  Primer bulb pumped and firm?  Check.  But still no ignition.  Ten minutes and several expletives later, Bill discovered the missing item on his list.  Kill switch?  On!  Switch to off position…Varoom!

With motor purring like a contented tiger, Bill turned the bow into…an impenetrable fog bank.  The boat ramp was still visible, so Bill knew which direction was north.  All we had to do was motor three-quarters of a mile due south.  But even in our sleep-deprived condition we were sharp enough to know we would lose our bearings the moment the shoreline disappeared, and Bill’s boat had no compass or GPS unit to guide us.  With the boundless and equally unjustified confidence inspired by technology, I whipped out my smart phone and launched Google Maps.  In seconds, I was looking at a dot (us) moving slowly across the screen headed – due north?

“Turn around!” I shouted over the motor’s roar, fearing we might crash into the shore we had just left.  Bill dutifully turned what he judged to be 180 degrees and soon had us headed – due east.  “Turn right!” I shouted over the motor’s roar.

This went on for five or 10 minutes, until the boat ramp appeared again.  That’s when it dawned on me that the cursor on my phone’s screen had changed from the usual arrow, with its pointy end indicating direction of travel, to a largish dot with a funnel shaped thing protruding from one side.  This led to several questions.  Why had the cursor changed?  Had I accidentally switched a setting?  Did Google Maps automatically make the change when we went from land to water?  From day to night?  Was that funnel supposed to be the wake behind our boat or a beam of light preceding it?

This, in turn, led to several minutes of fumbling with settings, widening and narrowing the view to find landmarks and ordering Bill to go faster, slower, stop, turn left, turn right and stop altogether while I tried to figure out how facts on the water related to the image on my screen.  About this time, Bill looked up and exclaimed, “Oh, there it is!” Apparently I had navigated us – entirely by accident – to the desired spot.  Never ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, we proceeded to transfer our hunting gear to shore so Bill could motor farther down the cove (keeping the shoreline in sight!) and hide the boat.  Meanwhile, I began setting out decoys.

Everything went smoothly until I dumped the bag containing scaup decoys on a 100-foot jerk line.  There was evidence of an elegant scheme to keep decoy cords and the main line orderly.  However, that effort had been defeated by the hurly-burly of tossing decoy bags into and out of truck and boat.  Utter chaos now prevailed, and a pocket knife seemed the only remedy.  Bill set about deploying the other decoys while I applied years of experience with tangled baitcasting reels to the diver rig.  Amazingly, I had it mostly untangled by the time shooting light arrived.

That’s when Bill discovered that he had left our stools and food in the truck.  No matter.  We had managed to remember our guns and ammo, and we had camo netting to drape over buttonbush and willows to create individual blinds.  We were set.  All we needed was ducks.

Late-season hunts on southern Missouri’s big Corps of Engineers reservoirs are most productive when neighboring ponds and streams are frozen.  That had been true the previous week.  However, the past few days had been warm, and puddle ducks now were contentedly preening on a thousand farm ponds.  So, we pinned our hopes on diving ducks, whose preference for big water keeps hunters in business at Pomme de Terre regardless of weather.

We did see a few goldeneyes and ringnecks, but none that showed significant interest in our decoys.  The only shots we fired were at a pair of Canada geese that strayed dangerously close around 8 a.m.  Feathers drifted down as the pair disappeared into the fog.  Moments later, we heard honking out on the water a few hundred yards away.  The distressed calling continued and it seemed clear that one of the birds was down.  Bill hotfooted it back to the boat with his retriever, Hector, and went in search of the crippled bird. They returned empty-handed half an hour later.

Bill’s dog Hector had a great time retrieving sticks while we worked with decoys, and he slept like the dead during the drive home.
Bill’s dog Hector had a great time retrieving sticks while we worked with decoys, and he slept like the dead during the drive home.

Two hours and several decoy adjustments later, we admitted defeat and collected our gear.  As we motored back to the boat ramp, Bill noticed that his shotgun was missing.  Back to the point we went and retrieved the gun in its cunningly camouflaged case.  At least the fog had lifted, and we could find our way without digital assistance.

At the ramp, we experienced what we thought was our final humiliation of the day. Earlier in the morning, when Bill pulled up to park his truck after launching the boat, the fog apparently had confused him so thoroughly that he parked 50 yards too far downhill. As a result, his trailer was blocking half of the boat ramp’s width.  “Did I really do that?” Bill asked in dismay. Yep.  He sure did.  The one boater who arrived after us had kindly refrained from leaving a nasty note or scratches on Bill’s new truck.  But he surely must have had some choice words for the rubes who preceded him.

On our way home, as Hector snoozed contentedly between us, we decided to visit a pond owned by one of my neighbors.  Geese regularly visit there, spreading gooey green poop liberally across lawn and sidewalk.  She is delighted to have me visit periodically and put the fear of God in these feathered manure spreaders.  To simplify our approach, we traded vehicles, putting guns and retriever in my truck for the trip to the pond.

Alas, we found it deserted, dashing our last hope.  I dropped Bill and Hector back at his truck before heading home, ready for a nap.  Then I realized that Bill hadn’t retrieved his shotgun from the back of my truck.  After a quick phone call, we both reversed directions and returned to our rendezvous point to do a final sorting of gear.  He still ended up with my phone charger, but that was small potatoes in the Chinese fire drill that our day had become.

Every hunt creates memories, regardless of whether game is taken.  If nothing else, our last duck hunt of the 2016-17 season resulted in a full limit of stories to tell.

Brothers That Hunt Together – A Video Story

  • Lessons for Stalking Pronghorn
  • Learn About Tracking, Harvest
  • Enjoy Field Dressing Tactics, Savory Cooking Details

Pronghorn-3By Forrest Fisher

In this wonderful video from Ramp Media Outdoors, learn about the passion of how and why hunting brings two brothers together.  Despite their extremely busy lives, Matt McMorris and brother, Jeremy, share details about hunting and how it provides them with an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors together.

They both have families with young children and live several hundred miles distant from each other, but in this video, they find a way to get together during hunting seasons in the Texas panhandle to hunt for a pronghorn buck.

Watch as they track a herd of pronghorn, share hunting techniques, scouting tactics and more importantly, perhaps, why hunting is about so much more than about taking a trophy.

Matt says, “Hunting brings people together and has such deep meaning and purpose for true sportsmen.  As brothers, we use our harvest for food to feed our families.  We hunt because it is a part of who we are as humans designed to survive.  Hunting does a lot to bring people together, bonding people to nature and to a more ultimate meaning.”

Possums – Odd and Ancient (Part 1 of 2)

  • Possums are Marsupial’s
  • Possums Play Dead to Live
  • Possums have More Teeth than Any Other Mammal
Possums are 70-million-year-old survivors from the time of dinosaurs and have none of the normal qualifications for survival, making them a bit different in the world of wildlife.
Possums are commonly thought by scientists and wildlife biologists to be 70-million-year old survivors from the time of dinosaurs and have none of the normal qualifications for survival, making them a bit different in the world of wildlife.

By Jill J. Easton

Possums are weird.  These 70-million-year-old survivors from the time of dinosaurs have none of the normal qualifications for survival.  They are slow and empty-headed, their main trick is to play dead.  Almost nothing will eat possum, especially one that looks and acts long-dead.  But more about that later.

Possums are not one of the major predators of ground-nesting birds, but they will eat eggs, chicks and anything else that comes within their limited hunting range.  Next to hogs they are probably the largest producer of hungry offspring.

First the Facts

The Virginia Opossum, Didelphis Virginiana is the only marsupial found in the United States.  Marsupials are mammals that raise their young in pouches that provide protection and milk to the babies.  Other marsupials are animals like the kangaroo and koala, both found in Australia.

Possums have to have been designed from spare parts.  An adult’s head looks too big for its body, the back feet should belong to a monkey and the tail to a giant rat.  The opossum has 50 teeth, more than any North American land mammal, and a lower body temperature as well.  Its hairless tail is prehensile to grasp branches and is also used for balance.  Contrary to folklore, only young possums hang upside down by their tails.  The opossum has opposable thumbs on its hind feet which they use for holding on to branches.  Possums also have one of the smallest brains for their body size of any mammal, this makes them hard to kill.

In the past 100 years, possums have hugely extended their range.  They originally were animals of the south, but now possums have been found so far north that they are commonly found with their tails and ear tips frozen off.

Possum Sex Isn’t Simple

For many years, country folks thought female possums had sex through their noses.  When mama grinner was ready to give birth, she supposedly sneezed the babies into her pouch.  This isn’t exactly what happens.

The true story is a male possum has a bifurcated, or split, penis.  It is Y shaped with two separate sperm delivery heads.  Country naturalists assumed that since the male had a double it had to go into a double opening.  The only visible place on a female possum that was double was her nose.

The reality is just as odd.  The female possum actually has two separate sets of baby-producing equipment that branch out internally to match up with the two-pronged penis.  So mom produces two different sets of babies at birth.

And Then They Are Born

Marsupials birth their babies after a gestation period shorter than some first dates.  The babies are pushed out of the womb 11 to 14 days after the eggs are fertilized.  The preemie-possums are smaller than dried peas and twenty or more can fit on a teaspoon.

To survive, the tiny, blind, naked infants have to make a perilous journey under the mother’s tail, fight through the hair on her belly and squirm into her pouch.  Many fall off and die along the way.  Imagine climbing Mount Everest by wiggling along on your stomach with no clothes and not able to see or hear.  The possums who survive the epic journey still have to fight for milk since the teats in the mom’s pouch can only support 13 of the 20 plus babies that are usually born.

A week after their journey into the pouch the babies have tripled in size, at about 70 days their eyes open and a few weeks later the pouch reaches overflow stage.  Now the young opossums each weigh about an ounce and are the size of a deer mouse.  After being crowed out the babies climb up mom’s back and ride with their tiny prehensile tails wrapped around her fur.  For the next month mom teaches them to find food by digging grubs and worms and consuming almost anything vaguely edible, animal or vegetable.  After about a hundred days the young possums wander off to lead their own, mostly solitary, lives.

Now Let’s See, To Survive, They Die?

Opossums have one of the least practical modern survival mechanisms in the animal world; they play dead.  This might have worked well when being threatened by a velociraptor 70 million years ago, but it fails miserably when used against a pickup truck.

Possums do something similar to fainting.  The possum assumes the ‘grinner position’ flat on its side with lips pulled back to expose clenched teeth, often a foam of saliva drips out of the mouth.  On the other end a foul-smelling fluid leaks out the anal glands.  This discourages canines and other meat eating animals, but it makes possum’s easy targets for buzzards, eagles and bird predators who relish a temporarily immobile animal.

Some grinners can be prodded, turned over and even carried away without reacting.  Sometimes it takes as long as four hours for the animal to return to normal.  The awakening process begins with slight twitching of its ears.

Part 2 – Next Week – Trapping, How Not to Catch a Possum

(No) Duck, (No) Duck, Goose

The first waterfowl, the author’s golden retriever, Willa, ever fetched were a pair of Canada geese shot on a small pond. It tested the 55-pound puppy’s strength and determination, but was she ever proud of the accomplishment!

  • Abundant Honkers Offer Nice Compromise
  • How to Find a Goose Pond
  •   Tasting the Bounty, a Great Recipe
The first waterfowl, the author’s golden retriever, Willa, ever fetched were a pair of Canada geese shot on a small pond.  It tested the 55-pound puppy’s strength and determination, but was she ever proud of the accomplishment!
The first waterfowl, the author’s golden retriever, Willa, ever fetched were a pair of Canada geese shot on a small pond. It tested the 55-pound puppy’s strength and determination, but was she ever proud of the accomplishment!

By Jim Low

I admire perseverance as much as the next guy, but at some point in a dismal duck season, a sensible person cuts his losses and finds something else to do.  If the alternative advances state wildlife management goals, all the better.  That’s why I have shifted my hunting efforts to Canada geese.

This close to Christmas, it can be hard to devote much time to hunting, which makes hunting Canadian honkers even more attractive.  There’s not a county in the state that doesn’t have at least as many of the big birds as it needs.  Consequently, you don’t have to go far to find them.  Geese are nuisances around golf courses, city parks and subdivisions, where the combination of ponds and large expanses of mowed areas act like goose magnets.

Goose Abundance

When people can’t cross their own driveways or take a walk in the park without stepping in goose poop, they frequently ask the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to do something to reduce goose numbers or at least move them away from people.  MDC encourages people to take the initiative in controlling goose numbers.  It even gives hunters and early hunting season in addition to the regular season, which runs through Feb. 6 this year, with generous daily and possession limits of three and nine respectively.

The key to cashing in on the abundance of Canada geese is finding landowners who are fed up with goose poop on their sidewalks and lawns, and convincing them that a polite, safety-conscious hunter like you is the answer to their problem.  When you spot a pond with a bunch of geese around it, put on nice clothes, shave and knock on their door with a carefully planned sales pitch.  Something like, “I noticed that you have a lot of geese around your pond and wondered if you have problems with them pooping on your driveway or tearing up your lawn?”

Request Permission – Here’s How

If they say no, that they like having geese around, thank them for their time and move on to the next place.  But if they admit that the geese sometimes are too much of a good thing, tell them that you might be able to help them with the problem.  Tell them that geese are gregarious, and if one group is using their lake, others will soon follow.  But geese also are smart, and they quickly abandon places where they don’t feel safe.  A few visits by a hunter during the three-month hunting season will discourage some of the flocks, keeping the number that visit their property to a manageable level.  Don’t overpromise.  Your chances of permanently scaring all the geese off a particular pond are practically zero.  Anyway, most landowners want fewer geese, rather than none at all.

Be sure to mention important details, such as your willingness to call before each visit to their pond. Ask them what times of day and which parts of their property they feel comfortable with you hunting. And be sure to emphasize that you will always be careful to shoot only in safe directions, taking livestock, buildings, neighbors and nearby roads into account.  You also can offer to share the bounty, should you succeed in bagging geese.  A plucked and dressed – maybe even roasted – Christmas goose is a great way to say thank you for the privilege of hunting.

Be Ready, Go Prepared

My favorite goose pond is just two miles down the blacktop from my house.  The owner is a widow who would be just as happy if she never saw another goose.  She is so motivated that she calls me when she looks out her window and sees a bunch of geese.  She long ago told me not to bother calling before opening fire.  I can help myself any time.  I try to cruise by her house whenever leaving the house or coming home to increase my chances of surprising a bunch of honkers.  I keep my 12-gauge autoloader and a box of BB steel shot shells in the truck throughout the goose season, along with a pair of muck boots and coveralls.  That way I can suit up and go to “work” on a moment’s notice.

I have occasionally hunted from a ground blind, but I usually jump shoot geese.  The pond dam provides cover at the deep end, and a wooded draw at the other end offers cover for sneaking up on birds at the shallow end.  If the geese are near the house, I park on the road and pop up over a little rise in the yard within 20 yards if the unsuspecting birds.  Last year I bagged nine geese this way.  My neighbor was grateful, and my retriever got some work she wouldn’t have had otherwise.  I removed the breast meat from most of the birds and used to make one of my extended family’s favorite Thanksgiving appetizers – goose rumaki.

Favorite Recipe

This is a variation on the traditional recipe that uses goose liver wrapped in bacon.  Instead of liver, I substitute half-inch cubes of goose breast meat marinated in teriyaki sauce. I wrap these in bacon with a slice of either water chestnut or jalapeno pepper.  I also add fresh ginger and minced garlic to the marinade for extra flavor.  Even my daughter, who ordinarily isn’t fond of red meat, thinks these are extraordinary.

Farm ponds in rural areas also are great places for this kind of hunting, though you might have to spend some time identifying the owner.  Plat maps (land owner property/lot map) at the county assessor’s office are an excellent resource for this.  I prefer knocking on doors and asking for information.  It increases your opportunities to talk with landowners who might welcome a hunter thinning local goose numbers.  Keep this in mind next time you pass a pond crowded with geese.  It’s a great way to extend the fun of waterfowl season past the point when the ducks depart for Arkansas.

Trapping Coyote: The Process (Part 5)

  • Coyotes: 40 Pounds of Muscle that Can Bite
  • Learn “Smart” to Trap Coyote
  • Leg-Hold Traps Work Best

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Jill J. Easton

A grown coyote can be 40 pounds of muscle and mayhem, and they are one of the smartest animals in the woods.  Fasten your traps well and don’t ever assume that a cowering coyote won’t bite.  Trapping coyotes should always mean catch and kill, not catch and release.

Learn Regulations

Before starting any trapping program learn the trapping regulations in your state.  Most wildlife agencies have regulation books and some states require licenses or trapper education courses before trapping.  Your state’s trapper’s association is another excellent place to get trapping training and pointers.  Make an internet search for local contacts.

Becoming successful at catching coyotes means setting your traps where the canines travel.  The best locations for coyote sets are in travel ways, the edges of roads between fields, places where animals have obviously been crawling under fences and around barns and stock feeding areas.  Put your sets in places where domestic animals won’t get caught.

Leg-Hold Traps Work Best

Leg hold traps in a dirt hole set (the trap is covered with a light layer of dirt and duff) work best for coyotes.  In snow country, #3 traps work best and in warmer climates #1.75 traps are big enough for coyotes.

“Generic predator sets work well for coyotes and will also catch coons and possums that may be part of the problem,” explained Jim Spencer, author of GUIDE TO TRAPPING (available from www.treblehookunlimited.com).  “Make the set upwind of the suspected travelway, choose a low backing like a log, bunch of grass or rock that will attract attention, punch a slanted hole four to six inches deep at an angle under the backing.  This is where the attractant, a bait or lure, will be placed.  About five inches in front of the lure hole and backing dig a shallow hole just big enough to accommodate the trap.

Either pound a stake into the trap bed fastened to the trap chain, or cable the trap to a nearby tree or log using 3/32nds or larger galvanized aircraft cable.  Set the trap then bed it firmly in the shallow hole and pack dirt around it until there is no wobble in the trap.  Then pack dirt around the outside of the open jaws and sift a light covering of dirt over the trap and blend it with the surroundings.  Finally, put either a meat bait or predator scent in the hole and stuff a few leaves in the opening to keep the bait dry.  Apply a squirt of fox or bobcat urine to the backing.  That’s all there is to it.”

To dispatch a coyote, simply draw an imaginary line from each ear to the opposite eye.  Place your .22 sight where the two lines cross.  Short solid point ammo is adequate for the job.

Traps, Lures, Gear Sources

Traps, lure and other equipment can be purchased from many trapping supply companies which can be found on line. Schmidt Enterprises and Kaatz Brothers Supply are two full line companies.

The Process: How to Set a Coyote Leg-Trap

trapping

Next Week: About Opposum

Ugly Ducking: Hunting Show or Hunting Porn?

  • New Shotshells DO Shoot Farther and Kill – BE CAREFUL
  • Hunt for the Camaraderie, the Excitement, the Deep Spiritual Meaning

for-sto-01042017-hunting-picture-1of3By Jim Low

I don’t ordinarily watch hunting shows on television, but the Hunt Channel caught me in a weak moment.  I’m still coming to terms with the fact that my 2016 duck hunting season ended without me firing a single shot at a mallard.  Sad.  So sad that when I saw a duck-hunting program listed on my satellite TV menu, I clicked in, hoping at least to share the experience of luckier hunters.  What a disappointment.

All the physical elements of a duck hunt were there – guys, guns, decoys, dogs and the factor that has eluded me this year, ducks.  Yet somehow it didn’t add up to hunting.  There was plenty of killing, though.  Five minutes into the program I had already seen more birds fall out of the air than would have been necessary for me to call a day in the marsh a success.  But something was missing.

For one thing, there was none of the banter that enlivens a morning spent with hunting buddies.  No reminiscing about past hunts, no good-natured jibes about shooting ability or choice of ammunition.  Mostly it was grim determination and gear talk. Long shots were the order of the day.  Despite the presence of large numbers of ducks that readily worked the decoys, only a few managed to get closer than 40 yards before the three hunters unleashed a barrage of expensive non-toxic shot in their general direction.  The implicit message was that hunting skill is superfluous when you can simply buy bigger, better shot shells capable of knocking down ducks at 60 yards.  Never mind the large proportion of crippled birds.

Neophyte waterfowlers would not have learned much from the endless series of money shots.  The hosts offered no observations about wind or other weather variables and how they might affect hunting strategy.  There was no explanation of how the decoy spread was structured to invite passing ducks to land.  No wonder, since the spread showed no sign of forethought.  It was an amorphous wad of bobbing plastic, with no opening to lure birds into shotgun range.

Time spent with friends – two- and four-legged – is one important aspect of hunting that doesn’t depend on killing game.
Time spent with friends – two- and four-legged – is one important aspect of hunting that doesn’t depend on killing game.

Violating the most basic rule of duck calling, the trio continued to blow loudly on their calls even when the birds were swooping toward the decoys.  When ducks fell, the party’s lone retriever piled into the water unbidden, a serious breach of retriever etiquette.  The only dog work and handling that viewers got to see was when the Labrador Retriever delivered a duck to hand.  All you saw was a wild barrage of shooting, one or several ducks falling and – if you were lucky – a dog climbing back into the boat with a duck.

There was plenty of product placement, however.  To be honest, that description implies a level of subtlety the show’s producers did not possess.  “Product placement” implies that hunters are shown using particular brands and models of equipment.  To compensate for a lack of careful filming, ham-handed editing superimposed huge product photos over the hunting video when a sponsor’s gewgaw was purportedly in use.  The whole thing would have made the brazen pitchmen of AMC’s Mad Men blush.

Devising a decoy spread that takes wind, sun, cover and other factors into account is critical to bringing ducks close enough for quick, clean kills.
Devising a decoy spread that takes wind, sun, cover and other factors into account is critical to bringing ducks close enough for quick, clean kills.

Three-quarters of a century ago, Aldo Leopold lamented the fact that outdoor media were becoming mere billboards for outdoor gadgets.  He said he was glad he wouldn’t live to see the end result.  I know how he felt.  I don’t mind gadgeteers making a buck by peddling bigger, better, faster and generally over-rated products.  I even end up buying some of them and then laughing at myself.  I once bought a box of steel shot shells touted as “hypersonic.” When my hunting buddy ran out of ammo, he teasingly asked me to lend him a couple of my “hyperbolic” loads.  Made me laugh and blush simultaneously.

Up to a point, commercializing hunting doesn’t bother me.  It’s good for the economy and real hunters quickly figure out which gimmicks work and are compatible with their standards for fair chase.  What really troubles me is reductive treatment of blood sports.  New hunters, potential hunters and non-hunters who watch shows like the one I saw would never guess that hunting is about more than killing things.  The Spanish philosopher and hunter Jose Ortega y Gasset said that he did not hunt to kill, he killed in order to have hunted.

I wanted to kill ducks this fall, I really did, but I still considered my time in the marsh with friends worthwhile, in spite of the scarcity of killing.  It would have been even more satisfactory if ducks had deigned to visit my marsh, even if I had failed to kill one.  I will continue to hunt as long as there is a possibility of ducks cupping their wings and sliding into a cleverly-conceived decoy spread, whether it happens or not.

I don’t consider the guys in the hunting video bad people or unethical hunters.  I strongly suspect they understand, deep down, the truth of y Gasset’s view of the relationship between hunting and killing.  However, I do consider them and the producers of their show to be thoughtless and embarrassingly inept storytellers.  If you are going to portray hunting in a public forum, please don’t cheapen it by reducing the experience to hunting porn.  Do your best to capture the art, the camaraderie, the excitement and the deep spiritual meaning that comprise hunting at its best.  I know it’s not as easy as stringing together a bunch of kill shots, but it’s more truthful.

How to Protect your Property from Coyotes

  • Coyote Male-Female Pairs Bond for Life
  • Cold, Gray-Green Eyes Glow Yellow at Night
  • Coyotes are Smart and Fast, Can Run 30 mph

for-sto-01022017-hunting-picture-1of2

By Jill J. Easton

Coyote Migrations

Originally these canines lived only in the northern and western United States.  s the plains were settled and farmed, they gradually moved across the country following civilization, but it was not until the 1940’s that coyotes were regularly spotted in the south.

Today the coyote, Canis latrans, is found across America.  They prefer brushy or wooded areas close to farming or livestock operations, but many live in and around our largest cities (More than 100 animals are radio collared in downtown Chicago.)

Colors vary, but generally they are reddish gray with a buff belly; at a distance, some people mistake a coyote for a big fox.  They have cold, gray-green eyes that don’t seem to reflect light in the daytime, and glow yellow at night.  Coyotes can cross-breed with domestic dogs, and the resulting offspring are frequently fertile.

Coyotes hunt in male-female pairs that bond for life.  They can run faster than 30 miles per hour, have excellent vision, smell and hearing, and are one of the most adaptable animals on the planet.  It takes four to eight square miles to support each coyote pair.

Packs are made up of the alpha pair, their young of the year, and sometimes a few offspring from the previous year’s litter.  A successful foraging song dog contacts pack members when lots of food is located.  On a windless night, coyote howls can be heard for several miles.

Controlling Coyotes

for-sto-01022017-hunting-picture-2of2Whether you love them or hate them, short of a nuclear holocaust, coyotes are not going away.  Only a disease epidemic or mass poisonings could decimate their numbers.  However, when they become a problem they can be controlled.

“Prey controls the predator, and man can manipulate the system,” said Thurman Boothe, Arkansas Director of Wildlife Services for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  “The natural environment will fill a niche, but management can reduce the numbers.”

Some of the ways to control coyotes when populations get out of balance include hunting (either with dogs or by calling) and trapping.

When coyotes overpopulate an area, they sometimes lose their fear of people and can eventually become dangerous to pets and even people.  If a coyote comes at you, wave your arms, yell and take stamping steps toward the animal.  Do not turn your back or run.  A coyote understands this as fear and will be much more likely to attack.

Back to the problems with coyotes killing calves in the Ozarks:  the coyotes became so fearless they stopped running from people.

“Several summers ago I heard the most awful squalling from down the road,” said great-grandmother Alma Staggs.  “A cow and calf had gotten on opposite sides of the fence, and when I came up several coyotes were near and locked in on the calf.  I yelled, but the coyotes didn’t run.  I got help real quick and we got the calf back on the right side of the fence.  Those coyotes had bad intentions.”

The Staggs decided it was time to take care of the coyote problem.  “First, we stopped burying dead cows in the pasture,” said Alma’s son Ron, who raises the cattle.  “Then we started killing coyotes as we saw them.”

The Staggs removal effort was aided by local trappers who caught additional animals.  In total, we trapped 35 coyotes on their land and on the adjoining national forest.  The next year the coyotes that were trapped were healthier and didn’t have the mange that plagued many of the animals during the first trapping year.

Since then, the Staggs’ have had no problem with coyote predation on cattle, but each year trappers continue to take out a dozen-or-more coyotes and each year the coyotes look better and weigh more.

Lower fur prices mean coyote trapping is no longer an important control.  Fox and coyote hunting with dogs and with calling devices removes a certain number of animals, but it is far from controlling their numbers.

“There is no question that the numbers have increased since the last predator control program in the late 1960’s,” said Booth.  “They are too good at what they do.  Bounties are not effective.  Perhaps it’s time to put predator control (poisoning) on the table again.  It would certainly do a lot to help wild turkey numbers bounce back.”

So there it is, an animal that is superbly equipped for what he does, smarter than we are in his environment and hard to control.  With the tools that are currently available, we aren’t going to beat him.  But on a cold, clear night, when you hear what sounds like a thousand coyotes lighting up the sunset with their song, maybe a part of you will be a little glad they are still out there.

Next Week: About Trapping Coyote

Dogs, Rabbits and Smith & Wesson

  • Labs, Beagles & Bassets 
  •   Secret, Succulent Rabbit Recipe 

for-sto-12212016-hunting-picture-1of2By Jim Low

My friend Dave Urich has hunted rabbits behind beagles since childhood.  He has always loved the music of baying hounds, but he doesn’t enjoy racing to rescue freshly shot bunnies from a pack of crazed canines.  He has never succeeded in teaching his beagles not to tear up rabbits, so he found another solution.

Enter Smith & Wesson*, a pair of Labrador retrievers.  Smith is a black lab, while Wesson is more or less the same shade of yellow as the well-known brand of cooking oil.  Dave keeps Smith & Wesson at heel while his pack of six to eight beagles rousts rabbits.  When he bags a bunny with his .410 over-under, the labs go into action.  They usually beat the beagles to the game and gleefully deliver it to Dave’s waiting hand.

This system works fine, but Dave isn’t one to settle for “good” when a little tinkering might get him to “better” or all the way to “perfect.” In that spirit, Dave added a basset hound named Porterhouse to the mix.  Beagles are an excitable and hasty lot, prone to missing small olfactory clues and being fooled by of cottontail chicanery.  They would mill around in circles for hours if not forcibly redirected.

Dave Urich shows what a pack of beagles can do to a rabbit if you don’t get to it first.
Dave Urich shows what a pack of beagles can do to a rabbit if you don’t get to it first.

Bassets, on the other hand, have keener noses than their longer-legged cousins and are nothing if not deliberate.  Porterhouse normally trails minutes behind the beagle pack, patiently following meandering traces of rabbit spoor as if every molecule were the finest French cologne.  Rabbits that cross a creek or double back and then hide in out-of-the-way nooks watch the howling beagle pack pass by and think they have it made.  Next thing you know, Porterhouse has his nose beneath their backsides and the chase is on again.

This is much more orderly in theory than it is in practice.  Individual beagles go off on tangents that take them to the next county.  Others decide it would be fun to chase deer.  Labs get bored and wander off to roll in raccoon poop when Dave isn’t looking.  “Chaos” is too mild a word for a hunt with Dave’s dogs, but entertainment is never in short supply.  To keep things manageable, Dave fits every member of his pack – except those carrying guns – with shock collars, which he controls individually to correct the behavior of whichever dog might go rogue at a given moment.  How he keeps track of the dogs, let alone the collars, is beyond me, but we haven’t lost a dog yet.

That is more than I can say for rabbits.  We do well enough shooting them, but with so many eager dogs in play, we seldom get through a day without losing at least one rabbit to canine exuberance.  It’s a small price to pay for so much fun.  Eating them can be extremely pleasant, too.  Rabbit meat is a lot like chicken minus the generous helping of fat that goes with chicken skin.  Frying in back grease and then slow-braising in a covered skillet supplies the moisture that rabbit flesh lacks, and that is a perfectly acceptable way to cook it.  My favorite, however, involves heavy cream, white wine and bowtie pasta.  Here’s how I do it.

Meat and Cooking

Remove the meat of two or three quartered rabbits from the bone.  Sear them in olive oil with chopped garlic in a cast-iron Dutch oven.  Cut into half-inch chunks and set aside in a covered container.

Sauce

Sautee 4 green onions in butter in the Dutch oven until they start to soften.  Add 12 ounces of dry white wine and 12 ounces of chicken stock and stir to dissolve browning residue from bottom of oven.  Add four bay leaves, two teaspoons of peppercorns, 12 chopped sprigs of fresh thyme and simmer until reduced by two-thirds.

Add 8 ounces of half-and half to the sauce and simmer until reduced by half.  Remove from heat and strain the sauce into another container.  Discard the seasonings and return strained sauce to the Dutch oven.

Dice a stick of butter and whisk it into sauce.  Add salt and fresh lemon juice to taste.  Stir in the diced meat and keep it warm while preparing the pasta.

Pasta

Slice two bell peppers – one red and one green – into thin strips.  Cut 16 ounces of fresh mushrooms into quarters.  Sautee pepper strips and mushrooms in butter until they begin to soften, but are still firm.  Set aside.

Cook a large package of bowtie pasta or wide egg noodles, drain and pour into a large serving bowl.  Arrange the peppers and mushrooms on top.  Pour on the sauce and serve.

* I asked Dave how his basset hound acquired such an unusual, but undeniably descriptive name.  “None of my dogs answer to their names,” he said, “So I give them names that I like.  For a while I was in the habit of naming them after cuts of meat.” He says that led to “Pork Chop,” “Ribeye,” “Tenderloin” and “T-bone.” If I ever acquire a beagle of my own, I’m calling him “Ground Chuck.” “Chateaubriand” might be a good choice for a classy bird dog.

Dogs, Rabbits and Smith & Wesson

  • Labs, Beagles & Bassets 
  •   Secret, Succulent Rabbit Recipe 

for-sto-12212016-hunting-picture-1of2By Jim Low

My friend Dave Urich has hunted rabbits behind beagles since childhood.  He has always loved the music of baying hounds, but he doesn’t enjoy racing to rescue freshly shot bunnies from a pack of crazed canines.  He has never succeeded in teaching his beagles not to tear up rabbits, so he found another solution.

Enter Smith & Wesson*, a pair of Labrador retrievers.  Smith is a black lab, while Wesson is more or less the same shade of yellow as the well-known brand of cooking oil.  Dave keeps Smith & Wesson at heel while his pack of six to eight beagles rousts rabbits.  When he bags a bunny with his .410 over-under, the labs go into action.  They usually beat the beagles to the game and gleefully deliver it to Dave’s waiting hand.

This system works fine, but Dave isn’t one to settle for “good” when a little tinkering might get him to “better” or all the way to “perfect.” In that spirit, Dave added a basset hound named Porterhouse to the mix.  Beagles are an excitable and hasty lot, prone to missing small olfactory clues and being fooled by of cottontail chicanery.  They would mill around in circles for hours if not forcibly redirected.

Dave Urich shows what a pack of beagles can do to a rabbit if you don’t get to it first.
Dave Urich shows what a pack of beagles can do to a rabbit if you don’t get to it first.

Bassets, on the other hand, have keener noses than their longer-legged cousins and are nothing if not deliberate.  Porterhouse normally trails minutes behind the beagle pack, patiently following meandering traces of rabbit spoor as if every molecule were the finest French cologne.  Rabbits that cross a creek or double back and then hide in out-of-the-way nooks watch the howling beagle pack pass by and think they have it made.  Next thing you know, Porterhouse has his nose beneath their backsides and the chase is on again.

This is much more orderly in theory than it is in practice.  Individual beagles go off on tangents that take them to the next county.  Others decide it would be fun to chase deer.  Labs get bored and wander off to roll in raccoon poop when Dave isn’t looking.  “Chaos” is too mild a word for a hunt with Dave’s dogs, but entertainment is never in short supply.  To keep things manageable, Dave fits every member of his pack – except those carrying guns – with shock collars, which he controls individually to correct the behavior of whichever dog might go rogue at a given moment.  How he keeps track of the dogs, let alone the collars, is beyond me, but we haven’t lost a dog yet.

That is more than I can say for rabbits.  We do well enough shooting them, but with so many eager dogs in play, we seldom get through a day without losing at least one rabbit to canine exuberance.  It’s a small price to pay for so much fun.  Eating them can be extremely pleasant, too.  Rabbit meat is a lot like chicken minus the generous helping of fat that goes with chicken skin.  Frying in back grease and then slow-braising in a covered skillet supplies the moisture that rabbit flesh lacks, and that is a perfectly acceptable way to cook it.  My favorite, however, involves heavy cream, white wine and bowtie pasta.  Here’s how I do it.

Meat and Cooking

Remove the meat of two or three quartered rabbits from the bone.  Sear them in olive oil with chopped garlic in a cast-iron Dutch oven.  Cut into half-inch chunks and set aside in a covered container.

Sauce

Sautee 4 green onions in butter in the Dutch oven until they start to soften.  Add 12 ounces of dry white wine and 12 ounces of chicken stock and stir to dissolve browning residue from bottom of oven.  Add four bay leaves, two teaspoons of peppercorns, 12 chopped sprigs of fresh thyme and simmer until reduced by two-thirds.

Add 8 ounces of half-and half to the sauce and simmer until reduced by half.  Remove from heat and strain the sauce into another container.  Discard the seasonings and return strained sauce to the Dutch oven.

Dice a stick of butter and whisk it into sauce.  Add salt and fresh lemon juice to taste.  Stir in the diced meat and keep it warm while preparing the pasta.

Pasta

Slice two bell peppers – one red and one green – into thin strips.  Cut 16 ounces of fresh mushrooms into quarters.  Sautee pepper strips and mushrooms in butter until they begin to soften, but are still firm.  Set aside.

Cook a large package of bowtie pasta or wide egg noodles, drain and pour into a large serving bowl.  Arrange the peppers and mushrooms on top.  Pour on the sauce and serve.

* I asked Dave how his basset hound acquired such an unusual, but undeniably descriptive name.  “None of my dogs answer to their names,” he said, “So I give them names that I like.  For a while I was in the habit of naming them after cuts of meat.” He says that led to “Pork Chop,” “Ribeye,” “Tenderloin” and “T-bone.” If I ever acquire a beagle of my own, I’m calling him “Ground Chuck.” “Chateaubriand” might be a good choice for a classy bird dog.

Coyote are Killers – both Good and Bad

Coyotes have an amazing ability to adapt to a changing world, but staying alive often puts them in conflict with humans and human needs.

  • Coyotes are Adaptable
  • Coyotes are Omnivores – they eat Animals and Plants
  • Coyote Screams are Scary 
  • How to Protect your Property from Coyotes

By Jill J. Easton

Coyotes have an amazing ability to adapt to a changing world, but staying alive often puts them in conflict with humans and human needs.
Coyotes have an amazing ability to adapt to a changing world, but staying alive often puts them in conflict with humans and human needs.

The banshee keening crescendo turned into high pitched screams.  The cacophony made our visitors from New Orleans run to lock the doors and draw the blinds.  The sounds were as dangerous as shrieking hurricane winds, but worse, had an otherworld edge.

We smiled at the city folk knowing that it was just the sound of a pair from our local coyote pack telling the rest of their extended family they found our carcass dump.  Evidently the family took them up on it, because the next morning only a few bones and heads were left.

Coyotes

Are they vicious killers of domestic cattle, chickens and goats?

Are they the eaters of pets and valued game species like turkeys and quail?

Are they partners in controlling pests like rats and rabbits?

Or are they the ultimate survivor, a useful omnivore that fills an important niche in the natural landscape across the continent?

Correct answer:  All the above.

The next important question:  How many are too much?  Cause the only way to totally wipe coyotes out of your land is to fence the perimeter one foot down and eight feet high.

The next important question:  How many are too much?  Cause the only way to totally wipe coyotes out of your land is to fence the perimeter one foot down and eight feet high. Coyotes have an amazing ability to adapt to a changing world, but staying alive often puts them in conflict with humans and human needs.
The next important question: How many are too much? Cause the only way to totally wipe coyotes out of your land is to fence the perimeter one foot down and eight feet high. Coyotes have an amazing ability to adapt to a changing world, but staying alive often puts them in conflict with humans and human needs.

The Good

For many of us, if it weren’t for coyotes, we would probably be up to our ears in rabbits, mice and rats.  This is one of the reasons coyotes are often found on working farms and ranches.  Coyotes can also be spotted along roads at night, cleaning up road-killed carcasses.  They even eat carrion when nothing else is available.

Coyotes help keep nature’s fruit basket stocked.  They do a wonderful job spreading the seeds of plums, persimmons, blackberries in their scat.  They also help spread soft mast crops and nuts.

Another important part of the coyote’s summer diet is insects.  They relish grasshoppers, for example.  Coyotes doing strange jumping dances in brushy fields are chasing the big bugs around and 80% to 90% of their scat in high ‘hopper areas can consist of grasshopper bits.

The Bad

The problem with coyotes is, they don’t just eat bugs and seeds.  Although these canines are classified as predators, they eat almost anything plant or animal.  Stone County Arkansas resident, Elmer Staggs, had five newborn calves killed by coyotes in one season on his mountainside pasture.  Chickens, goats and young hogs that aren’t put up at night also suffer from coyote predation.

Coyotes feed on other highly valued wild animals.  Eggs of ground nesting birds like turkey and quail are an important part of their spring diet.  Young fawns are another favorite meal.

Anything a coyote can put in their mouth that is vaguely edible, will become part of his poop.  Corn from food plots or row crops, peanuts and other crops like cantaloupe make meals for a hungry coyote pack.

Interesting Coyote Tidbits

  • Coyotes are copraphagic, which means they eat poop, especially cat poop, which provides trace minerals and nutrients that they don’t get from their own food and makes them resistant to diseases.  Wildlife biologists at Texas Tech did a blind taste test on scat for coyotes and other animals.  They put 10 different kinds of droppings in squares and counted the number of footprints in each square.  Cat droppings won paws down.
  • Coyotes have selective digestion. In tough times, such as during a snowy winter, they digest much more of the animals they eat than when food is more plentiful.
  • In bad times, coyotes limit the number of pups that are born in the spring.  Instead of 6-8, they have only one or two offspring.

Next Week: Coyote migrations can help define coyote control methods.

Crossbow Hunting – Sweeping the Nation

Shooting the new Ravin crossbow, this big buck passed by Joe Byers who used a Rage Hypodermic Crossbow Head to take the deer - the buck scored 163.25, the biggest of Joe’s life. Photo from Joe Byers post in Timeline Photos.

  • What You Need to Know – Which Bow for You?
  • Bolt Selection Factors, Hunting Tactics
  •   Shooting for Fun
Shooting the new Ravin crossbow, this big buck passed by Joe Byers who used a Rage Hypodermic Crossbow Head to take the deer - the buck scored 163.25, the biggest of Joe’s life. Photo from Joe Byers post in Timeline Photos.
Shooting the new Ravin crossbow, this big buck passed by Joe Byers who used a Rage Hypodermic Crossbow Head to take the deer – the buck scored 163.25, the biggest of Joe’s life. Photo from Joe Byers post in Timeline Photos.

By Forrest Fisher

If you like to hit the bullseye on your target, you like to shoot arrows, except you’re getting older and you’re having problems drawing your compound bow, you might be like quite a few baby boomers who are missing the hunting season because they’re developing physical issues. Maybe the trend sweeping the country is for you too.  Indeed, maybe you should get a crossbow, except you don’t know where to start and what to do.

With this new book from Joe Byers, The ULITIMATE GUIDE to CROSSBOW HUNTING, all the questions you might have are satisfied with juicy details for understanding.  This includes how to select a crossbow, the bolts (the term used for the short arrows used with a crossbow), target tips and hunting tips, optical scopes for zeroing-in on your target and much more, including hunting advice for different types of big game and small game on several continents.

Byers shares which bolts he has tested and how they performed.  You’ll be surprised at the details of proper bolt selection to achieve optimum performance.  You’ll learn about crossbow triggers, string stabilizers, trigger options and more.

Details on cocking ropes, rail lubricants, foot stirrups and bolt quivers are explained so that you learn about varying distinction factors that will work best for you and still meet your budget.

for-sto-12162016-hunting-and-people-places-picture-2of2I enjoyed reading how Byers felt about the many myths and misconceptions that have resulted with the increased use crossbows for hunting.   Byers addresses crossbows and game animal populations, hunting season length and the use of crossbows during archery season.  Much more on other myths with explanations will help everyone know more about the issues.  Byers provided answers that made me consider and to understand things about crossbows that I did not realize – like the good news and bad news about using a crossbow for hunting or for simple recreational fun.

Byers shares the experience of his success and failure, the results provide an exciting book that will help generate a complete understanding about the thrill of accurate shooting when combined with the adventure of hunting or shooting for fun.

His new book can help you or a loved one get in on the excitement of using a crossbow and will help answer the questions you have not yet learned to ask about the crossbow.

Lastly, it will make a great gift for the upcoming holidays.

Available on line at www.theultimateguidetoCBH.com.

Florida Duck & Dove Hunting

It’s waterfowl season in Florida and there are plenty of birds, know the rules for licenses, permits and daily limits. Joe Forma Photo

  • Things to Know – Florida FWC Rules
  • Licenses, Seasons, Bag Limits
  • What You Can and Cannot Do
It’s waterfowl season in Florida and there are plenty of birds, know the rules for licenses, permits and daily limits. Joe Forma Photo
It’s waterfowl season in Florida and there are plenty of birds, know the rules for licenses, permits and daily limits. Joe Forma Photo

By Tony Young

There’s a chill in the Florida air, and soon children will be out of school on winter break. During the holidays, I encourage you to take time off from work and spend some quality time with family and friends in the great outdoors. This much-needed vacation allows us to unplug from our usual daily grind and join millions of Americans in our connection with nature and pursuit of our favorite game animals. Hunting during the holidays is such a longstanding tradition in our country, which allows hunters to participate in the management and conservation of wildlife while putting healthy, free-range protein on our family’s dinner table.

In this column, I go over a couple of hunting seasons that begin in December – the second phase of waterfowl and coot; and the third phase of mourning and white-winged dove.

License and permit requirements

The first thing you’ll need to participate in these hunting opportunities is a Florida hunting license.  Residents pay just $17 for the year.  Nonresidents have the choice of paying $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months.  You also need a no-cost migratory bird permit and if you plan to hunt one of Florida’s many wildlife management areas, you also must purchase a management area permit for $26.50.

Or, you may opt to get a Lifetime Sportsman’s License. That license allows you to hunt and fish in Florida for the rest of your life, even if you move away and aren’t a resident any more. Think about that as a possible holiday gift for your outdoors family member!

All licenses and permits are available at County Tax Collector Offices, at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or by calling 1-888-HUNT-FLORIDA.

Waterfowl and Coot Season

The second phase of the waterfowl and coot season comes in statewide on Dec. 10 and runs through Jan. 29.  In addition to previously mentioned license and permit requirements, duck hunters also must get a Florida waterfowl permit ($5) and a federal duck stamp.

The daily bag limit on ducks is six, but you need to know your ducks before you pull the trigger because there are different daily limits for each species.  For instance, within the six-bird limit there can be only one black duck, one mottled duck and one fulvous whistling-duck.

Only two of your six-bird limit can be canvasbacks, pintails, scaup or redheads; and three may be wood ducks.  And you may have no more than four scoters, four eiders, four long-tailed ducks and four mallards (of which only two can be female) in your bag.  All other species of ducks can be taken up to the six-bird limit, except harlequin ducks.

The daily limit on coots is 15 and there’s a five-bird limit on mergansers, only two of which may be hooded.

You also may take light geese statewide during the waterfowl and coot season (Dec. 10 – Jan. 29), which includes the taking of Snow, Blue and Ross’s geese. There’s a 15-bird daily bag limit on any combination of these geese.

When hunting ducks, geese or coots, hunters may use only nontoxic shotgun shells.  No lead shot can be used or even be in your possession – only iron (steel), bismuth-tin and various tungsten alloys are permissible.

And in the Tallahassee area, I need to point out some outboard motor restrictions and a prohibition against hunting in permanent duck blinds:

  • On Lake Iamonia and Carr Lake (both in Leon County), the use of airboats and gasoline-run outboard motors is prohibited during the regular waterfowl and coot seasons.
  • The maximum allowed horsepower rating on outboard motors during the regular waterfowl and coot seasons on Lake Miccosukee in Leon and Jefferson counties is 10 hp.
  • You may not hunt from or within 30 yards of a permanent duck blind structure on the four Tallahassee-area lakes of Jackson, Iamonia, Miccosukee and Carr.  You’re allowed to pack in a portable blind and hunt from it, but make sure to break it down and take it with you when you’re done.  However, there’s no problem hunting within the concealment of any natural, rooted vegetation.

Dove Season

The third phase of the mourning and white-winged dove season always runs Dec. 12 through Jan. 15.  The daily bag limit is 15.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) even provides an online “Dove Hunters’ Hotline” that gives up-to-date information on Florida’s public dove fields.  The web address is MyFWC.com/Dove, and it’s updated every Thursday throughout the dove season.  Information includes dove densities, previous weeks’ harvests and field conditions.

Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations

Shooting hours for all migratory birds, including ducks, coots, geese, woodcock and doves, are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

The only firearm you are allowed to hunt migratory game birds with is a shotgun, although you’re not permitted to use one larger than 10-gauge.  Shotguns also must be plugged to a three-shell capacity (magazine and chamber combined).

Retrievers and bird dogs can be used to take migratory game birds and, if you’re up for the challenge, you may even use a bow or crossbow.  Artificial decoys, as well as manual or mouth-operated bird calls, are legal and essential gear for duck hunters. Birds of prey can even be used to take migratory birds by properly-permitted falconers.

You may hunt doves over an agricultural field, as long as the crop has been planted by regular agricultural methods, however, you’re not allowed to scatter agricultural products over an area for the purpose of baiting.

This also holds true when you’re hunting waterfowl and woodcock. Feed, such as corn, wheat or salt, cannot be present where you’re hunting, nor can such baiting be used to attract birds, even if the bait is quite a distance from where you’re hunting.  And it doesn’t matter if you aren’t the one who scattered the bait – if you knew or should have known bait was present, you’re breaking the law.

Some other things you can’t do while hunting migratory game birds include using rifles, pistols, traps, snares, nets, sink boxes, swivel guns, punt guns, battery guns, machine guns, fish hooks, poisons, drugs, explosive substances, live decoys, recorded bird calls or sounds, and electrically amplified bird-call imitations.  Shooting from a moving automobile or boat, and herding or driving birds with vehicles or vessels also is against the law.

Happy Holidays!

Whether dove hunting with friends and family or shooting ducks on the pond with your favorite lab – December has you covered.

Here’s wishing you happy holidays and a successful hunting season. If you can, remember to introduce someone new to our great sport. As always, have fun, hunt safely and ethically, and we’ll talk at you next year.

Trapping Tales to Learn From – Part 3

The simple Dog-Proof Trap (DP) is among most effective raccoon catch traps and will detain and hold the raccoon until the trapper arrives.

Catching Raccoons

  • Cute, Dangerous, Carries Many Diseases
  • #1 Eater of Ground Nesting Birds (Turkey, etc.)
  • Consider Calling a Licensed Professional
The simple Dog-Proof Trap (DP) is among most effective raccoon catch traps and will detain and hold the raccoon until the trapper arrives.
The simple Dog-Proof Trap (DP) is among most effective raccoon catch traps and will detain and hold the raccoon until the trapper arrives.

By Jill J Easton

Don’t let that cute mask, button eyes and cute stripped tail fool you.  Far too often, having raccoons for neighbors can become a terrible nuisance.   These animals are smart and they use their paws, teeth and innate ingenuity to break into any food source that isn’t locked up or chained down.  They destroy attics, scream intensely while mating (often under a house) and carry enough diseases to fill a hospital.

Raccoons Consume Ground Bird Eggs

In the wild they are the #1 eater of ground nesting bird eggs.  As a turkey hunter, I find this particular behavior a terrible character flaw.  The worst part of the whole coon problem is that right now they have almost no value as fur, so trappers and coon hunters aren’t willing to do the work it takes to put coon hides in their fur sheds.

Here is a quick biology lesson: the raccoon population in many locations is in the early stages of what some environmentalists call a “trophic cascade.”  This is the third consecutive year of rock-bottom coon prices, so very few trappers will spend any time catching coons.  As a result, these animals are multiplying faster than their food sources.  Over the next few years, coon populations will reach epidemic proportions and therefore there will be many more coons raiding garbage cans, eating bird eggs and pilfering around your property.  Finally, there will be a massive raccoon die-off.

Raccoons Carry Many Diseases

Hungry, over-populated coons will come down with a variety of diseases.  Rabies and distemper are two diseases that are most dangerous for domestic animals and people.

The good news is, it isn’t that hard to solve your coon problem, at least on a local basis.  There is a recently-designed trap that makes catching these masked bandits quite simple.  These traps go under the general name of dog proof traps, or DPs, and there are dozens of brands.  The best part is they are 99% safe around domestic animals.

for-sto-12132016-hunting-picture2of3The Duke DP is the one my husband Jim and I use, so we’ll use it as the example here.  As mentioned, though, there are many other brands and they all do the same job.  Each design has differences, but they all are designed to catch raccoons by a front foot.

The Duke DP is made of a piece of pipe about the size of the smallest Red Bull can with one end closed off.  The coon sticks a front paw into the pipe, which is baited with fish, hot dog, dog food, marshmallows, or anything else that smells like food to a coon, which is almost everything.  When the raccoon pulls on a bar inside the trap, it releases a spring which pins the animal’s foot inside the trap.  Because the coon can’t reach its paw, there is no chance for it to chew off its foot and escape.

These traps are small, simple to use, easy to set and they catch coons very efficiently.  One important caveat, though: what we are talking about here is a lethal solution. These traps will catch your problem coons, but they’re alive and they must, repeat MUST, be killed.  So you might want to leave this job to a professional.  It is biologically unsound to relocate coons because of the strong possibility of spreading disease.  It is, in fact, illegal in many states to transport and release captured animals.

Also, if coons are carried off and released, two other undesirable things may happen.  Since coon populations are high elsewhere and not just in your back yard, you’ll be dumping them into already occupied and overcrowded territory.  In addition, catching coons in a DP trap educates them to avoid such traps in the future, and if you release them away from your property, they’ll likely become a nuisance to someone else – and they’ll be harder to capture a second time.  And if you release them too close to your own property, they’ll be back on your bird feeder in very short order.  So remember, it’s not a catch-and-release operation.

Setting a Dog Proof Trap (DP)

The first step in setting a dog proof trap is to put bait in the bottom of the pipe, or use a piece of hot dog and stick it on the trigger.  Many types of bait will attract raccoons, but something with a fishy smell works best.  The cheapest cans of Jack Mackerel or sardines will draw coons from great distances.  If you are setting a lot of traps it is more economical to soak cheap dog food with fish oil and use that.  Since there is a good possibility that a cat may be attracted by the fishy smell, marshmallows are preferable when felines are nearby.  The long pliers in the picture are handy for locating the bait below the trap bar and for setting the trap as well.

Next, put the barrel of the trap across your leg and use the pliers to push down the bar as shown, then push the latch over the bar, set it into the trigger notch, and your trap is set.  The trap base is shoved into the ground to stabilize the trap, and you’re all set.  The final step is to either drive a stake into the ground to anchor the trap chain, or wire it to a tree or log.  Be careful where you set your traps, though, because a coon with a foot in a DP becomes a furry engine of destruction and will scar, mangle or completely destroy anything within reach.  In other words, catch them in the yard, not on the patio.

The best way to kill a trapped raccoon is with a small-caliber rifle or pistol, such as a .22 caliber round.  Draw an imaginary X between the ears and eyes.  Shoot a .22 bullet into that spot and you should have a dead raccoon with little fur damage.  To get the animal out of the trap, push down on the bar like you did to set it and upend the trap.  The coon’s paw should slide out and you are ready to make a reset. `

for-sto-12132016-hunting-picture3of3This is a simple, elegant solution for those ring-tailed raiders.  All it takes is equipment, bait and patience.  Not only will you be taking over an important job in the wild food chain, you will be helping to prevent raccoons from dying a slow miserable death from starvation or disease.

Remember to check your state trapping laws for proper licensing and firearm discharge.

My Son’s First Archery Hunt

When you explain to your son that you will go the field above, in the dark, wait for daylight, then help stir the bushes for deer, falling asleep brings on special virtue. Joe Forma Photo

  • One Way to Meet Mr. Big Deer!
  • About the “Tink-Tink” Learning Curve
  • Moments of Joy, Moments of Magic 
When you explain to your son that you will go the field above, in the dark, wait for daylight, then help stir the bushes for deer, falling asleep brings on special virtue.  Joe Forma Photo
When you explain to your son that you will go the field above, in the dark, wait for daylight, then help stir the bushes for deer, falling asleep brings on special virtue. Joe Forma Photo

By Joe McAdams

My son Shawn grew up in an outdoors family.  We hunt, fish, trap shoot and love the outdoors.  When he was 14 years old, he already had 2 years of small game hunting and was proficient with his .22 rifle.  In New York, kids need to turn 12 before it is legal for them touch a firearm, even a bb-gun, but Shawn had been getting “hands-on” exposure to guns and sportsmen as he worked as a “trap kid.”  He then shot trap for 2 years at our local gun club and was now old enough to hunt big game with a bow.

We carefully searched out a bow that would fit Shawn and allow him to use it for a few seasons.  The salesman assured us that although it was a “junior” bow, it was more than capable of putting down a deer.  We practiced all summer with his new bow, attending as many 3D archery events as we could.  The last 3D shoot of the summer was a 30-target event.  The final target was a standing black bear at the far end of a pond – it was a 50-yard shot over water.  I asked him if he wanted to try the shot and without hesitation, he drew back and let the arrow fly.  It found its mark in the bear.  He was ready.

On opening weekend, Shawn and I made our way to our favorite hunting spot.  We were in before daylight and I set him up in his ground blind, then made my way to my tree stand.  We kept in contact over walkie-talkies and waited patiently.  Shawn is a VERY patient hunter, willing to sit quietly for a long time – something he learned while squirrel hunting.  I was the first to break silence and suggested we make our way out for an early lunch.  After I descended from my tree stand, I heard Shawn over the walkie-talkie “dad, dad!  There’s a buck heading your way and he’s coming up behind you.”

I spun around and sure enough – there he was, a beautiful 6-point buck!  There was no time to get back into the tree stand, so I took my shot from the ground.  The hit was solid and into his lungs.  We tracked and located the buck and high-fived each other celebrating the success.  I promised to help Shawn get his deer the next weekend.  It had been a great and unforgettable day.

Shawn was up earlier than usual for hunting this Saturday.  I knew he was particularly excited about our hunting trip this weekend – since this was going to be his hunt and he knew I was going to help him get his deer.

A ground blind is one safe way to help introduce kids to the elements of the hunting woods.  Forrest Fisher Photo
A ground blind is one safe way to help introduce kids to the elements of the hunting woods. Forrest Fisher Photo

Once again, we were in the woods before daylight and I made sure he was all set in his ground blind.  This time, I didn’t get into my stand.  I told Shawn I would make my way to the top of the ridge in hope of pushing something his way.  Slowly and quietly I made my way to the top.  I found a comfortable spot to sit in the goldenrod field until daybreak and waited.

I was awakened by the sound of Shawn calling me in my earphones.  “Dad, dad.  Are you there?  You’re supposed to push for me.”  After assuring him I only dozed off for a minute and was up to the task, I stood up stretching and came face to face with a massive 12-point buck.  He was less than 20 yards away and turned suddenly and with a mighty leap, headed down the ridge – right towards Shawn!  I immediately called to Shawn on the walkie-talkie and told him “oh my God – there’s a huge buck heading your way!”  I saw Shawn starting to peer over the top of the blind and knew that the buck would make him out if I didn’t think of something quick.  I dropped my bow and started whistling and shouting at the buck – waving my arms frantically.  The buck stopped dead in his tracks and turned towards me.  He was 30-35 yards from Shawn facing broadside.  It was perfect!  This was an easy shot for Shawn.

I watched as Shawn rose to a stand and drew back his bow – all the while the buck was still watching me waving my arms and shouting.  Shawn seemed to take forever – and then the buck bolted and headed down a ravine.  I ran down from the ridge as fast as I could – straight to Shawn to find out what happened.  When I got there, he was sitting on the ground and he had tear streaks on his cheeks.  I asked “what happened and why are you sitting on the ground?”

He looked up and said “my knees got all wobbly” with a few more tears.  He told me that when he drew back his arrow he was so excited that he overdrew the arrowhead into the riser and knocked it off the arrow-rest.  He tried hard to rock the arrow back onto the arrow-rest by moving around, but only succeeded in knocking the arrow off the bow completely.  When the buck heard the ‘tink-tink’ of the arrow dropping off the bow, he turned and quickly made his way to safety down a ravine.

Today, 17 years later, my son and I look forward to every moment that we can spend together in the woods hunting or on the water, fishing, because we know in the business of today’s world, those moments are priceless.  Joe McAdams Photo.
Today, 17 years later, my son and I look forward to every moment that we can spend together in the woods hunting or on the water, fishing, because we know in the business of today’s world, those moments are priceless. Joe McAdams Photo.

Shawn refused to give up the hunt for the day – and was unusually quiet over the walkie-talkie.  We didn’t take any breaks and stayed until dusk.  By the time we were packed up and on the way home, Shawn had quickly recovered from the experience.  Our entire ride home was buzzing with excitement about that monster buck and our return to hunt the next weekend.

The destiny of the weeks and years that followed have been an ultimate gift for the both of us.  With every hunt we never stop looking for the luck of the unchangeable big buck – he will remain in our memory for all time.  We understand what good fortune means from those countless years ago, in 1999, when we first went hunting big game together with archery gear.

A friend to hunting and archery, Fred Bear once said, “I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place.  It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent.”

Priceless moments are never forgotten.

Hunting Treestand Recall

  • Summit Climbing Stand – Model: Explorer SD (Closed Front)
  • Possible Fall HAZARD

for-sto-12052016-hunting-treestand-recall-picture-1of1Details: Summit Treestands LLC, Recalls Explorer SD Closed Front Climbing Stands Due to Fall Hazard

Recall Summary

Name of Product:  Summit Treestands, LLC 2016 Model Year Explorer SD Closed Front Climbing Stands.

Hazard: Weld may break during use leading to potential fall hazard. 

Remedy:  Customers, Retailers and Distributors are directed to return the affected product to the manufacturer for replacement.
Consumer Contact:
  For additional information, contact Summit Treestands, LLC at 800-353-0634 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. CST Monday through Friday, or visit the website at www.summitstands.com.  Consumers can also write to the company at Summit Treestands, LLC, 715 Summit Drive, Decatur, AL 35601. 

Recall Details 

Units: 269.

Description:  Summit Treestands, LLC 2016 Model Year Explorer SD Closed Front Climbing Stands sold between August 12, 2016 and August 27, 2016.  The product is shown below.

Incidents/Injuries: There are no reported claims of injuries or incidents during use. 

Sold at: Nationwide at sporting goods stores.  The product was sold between August 12, 2016 and August 27, 2016.  The retail price is $359.99.

Importer/Distributor: Summit Treestands, LLC 

Manufactured in: USA

About U.S. CPSC:  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction.  Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals – contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

About U. S. CPSC: Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter@USCPSC or by subscribing to CPSC’s free e-mail newsletters.

CPSC Consumer Information Hotline:

Contact us at this toll-free number if you have questions about a recall:

800-638-2772 (TTY 301-595-7054)

Times: 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET; Messages can be left anytime

Call to get product safety and other agency information and to report unsafe products.

Trapping – Part 2 in a Series

Hogs are such a big problem in many states that there is a public outcry for control of feral hogs.

The Hog Epidemic is Here Now!

  • Invasive Species, Out of Control
  • Existing Wildlife Threatened – Forage Issue
  • One SOW Yields 200 newborns in One year!
Hogs are such a big problem in many states that there is a public outcry for control of feral hogs.
Hogs are such a big problem in many states that there is a public outcry for control of feral hogs.

By Jill J. Easton

For landowners in an ever-increasing area of the country, hogs are a horribly expensive pest.  Their rooting makes land untillable, requiring thousands of dollars in leveling and reworking, and the pigs also eat and destroy billions of dollars of crops each year.  The hogs also compete directly with native wildlife for available food such as acorns, berries, and other forms of hard and soft mast.

Texas estimates the state has more than 2.6 million wild hogs and the number is increasing rapidly.  One rancher in Oklahoma, using an airplane, killed 1,500 hogs on his land two years ago.  He still sees hundreds of hogs each time he flies.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture (APHIS) spent 51.77 percent of its 2015-16 Arkansas animal damage control budget on feral swine, working with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission which is trapping the animals.  So far the pigs are still winning.

Hogs reproduce at an alarming and astonishing rate.  A female pig born on New Year’s Day can be a grandmother by Christmas and can be responsible for 200 or more offspring in that time frame.
Hogs reproduce at an alarming and astonishing rate. A female pig born on New Year’s Day can be a grandmother by Christmas and can be responsible for 200 or more offspring in that time frame.

Last spring in Arkansas, I saw a big group of hogs that easily numbered 200 and included everything from bread-box sized squealers to giant sows that weighed upwards of 250 pounds.  People in the neighborhood were shooting two or three pigs per day and Arkansas isn’t considered one of the states with a bad hog problem.

Another pig problem is that most of the wild swine are not the domesticated hogs you see at the state fair.  These are either the descendants of Russian boar stock turned loose by guides and outfitters, or they are domesticated animals that have reverted to wild characteristics.  In a few generations they develop the longer legs, hairy body and the tusks of wild pigs.  If hunted, they also quickly turn nocturnal, making them more difficult to shoot.  Wild pigs grow large – 400-pounders, while not common, are far from rare – and their size makes them even more destructive to the environment.  When cornered, they can also be dangerous to dogs or people.

Led by Tennessee, many states have put strict controls, or made it illegal, to shoot wild hogs, especially on public land. The reasoning is two-fold: if it’s not legal to hunt them, it becomes less attractive for hunters to illegally release them; and hunting also disrupts hog feeding and movement patterns, making them much harder to trap.

for-sto-12052016-picture-3of4Regardless of the reasoning, the no-hunting regulation leaves landowners with basically only one option – trapping.  Fortunately, this method of control can produce results if done diligently and correctly.  Pen traps can catch 20 or more pigs at one time and can be bought or built using heavy duty wire or welded pen sections that can be moved from place to place following the pig’s movements.  The traps are baited with various substances, one of the favorites being corn mixed with Kool Aid or beer and allowed to ferment for a few days.  When the hogs enter the trap and begin to eat, their movements trigger a guillotine door that falls and contains them.  Most state regulations require that there is an opening on the top of the trap so turkeys, deer and bears can escape.

State wildlife agencies have started their own trapping programs and are growing more sophisticated with their trapping methods as the hogs continue to increase and/or get wise to the old trapping methods.  Some states are now using remotely operated pen traps: A camera is set up pointing at the trap.  The camera sends motion operated pictures to a cell phone when animals show up.  When most or all, of the hogs are in the trap, the gate is closed by a signal through the cell phone.

Snaring hogs is also a possibility, but even multiple snares in a location don’t collect enough animals to keep pig numbers in check.  It will, however, work in specific instances where only one or two hogs (usually older bores who live alone except for breeding) are causing the problem.

The next problem is deciding what to do with the hogs once they are in the trap.  If they are not taken care of within a few hours they will find a way to get out either by climbing the panels, rooting under or breaking down the enclosure.  The problem is once they are dead, then what?  Wild hogs, especially those under 200 pounds are surprisingly good to eat.  Big tusked boars smell horrible and I have been told they taste like they smell.  Stick to the sows and smaller males for food.  Wild pig meat is lean, makes great sausage and pork roast.  Make sure to cook it thoroughly since there is a danger of trichinosis in wild swine.

Thad Davis provides a visual example of the snare hoop diameter used most effectively with hogs.  Jill Easton Photo
Thad Davis provides a visual example of the snare hoop diameter used most effectively with hogs. Jill Easton Photo

If there is a permanent pig problem, a carcass dump is the best answer.  Make sure it is in an area far away from houses and livestock.  The dead animals will make you very popular with buzzards and coyotes.

The key to hog control, as any wildlife biologist dealing with the problem will tell you, is diligence.  It’s not something you can do for a while and then slack off.  It’s an ongoing thing, because the hogs don’t quit breeding.  Remember that year-old grandmother sow with the 200 offspring?  They’re ALL like that.

Next week we will talk about how to solve raccoon problems.

What Can Men Learn from Lady Hunters?

This young lady hunter, Vanessa Toews, downed her first deer using a new firearm and ammo that she reloaded herself because she pursued ALL the details of learning to hunt. Learn the magic!

  • More Than a Sunrise Greeting!
  • Sacred Skills for Focus 
  • Natural “Learn How”

 

This young lady hunter, Vanessa Toews, downed her first deer using a new firearm and ammo that she reloaded herself because she pursued ALL the details of learning to hunt.  Learn the magic!
This young lady hunter, Vanessa Toews, downed her first deer using a new firearm and ammo that she reloaded herself because she pursued ALL the details of learning to hunt. Learn the magic!

By Forrest Fisher

For learning new things about something that men are typically very good at, like hunting – when the outdoor ladies commit, they are ALL IN.  Especially when they want to be involved in ALL of the sport: aiming, shooting, reloading, hunting, cooking – it’s a long list!

It turns out – social media shows us proof with pictures and videos that women are so very good in the outdoors.  Going out on a limb here, dedicated women may be more logical and a bit more evolutionary to the task at hand than some of the men I know.  I did say “some.” Not trying to throw stones, but there’s lots of proof.

Women adjust, if only where they sit in the woods or how they hold their hunting implement of choice, and they seem to know how to make changes that can form their cornerstone for future activities.  They know about adaptability.  They know what it means to dedicate their efforts and they understand how to be comfortable and happy while exercising obligations to themselves with a vision for success.  They seem happy trying to get there and to stay responsible to achieve their purpose.

Maybe that’s it, they define the challenge and their purpose better than guys.  Maybe they read instructions better than guys – or at least maybe they read them completely.

I for one, admire these traits that I have witnessed when shooting, fishing, cooking or simply looking at new outdoor gear with women.  They ask questions outside of my perspective, especially good questions too, as they seek to validate spending their cash.  They are fundamental to seeking good answers for a solution to their question and their curiosity.  Is this a maternal instinct that men don’t have?  End of story?  Maybe not.

Especially on this item, they understand safety.  Above all, it seems once women learn, they do not forget.

Enter Vanessa Toews, an energetic young lady from postal delivery service life near Winnipeg, Canada.  Last year she set out on a mission to learn all about hunting and then wanted to go try it.

In her own words, “If I wanted to continue eating meat, I needed to see it through – beginning to end.  I needed to appreciate exactly what went into a life being taken in order to sustain mine.  I spent hours in the bush and online reading.  I did turn to experienced friends for advice and help, but I learned about details.  So many times I wanted to give up when hunting. Sitting in the cold, alone with my thoughts.  Which if you know me, can be a scary place (lol)!”

Vanessa continues, “Then last Friday I was finally given the opportunity, and with ammo that I reloaded myself, I took the shot.  Words can’t describe the experience!  I can’t thank friends and family enough for the support and also the ‘holy cow, I just shot a buck and have no idea what to do now’ phone call.”

She adds, “So there I was with my first buck, my first deer, on my first shot at a deer with ammo that I had loaded myself – a bit spooky all by itself, and I was speechless.  Just filling my freezer with organic, healthy meat from nature’s wilds for the first time.  I just felt so vital and sort of reborn in nature.  I now know why people hunt.  Wow.”  Waiting a moment and adding, she says, “You learn appreciation for the animal life cycle and ecology and survival and the heritage of our ancestors.”

For many in our modern society today, this might always be uncharted terrain.  Many may never wish to accept the challenge to learn of the extraordinary details that hunters incur for their own subsistence by choice.

Successful hunters, men and women, learn to understand their own limitations.  They accumulate unmatched insight to overcome weather and comfort, and manage other obstacles that can limit their success.   Their control of the many variables allows those that hunt to understand the age-old heritage of harvest from the woods.

So I asked Vanessa what about tomorrow, next time, next year, try it again?  She answers honestly, “I love what I do and I work hard for it.  I’m the kind of person that enjoys learning the in’s and out’s.  It’s hard to grasp concepts without knowing the fine details of how it all works.  The best part about that is, there is always something more to learn!  I’ve always been that way.”

Vanessa admits to knowing herself, “I’m very hands on and appreciate finishing a task, big or small, on my own doing.  Now some may call me stubborn (she laughed), but there’s something to be said about fully immersing yourself and feeling the rewards of accomplishing the said task.”

Providing more details, “That deer was a perfect example.  There were many times where I thought it would never happen and that maybe I just wasn’t cut out for hunting.  I can’t even count the number of times I shouldered my gun when a doe would walk in, just so that when the time did come it would be second nature.  Hunting is buck only in my hunting area, as deer populations are low.  I actually have my own property that I decided to scout and pattern the deer movements on.  I passed up on an opportunity to take a spiker last year simply for that reason. That it’s my property and I would rather see the populations flourish. “

For more info on H4350, visit: https://www.hodgdon.com/extreme.html
For more info on H4350, visit: https://www.hodgdon.com/extreme.html

She humbly adds, “On reloading, I had worked up a load for a Nosler 180 gr ballistic tip.  CCI primers, with 54.5 grains of Hodgdon 4350.  I found this to shoot the best grouping out of my Savage 30-06.  I currently have a variety of loads for the 150 gr Nosler partition with IMR 4895, but didn’t feel comfortable shooting at a deer with ammo that I haven’t tested yet.  The 180 gr was slight overkill, but reliable.  Even after mentally preparing myself for a buck, when that guy did walk in at around 60 yards and I shouldered that gun, without him even flinching, it hit me.  And I promised myself, if given the opportunity I would take it.  Words can’t begin to explain the emotions you experience in that situation.”

The big question: “Would I do it again?  The answer is yes!  As sad as it is to take a life from the woods by myself, I would much rather do that than buy meat from a store.  It’s the ultimate in cruelty free, in my opinion, and when you work that hard for your food – well, you appreciate eating it that much more!”

On Facebook, when I last checked the posting of the deer that Vanessa Toews took home, over 400 people had liked or provided comments of congratulations or thoughts.  To me, that’s amazing.  That’s progress.

When women who are successful in the outdoors share their secrets, they contribute to the growing new culture of women, and men, who consider joining the ranks of the outdoor hunter next year.  The trails for lessons to success in the woods remain hard work that many have struggled to find.

There is a wealth of wisdom to be found in learning to be a hunter.  The number of lady hunters and shooters is on the rise.  Respect them, learn from them.

Extraordinary Friends Help Keep Hunters Young

Then at 11:05, I saw another coming up the hill in my direction, I quickly saw it was a buck, got ready, and when I had a clear opening around 70 yards out, the .280 Remington barked. Joe Forma Photo

  • Shoot When Your Target is in Range
  • Respect for Opening Day 
  • Can Deer See Colors?
Then at 11:05, I saw another coming up the hill in my direction, I quickly saw it was a buck, got ready, and when I had a clear opening around 70 yards out, the .280 Remington barked. Joe Forma Photo
Then at 11:05, I saw another coming up the hill in my direction, I quickly saw it was a buck, got ready, and when I had a clear opening around 70 yards out, the .280 Remington barked. Joe Forma Photo

By Joe Forma

Editor Note: This is a touching story of a Dad’s exciting e-message to his son, sharing the fun he found hunting with a friend and his family on one special opening day of big game firearms season this fall of 2016 in New York State.  There are honest lessons here for all hunters.  Joe Forma is retired as a well-respected New York State Supreme Court Judge, he loves the outdoors, he is a family man and an award winning outdoor photographer.  He is 74 years young.

Hi Andy,

Congrats on your big doe in Penfield!  I was sad you could not do our annual opening day hunt in the swamp with Angelo, but then I got invited to hunt with my old friend, Roger, down at Bliss, New York.  I usually don’t hunt where the landowners family will hunt on Opening Day, but Roger said it was ok and he had lots of room on his property Open Day was just perfect weather-wise and with a strong south wind, I could go way up to the northwest corner, well away from Roger and his family.

Jason got a spike at the start hour and Roger got a doe for meat.  I didn’t see a deer until 9:00 a.m. and that was just the butt end of a big one.  Likely a buck, but I couldn’t see the head, so I didn’t shoot.

Per my old own rule I always stay in a spot if I see deer for one more hour.  At 9:30, three does came thru and almost ran me over.  Don’t know what spooked them, but not a rut crazed buck as I hoped.

Maybe some of the most fun is just seeing deer come toward you on opening day, but choosing to take a doe early or not, especially during the rut, is a tough call. Joe Forma Photo
Maybe some of the most fun is just seeing deer come toward you on opening day, but choosing to take a doe early or not, especially during the rut, is a tough call. Joe Forma Photo

About 10:30, three more toward me, but does came up the old lead doe must have spotted me at 75 yards and they spooked. I was in complete tree leaf camo save my blaze orange hat and hidden in a blow down – they say deer don’t see red/orange? I reversed the hat to camo immediately.

I was happy seeing some deer and then at 11:05, I saw another coming up the hill in my direction. I quickly saw it was a buck, got ready and when I had a clear opening around 70 yards out, the .280 Remington barked and the buck ran about 80 yards and folded.

Though he was coming nonchalantly straight at me, I always shoot as soon as I get the open shot. I don’t wait, been there.

The 7-Point went down near Roger’s west boundary, so after I gutted it.  He came up in this ATV with Jason and they got the buck down to the house.  It couldn’t be more perfect.  No sooner we got the buck in the Tahoe for the ride home, the wind, rain and sleet hit.

I so appreciate Roger’s hospitality in sharing his fine property with me for deer and turkey hunting.  It was a most memorable opener, especially for an older hunter.

Dad

Deer Hunting with Friends is Tradition

Scott Gerlt, of Columbia, Missouri, with his Cole County trophy.

  • Missouri Deer Magic
  • Mentoring – Builds Character, Humility 
  • Camaraderie, Friendship, Fun  
  • Organic Meat for the Freezer
Scott Gerlt, of Columbia, Missouri, with his Cole County trophy.
Scott Gerlt, of Columbia, Missouri, with his Cole County trophy.

By Jim Low

One of the things I love about deer hunting in Missouri is its democratic nature.  With 2.5 million acres of public hunting land managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the USDA Forest Service, anyone can pursue white-tailed deer in the Show-Me State.  Most deer hunters chase whitetails on private land at least part of the time, but the abundance of public land helps ensure the continuation of a vigorous hunting tradition.

While I am fortunate enough to have deer hunting property of my own, I always open the November portion of firearms deer season with friends in southern Cole County.  While not exactly a “deer camp,” the camaraderie of hunting with long-time friends, Tom and Susie Schulz, adds a dimension to the experience that I would miss even if I managed to shoot a big buck elsewhere on my own.

So, opening morning found me at Tom and Susie’s place, scanning a weedy food plot for activity.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Less than an hour into the season, a beautiful spike buck emerged from the woods to check a scrape 20 yards from my stand.  I know lots of hunters who would have passed on this yearling deer, hoping for a big-antlered buck.  But to me, taking a medium-sized buck or a fat doe is as exciting as dropping a buck with coat-rack antlers.

I freely admit to being a meat hunter.  My wife and I both prefer venison to beef, and the chance to stack loins, back straps, roasts, steaks, stew meat and ground venison in the freezer is mostly what deer hunting is about.  Don’t get me wrong.  I go weak-kneed at the sight of a massive set of antlers just as most hunters do, but I have exactly the same reaction to the appearance of a pair of 150-pound does.  If I have two antlerless tags in my pocket and enough ambition to tackle processing two deer, I’ll shoot both of them.  Then, I’ll wonder at their beauty as I prepare to turn them into a year’s meat supply.

The only thing sweeter is getting the chance to “make meat” or bag a trophy buck with friends is doing both in one day.  That’s what happened the second Saturday of this year’s deer season.

Years ago, I began mentoring a boy of 16 who had a passion for hunting but no one in his family to take him.  Scott Gerlt has matured into a fine and accomplished young man and what began as mentorship has ripened into a rewarding outdoor partnership.  After striking out in the duck marsh last Saturday morning, Scott suggested the possibility of hunting deer in the afternoon.  That seemed like a good idea, so I called Susie, got her blessing and headed out to their place.  Scott, Tom and I were in our stands by 3:30.  Susie elected to monitor events from the house via text messages.

Scott had never hunted deer there before, but he was intrigued by accounts of abundant deer, including some big ones.  At 4:30 I heard shots from Scott’s direction.  A text from Susie informed me that Scott had shot a forkhorn.  Thirty minutes later, a beautiful, mature doe came cantering toward me.  When she pulled up short and turned broadside to test the air, I put a solid copper, 160-grain Barnes bullet through both her lungs.  She was down seconds later, having conveniently run 120 yards toward the road.  “Doe down!” I texted Susie.

Tom and Scott soon arrived to help me load my doe.  That done, Scott asked if I would like to see his forkhorn.  Why not, I thought.  It ought to be as fine on the table as my doe.

OMG.  Scott and Tom had been pulling my leg.  Tom’s truck bed held not a forkhorn but a big – and I mean BIG – buck.  I don’t have much experience scoring antlers, but I would be surprised if this one didn’t gross 160.  The net score will suffer from asymmetry in the G2 and G3 tines and a ring-hanger point on the left side. But the length, spread and mass all are impressive.  It’s a deer we all will remember, regardless of whether it makes the Show-Me Missouri Big Bucks or Boone & Crockett club books.

Before the hunt, Scott told me he wasn’t interested in antlers.  He wanted a doe for the freezer.  He didn’t do anything special to “earn” this trophy. Heck, he hadn’t even thought he wanted it.  Yet there he was, posing for photos and considering how to broach the subject of taxidermy with his wife.  On the way home, he was thinking about asking the Schulz’s if he can bring his 5-year-old daughter, Maddie, hunting at Tom and Susie’s to show her what all the fuss is about.

That’s what I mean when I say deer hunting is democratic.  In Missouri, anyone can hope to shoot a trophy deer – whatever that means to them.

With the threat of CWD looming on the horizon in this part of the country, for Scott and Maddie’s sake, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Outdoor Pictures – Hunting With a Camera

  • Advice from Tony Bynum
  • Eye Contact, Image and Action
  • Photo Gear

By Forrest Fisher

for-sto-11292016-hunting-picture-1of2

There are those incredible moments in your lifetime when you meet someone and his work, and quickly realize that even after spending a lifetime in the outdoors, there is yet another resource that you need to know so much more about.  Outdoor photography with Tony Bynum is like that.

His photography has amazed many of us in magazines, newspapers, national ad’s, art galleries and many other places.  A scientist and conservationist, Tony provides the unique resource of experience in the wilds interconnecting with educators, legislators, government representatives and many of us hunters and fishermen.

This humble professional outdoor photographer simply wants to share more about the outdoors with everyone so they can enjoy it as much as he has.

Tony Bynum is a professional outdoor photographer, a father, explorer and an unassuming person that shares his findings at conservation and outdoor media events round the country and world.  Tony is vice-president of the Professional Outdoor Media Association of America (POMA – the largest outdoor media association in the United States) for-sto-11292016-hunting-picture-2of2and his input with others there and through the web will allow many to learn more about how to find those great moments for pictures in the outdoors.

His travel experience around the world is shared in his photographs.  To learn more about better outdoor photography for FREE, Tony is providing this link for others to enjoy his new E-book “Wildlife Photography Essentials,” your experience will be unforgettable.

https://www.tonybynum.com/sign-up-for-tony-bynums-content.

Read Tony Bynum’s Free New E-book:

“Wildlife Photography Essentials”

Trappers and Wildlife – in Trouble

Bobcats are an invisible growing predator concern in many parts of the United States. Jill Easton Photo

  • Understanding Trapping, a Series – PART 1
  • Predators and Prey
  • Community Safety
  • Trapper Heritage Dwindling 
Bobcats are an invisible growing predator concern in many parts of the United States.  Jill Easton Photo
Bobcats are an invisible growing predator concern in many parts of the United States. Jill Easton Photo

By Jill J Easton

The sad truth is that just like hungry hunters the world over, wild predators like eggs. Ground nesting birds – quail, pheasants, grouse, turkeys – and their eggs,  are extremely vulnerable until a few weeks after the eggs have hatched and the babies can fly to escape.

Raccoons, skunks, possums, armadillos, foxes, hogs, coyotes and more, all relish a good meal of eggs or poults. The bigger predators don’t mind eating the hens either.  Martin, fisher and bobcats are opportunistic feeders that will eat eggs if they happen across them, but they aren’t actively searching for eggs in spring.  Unfortunately, most of the apex wild predators like wolves and cougars that once served as a control on these smaller egg-and-bird-eating mammals have been wiped out.  Humans with traps are the only remaining defense to keep us from being overrun by egg-eating varmints.

Although a few egg-eaters get shot by hunters, the huge majority of these animals removed from the ecosystem are taken by trappers.  However, before you give trappers a hearty cheer and go back to your own problems, we are going to have a short lesson in economics in the modern world.  Things have recently changed, and the fur market, in a word, stinks.

I’ve captured a healthy coyote with trapping methods that help control coyote groups, a growing concern for residential housing communities where the expanding coyote populations of America have demonstrated they prey on newborn fawns, house cats, small dogs, and other community pets.  Jill Easton Photo
I’ve captured a healthy coyote with trapping methods that help control coyote groups, a growing concern for residential housing communities where the expanding coyote populations of America have demonstrated they prey on newborn fawns, house cats, small dogs, and other community pets. Jill Easton Photo

Until three years ago, most of the fur that was trapped in the United States was sold to China, Russia and Greece.  China and Russia had a growing middle class that could afford luxuries like fur coats.  These countries have become economically unstable and the people who were joining the middle class and buying luxury items can no longer afford them.

A few months ago, I sold some quality XXL coon skins at the North American Fur Auction in Canada.  Three years ago, similar skins averaged $22, this year most went for less than $2, and two went for a quarter each.  Being a fur trapper just doesn’t pay anymore.  Fur prices were far better in 1951 than they are today.  Even worse for the past three years raccoon hides have been just about unsellable.

There are some of us who will continue to trap and wait for prices to rise again when the world economic situation improves, but thousands of trappers have hung up their traps and probably won’t take them down again.  In the modern world, trapping is an aging man’s sport with a lot of enemies.  When it’s impossible to even make gas money, the long hours, stolen traps, bitter discussions with anti’s and hard work get discouraging fast.

This leaves most landowners, hunting lease members and public land hunters in a dire pickle.  If you haven’t seen it already, soon you will notice declines in huntable wildlife, especially turkeys, ducks and quail, as raccoon and skunk numbers explode and hogs continue to proliferate.  This problem will also affect deer, but it will be caused by a bigger predator, the coyote.

As a good steward of the land you have two choices: either pay someone to take out surplus egg-eating predators, or learn to do your own trapping.  For generations, landowners have paid for beaver control, but coons, foxes, bobcats and coyotes have generally been valuable enough to cover the trapper’s expenses. All the landowner had to do was grant the trapper(s) permission to trap, without having to pay anything for the service they were getting.

That’s no longer the case.  Fur trapping, for the short-term future, is DEAD for all intents and purposes.  Things will improve down the road somewhere as the world economy gets back on its feet, but for the next few years at least, landowners and hunting clubs will have to do their own predator control.  They will need to hire somebody to do it or live with the undesirable consequences.

For the next few weeks we are going to work through each of the animals that are most dangerous to huntable wildlife, talk a bit about their life cycles and give the basics of how to trap them.

Watch for our trapping story series to continue next week – we will start with wild pigs.

Targeting Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

MDC employee Mark Raithel prepares to collect lymph nodes from the neck of a hunter-harvested deer to have them tested for chronic wasting disease. MDC collected about 19,200 tissues samples at 75 locations in central, northeast, and east-central Missouri on opening weekend of the November Firearms Deer Season.

  • Learn What It Is, What It Means
MDC employee Mark Raithel prepares to collect lymph nodes from the neck of a hunter-harvested deer to have them tested for chronic wasting disease.  MDC collected about 19,200 tissues samples at 75 locations in central, northeast, and east-central Missouri on opening weekend of the November Firearms Deer Season.
MDC employee Mark Raithel prepares to collect lymph nodes from the neck of a hunter-harvested deer to have them tested for chronic wasting disease. MDC collected about 19,200 tissues samples at 75 locations in central, northeast, and east-central Missouri on opening weekend of the November Firearms Deer Season.

By Jim Low

Last weekend, Missouri hunters brought 19,200 deer to 75 stations set up by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to gather tissue samples to be tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD).  It was a huge effort that involved approximately 1,200 MDC employees – the majority of MDC’s full-time employees – working at sampling stations on opening weekend of the November firearms deer season.

This intensive effort is the latest piece of MDC’s ongoing program to detect and slow the spread of a disease that – if left unchecked – will spell the end of deer hunting as we know it in the Show-Me State.  That would be a catastrophe for several reasons.  For one thing, the state’s deer herd is the foundation of a deep and rich outdoor tradition.  I don’t know how many people the Kansas City Royals, the St.  Louis Blues or the MU Tigers pull in for a game, but I’m sure those figures would be dwarfed by the more than 500,000 hunters who pour into Missouri’s forests and fields every November in pursuit of deer.

Deer hunting is more than a cherished tradition in Missouri.  It also yields approximately 2.5 million pounds of lean red meat annually.  If you assume a very conservative value of $5 per pound for organic, free-range venison, that’s $12.5 million worth of meat.  And thanks to hunters’ generosity through the Share the Harvest program, approximately 10 percent of Missouri’s annual deer harvest goes to food banks and local charities that provide nutritional assistance to our neediest families.  Besides all that, economists figure that deer hunting supports around 12,000 Show-Me State jobs and pumps more than $1 billion into the state and local economies.

However, if you ask deer hunters why they go out with rifle in hand each November, you aren’t likely to hear about dollars and cents.  I posed this question to several hunters while I was at the Cole County R-5 School in Eugene on opening day, having my deer sampled for CWD.  Every single one mentioned the mental and emotional boost they get from time spent in the woods, engaged in the age-old quest to provide food for themselves and their families.  Their sentiments were summed up most eloquently by one of the younger hunters I spoke with, David Newton, of Jefferson City.

“There is something spiritual and right in my soul when I get to hunt,” Newton told me.  “My life is really busy, and even if I don’t get to shoot anything, if I get to sit in the woods and think about the world, see how things slowly move, it puts my mind in the right place.  There’s also the challenge of providing food for my family, having the blessing of being able to take dominion over the earth like God gave us.  It all fits in.”

I also asked hunters if the spread of CWD in Missouri concerns them.  They all said yes, and again, Newton had a good answer.

“As someone who is passionate about hunting, it’s certainly something I’m concerned about and want to see dealt with sooner rather than later,” said Newton.  “I hear guys talk about the time in the past when there weren’t deer around.  I’m a young guy, so if I hunt long enough, I know I’m going to see deer.  But if deer get sick and start dying out, there won’t be deer any more.  I’ve got three boys.  When they’re old enough to hunt, I don’t want them to have five or six years when they don’t see a deer.”

All this is enough to make you wonder how we got to the point where such a valuable and treasured resource is in danger of disappearing.  As in other eastern states where CWD has cropped up in the past 20 years, Missouri’s outbreaks in free-ranging deer all have occurred adjacent to high-fence facilities where deer are kept for breeding and shooting.  Since the owners of these facilities have a financial stake in deer health, you might think they would be in the forefront of efforts to contain CWD.  You would be wrong.  Missouri’s deer breeders and purveyors of canned hunts have fought tooth and nail against common-sense measures proposed by the Missouri Conservation Commission as a compromise to allow captive-deer facilities to continue operating.

There was a time when the average hunter’s attitude toward captive-deer operations was live-and-let-live.  Paying to shoot a “frankendeer” with freakishly large antlers as it bellied up to a timed corn feeder might not have appealed to them, but they weren’t willing to criticize others for doing so, even if it seemed like the opposite of hunting.  But now, with CWD threatening to destroy the sport they love, and with the danger of creating a new outbreak every time a deer is imported or moved from one shooting pen to another in Missouri, attitudes are changing.

Earlier this year, the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission announced the discovery of an extensive CWD outbreak in counties bordering southwestern Missouri.  This expands the already huge area that MDC must monitor for the presence and spread of CWD.  At this rate, CWD could be so widespread in Missouri that containment is impossible within a very few years.

Thank You – These MDC staff were among about 1,200 who collected tissue samples from hunter-harvested deer to test for chronic wasting disease.
Thank You – These MDC staff were among about 1,200 who collected tissue samples from hunter-harvested deer to test for chronic wasting disease.

Missouri deer breeders and pay-to-shoot operations currently are unregulated, as a lawsuit they brought against the Conservation Commission works its way through the legal system.  So far, their money has spoken louder than hunters’ voices in the courts and in the Missouri legislature.   If you care about deer hunting, read up on CWD at mdc.mo.gov/CWD, and express your desire for action forcefully to the Conservation Commission and to your state and national legislators.

After having my deer sampled for CWD, I also asked other hunters there if they thought shooting deer inside fenced enclosures is “hunting.” Not one said yes.

I’m inclined to say no,” said Newton.  “Every intuition in me says no.  Maybe that’s rooted in the pride of hunting and the feeling that it’s not as challenging.  I think this idea of shooting for sport and shooting enclosed animals, I don’t think it’s hunting.  I don’t think its showing proper reverence or honoring the opportunity we have to hunt.”

Details about MDC’s CWD sampling are printed in the 2016 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting booklet, available wherever hunting permits are sold.  Hunters who shoot deer throughout the rest of the hunting season in the 29 counties of the CWD management zone can still have their deer tested for the disease.  Contact the MDC Central Regional Office in Columbia at 573-815-7900, the MDC Northeast Regional Office in Kirksville at 660-785-2420, or the MDC St.  Louis Regional Office in St.  Charles at 636-441-4554.  Hunters can also find voluntary CWD sampling stations at mdc.mo.gov/CWD.

On a much more positive note, thanks to all of you who turned out to vote for renewing Missouri’s 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax for parks and soil and water conservation.  Eight out of 10 voters approved the renewal, sending a resounding message to state officials about how much Missourians value their parks.  Well done!

Formula for Daily-Double Deer Success

  • Friends, Food Plots, Trail Cams are Key
  • Keep it Simple Archery Strategy 
  • Share Knowledge – Think with Confidence
There are those unforgettable treasures in hunting, such as when friends, Ryan Van Lew and Paul Murray, shared in the fun of a “Daily-Double” buck harvest hunting over food plots they planted.
There are those unforgettable treasures in hunting, such as when friends, Ryan Van Lew and Paul Murray, shared in the fun of a “Daily-Double” buck harvest hunting over food plots they planted.

By Forrest Fisher

Is there anything better that sharing a day in the archery woods with great friends and coming away with two very healthy 8-point bucks?  Tough to beat.

That’s how it was for Ryan Van Lew and Paul Murray on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, two team members with Hunters Creek Outdoors.  Never heard of that group?  They’re making Western New York famous by sharing what they learn and helping to mentor age groups that start with kids at Rushford Conservation Club.  These guys are opening the eyes of local sportsmen about how to attract and grow big bucks wherever you hunt.

This group works together, then they hunt simple and smart. They usually opt to pass on young healthy deer. The key to their hunting area?  Healthy food plots.

They kill their weeds each year, disc or rototill, then plant and nurture their food plots by balancing soil Ph, fertilizing and copiously planting inexpensive Ag Seed varieties.  All that together with some help from Mother Nature for moisture, and they attract and grow local deer herds into healthy giant venison on the hoof like never before.

Add the use of trail cams and strategic placement of safe, elevated, metal hunting stands and in some areas, use of ground blinds, and you have the ingredients necessary for good friends that love to hunt and harvest big deer.

Check out this Hunters Creek Outdoors video that offers a detailed prelude to this passionate group of friends that love the outdoors:  https://youtu.be/keGBY0qjKzE.

They have a Facebook page too. THEY WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND food plots, trail cams, bow gear, arrows, broadheads, scent control, camo and variations, target practice, friendship, fun and advanced learning through their shared knowledge.

When common folks share what they know, they become uncommonly successful.  In a group, they are an unbeatable team.  Feel free to tag along on their daily Facebook adventures as they report progress or adversity right through each hunting season: (https://www.facebook.com/HuntersCreekOutdoorsTeam/?pnref=story).  Follow them all year to learn

Van Lew watched this Ohio deer walk by, grunted him back and took him down with a perfect arrow shot.
Van Lew watched this Ohio deer walk by, grunted him back and took him down with a perfect arrow shot.

more about everything you might like to know in the outdoors.

On the day of the double deer take, the always thoughtful and jovial Van Lew shared, “Saturday’s are for the boys!  What a day it was to be a bow hunter. When the light switch kicks on during the rut.”  How exciting it is when the exposure cycle of the moon, the temperature, time of year and friends all come together in sync with sunrise and sunset where you hunt, and then the deer show up.  You can imagine.

As you follow these folks, you can feel the game-changing moments when they happen, this group has that going on.  Yet every one of these folks is humble and passionate about their success.  What better way to share and help others?

Just one week before, Van Lew made his annual trek to Ohio with some of these same friends.  Success begets successful hunters and Van Lew used his tight-flying arrows with Spitfire broadheads to drop another whitetail giant there too.

About his Ohio buck, Van Lew recollects and shares while his buddy was snapping a photo, “To sit behind this buck is an honor, watching him come up the hillside, to grunting him back to offer me the shot and then watching him fall.  For some of you who don’t hunt, the feeling is surreal.  You can’t talk, you can’t breathe, and your heart is pounding.  It’s a feeling that never gets old. Truly blessed to have had such a great hunt this morning and be able to share the excitement with the best hunting buddies a guy could ask for. Then to see my dad’s big grin on his face when I walked out of the woods today made it that much better.”  Fun?  Unforgettable?  Do it again?  Almighty YES.

for-sto-11182016-hunting-picture-3of3

Van Lew prefers to use Remington Scent Shield for his only exterior scent control.  Stuff works. The whole team uses the same.

Green Timber Duck Hunting

Very little gear is needed to hunt wood ducks. Jim Low Photo

-Fun, Tasty Harvest, Little Gear Needed

Very little gear is needed to hunt wood ducks.  Jim Low Photo
Very little gear is needed to hunt wood ducks. Jim Low Photo

By Jim Low

One of the things I miss from time that I have spent in Arkansas is green-timber duck hunting.  Missouri once had a considerable cypress-tupelo swamp in the southeastern corner of the state, but precious little of that is left.  What remains is a long way from my home in Jefferson City, but I still manage to get a taste of green-timber hunting during the first couple of weeks of duck season each year.

Wood ducks nest in wooded sloughs and along the margins of lakes, ponds, streams and Missouri’s big public wetland areas.  You can even find them around wildlife watering holes on land owned by the USDA Forest Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation.  I first discovered this when I was in college at MU and augmented my meager food budget with game from public land south and east of Columbia.  As I stalked squirrels one day, I spied a pair of woodies in a pond small enough to throw a rock across.  Both birds went home with me that day.  They provided the basis for one of the first meals I ever cooked for the lissome young woman who has brightened my days and nights for the past 43 years.

Thousands of wood ducks remain in Missouri into early November.  Until they depart for milder climes, they make it possible to enjoy the spectacle of web-footed prey weaving through tree trunks to splash down amid decoys.  My preferred spot to wait for them is along the banks of Mussel Fork Creek in Chariton County.  To be perfectly accurate, I hunt just over the banks of Mussel Fork, at the edge of a small, privately owned wetland.  Mussel Fork itself often is rather short of water this time of year, whereas the borrow ditch at my duck club – Mussel Fork Legacy Marsh – always offers hungry wood ducks a congenial place to loaf and chow down on their favorite food – pin oak acorns.

Last Friday, Mussel Fork’s pre-dawn silence was enlivened by the chortles of leopard frogs who were understandably confused about the season.  The calendar said November, but the thermometer tilted toward April.  My golden retriever and I were comfortable without parka or neoprene vest as we watched the lightening eastern sky impart a pink glow to water beneath half a dozen wood duck decoys.  Faced into the sun isn’t my first choice of duck-hunting positons, but I didn’t choose this spot – the ducks did.  The previous day I flushed 20 or so woodies from the corner where two levees meet, and I knew where I would be the following morning.

As daylight stole among the pin oaks, I learned why this spot attracted so many “wood widgeons.” The trees along the nearly dry creek behind me came alive with the squeals of wood ducks.  Dozens flew over my hiding spot as they headed out to forage, but I didn’t have to wait that long.  Several groups saw no reason to fly to distant spots when food was nearby.  They swooped in on Willa and me at five- to 10-minute intervals.

Admittedly, this was not the full green-timber experience.  I was at the edge of the trees, not surrounded by them.  But the ambiance had much in common with a northern Arkansas bayou, and the gunning was still challenging.  I spent five shells dropping two wood ducks.  When a hen hit the water, I declared my sporting limit filled.  Woodies continued to check us out as I took a few photos to memorialize the morning.

You don’t need much gear to hunt wood ducks.  The half-dozen I use is about twice as many as necessary.  I own a wood duck call, but almost never use it, having never seen an instance where it appeared to influence wood duck behavior.  What you absolutely must have is an idea of where wood ducks are hanging out.  The presence of pin oak trees whose branches overhang water is a huge advantage, but this doesn’t narrow the field much.  It’s also helpful to find a fallen tree that has sunk most of the way into the mud, providing ample perching space on its trunk and limbs.  But the gold standard of wood duck holes is a pocket of some sort.  An oxbow or a slough where a tributary enters the main stream is good.  So is a small pond, the back of an isolated lake cove or a dead end or bend in a borrow ditch.

Missouri has literally hundreds of public areas with excellent wood duck hunting spots.  One example is Mussel Fork Conservation Area in Linn and Macon counties.  Its 2,491 acres include four ponds, two wetlands and four miles of Mussel Fork Creek.  The Conservation Department’s website makes it easy to find areas like this in nearly every county.  Once you pick an area, the best way to find a productive spot is to simply walk creek banks, levees or wetland edges until you flush a bunch of wood ducks.  Leave immediately and return at about the same time the next day, and you likely will be in the money.  If forced to hunt without scouting beforehand, choose a likely spot and set out a small spinning-wing decoy with a handful of decoys to attract the attention of passing birds.  Don’t fret if you don’t own any wood duck decoys.  Hen mallard, gadwall or pintail hen dekes work fine.

As their name implies, wood ducks are creatures of the woods.  They tend to hug the edge of timber rather than flying out over large, open expanses.  As a result, I seldom get shots at wood ducks much beyond 30 yards.  No.  4 or 3 steel shot

Wood ducks are among the tastiest of all waterfowl.  Jim Low Photo.
Wood ducks are among the tastiest of all waterfowl. Jim Low Photo.

works well at that range.  I hunt with an over/under shotgun for versatility in choke selection.  Screw an improved cylinder tube into one barrel and either modified of skeet choke in the other, depending on the likelihood of longer versus shorter shots.

Wood ducks are right up there with blue-winged teal, canvasbacks and prime rib for eating quality.  To let the flavor shine, filet the breast meat from the bone and cut it across the grain into cutlets about ¾ inch thick.  Salt and pepper these lightly and sear them in a hot skillet with butter or olive oil.  When they are still pink in the middle, set the cutlets aside on a warm plate.  Add a little red wine to the skillet and sauté some sliced mushrooms until tender.  Serve the meat and mushrooms with your choice of potatoes, bread or buttered egg noodles.  There’s no finer eating.

New York Big Game Hunting Firearms Season for Southern Zone Begins November 19

In several areas of New York, hunters are requested to help control the doe populations, as non-resident hunter, Jeff Liebler did here with his first ever deer from New York. Forrest Fisher Photo

-Hunters encouraged to pass on young bucks

for-11152016-picture-1of2By Forrest Fisher

In the highly sportsmen populated southern zone sector of the Empire State, hunters have been waiting all year for the 3-week long big game firearms hunting season. Wait no longer, it will open this Saturday, November 19, at sunrise.

Despite an unusually balmy forecast of 60-degree weather for the 3rd Saturday in November, New York hunters will endure staying warm – especially since the peak of the rut is set to start on about the same day.  It should be a good harvest year for hunters, as the opening day of gun season and the rut rarely coincide.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York’s deer and bear populations are great resources that provide more than nine million pounds of quality, locally grown, organic meat to families across the state and I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”

DEC is encouraging all hunters across the state to pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks.  In a multi-year study conducted with Cornell University, more than 7,000 hunters surveyed across the state reported wanting more opportunities for taking mature bucks without mandatory restrictions on antler size.  DEC has been working with several leading sportsmen’s groups across the state to educate hunters on their role in deer management, the impacts of harvest choices, and changes in the deer population, as more and more hunters voluntarily refrain from taking young bucks.

“Many hunters have told DEC that they would like to see older bucks and hunters can make a difference in the future of the sport by passing up young bucks,” added Commissioner Seggos.

Many hunters are already voluntarily passing up young bucks and the proportion of older bucks available in the herd has increased substantially in the past decade.  As more hunters choose to pass young bucks, all hunters will enjoy the opportunity to see and take larger, older bucks.

Regular Firearms Season for Deer and Bear Begins November 19

The 2016 regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York’s Southern Zone begin at sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 19, and continue through Sunday, Dec. 11. The Southern Zone regular season is New York’s most popular hunting season, with about 85 percent of New York’s 550,000 licensed hunters participating.  Harvests during this season account for nearly 60 percent of the total annual statewide deer take and 30 to 60 percent of the statewide bear harvest.

In several areas of New York, hunters are requested to help control the doe populations, as non-resident hunter, Jeff Liebler did here with his first ever deer from New York.  Forrest Fisher Photo
In several areas of New York, hunters are requested to help control the doe populations, as non-resident hunter, Jeff Liebler did here with his first ever deer from New York. Forrest Fisher Photo

Following the regular firearm deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will run from Dec. 12 through Dec. 20.  Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess a hunting license and either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.

In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 22 and will close at sunset on Dec. 4. The Northern Zone includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys. A late bowhunting and muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from Dec. 5 to Dec. 11.

Help Protect NY Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease

Though NO new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) have been found in New York deer since 2005, DEC continues to take the threat of CWD seriously.  Hunters should, too.  CWD is fatal to deer.  If introduced, CWD could spread rapidly and be practically impossible to eliminate from the wild deer herd once established.  Preventing CWD from entering New York is the most effective disease management strategy.  Hunters can help protect New York’s deer herd from CWD by following these tips:

• If hunting outside of New York, debone or quarter deer before bringing it back and follow the law about importing carcasses or carcass parts from out of state. CWD Regulations for Hunters.

• -Do not use deer urine-based lures or attractant scents.

• -Dispose of carcass waste in a landfill.

• -Report deer that appear sick or acting abnormally.

• -Hunt only wild deer and support fair chase hunting principles.

Report Your Harvest – Be Part of Game Management

Hunter contributions to deer and bear management don’t end when an animal is harvested. Successful hunters are required to report their harvest of deer and bear within seven days. However, DEC data suggest that less than half of successful deer hunters actually report. Failure to report is a violation of the Environmental Conservation Law, and it reduces the data DEC uses to manage deer and bear populations. Hunters may report via DEC’s online game harvest reporting system or by calling the toll-free automated reporting system at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).

Other Reminders for the 2016 Southern Zone Regular Hunting Season

Recent legislation allows the use of rifles for big game hunting to continue in Albany County for two years and to continue indefinitely in Livingston County. See the “Rifle, Shotgun, and Bow Areas” web page on DEC’s website for other areas where rifles can be used.

• Crossbows may be used during the regular deer seasons in all parts of New York except Westchester and Suffolk counties, and the bow-only portions of Albany and Monroe counties. Crossbows may also be used during the late muzzleloading season for hunters possessing a muzzleloading privilege. See the Crossbow Hunting web page on DEC’s website for license and training requirements, general rules, and season opportunities.

The Deer Management Focus Area (available on DEC’s website) will continue to assist communities in the Ithaca area with the burden of overabundant deer populations.

• Mandatory antler restrictions (available on DEC’s website) (three points on one side minimum) remain in effect in WMUs 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 4G, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S, and 4W during all seasons for all hunters 17 years and older.

• Successful bear hunters are asked to submit a tooth from their bear to DEC so the agency can age the bear and monitor bear population dynamics. See the Bear Tooth Collection web page on DEC’s website for instructions.

• Remember, Hunger Has A Cure… The Venison Donation Program is a great way to help those less fortunate while assisting with deer management in New York.

• Remember Firearms Safety:

1. -Point guns in a safe direction.

2. -Treat every gun as if it were loaded.

3. -Be sure of the target and beyond.

4. -Keep the finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

5. -Remember to wear Hunter Orange.

For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2016-2017 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide available on DEC’s website. Hunters are urged to review all regulations and safety tips contained in the guide. Hunters may also be interested to read DEC’s booklet, Hunting the Black Bear in New York (PDF, 763 KB), or to review DEC’s unit-by-unit Deer Hunting Forecasts, which are both available online.

Hunting in Florida

-License is Required

-Small Game, Wild Turkey, Boars, Bears, Deer and more

-November is Key Month

By Forrest Fisher

for-sto-11152016-picture-1of1If you’re packing your snowbird bags already and are planning ahead to hunt in Florida this year, November in Florida is an awesome month to head for the woods.  You have the option to hunt small game, wild turkey, boars, bears, deer and more.  Regulations are not complicated, but it’s a good idea to download the syllabus for the sector area you plan to visit.

Hunting opportunities require a hunting license to participate in Florida.  The Florida resident license fee is $17, nonresidents have a choice based on length of term with the 10-day license cost of $46.50 or the year-long license for $151.50.

If you want to hunt on a WMA, you also must purchase a management area permit for $26.50. And don’t forget to obtain the brochure on

To hunt on wildlife management areas (WMAs), you must possess a management area permit ($26.50) and a hunting license, (and often other permits depending on species and season), unless exempt.  Limited entry/quota permits are required on WMAs during certain time periods. They can only be applied for during the scheduled application periods. The worksheets with the hunt choices and hunt dates are usually posted about two weeks before the permit application period opens.  For each WMA, the dates, bag limits and rules differ greatly for each area.

I noticed that there’s an alligator season too, for those looking for a bit more excitement that the quiet woods.

All necessary licenses and permits are available at any tax collector’s office, retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing gear, by calling toll-free 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or by going online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.