When do Illinois Ladies Bag a GIANT Triple-Spur Turkey?

Answer: During the 2022 Illinois turkey hunting season!

  • 25-pound bird, 12-inch beard, double-triple spurs…UNREAL.
  • Full camo shotgun, full camo boots and garb, 25-yards, aim, squeeze, shot – BANG…BIRD DOWN.
  • A surreal moment after harvest, it will last me FOR ALL TIME.
One proud hunting day for me, kudos to my skilled husband for calling in this bird within my shooting range.

By Dawn Redner, with Forrest Fisher

The Illinois turkey season was open and, honestly, I was itching to get out there. I had a craving for a wild turkey dinner, though as everyone knows, bagging a bird doesn’t happen every season. Hey, I’m an optimist!

We were hunting on our own property, which includes about 12 acres of native forest.  There was something special about this day, though I wasn’t sure what it was. This time, though, I seemed more alert and more ready to hunt than usual.

Maybe it was because this time when I walked into our woods, I thanked the Lord that I can hunt with my husband, Wayne. Also deep in my prayers, I was thinking of my husband’s dad.  Wayne’s dad was always so proud of me for being a girl/woman fisherwoman and huntress. He passed on in March 1993.  We miss him.

As we approached the woods, I was careful to quietly load up my camo-color Remington 11-87.  I slid the Winchester Double-X, 3-inch number 5s in and double-checked my safe. All good. Wayne had the turkey calls with him, we were set to trek in.

In 15 minutes or so, in the dark, we set up in a good-looking woodsy spot. After just a few minutes, a serious gobble echoed off to our left. It was quite a ways off. We looked at each other through our face masks and whispered to consider moving closer. We moved quietly in the direction of the gobble to close the distance. We got as close as we thought we could and set up in a deadfall. While we were moving, we heard him gobble a few more times. We were moving, so we did not call back to him. We thought it was the same bird, the live turkey yak-yak tone sounded similar to the first hearty gobble we had heard. Quietly, we cleared a little brush out of the way and sat down. Wayne gave him a few soft yelps with his Primos Razor Hooks with Bat Cut Mouth Diaphragm.

We got an immediate response!  We waited a minute or two and called again.

We got another response, and he was much closer now.

He was on his way to us!

I lifted my Remington to rest on my knee and waited.

The few minutes felt like an hour as we waited, hoping to see him move into sight and range.

Then, just like that, there he was, only about 25 yards out. I gently slipped the safety off. In range now, I decided to take the shot, gently squeezing the trigger once. After the shot, I couldn’t see him anymore.

So I jumped up and ran to where I thought he should be, worried a bit.

Then, there he was! I had bagged him!

We high-5’d and hugged. Yes! The moment was fantastic!

After another look at the bird, it had funny-looking legs. We discovered he had all those extra spurs.

Three on one leg and two and a nub on the other leg.

He also had a very long beard and he was a pretty large bird.

Later, we measured the beard, it was 12-inches!

The weight scales really gave us an even bigger surprise, 25 pounds!

This was one big beautiful tree chicken.

One big beautiful memory.

I always wanted to get a Pope & Young just for my father-in-law, he might think this hunt came close to that. My husband does!

For me, this whole day will be unforgettable for a lifetime.

The bird was so massage and beautiful. The beard, tail, spurs. Unreal! The biggest bird I have ever seen.

My Gear List:

  • Gun: shotgun, Remington 11-87 Sportsman Camo 20 gauge
  • Ammo: Number 5 Winchester Double X 3-inch
  • Call: Primos Razor Hooks with Bat Cut Diaphragm Mouth Call
  • Turkey Vest: Russell’s Outdoor- Mossy Oak
  • Coat and Pants: Gander Mountain Tech 2.0 Mossy Oak
  • Boots: Cabela’s Dry Plus Pac Boots 2000 gr

 

 

Ticks the Season! It’s Turkey Time

Olympus Digital Camera, from the late Joe Forma photo collection

YES, that’s a dime! Blacklegged ticks are much smaller than common dog ticks. In their larval and nymphal stages, they are no bigger than a pinhead. Adult black-legged ticks are larger, about the size of a sesame seed (left to right: larva, nymph, adult male, adult female). Courtesy of CDC

By Bob Holzhei

With tick season just a few weeks away, outdoor folks – especially turkey hunters, are preparing to sit their butts down in the woods. It might be good to know about the tick prevention safety guide that has been developed by Brian Anderson, who is from Iron Mountain, MI., known as the Tick Terminator.

“The guide has been used by hundreds of safety directors, outdoor workers and enthusiasts across the country to help them learn and share new prevention ideas in the battle with ticks,” says Anderson.

A follow-up bulletin titled “The Hidden Cost of Lyme Disease” assists readers of the tick season which runs from March through November each year.

What is Lyme Disease? 

“Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdolferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of black-legged ticks (deer ticks).  Symptoms include headache, brain fog, chills, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, neck stiffness, achy joints, bulls-eye rash including other rashes, facial palsy, heart palpitations, dizziness, vision changes, and sensitivity to light,” stated Anderson.

If left untreated the disease can spread to joints, heart and the nervous system.  It is estimated that the disease results in 300-400,000 new cases each year.

Early detection and treatment are important.  If diagnosed soon enough, within a few weeks of a bite, antibiotic treatment by an MD will be sufficient to combat the disease.  Allowing the disease to go untreated for months will lead to a chronic condition.  Many doctors treat patients early with antibiotics to be safe.  Lyme disease can take months in the body to show up positive on a test.

Where Does Lyme Disease Come From?

Ticks get Lyme disease by feeding on an infected animal, often a mouse or rodent, which is then passed on to the next host.  Using good repellants and checking for tick bites during the season is advised.

The Hidden Costs of Lyme Disease

The person infected with Lyme disease enjoys a normal active life.  Then suddenly overnight they become exhausted, can barely make it through a day of work, and can’t wait to get home to rest.  Often folks feel it’s just a temporary bug, which will pass.  Lyme disease is nicknamed, “the great imitator,” and the medical costs continue to rise.

“Unfortunately, many insurance companies do not recognize the disease, and therefore will not pay for it,” added Anderson.

Where Are Ticks Found?

Ticks are found in tall grasses and low-lying shrubs, preferring moist shaded areas.  They don’t jump, fly or fall out of trees.  They wait patiently to smell the odor of an animal or human walking by.  They then latch on and enjoy a 2–4-day, blood meal.  When temperatures rise above 32 degrees or warmer, the tick season has begun.  Ticks do not die off during the winter.  The small younger nymph ticks are the size of a poppy seed and are responsible for most Lyme disease cases. See the photo.

Preventing Lyme Disease

The use of Deet on the skin and Permethrin on clothes and gear was suggested by Anderson.

  1. Tuck in your pants into the socks!
  2. Wear light-colored pants to easily spot ticks!
  3. Walk on well-used paths and stay away from vegetation!
  4. Use 25-34% Deet on the skin.
  5. Treat shoes, socks, pants, and shirts with Permethrin.

After the Bite

Quick medical attention is advised by a physician that knows about tick-borne diseases.  The disease can be treated with antibiotics.  Early detection and treatment are stressed!

“If you keep the ticks off of you, you won’t get bit,” concluded Anderson.

For more information:

Jake’s Lost Life: Gun Safety is #1 – for ALL Hunters, for ALL Ages

Remember that Gun Safety is #1 at ALL TIMES. James Monteleone photo

  • With a profound passion, Jake loved to hunt for deer, turkey, waterfowl.
  • Does a deep passion for hunting and familiarity with firearms contribute to a lack of discipline for firearm safety? Keep safety rules in mind….always.
  • Shooting a firearm MUST INCLUDE THE COURAGE  TO CORRECT A FRIEND for any lack of gun safety: Where are the bullets? Where is the gun pointed?  
  • Read, learn, share with others – GUN SAFETY FIRST!

By James Monteleone

Jake, to my immediate left, was interested in the outdoors and hunting from a very early age. 

Dear Mr. Average Teenager – I turkey hunted once with a kid named Jake. Yes, I know there is a strange connection to the young hunter’s name and a young turkey. Jake’s real name is Jacob, and other than Jake, he is called “Spud” by those in his close circle of family and friends. I was introduced to Jake by a friend, and our paths crossed when I was co-hosting a Youth Day seminar. It was easy to see that Jake had the benefit of some good instructions when it came to using a friction call. His notes and cadence on both a box call and a slate call were better than the average man, much less a young teen.
The day we hunted was pretty ordinary as turkey hunting days go. Chuck Tiranno (my friend) and Jake headed down to the far end of a long field. I split off to the left to cover a long stretch of woods that bordered the same field. There was some gobbling from my left and I was set up in a great place to intercept the birds as they closed in on my position. I called in and saw four “jakes” that morning. They did their usual hard-gobbling routine and put on a little show for the decoy, but they were not my intended target that morning.
After 8am, I heard three shots coming from the spot where Jake and Chuck had set up. The timing of the shots led me to believe that someone may have missed. When we met up at about 9am, I found out that Jake had, in fact, killed one of several birds that came in to his calling. His shots were an attempt to anchor the bird that was a little farther out than the effective range of his shotgun. Chuck, who lives across the street from Jake, has been a mentor to Jake and wasted no time putting the teenager in his place for shooting at what he considered an extreme distance.
Jake, who developed a proficiency for trap shooting and archery hunting for deer, loved waterfowl and turkey hunting too. His ability to call in ducks, geese and turkeys gave him a unique ranking within his peer group and allowed him to compete with adults in pursuing these sports. Chuck always insists on youths like Jake patterning and sighting in their firearms. In addition to these steps, Chuck stresses the need for practice and safety. These are all part of the collaborative effort on which we focus during Youth Day seminars and lectures to all age groups.
In some ways, Jake is just an average 15-year-old boy. Although his hunting and shooting abilities are comparable to an adult level of participation, he, like many 15-year-olds, thinks he is a “top dog”. I think it’s great when a youth has an outlet for his energy and takes an interest in the outdoors. Jake won’t see his 16th birthday. Jake won’t be out for the deer season, and we will never know what Jake may have been able to offer the youth of future generations.
Jake lost his life to a terrible accident. Not an accident that you would have foreseen in his future. He died due to a gunshot wound that came while he and a friend were handling a gun before a waterfowl hunt. The other details are not necessary. But these young men have been drilled at almost every opportunity in the safe handling of firearms. I will not speculate as to the actual events other than to state the obvious. If you question why I would state the obvious, then think about what any and all of us could do to avoid situations like this in the future.
It’s too late for Jake. It’s not too late for the rest of us to take a lesson from a situation where a young boy who grew up around guns may have failed to take charge of a situation where his friend was not being safe. There was an adult in the home when the accident occurred. Could there have been a stricter approach to the firearms being handled that day? Of course, we can all use hindsight to say “Yes” emphatically. But that time has passed, and we need to honor Jake’s memory and the other people who have lost their lives in firearm-related mishaps. How do we honor those people?
We never miss a chance to reinforce the need for safety in handling guns and other weapons. Those basic rules like “treat every firearm like it’s loaded” and “always point the muzzle in a safe direction” and “be sure of your intended target” and “supervise all young and new shooters in the use of firearms.”

When more than one hunter is in a group, firearm safety becomes the ultimate consideration. Muzzle direction, chamber open, safety position. National Shooting Sports Foundation Photo

This has been difficult for the parents, Jake’s young friend and the community in general. I saw and heard the grief yesterday as I stood in front of the casket of a 15-year-old boy. He was dressed in camouflage, and the pictures displayed at the entrance showed a young man with a passion for the outdoors. He posed with his turkeys, some geese and several of the deer he had taken. The pride of competing in a man’s game and winning was etched on his face. Ironically, Jake had taken a deer with his bow only days before this tragedy took place.
Having had Jake as one of the participants in my presentation at the Youth Day seminars and seeing him in death was a painful reminder that nothing should be taken for granted no matter how many times we preach the safe handling of firearms. We cannot over-emphasize safety. No one is invincible or immune from a lapse in judgment. Don’t be embarrassed to remind people (and insist if necessary) that safety is an absolute part of our sport. It doesn’t matter how long you have hunted or how proficient and knowledgeable you are about firearms. Danger doesn’t take a day off. Yes, people can be dangerous; guns are only a part of the equation.
Put safety first. I have said to Jake and many others, “There is no deer, turkey, elk, bear or any other animal that is more important than coming home safely.” We all stress that “you can’t take a bullet back once it’s fired. You have lost any control that you have over the outcome of that shot once you pull the trigger”.

Hunt in pairs to stay safe, but always remember that guns are dangerous when safety rules are taken for granted. National Sports Shooting Foundation Photo.

There are no “do-overs” where guns are concerned. I doubt that anyone among us has not witnessed the poor and unsafe handling of firearms. Are you embarrassed to remind the offender of his duties to protect himself and others? Jake’s parents wish someone would have done that for him. If you appreciate this reminder, don’t thank me, thank Jake. He gave up his life to a lapse in judgment. His father said to me yesterday, “I hope something good can come from this,” and I told him then, “We have to be Jake’s voice now”. That’s my objective in writing this the day Jake will be buried. I want to be Jake’s voice. Not just today, but every day when there is a firearm present.
Will you join me and honor Jake by being his voice? It’s so much more important than “Good Hunting and Great Memories.”

From my friend, Tony TirannoMay Jake rest in peace.  I pledge to be “Jake’s Voice”.

THE 12 GOLDEN RULES FOR SAFE GUN HANDLING:

  • Always treat the gun as if it is loaded.
  • Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
  • Never point the gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
  • Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the gun you are using.
  • Always use proper ammunition.
  • Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before loading and shooting.
  • If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, hold your shooting position for several seconds, then with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, carefully unload the gun.
  • Don’t rely on the gun’s mechanical safety to keep it from firing.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when handling guns so you don’t trip, lose your balance or accidentally point and/or fire the gun at anyone or anything.

New York Canada Goose Seasons OPEN September 1st in many areas of State

New York Canada Goose Seasons Open September 1st

One of the first seasons to open every year is the September “resident” Canada goose season.

Although they may look the same, “resident” Canada geese are those that breed in the United States and southern Canada, unlike “Atlantic Population” (or “AP”) Canada geese, their relatives that breed in northern Canada and migrate through New York. Typically, resident geese produce more young per pair and survive at a higher rate than AP geese. As the resident goose population has grown, season lengths and bag limits have been liberalized and hunters have successfully stabilized the population.

The September season is an important opportunity for New York hunters, as AP goose seasons have been restricted to 30 days and a one-bird bag in most areas to protect this more vulnerable population. For more information on the differences between resident and AP geese, visit DEC’s website.

You can find details on waterfowl hunting regulations, season dates, hunting area boundaries, and bag limits for both the September and regular seasons on DEC’s website.

To participate, hunters must: (1) possess a 2021-22 hunting license; (2) register for the 2021-22 New York Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP; see below); and (3) all hunters 16 years of age or older must have a 2021-22 federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (i.e., “duck stamp”) signed across the face of the stamp in ink.

Photo courtesy of T. Van Liew

Overpopulation of Deer?

Photo from the late Joe Forma deer picture collection 

  • Warm winters, High summer nutrition, Fewer hunters = TOO MANY DEER
  • Do we need DNR to consider additional expanded seasons?
  • Farmers need help, Home Owners have property damage and deer disease concerns (Lyme, CWD, etc.)
Wintering deer herds salvage food from all available sources, but there are concerns for overpopulation in many parts of the country. Concerns for spread of Lyme disease via deer ticks is one more concern. Photo from the late Joe Forma deer picture collection 

By Bob Holzhei

Within a one-mile radius of our farm in Clinton County, MI, I counted over 40 deer. They were traveling in two different herds on our property, woodlot and an adjoining property.

This population of deer was much higher than in previous years, increasing by about four times what I had witnessed in the past.

What factors accounted for the high numbers? A mild winter this past season was possibly one factor. The immediate question is, do the high deer numbers have consequences as apparent overpopulation occurs?

“Overpopulation is more deer than the habitat can support.  This numbers growth occurs simply by having survival exceed mortality. We may be witnessing the survival theory that may have occurred for a more prolonged period of time than thought.  “The distribution of deer can vary throughout the year,” according to Chad Stewart, a Biologist and Deer/Elk Population Specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“During the spring-time is when deer are clustered on the landscape, primarily around food sources. As green-up occurs, deer numbers redistribute themselves to more normal levels, and the concentration of deer in large numbers is likely to diminish,” added Stewart.

One way of looking at it might be that a reduction in hunter numbers means an increase in safe spaces for deer to evade hunters. Add high summer nutrition to high winter survival rates and mild winters, we might expect the trend to continue. For farmers, I am a farmer, crop damage occurs when deer numbers are high. The field edges are hit hard, but damage can extend into field centers as the deer numbers increase.

Healthy deer numbers are increasing rapidly with fewer deer hunter numbers. Photo from the late Joe Forma deer picture collection 

“Clinton County, MI, has seen increasing trends in populations over the past 6-8 years,” stated Stewart. “Research has shown that about 20 deer per square mile is the threshold for detecting deer damage to forests.  Keeping deer numbers below that threshold is ideal for forestry management.”

“The Michigan DNR, in an effort to manage deer numbers, has liberalized the license structure by offering more flexibility for hunters to take antlerless deer with a combination license during the firearms and muzzleloader season.  The antlerless licenses are also transferrable between counties and properties.  A late antlerless season has also been extended in southern Michigan,” concluded Stewart.

If you enjoy healthy, high-protein venison steaks and burgers, this coming season could be a very special time for you and your family. AND, you could be helping the farmers with your harvest.

About the author: Bob Holzhei is a published author with more than 450 published outdoor adventure stories from across the United States. He has authored four books, including Canadian Fly-In Fishing Adventure, Alaskan Spirit Journey, The Mountains Shall Depart and The Hills Shall Be Removed. The latter was nominated for Pulitzer Prize consideration. His books are available at Amazon.

National Deer Association (NDA) has Solid Plan to Empower Deer Hunters

NDA Photo

  • Education, Biology, Legislation, Recruitment included in the new plan.
  • Karlin Dawson named as Deer Outreach Specialist to Work with Missouri Conservation (MDC)
  • Special focus on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and Field-to-Fork Programs
NDA Photo

During July 2020, the National Deer Alliance and the Quality Deer Management Association joined forces to merge their two groups, combine the strengths, resources and core initiatives to better serve deer and hunters more effectively when the need is greatest. Then in November 2020, they announced their new group name: the National Deer Association. They are a non-profit group and beyond a name and a logo, they also assembled a unified team, created a new strategic plan, and announced a Board of Directors. 

The National Deer ASSOCIATION is planning to focus on four critical areas: (1) education and outreach, (2) recruitment, retention and reactivation, (3) policy and advocacy, (4) deer diseases. Teaching the non-hunting public about the keystone position of deer in all wildlife conservation (success or failure) will be among new goals. Similarly, the new group will empower hunters to be more informed, and hence, more successful and engaged stewards of deer and wildlife, including mentoring young hunters. Deer diseases, including the invariably fatal chronic wasting disease (CWD), present a severe threat to all deer species’ future and related wildlife conservation/health. Wildlife policy and legislation are part of that new goal, at the same time bringing hunters, the non-hunting public, and wildlife managers together with a common education and realization theme. The new group includes memberships across all 50 states and Canada.

The National Deer Association (NDA) is pleased to announce that Karlin Dawson has joined the organization as a Deer Outreach Specialist in northern Missouri. A Missouri native and lifelong deer hunter, Karlin comes to NDA from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), where she served as the naturalist for the Runge Conservation Nature Center.

Highly qualified Karlin Dawson has joined the National Deer Association (NDA) organization as a Deer Outreach Specialist in northern Missouri. Photo courtesy of NDA

“I am honored and excited to be joining such a wonderful organization,” said Karlin. “I cannot wait to continue my work in conservation and supporting our natural resources.”

As a Deer Outreach Specialist, Karlin will assist MDC staff with the facilitation of the state’s Deer Management Assistance Program (DMA). Among mission objectives will be to provide guidance to landowners and deer hunters conducting deer population surveys and other data collection efforts, host local habitat management training, work with private landowners to establish and support Wildlife Management Cooperatives, coordinate and assist with chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling training, and organize hunter recruitment and mentoring initiative – like NDA’s Field to Fork program, in northern Missouri. She will also serve Missourians by helping promote numerous private land assistance programs alongside MDC staff. 

Karlin’s duties will include helping increase NDA awareness by recruiting new members and publicizing NDA’s national programs and conservation partner programs.

“I am excited to have Karlin join the NDA staff,” said Matt Ross, NDA’s Director of Conservation. “Her past experience working as a public educator and naturalist for the state of Missouri, her enthusiasm for wildlife and the sustenance it provides, and her general knowledge and passion for the outdoors make her a perfect fit for this position.”

Karlin received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Westminster College, where her study emphasis was in conservation, ecology and field research. In addition to her recent position as a naturalist with MDC, Karlin worked as an assistant manager and whitetail guide at Safari Unlimited LLC, a Missouri-based commercial outfitting business specializing in worldwide hunting and fishing adventure travel and offers a free-range deer and turkey hunting service in the Show-Me state. She is a certified Hunter Education instructor, a certified CWD sampling technician and has substantial experience in virtual and interpretive conservation programming, including a unique content series about wild edibles, game recipes, and cooking. 

Landowners and deer hunters in northern Missouri who want to learn more about DMAP, deer management, or with interest in establishing a Wildlife Cooperative can contact Karlin at karlin@deerassociation.com.

Special Thanks to Brian Grossman and the NDA for details regarding Karlin Dawson.

Winchester SX4 Hybrid Hunter Woodland Shotgun

Gotta love the new durable camo coverage and protected metal-part finish on the new Winchester firearms in this modern world.

The Winchester® Super X4 Hybrid Hunter Woodland features a classic Woodland camouflage paired with a Cerakote Flat Dark Earth finish on the receiver and barrel. The is combination is an functional eye-catching performer. Rain or shine, fast cycling is never an issue with the proven Active Valve Gas System. Adding an extra level of durability is the chrome-plated chamber and bore.

This model includes 3 Invector-Plus choke tubes – including a choke wrench, TRUGLO® fiber-optic sight, reversible safety button, larger opening in trigger guard, and larger bolt handle and bolt release with a Nickel Teflon coating on carrier and bolt release button, .

To learn more about the features and specs, as well as access downloadable hi-res images, please visit:

Super X4 Hybrid Hunter Woodland

Super X4 Shotguns

Features:

  • RECEIVER –  Aluminum alloy; Flat Dark Earth (FDE) Cerakote finish
  • BARREL –  Chrome-plated chamber and bore; FDE Cerakote finish; Ventilated rib
  • ACTION –  12 gauge – 3 1/2″ and 3″ chamber; 20 gauge – 3″ chamber; Gas operated with Active Valve system;
  • STOCK –  Composite; Woodland camouflage finish with an Inflex® recoil pad
  • FEATURES –  Three Invector-Plus™ choke tubes (F,M,IC); TRUGLO® fiber-optic sight; New Inflex® Technology recoil pad; Length of pull spacers; New larger bolt handle, bolt release and reversible safety button; New larger opening in trigger guard; Sling swivel studs

MSRP is $1079.99. For more information on Winchester Firearms, please visit winchesterguns.com.

Turkey Hunting: Making the Box Call Sing

  • My favorite Turkey Call is the Box Call, it can make turkey music.
  • The type of wood can make a huge difference, reasons why some turkey hunters carry more than one box call
  • The 4-Play call is single box call that can make more notes, at more different pitches, than any 2 to 4 standard box calls combined!

By Mike Roux

I give dozens of game calling seminars and demonstrations each year.  Every single time I pick up a call, I explain to the folks watching and listening that the device in my hand, although it is described as a game call, is really no more than a musical instrument.   I also tell them that game calls operate on the same two principles as do all musical instruments.  Those principles being, rhythm and pitch.

If you can master the rhythm and pitch of a given call, you can be successful in the field as you use that call.  And, like a musician, practicing their instrument alone, imaging what it would sound like with the full orchestra, you must practice your calls imaging what they will sound like outdoors, at some distance.

Over half of my seminars each spring deal with calling and hunting the wild turkey.  The spring gobbler is still one of the toughest and most sought after game trophies to collect and his popularity grows each year.  Mastering the turkey call can make you a hero in your hunting group.

My favorite turkey call, by far, is the box call.  I have had lots of professional experience calling turkeys.  For over 40 years I served on the Pro Hunting Staffs for a couple of national call companies.  So, my box call is like an extension of my own hands.

Not all box calls are created equal.  You must be very selective when choosing this call.  Not only does the type of wood make a huge difference, but also the workmanship itself is critical to the performance of a box call, just like any other instrument.  Box calls that are made of plastic, or stamped-out mass-produced wooden calls will not give you the sound or the success you desire.  Pay the extra money, up front and get a custom-built box call that will drive the toms crazy.  That is why my box call preference is now the 4-Play Turkey Call.

Until recently I carried 2 box calls in my turkey vest.  One of these makes the sweetest yelps on the planet.  But its clucks leave a lot to be desired.  Likewise, the box call I cluck with is not worth a plug nickel for yelping or cutting.  That is why the 4-Play Turkey Call is the ONE box call I carry now.

The 4-Play call is made of different woods within the same call.  It has four sound rails, all of which can be different wood types, instead of just two.  By rotating the paddle around one end of the call you put 2 different rails into play.  This single box call makes more notes, at more pitches, than any 2 to 4 standard box calls combined.

Once you have decided upon and purchased your box call, you must learn how to play it.  I do like the box call because it is so easy to use.  But do not be fooled by that statement.  It still takes lots of practice to “master” all the sounds that this call can make.

All too often, turkey hunters fail to operate, or play, this instrument correctly.  Pressing the paddle onto the box may help increase volume, but will likely cause you to loose the desired pitch.  Quality custom-built box calls are designed for the weight of the paddle to be sufficient pressure to make the box play.  Most paddles will have a sweet spot.  Find this spot and you have found the key to your spring success.

Yelps are easily reproduced on a box call by dragging the paddle over one of the box lips.  At this point you are looking for, and listening for, pitch.  I will remind you that if you practice indoors, the pitch will sound profoundly different outside.  Practice outdoors as much as possible.

Once you have mastered a single yelp, line-up several yelps into a short run of calls.  At this point you are working on rhythm.  Combining rhythm and pitch will give you a very accurate imitation of a wild turkey.

There are a couple of different ways that you can hold this instrument as you play it.  My preferred method is to hold the box upright in my left hand and operate the paddle with my right hand.  This allows the weight of the paddle to do its job correctly.

Another variation that I have seen, but do not subscribe to, is holding the box upside down with the paddle in your left hand, striking the paddle with the box, which is held in the right hand.  To me, this method is cumbersome and eliminates the true resonance that the call can produce.  Either way, learn to play your box call with the method that is most comfortable for you.

By laying the paddle on the lip and popping it sharply upward, you can make an excellent cluck with your box call.  Putts can be made in much the same way.  By slowly dragging the full width of the paddle over the lip, a very seductive purr can be accomplished.

One of the most exciting and effective sounds the box call can reproduce is cutting.  To do this, hold the box in your left hand, paddle up and laying on the lip.  Use your left thumb as a “bumper”.  Tap the paddle with your right hand allowing it to rebound off your left thumb.  Practice this until you get the pitch, then work on the rhythm.  This call can really fire-up old tom and vastly improve your chances for success.

The key to this turkey call and to all others is practice.  There is no substitution for listening to live birds and reproducing the sounds you hear them make.  I would like to recommend a specific box call for you to try this spring. The 4-Play Turkey Call is the most versatile and productive box call I have seen and used.  Get one.  You will not be disappointed.

About the 4-Play Turkey Call: This innovative call is hand-manufactured by Cutting Edge Game Calls, a forward thinking company intent on creating and bringing to market innovative alternatives to help hunters be successful. Among their hunting products is the 4-Play Turkey Call. The company is staffed by creative-minded people who love hunting and whose innovative ideas are brought to life by talented craftsmen. To remove all risk about the 4-Play Turkey Call, they offer a 30 day trial! We realize the 4-Play is new and different, but that shouldn’t stop customers from trying it out. Order one today, try it, love it, or return it within 30 days for a full refund! For more visit: https://4playturkeycall.com/.

About the author: Mike Roux is an award-winning outdoor writer. He freelances more than 100 outdoor magazine and newspaper articles each year. Adding to his list of talents, he is also an accomplished speaker who annually books several speaking engagements nationwide – including banquets, game dinners and other outdoor events. Mike Roux has been a professional guide and game caller for over two decades. He has worked with the Pro Staffs of several outdoor products manufacturers. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of American, as well as the Missouri Outdoor Communicators. For more, please visit www.mikeroux.com.

4-PLAY for Christmas! …A Love Story

  • Woodsy turkey call sounds combine screech and scratch controls
  • Henry C. Gibson and Eric Steinmetz each provided sound innovations about 120 years apart
  • Tone and tune change in one box that allows clucking, purring, yelping and cackling is about pure genius 

By Larry Whiteley

Now some of you probably read that headline, and your mind drifted off to another kind of foreplay. However, this is not that kind of foreplay. This 4-Play is something that can get a turkey gobbler all excited to come looking for love.

Let me begin with how this kind of 4-Play started. You see, the first box-style turkey call was patented in 1897 by an Arkansas farmer and fence supply manager, Henry C. Gibson, of Dardanelle. Though there may have been box calls before his patent, Gibson sparked a new industry with many imitators creating box-type turkey calls.

For over 120 years, the turkey box call has never really changed much from the original wooden box and paddle design. Then along came avid turkey hunter Eric Steinmetz. Eric built his box calls for years and had terrific success with them. He even sold a few to local hunters. Eric couldn’t get the thought out of his mind about coming up with a call that was more versatile and more effective than the standard box call design. He would think about it as he drove down the road with his traveling sales job. When he was home and wasn’t turkey hunting, he was in his shop tinkering with different designs and wood types.

He finally came up with the idea of building one with a forward-mounted wheel that would allow the paddle to be moved to both sides of the box. That way, it could be used on any of four sound rails, each made with different wood types to have four different tones. Thus came the name for his call, the 4-Play. He also found that since the wheel allowed the lid to be moved forward and backward, he could strike the sound rails in multiple locations, adding to his box call versatility. The 4-Play is a turkey box call like no other you have ever seen or used.  

The U.S. Patent Office agreed that Eric’s box call was so innovative they awarded him a Utility Patent. 4-Play turkey calls are available with Cherry, Walnut, or mahogany bodies, and all have sound rails made of walnut, eastern red cedar, sassafras, and poplar. If you’re a turkey hunter, you have to have one of these. For more information, watch videos, read reviews, and order, visit https://4playturkeycall.com/shop. Or, give them a call at 610-984-4099. They would love to visit with you.

“It is a versatile call,” says Eric. “With a little practice, you can make an almost unlimited number of tones and pitches. I just want hunters to use it and then hopefully send us pictures of them and their Gobbler. That’s what would make me feel successful.”

Eric has since sold the 4-Play patent to Brian Benolken, but he is still involved with the business, working shows, building calls, and of course, turkey hunting. He’s even won several calling competitions with his 4-Play. Brian is busy growing the business under the name of Cutting Edge Game Calls, and his goal for the company is to offer you products for making you a better and more successful turkey hunter. Brian and Eric both are continuously thinking of new innovative ideas.

This old turkey hunter has never seen anything like it in all my years of turkey hunting, so I just had to have a 4-Play. I love it! I can’t believe all the sounds I can make with it. I’m clucking, purring, yelping, and even fly down cackling with it. I can’t wait until spring turkey season. My wife can’t either! Can you believe she banned me from the house and makes me take my 4-Play and practice out in the barn?

If you are a turkey hunter, you might try hinting to your wife or girlfriend that you would surely like to have 4-Play under the tree for Christmas. If they look at you like you’re weird or something, you might have to just order online or call Cutting Edge Game Calls to order one for yourself. But if they smile, this could be a very Merry Christmas in more ways than one.

 

 

 

Florida Youth Hunting – First Deer for Kingston, 11-years old

  • Learning to shoot well, whisper in the stand, control our scent and be there at the right lucky time…made it all happen.
  • Face camo adds to the youth hunting fun, making that first shot good sure makes it unforgettable.
  • The crossbow allows a friendly introduction into accurate shooting potential at the very young age of 11 for my son.
  • An unbelievable experience, for dads and moms too!
That first moment of deer hunting success is hard to capture, but my son Kingston overcame the odds (trembling) to make an accurate shot on this healthy 7-point Florida buck in south Florida. My heart rate might have been a bot elevated too! 

By Jeff Liebler

Kingston, my 11-year old son, has always been in love with the outdoors. Fishing, hunting, campfires and more. So this summer, I made a deal with Kingston – if he completed his Florida Hunter Safety Course, put in some serious practice dialing in his crossbow – from the ground and in the treestand, we could hunt deer together and he could try for his first-ever deer. I was excited that he was excited from the get-go! Together with his cousin (Hunter), we needed to rebuild the old tree platform at his grandmother’s house where we hunt. It was a big chore, but Kingston was all in.

Last year, when he was just 10, we hunted the same stand together and he became familiar with watching for deer and using the range finder for yardage. He was my lucky charm, he helped me take a beautiful 11-point archery buck from that stand. It was fun, sharing with him in whisper-tone things about scent awareness and sound control.

Our trail cam allowed to understand there were some good bucks in the area, and lots of doe as well.

This year, he completed his hunter coursework and after practice shooting his crossbow dozens of times, checking trail cams, replenishing food sources, and hours of tree stand bonding, Kingston made it happen. 

Here’s how it went:

On Saturday, Oct. 3rd, two days after the harvest moon, we decided to try our luck in the light rain. We’ve actually spotted more deer together on rainy days than we do on dry days. We knew that day we had a chance for good luck if we could ride out the afternoon precipitation. We threw on some light camo gear and scent blocker, then snuck into the stand at 3:20PM. The black-bellied whistling ducks were sounding off above us, and eastern gray squirrels scurried around the tree trunks below us. We were crunching down on our treestand favorites, red apples, and cracker jacks. A quiet first hour, then another quiet hour, and I was becoming doubtful. Then suddenly, just before six o’clock, a doe and her yearling came by to sniff out some corn but didn’t hang out long. This was a fortunate opportunity to study their reaction to our scent and position. With optimism, we adjusted and used their presence to prepare for a shooter buck to come by. The woods went silent for a bit, the light rain kept on, and we finally ran out of things to whisper about as we approached “buck time,” usually about 6:30-sunset this time of year. 

We were right this time, and just two minutes past seven o’clock, the usually nocturnal antlered king of the swamp used the damp woods floor to silently creep into our whole corn and apple buffet feeder area. The northwest wind was on our side as the brute showed us his target zone long enough for Kingston to set his crossbow for a good shot. I picked up my phone to record the action as I watched Kingston’s elbows tremble. I mumbled, “30-yard shot, breathe, exhale, hold, then take your shot.” He squeezed the trigger.

Taking the shot in the rain, and then Kingston’s reaction. Unforgettable!

THUMP! Then a massive kick from the buck as Kingston sent the most perfect bolt home. We watched the burly buck hit the turf only 40 yards from us, and we cheered with each other.

Kingston was still shaking as he properly approached his downed deer from behind.

We celebrated his life and shared that special bond and heartfelt feeling of harvesting his first deer together. Ecstatic would be an understatement at this point, so we took extra precaution and waited a bit while we gathered our gear to safely climb down from the tree stand. When we aren’t in the woods together, Kingston and I enjoy watching Buck Commander and other hunting videos on YouTube. I took out my phone again for a video of our own. I was able to record Kingston walking up (from behind, like he learned in his hunter safety course) on his first harvested deer, a beautiful buck. The excitement on Kingston’s face as he wrapped his hands around the chocolate-colored antlers and burst out with, “It’s the 7-point!” It’s a moment I will never forget. After talking about shot placement and recording our official Florida harvest report, we snapped a quick interview to talk about how it all came together. He was so excited! Then the work and after-celebration began. Kingston’s cousins, who have also been hunting since they were kids, came by for moral support and heckling too, with his first buck, and they helped us field dress and quarter the deer and into the cooler. The rituals and shenanigans were flowing. Some of those stories are better left at deer camp with the guys if you know what I mean.

Days after a successful hunt, the work is still ongoing, but there’s something about it that doesn’t feel like work at all. On Sunday, “Mama”, as Kingston calls his mom, cut up and vacuum-sealed a little under 10-pounds of backstrap butterfly steaks and tenderloins from this Florida stud buck. Yesterday I surprised Kingston by signing him out of school early so we could go back and walk the footsteps of that first-deer memory at the tree stand one more time. Then we stopped to drop off some critical cargo, the deer head, and rack, to JC Taxidermy in Lithia. Kingston was overjoyed to now be “one of the boys” with his cousins and have his very own trophy on the wall coming soon. To complete the hunt and harvest, we drove to Riverview to stop at Al’s Wild Meat Processing, where they will be packing up roasts, maple venison sausage, and ground meat, that we will eat and share over the next year. Now that my little guy took down his big guy buck, I’m hoping to look for similar good fortune with my compound bow, as I set my sights on adding to the freezer with more local organic deer meat.

We shared that special bond and heartfelt feeling of hunting together, and sharing the outdoors.

As you know, hunting and sharing the outdoors is a true gift from our Creator.

We thank God for hunting, fishing, and wild animals every day during dinner grace. I’m happy to have a next-generation hunter as the numbers of hunting support enthusiasts are in decline. Indeed, I have high hopes that there will never be a food shortage in our family. 

Family Hunting Background:

I am fortunate enough to have my Uncle Dave, Forrest Fisher, NYS Hall of Fame Outdoorsman (and many more titles) teach me everything I know about archery hunting, starting with ethical hunting. “There’s no better way to do it than the right way – we follow the rules,” he would say every year as we walked the woods together, then we would discuss how to stay quiet, movement control, safety, how to stay warm, and more. Numerous years hunting with him have taught me about patience, silence, scent block, and how/when to let an arrow fly. Thanks to my favorite Aunt Rosalie Barus, for providing years of lodging, meals, and hugs of encouragement while I came up to visit East Aurora, NY. It’s where I could slow down and learn to hunt with arrows. I always picture her great smile in the mornings before hunting, when she would say, “Go get ’em Jeff-waa! I can’t wait to see your text that brown is down!” Graciously, I want to thank my good buddy Michael Garrido for sharing his hunting knowledge with me for the last 10 years and providing hunting opportunities to experience and ultimately pass down the tradition. I’m blessed to share our hunting enthusiasm and appreciation for harvests. Cheers to many more, Mike! 

Huge thank you to Kingston’s Granny Lois Johnsonfor providing our hunting spot and her encouragement each year for a successful hunt. Granny always reminded Kingston, “I love venison, get me some.” Kingston said he knows his late Papa was with him on this hunt, and I told him I was sure Kingston made him proud! Venison steaks headed your way soon, “Granny”! Lastly, to my amazing wife, Tiffany, who does so much to help make it possible for us to spend time in the woods together? Her excitement and “you got this” texts, while we hunt are always encouraging and makes this proud dad moment event sweeter (I needed to turn off the beeper). Her venison chili is out of this world, too! 

It takes friends, family, the right equipment, and shared passion to carry out successful hunts, especially with youngsters. Learn more about the Florida hunting rules at MyFWC.com/Deer, including the new deer harvest reporting requirement.  I’ll leave you with some product knowledge of the gear we used.

Our Gear: CenterPoint Archery, crossbow – 20” bolt with 100gr G5 Outdoors, fixed broadhead; Quaker Boy, doe bleat; Thermacell Hunting, Sawyer permethrin spray for deer ticks/bugs; Fyland UV tracker flashlight; Vortex Optics, Diamondback HD binoculars; HALO Optics, XL600-8 range finder; Wildgame Innovations, trail cam; Under Armor Hunt boots; Hunting-Made-Easy truck hitch game hoist; Wildlife Research Center, Scent Blocker; Outdoor Edge Knives & Tools, swing blade skinning knife.

It’s Amazing what can Happen…When you Teach a Boy to Shoot a Bow

  • Mentors play an important role in our outdoor heritage and future
David Merrill with a huge elk that didn’t get away.

By Larry Whiteley

David Merrill grew up hiking, fishing, and camping in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. It was an amazing place where a young David would discover many life experiences in the great outdoors as he roamed through the mountains and valleys of this beautiful place.

In 1996, when he was 14-years old, his Uncle Kendall introduced him to archery. It was the beginning of a life-long passion for shooting a bow and bow-hunting. That passion continues to burn deep in his heart today. This world needs more people like Uncle Kendall who take the time to introduce kids to archery. It could change their lives, like it did David’s.

Later on in life, David moved to Alaska and lived among the wildlife and wild places of what is called the last frontier. While there, he spent every free moment he had out in the wilds, hunting Dall sheep with his bow and fishing for salmon.  The adventure and wide open spaces of Alaska is something a lot of us only dream about. I dream about it every time I watch the Kilcher family and life on their homestead on my favorite TV show – Alaska: The Last Frontier.

It was hard to leave Alaska, but with a growing family of his own now, he felt the need to be closer to extended relatives. So, in 2013 David and his wife, Crystal, moved and started their family among the mountains of Wyoming. Their two boys are the joy of his life. Here, he continued his passion of bow hunting for wild game. David says, “I cannot think of a purer way to feed my loved ones than with wild, free-range, organic game.”

In 2015, David was on a backcountry elk hunt with a friend. His bow was strapped to his pack as they walked along a mountain trail. They came around a corner in the trail and walked up on a huge bull elk. His friend hurried to unstrap David’s bow from the pack. He finally got it out, handed it to David and he drew it back, but it was too late. The elk of a lifetime was gone.

The vision of that monster elk still haunted him on the drive back home. He told his friend that he was never going to let that happen again to him or anyone else. That same passion he has for bow hunting started him creating prototypes of a product that would allow him to carry his bow safely and securely, but within easy simple reach to get out.

My grandson Hunter carries his bow with a Bow Spider.

After much trial and error, he got his product exactly how he wanted it. He called his lightweight, round bow holder – the Bow Spider. You attach an aluminum arm to your bow’s riser and that slides into a slot on the round receiver. The bow is held securely in place on the back of your pack with a gravity-locking system, but slides out easily when you need it. “If you can scratch the back of your head you can grab your bow and pull,” he said. “You’re going to be able to manage your bow very quickly and efficiently, to get it when you need it. It works with any backpack and any bow, whether you’re on horseback or on foot.”

Using the belt that comes with the Bow Spider, you can easily attach it to your backpack, hip, binocular harness, truck headrest, blind or tree. Using the bolts that come with it you can also mount it to any sturdy flat surface for storage. It is the most innovative bow packing system I have ever seen. My grandson has one, loves it and can’t wait to use it this fall out west.

The Bow Spider comes in green, tan or black. The $84.95 price is well worth it to keep you from having bad dreams about the huge elk or monster buck you might have tagged if you could reach your bow quicker and easier.

If you’re a bowhunter after western big game and strap your bow to your pack, you need a Bow Spider. If you are a whitetail hunter and need your hands free to get to your stand or if you’re trying to work your way through the woods stalking a big buck, you need a Bow Spider. Go to www.bowspider.com and check them out. Watch the online videos to see how easy the Bow Spider works.

The Bow Spider System.

If you are a crossbow hunter like me, you are probably thinking it sure would be nice to have one of these to use with my crossbow. Well, your wish is granted. A Bow Spider for crossbow hunters is coming soon.

Being a veteran myself, I think it’s great they give our veterans a 15% discount. All you have to do is call them at 307-438-9290 to place your order and get your discount. “We owe everything we have in America to the veterans that have served and are serving to keep our freedoms alive,” Merrill said. “Our discount program is simply a small way for us to say thank you to those who have done so much for us.”

David’s products are 100% made in America and I love that. David, Crystal and their company also give a percentage of their sales to several recognized American conservation organizations. To me that says a lot. These organizations make it possible for hunters to go to these wild places across this great land to enjoy our hunting traditions.

The aspens are displaying their brilliant colors. There’s a coolness to the air. David is sitting on a rock looking at the majesty of the mountains that surround him. Ravens are talking to each other. An elk bugle echoes in the distance. He is thinking of his Uncle Kendall and the day he taught him to shoot a bow. He is thinking of the game he has taken since then and the places he has hunted. He is thinking it’s time to teach his boys to shoot a bow. He is thinking there would not be a Bow Spider if it were not for Uncle Kendall. It’s amazing what can happen when you teach a boy to shoot a bow.

Click the picture to visit with Crystal Merrill – see how to use the Bow Spider! 

Firearm Industry in support of HISTORIC Senate Passage of Great American Outdoors Act

Rules, Regulations, NICs check - all required for legal firearm ownership in the USA. Photo courtesy of NSSF

NSSF®, the firearm industry trade association, praised the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, (H.R. 1957). This historic legislation, which received overwhelming bipartisan support, is among the most meaningful legislative measures for sportsmen conservationists ever. The Senate’s approval is a major step forward toward delivering on the promise of sustained wildlife conservation, public land hunting and recreational shooting on behalf of current and future generations of outdoorsmen and women.
Safety above all. Photo is courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)
“This is a monumental achievement that demonstrates a continued legacy of bipartisanship on wildlife, public lands and outdoor recreation issues,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “When enacted, this legislation will fulfill a promise to future generations that conservation, access to public lands and outdoor recreation including hunting and recreational shooting will be safeguarded well into the next century.”
The Great American Outdoors Act, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), would ensure full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog of public lands and water projects across the United States. Those projects include wildlife habitat conservation, road and trail repairs and increased recreational access to our public lands and waters.
The legislation next heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval before it goes to the White House for signature, for which President Donald Trump has already indicated his support.
NSSF is especially grateful for Sens. Gardner and Daines sponsoring the legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for placing this as priority legislation in the Senate and for Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) for their bipartisan leadership. The legislation was introduced with 55 bipartisan co-sponsors.
The legislation builds upon the success of the NSSF-supported John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which also enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Trump in 2019.
GAOA will provide $9.5 billion over five years for deferred federal public lands and waters maintenance projects, with $3 billion set aside for infrastructure restoration on hundreds of millions of acres for increased access for America’s sportsmen and women. The Great American Outdoors Act will also provide $900 million annually for permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The legislation would also ensure that a significant portion of LWCF funding is dedicated to increasing public access for hunting, recreational shooting, fishing and outdoor recreation.
Sportsmen and women play a critical conservation role in the nation’s wildlife resources and to date, hunters and purchasers of firearms and ammunition, collectively, are the single largest source of wildlife conservation funding, contributing more than $13 billion since the enactment of the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.
About NSSF – NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.

New York Online Hunter Education Course…24,000 NEW HUNTERS!

  • DEC Announces Extension of Online Hunter Education Course Through August
  • Offerings Now Include Online Bowhunter Course

24,000 Hunters Have Completed Online Course since April; New York State Sporting License Sales Up Nearly 10 Percent

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that DEC’s online hunter education course will continue to be available through Aug. 31, 2020. All hunters must complete a mandatory hunter education course before purchasing a hunting license. In addition, DEC is making an online bowhunter education course option available beginning July 15. Since mid-April, more than 24,000 hunters have successfully completed the online hunter education course, about 20 percent more than typically take it. Of those completing the online course about 40 percent were women, compared to 27 percent female participants in the traditional in-person course. In addition, almost half of the people taking the online course were 30 years of age or older, compared to 30 percent for the in-person course.

“Many new hunters went afield for this year’s turkey season and we look forward to continuing to welcome new hunters with this online safety course,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Hunter safety is our top priority, and expanding the availability of these online courses will help us engage more New Yorkers who are ready to be a part of our state’s proud hunting tradition.”

All hunters who wish to hunt big game with a bow must complete a mandatory bowhunter education course in addition to the required hunter education course. The online hunter education course was first made available in April after in-person hunter education courses were cancelled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The online course provided an opportunity for first-time hunters who wanted to go afield during New York’s spring turkey season to receive their hunter education certificate before the season started in May. Extending the availability of the online course and adding the bowhunter course option will allow first-time hunters and new archery hunters the opportunity to get their required hunter education and bowhunter education certificates prior to the start of the fall hunting seasons.

DEC’s Hunter Education Program (HEP) is partnering with Kalkomey Enterprises, a company that specializes in hunter education, to offer the online courses that can be completed in six to eight hours. The online courses cover all the topics of traditional in-person courses including firearm and bow safety, tree stand safety, hunting ethics, wildlife conservation, and New York State hunting laws and regulations.

Students who successfully complete the online courses and pass the final exam will receive their hunter education certificate or bowhunter education certificate. The courses are available to individuals 11 and older, but only those 12 or older may purchase a hunting license. Students can complete the courses from a computer, tablet, or smart phone at any time. Visit DEC’s Hunter Education Program page to learn more or to sign up.

To take and receive a hunter education certificate or bowhunter education certificate through the online course, participants must be New York State residents. The cost of the hunter education course is $19.95 and the cost for the bowhunter education course is $30. Both courses can be accessed at DEC’s website. The online courses will be available through Aug. 31, 2020.

Sporting License Sales Increase Nearly 10 Percent in 2020

As New Yorkers continue to recreate locally to prevent the spread of COVID-19, DEC has seen a nearly 10 percent increase in sporting license sales overall. For the period that roughly coincides with New York State on PAUSE, resident turkey permits increased 49 percent, junior hunting licenses increased by 60 percent or more, and resident hunting licenses increased by 130 percent. Certain types of lifetime licenses also increased by as much as 146 percent. A combination of factors, including the availability of online hunter education for new hunters and time available to participate in the spring turkey season, likely contributed to the increase.

Tens of thousands of additional resident fishing licenses were also sold compared to the same time last year, with increases of 30 percent for annual and one-day fishing licenses. Non-resident and senior fishing license sales decreased as anticipated following the COVID-19-related guidance issued by New York and other states.

For more information on recreational opportunities available in New York State visit DEC’s website. New Yorkers are encouraged to engage in responsible recreation close to home during the State’s ongoing response to COVID-19. DEC recommendations incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases and encourage New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. For more information, go to DEC’s website.

Patience is Often Key to Early-Season Turkey-Hunting Success…What to do, When to call, What to use

  • Avoid mistakes by watching, listening and adapting.
  • Calls, gentle yelps, clucks, but don’t over-call if the birds are quiet.
  • Read on to learn WHEN TO USE a decoy. The birds will always show you what they want.

By Josh Lantz

Most turkey hunters believe the opening days of the spring turkey-hunting season offer the best chances at taking a bird. It’s probably true. Gobblers that haven’t been hunted in months can up the odds for success, but an abundance of weather-related variables can easily turn what should be prime turkey-killing days into disappointing outings that often leave less-experienced hunters scratching their heads. As with most confusing situations in life, observation, listening and patience can be the keys to success.

If the opening day arrives on the heels of typical spring weather, hunters can usually expect toms to be fired up for breeding but frustrated by hens that aren’t quite ready. These are ideal conditions for the turkey hunter, as toms will be close to the hens and establishing dominance. These are birds that can be expected to respond favorably to effective calling – especially the less-dominant toms. More on that later.

A portable ground blind can be very helpful during the early season for a variety of reasons and a lightweight model is worth carrying. There’s a lot less vegetation at the start of the season, and turkeys are often less vocal, too. Silent birds can be on top of you before you know it. A blind can conceal your movement when repositioning your gun towards that old tom that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Of course, a ground blind also provides welcomed comfort and protection from spring’s unpredictable weather.

If the early season is particularly cold, don’t be surprised when the birds don’t crank up the way you want them to. Adapt by heading straight to spots you’ve observed with the greatest signs of turkey activity. Use a couple of decoys and try a little calling, but don’t be surprised or too concerned if they don’t gobble. Have patience. Pack a lunch and hunt all day if your state allows it.

Deciding how much or how little to call can only be learned through experience and is a critical consideration during the early season. Toms are sorting out their pecking order during the pre-breeding period, so aggressive calling can work well, but don’t overdo it. Many hunters have a tendency to keep hammering away, especially when turkeys aren’t gobbling, but stop and realize that isn’t always what turkeys want to hear. There’s a reason the birds aren’t making a racket, so why are you?

Start with three or four soft yelps and build up gradually. Wait a minute, then apply a little more pressure. Repeat the process a couple more times, getting louder and extending the sequence each time. Finally, scream ten to 12 notes at them while throwing in some feeding calls and cuts. Hopefully, you’ll get a response, but don’t be surprised if you don’t. You’ve played your cards, so sit tight, be quiet and listen carefully for at least 20 minutes to give any silent but otherwise interested toms time to enter your window. If a gobbler answers, return call by softly yelping or purring just enough to let him know where you’re at. Alternatively, try rustling some leaves with your hand to simulate scratching and feeding but do it in a careful way that minimizes motion. If you are in an area with a lot of turkey sign, be patient and stay put, especially if there’s some other hunting pressure in the area. Have confidence in your setup and focus on managing your own little corner of the turkey woods. If there’s little to no pressure, consider making a small move, but take time to think about where you’re headed and how you’ll get there before getting up.

A lot of turkey hunters employ the proven jake/hen combo decoy setup during the early season. Emphasis on proven. But don’t overlook the power of a single strutter decoy under the proper conditions. As previously mentioned, we’re often hunting a lot of subordinate, “satellite” toms early in the season. If your scouting reveals groups of two or three Toms traveling and feeding together, that’s the time to hunt with a single strutter decoy, preferably one with a real tail fan that moves in the breeze. It’s a small detail that helps put birds at ease and can make a big difference in closing the deal. Don’t second-guess your decoy decision until you have a reason to. You’ll know if your decision to use a strutter was a good one as soon as it attracts a tom’s attention and you have the opportunity to view his reaction. It’s simple: kill him if he runs in, go back to your jake and hen decoy if he walks away.

What you wear in the spring turkey woods makes a difference, too, and most turkey hunters don’t give enough consideration to scent control. I know, it’s their eyes we’re worried about, not their noses, right? True, but working a gobbler in on a string only to have the perfect setup foiled by a whitetail doe staring, snorting and stomping at you will quickly change your perspective. It happens to everyone sooner or later, so recognize the reality of the situation and adapt.

A great variety of effective scent-control clothing options are available today. Two to consider are ScentLok’s Savanna Aero line and Blocker Outdoors’ Shield Series Angatec line. Both feature multiple pieces and come in a variety of popular and effective camo patterns. And don’t forget the facemask and headcover; a large percentage of your metabolic odor comes from your hair, mouth and face, so failing to cover these areas defeats the purpose of having a scent-control regimen. For added comfort and more scent control, consider a base layer like the Shield Series Koretec Base from Blocker Outdoors or BaseSlayers AMP garments from ScentLok. Regardless of whether or not you use scent-control apparel, you can further reduce your odor signature in the field by keeping your turkey-hunting clothes deodorized between hunts with an ozone storage bag like the OZ Chamber 8K Combo.

The most successful turkey hunters avoid mistakes by watching, listening and adapting their strategies accordingly – throughout the course of a single hunt and over the changing conditions and circumstances of an entire season. Still, everyone makes mistakes. The key is racking up enough experience to realize errors right away and make immediate adjustments.

Have faith and confidence in your observations and adjustments; the birds will always show you what they want.

 

 

Bowhunting for a Turkey? Know the best Shot Placement Options BEFORE heading to the Woods

"Proper Shot Placement with your Arrow is Critical," says Jason Houser.

  • A strutting turkey is mostly air and feathers, read to know more about where to shoot.
  • Nothing is more exciting than to shoot a spring tom with archery gear.
  • Make a good shot and recovery is quick. If you make a poor shot, it could be a long day.
If you can master hitting the bullseye on this target, you will not have any problem killing a turkey this spring.

By Jason Houser

Wild turkeys can be difficult to recover even after they have been shot with a razor-sharp broadhead. Turkeys can take a hard hit, and still have the stamina to walk, or even fly away – possibly are never found.

If an archer is unable to hit his mark, recovery will not be easy. Every hunter has an ethical and moral obligation to know where to aim for the quickest possible kill on a bird that has left many hunters scratching their heads as they search diligently for a turkey that they thought had just taken a lethal hit.

Turkey hunters have some options as to what type of broadhead to use when pursuing turkeys. Of course, a mechanical or a fixed blade are the most popular.

Fixed-blade broadheads that are at least 1 ¼ -inches in diameter or mechanical heads that are shot at the vitals are the preferred choice by many hunters. Other hunters choose to shoot at the neck of a big bird with a big four-blade broadhead made just for the neck and head region of a turkey. If you ask 50 hunters if they prefer a body shot or a headshot for a quick kill, the answers will likely be split evenly between the two choices.

Mechanical broadheads (both are mechanical) are popular among many turkey hunters.

For years, all that turkey hunters had available to them were large, fixed blade broadheads. This type of head has accounted for countless numbers of turkeys over the years. As technology improved, so did the broadheads available for the turkey hunter.

Arrow penetration has been a highly debated topic among turkey hunters for as long as turkeys have been hunted with archery equipment. Some hunters prefer a pass-through shot that will cause a lot of damage, as well as leave a good blood trail to follow. I believe that while many turkeys will receive a good deal of damage, I have found that most turkeys do not leave a good blood trail to follow. Their thick feathers will soak up most of the blood before it ever has a chance to reach the ground.

Open on impact (mechanical) broadheads are quickly becoming favorites of turkey hunters. Mechanical broadheads that offer a wide cutting diameter will cause plenty of hemorrhaging along with a lot of damage to a turkey. A well-placed, open-on-impact broadhead will quickly put a bird down for the count. Rocky Mountain has some great mechanical broadheads that are great for turkey hunting.

The biggest mistake that bowhunters can make is hitting the turkey too low, or too far back. It will be very hard for even an experienced turkey hunter to find a bird that has been shot in this part of its body.

                            Proper Shot Placement with your Arrow is Critical. See above for kill shot examples. 

The size of a turkey’s heart and lung area is no bigger than a man’s fist. That is not a big target to hit, especially if you are accustomed to shooting at the vitals of a mature whitetail. Turkeys that are strutting appear to be a larger target than what they are. The truth is what you see on a strutting turkey is mostly air and feathers. There is very little actual body under all that fluff. Do not be tricked into believing you see something that is not there. Turkeys are constantly moving. For this reason, shot angles are always changing, making it difficult to get a shot at the vitals.

It is almost impossible to tell where the vitals are located on a strutting tom. A better shot would be to wait until the turkey is facing head-on and try to put your arrow just above the base of the beard. If a strutting tom is facing away from you send an arrow through the vent (anus) of the turkey. The arrow will either pass through the chest or hit the spine. Either way, it will result in a quick, ethical kill.

Nothing is more exciting, or sometimes frustrating, than attempting to shoot a spring tom with archery gear. Make a good shot and recovery is quick. If you make a poor shot, you are libel to never find that turkey. A great practice target is the turkey 3D target from Shooter Archery Targets. It has all three aiming points I discussed in this article. If you can master hitting the bullseye on this target, you will not have any problem killing a turkey this spring.

Check out this video for more tips.

GET READY for Next DEER SEASON right now – HERE’s HOW

  • New hunting land…I saw 33 deer on one day, 57 deer on another day, here’s how.
  • Controlling your body odor is critical, there is only one good way, most critical.
  • Trail cam’s that talk with remote pictures can help us map out deer kill zones.
My deer hunting family…we enjoy every minute, especially now – we see so many more deer (that’s me on the far left). 

By Larry Whiteley

You are probably thinking why in the world would I be writing about deer hunting in March? Yes, deer season is over. It won’t be here again for another 7 long months, but I will tell you like I have told others, “I like my fishing. I enjoy camping. I delight in my time on hiking trails. I savor my time on the water in boat, canoe or kayak, but I absolutely love hunting and especially deer hunting.” Also, I want to share some things with you that could greatly improve your deer hunting this year, but you need to be doing them right now!

Late winter/early spring is a great time of year to get out and scout for deer while you look for shed antlers and maybe some early morel mushrooms too.

You can safely roam every inch of your hunting grounds and not worry if you spook a deer or two since you won’t be hunting them again until at least September. Check every nook and cranny searching for tracks, rubs, trails, and scrapes you missed this past season. Enter all that you find on your onX app, then study them to put together the innermost pieces of the puzzle. You don’t have an onX app? My grandson (from the age that knows handheld help) feels it is the most useful hunting app available. Go to https://www.onxmaps.com and see what all this app can do. You’ll be ahead of the game come fall because whitetails are notoriously habitual creatures that follow the same general movement patterns year after year.

My grandson on the opening morning of the archery season. Scouting and scent control pays off.

Since the trees are still bare, it’s a good time to identify new places for stands, then go ahead and hang them. If you find that big buck’s shed, you will know he is probably going to be around again come hunting season. You can also put out food or minerals if it is allowed in your area. Put game cameras out too and start watching for deer pictures on your smartphone or computer. It’s a lot cooler now than waiting for summer to do it and the scent you left will be long gone before hunting season.

Speaking of scent. Few animals have a better sense of smell than the whitetail deer. Their senses of sight and hearing are important, but their nose is their best protection. They can detect odors much better and from considerably longer distances than us humans. A big part of their brain is devoted to odor reception and interpretation. Their nasal chamber can even concentrate odors so they are more identifiable. They not only identify the source of the smell, but also the approximate distance and location/direction of the smell.

My son, muzzleloader hunting in his ScentLok.

The number one thing that can keep you from getting a deer is their sense of smell. So, when you’re out there hunting deer, it makes the most sense to do everything possible to keep from alerting them to your presence in their home. Way before this past deer season, my grandson and I started doing research on that very question. He is a senior in college majoring in wildlife management and did summer intern work with one of the best deer biologists in America. He learned a lot about a deer’s sense of smell, how it works and what you can do to keep them from smelling you. I attended seminars at outdoor writer conferences and did a lot of research on the internet trying to determine the best products to use to keep them from smelling us.

All of that is exactly why the Whiteley family decided to be a ScentLok family. My grandson could explain to you why and what they do to their clothing that really works. You can also go to https://www.scentlok.com/ to learn all about it. I just know it does! To seal the deal, in 2012, a Minnesota lawsuit filed by some hunters saying it didn’t work was dismissed after expert testing found that, using highly elevated test odor concentrations that were ‘likely ten thousandfold greater than a human body could produce in the course of 24 hours,’ ScentLok clothing fabrics blocked 96-99% of the odor compounds, and essentially 100 percent of body odor compounds tested. The expert testing also found that after drying, or washing and drying, ScentLok fabrics continued to be highly effective at blocking odors.” In other words, ScentLok gets as close to scent invisibility as a hunter can get.

Molly’s first deer, the smile says it all.

All my deer hunting family wore ScentLok clothing and used their other products this past deer season. Our opinion is that if you take care to eliminate your scent by showering with no scent soap, use no scent detergent, wear a headcover, use no scent spray on all your equipment including stands and blinds, plus use ScentLok storage systems in combination with their OZ ozone systems, the results are measurable in pounds of venison and antler size. To wear your ScentLok clothes, reactivate them in your dryer, watch the wind direction and steady your aim. Very effective. You’ll need to choose the deer you take down, you’ll see that many more.

Now, even if you do all that and then get out of bed, just throw your clothes on and hop in the truck or get on an ATV, chances are a deer will know you are there. If you smoke, chew or eat on the way over plus leave scent on your way in and then climb into your stand or blind, then nothing is going to work. You are not going to magically disappear just because you have ScentLok clothing on if you don’t do everything right, as explained earlier.

ScentLok clothes will do their job, but it is up to you to do all the above plus not make noises they will hear or movement they will see. My son and I can both testify we heard the dreadful sound of deer blowing at us and saw their white flags as they ran away. It was their sight and hearing that got us back then, not their nose.

This past early archery season, I was hunting in a new stand on a new property and saw 33 deer. Not one of them had any idea I was there. The next weekend in another new stand, I saw 57 deer coming from every direction possible. None of them caught my scent. My son and I hunted two different Missouri properties all through the different deer seasons. My grandson and future granddaughter-in-law hunted property in Kansas. All of us can honestly say we never had a deer smell us no matter where we were at.

Young couples are the future of hunting in America. GMO-free protein meat (venison), sure makes good sense for raising a healthy family.

No, we did not get any of the big bucks we saw while we were out there or had pictures on our game cameras. Their time is coming though. We passed on several nice bucks but decided to give them a heartbeat for another year. We did take several does to help get the doe to buck ratio in better balance and fill our freezers until next season. The steaks, burger, summer sausage, jerky and snack sticks will be enjoyed all year.

We will also be wearing our ScentLok come early turkey season in a few more weeks. Not that we’re worried about turkeys busting us with their nose, but their clothing is so comfortable, quiet and well-made it is not just for deer season. None of us are on ScentLok’s payroll, but we can honestly tell you we have tried many things to control our scent and there is nothing better. That’s why we are and always will be a ScentLok family. Start getting ready and start shopping right now!

Duck & Goose Callers head to Marsh Fest 2020 for Fun and Competition

  • Sure-Shot Game Calls, proud to be “Presenting Sponsor” for Marsh Fest 2020
  • Cash prizes with state and world fame qualifier recognition for winners
  • Contest and family event details for Marsh Fest 2020, visit www.marshfest.com.

By Forrest Fisher

When wanna-be world-class duck and goose callers gather March 6-8 at Winnie-Stowell Community Park in Winnie, TX for competition at Marsh Fest 2020, Sure-Shot Game Calls is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor. This annual caller recognition competition event will be a fun-filled family weekend that will include eight duck and goose-calling contests. Among other contests, the Southern Central Flyaway Regional and James “Cowboy” Fernandez Memorial Texas State Championship are part of the calling competition.

The Southern Central Flyaway Regional contest is open to all ages with a $50 entry fee. Main Street Routine, 90 seconds, 3 rounds. The first-place winner takes home $1,000, second place $500 and third place $250.

The James “Cowboy” Fernandez Memorial Texas State Championship contest is open to all ages. The contestant must be a Texas resident and pay a $50 entry fee. Main Street Routine, 90 seconds, 3 rounds. The first-place winner takes home $500, second place $250, third place $100 and fourth place $50.

These two contests are qualifiers for competing in the World Duck Calling Championships in Stuttgart, AR set for November 2020. The legendary World’s Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart is the longest-running duck calling contest, starting in 1936, and requires winning a preliminary sanctioned calling contest.

The James “Cowboy” Fernandez Memorial Texas State Championship contest is named after Sure Shot’s founder, James “Cowboy” Fernandez. Co-founder, inventor and world champion caller, who passed away in August 2018 at age 86. Cowboy worked with George Yentzen to design and patent the first double-reed duck call in 1950 and the triple-reed in 1968.

Cowboy was the first Texan and first contestant to win the Worlds Duck Calling Championship in Stuttgart, Arkansas in 1959 using the double-reed Yentzen Caller. It was the first time anyone had won with a double-reed, others followed, winning world championships with the Yantzen Caller.  Cowboy was well known for his calling skills, capturing many regional and international competitions, he was inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Charlie Holder, the current owner of Texas-based Sure-Shot Game Calls shared, “Sure-Shot is proud to support our callers and our home state competitors. We’re happy to welcome some of the best callers in the country to our area for this competition.”

For Marsh Fest calling contest details and other Marsh Fest information, visit marshfest.com. Other Marsh Fest 2020 contest sponsors include Mossy Oak, Ducks Unlimited, Remington, Filson, Delta Waterfowl, Koplin, MOJO, and local businesses in the Southeast Texas area.

About Sure-Shot Game Calls: The 60+year old company was founded by James “Cowboy” Fernandez and George Yentzen in Nederland, Texas in the early 1940s. After many prototypes, their first product, the 1950 Yentzen Caller, became the very first patented double-reed duck call introduced to the marketplace. In 1959, Cowboy Fernandez entered several duck calling competitions and both he and the Yentzen Caller became world-class champions. Charlie Holder purchased the company in 2011. Today, Sure-Shot offers over two dozen game calls for waterfowl, predator, deer, and turkey. For more information about Sure-Shot’s complete line of game calls, visit sureshotgamecalls.com.

Image courtesy of Marsh Fest

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. YouTube 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 wingbeats 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!

      

Alabama’s 1st Sandhill Crane Hunting Season Deemed a Success

  • This is the first of four experimental seasons under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations
  • In Alabama, 400 permits were issued with 3 bird tags/permit (1,200)
  • Alabama permit numbers and management plans are expected to the same for 2021
Click the picture to review Alabama FAQ – understand details, visit the questions and answers here.

By DAVID RAINER, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Another warm winter left Alabama’s duck hunters frustrated, but those who were lucky enough to score a permit for the first sandhill crane season in the state were elated. Although not all of the 400 crane permit holders were able to harvest one of the large birds, those who did, raved about the new hunting opportunity.

Jason Russell of Gadsden, Alabama, and his 17-year-old son, Grayson, both drew permits, which allowed a harvest of three birds each. The first order of business was to secure a place to hunt sandhills in the hunting zone in north Alabama. Fortunately, a friend from Birmingham had connections with a landowner near the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, and they were granted permission to hunt. “We were excited to get an opportunity to hunt the sandhills,” said Russell, an avid duck hunter and award-winning decoy carver. “We’d seen them around for years. We really didn’t know the reality of what it would take to kill one. Once we were drawn, we thought we’d give it a shot. We bought decoys and got ready. What was interesting this year, everywhere I went, I saw cranes. At Weiss Lake, at Guntersville, everywhere we went, we at least saw cranes flying.”

On the morning of the first hunt, the Russell’s saw several cranes in the field they planned to hunt and saw several more in the air. After setting up their decoys, both full-body and silhouettes, they settled into their blinds. “Within 20 minutes we had a group of birds fly 15 yards over our decoys,” Jason said. “We ended up letting them go because we were so awestruck that our setup actually worked. We were kind of surprised. Another 20-30 minutes went by and groups of two and three came by. On our first hunt, three of us had permits, and we killed six birds on an afternoon hunt that lasted maybe two or three hours. We were pretty excited that you could actually decoy them. After duck and goose hunting for 30 years, this gives hunting a new twist and new excitement.”

The Russell’s had planned to hunt cranes just like they would geese in an open field with layout blinds. They soon discovered natural vegetation helped them hide much better. “There was some scrub brush sticking up,” Jason said. “I thought, well, let’s at least be comfortable. There was enough brush to where we could get hidden. We put our full-bodies out at 20 yards, hid our faces and kept our heads down. We were shooting decoying birds at 15 to 20 yards.”

The hunters left that area undisturbed for three weeks before attempting a second hunt. They were even more awestruck when they arrived at the hunting land. Jason needed two birds to fill his tags, while Grayson only needed one. “When we got there, there must have been between 200 and 300 sandhills in the field,” Jason said. “After we got set up, three birds came in and I doubled up.” With only one tag left, the cranes seemed hesitant to decoy.

Jason Russell, center, and his two sons, Grayson left, and Jonathan, shows the results of a successful sandhill crane hunt in north Alabama. Photo courtesy of Jason Russell

The Russells soon figured out that trying to mix crane hunting and goose hunting might not work very well. “We had put out full-body goose decoys to try to kill a few geese while we were there,” Jason said. “It was interesting that the cranes seemed to be skirting our decoys. We decided either we were going to have to move or do something different. We made the decision to pull all the goose decoys. By the time we pulled the last goose decoy and got back in the blind, we had a pair of sandhills at 15 yards. My son rolled his out, and we were done. It could have been a coincidence that we pulled the goose decoys and we killed one, but I feel like they flared off of the full-body goose decoys. We were just catching the cranes traveling from one field to another. I guess they decided to drop into our decoys to see what was going on.”

Before the hunt, Russell was afraid that it might be possible to mistake a protected whooping crane for a sandhill crane. That turned out to be an unrealized worry. “One of my fears was being able to identify the birds if we were in low light,” he said. “Sometimes when you get the sun wrong, you can’t see color that well. I thought we were going to have to be really careful to look out for whooping cranes. But that was not a problem. The whooping cranes stood out like a sore thumb. We made sure there was no shooting at all when those were in the area. And we never shot into big groups of sandhills. We never shot into groups of more than four birds. I felt like we didn’t educate them for the most part. If people will be smart and shoot the birds in the decoys or really close, then it will be a good thing for years to come.”

Jason said it was “awesome” that he and Grayson both got permits in the first year of the new sandhill season. “To get to shoot our sandhills together was special,” Jason said. “On our first hunt, we shot into a group of three birds and each of us got one. It was really exciting to get to have that moment of father-son hunting. It was just a neat, awesome experience that we will never be able to share again in waterfowling.”

Jason took his youngest son, 13-year-old Jonathan, on the second hunt to share the experience although Jonathan wasn’t able to hunt. “I just wanted him to see it,” Jason said. “I was excited for him to get to watch and hear the sounds of how loud those birds really are. It was amazing. He carried one of the birds, it was a big, mature bird and he cradled that thing all the way out of the field.”

The excitement wasn’t over for the Russells when they prepared the crane for the dinner table. “Cooking them was phenomenal,” Jason said. “We cooked some one night and took a little to a church group. One of the guys who doesn’t eat wild game said it was the best meal he’s eaten in his life. It was very flavorful. I thought it would be more like a duck, but it wasn’t. We enjoy eating duck, but I could eat way more sandhills. It was just so tender. I’ve always heard sandhills were the ribeye of the sky. Now I believe it. When you put it in your mouth, it tasted like steak. It was tender and juicy. Oh my gosh, it was so good.”

Seth Maddox, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division Migratory Game Bird Coordinator, said the duck season was indeed disappointing, but he was enthusiastic about the first sandhill season.

The final results of the sandhill season won’t be available for a couple more weeks to allow permit holders to complete their post-season surveys. Maddox said he expects the final numbers to be in line with other states with sandhill seasons. “From the hunters we’ve talked to, it seems to be a pretty successful sandhill season,” Maddox said. “We’re expecting a harvest rate of about 30 percent, which will be a little more than 300 birds.” Maddox said the warm winter not only caused diminished duck numbers in Alabama but also affected the sandhill population.

“Sandhill numbers were a little below normal for the birds we typically over-winter here in Alabama,” he said. “Our 5-year average is 15,000 birds. This year, we estimated the population at 12,000, which made for a little tougher conditions for hunters. The birds tended to concentrate in areas closer to the refuges.”

Maddox said the sandhill season is the first of four as an experimental season under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations. He said the number of permits (400) and tags (1,200) will be the same next year.

Alabama’s sandhill harvest rate is similar to that of Tennessee and Kentucky, which surprises Maddox a bit.

“Our season was probably a little better than I expected,” he said. “Our hunters had never done it before. They had to find people willing to give them access to hunting land. Hunters got to make new friends. I think it was a very successful season.”

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: “Develop Your Secret?” Part 1 of 3

  • Learn How to Develop Your Own Turkey Hunting Expertise
  • Learn Where to Sit, What to Look For, How 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 is 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 here 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 the 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, coming up.

 

Does Your Venison Taste Awful? How NOT to Let It Happen Again

  • DO carry a small, sharp, pocketknife, DO NOT use a bone saw of any type
  • DO make a good shot, DO field dress quickly, DO watch the temperature
  • DO thaw frozen venison slowly for best taste

By Jason Houser

When grinding burger, we add beef fat at a ratio of 3:1 (three pounds venison per pound of fat).

I hear people all the time say they do not like the taste of deer. Some people say that just because they know what they are eating and have a preconceived notion that it will not be good. Others have legit gripes. Mainly due to poor handling by the hunter from the time of the kill up until it was cooked.

This often results in gamey, tough meat.

Here are some tips to help combat bad-tasting venison:

  • Hunting in the real world is not like the Outdoor Channel portrays it to be. Hunters make bad shots from time to time and the deer has to be tracked for a while. Shot placement and the stress the animal received while being trailed plays a significant role in gamey meat. The faster a deer dies, the sooner it can be field dressed. This will reduce the amount of acid that builds up in the deer’s muscles. Concentrate on making a good shot with bow or firearm.
  • Hunters often fail to get the deer cooled as quickly as possible. The first step it to field dress the animal immediately. When possible, wash out the cavity with cool water, but be sure to dry the cavity out as the water to avoid creating a breeding ground for bacteria. If the temperatures outside are in the mid-40s or less, it’s OK to let the deer hang. Anything warmer and the deer needs to hang in a walk-in cooler, or it needs to get skinned, quartered and put on ice if you do not have a walk-in.
  • A whitetail deer is not hard to quarter.
    If at all possible, process your own deer to ensure it is handled properly and then you know you get all your venison back in return.

    Because of how joint and tissue are held together with a deer, a simple pocketknife will have a deer quartered quicker than you might think. However, if you use a saw of any type to cut through bone, it allows bone marrow and small pieces of bone shavings to get from the saw to the meat. Stick with a sharp knife and your meat will be free of small bone pieces that can contaminate the meat.

  • Growing up as a kid, I can remember how much my dad loved the taste of fat from a good cut of beef. The same DOES NOT hold true with deer fat. Simply stated, deer fat tastes awful. It is not red meat, cut it off before it is made into steaks or burgers. This includes all fat AND silver skin.
  • Recently, I began using cutting boards from John Boos & Company for this, particularly their Northern Hard Rock Maple cutting boards. The antimicrobial properties of these cutting boards actually kill bacteria, making them one of the cleanest and safest cutting boards on the market for hunters like you and me. A lot of home processors are concerned with contamination, by using this type of cutting board a lot of worries can be washed away.

    The antimicrobial properties of John Boos & Co. Northern Hard Rock Maple boards actually kill bacteria.
  • Every year before deer season begins, we call the local butcher shop for an order of beef suet. Even though we removed all of the deer fat, we need to add some sort of fat, whether beef or pork, when grinding it. If this is not done the lean venison will quickly fall apart when making burgers, meatloaf, etc. We add beef fat at a ratio of 3:1 (three pounds venison per pound of fat).
  • If you have the means, the time and the knowledge I recommend processing all your deer yourself.
    Good venison starts immediately upon the harvest.

    When you take a deer to a meat locker, you cannot be sure how the meat is handled, or if you even get your own deer back. For all you know you could be getting someone else’s deer back that was gut-shot and not properly handled after the shot. If you have to take a deer to a processor, research the facility by talking to other hunters who have used it, and also speak with the workers. Hopefully, they will be honest with you.

  • Do not overcook venison. Cooking deer for too long causes it to become chewy and dry. Venison is best prepared to medium-rare, but the outside needs to be cooked. To accomplish this, the grill must be hot enough to quickly sear the outside and lock in the flavors and juices. Turn your venison only once, and if there are no grill marks on the steak or burgers after three minutes or so, the grate is not hot enough.
  • Freezer-burned food, whether it is venison or other food, does not taste good. Some people use a vacuum sealer, but if you go this route, buy a good one. A cheap one will not seal properly and then will not keep the food fresh. When we butcher our deer, we make wrapping the meat a family affair with all involved. We put one-pound portions of burger in sandwich bags and the steaks and roasts are wrapped with plastic wrap (air isolator). After the plastic wrap, it is then wrapped again with good freezer paper and taped closed. We write on each package what cut of meat, who killed it and the date of the kill.

I hope this advice helps you have a meal that tastes great. A couple of other quick tips is the younger the deer, the better, more tender it will be. But this might not settle well with trophy hunters.

KEY POINTS:

  • What many cooks do not know is to thaw venison slowly to prevent toughness
  • Serve venison hot and keep the remainder hot to prevent it from getting a waxy taste.

Cleaning your Rifle, it’s Essential…Why and How

When all things go right, it starts with a clean barrel.

  • Preventive maintenance allows repeatability in performance
  • How to remove copper bullet build-up from the rifled barrel
  • How to maintain the bolt…it’s important!

By Wade Robertson

Hunting season is over and now is the time to make sure your firearms are properly taken care of. Here, I’m getting ready to give my .223 a thorough cleaning. Wire brush the bore, oil it, wipe down all metal parts and check your screws are still tight. A little time spent now can save serious problems down the road. 

Well, another deer season has come and gone. You will in all likelihood be putting the rifle in the cabinet for another year where it will sit primarily forgotten. During this time, it’s essential to make sure rust or corrosion isn’t eating away at your rifle, it’s time to clean your rifle properly.

The bore determines the accuracy of your rifle and should have particular attention paid to it to prevent any issues. Even though today’s gunpowders and primers are non-corrosive, it’s wise to treat the barrel with loving care. Let’s call this our preventative maintenance schedule.

You may be wondering why you should pay special attention to the bore of your rifle. Let’s take a second to think about what takes place every time you pull the trigger.

You squeeze and the firing pin falls, striking the primer. The primer is powerful for its size and explodes into the relatively small space of the powder-filled case. The powder is instantly heated to a high temperature and begins to burn very, very rapidly, creating high-temperature gas.  The gas pressure builds to around 50,000 pounds per square inch. The only thing movable is the bullet, so the high-pressure gas propels the projectile down the rifled barrel at approximately 3,000 feet per second. The velocity varies depending on the caliber and bullet weight.

The amount of heat and friction generated during those brief milliseconds between pulling the trigger, the powder burning and the bullet exiting the barrel is absolutely tremendous. Everything is perfectly safe of course since the metal composition and chamber/barrel thickness has been explicitly designed to withstand precisely that amount of thermal stress and more. However, as you may have surmised, some things definitely get dirty during this brief spurt of extreme forces.

The high-temperature powder gas leaves a dark residue inside the chamber where small amounts of gas have made their way around the neck of the bullet case. In the bore itself, the bullet has been driven to slide along into the rifling and accelerated down the barrel under the tremendous pressure as mentioned. Some of the copper jacket of the bullet is stripped off onto the lands and grooves of the barrel along with the red hot powder gas residue. Each and every shot adds to these deposits.

Additionally, any tiny irregularities or rough spots in the barrel will strip off more of the copper jacket, the build-up faster can affect the uniformity of your barrel. After several shots, depending on the caliber and the particular firearm, accuracy will begin to drop off. Luckily a wire brush and a suitable powder/copper solvent will help remove this fouling.

However, shooting is only one of the ways we can dirty our rifles.  Since we are continually handling or carrying them, sometimes in miserable weather, we can’t ignore what exposing them to heavy rain or wet snow can do.  Simply bringing your firearm inside from the cold into your home or camp will cause water vapor to condense on both the inside and outside of the metal. This isn’t any different than being outside in the rain, the end result is that your firearm’s wet. It’s essential to be aware of this and take care of the rifle once it has warmed up, don’t sit the firearm in a corner and forget about it.

Merely handling the metal parts of the forearm leaves fingerprints and the tiny deposits of salt, or whatever else is on our fingers, and unless the metal is well-oiled rust can form. Always wipe your metal parts down with an oily cloth after handling.

In short, always pay attention to your firearms and take the steps necessary to prevent moisture or corrosion from harming them. I have even seen rifles rust in a gun safe that happened to be against a cool outside wall allowing the safe to collect moisture inside it. That is a serious situation that should always be addressed immediately.

Having your rifle bore clean and your bolt free from gummy residue, allowed me to bag this heavy-tine 8-point buck in single-digit temperatures. Proper maintenance is essential when Mother Nature throws nasty weather your way. Never heavily oil the interior of your bolt, keep it clean and free of residue. 

At the very least you should always thoroughly clean your firearms before putting them away for the winter.   First, remove the bolt from your rifle and inspect it. Clean the bolt face with a toothbrush and wipe the entire bolt body clean with an oily cloth. Do not squirt oil down the firing pin hole or apply it heavily where the oil can make its way inside the bolt. Oil build-up inside the bolt and around the firing pin spring could cause your rifle to misfire during cold temperatures. The excess oil thickens to become like sludge. This is a more common occurrence than you might think and has cost more than 1 person a nice buck!

If your bolt becomes wet or damp inside you need to disassemble, dry, and very lightly oil it. Use a Teflon type, very light lubricant on the firing pin spring to ensure that extreme cold will not cause a misfire. If you have an older firearm from your youth, or dad’s old rifle, and suddenly decide to use it for old times’ sake, you’d be wise to pull the bolt apart and clean it. I can almost guarantee there will be substantial thickened oil and sludge inside the bolt just waiting to cool, harden and prevent the firing pin from falling hard enough to fire the bullet.

Now that you have cleaned up the bolt, it’s time to clear your rifle barrel. I begin by dipping the proper caliber brush in copper and powder solvent and wire brushing the barrel thoroughly. Next, run cloth patches saturated with solvent through the bore to remove the loosened fouling. When the patches come out clean, you’re finished. You may have to wire brush a second time.

Finish by running a patch covered with gun oil down the bore two times, this will protect your bore from rust and oxidation until next year.

A badly fouled barrel may need to be wire-brushed multiple times and require multiple patches to return it to a clean state. Occasionally you may have to purchase a stronger solvent especially designed for stubborn fouling and copper build-up. Keep at it until your patch comes out without turning gray or black.

I seldom remove the barreled action from the stock. However, if your rifle has been soaked in the rain or immersed in water, it may be necessary to do so. Water may collect around the recoil lug, under or around the action, in the trigger assembly and other areas. Water dries very slowly in such tight spaces and severe rusting, even pitting, can occur in these situations.

Composite stocks can simply be dried off and set aside in a warm area to dry before oiling your barreled action and reassembling. Wooden stocks may need to sit for several days if soaked.  Examine your wood stocks very carefully once the barreled action has been removed. Many times you’ll find the wood hasn’t been sealed with stock finish around the barrel, action and magazine well. This is very common with older guns.  I highly recommend sealing any untreated wood with two coats of varnish or stock finish. It’s also important to remove the recoil pad and seal the end grain with two coats of finish if needed. The end grain of the stock is very absorbent and might even require a third coat if the wood is light and porous. When fully dry, replace the pad. Once the stock is sealed, the wood will become much more stable and is far more likely to hold its zero from one year to another.

Don’t forget to oil your rifle sling swivels as well, they can get squeaky if you don’t keep them lubricated.

Once you have finished cleaning and oiling your firearm you can safely place it in the gun cabinet until next year. When fall rolls around in 2020, you’ll be able to remove it without any nasty surprises. It’ll be in great working condition and that, I may add, is a good thing.

 

 

Wisconsin Bear Hunt – Worth the Wait

  • Plan your Wisconsin hunt for a select zone- do the homework to identify the zone for success
  • Be patient, collect priority points for several consecutive years to score on zone selection
  • Research the guide, the gear, the location, and weather forecast…then count your blessings, control your aim

By Jason Houser

Showing up on trail camera photos frequently, this bear quickly became the author’s hit list bear.

If you are looking to bear hunt in Wisconsin, you need to start planning early. Years early, if you want to hunt in a zone with a lot of bears and a good chance for success.

After stacking up points for six years, I knew that I had enough points to put in for application on my seventh year for Zone D. This zone has a lot of bears and the success rate runs high. It is the only zone in Wisconsin that raised their harvest quota for the 2019 bear season while the rest lowered harvest quotas.

I settled on Big Bear Guide Service out of Iron River, WI. After talking with the owner Keith Holly and checking his references, I knew he was as good as they come, not only in Wisconsin but likely of any black bear guide in the United States or Canada.

Watching the weather on the days leading up to our hunt, it became clear that the weather would not be in our favor. High winds with strong thunderstorms, it would not be as suitable for us to be sitting or for the bears to be moving.

Opening day finally arrived and my wife and I went our separate ways. As predicted, the weather was not in our favor. The rain continued throughout the morning as strong thunderstorms were quickly approaching.

The forecast radar showed the rain ending early afternoon, but the winds would continue at about 13 mph. Because the storm and the rain were ending, I decided to return to my blind around noon to be there when the feeding frenzy might begin.

A few hours passed and at four-thirty the hoped-for feeding binge still wasn’t happening. Uncomfortable due to the cold temperatures and strong winds, I decided to keep pushing forward. Trail camera photos told me three bears routinely showed up around five every evening and I hoped that would hold true for this post-storm evening too. I had my eyes set on one particular bear that carried a beautiful “white blaze” on his chest.

At two minutes past five, I look up to see a black blob moving through the trees. Finally, a bear was visiting me.

Cautiously, the bear maneuvered around the bait, testing the wind with his discriminating nose. Satisfied he was not in any danger, the bear made easy work of knocking over the stump containing the cookie wafers he came to love in the weeks leading up to this day.

When the bear turned towards me to scent-check the area I knew it was the bear I was after. It wasn’t the biggest bear that ever visited the site, but the “white blaze” pattern below his chin and the long black coat was a dead give away. It was the bear I had hoped to have an opportunity for.

With the stump on its side and the sweet contents spread on the ground, the bear quickly began his evening meal. A few seconds passed with the bear having his back to me. My Carbon Express crossbow was shouldered, waiting for the perfect broadside shot.

Watching the bear through my Sightmark Core SX scope, he slowly began to circle. Knowing my shot opportunity was about to happen, I flipped the safety off and waited for the shot.

The Carbon Express crossbow and bolts partnered with Warhead broadheads from Rocky Mountain put the bear down quickly. Jason Bisby Photo

Stopping perfectly broadside to me, the bear put his head down for another snack. I quickly lined up the illuminated red crosshair for the perfect lung shot, settled my nerves the best I could and squeezed the trigger. The Carbon Express bolt flew true and with a loud thud, the bear fell for a split second before regaining his composure and bounding into the dense forest.

Within minutes, our guide and my wife Lotte and friend Jason Bisby were all on location. Telling the story of how everything went down, we decided to go to where the bear was standing when I took the shot.

Bright red blood was immediately noticeable as was half of my broken arrow. Looking through the thick vegetation it looked like someone took a red paint bucket and threw it all over the leaves and ground.

The bear ran less than 30-yards before toppling over. Years of waiting went into my first bear hunt ever and it lasted less than a day.

The author was all smiles after his first bear.  Jason Bisby Photo

The bear was not one of the giants from the area, but weighing in at 187-pounds I was quite proud of my first-time accomplishment. It might be a while before I can make it to Wisconsin to hunt bears again, but I will start the process all over again for collecting preference points until I have enough to be drawn in a predictably good zone.

In the meantime, there are other states where I can hunt bears.

Yep, I have bear-fever.

 

Are you ready for a Once-in-a-Lifetime Safari?

  • The true safari experience requires experienced professional hunters and skilled camp/field staff
  • Find hunting areas that provide a variety of game: Buffalo, Zebra, Wildebeest, Kudu, Antelope
  • Safari hunts are life-altering experiences, they captivate all your senses. Special moments in life.

By Forrest Fisher

Whenever folks think about a safari, they have shared with me that they think of the old Tarzan movies and the baggage carriers from those old movie films. I was that way too until I learned more from folks that experienced modern-day safari trips that found fun, hunting efficiency and that they are less costly than going to fish or hunt in Alaska. True fact. So what to do? Find a Safari business that caters to out-of-country visitors and ask for info. My good outdoor friend, Kevin Howard, speaks very highly of a service he has encountered that is run by a man whose name is Graham Sales.  Sales has been a professional hunter since 2000 and received the prestigious “Uncle Stevie” award in 2004 and again in 2007 from the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa. This award is an acknowledgment of excellent trophy quality. In addition, Sales received the “Professional Hunter of the Year” award in 2018.  That’s quite an honor, there is lots of competition for this award, his services are provided for hunting in South Africa and Mozambique.

South Africa:  Graham Sales Safaris has the exclusive hunting rights on South Africa’s largest provincial nature reserve – Songimvelo Nature Reserve (the film “The Ghost and the Darkness” was filmed on the Reserve). Songimvelo Nature Reserve received “World Heritage” status during 2018. Graham Sales also has the hunting rights to the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve which shares a common open boundary with the world-renowned Kruger National Park. The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve forms part of the Greater Park area, which allows free movement of the game across 432,000 acres of land. The area is made up of Mopani bushveld, acacia shrub, watering holes and riverbeds that attract a huge variety of game including elephant, buffalo, zebra, Blue Wildebeest, kudu, and several other antelope. These, in turn, attract several predators, such as lion, leopard, cheetah, and hyena, which makes this a popular choice for a ‘real’ African wildlife experience.

Clients experience a free-range safari with Graham Sales Safaris in their tented Safari camp that is located on the banks of a dry riverbed which adds to the whole African Safari experience.

Mozambique: Graham Sales hunt 988,000 acres in pristine wilderness in the Niassa province – northwestern Mozambique. The area is situated north of the small town, Marrupa and south of Block C – Niassa Reserve. The concession is flanked on the left by the Ruambeze and on the west by Lureco rivers. The main habitat is Miombo woodland with some open savannah areas, seasonal wetlands, and riverine forests along with the many watercourses, rivers, and streams. The landscape is scattered with spectacular rock formations and mountains, many of them have thickets of montane forest growing in the narrow gullies that extend up the smooth-sided rock faces. The magnificent scenery combined with the vastness of the area, an abundance of game and pristine nature makes this without a doubt one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas. The Marangira area is home to prolific wildlife, including elephants and more than 60 of the critically endangered African Wild Dog. Leopards are in abundance, lions and hyenas are common with big numbers of buffalo, Roosevelt Sable, Lichtenstein Hartebeest and Livingstone Eland including three endemic species, Crawshey’s Zebra, Johnston’s Impala and Niassa Wildebeest.

In all their areas, Graham Sales clients will have exclusivity and will enjoy a true safari experience with experienced professional hunters complete with skilled camp and field staff that always have a smile on their faces.

To learn more directly, visit https://www.grahamsalessafaris.com/.

Those attending the 2020 SCI Hunters’ Convention can meet and talk with Graham Sales and Armand Theron at their SCI booth #1438 in Reno, Nevada, February 5-8, 2020.

About the SCI Hunters’ Convention: Safari Club expects upwards of 24,000 worldwide hunters to visit Reno, Nevada, February 5-8, 2020.  The SCI Hunters’ Convention represents the largest and most successful event to raise money for advocacy to protect hunters’ rights. The 2020 Hunters’ Convention will be held at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center with over 452,000 square feet of exhibits and almost 1,100 exhibiting companies. Register and book rooms at www.showsci.org

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: www.joinsci.org

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 empower 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.

Linda Powell: Becoming a Hunter

  • Linda Powell went to college hoping to study genetics and research
  • After working in the medical field for 14 years, Powell realized in her mid-30s that she needed adventure
  • She found it, then came the life-changing question: Do you want to try hunting?
After 14 years in the medical field, Linda Powell wondered about a change, found a job at Remington, but admits, “I didn’t know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun.” Today Linda works for Mossberg Firearms.  Serena Juchnowski photo

By Serena Juchnowski

When you ask a child what he or she wants to be when they grow up, the answers are usually stereotypical. Doctor, lawyer, veterinarian, police officer, firefighter, nurse…the vocation one takes on is very rarely the job he/she first expected, or the one he/she is meant for.

Linda Powell was destined to be a hunter though her upbringing told no signs of it.

Powell grew up in North Carolina in a middle-class family. She went to college hoping to study genetics and research. It wasn’t a widely accepted path at the time for girls and she succumbed to pressure to become a nurse, Powell did so, married, had a son, and lived what she calls a “very traditional, typical life.”

After working in the medical field for 14 years, Powell realized in her mid-thirties that she “really was bored, stagnant, I felt that there was nothing that was challenging me personally.” Not knowing exactly what she needed, Powell quit her job and explored various roles assigned to her by temporary agencies. She eventually took a marketing position at a kitchen hardware manufacturing company – her first adventure outside of the medical field. This position didn’t quite fit Powell so she kept searching.

“I was looking for opportunities and I heard that the Remington Arms company was moving their worldwide corporate headquarters to a town about 20 miles north of where I lived, and I simply went and applied thinking ‘large corporation.’ I still didn’t really know much about what they made or what they did, I was just thinking opportunity for growth. And I was hired, and I’m not sure still why sometimes, I question this, to be the administrative assistant in the PR department.” Filling what one may term another traditional role led to discoveries and experiences far from conventional, though not without difficulties.

Today, Linda Powell has become an expert with firearms and shooting techniques, and a mentor to youngsters and those not so young. Serena Juchnowski photo

Linda Powell found herself replacing a woman who had been with Remington for 20 years. Powell lacked experience in and knowledge of the industry, of the position, and of Remington’s products but tried her best to learn. It was most painful when people asked by name for the woman Linda had replaced.

“The first 6 to 9 months I pretty much cried every day on the way home, thinking I will never figure this out. I didn’t know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun. I didn’t know what gauge meant, caliber…it was like the Greek language to me. But slowly some of it began to click.” Several Remington employees offered to teach Powell how to shoot. Her only previous experience with firearms and hunting was the fact that her grandfather used to disappear some weekends and reappear with some sort of game meat. She had no knowledge of what went on in-between. After some range time, Powell wanted to learn more. About a year after joining Remington, she attended the Remington shooting school; a three-day course focused on clay shooting. “What I loved about it was [that it was] very adaptable because I was in a class with people who had experience but who wanted just to hone their skills, and then there were people like me who had zero. When I left there, I knew the basics of handling a shotgun safely, I could break some clays, and they kind of had piqued my interest in wanting to learn more.”

Then came the life-changing question: Do you want to try hunting?

After some deliberation and mental preparation, Powell decided she was up for the challenge. “Fortunately, with my medical and biology background…I understood enough about wildlife management but I did a lot of reading to understand the role that hunting plays in [it] and I also had to come to terms with it for my own feelings.” She did not want to just jump into something she did not understand – it had to have meaning and purpose.
Looking back now, she laughs, smiling delicately as she talks of her first hunting experience. “I jokingly wonder if they were setting me up for failure because most people start with maybe bird hunting, turkey, deer, squirrels – my very first hunt was a black bear hunt. And they had me do it with a muzzleloader.” While preparing for the hunt, Linda learned to load and shoot a muzzleloader accurately, something she had never done before. Though it was slightly overwhelming at first, Powell was up for the challenge, and her beaming smile revealed that she would not have had it any other way.

Woman to woman, Linda Powell is effective at getting the safe shooting message across. Serena Juchnowski photo

Sitting in a plush chair in Mississippi at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association Conference, Powell told of an experience that is almost unbelievable given her iconic status in the industry today. Honest and open with no details spared, Powell admitted that at the time she was brand new and overwhelmed in moments, but has always been open to new experiences.

“I’d never sat in a treestand, there were just so many things that I was exposed to, even knowing how to dress for the hunt. There are so many [foreign] things…people that grow up [hunting] don’t necessarily understand that. Here I am at the ripe old age of 38, and again, I didn’t know anything about it. But I am really fortunate I had great mentors along on that hunt, my guide was exceptional. We, on the last day of the hunt, hadn’t really seen a bear but I had learned a lot. And I remember sitting in the tree, we’re getting to the last little light of day and just reflecting on what an incredible experience it had been, that I was trying something I’d never done before.”

Some things are meant to be. Powell smiled, her eyes shining with passion as she revealed the end of the story – something so neatly strung together it seems out of a movie. “I was sitting out in the woods, I was seeing squirrels and birds and soaking it all in and kind of just daydreaming for a minute and all of a sudden I woke up and there was a bear standing out in front of me and of course I went through the moment of ‘Oh my gosh, what do I do now?’ And I remember bringing my muzzleloader up and I was shaking. I put it back down on my lap, I took a few breaths: it took me three times. I got the muzzleloader up, the bear just was feeding nonchalant, and I shot, and I got it.”

Years later, and Powell remembers nearly every detail of her first hunt because that day, her life changed. She knew it immediately within her, though she could never have guessed how.

* Linda Powell has traveled to Russia, Africa, South America, and has hunted all across the United States and Canada. She worked for Remington for 15 years and currently works for Mossberg, as the director of media relations.

Read the next second segment story (look for it) to learn about Powell’s path and how she came to become an accomplished hunter dedicated to passing along the hunting tradition.

Editor Note – About the Author: Serena Juchnowski is a young college student, passionate about the outdoors. Serena grew up in an outdoors family but did not start shooting until the eighth grade, and did not start hunting until she was 16. Since then, she has devoted herself to the shooting sports, volunteering as the secretary at a local club, coaching new shooters, and using writing and photography to educate others about the shooting and hunting sports. She has earned the Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge (#2479) and NRA Master Classification.  She enjoys hunting, mostly in Ohio, her home state, and is especially interested in introducing “juniors” (in the shooting world, kids up to age 20 or 21), as well as women, to high power service rifle and to hunting. She would like to work in the outdoor industry to help fulfill her dream to promote safe shooting and hunting. Visit Serena’s Web page Facebook page and Instagram to visit with numerous pictures and other information on her shooting journey, as well as her written article.

Sweat Equity: Fertilizer Foundation for GIANT DEER

Turkeys, deer and other wildlife will appreciate the hard work you put into it and you will, hopefully, enjoy a successful hunt.

By Jason Houser

As much as we autumn-time deer hunters would like to throw some fertilizer under an oak tree and a few weeks later, have it rain to see results, acorns will cause many hunters to be disappointed. The first or even the second fall after you begin fertilizing will not produce exceptional amounts of acorns. It is usually the third fall before hunters start seeing results from their hard work. But even on the third fall, things can go wrong and you can have very low, if any acorns.

When deciding what trees to fertilize, my first choice is white oaks, followed by red oaks. White oaks are preferred by most wildlife because they not as bitter tasting as reds. However, if white oak trees are not available, deer, turkeys and other wildlife will have no qualms eating acorns from red oaks.

Finding the best oaks could be as simple as taking a look at the area you hunt from a distance. It will not be hard to pick out the tallest oaks on the property. These big, tall oaks that stand higher than everything else in the forest will receive the most sunlight, therefore, allowing them to produce a lot of mast (as much as 20,000 acorns). Oak trees do not have to be in the woods to work as a feeding station for deer. For example, many cattle pastures have oaks growing by their lonesome selves. Because of their solitude from other trees, they have the potential to produce an abundance of acorns.

Fertilizing trees is actually a simple task once you have decided what trees to fertilize. I recommend using a granular fertilizer of 13-13-13 in the spring though fertilizer spikes made especially for fruit or shade trees from any nursery work well too. Follow the directions on the packaging.

A good fertilizer program can result in a bountiful crop of acorns.

If using granular fertilizer, use two pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of crown (leaf shadow looking straight down). Say, the tree you are fertilizing has a crown of 90 x 90 feet, which is 8,100 square feet; the tree will need about 16 pounds of fertilizer. For best results, apply the fertilizer at the tree’s drip line to within five feet of the tree’s trunk. The drip line is the outer edge of the tree’s limbs. If the area has a lot of leaves and other types of debris on the ground, rake it away before applying the fertilizer. For even spreading, use a hand spreader to apply the fertilizer.

Typically, it takes until the third crop before you see an increase in acorn production. And, depending on a number of things, things such as freezing temperatures and winds during the early spring flowering stage, such factors can prevent a good acorn crop for that year. Or, maybe, the trees did not produce mast for that year. Hopefully, you have fertilized enough trees so if a couple of trees do not produce, you have standbys.

Also, all I have talked about is the effects of what fertilizer has on oak trees. The same techniques I have described for fertilizing the white oak will also work for other mast trees, both hard and soft. These trees are the red oak, sawtooth oak, Chinese chestnut, persimmon, apple, and crabapple and pear trees. You don’t have to have a green thumb to make a difference in what is available for wildlife to eat. All that is required is patience and the desire to attract deer to where you desire.

There are several ways a landowner can learn more about habitat management. One of those ways is through Donnie Buckland, NWTF private lands manager: dbuckland@nwtf.net. Secondly, QDMA has some great information on habitat management and even offers hands-on courses that are jam-packed full of information.

 

Winter Chill is Here, but Fish are Too

  • Niagara Falls USA Fishing Report from Destination Niagara USA
  • Big fish in Trib’s during December runoff periods
  • Ice Boom going in on Lake Erie very soon
Corey S. of Massachusetts caught this big brown fishing with Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters.

Temperatures are in the single digits with the wind chill and there’s not much wind.

Efforts are underway to install the ice boom at the head of the river off Buffalo, but water temperatures are still fluctuating around 40 degrees. Ice is still a ways off. As a result, the Niagara River water is still susceptible to stained conditions when the winds are right.

Joel Juhasz of Lancaster caught this 30-inch steelhead in the lower river to take over the lead in the Capt. Bob’s Outdoors fall contest.

With temperatures being forecast in the 40’s this weekend, it should be a good time to get a line wet for some trout action in the Niagara River just before the Christmas holiday.

Earlier this week, a hand full of boaters were catching steelhead using minnows off three-way rigs. Shore guys were using spinners, jigs, and streamers to take steelhead, with the occasional brown trout also being caught. Lake trout season opens in New York on Jan. 1, 2020, but it’s open already on the Canadian side of the river.

Captain John DeLorenzo with a Lower Niagara River steelhead.
Captain John DeLorenzo with a Lower Niagara River brown trout.

The brown trout action that was hot earlier at Fort Niagara has slowed down.

In the upper Niagara River, Denis Kreze of Fort Erie has been hitting some lake trout using a Venom Donkey Snatcher in 18 feet of water. Lake trout season is open in the upper river all year long.

Roy Letcher of Newfane sends word that the water flows have been high with muddy conditions for most tributary streams running into Lake Ontario. Those streams could be in good shape by the weekend.

With cold weather in the forecast, we could be looking at some of the Niagara County harbors, like Wilson and Olcott, starting to turn to hard water soon.

Ric Davila of Wheatfield took a couple of steelhead before work on Tuesday using his two-handed Spey rod and a white bunny leech.

Good water was being reported in some of the smaller streams like 4-Mile and 12-Mile, but Keg Creek is closed at the mouth, preventing any fish from entering the stream. After the high water/rain event last week, the water levels have lowered, and fish have come in from the lake.

Scott Feltrinelli of Ontario Fly Outfitters with a Lake Ontario tributary brown trout.

December runoff is a no brainer to catch big lake-run fish on the move. Use a large size 6 white Zonker with copper flash. Slush ice can be a challenge when temps hover around freezing. Waiting it out can pay off big. “The sun recedes and with it the conveyor belt of slush ice,” says Scott Feltrinelli with Ontario Fly Outfitters.

Some last-minute stocking stuffers include a season pass for the LOC Derby at www.loc.org. Save $20 ($10 off the regular price).  A 3-day pass for the Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo is available from the website at www.niagarafishingexpo.com. The Expo is set for Jan. 17-19, 2020.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Bill Hilts, Jr. – Outdoor Promotions Director

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Destination Niagara USA; 10 Rainbow Blvd.; Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Sika Deer among 29% Opening Day Harvest Increase in Maryland

Opening day hunters were hampered with wind and rain in Maryland, but the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced that 8,061 deer harvests were reported on the opening day of the 2019 Maryland firearm season, Nov. 30. This represents a 29% increase over last year’s Saturday opener. The overall weekend harvest of 9,201 was down 9% from 2018 due to nearly non-stop rain and wind across the state on Sunday.

The harvest total includes 4,248 antlered and 4,953 antlerless deer, including 147 antlered and 126 antlerless sika deer. The two-week deer firearm season runs through Dec. 14.

“Rain once again plagued hunters this year for part of the opening weekend, but many hunters took advantage of a dry Saturday and were still able to put venison in the freezer,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “The strong antlerless harvest for the weekend is reassuring, and is vital for managing deer numbers in the state.”

Hunters in Region A — Allegany, Garrett, and western Washington counties — harvested 878 antlered deer. Hunters in Region B — the rest of the state — harvested 3,370 antlered and 4,953 antlerless deer.

Junior hunters enjoyed excellent deer hunting weather and harvested 2,423 deer during the Junior Deer Hunt Days on November 16 – 17. The harvest was 12% higher than the official harvest of 2,164 last year. Juniors registered 1,471 antlered and 952 antlerless deer.

Visit this link for county-by-county harvest tally: https://news.maryland.gov/dnr/2019/12/06/maryland-deer-firearms-opening-day-harvest-up-29/.

 

Someone is Looking for a Little Tail, Lots of Them!

  • Wanted: Squirrel Tails
Trade your squirrel tails into fishing lures or money.

By Jason Houser

The Mepps brand of fishing lures is best known for natural hair-dressed spinners. Over the years, they have tried many types of hair, including synthetic and other natural materials, as well as the hair from Angus cowhides, bear, and fox, coyote, and badger fur. But they have never found anything better than squirrel tails, and they buy more than 250,000 tails each year, mostly from squirrel hunters.

Mepps is the leading buyer of squirrel tails.

If you shoot enough squirrels to collect a sizable pile of tails, you can make a little cash selling those tails to Mepps. But the first thing the company (and I) want to emphasize is not to shoot squirrels just for the tails. The pay isn’t that good, and it would be a wanton waste of game meat. Instead, look at the tails as a harvestable by-product from the squirrels you clean for the table. Also, you need to make sure you are not violating state laws that govern the sale and shipment of sport-harvested wildlife. California and Idaho prohibit this, and Oregon specifically forbids the sale of the western grey squirrel.

Do not split and debone the tail. Just cut the tail and freeze it or salt the butt end for air drying. Table salt or a strong saltwater solution both work well. While a salted tail is drying, make certain it hangs straight. Mepps doesn’t want tails that dry in a curved shape. Make sure flies, and other insects cannot get to drying tails, and tails that go in the freezer must be laid straight and packed loosely.

To prevent spoilage, keep tails in the freezer until the end of the season when you can either deliver them yourself or ship to the company. Dried tails can be shipped any time of year, but drop the package on a Monday, so it is less likely to sit in a handling facility over the weekend, and only ship frozen tails (that haven’t been dried) while the weather is still cold. Never put tails in a plastic bag for storage or shipment, as this can promote spoilage.

If the package is less than 10 pounds, you can ship it First Class or Priority U.S. Mail. Over 10 pounds should be shipped UPS. Mepps refunds shipping charges for 50 tails or more. Make sure your name, address, phone number, and email address are included in a letter placed inside the package. Let them know if you are willing to trade the tails for lures. If you trade, Mepps doubles the value of the tails.

Once received at Mepps, the tails are graded and sorted.

After Mepps grades the tails, they mail you a check. If you chose to trade the tails for lures, you will be contacted so you can place an order for the lures you want.

The type of squirrel, the quality of the tails, and how many are in each shipment determines what Mepps pays. Currently, a bundle of 100 or more premium tails may fetch as much as 26 cents each. Prices drop from there.

More information including pricing for specific tails may be found online at www.mepps.com if you click on the “Resource” tab at the top of the page and then click “Squirrel Tails” on the pull-down menu. A video that shows how to package and ship may be viewed on the Squirrel Tail page. Or you can address the package and ship to Sheldon’s, Inc., 626 Center St., Antigo, WI 54409-2496.

 

Looking to Find Deer on New Hunting Land? It starts now…for Next Year!

Preparation is key, my 4-step “How-To” process:

  • Identify Deer Trails, make false scrapes, choose key areas
  • Hang tree stands, add safety lifelines
  • Control human scent (what works for me and my family)
  • Monitor weather, look for a rising barometer and cold front: Prime Time
As I search for my big buck, these two doe will help with keeping us healthy for the coming year.

By Hunter Whiteley

Going into this year’s hunting season, I was facing unfamiliar circumstances on new land I had never hunted before. I had to find a way to figure out boundary lines, the deer population, feeding areas, travel routes, where they were bedding and everything else I would need to know to be able to harvest mature deer.

My preparations for this season started back in the spring when I received permission to hunt a piece of property in Central Kansas that had been barely hunted. I knew virtually nothing about that property. My wildlife studies in college helped a great deal and a summer spent interning under deer biologist, Dr. Grant Woods, was really important.

I started by breaking down the property by using the “onX” mapping system app. It was invaluable in helping me figure out everything I needed to know about the property, as well as other new property my Dad and Papaw were hunting in Missouri. It connects to all my mobile devices and works even if I am in an area where I am not getting service. You really need to go to www.onxmaps.com and check it out for yourself. You can sign-up for a free trial or subscribe. I can’t begin to tell you all it will do to help you, even on land you have been hunting for years.

Trail cameras are among the primary keys to identifying deer trails and deer numbers.

After using onX to determine high percentage areas, it was time to put out trail cameras so I could see what deer were using this new property. I did a lot of research to determine the best trail cameras and chose Cuddeback® (www.cuddeback.com) because of their originality and what I read about their performance. I placed several of their cameras that utilize the wireless CuddeLink system across the property. Pictures are sent to a home networking camera and then sent directly to my phone. The battery life is exceptional, a huge advantage, providing the capability to stay out of potential prime hunting areas in the off-season. This allowed me to establish an estimate of deer numbers on the property, as well as age classes of the bucks in the area.

After several months of pictures, I was able to gather the information needed to place several treestands across the property. Because we mainly bow hunt, I chose to hang Primal treestands with their climbing sticks and hung two of them together in some places. This was for the times my girlfriend, Molly, would join me on the hunt. Dad and Papaw also use Primal on their new Missouri hunting property. Papaw likes their innovative ladder stands with the Stabilizer Truss System and Grip Jaw System that holds it snuggly to the tree. Go online to www.primaltreestands.com to check out their stands.

Use of the Hunter Safety System Lifeline will provide safety assurance during hunting for everyone that uses an elevated tree stand.

While hanging my Kansas stands, I transitioned my Cuddeback® cameras from salt licks to mock scrapes that I made using ScrapeFix® products www.scrapefix.com. I would clear a 2 to 3-foot area down to bare earth in places where there were branches deer would use as licking branches. I then put 2 to 3 puffs of their Velvet, ScrapeFix® or Rut powder, depending on the season, both on the limb and the bare ground. In several places where there was not a suitable licking branch, I used their Vine to make my own licking branch. I can attest with photographs that the ScrapeFix® products really worked. As the season approached, there were several quality bucks using these scrapes and a number of mature doe’s scent checking them, all captured on my cameras.

We use HSS Tandem Lifelines™ when two of us are hunting together. Lifelines insure our safety while ascending and descending a tree and getting into and out of our stands.

A few weeks before the season started, I freshened all the scrapes and then put up a piece of gear that every hunter should have attached to every tree they have a stand in. None of our family will climb into stands without first attaching a Hunter Safety System Lifeline™ (reflective) to our Hunter Safety System harnesses for all of our stands, no matter where they are at. Molly and I use their Tandem Lifelines™ when we are hunting together. Lifelines insure our safety while ascending and descending a tree and getting into and out of our stands. For your sake and your family, I urge you to go to www.huntersafetysystem.com and read more about the inexpensive HSS Lifelines. They are simple to use and can save your life!

Knowing that a deer’s sense of smell is its primary defense, all that prepping would have done no good if we did not do everything possible to control our scent. I did lots of research on what scent control clothing was best for us to use and decided ScentLok was the way to go. To really understand all they do to make their clothing scent-free, you need to go to www.scentlok.com/technologies and read about it.

Their scientific research was so convincing everyone in our family that hunts are now wearing ScentLok in early, mid and late season. We also use their Ozone generator bags and closet to keep our clothing scent-free, as well as their scent-free sprays for our hunting equipment.

On a morning in Missouri with a rising barometer and an approaching cold front, Papaw counted 57 deer come from all directions and Dad also saw numerous deer that day. Neither of them chose to shoot, but both these long-time deer hunters are convinced that ScentLok really works.

Molly couldn’t join me on the first morning of archery season so I geared up in my ScentLok clothing and headed to one of my Primal stands, hooked up my Lifeline™ and climbed up to hunt by myself. I saw around 25 deer that morning and, thanks to my ScentLok, none of them had any idea I was there. By 10 am I had harvested two mature does to fill the freezer for my family. By the way, this was the same morning my Dad and Papaw were seeing all those deer in Missouri, so that should also tell you the importance of being out there during a rising barometer and cold front if you want to see deer. There were a lot of text and pictures being sent back and forth that day.

Since that morning, Molly and I have been out hunting numerous times and have passed on a lot of deer. I am still on the hunt for a big buck, but I feel confident with the recent pictures sent from our Cuddeback system, the time will come, whether it’s this year or next.

Follow us on Instagram @greatozarksoutdoors to see what happens. When it does, I will smile and remember all the prepping I did on unfamiliar land to get to that special moment.

Hunter Whiteley is a senior at Kansas State University where he is majoring in Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management.

BOWHUNTERS: Dress for Success, Stay Warm, CONTROL your SMELL

  • The Parka and Bib are soft, quiet, flexible fleece shell fabric.
  • The Parka has 10 pockets for storing gear and warming hands.

By Forrest Fisher

A month ago I met Nick Andrews from ScentLok at an outdoor meeting event and he explained the technology controlling human odor during the hunt. I’m from a scientific background and it all made sense to me. Finding success in the wilds from a tree stand or ground blind is more likely with human odor containment. The Late-Season staple garments in ScentLok’s pinnacle Bowhunter Elite:1 Series, the new BE:1 Fortress Parka and Bib provide hunters, especially determined archers, the ultimate protection from the nastiest elements of smell during prime hunting season.

Nick and his associates shared many stories.

During the rut and even after the rut in areas where hunting season is still open and the days become noticeably shorter, the deep chill of winter may cause deer to move when they are trying to warm up. Watching the weather and being on stand during the minutes and hours before a major winter storm system arrives can provide a moment to capitalize on an “opportunity window” of increased whitetail activity. Hunters need to bear the elements too, during long sits on stand. Now more than ever, bowhunting success often comes down to bowhunting dress.

As the name suggests, the ScentLok BE:1 Fortress Parka and Bib are the late-season cold-weather bowhunting garments that check every box. Fully waterproof, windproof and critically insulated, they’re ultra-quiet and super-comfortable in the nastiest conditions. Purposely tailored for optimum bowhunting performance, this premium apparel features compression and sculpting for minimal bulk, full articulation to support maximum bowhunting motion and mobility, and pockets aplenty for storing gear and warming hands.

Designed and built for elite bowhunters willing to put in the time it takes to outsmart big-beamed bucks, the ScentLok BE:1 Fortress Parka and Bib are ideal for demanding late-season hunts. With a soft, quiet and flexible brushed fleece shell fabric, thermal-mapped ThinsulateTM insulation for perfect warmth, and ScentLok’s proprietary Carbon AlloyTM technology for maximum odor adsorption, this 100% waterproof, windproof and breathable system provides unparalleled late-season performance.

The new BE:1 Fortress Parka’s thermal-mapped insulation features 150g of ThinsulateTM insulation in the body, 100g in the arms and 200g along the back. It has a soft, quiet and flexible fleece shell fabric with ten pockets for storing gear and warming hands, plus a concealed safety harness access opening to keep harnesses close to the body for safety with maximum scent control. Extremely archery-friendly, the BE:1 Fortress parka’s articulated elbows ensure exceptional comfort and range of motion throughout the draw, while the articulated hood’s three-piece construction reduces bulk and allows for a positive anchor point.

ScentLok BE:1 Fortress Parka

  • Carbon AlloyTM for maximum odor adsorption
  • 100% waterproof/breathable protection
  • Thermal mapped ThinsulateTM insulation for perfect warmth (150g in the body / 100g in the arms / 200g along the back)
  • Soft, quiet, flexible fleece shell fabric
  • Ten pockets for storing gear and warming hands
  • Articulated elbows for a greater range of motion & comfort
  • Concealed safety harness opening
  • Available in Mossy Oak Elements Terra Gila at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s
  • Men’s sizes MD-3X

The new BE:1 Fortress Bib features 100g of ThinsulateTM insulation in the chest and lower legs and 150g from the waist through mid-thigh. Unmatched in storage, the BE:1 Fortress Bib is equipped with six easily accessible pockets and two additional chest handwarmer pockets.

A full-length center zipper makes for easy dressing and fly usage, while extended leg zippers with storm flaps ensure easy on and off. Upper stretch panels and adjustable suspenders keep the bib in place and minimize restrictions.

ScentLok BE:1 Fortress Bib

  • Carbon AlloyTM for maximum odor adsorption
  • 100% waterproof/breathable protection
  • Thermal mapped ThinsulateTM insulation for perfect warmth (100g in the chest & lower legs / 150g waist through mid-thigh)
  • Soft, quiet, flexible fleece shell fabric
  • Full-length center zipper for easy dressing and fly usage
  • Six storage pockets and two chest handwarmer pockets
  • Leg zippers with storm flaps for easy on and off
  • Available in Mossy Oak Elements Terra Gila at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s
  • Men’s sizes MD-3X

In addition to the new late-season BE:1 Fortress Parka and Bib, the ScentLok, Bowhunter Elite:1 apparel series includes the mid-weight BE:1 Voyage Jacket and Pant, BE:1 Reactor Jacket and Pant for on-demand insulation, plus a complete lineup of gloves, headcovers, and caps.

It’s an elevated suite of premium gear, purpose-engineered for the serious bowhunter who’s committed to solving problems, creating their own opportunities, and increasing their chances for success.

All BE:1 garments are fully compatible with ScentLok Liquids and OZ by ScentLok pre-hunt and post-hunt ozone and storage products for Complete Odor Management.

ABOUT NEXUS OUTDOORS: Nexus Outdoors, headquartered in Muskegon, MI, USA, is a leading worldwide designer, marketer and distributor of performance, hunting and casual odor-controlling apparel, footwear and equipment under the ScentLok Technologies®, OZ®, Blocker Outdoors®, Whitewater, Hard Core® Waterfowl Hunting Apparel and Tree Spider® brands. It also owns American Range Systems, manufacturer and distributor of the world’s strongest and safest bullet traps. Nexus Outdoors is the only company with access to all scent-controlling technologies, including their patented Carbon Alloy™ and Cold Fusion Catalyst™ technologies, which provide superior success in the field.

 

 

 

‘Tis the Season! It’s Time for NEW Outerware for the Deer Hunter

  • New Midweight Whitetail System    
  • Theissen V1 Whitetail Midweight System, perfect for all-season deer hunting 
From cool autumn evenings to the season’s first frosty mornings, every deer hunter knows there’s a broad spectrum of weather conditions to conquer in order to find success. The Thiessens’ V1 Whitetail Midweight System is the perfect solution, giving hunters multiple layering options to match whatever Mother Nature throws their way.
Built with innovative technologies and pursuit-driven materials, the Midweight System includes a jacket, vest, hoodie, and pant. Each item comes in Realtree EDGE™ camo for the ultimate in concealability, while the fabric construction allows for ultra-quiet movement in the stand.
The jacket, vest, and pant utilize Thiessens’ Wind Defense technology giving you a windproof barrier when the chill threatens to drive you from the tree stand and the quiet laminated, quiet, super-stretch fabric offers highly water-resistant protection (seams are not taped so these are not 100% waterproof). Each garment features a water-resistant treatment on the outer shell to bead away light rain and moisture-wicking design to help regulate body temperature and drive sweat away when your activity level starts to increase.
The jacket is ideal for use as an outer layer on cooler days and the Wind Defense technology provides an impenetrable barrier against stiff breezes. If there is a downpour in the forecast, the jacket can be paired with the Thiessens’ Rain Jacket to keep you warm and dry. The jacket also features an adjustable hood. The hood is designed so that it won’t obstruct your peripheral vision and can be removed when it’s warmer or you want a more minimalist approach. It’s also the perfect jacket for gear junkies, with ample pocketing for your calls, rangefinder and cell phone. Articulated quiet construction allows for an unrestricted full range of motion.
The vest delivers incredible warmth to weight ratio and can be worn both as a mid or outer layer depending on the time of year. For brisk early season mornings on the stand, the vest can be worn over a lightweight shirt for extra warmth, or it can be worn as an extra mid-layer under the heavyweight jacket when the temperatures plummet. It also features Wind Defense technology, several pockets for storage and a mock collar to keep you from getting chilled.
If you’re a fan of mid-layers with sleeves, the hoodie delivers ultimate warmth and moisture-wicking design, perfect for active days in the field when you need maximum comfort and range of movement.
When it’s time to hunker into the blind and play the waiting game, the midweight pant offers incredible warmth and Wind Defense technology to keep you toasty. Ample pocketing and an articulated design provide plenteous room for gear storage and comfort. Ultra-quiet composition for extreme stealth from a softshell garment.
V1 Whitetail Midweight Jacket:
  • Adjustable hem shock cord cinch
  • Water-resistant treatment on outer shell with Wind Defense technology
  • The main garment fabric is laminated with a waterproof film but seams are not taped
  • Adjustable, removable hood
  • Moisture-wicking, anti-odor treated warm lining
  • Articulated construction
  • Ultra-soft, quiet design
  • Multiple accessory pockets handle all your gear
  • Realtree EDGE™ Camo
V1 Whitetail Midweight Vest:
  • Water-resistant treatment on the outer shell and Wind Defense technology
  • The main garment fabric is laminated with a waterproof film but seams are not taped
  • Moisture-wicking, anti-odor treated lining
  • Ultra-soft, quiet design
  • Mock neck
  • Adjustable hem cinch-cord
  • Multiple accessory pockets handle all your gear
  • Breathable construction
  • Realtree EDGE™ Camo
V1 Whitetail Hoodie:
  • Water-resistant treatment
  • Moisture-wicking, anti-odor treated material
  • Articulated construction
  • Traditional kangaroo pocket
  • Realtree EDGE™ Camo
V1 Whitetail Midweight Pant:
  • Water-resistant treatment on the outer shell and Wind Defense technology
  • The main garment fabric is laminated with a waterproof film but seams are not taped
  • Moisture-wicking, warm anti-odor treated lining
  • Articulated construction
  • Two-way zip fly
  • Comfort fit for maximum range of motion
  • Internal gripper waistband
  • Ample pocketing for gear
  • Realtree EDGE™ Camo

Thiessens is an outdoor brand that makes and sells authentic, pursuit-driven equipment directly to the end-user. Sharing the passion of outdoor pursuits, Thiessens will consistently bring the best combination of features, performance, and value to consumers. Thiessens’ products are thoughtfully crafted to over-perform in any condition. Pursue life, pursue your passion, and pursue with Thiessens. For more information, please visit WWW.THIESSENS.COM.

Georgia Hunters: Firearms Deer Hunting Season Opens Oct. 19

  • The season bag limit is 10 antlerless deer and two antlered deer
  • If you are looking to stock up that freezer with one of the healthiest meats available—your time is here!
  • The Georgia deer firearms season opens Sat., Oct. 19 and continues through Jan. 12, 2020 statewide.
Georgia DNR Photo

“We are shaping up for yet another excellent deer season,” said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist for the Wildlife Resources Division. “Through reductions in doe harvest, deer population goals have been met for most of Georgia and the population is stable. Let’s all do our part to maintain this wonderful tradition, and introduce a new hunter, youth or adult, to share our passion!”

During the firearms deer season last year, more than 185,000 hunters harvested almost 170,000 deer in the state. The use of regulated deer hunting ensures that Georgia’s deer population continues to be healthy and strong.

Over one million acres of public hunting land is available to hunters in Georgia, including more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas. Many areas offer special hunts throughout the season, including primitive weapons and modern firearms hunts. Dates and locations for hunts are available in the 2019–2020 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide (http://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations).

“Oh, and with all the media coverage on deer diseases lately, let’s cut through the confusion and talk facts,” says Killmaster. “To date, neither chronic wasting disease (CWD) or tuberculosis (TB) have been detected in Georgia deer. However, there are circumstances where wildlife biologists rely on the public to notify them of sick animals in order to monitor disease issues. Visit our website at https://georgiawildlife.com/deer-info to view the top five reasons to call.”

Quick Basics

The season bag limit is 10 antlerless deer and two antlered deer (one of the antlered deer must have at least four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers). Special regulations apply to archery-only counties and extended archery season areas.

To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record. Licenses can be purchased online at www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at a license agent (list of agents available online).

Once you harvest a deer, you must report it through Georgia Game Check. Deer can be checked on the Outdoors GA app (useable with or without cell service), at www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661. A reminder that if you have the Outdoors GA app, always be sure to update the app so you have the most current version.

For more information, visit http://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.

Posted  courtesy of the Georgia DNR

Florida Youth – October Hunt coming up…”Outta the Woods”

  • New Florida youth deer hunt weekend and muzzleloader season

By Tony Young 

Florida bucks are on the move right now. Jeff Liebler Trail Cam Photo

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission established a new youth deer hunting weekend, which occurs during the muzzleloading gun season in each of the four hunting zones. FWC staff initiated the proposal to promote youth hunting and stakeholders were overwhelmingly supportive of this new opportunity.

 “Wildlife management areas have had youth and family deer hunts for years, so this newly established season is a way to encourage youth deer hunting on private lands,” said Cory Morea, FWC biologist and deer management program coordinator. “This new opportunity, which occurs early in the season when hunting pressure is lower, supports the FWC’s commitment to igniting interest in hunting and creating the next generation of conservation stewards.”

Youth 15 years old and younger who are supervised by an adult may participate in this new Saturday-Sunday youth hunt, which ran Sept. 14-15 in Zone A, and runs Oct. 26-27 in Zone C, Nov. 30 – Dec. 1 in Zone B, and Dec. 7-8 in Zone D.

Youth are allowed to harvest one antlered or antlerless deer during the weekend and it counts toward youth hunters’ statewide annual bag limit. Youth are allowed to use any legal method of take for deer. This includes the use of dogs to pursue deer on deer-dog registered properties.

Doe’s in search of forage are visible to others during sunrise-sunset periods. Jeff Liebler Trail Cam Photo

Since this youth deer hunt coincides with muzzleloading gun seasons, supervising adults and other non-youth may hunt but must use either a muzzleloader, bow or crossbow, and may only take antlered deer that meet the antler point regulations for the DMU hunted. If deer dogs are used, however, only youth may shoot at deer.

No license or permit is required of accompanying adults who only supervise. If adult supervisors or any non-youth participate in the hunt (even if only rattling antlers or blowing a grunt call), they are required to have a hunting license, deer permit and muzzleloading gun permit, unless exempt. 

“Hunting with my kids has provided many fond memories – some of the best times of my life. From our early morning breakfast conversations, spending time at camp, our whispered conversations when hunting, to teaching them about safe and responsible hunting, reading the woods and wildlife conservation,” Morea said.

Muzzleloading gun season

Annually, the beginning of muzzleloading gun season immediately follows the close of the crossbow season in each zone. Season dates run Oct. 19 – Nov. 1 in Zone C, Nov. 23 – Dec. 6 in Zone B, and Dec. 7-13 in Zone D.

During muzzleloader season, bows and crossbows are legal methods of taking game on private lands. On WMAs though, only muzzleloaders may be used, and not every muzzleloader is legal to use during muzzleloading gun season.

I’m ready, “Can I hunt too dad?!” Jeff Liebler Photo

Only muzzleloaders fired by wheel lock, flintlock, percussion cap or centerfire primer (including 209 primers) are legal during muzzleloading gun season. Firearms that can be loaded from the breech are not legal during muzzleloading gun season.  

Deer and wild hogs are the most common species to take during muzzleloading gun season. New this year, the minimum caliber for muzzleloaders firing single bullets when hunting deer has been reduced to .30-caliber. Guns firing two or more balls still need to be 20-gauge or larger. Only legal bucks, according to the deer management unit in which you’re hunting, may be taken, and the daily bag limit for deer is two.

On private land with landowner permission, you may hunt wild hogs year-round with no bag or size limits. On WMAs, bag limits for hogs and deer may differ, so check the area’s regulations brochure before you hunt there.

In addition to big game, it’s also legal to shoot gobblers and bearded turkeys on private property and on a handful of WMAs during muzzleloading gun season. You may take up to two per day on private lands (one per day on WMAs), but there’s still the two-bird combined fall-season limit. You may not shoot turkeys while they’re on the roost when you’re within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when feed is present, or with the aid of recorded electronic turkey calls. It’s also against the law to hunt turkeys in Holmes County during the fall.

WMAs that don’t require a quota permit

Florida’s WMAs offer a wide range of hunting opportunities including quota/limited entry hunts, special-opportunity hunts and public hunting areas where hunters can walk on to hunt. There are nearly 40 WMAs where hunters don’t need a quota permit to hunt some or all of the muzzleloading gun season. You can find those WMAs not requiring a quota permit at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures by clicking on “No Quota Permit Hunting.”

Gray squirrel season

Small game hunting provides opportunities for youth and adults to experience hunting. It has broad appeal, usually requires little planning and allows hunters to take spur-of-the-moment hunting excursions.

In Florida, gray squirrel season runs statewide Oct. 12 – March 1. Good squirrel hunting areas can be found throughout most of Florida, and many are convenient to major urban areas. Squirrel hunters can find success on small tracts of private and public lands. There are numerous opportunities to hunt gray squirrels on WMAs during small game season when a quota permit is never required. But season dates on WMAs vary greatly, so check the individual WMA brochure to know when the season is in.

The use of dogs is allowed for treeing and retrieving squirrels. The daily bag limit for gray squirrels is 12, but be mindful of proper species identification because shooting the larger fox squirrel is against the law.

Dove season

The first phase of the mourning and white-winged dove season started on Sept. 28 and runs through Oct. 20, statewide. Shooting hours during all three phases on private lands is a half-hour before sunrise to sunset, and the daily bag limit is 15 birds.

Good dove hunting opportunities can be found near agricultural lands where birds feed on crops and seed. You may hunt doves over an agricultural field, so long as the crop has been planted as part of regular agricultural practices. However, it’s against the law to scatter agricultural products over an area for the purpose of baiting. For more information, go to MyFWC.com/Dove and click “Dove Hunting and Baiting in Florida.”

The only firearm with which you’re allowed to hunt doves is a shotgun, though hunters may not use one larger than a 10 gauge. When hunting migratory birds, shotguns must be plugged to a three-shell capacity (magazine and chamber combined). Retrievers or bird dogs are allowed, and they can be an asset when trying to locate hard-to-find birds.

If you happen to shoot a dove with a metal band around its leg, report it at ReportBand.gov. This band-recovery data is important for understanding migration patterns and managing doves. By reporting this information, you’ll be able to find out when and where your bird was banded.

License and permit requirements

Whether you participate in one or more of these hunting opportunities, you’ll need a Florida hunting license. If you’re a resident, this will cost $17. Nonresidents have the choice of paying $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for an annual license.

If you plan to hunt during muzzleloading gun season, you’ll need a $5 muzzleloading gun season permit, even if you use a bow or crossbow on private lands. If you hunt on one of Florida’s many WMAs, you must purchase a management area permit for $26.50. To hunt deer, you need a $5 deer permit, and if you’d like to take a fall turkey, you’ll need a $10 ($125 for nonresidents) turkey permit. Also, a no-cost migratory bird permit is required if you plan on hunting doves or any other migratory game birds.

Season dates, bag limits and restrictions differ greatly on each WMA, so before heading afield this season, we suggest you print the WMA regulations brochures and maps for the specific WMAs you plan to hunt. Or you can download them to a mobile device so that they can be accessed without an internet connection. WMA regulations brochures are available only at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures and through the Fish|Hunt FL app.

All of the hunting licenses and permits you’ll need are available at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or by going to your local county tax collector’s office or retail outlet that sells hunting and fishing supplies.      

Be safe and have fun!

Remember, there’s a new annual bag limit of five deer, of which two may be antlerless – and the new deer harvest reporting requirement. Learn more about these new rules at MyFWC.com/Deer. As always, have fun, hunt safely and responsibly, and we’ll see you in the woods!

Tree Stand Hunters, GRAB A LIFELINE to your Biggest Deer

  • Experts say the best deer hunting with a bow is from 15 to 30 feet up in a tree. Dangerous? Yes!
  • Early to rise can mean “early to sleep” while in your tree stand. It’s common, it’s fun, it keeps you in the woods, but can be deadly if you are not protected.
  • Minimize danger, Lifeline Safety – here is how to stay protected while you wait for Mister BIG or snooze.

By Forrest Fisher

To hunt with a full body-harness and Lifeline, just clip the full body-harness carabiner (the uppermost clip on your harness) to the moveable HSS Lifeline Prussic loop knot (part of the Lifeline unit), it slides up with you as you go up – one foot at a time. Safe from bottom to top, while on top and coming down.

With the seasonal shift in progress, it’s becoming a colorful time of year, a likable time of year for most everyone that loves the outdoors. For deer hunters, the archery season is open, or close to it, wherever you live.  Most everywhere, it has been too warm and the moon phase isn’t quite right yet for the usual natural deer behavior of bucks seeking to find hot doe’s this early. The rut, the typical time for bucks to mark their territory and leave a scent trail to be followed by members of the opposite sex, is predicted to be the first or second week in November in northern zones. If you are an archery hunter and are out there anyway, I understand. It’s fun to be in the woods in a tree stand 12 to 20 feet above the ground, or higher, safely tethered to your tree and out of any danger that might befall you should you render yourself asleep up there.

Heading to your hunting stand and going up during early morning light can be tricky. Reduce the risk. Read the story.

I must confess, I fall asleep just about every hunt, but I’m safely tethered to my tree because I’m in a Summit Viper climbing tree stand. It fastens around the tree with a braided wire hoop and also acts as an “easy chair” once “up there.” This is the safest, quietest and most comfortable way to hunt from above ground, tethered to the tree every foot of the way that you climb upward. I am in full confidence that no danger or injury would occur with this setup and I feel totally safe, yet I am always aware of issues, worn parts and all that. Best part? You or I can be in a new tree for every hunt. No over-scent left by our presence in the same tree each time out. Deer have a super-sensitive sense of smell, sight and hearing.  Not repeating in the same tree works to help you be successful.

Many big game hunters that hunt from above ground use a fixed ladder-stand. Granted, it’s easier once in place. Most are using modern, metal stands that will not rot with exposure to rain or snow, that’s a big plus. The old-style, build-it-yourself tree stands from wood are mostly history today, but if you hunt from one of those be VERY CAREFUL. If you hunt from either one of these fixed-stand types, old or new, wood or metal, there is one common protection method that will work for both stand types. To be just as safe as if you were in a climbing tree stand and tethered to the tree from start to finish, going up and coming down, check out the Hunter Safety System (HSS) Lifeline and don’t wait to get one.  Do it now (https://huntersafetysystem.com).

Anyone that hunts above ground should always be wearing a full body-harness, of course, that is rule number one. Your family and friends are way too important to be taking care of you with a broken back or a broken neck, since these are among the most common injuries from a tree stand fall, IF YOU LIVE. Lots of guys think they are the big, strong, macho brutes of the woods and don’t need a harness for their 10-foot treestand (hunter girls not so much, they follow the safety rules). Everyone that hunts above ground needs a full body-harness, period. Injury can happen from much lower heights too. Protect yourself.

The Hunter Safety System (HSS) Lifeline is an honest life-saver. Don’t hunt from the skyward loft without one. Be safe.

To hunt with the harness and Lifeline, just clip the full body-harness carabiner (the uppermost clip on your harness) to the moveable HSS Lifeline Prussic loop knot (part of the Lifeline unit), it slides up with you as you go up – one foot at a time. If you slip off the ladder as you are climbing up, or from the top, as you sit in your stand for hours on end – way up there, while you might be resting your eyes, you are protected by the Lifeline. Follow the instructions that come with the Lifeline Unit to install the Lifeline. Use care, always.

For $40, it’s worth it. Your life insurance is only $40. Can’t beat that.

Total protection from the ground to the top of the stand and back down – cheap, easy, adds to your confidence level (no worries), worth your time to get one.  The full body-harness can cost $60 to $200, there are lots of choices. I’m a simple guy, my $60 model works great.  You can search the same HSS website as above for harness details. Yes, the full body-harness takes some time to become familiar with, but once mastered, you can put it on and take it off in about 20-30 seconds, even in the dark. I’ve used mine for about 20 years and it gets to be that simple to draw your bow and aim your arrow, or point your firearm – from 20 or 30 feet up, with complete confidence in your own safety. That’s a big deal to me. The deer and choice of shot is now totally yours, no safety worries. Dead deer. It’s predictable.

With the warm weather early in the season, or when it turns brutally cold during firearm and black powder season, you can hunt with the confidence that you will return. Your children, your family, and your friends might like that if you explain it to them. You are safe. Share this good news. Get a full-body harness, get a Lifeline and get some safe sleep, even when you hunt.

After all, we get up so doggone early.

To straight shots.

New Study Reveals 6.35 Million Acres of Western State Lands Are Landlocked

  • onX and TRCP release a groundbreaking analysis of state land access across 11 Western states
More than 6.35 million acres of state lands across 11 states in the American West were identified as landlocked by private lands. Learn the details below.

By Randall Williams/TRCP Author

This week, onX and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership revealed the stunning results of collaboration to quantify how many acres of state lands across the West are entirely landlocked by private land and, therefore, inaccessible to hunters, anglers, and other outdoor recreationists.
This is the anticipated follow-up to last year’s study of federally managed public lands, which showed that more than 9.52 million federal acres have no permanent legal access because they are isolated by private lands.

The Findings on State Land
Using today’s leading mapping technologies, more than 6.35 million acres of state lands across 11 states in the American West were identified as landlocked by private lands. The detailed findings are now available in a new report, “Inaccessible State Lands in the West: The Extent of the Landlocked Problem and the Tools to Fix It,” which also unpacks how this problem is rooted in the history of the region.

“Based on the success of last year’s landlocked report, we decided to turn our attention to the West’s 49 million acres of state lands, which are important to sportsmen and women just like national forests, refuges, and BLM lands,” says Joel Webster, Western lands director with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “State trust lands, parks, and wildlife management areas often provide excellent hunting and fishing, yet 6.35 million acres of them are currently landlocked and inaccessible to the public. Together with our previous findings, the TRCP and onX have produced the most comprehensive picture of this access challenge across the West.”

The new report and companion website break down landlocked acre totals for each of 11 states. Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming each have more than one million acres of landlocked state lands, creating existing barriers and future opportunities for public access.

“Handheld GPS technologies have revolutionized how the recreating public finds and uses state and federal lands, making millions of acres of small tracts of public lands easy to discover and explore, both safely and legally,” says onX founder Eric Siegfried. “GPS technologies have also helped the recreating public become personally aware that inaccessible public lands are scattered across the Western landscape, and onX is eager to help identify the extent of the landlocked challenge and showcase the collaborative tools to fix it.”

Landlocked Acres by State
• Arizona: 1,310,000 acres
• California: 38,000 acres
• Colorado: 435,000 acres
• Idaho: 71,000 acres
• Montana: 1,560,000 acres
• Nevada: < 1,000 acres
• New Mexico: 1,350,000 acres
• Oregon: 47,000 acres
• Utah: 116,000 acres
• Washington: 316,000 acres
• Wyoming: 1,110,000 acres

While the analysis looked at various types of state-administered land, such as state parks and wildlife management areas, the vast majority—about 95 percent—of the landlocked areas identified are state trust lands. Trust lands were long ago granted by the federal government to individual states and are generally open to public recreation in all Western states except Colorado.

“Each year, hunters and anglers across the West enjoy some of their best days outdoors utilizing state land access,” adds Siegfried. “If we can work together to unlock state lands for the public, many more sportsmen and women will have those experiences in the years ahead.”

The Solutions
The report also highlights the various ways in which states are and can be addressing this issue so that effective solutions can be more widely adopted across the West. Several states have made significant progress with dedicated staff and programs for improving access, and by utilizing walk-in private land hunting access programs to open up state land. Additionally, state-side grants made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was permanently reauthorized earlier this year, offer another promising tool to address the landlocked problem.

“Many states have embraced the opportunity to open these lands to recreational access, and it is our hope that this report will help decision-makers find ways to tackle the challenge more completely,” says TRCP’s Webster. “This includes Congress doing its part by passing legislation that would establish full and dedicated annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which must direct 40 percent of all dollars towards state and local projects.”

The TRCP is encouraging hunters and anglers to support full, permanent funding of the LWCF through its online action tools here.

Learn more and download the full report at unlockingpubliclands.org.

Viper Archery – Sidewinder Bow Sight Series

  • Simple, Accurate, Effective, Durable, Affordable
  • Unique Precision Elevation System 
  • Simplify 3D Archery, Simplify Competitive Shooting
  Designed to bridge the gap between archery hunting and competition bow sights, the Viper Archery Products Sidewinder Series provides the fastest, easiest and most precise elevation adjustments of any single-pin sights on the market. The Sidewinder and the Sidewinder XL, with its longer sight radius and windage micro-adjustment capability, are truly a dual-threat on the 3D course and in the field.
  The Sidewinder Series features a true competition-style up-pin that is both thin and low profile, so target blocking is extremely minimal. The stainless steel up-pin completely encapsulates and protects the 24-inch-long fiber-optic strand. The strand wraps around the housing above a reflective strip for maximum light-gathering, which also makes replacement easy. The Sidewinder is available with a choice of three fiber-optic diameters: 0.010-, 0.015- or 0.019-inch.
  The sight’s elevation system is the most unique feature of the Sidewinder design; it is exceptionally functional, intuitive and quick to adjust, either on the course or in the field. It requires no locking screw, handles or knob to be loosened before adjusting for distance. The archer simply turns the four-winged aluminum Sidewinder knob at the back of the sight to set it to the desired yardage. Operation is quite smooth, thanks to the Delrin® thermoplastic gear-driven transfer system, and the sight housing remains horizontal throughout the range of travel. The sight can travel from its top-most position two inches down to the bottom position in less than one full turn of the Sidewinder knob. A 0.030-inch stainless steel pin on the Sidewinder transfer bar corresponds to a strip of white marking tape on the rearmost surface of the sight. This allows the user to precisely mark distances of the specific equipment being used, and it can be replaced or taped over if the equipment setup is changed.
  The Sidewinder’s aluminum sight housing has a 2-inch aperture that is threaded to accept optional Zeiss coated lenses for competition or an optional shade housing and sight light for competition or hunting, so archers can switch between target and hunting setups with ease. A highly visible 0.35-inch diameter, the 1-inch-long bubble level is located at the bottom of the housing.
  The Sidewinder housing unit has elevation and windage adjustments that require the use of an Allen wrench to fine-tune the head position. In addition to its longer sight radius, the Sidewinder XL also incorporates a micro-adjustable windage system that is secured by a lever lock. The XL’s micro-adjustment system allows for precise sighting-in as well as for easy adjustments in the field or on the run. The Sidewinder measures 6.75 inches in length and weighs 7.5 oz., and the Sidewinder XL is 8.5 inches long and tips the scale at 10.2 oz.
  The Sidewinder Series bow sights are manufactured in the USA and are constructed of the highest quality materials—hard-coat-anodized 6016 T6 aluminum, Delrin, brass and stainless steel up-pin, and stainless steel hardware—for maximum durability and a lifetime of worry-free use. The Sidewinder and Sidewinder XL are available now with suggested retail prices of $169.99 and $219.99, respectively, and both sights carry Viper Archery Products’ limited lifetime warranty.
  About Viper Archery Products: Viper Archery Products is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koola Buck. Headquartered at 494 Service Center Rd. in Brookville, Pa., Viper Archery has been proudly manufacturing top-quality U.S.-made archery sights and accessories at its South Point, Ohio facility for more than 15 years. For more information on Viper Archery, visit viperarcheryproducts.com.

The Ultimate Spring Hat-Trick Turkey Destination…Plan Now for Next Year: Hunting, Fishing, Eating!

Chautauqua County turkeys, lots of 'em in spring.

  • Look for these Critical Elements to assure a great Turkey Hunt:
    • Woods, Waters, Streams, and Forage Resources
    • High-Harvest Average 
    • Lots of Public Hunting Land – it spreads out the hunters
    • Chautauqua County in New York meets the List!

By Mike Joyner

My Hat-Trick Gobbler – thanks to Jake Ensign for this photo.

Ultimate destination – a bold claim for a resource-laden state such as New York. To be clear, New York boasts many vibrant outdoor adventure meccas, but you’ll want to plan your next turkey hunting and spring fishing getaway to the outdoor paradise in Chautauqua County. Hunting and fishing interests are easy to satisfy and that’s the honest goal for every sportsman.

My recent hat-trick getaway to Chautauqua was memorable and was just what the doctor ordered to decompress and rejuvenate my busy business life. The excursion found me spring turkey hunting in the mornings with Jake Ensign, followed by an afternoon of fishing with Captain Frank Shoenacker of Infinity Charters. In the evenings, after the outings, I could choose from a smorgasbord of places to visit and explore. My base of operations would be at the Comfort Inn Hotel in Jamestown – it was close to Chautauqua Lake and the turkey woods. Perfect for the extra minutes of sleep needed when chasing gobblers.

I met up with Jake Ensign, a supreme hunting friend that lives nearby.

Jake provided an eye-opening personal tour of his game room, as he is one of only a few dozen archery hunters to successfully hunt all of the North American Big Game Species. It was evident to me, Jake had spent many years of dedicated preparation to be so successful. Jake goes the extra mile, the extra 10 miles, in making each hunt an exercise in due diligence. It is impressive even to a veteran turkey hunter like myself.

Jake Ensign hosted us on a private tour of North American Big Game critters that he took with his bow.

My introduction to the Chautauqua County turkey woods came early the next morning and did not disappoint. We started out just above a vineyard on a ridge top with plenty of roost trees. Plenty of sign was present.  Feathers, tracks, scat and dusting bowls were scattered about during our walk in and out. With the exception of two clucks further up the ridge behind us, we were greeted with a whisper quiet, yet beautiful morning. You could hear every sound and if a turkey gobbled, we could easily locate the bird and make an approach.

As the sunrise greeted us, a chorus of trains blasted their air horns providing shock gobble inspiration from nearby highway crossings far below us. The gobblers, however, opted to be of the strong and silent types. We gave it some time to let the place reveal itself and after several setups, we backed out to not disturb the location. Running and gunning was not the game plan that so many engage in when the action is at a lull. Jake had mentioned they have had many successful hunts in that spot. Assessing the area with such ample sign, I would agree. Of course, when you have plenty of Intel on an area, courtesy of Jake, you conduct each hunt more patiently.

Collin Voss, a young local outdoorsman, is sizing up this giant bear. He did admit, “Geez, he’s huge!”

After checking a number of properties in the southern region of the county we came upon a parcel not far from Route 86 and got an eager gobble in response to our pleas. With a flat ridge top that lay between us, we settled in to see if we could persuade him across. The wind had come up and it was a solid “maybe” as to whether or not the bird answered us after that. Thirty minutes later a report of something lesser than a 12ga shotgun rang out ahead of us, but much lower on the ridge on another property. We decided to back out. Consistent with other properties we checked, we would come across plenty of turkey sign including sets of gobbler tracks. We were in the middle of great turkey country

The first morning concluded with sightings of a few hens out bugging in the fields, as we searched for more gobblers to keep track of for the next hunt tomorrow.

Having hunted gobblers in nearly half of New York’s 62 counties, I would point out that the turkey woods of Chautauqua County are among the nicest woods I’ve ever set foot in. A quick review of the past 10 years of harvest data reveals Chautauqua as #1 in New York for turkey hunting harvest. In any given season, Chautauqua is always in the top echelon. With over 20,000 acres of public forests and a mix of land types and food sources, it would be a sound recommendation to add Chautauqua County to your annual spring and fall gobbler chasing vacations.

Before heading out for an afternoon of fishing with Captain Frank Shoenacker on Chautauqua Lake, Jake suggested that we have the best sandwich to be had anywhere (i.e. North America) for lunch. I naturally agreed. My sampling verified his suggestion. A trip to the Ashville General Store is must do stop during your time in the area. The “Jester” spicy turkey sub served hot is a turkey hunter-approved menu item (https://ashvillegeneral.com).

After that great lunch, I met up with Frank at the Bemus Point boat launch. The launch was easy to find and not far from the exit off Route 86 for Bemus Point. With eight boat launch sites available on Chautauqua Lake, there is ample access for all boaters (https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/23907.html).  The Lund Tournament Pro-V was perfect on this beautiful, sunny afternoon. The Lund had a heavier hull and was stable, even in the slight chop we had.

Perfect boat for our day on Chautauqua Lake.

On this outing, Frank and I would both fish and that set the table for a relaxing time on the water. We fished simple, drifting live worms along weed beds and enjoyed lots of fun conversation. As Frank spends more time guiding than fishing, I invited him to fish too and our trip became perfect fun. We were using a killer rig, a homemade double-hook worm harness with a butterfly spinner made by Frank. It’s sort of a secret rig.

We were one of just a handful of boats on the water as you might expect at mid-week of the early season. We caught walleye, perch and a surprisingly large bullhead.  A perfect afternoon.

Captain Frank Shoenacker with his secret troll/drift rig to catch walleyes.

In his larger boat, Frank also guides on Lake Erie: Infinity Charters https://www.infinitycharters.com/. It is a fantastic way to plan an essential part of your Chautauqua Hat Trick.

Having fished Lake Erie in the past, it is also on my ‘A’ list to visit frequently.  I plan to return with my bride of nearly nineteen years to modify the hat trick concept, this time, to be a fishing and lazy-tourist combo. Lee, my wife, loves to fish, and I have promised her to revisit the region.

For the evening, I needed to visit the Southern Tier Brewing Company for a craft beer tasting and a pulled pork sandwich. Accompanied by their “Nitro Stout,” a great beer product, they earned my attention for another “must-do” stop while in the region. Their friendly staff and personal service were 5-star. 

Author’s favorite…Southern Tier Nitro Stout microbrew.

I caught up with Jake after dinner to plan the morning hunt and received good news. As Jake scouts at sunset periods, he has endless energy, he found two different turkeys roosted. This is the best kind of news to get when chasing gobblers. Again, another short night, but I would wake up 10 minutes before the alarm clock sounded. Excited? A little bit.

One prime spot we found in Chautauqua turkey country.

This last morning of my hunt, I would come to appreciate the dedicated strategies that Jakes executes. Our walk to the first roosted bird was in total silence, not a twig nor a dried leaf to reveal our progress. Jake routinely rakes and grooms his paths for stealthy approaches to known roosting areas. It is this extra effort that ups the odds for a successful hunt.

As daylight approached, a hen began to yelp on the limb, not sixty yards from where I sat. Jake mimicked her and I would also respond with muted tree yelps. No gobbling nearby, but one volley of gobbles came from the second location that Jake had marked the night before. It was a little over 250 yards from us. Once the hen flew down, she walked right past Jakes’ location as he sat motionless. She fed away. Once she left, we moved up about 100 yards toward a low swampy area where we had heard the gobbling.

We got a quick response from four different gobblers once we sat down and began calling from our new position. They had closed the distance, spotting them moving to my left around the swamp at 80 yards. They were circling and closing fast. As seconds seemed far too long, the most aggressive and vocal of the birds marched in and would stop within range to survey for the hen. The brilliant red, white and blue heads of the gang of four was impressive. The boom that followed sent the other three back as quickly as they came. Maybe a little faster, as I think of it.

The turkey woods was picturesque with a lush green canopy newly emerged. It was a great hunt in a beautiful hardwood forest. It also reaffirmed the wisdom for scouting, roosting, letting the hunt play out, and having patience. All of these hallmark attributes describe Jakes’ approach to turkey hunting.

My hat-trick gobbler was right on time, thanks to the good scouting of my buddy, Jake Ensign, who snapped this photo. Jake Ensign Photo

We concluded the hunt with a hearty breakfast which always tastes a little better after a successful hunt! We’ll catch up again in the near future to hunt next year when I am sure to return!

There are so many places to visit here. Great eateries, wineries, breweries, entertainment venues – something for everyone.

I have planned a returned visit for next year, stay tuned!

© 2019 Mike Joyner- Joyner Outdoor Media

Hunting Above Ground? How to Stay Safe…Treestand Safety Guidelines

Get Ready for your Fall and Winter Hunt during the summer months. Click for How To Stay Safe.

  • Get ready for hunting “Above Ground” during the Summer Months
  • Get a full body harness, then learn how to use it
  • Carry a cellphone or signaling device
Stay attached to the tree from the ground to the stand, during the hunt and back again with a properly installed Hunter Safety System Lifeline.

By Bob Holzhei

Each year, thousands of hunters are injured in tree stand accidents. In fact, according to the Treestand Safety Awareness Foundation (TSSA), there are about 4,000 emergency room visits each year due to tree stand falls.

Don’t wait until hunting season arrives to practice tree stand safety. Now, the summer months, are the ideal time to begin practicing to get ready for the fall hunt. When fall arrives, safety measures will become part of your routine.

As I got older, I gave up hunting from a tree stand and purchased a 10 by 10-foot hunting shack and loaded it onto my hay wagon. The insulated shack is heated with a Big Buddy Heater and is comfortable. My wife added, “You can go out there and sleep overnight whenever you want!”

There are a number of tree stand safety guidelines which will help educate hunters and are excellent suggestions to review prior to a yearly hunt.

First – Use a full-body fall arrest harness system, the meets stringent, industry standards. Wear the harness system every time you leave the ground, including ascending or descending from the tree stand. Single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer allowed. Serious injuries including death have occurred each year.

Second – Attach a Full Body Harness System according to the manufacturer’s directions. The tether should have no slack when sitting. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover to your Treestand.

Third – Always “read, review, understand and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.” If questions arise, contact the manufacturer.

Fourth – Always use a haul line to raise your backpack, gear, and unloaded firearm or bow to the Treestand. Prior to descending, lower the equipment on the side of the tree opposite your descent route.

Fifth – Practice using your Full Body Fall Arrest Harness System in the presence of a responsible adult, prior to using it in an elevated hunting environment. Learn what it feels like to hang suspended in the harness at ground level.

Sixth – Have a plan for recovery, escape, and rescue, including the use of a cellphone or signal device for use while suspended. If you are suspended before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree. If you do not have the ability to recover or escape, hunt from the ground.

Approaching the age of 74 the hunting shack provides a comfortable place to hunt!

The HSS-HANGER is the only treestand harness designed for the off-season, hanging and removing tree stands, cutting trails and shooting lanes and running trail cameras.

South Carolina passes new turkey regulations to bolster declining populations

South Carolina passes new turkey regulations. NWTF Photo

The National Wild Turkey Federation applauds the South Carolina legislature for passing a bill addressing declining turkey populations. The bill will restructure season dates and limits for residents and nonresidents.

The new structure creates two regional season periods: April 1 – May 10 for the upstate and March 22 – April 30 in the Lowcountry. The NWTF is pleased with the later season opener in the upstate as it more closely coincides with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ original proposal of April 10 as a start date.

Other provisions in the bill are designed to help reverse the statewide decline in wild turkey populations and they include:

  • a daily bag limit of one bird;
  • a one-bird limit in the first 10 days of the season, which is intended to reduce early season harvest so more gobblers will be available for breeding early in the season;
  • state residents will still be able to take three birds during the season and nonresidents will be allowed to take two;
  • a fee for turkey tags will be implemented to support future wild turkey research and management;
  • and finally, the bill makes possible the development of an electronic check-in system for reporting harvests.

South Carolina State NWTF Chapter board members testified multiple times in the House and Senate promoting a later season open date, and NWTF members sent more than 5,000 messages to their senators and representatives.

“We thank our members for their participation in the legislative process, and our legislators, particularly committee chairs Senator Chip Campsen (R-43) and Representative Bill Hixon (R-83), for taking the time to craft the legislation,” said Joel Pedersen, NWTF director of government affairs.

“We couldn’t have made the progress we did without the help of our state board and NWTF members who contacted their legislators,” said Dal Dyches, South Carolina’s state chapter president. “Although this isn’t a perfect bill, we believe it is a step in the right direction for the state’s wild turkey population.”

About the National Wild Turkey Federation: When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to raise $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org

For more information, contact Pete Muller at (803) 637-7698

 

 

Eliminating Your Stink…for Serious Hunters

Human Scent Control....hard to do until now

One of the biggest things we can control as deer hunters is our scent, but it’s not easy. We all perspire, we sweat when we walk out with our gear, climb a tree and set up. The gentle wind from whatever direction helps to disperse the “hunter alert” smell to all area wildlife populations. What can we do to get better to remove our human odor and wildlife alarm scent? Read on.
Introduced at the Archery Trade Show in January to rave reviews, ElimiShield’s new Hunt X10D concentrate provides a unique scent-elimination formula. It is a long-term treatment that prevents the formation of human body odors on clothing and soft-good accessories. It costs mere pennies to treat each piece of clothing. When used as directed, X10D bonds to the fibers to create a chain of atoms that produces an uninhabitable surface for odor-causing compounds, thereby making the treated garments virtually scent-free.
While it sounds complicated, it is really easy to use. Each 10-ounce bottle of X10D will treat 10 pounds of camo clothing and/or soft gear in only 10 minutes. Think: 10-10-10. Simply add one ounce of X10D per pound of clothing (up to 10 pounds) to three gallons of 110 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit water in a bucket. Stir well and add the clothing and let the garments soak for a minimum of 10 minutes; wring the clothing out, and hang until just damp. Then place them in a clothes dryer until dry. This will create a nearly permanent odor-resistant shield that will last up to 50 commercial grade washings or typically more than five years for most hunters.
It is recommended to treat only those garments that actually touch the skin and/or are actually exposed to body odor, such as under garments, gloves, socks and hats. With proper use of the ElimiShield X10D, your under garments will remain odorless and will keep you body odor contained.
For the best results in the field, ElimiShield recommends using all four HUNT products in the three-step odor elimination system developed specifically for hunters. Step A is personal hygiene, including Core Body Foam—the outdoor industry’s only FDA-compliant, direct to skin scent elimination product—as well as a Hair & Body Wash. Step B is laundering hunting clothes with ElimiShieldHUNTLaundry Detergent. Step C is the Scent Elimination Spray and X10D Concentrate.
The new ElimiShield HUNT X10D Scent Elimination Concentrate is available directly from Hunters Safety System at elimishieldhunt.com for a suggested retail price of under $40.
About ElimiShield Scent Control Technology: The patented, proprietary, nanotechnology formula in some of the ElimiShield HUNT products leave a microscopically abrasive shield that eliminates odor-causing particles on contact. This mechanism is far superior to other methods that either poison bacteria or attempt to absorb human odors after they form. In addition to the nanotechnology, certain ElimiShield products include bio-based ingredients to neutralize malodors that are encountered in the field, ensuring all surfaces remain scent-free. Hunter Safety System, the industry leader in treestand safety, is the exclusive distributor of ElimiShield HUNT products to the outdoor industry. For information on this line, contact Hunter Safety System, 8237 Danville Road, Danville, AL 35619; call toll-free 877-296-3528; or visit elimishieldhunt.com.

Deer Management: New York shares a plan for Urban and Suburban Communities

Joe Forma Photo

Whitetail deer management in communities where people and vehicles are numerous can result in accidental collision and injury. Many states are trying to understand the best method to employ for better management. In New York, a written plan exists, perhaps a plan that other states might gain benefit from, as well.

Cover of deer management report
Click the picture for a link to the report.

White-tailed deer are an important part of New York’s natural heritage. However, they increased in abundance throughout the last century and have now reached problematic levels in many parts of the state, especially where local and state laws and landowner opinions have constrained regulated hunting.

DEC created a report (PDF) that provides a comprehensive review of deer overabundance and management in urban and suburban areas.

Urban/suburban deer overabundance is challenging community residents, local municipal officials, and state agencies across the country. In some respects, New York is at the forefront of management approaches to this problem, but state laws prevent the use of several of the most effective techniques. Removing those legal obstacles would make it easier and more affordable for communities to address their deer-related problems.

No matter what methods are used, urban/suburban deer management is a complicated process requiring a long-term commitment. Communities and individuals interested in developing a deer management program can visit DEC’s Community Deer Management webpage for a deer management guide, other resources, and contact information.

Are YOU the “Toughest Hunter in the Alps?” Steyr Challenge aims to Find Out

Compete in the Steyr Challenge for the Title “Toughest Hunters in the Alps”

Steyr Arms will be hosting the 2nd Annual Steyr Challenge, Oct. 5 in Seetaler Alpe in Austria, with teams from across the globe competing for the  title of “Toughest Hunters in the Alps.”This competition is a combination of a more than seven kilometer mountain run with about 300 meters of elevation gain, different shooting disciplines, abseiling and sawing. Each four-person team, with one alternate, will need to train together, shoot together and strive for the ultimate goal of winning together.

Steyr Arms is looking for a few good teams to represent the U.S. in this year’s competition. If you think you have a team that has what it takes to take on the course and the other competitors, send an audition video of your team explaining why you wish to compete in the challenge before the registration closes on July 15. Click here to register. There is no cost to submit. The $250 registration fee is only charged to teams that are selected and will be participating in the challenge. Teams will be responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from Austria. Lodging and food are covered upon arrival.

This year’s Steyr Challenge will host a maximum of 25 teams from around the world. Don’t miss this opportunity to represent the U.S., be a part of this ultimate challenge and claim the title of “Toughest Hunters in the Alps.”

Teams will need to arrive on Oct. 4 for an overview of the course and preliminary training on the rifles that will be used in the competition. The Steyr Challenge will take place on Oct. 5, followed by an awards ceremony.

About Steyr Arms
Established in 1864, Steyr Arms, GmbH, is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious firearms manufacturers. Steyr’s comprehensive lines of premium hunting rifles and precision sporting and tactical firearms are technically mature, and their subtle elegance also communicates the harmony between appearance and substance. Steyr’s legendary SBS actions and cold-hammer-forged barrels are distinctive and unparalleled. Steyr Arms USA is the subsidiary headquarters in the U.S., and it is also the exclusive importer for Merkel firearms, Corvus Defensio parts, JAGDHUND and X JAGD apparel. For more information, contact Steyr Arms USA at 2530 Morgan Rd., Bessemer, AL 35022; call (205) 417-8644; or visit www.steyr-arms.com/us.

Florida Alligator Hunting – How to Apply for Permits

How to Apply for Alligator Hunting Permit...details

Alligators can be large and small, and numerous in certain parts of Florida – they can be dangerous no matter their size. Forrest Fisher Photo

By Tony Young

Since 1988, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its predecessor, the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, have offered hunters the opportunity to take part in their annual statewide recreational alligator harvest, which always runs Aug. 15 – Nov. 1. Alligators are a conservation success story in Florida. The state’s alligator population is estimated at 1.3 million alligators of every size and has been stable for many years.

“Before you apply for alligator hunt permits, be sure to coordinate with everyone you plan to hunt with, regarding where you want to hunt and which harvest weeks work best with everyone’s schedule,” said Steve Stiegler, FWC’s alligator program hunt coordinator.

“The application process is a random drawing, so the more choices you make, the better your chances of getting drawn. You also can increase your odds of being drawn by choosing more areas during the fourth harvest week,” Stiegler said. “However, you shouldn’t apply for any areas you feel are too far away or during weeks you’re unable to hunt.”

And if you’re still undecided on where to hunt, check out harvest data from past seasons at MyFWC.com/Alligator under “Statewide Alligator Harvest Program.”

Phase I application period

The application period for the phase I random drawing begins May 17 at 10 a.m. and runs through May 27. More than 6,000 alligator harvest permits will be available.

Hunters may 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 can be submitted at any county tax collector’s office, license agent (most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies) and at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. Applicants must provide their credit card information when they apply. If changes to hunt choices or credit card information are needed, applicants can make updates 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 application period May 31 – June 10. 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 14-24.

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 27 until all permits are sold. Anyone may apply during phase IV, even if they were awarded a permit in one of the earlier phases. Hunters who get 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 “Guide to Alligator Hunting in Florida” by going to MyFWC.com/Hunting and then “By Species.”

LAST DAY TO APPLY – 2019 Kentucky Elk Hunt Drawing

APPLY NOW for the 2019 Kentucky Elk Hunt Drawing.  Today is your last chance!

  • Take Your Pick — Apply for any or all available permit types
  • Only $10 per application
  • NEW – The Archery/Crossbow Permit is now either-sex (bull or cow!) 
  • Ages 15 & younger may also apply for Youth Either-Sex Permits (25 now available)
  • Random Drawing — Results will be announced on May 18:   
  • Biggest herd & hunt east of the Rockies — 594 permits available
  • 6 of the Top 10 state record bulls were harvested in the past 4 years!

The deadline to apply is April 30 (tonight) at midnight — so don’t wait and possibly forget to apply!

Frequently Asked Questions about the elk hunt drawing are found here.

More information about Kentucky’s elk herd and the drawing is posted here.  

Thank you for participating in the drawing.  Proceeds from elk hunt drawing applications and elk hunt permits directly support elk management, research and public access in Kentucky.

New York Youth Turkey Hunt set for April 20-21

Jim Monteleone Photo

  • NYS Annual Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend Set for April 20-21
  • Junior Hunters must be 12-15 yrs of age
  • Junior Hunters must hold a hunting license and a turkey permit

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that spring turkey season opens May 1, in all of Upstate New York north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. In addition, DEC’s annual youth turkey hunting weekend will take place on April 20-21. The youth turkey hunt for junior hunters ages 12-15 is open in all of Upstate New York and Suffolk County.

“Hunters across New York are looking forward to the excitement of spring turkey hunting, which requires an understanding of turkey behavior, navigation, and field skills, an ability to locate and call in birds, and take a good shot,” Commissioner Seggos said. “I encourage hunters to act responsibly, follow regulations, and adhere to the cardinal rules of hunting safety.”

Turkey hunters took an estimated 19,000 birds in New York during last year’s spring season. Of this number, an estimated 2,000 birds were taken by approximately 5,400 junior hunters during last year’s two-day, youth-only hunt. Poor turkey reproductive success in summer 2017 may mean that hunters see fewer adult gobblers this spring compared to last year, but this may be offset by opportunities for jakes resulting from improved reproductive success in 2018 and good overwinter survival.

Important Details for the Youth Turkey Hunt on April 20 and 21

  • Hunters 12-15 years of age are eligible and must hold a hunting license and a turkey permit;
  • Youth 12-13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or adult over 21 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian. Youth 14-15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or adult over 18 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian;
  • The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. The adult may assist the youth hunter, including calling, but may not carry a firearm, bow, or crossbow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt;
  • Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day;
  • The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary and across Suffolk County;
  • The bag limit for the youth weekend is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth’s regular spring season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken only in upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary, beginning May 1;
  • Crossbows may only be used by hunters age 14 or older; and
  • All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.

Other Important Details for the Spring Turkey Season, May 1-31, 2019:

  • 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 their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested; and
  • Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest online at DEC’s Game Harvest Reporting website.

For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2018-19 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the “Turkey Hunting” pages of DEC’s website.

DEC Continues to Encourage Hunter Safety:

While statistics show that hunting in New York State is safer than ever, mistakes are made each year. Every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and DEC encourages hunters to use common sense this season and remember what they were taught in their DEC Hunter Education Course.

Firearms Safety:

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

DEC also encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange or blaze pink to make themselves more visible to other hunters. 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 firearm. New York has an extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters, largely due to the annual efforts of more than 3,000 dedicated volunteer hunter education instructors. A hunter education class is required for all new hunters. To find a hunter education class in your area, visit DEC’s Hunter Education Program website or call 1-888-HUNT-ED2 (1-888-486-8332).

Citizen Science Opportunity: DEC Seeks Turkey Hunters for Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey

Turkey hunters in pursuit of that wary gobbler in the spring are ideally suited to monitor ruffed grouse during the breeding season. Turkey hunters can record the number of grouse they hear drumming while afield to help DEC track the distribution and abundance of this game bird. To get a survey form, go to DEC’s website or call (518) 402-8883.

To participate in DEC’s Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey or other wildlife surveys, visit the “Citizen Science” page of DEC’s website.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/press.html

5 Deer Annual Bag Limit for Florida…New Rules for 2019-2020

  • New deer hunting rules for Florida 2019-20 season 

By Tony Young

Beautiful Florida bucks are surprisingly numerous in parts of the state. Florida Fish and WiIdlife Commission Photo

At their February meeting, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Commissioners passed new deer hunting rules that take effect starting with the opening of archery and crossbow seasons in Zone A on Aug. 3, 2019.

FWC deer management program coordinator, Cory Morea, taking his youngest son, Braxton, on a hunting excursion. Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission Photo

Annual statewide bag limit – five deer, of which only two may be antlerless

One of the rules establishes a new annual statewide bag limit of five deer per hunter, of which no more than two may be antlerless (any deer, except a spotted fawn, without antlers or whose antlers are less than 5 inches in length). However, antlerless deer may still only be harvested during seasons when they are legal to take, such as during archery season and on antlerless deer days.

“The annual statewide bag limit was developed through extensive collaboration with FWC staff and stakeholders, and aligns with the goals and objectives outlined in the Commission-approved strategic plan for deer management,” said Cory Morea, deer management program coordinator.

Florida was the only state in the Southeast without a specified annual bag limit for deer.

“This adaptive approach to deer management is intended to improve hunting opportunities by encouraging harvest among more hunters as well as greater selectivity, while helping maintain a healthy and reasonably balanced deer herd,” Morea said.

Deer harvested under permits issued to landowners of the following programs are excluded from annual statewide bag, daily bag and possession limits – antlerless deer permit program, deer depredation program and private lands deer management program. Deer harvested on licensed game farms and licensed hunting preserves are also excluded from annual statewide bag, daily bag and possession limits.

Harvest reporting system

New rules require all hunters – including youth under 16 years of age, resident hunters 65 years and older, those with a disability license, military personnel, and those hunting on their homestead in their county of residence – to report deer they harvest. However, deer taken with a deer depredation permit or from a game farm or licensed hunting preserve do not have to be logged and reported through the harvest report system.

“Before moving a deer from the point of harvest, hunters who harvest deer are required to record in their harvest log information such as their name, date of harvest, sex of the deer, and county or wildlife management area where harvested,” Morea said.

Before the start of the deer season, hunters can access harvest logs online at MyFWC.com. Hunters should keep their harvest log nearby when hunting deer. 

Furthermore, this and possibly some additional information must be reported to the FWC’s harvest reporting system within 24 hours of harvest and prior to final processing of the deer, any parts of the deer being transferred to any meat processor or taxidermist, and the deer leaving the state.

“A harvest reporting system will foster bag limit compliance and give the FWC another source of deer harvest data,” Morea said.   

 Changes to private lands antlerless deer permit program

All antlerless deer taken on lands enrolled in the antlerless deer permit program must be tagged with an issued antlerless deer tag, even if they are harvested on a day when the take of antlerless deer is otherwise allowed (such as archery season) within the zone in which the enrolled lands are located. In addition, the deer must be recorded on the harvest log of and reported to the FWC’s harvest reporting system by the hunter who harvested the deer.

After the season ends, permittees must report the total number of antlerless deer taken on his or her enrolled properties by April 1.

“The antlerless deer permit program is intended to provide flexibility in managing deer populations. Tag issuance rates will be set by deer management unit and are designed to allow sustainable harvests while minimizing overharvest of antlerless deer, particularly females, on permitted lands,” Morea said. “Additionally, harvest information provided by antlerless deer permittees will help improve the FWC’s science-based deer management decisions.”

Because of this new tagging requirement for properties enrolled in the antlerless deer permit program, the application period for these permits and associated tags is earlier. May 15 is the earliest you may apply for all hunting zones, but deadlines vary by zone – July 14 for Zone A, Aug. 11 for Zone C and Sept. 29 for zones B and D.

Beginning with the 2019-2020 hunting season, youth 15 years old and younger who are supervised by an adult (18 years or older) may participate in a new youth deer hunt weekend. Don’t forget the full body harness! Florida Fish and Wildlife Life Commission Photo

Youth deer hunt weekend

Beginning with the 2019-2020 hunting season, youth 15 years old and younger who are supervised by an adult (18 years or older) may participate in a new youth deer hunt weekend. This new Saturday-Sunday youth deer hunt coincides with the muzzleloading gun season in all four hunting zones and is not available on wildlife management areas.

Youth may harvest one antlered or antlerless deer (except spotted fawn) and the deer counts toward their annual bag limit. Youth are allowed to use any method of take legal for deer and may even use dogs to pursue deer on deer-dog registered properties.

“Wildlife management areas have had youth and family deer hunts for years, so this newly established season is a way to encourage youth deer hunting on other lands,” Morea said. “This new opportunity supports the FWC’s commitment to igniting interest in hunting and creating the next generation of conservation stewards.”

The dates for next season’s youth deer hunt weekend are Sept. 14-15 in Zone A, Oct. 26-27 in Zone C, Nov. 30 – Dec. 1 in Zone B, and Dec. 7-8 in Zone D. 

“Having this opportunity early in the season is expected to provide youth a better hunting experience when more deer are available and hunting pressure is relatively low,” Morea said.

No license or permit is required of youth hunters (15 years old and younger) or accompanying adults (18 years or older) who only supervise. Since the youth hunt coincides with muzzleloading gun seasons, supervising adults and other non-youth also may hunt but must use either a muzzleloader, bow or crossbow, and possess a hunting license, deer permit and muzzleloading gun permit, unless exempt.

If youth use dogs to pursue deer (only allowed on deer-dog registered properties), any person (16 years of age or older) participating in the hunt may not shoot or shoot at deer.

Change to youth antler point exemption

Youth 15 years old and younger may harvest only one antlered deer (any deer having one or more antlers at least 5 inches in length) annually that does not meet antler point regulations for the DMU being hunted, and it counts toward the youth’s annual bag limit.

“Deer hunting stakeholders believe limiting youth to one antlered deer annually that doesn’t meet DMU antler point regulations will allow more youth to see and harvest antlered deer, while developing a better understanding of DMU antler regulations,” Morea said.

More information

A comprehensive listing of frequently asked questions on these new deer rules and other statewide hunting rule changes can be found at MyFWC.com/Hunting.

Turkey Hunting Lingo – Tom or Hen? Keep this handy pocket guide! FREE

  • Did you know what they call a SNOOD of the turkey? 
  • What are Turkey Caruncles?
  • Tom or Hen? Easy way to tell is illustrated below

By Forrest Fisher

As hunters, we never stop learning.  Folks in different parts of the country call turkey by different local slang terms at times, not counting the different turkey breeds, but overall, turkeys are turkeys. Their parts have names and as a veteran hunter or beginner, it’s a good thing to know what I what. Feel free to print this illustration from the NWTF out and keep a copy handy in your pocket.  We get smarter every day.

Good luck in the woods!

 

 

2019 Statewide Turkey Hunting Season Opens March 23…in Georgia

 

  • Georgia turkey hunters are ready for the season to open on Saturday, Mar. 23.
Georgia spring turkey strutting and purring. Courtesy Georgia DNR

The 2019 turkey hunting season should be a fair season, similar to 2018, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“Reproduction in 2017 was lower than the four-year average, so that could mean a lower than usual supply of 2 year-old gobblers across much of the state in 2019,” explains Emily Rushton, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “However, that lower average comes between two better years, so hopefully other age classes will remain plentiful.”

With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 23 through May 15 – one of the longest seasons in the nation – to harvest their bird(s).

What should hunters expect this spring? The Ridge and Valley, Piedmont and Lower Coastal Plain should have the best success based on 2017 reproduction information. The Blue Ridge region had a poor 2017 reproductive season, but saw a significant jump in 2018, so there may be a lot of young birds in the woods. The Upper Coastal Plain saw reproduction below their five-year average for the past two years, so numbers in that part of the state may be down.

Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek-Little River WMA Hunters, take note! The 2019 turkey season will run April 6-May 15 on these properties. This is two weeks later than the statewide opening date. This difference is due to ongoing research between the University of Georgia and WRD, who are investigating the timing of hunting pressure and its effects on gobbler behavior and reproductive success. Through this research, biologists and others hope to gain insight to the reasons for an apparent population decline in order to help improve turkey populations and hunter success at Cedar Creek WMA and statewide.

Georgia Game Check: All turkey hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check. Turkeys can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (www.georgiawildlife.com/outdoors-ga-app), which now works whether you have cell service or not, at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661. App users, if you have not used the app since deer season or before, make sure you have the latest version. More information at www.georgiawildlife.com/HarvestRecordGeorgiaGameCheck.

Hunters age 16 years or older (including those accompanying youth or others) will need a hunting license and a big game license, unless hunting on their own private land. Get your license at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, at a retail license vendor or by phone at 1-800-366-2661. With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting.

For more hunting information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.

 

Chestnut Tree Food Plot Philosophy – Bucks Fight For It

  • Hard Mast Crop Logic, Peter Fiduccia Explains in the Video
  • Wildlife Nutrition
  • Cost Effective, Easy to do

Join host Peter Fiduccia and his special guest Bob Wallace from Chestnut Hill Outdoors as they share step-by-step details on planting chestnut trees. They are an ideal mast tree to supplement any wildlife food plot program.

Carrying Capacity is defined as the number of a given species that a particular area can support without detriment to the wildlife or their habitat. If you as a landowner are content with the wildlife currently on your land, you need only sit back and enjoy.

However, if you’re like most landowners who want to attract and hold more and healthier wildlife, including deer, turkeys and a host of other species, you need to increase the carrying capacity of your land by providing the proper amount and type of natural food to meet their year-round nutritional needs.

Building food plots with annual or perennial herbaceous crops is one popular way to increase available nutrition, but often results in nutritional gaps during certain parts of the year. Your property will be far more attractive to, and beneficial for wildlife, if you can strive to keep fresh food sources on your property for as long as possible throughout the year.

In early summer, newly born or hatched young of many wildlife species are at their most abundant. Young fawns are putting tremendous nutritional stress on nursing mothers. Meanwhile, antler growth rates have kicked into overdrive and rapidly growing wild turkey poults, not to mention the young of dozens of other bird species, are scouring the landscape searching for food. Yet, important sources of soft mast may be lacking if you haven’t planted early producers like plums and mulberries.

Though all is lush and green, mid to late summer is actually an often unrecognized period of nutritional stress. Herbaceous vegetation is maturing and dying while rapidly growing young wildlife now need more nutritious food than ever. Summer fruits like blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes can help wildlife bridge this nutritional gap before the next one arrives.

As the leaves start to turn and the temperatures drop, wildlife must start the process of fattening up for winter. That job becomes easier, and can begin sooner with late summer and early fall mast species like persimmons, apples and pears. They’ll hold and nourish more wildlife until crucial hard mast species like chestnuts and acorns start dropping, and if you’ve planted a good variety of species, will continue providing high-energy, high-calorie hard mast well into winter.

Planting soft and hard mast orchards is a great way to significantly increase available wildlife nutrition over longer period. It should be done in addition to, other wildlife habitat improvement practices. By incorporating mast orchards into a larger coordinated plan that could include timber harvesting, herbaceous food plots, controlled burning and other practices, the end result of the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Chestnut Hill Outdoors is more than just a nursery. In order to ensure you receive the maximum benefit from their products, they also provide sound advice and instruction on proper planting and care. For more on Chestnut Hill Outdoors products and how to care for them, visit ChestnutHillOutdoors.com, or call (855) 386-7826.

Chestnut Hill is the best place for you to purchase your food plot and deer attractant plants because they offer a large selection, their plants are specifically bred to attract deer, and they offer customers different sized plants at different levels of growth.

For more information, please visit WWW.CHESTNUTHILLOUTDOORS.COM

Let’s Talk Turkey: Pot and Box Calls

Georgia turkey hunting, the real thing.

  • Condition your Calls, Learn How
  • Friction Calls: Pot Call, Box Call
Click the picture to WATCH the VIDEO

No matter where you live, turkey season is not far away. In Florida, the gobbler season is already open! In Georgia, it starts two weeks away. Other states too, not far away.

Yelping, clucking, purring…pot calls, box calls, locator calls – it can be confusing, especially if you’re new to turkey hunting. Even if you are a veteran turkey hunter, there is always more to learn. Here is a 13 year old hunter with expertise for all of us to learn from.

In any case, it’s time to start practicing those turkey calls!

Learn more about the “HOW” from Georgia DNR biologist Kevin Lowrey and competitive turkey caller Chase Crowe, as they share some tips on how to call a gobbler into your neck of the woods.

 

Master Coyote Hunting…the How-To, What-To and When-To

COYOTE HUNTING MASTER TACTICS...read the story.

  • Locating and Luring Coyote to You
  • Gaining Access to Productive Properties, How to Find These Properties
  • Caliber, Ammo, Scopes, Lights, Calls…It’s All Here
                                      Click Picture to Purchase the Book.

By Forrest Fisher

Hunting veterans and novices alike will become better coyote hunters after reading this book written by award-winning author and expert coyote hunting guide, Michael Huff.

This book provides the most detailed and comprehensive information and tactics for coyote hunting ever written. Explained in the chapters is everything you need to master the difficult art of locating and luring coyotes to your gun or camera.

Included is information on how to find productive properties and gain access, select the ideal caliber and firearm, effective use of field shooting supports, successful techniques to use electronic and mouth calls, proper operation of lights for night hunting, organizing a vehicle, creating perfect setups to bring in coyotes, advanced hunting strategies and techniques, making long-range shots, selling pelts for profit, field care and taxidermy. All in one place.

The expertise shared by this award-winning author, speaker and popular professional guide will shave years off your learning curve.

This is the Michael Huff’s second book and further authenticates his well-earned reputation as a coyote expert, a reputation formed from years of pursuing scholarly research while hunting and guiding for coyotes across the United States of America.

His first book is the award winning, “Understanding Coyotes: The Comprehensive Guide for Hunters, Photographers, and Wildlife Observers.”  In his spare time, Huff provides instruction in handgun and long range shooting skills, and gives back by operating a volunteer outreach program providing meals to homeless individuals ni need.

Huff is a full-time licensed professional coyote  hunting guide and operates Master Predator Hunting LLC, one of the largest predator hunting outfitters in the USA.

Click logo to Visit Mike Huff at his website.

 

Valentine’s Day – Perfect Time to Search for BIG BUCK Antler Sheds…on the Ground

  • Shed hunting in the Northeast can be fun and is a good way to scout new hunting zones for next fall 

In late December and continuing through March, New York State whitetail bucks shed their antlers as testosterone levels drop in response to lengthening days. When the snow begins to melt in late winter, some hunters and antler enthusiasts head out to the woods and fields in search of these hidden treasures.

Antler sheds from NYS Whitetail bucks begin to become visible as the snow melts on those early warming days of winter. NYSDEC Photo

Antler sheds from NYS Whitetail bucks begin to become visible as the snow melts on those early warming days of winter. NYSDEC PhotoTo the inexperienced, the thought of walking the countryside in search of randomly dropped antlers can seem like an unsurmountable task, but for the avid shed hunter with a trained eye, it’s worth the effort.  Some call it another way of scouting for next year, especially if you hikeand search in new areas that include state land, etc.

Some shed hunters enjoy having a trained canine friend with a keen sense of smell accompany them into the woods. Others rely on hard work and visual scouting to determine where deer have frequented over the winter months.

If the idea of searching for shed antlers intrigues you, be cautious not to begin searching too early. Deer may still be congregated on their winter ranges and susceptible to disturbance. Shed hunters should also refrain from making “antler traps,” which are baited devices intended to snag an antler as the deer feeds. Not only is it illegal to feed deer, but these devices can cause antlers to be pulled off prematurely, potentially leading to infection and slow death of the deer.

For those that do it the right way, shed hunting can be a fun family activity and a rewarding reason to get outdoors in the late winter and early spring.

As hunters choose to Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow, shed hunting can also provide clues as to what type of bucks might be around during next hunting season. Give it a try, you might discover your next hobby!

For more, see the New York State Conservationist magazine articles that can eb found at these links: “Searching for Sheds” and “Antlered Art”.

 

The Truth about Florida’s Deer Rut – Deer Hunting Continues in Florida Zones

  • Moon Phase, Decreasing Daylight, Genetics, Evolution…the Hunter Debate and Science
  • February 2019: “Outta’ the Woods”
FWC white-tailed deer research biologist, Elina Garrison, with a doe captured during the South Florida Deer Research Project. FWC photo.

By Tony Young

There are a lot of theories and differing opinions on what causes the white-tailed deer rut. Hours of daylight decreasing, geographic latitude, genetics, climate, evolution and moon phase are many factors that hunters and deer enthusiasts have debated over the years. To get to the science behind it and learn the facts about what impacts the rut, I asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) white-tailed deer research biologist Elina Garrison.

“As winter approaches, decreased daylight triggers does to come into estrus,” Garrison said. “Latitude therefore plays a part as seasonal day length varies with geographic latitude.”

Some hunters believe deer from other states released in Florida years ago is one of the reasons why the deer rut here is the widest ranging of any state – from July in extreme south Florida to early March in extreme northwest Florida and the Green Swamp Basin.

“While it seems unlikely that genetics due to restocking is the only explanation for the variation in Florida’s breeding dates, there is some research that suggests it may play a part,” Garrison said. “Florida, as were many other southeastern states, was part of restocking efforts in the 1940s through the ’60s when deer were introduced, mostly from Wisconsin, Texas, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. The main stocking source for the Green Swamp Basin was from Louisiana. South of there, deer from Texas were mainly used, and north Florida received mainly Wisconsin deer.”

Garrison said climate is a factor, but it really only plays a part in northern, colder states, where the timing of the rut occurs so fawns are born in the spring after the late winter storms and when the most food is available. But they must be born early enough to put on suitable weight and fat to survive the following winter. That’s why there’s such a short window for when breeding must occur in northern states.
The reason the rut varies so much in Florida is because it can, Garrison said. Florida’s relatively mild climate and long growing season allows fawns to be born at various times of the year.

“As far as I know, there are no other states where breeding occurs as early as July and August like it does in extreme south Florida,” she said. “And although difficult to prove, it seems likely it is driven by the hydrological cycles down there. The rut is timed so fawns are born during the driest time of the year, giving them the greatest chance of survival and allowing them to grow to an adequate size before the beginning of the wet season in June.”

Although it is a popular theory among hunters, Garrison says several research projects have proven there is no relationship between the rut and the moon phase. Another interesting fact is the average time a doe stays in heat is about 24 hours.

“The breeding chronology study we did shows that conception dates within an area vary as much as from nine to 110 days, with an average of 45 days, and most does breed within 60 days, meaning rutting activity can occur over a two-month period,” Garrison said.

If a doe is not bred during her first heat, she will come back into estrus again in about 26-28 days, Garrison says. If the doe doesn’t conceive, this cycle can be repeated but normally not more than a few times unless there are not enough bucks to breed all the does. In which case, an area could experience a second or even third peak rut.

If any of this deer talk is getting you fired up to continue hunting this season, then grab your favorite primitive method of take and follow the rut up to the Panhandle and take advantage of Zone D’s late muzzleloader season.

Zone D’s late muzzleloader season

General gun season ends Feb. 17 in zones B and D, but if you’d like to keep hunting deer, Zone D has a late muzzleloading gun season that extends deer hunting opportunities by a week and runs Feb. 18-24 on private lands. The season was established to give hunters an opportunity to continue hunting northwest Florida’s late rut, which runs mid-January through February.

On private land, a $5 muzzleloading gun season permit is required along with a hunting license and $5 deer permit (if hunting deer) to hunt during this season, and hunters have the choice of using a muzzleloader, bow or crossbow. But the only muzzleloaders allowed are those fired by wheel lock, flintlock, percussion cap or centerfire primer (including 209 primers) that cannot be loaded from the breech. For hunting deer, muzzleloading rifles must be at least .40-caliber, and muzzleloading shotguns must be 20-gauge or larger.

Public Hunting Opportunities

There are 14 wildlife management areas in Zone D that have a late season in February, but it’s referred to as the archery/muzzleloading gun season. Those areas are Apalachicola, Apalachicola River, Beaverdam Creek, Blackwater, Chipola River, Choctawhatchee River, Econfina Creek, Eglin AFB, Escambia River, Escribano Point, Perdido River, Point Washington, Tate’s Hell and Yellow River. Season dates vary by WMA, so be sure to check the brochure for the area you want to hunt.

Hunters may use bows or muzzleloaders, but no crossbows – unless they possess a Persons with Disabilities Crossbow Permit. Besides a hunting license, $26 management area permit and deer permit (if hunting deer), hunters who choose to hunt with a bow must have a $5 archery season permit, and those using a muzzleloader need a $5 muzzleloading gun season permit.

All the licenses and permits you’ll need can be obtained at most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies, Florida tax collector offices, by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Legal to Take; Bag Limits

Deer and wild hogs are most commonly hunted during this season. Only legal bucks may be taken (even if using a bow). South of Interstate 10 in Deer Management Unit D1, one antler must have at least two points. North of I-10 in DMU D2, all bucks must have at least three points on one side or have a main beam of at least 10 inches long to be legal to take.

On private land, the daily bag limit is two. Bag limits for deer on WMAs differ, so consult the area brochure before you go.
Hunting regulations

During the late muzzleloader season on private lands and archery/muzzleloading gun season on WMAs, dogs may not be used to hunt deer. However, you may use a leashed dog for tracking purposes. You’re allowed to take deer and hogs over feeding stations on private land, but it is illegal to use such feed on WMAs. And it’s important to know that turkeys are not legal game during this season.

Happy Hunting!

The 2018-2019 fall/winter hunting seasons may be winding down, however, there are still great opportunities to get out there. This February, catch the hunting excitement of the late rut that occurs during Zone D’s late muzzleloader season.

Successful 2019 SHOT Show Featured Innovation and Growth

  • SHOT Show marks 10th straight year at Sands Expo Center

The 41st Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade ShowSM (SHOT Show®), owned and operated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), finished its four-day run in Las Vegas with many notable successes, including a new record for exhibitors in its Suppliers Showcase and an innovative Pop-Up Preview that proved to be a hit with buyers.

The show, which ran Jan. 22-25 at the Sands Expo Center, showcased products used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor recreation and law enforcement purposes. More than 58,000 industry professionals attended with the number of exhibiting companies exceeding 2,400, a new record. Their booths covered more than 692,000 net square feet of exhibit space. The show was expected to pump approximately $90 million in non-gaming revenue into the Las Vegas economy.

The Supplier Showcase, which began two years ago, more than doubled in size to 540 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The growth of this section is expected to continue and is a major reason SHOT Show will expand to exhibit space at the MGM Grand Conference Center in 2020. The new one-day Pop-Up Preview gave visibility to more than 230 new exhibitors displaying clothing, footwear, camping and other hunting and outdoor gear.

At the NSSF State of the Industry presentation, NSSF CEO Steve Sanetti said that industry is too often negatively portrayed in the media and that its many programs that promote safety — such as Project ChildSafe and Operation Secure Store — are not sufficiently acknowledged for helping to stop firearms accidents, thefts and misuse. “We are resolved to not let our many good works go unnoticed or be wrongly credited to others, and we will not be defined by others,” Sanetti said.

Sanetti, who will retire at year’s end, was presented the NSSF Ken Sedlecky Lifetime Achievement Award by NSSF Board of Governors Chairman Bob Scott and new NSSF President Joe Bartozzi.

The show, marking its 10th straight year at the Sands Expo Center, attracted attendees from 111 countries. Some 12.5 miles of aisles led to displays of firearms, ammunition, accessories, optics, knives, gun safes, apparel and law enforcement equipment, among other categories. More than 400 companies displayed products in the show’s New Product Center, sponsored by U.S. Concealed Carry Association. In a continuing effort to provide space for companies on the exhibitor waiting list, the NEXT Pavilion gave first-time vendors welcome visibility and potential new customers.

“This SHOT Show was marked by innovative strategies to provide opportunities to new exhibitors while maintaining the quality experience for longtime exhibitors,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “The SHOT Show team works year-round to produce a high-quality show, and that effort again paid off.”

The show drew excellent reviews from exhibitors and attendees.

Daniel Defense’s Matt Allbritton was greatly pleased with the 2019 SHOT Show. “We are so excited about the release of our new Delta 5 bolt-action rifle, and we’ve had an incredible turnout here at our booth, with folks lining up to see the new rifle.”

Kevin Michalowski of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association said, “Traffic was very high at our booth, and we’re all very happy about that.”

At Head Down Firearms, maker of modern sporting rifles, Adam Williams said, “It’s our first year at SHOT Show, and it’s been an incredible experience. The booth traffic was consistent and especially heavy in the morning and late afternoon.”

Chris Tedford of True Velocity – makers of composite-cased ammunition – was pleased with this year’s turnout of buyers and said his booth was busy the entire show. “Being at SHOT has given us not only a good number of new customers, but has also presented us with some new business opportunities,” Tedford said.

SHOT Show, the largest trade show of its kind in the world, credentials approximately 2,400 members of the media.

The SHOT Show’s official opening on Tuesday was preceded by many events, including the 5th Annual NSSF/HAVA Golf Classic on Sunday in support of Honored American Veterans Afield, which works to aid the healing process of military veterans through hunting and other shooting sports activities. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised in support of this effort since the golf outing began in 2015.

Monday saw some of the SHOT Show’s most popular pre-show events — SHOT University, an education forum for retailers; Industry Day at the Range, an opportunity for media and buyers to experience hands-on testing of products; and the Executive Management Seminar, providing business information to executives and rising managers. Another special event at the show focused on industry’s firearms safety education program Project ChildSafe. The Women of the Gun event brought together women who are influential in helping the program promote its “Own It? Respect It. Secure It.” message and included Olympic shooters, world champions, hunting TV show hosts and many others.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the 2019 SHOT Show, particularly how our new offerings like the Pop-Up Preview were received,” said NSSF President Joe Bartozzi. “We want all our attendees and sponsors to know that our dedication to listening to their feedback, innovating at SHOT Show and working hard to improve the show experience for everyone will continue.”

Preparations have already begun for next year’s 42nd SHOT Show, which is slated for January 21-24, 2020.

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 nssf.org.

 

Big New York Bucks TAKEN OVER BAIT

  • Hunting over Bait Piles is illegal in New York
  • Shooting a firearm while Hunting within 500 feet of a house is illegal in New York
  • Carrying the Tags of Another Person not signed over to you is illegal in New York

There are quite a few rules to hunt inn New York State, but they are designed to keep people safe and to keep the wildlife herd of deer well-managed. Most of the rules are common sense.

ECO Tabor (L) and ECO Gates (R) with bucks taken illegally with bait.

On Nov. 30 in Herkimer and Oneida Counties, several complainants were called in to New York State Environmental Conservation Officer Ben Tabor about a buck suspected of being taken over bait in the town of Ohio. The deer had been entered in a local big buck contest.

ECO Tabor determined where the deer had been shot after finding a large bait pile with the gut pile next to it. The ECO interviewed the suspect, who admitted to taking the buck illegally. The deer was seized as evidence and summons were issued for hunting over a pre-established bait pile and the illegal taking of a deer.

On Dec. 2, ECO John Gates received a call from an informant stating that a large buck had been killed by a suspect that had posted pictures on Facebook of him feeding deer close to his camp. As the officer pulled onto the property, he noticed piles of alfalfa and corn. The hunter claimed he had shot the deer halfway back into his 100-acre parcel. Officer Gates followed sled tracks to a gut pile within 30 yards of the bait. The man admitted to shooting the deer and was charged with illegal taking of deer, hunting over bait and carrying the tags of another person. The deer was seized as evidence and the charges are returnable to Forestport Town Court.

It just doesn’t pay to cheat.

SIGHTMARK is on Target with Affordable Scope Quality

  • Sightmark riflescopes include a lifetime warranty
  • Multicoated Optics for Max Light Transmission in all conditions
  • Etched glass reticles, in red or green, are illuminated to deliver optimal shot placement
  • Easy-to-use Elevation and Windage Adjustments
  • Durable, Handsome, Affordable


By Larry Whitely
I was asked to do a review on the Sightmark Core TX 4-16×44 MR rifle scope, but I was a little hesitant since I definitely do not consider myself to be any kind of optics expert. I do however know someone that I feel is.

My son Daron does research and tests all kinds of outdoor products for our company, so he was more than happy to help his dad out in testing and reviewing this scope product. He loves doing this kind of thing, so he was smiling as he put it on one of his rifles and we took it to the range.

The other scopes he normally uses are fairly expensive models from some well-known companies. After looking through the Sightmark Scope, his first comment was, “Dad, this scope is clear as, or clearer, than my other scopes.” When he asked me how much it retailed for and I told him less than $300, he didn’t believe me until I showed him the MSRP in their catalog.

Here are some of his comments after putting the Sightmark Core TX 4-16×44 MR through some pretty extensive testing that made his Dad proud:

  • This scope is definitely worth more than what it sells for
  • The eye box is the perfect size and the eye relief is excellent
  • The lighted reticle is nice and performs very well in low light conditions
  • I really like the elevation and windage turrets
  • It has great looks that make it look like a lot more expensive scope
  • With practice I could shoot 500 to 700 yards easily with it.

He does say he recommends using their better scope rings. My optics expert son really liked the Sightmark Core TX 4-16×44 MR and says he would recommend it to anyone, including me, for long range tactical shooting as well as hunting.

The “MR” stands for Marksman Reticle.

In fact, after putting it through numerous rounds at the range, he liked it so well he left it on his rifle and took it deer hunting the following week. He said he needed to do more testing. Go figure.

Go to www.sightmark.com and check out all the other great scopes and shooting products they offer.

To learn just a bit more about these brand new affordable scopes, click the picture below to visit with Sightmark:

Loaded Gun on ATV Leads to Illegal Deer Harvest in New York

Joe Forma Photo

On Nov. 17, Environmental Conservation Officer Shea Mathis spotted two hunters walking along the railroad tracks in the town of Wheatfield, Niagara County, NY.

The two claimed they had a lousy morning hunting and had not taken any deer.

ECO Mathis checked their licenses and found their deer tags attached. A third member of the hunting party pulled up on an ATV with a loaded muzzle-loader over his shoulder. While issuing a ticket for possessing a loaded firearm on a motor vehicle, ECO Mathis was contacted by ECO George Scheer, who had received information that a male had shot two bucks with a muzzle loader that morning in the same area.

While ECO Mathis was issuing the ticket, one of the hunters left on the ATV and headed to a residence. ECO Scheer traveled to the location and found the subject. After a brief interview, ECO Scheer located a nine-point and 10-point buck, both untagged, in the back of a pickup truck. One of the hunters admitted to shooting both bucks that morning, just minutes apart.

Tickets were issued for possessing a loaded firearm on a motor vehicle, taking big game over the limit and failure to tag deer as required. The second buck was seized as evidence and donated.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York. In 2017, the 301 ECOs across the state responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping and illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.
If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred, please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

“From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York’s environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers,” said Commissioner Basil Seggos. “They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don’t receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC’s mission to protect and enhance our environment.”

Hunting Works for America Expands Again, Thanks to NSSF

  • Stakeholders educate public and elected officials about importance of hunting
  • Hunter taxes, fees, surcharges fund conservation efforts to benefit wildlife
  • Hunting Works For America program represents more than 1,500 businesses, organizations and associations across 19 states

By Bill Brassard

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms industry, is proud to announce that the Hunting Works For America footprint has grown to include Maryland. Hunting Works For Maryland joins 18 other states, including most recently Ohio, as the 19th state to be included in the award-winning Hunting Works For America program.

Hunting Works For America, through its state chapters, is an initiative that seeks to bring a broad range of stakeholders together in order to educate the public and elected officials about the importance of hunting. Shooting sports organizations, conservation groups, businesses, and other non-traditional hunting entities such as chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus and other trade associations, have come together to form Hunting Works For Maryland and share their interest in the economic impact of hunting.

The newly formed Hunting Works For Maryland partnership has more than 65 partner organizations and will be adding dozens more in the weeks and months to come.

“A strong appreciation for the outdoors and outdoor sports is evident in the money spent by the 88,000 people who hunt in Maryland every year,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for NSSF. “Hunters contribute $32 million in state and local taxes each year, thanks to their considerable spending on their favorite pastime. The average hunter in Maryland spends $3,000 a year, which translates into $128 million in salaries and wages and an economic ripple effect of $401 million.”

Taxes, fees and surcharges that hunters pay when they purchase licenses, tags and equipment fund Maryland’s conservation efforts, which benefit game and non-game species, as well as anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

Hunting Works For Maryland launched today with a press conference across the street from the State House in the Annapolis Visitors Center. It is co-chaired by Deb Carter, Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Campgrounds; Ruth Toomey, Executive Director of the Maryland Tourism Coalition; Senator John Astle representing District 30; and Delores Jones state, General Manager of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Chestertown.

Hunting Works For America launched in 2010 with just three states: Arizona, Minnesota and North Dakota. Since then the program has grown, adding chapters in Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alabama, South Dakota, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Utah. All totaled, the Hunting Works For America program now represents more than 1,500 businesses, organizations and associations representing tens of thousands of stakeholders.

Becoming a member of Hunting Works for Maryland is absolutely free of charge. Visit www.HuntingWorksforMD.com to learn more about becoming a partner and the program, including leadership, members, social media opportunities and local hunting seasons.

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, log on to www.nssf.org.

WATERFOWL SEASON…Effective Gear that Works

  • Decoys, Calls and Dry Gear to Bring Home the Birds
  • Get a Waterfowl Shotgun that is Dependable

 

By Larry Whiteley

Waterfowl season is here or almost here depending on where you live. If you are addicted to waterfowl hunting like my family, here are some of the products my family and I use and depend on. You might want to go to your favorite outdoor store or hop online to check them out for yourself.

AVIAN-X

No matter how good you are at waterfowl calling, if your decoys are old and beat up they probably don’t look like the real thing and if waterfowl don’t feel comfortable with what they see they will probably flair off and not come within range.

The life-like detail and quality of Avian-X decoys is amazing. Because of the marine grade foam they use in their new Top Flight Foam Filled Fusion Mallard decoys we got for this year they are never going to leak even if I accidentally shot one. Yes, I will admit that has happened.

Is it real or is it AvianX?

We also have their Topflight Pintails with weight forward swim keel design and they look so real they even fool me but so do all their other decoys. During teal season we used their teal decoys and had a great season. You don’t have to worry about chipping their decoys when you bang them around either and that’s a big bonus.

There are plenty of other species in lots of poses for you to choose from besides those we use. I guarantee that you are never going to regret using Avian-X decoys. www.avian-x.com

ZINK CALLS

If you haven’t already done it, you need to clean your calls and inspect the reed. If you intend to buy new duck calls and haven’t done that yet either I highly suggest getting the best you can buy.  The difference it will make in your success is worth the expense.

Hunter Whiteley in his Frogg Toggs rain suit and waders making duck music with his Zink Calls.

Our personal favorites are Zink Calls Power Hen PH-1 Open Water Single Reed especially for windy days, Zink’s Green Top Rocker because of its top end volume yet we can still do soft chatters, and their Nothing But Green Single Reed Acrylic call when we want to make sounds of multiple hens plus it has a huge range of tones but they have plenty of other calls for you to choose from.

Find a place outdoors where you can practice calling at normal volume levels and record yourself, comparing your calling to recordings of live ducks. When you practice, call as if you are working a flock of ducks and just ignore your wife and neighbors yelling at you. www.zinkcalls.com

FROGG TOGGS

Waterfowl season is nearly always cold, nasty and wet so you need a really good rain suit. We are kind of partial to Frogg Toggs so all the guys wear their Pilot II Guide rain suit during waterfowl season. We also wear their Co-Pilot Insulated Puff Jacket zipped into the rain jacket to give us an extra layer of warmth during those duck days with cold rains, snow and sleet. My 18-year old waterfowl hunting granddaughter uses their women’s Pro Action rain suit.

All of us wear their Grand Refuge 2.0 camo chest waders except my granddaughter and she wears the Grand Refuge 2.0 Jr. Both have a liner system you can zip in and out according to weather conditions and lots of other great features.

When we are hunting and don’t need waders we wear their men’s and women’s lightweight Grand Prairie Mudd boots. www.froggtoggs.com

BENELLI

When I bought our waterfowl shotguns I wanted the best, most reliable guns I could get for us without spending a whole lot of money. It’s just pretty hard to beat Benelli and it’s nice to know they will still be downing waterfowl for many years to come as we pass them down from generation to generation.

A gun to be passed down for generations, the Super Black Eagle II.

We use the Super Black Eagle II semi automatic which has now been replaced by the Super Black Eagle III and the SuperNova pump. www.benelliusa.com

Comfortable, quality clothing and dependable equipment mixed in with a bunch of water and lots of waterfowl can make your hunting trips a lot more successful and enjoyable.

 

November “Outta’ the Woods” – It’s a Special Time

Young hunters, like Kingston Johnson here, practice until they're proficient with a bow and arrow before heading to the FLORIDA hunting grounds with an adult mentor. Forrest Fisher Photo

  • Outdoors and Hunting Families Provide a Powerful Sense of Community
  • Hunt Deer and Hogs over a Bait Pile on Private Lands – it’s OK, but NOT OK on any Florida WMA’s
  • Season Dates, General Regulations Explained Below

By Tony Young

With much of the Panhandle still coping with the devastation from Hurricane Michael – a recovery that may take months – we continue to be proud of the spirit, perseverance and fortitude of those who were affected. Our responding officers have seen firsthand people lending a hand to neighbors, friends and strangers; contributing essential items to those who lost everything; being more patient; and expressing gratitude. The kindness and compassion has been uplifting.

As Thanksgiving nears, celebrating that powerful sense of community will be top of mind for many. For the hunting community, it’s a wonderful time of year to remember those who introduced us to hunting. And the holiday gives us a great opportunity to pay it forward by taking someone else hunting such as a neighbor, friend, family member or coworker.

There are many people who didn’t grow up hunting but became interested in experiencing it and enjoying the benefits of eating healthy, organic protein as adults. Denise Helms, the Florida state chapter president of the National Wild Turkey Federation, is a perfect example. She didn’t go on her first hunt until she was 24 years old when a friend invited her to go turkey hunting on public land.

“I’m game for anything, so I went along. I just like being outdoors,” Helms said.

Helms loved the experience of sitting in a homemade palmetto blind, taking in the sunrise through an oak hammock and hearing wild turkeys gobble for the first time.

“Country singer Eric Church said it best with his lyric, ‘Walking barefoot through the mud will knock the rust right off your soul,’” Helms said. “And so does being in the woods.”

However, Helms didn’t immediately catch the hunting bug. She married and moved to Colorado, and it wasn’t until she moved back to the Sunshine State 12 years later that she had the opportunity to go hunting again. In 2008, she harvested her first turkey, deer and wild hog.

By engaging herself in hunting, Helms has gained a whole new family.

“Acquaintances turned into friends who turned into family – people who care about conservation, support me incorporating hunting into my life and help me succeed,” Helms said. “It’s a great feeling having mentors like that who I can learn from.”

Helms admits she’s not a hunting master yet, so she hasn’t personally guided anyone on a hunt. But she’s been doing her part in passing down the hunting tradition by volunteering with her local NWTF chapter and serving on its board since 2011. Helping plan and host a Women in the Outdoors event for other women further ignited her passion for hunting.

“I feel like what I’m doing is making a difference at all levels – and I like that,” Helms said.

General gun season

General gun season runs Nov. 3 – Jan. 20 in Zone C, and Dec. 1 – Feb. 17 in Zone B. In Zone A, the second phase of general gun season is Nov. 17 – Jan. 6. In Zone D, the first phase always starts Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) and lasts four days (until Nov. 25).

During general gun season, only legal-to-take bucks as they are defined in each Deer Management Unit may be harvested. Don’t forget you need to purchase a $5 deer permit first. On private land, the daily bag limit for deer is two. Bag limits and other regulations for deer on WMAs can differ, so before you hunt download the specific WMA brochure ONLY available at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures and through the Fish|Hunt FL app. These brochures are no longer being printed. 

You may hunt wild hogs on private lands year-round with no bag or size limits. Similarly, on most public lands there are no bag or size limits, and hogs are legal to take during most hunting seasons except spring turkey. On a few public hunting areas, specific bag and size limits do apply, so check the online WMA brochure to be certain.

Hunters are allowed to take deer and wild hogs over feeding stations on private land, but that’s not the case on WMAs, no matter the season or game species.

New this year, hunters are allowed to use pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air guns firing single bullets or arrows to take deer during general gun season on private lands and on WMAs, if the gun is at least .30 caliber.

It’s illegal to take deer using rimfire cartridges or non-expanding, full-metal case ammunition. Shooting a swimming deer also is against the law.

Deer-dog hunting

All free-running dogs used in pursuing or hunting deer must wear a collar or tag displaying the name and address of the dog’s owner. Hunters must contain their dogs to the tract of land they have permission to hunt.

There are several ways to accomplish that: Equip and monitor dogs with devices that allow remote tracking and behavior correction; only deer-dog hunt on large tracts of land; make sure there are adequate cut-off roads that will enable you to keep in front of the dogs; and don’t turn out more dogs than your hunting party can manage.

Hunters using dogs to take deer on private lands must register that property before doing so. No-cost, statewide deer-dog registration is required during all open deer-hunting and training seasons when taking or running deer with dogs is permitted. However, this registration doesn’t apply to hunters hunting or training with deer dogs on public lands and WMAs.

This mandatory registration may be issued to hunting clubs, landowners or anyone who has permission to hunt deer with dogs on a particular tract of land as long as the required application is completed and approved. Application forms are available at all regional Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offices and online at MyFWC.com/Deer. Applications should include proof of landowner permission or a copy of the written hunting-lease agreement, and a general map of the property showing boundaries and a legal description.

Once you’ve registered with the FWC, you’ll be issued a unique registration number that must be attached to the collars of all dogs used to pursue deer on registered properties during any open deer-hunting or deer-dog training season when taking or running deer with dogs is permitted. Hunters must possess copies of their registration while they’re hunting or training with their dogs.

WMAs that don’t require a quota permit

Florida’s WMAs offer a wide range of hunting opportunities from quota/limited entry hunts, special-opportunity hunts, and public hunting areas where hunters can walk on to hunt. There are 46 WMAs where hunters don’t need a quota permit to hunt some or all of the general gun season. So, if you didn’t apply or get drawn for a quota hunt, don’t worry, there’s plenty of opportunity spread throughout the state. You can find those WMAs not requiring a quota permit at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures at the bottom of the webpage.

Private land doe days

Within the general gun season are antlerless deer days, better known to us hunters as “doe days.” These dates differ for each of the state’s 12 DMUs. To learn when these antlerless deer opportunities occur in your DMU, refer to the “2018-2019 Florida Hunting Regulations” handbook, which you can pick up at your tax collector’s office, FWC regional office or by downloading it online at MyFWC.com/Hunting.

During these doe days, the daily bag limit is one legal antlered deer and one antlerless deer, or two legal antlered deer. Unlike archery season, you may not take two antlerless deer in one day, unless you have antlerless deer tags issued for the private land you hunt. Also, regardless of the season, deer gender or the number of permits, hunters are never allowed to harvest more than two deer per day under any circumstances. And except for a few, most WMAs do not have antlerless deer days.

Fall turkey

Fall turkey season starts on the same date as general gun season in zones B, C and D but ends a little earlier. It runs from Dec. 1 – Jan. 27 in Zone B; Nov. 3 – Dec. 30 in Zone C; and Nov. 22-25 and Dec. 8 – Jan. 13 in Zone D. In Zone A, the second phase of fall turkey season is the same as the zone’s second phase of general gun: Nov. 17 – Jan. 6. Hunters may only take bearded turkeys and gobblers, and they must have a turkey permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents) to hunt them.

You may harvest up to two turkeys per day on private land, if you’d like, but that would tag you out for the entire fall season because you’re only allowed to harvest a total of two turkeys during the archery, crossbow, muzzleloading gun and fall turkey seasons combined. In Holmes County, the harvest of fall turkeys is not allowed at all. And there’s not a fall turkey season on WMAs, however, on a half-dozen areas, turkeys are legal to take during general gun season.

As with deer, PCP air guns are now a legal method of taking turkeys during fall turkey season, but they must be a minimum of .20 caliber or be the type that shoots arrows.

You’re not permitted to hunt turkeys with dogs or with recorded turkey calls, and you’re not permitted to shoot them while they’re on the roost or when you’re within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when feed is present.

Bobwhite quail

Quail season this year runs Nov. 10 – March 3, and the daily bag limit is 12.

Miscellaneous regulations

Shooting hours for deer, fall turkeys and quail are a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. All legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, air guns (PCP .30 caliber for deer, .20 caliber for turkeys), bows, crossbows and handguns may be used to take each of these resident game animals during the general gun, fall turkey and quail seasons.

 

Illegal firearms and ammunition are defined as centerfire, semiautomatic rifles having magazine capacities of more than five rounds, and fully automatic firearms. Other prohibited methods for taking game include shooting from a moving vehicle and herding or driving game with a vehicle.

License and permit requirements

The first thing you’ll need to participate in one or more of these hunting opportunities is a Florida hunting license. Residents pay just $17. Nonresidents have the choice of paying $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months.

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 about the WMA you’re going to hunt because dates, bag limits and rules differ greatly for each area. These are available only online at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures and through the Fish|Hunt FL app.

All necessary licenses and permits are available at your tax collector’s office, retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing gear, by calling toll-free 888-HUNT-FLORIDA (486-8356) or by going online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Being thankful

November is a time to be thankful, especially now, knowing that so many Floridians will be recovering from Hurricane Michael for many months ahead. For those who can give their time or resources to help, please do so however you can. Resources are available through the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and the Volunteer Florida organizations.

 

NY Big Game and Small Game Seasons are Underway

Giant gray squirrels are not uncommon in the southern tier forest lands of New York State. Forrest Fisher Photo

Hunters and Trappers Favorite Time of Year…Open Season

Hunting seasons for big game like whitetail deer and black bear are underway with the archery season. Likewise, many small game species, like ruffed grouse, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, and wild turkey, are also open and in progress.

Hunting and trapping seasons for bobcat, raccoon and fox, and trapping seasons for fisher and mink began in some regions of the state on October 25th. Be sure to check the New York State Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide for the season dates and regulations for your hunting or trapping area.

Wild turkey hunting in the Southern Zone began October 20th and runs through Nov. 2nd. Hunters are required to have a turkey permit, and the statewide season bag limit is one bird of either sex.

Remember, harvest reporting is critical to wildlife management, and by regulation, hunters must report their harvest of a turkey within seven days of taking the animal. DEC encourages hunters to, “Take it, tag it, and then report it.

Trappers should note special permit requirements are required for fisher and marten trapping seasons. Fisher season began on October 25th in many WMUs and fisher and marten season began today in the Adirondacks. All fisher and marten trappers must obtain a special, free permit from their regional wildlife office, submit a trapping activity log, and submit the skull or jaw from harvested fishers and martens.

Giant gray squirrels are not uncommon in the southern tier state forest lands of New York State. Forrest Fisher Photo

DEC’s wildlife managers rely on the information supplied by trappers to help manage populations of these popular furbearers. To obtain a free fisher or fisher/marten permit, trappers should contact their regional wildlife office or apply by e-mail at wildlife@dec.ny.gov.

Only one fisher or fisher/marten permit is needed to trap these species anywhere in New York where the season is open. For more information, see page 54 in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide. 

As always, please follow the basic rules of hunter safety to protect yourself and other hunters this season.

NY Hunters Voluntarily Choosing to Pass Up Young Bucks Pays Dividends

A hunters first deer provides an unforgettable smile into the heritage of our ancesters. Forest Fisher Photo

In the southeastern Hudson Valley (Wildlife Management Units 3F, 3G, 3N, and 4Z) of New York, the proportion of older bucks in the deer harvest has never been higher. In 2017, three out of every four antlered bucks were 2.5 years old or older, and this remarkable accomplishment happened with hunters freely able to choose what type of buck they want to harvest.

graph

For decades, hunters in this area were accustomed to taking mostly small-bodied, small-antlered yearling bucks, and these 1.5-year-old bucks comprised 65-75 percent of the buck take each year. Around 2000, that tradition really began to change. By 2008, the balance had solidly tipped towards older bucks with more than 50 percent of the annual buck take being 2.5-years or older with larger bodies and larger antlers. In recent years, the ratio has fully flipped with 65-75 percent of bucks being older-aged bucks.

bucks

To be sure, other things have happened with this deer population. Overall, there are fewer deer in this area than 20 years ago, and as a result, hunters are seeing and taking fewer deer than they did previously. However, the smaller population size doesn’t explain the shift towards older bucks in the harvest.

Some might suggest the shift towards older bucks is due to fewer hunters or reduced harvest rate which could result in greater survival of young bucks.

While we don’t have data specific to these variables for the southeastern Hudson Valley, we know the number of deer hunters statewide has been fairly stable for the past decade.

Too, we can reasonably assume that if shifts in hunting pressure and harvest rate were the primary driver affecting buck age structure, the same would be true for the adult does. However, the proportion of older does in the female deer harvest has stayed virtually unchanged for the past 40 years.

We know many hunters in New York are voluntarily opting to pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks.

The effects of hunter choice in the southeastern Hudson Valley are dramatic and a great example for hunters everywhere of what can be accomplished when hunters choose to Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow!

aging
Skulls and antlers of three bucks taken off the same property. Photo courtesy of Jeff Peil, retired DEC biologist.

Celebrate “Deer Season” with Helpful Hunting Tactics from Mossy Oak

Mossy Oak to the New Deer Season Rescue...visit 3 video stories on-line.

  • Check out 3 All-New, On-Demand Video’s from MossyOak.com

It’s November 2018, time to welcome back deer season, the time of the year when the leaves are changing, the mornings are crisp and the whitetail woods are starting to come alive. Welcome to “Deer Season.”

To celebrate the pursuit of America’s favorite game animal, Mossy Oak is proud to offer three all-new free digital whitetail-specific titles to MossyOak.com.

Follow the saga of a cattle farm turned whitetail haven on Mossy Oak’s “Home Grown.” “Home Grown” follows landowner, Austin Musselman and his team as they tell the story of the evolution of Mussleman’s farm and how they manicured the property into what became the home property for one of Kentucky’s largest whitetails ever taken by a hunter, along with several other true giant bucks.


Mossy Oak’s second title, “Shooters,” will reveal the evolution of some of the biggest bucks and best hunts captured by the Mossy Oak cameras throughout the company’s 30-plus-year history.

The third title featured in “Deer Season” is “Victory Outdoors.” In line with Mossy Oak’s brand culture, “Victory Outdoors” is all about immersion in the complete outdoors experience and embracing hunting as a way of life. This season will feature six films, bringing viewers deer hunts from the great whitetail hunting states of Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska and South Dakota.

“Something comes alive in all of us at Mossy Oak this time of the year,” said Ben Maki, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President at Mossy Oak. “In honor of the heart of deer season, cold weather moving across the country and the rut drawing near, we’ll have new episodes of different whitetail series every few days through the end of November dropping on Facebook, YouTube and MossyOak.com. As always, it’s all completely free to watch on-demand, commercial free.”

Check back every week as Mossy Oak adds new episodes to each of these titles throughout the month of November.

To learn more about Mossy Oak, or to enjoy free, timely and entertaining hunting and outdoors content, visit https://www.mossyoak.com.  Established in 1986, Haas Outdoors Inc. is headquartered in West Point, Miss., 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, Capture Productions, MOOSE Media, Nativ Nurseries, Nativ Living, GameKeepers, GameKeepers 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.

How to Be a Better Deer Hunter

  • Stay dry, Stay Still, Stay Safe – Here’s How
  • Smell like the woods, Know Where You Are and Want To Go, Bring the Deer to You – Here’s How
  • Deer Down, Time for Venison Jerky – Here’s How
Big deer on the scale are a prize and this young hunter was mentored by a savvy whitebeard from another generation that was using the right stuff.

By Larry Whiteley

Deer hunting season is here if you are a bow or crossbow hunter and the firearms season will be here before you know it. I hope you are properly outfitted so you can enjoy your time and be successful in your pursuit of the white-tailed deer.

Here are some of the products my family and I use and depend on when deer hunting that you might like too. Don’t just take my word for it though. Go online or to your favorite outdoor store and check them out.

FROGG TOGGS

Most rainwear is not quiet and even slight movement’s causes sounds that can spook deer. The folks at Frogg Toggs solved that problem with their new Dead Silence rainwear. They took brushed camo material and made the quietest, driest, yet breathable jacket, bibs and hoodie I have ever owned in my 50 some years of hunting. I actually use it even when there is no chance of rain.

I really like all the pockets that help me put things I need where I can get to them. I don’t like being cold out in the deer woods so I just zip in their insulated Co-Pilot Puff Jacket and stay comfortably warm waiting for a deer to come by my secret hiding place. www.froggtoggs.com

Controlling human scent will make every hunter “rut ready.”

SCENTLOK

I have been wearing their clothing and using their OZ Chamber Bag since archery season opened this year and I also spray exposed skin and equipment then re-spray everything once I am in the stand to keep myself scent free. I have not been busted and have had plenty of opportunities to take deer but it’s still early and I am being picky.

Just in case you didn’t know it, deer have 297 million scent receptors in their nose and they even have a scent gland in their mouth as well as 2 large scent processing areas in their brain. If you’re not doing everything you possibly can to eliminate your scent you will get busted no matter how good you are. www.ScentLok.com

HUNT COMFORT

I don’t know about you but the number one thing that causes me to squirm around and move too much in my stand or blind is my butt getting uncomfortable.

This year I’m using a cushion called Fat Boy made by Hunt Comfort that is made with Gel Core. I can’t explain how it works but I do know it does and that’s all I care about. My butt is very happy! I’m also using it in my office chair as I write this and in my truck for long trips. www.huntcomfort.com

HUNTER SAFETY SYSTEMS

According to statistics, nearly one out of every three hunters who hunt from an elevated stand will fall at some point during their hunting days. That scared me after I read that so I now use their Ultra-Lite Flex safety harness and their Lifeline that keeps me safe going up and down my stands.

I also will not allow any of my family members that hunt to ever get in a tree stand again without both of these lifesaving items. I hope for your sake and your loved one’s that you will do the same. www.huntersafetysystem.com

There are ways to bring those rutting deer to you for a close shot, false scrapes can help – here’s something that works for me and my friends.

ScrapeFix

Bucks make scrapes in clearings or fairly open areas like old logging roads, power line cuts, field edges and edges of timber clearings. So, I make mock scrapes using their products for early season and right before the rut in these same areas but where they are in good range of my stand, blind or game camera.

I make the scrape by clearing out debris in about a 2 foot area under an overhanging tree branch about head high to a buck because they lick and chew branches at a scrape and won’t make the scrape without them. I then put a small amount of their product on the licking branch and the ground. If there is a place I really want to put a scrape but it doesn’t have a limb at the right height I just use their Vine and make my own. Believe me folks making your own scrapes really works in helping bring in the bucks. www.scrapefix.com

onX HUNT MAPS

I have this app downloaded on my smart phone, tablet and computer. Boy does it help with my deer hunting.  It gives me maps for all fifty states, with detailed public and private boundaries, landowner names and even hunting districts. I can even put tracks to and from my stands. I can’t believe that even when my network is nonexistent, which is often, my GPS in my phone still works offline. You sure get a lot of helpful information with this app.

Hunting app’s with maps can be a very useful tool, especially on state lands or extra large tracts in your new hunting areas.

You can go online and sign up for a 7-day free trial to see if you agree with me. It is one useful tool to put in your deer hunting arsenal. www.onxmaps.com

OUTDOOR EDGE

When it comes to field dressing a deer I have their Swing Blade series of knives and I highly recommend them. I don’t know who came up with this idea but with a push of a button the Swing Blade changes from a drop point skinner to the best gutting tool I’ve ever used.

They have a jillion styles of knives to choose from and I really like those that come with replaceable blades so I don’t have to sharpen them. Plus if you process your own deer they’ve got everything you need for that too. www.outdooredge.com

HI MOUNTAIN SEASONINGS

If you eat a lot of venison like we do, these folks have a great selection of all kinds of seasonings for grilling your deer steaks and burgers, making deer fajitas and tacos, marinating your venison and more. I use a lot of their jerky and snack stick kits in several different flavors. My grandkids at college and their friends love it when I make up a big batch for them the deer we harvest.

If you don’t have the time to make your own jerky they are now also offering jerky bagged and ready to eat.  www.himtnjerky.com

Outdoor Edge® kicks off FREE FIELD-TO-FREEZER Gear Giveaway

  • “Helping Hunters Enjoy the Hunt, Field to Table,” says David Bloch – Outdoor Edge founder
  •  Outdoor Edge Razor Pro Knife Set & Game Pro Processor Kit, Koola Game Bags, Weston Meat Grinder, Hi Mountain Seasonings, Bradley Smoker

DENVER (Oct. 25, 2018) — To celebrate the fall hunting season nationwide, Outdoor Edge has kicked off a giveaway that offers everything a hunter needs to take the harvest from field to table. This fabulous $800 prize package includes products from Outdoor Edge, Koola Buck, Weston, Hi Mountain Seasoning and Bradley.

The prize package includes RazorPro Knife from Outdoor Edge, a 12-piece Outdoor Edge Game Processor Kit, an Outdoor Edge illuminated Grill Beam Tong/Spatula, a four-pack of Koola Buck XL Antimicrobial Game Bags, a Weston Electric Meat Grinder, a Hi Mountain Seasonings Jerky Cutting Board and assorted seasonings (https://www.himtnjerky.com/) to make mouthwatering meals, including jerky, and a Bradley Original Smoker.

RazorPro Knife Set offers the ultimate choice for never having a dull blade.

Entering this $800 give-away is free and easy. Just visit the Outdoor Edge Facebook Page, click on the contest tab on the left (https://www.facebook.com/outdooredge/) and enter your name and email address. Participants can enter once a day. Additional entries can be obtained by getting friends to like the page and enter the contest. Participants can enter as many times as is valid before the closing deadline of 11:59 PM on Dec. 2.

“The ultimate goal of this give-away is to get hunters to enjoy the entire hunting experience, from field to table,” said David Bloch, Outdoor Edge’s CEO and founder. “Wild game is healthy, lean and delicious making it the best form of protein I know of. The key is proper care from the field all the way to the grill to prevent any gamey flavors. This giveaway package has everything needed to prepare fabulous game meals for friends and family.”

Hi Mountain offers jerky kits and meat processing seasonings for every hunter.

About Outdoor Edge: Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Denver, Outdoor Edge is a leading designer and manufacturer of knives and tools. Today, Outdoor Edge continues to innovate and develop state-of-the-art products for outdoor enthusiasts, game processors, survivalists, handymen and others who require the very best knives and tools available for leisure, work and everyday-carry needs. The company prides itself in offering a variety of products that undergo extensive field-testing in harsh, rugged environments resulting in durable, long-lasting products that come with a lifetime guarantee. For additional information on Outdoor Edge and its full line of products write to: Outdoor Edge, 5000 Osage Street, Suite 800, Denver, CO 80221; call toll-free 800-477-3343; email moreinfo@outdooredge.com; or visit www.outdooredge.com.

A Safari for Hunters and Non-Hunters – a Great Gift, Somerby Safari Outfitters

What sets one safari outfitter apart from the rest? Outfitters that cater not only to hunters, but to the whole family, non-hunters too. When non-hunters need not worry about being bored, hunters have a better time. Enter Somerby Safaris, they offer a wide array of unique, African experiences for non-hunters to enjoy. From cuddling lion cubs to taking an elephant back ride, to experiencing cultural villages showcasing the fascinating tribes of South Africa…they will find the time of their life! So will you, the hunter.

Drom and Sune Beukes have grown Somerby Safaris into.one of South Africa’s premier hunting outfitters, producing world class trophies for overseas sportsman through ethical, fair-chase hunting. Due to the quality and diversity of their hunting areas, hunters will find plains and big game hunting safaris with extraordinary experiences in untamed Africa. Somerby Safaris offers more than just an African hunting safari, they offer a complete safari adventure with custom hunting packages tailored to fit the hunter’s wants and needs. In addition, they can arrange a wonderful photo safari for non-hunters.

Somerby for Schools is a related initiative that was started after Drom and Suan Beukes had several generous hunters at various times ask them how they could help their community in South Africa. This effort is specifically focused on bettering the lives of children in underprivileged schools and orphanages. Over the last few years, many hunters have donated goods or funds to underprivileged schools and orphanages in and around their hunting areas. What started off small has turned into a wonderful heartwarming enterprise with a vast amount of hunters donating school supplies, warm clothing for the cold winters, sporting equipment, food and even appliances.

Get detailed information about Somerby hunting and photo safaris, great pictures and exciting stories about hunting in Africa at the 2019 SCI Hunters Convention set for Jan. 9-12 in Reno, Nevada. Look for Booth #2756 and #2758 with answers for questions and to discover more about what sets Somerby Safaris apart from the rest.

 

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

About the SCI Hunters’ Convention: Safari Club expects upwards of 24,000 worldwide hunters to visit Reno, Nevada, January 9-12, 2019.  The SCI Hunters’ Convention represents the largest and most successful event to raise money for advocacy to protect hunters’ rights. The 2019 Hunters’ Convention will be held at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center with over 452,000 square feet of exhibits and almost 1,100 exhibiting companies. Register and book rooms at www.showsci.org

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: www.joinsci.org

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 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

ELK in Pennsylvania, 420-inch Giant Bull, harvested by Raffle Winner

  • Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA), a visionary conservation success story
  • KECA mission: conserve, enhance Pennsylvania Elk Country for future generations
  • Raffle proceeds generate funding for Elk Country visitor center, public educational classrooms, land protection
Matthew Martinichio with his giant bull elk.

A lucky hunter from Binghamton, New York, Matthew Martinichio, was selected from 9,945 tickets in the KECA Elk Tag Raffle drawing held August 19, 2018 at the Elk Expo at the Elk Country Visitor Center, located in Benezette Township, Elk County, Pa.  Matthew was not present when his name was pulled from the “squirrel cage” by a young boy selected from the audience.  Matthew is an avid duck and turkey hunter, but he does not hunt deer and actually did not own a rifle prior to this hunt.  Matthew’s grandfather, Joe Villecco, from Port Crane, New York, purchased the ticket for Mathew.  Matthew’s Grandfather, 82, was there during the hunt.

Elk Expo KECA Elk Tag Drawing on Aug. 19, 2018, with Founding Chairman, John Geissler.

It has become a tradition to immediately call the winner from the CEO’s office.  The group consisted of KECA’s Founding Chairman of the Board John Geissler, Rawley Cogan CEO KECA, Elk County Outfitter owner Jack Manack, and guides Bryan Hale and Kim Rensel, Pennsylvania Game Commission North Central Region Director Dave Mitchell, and Brad Clinton Executive Producer TomBob Outdoors.  Matthew harvested an 8 x7 mature bull elk on Saturday September 22, 2018 while hunting with Elk County Outfitters.

“The rut had been slow because of warm weather, high temperatures near 86 degrees and humid”, stated Jack Manack, owner of Elk County Outfitters.  “A cold front came through Friday evening and we anticipated a good hunt on Saturday”, Manack said.  We started hunting on Wednesday September 19, and we actually saw the bull Matthew harvested and we passed on him”, said Manack.  “Obviously we did not get a good enough look at him or we would have taken him then,” Manack said.

Saturday morning at 9 a.m., Martinichio killed the 850 pound (estimated) live weight bull.  Manack green-scored the bull at over 410”.  The official score will not be known until the 60 day drying time is complete.  “Pennsylvania’s Elk Range is awesome,” stated Martinichio.  “I have never been there before and the experience of harvesting this huge bull was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and that my Grandpa was there with me was very special.  It was very emotional when my Grandpa and I walked up to the bull,” stated Martinichio.   “We called to the bull and he answered, but he did not come right to us.  We had to make a few moves to get a shot at him,” said Martinichio.

Jack Manack ECO and Matthew Martinichio.

“The KECA Elk Tag Raffle provides a unique opportunity for one hunter to harvest a mature bull elk in Pennsylvania, but everyone that purchased a ticket is a true conservationist and a winner.  We sincerely thank everyone that purchased a ticket for their support of this unique raffle.  Pennsylvania’s elk herd and its habitat are the beneficiaries,” stated Cogan.

Elk County Outfitters owner Jack Manack stated, “We are just happy to be a small part of what KECA does and provide this hunter a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.”  “KECA is very fortunate to have generous donors like Elk County Outfitters supporting our mission and we thank Jack and his guides for their long-term support”, stated Cogan.  Martinichio agreed, “Jack and his guides were great, they really know elk,” stated Martinichio.

The 2018 KECA Elk Tag Raffle generated $180,650 in gross tickets sales.  KECA’s Elk Tag Raffle proceeds from past years were used to complete phase I and II of KECA’s outdoor classroom on the campus of the Elk Country Visitor Center, educational programs for thousands of students and guests, many habitat improvement projects totaling thousands of acres and a permanent land protection project.

The Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA) completed their first permanent land protection project in 2016; a 9-acre tract located adjacent to the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette Township, Elk County, PA.  The property consists of white pine and hemlock with mixed oak and hickory over story, including two small streams which merge on the property and flow into the Bennett’s Branch of the Susquehanna River.  The water is clean and runs year around.  No mining or acid mine drainage has occurred on the property.  There are no buildings or structures on the property.  Proceeds from KECA’s Elk Tag Raffle were used to purchase this property.

TomBob’s cameraman, Ben Gnan, filmed the entire hunt with Matthew.  Be sure to tune into TomBob Outdoors Friends in Wild Places this fall to see the KECA Elk Tag winner Pennsylvania bull elk hunt on your favorite network.

The Keystone Elk Country Alliance is a Pennsylvania based 501 (c) (3) wildlife conservation organization.  KECA’s mission is to conserve and enhance Pennsylvania’s Elk Country for future generations.  KECA operates the Elk Country Visitor Center.  Visit www.ExperienceElkCountry.com for more information. 

Click on the picture to learn more.

Mossy Oak Adds Second “Bull Rush” to Free Digital Video Library

Photo courtesy of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

A new episode of Bull Rush will be delivered through Mossy Oak digital platforms each week through the end of September coinciding with elk seasons all across the west. 

To celebrate the opening days of elk season, Mossy Oak recently launched an all-new digital series featured in its free, on-demand video library. Coming off of the intense action of the first episode of “Bull Rush,” the latest episode contains four of Mossy Oak’s most action-packed archery hunts.

Episode 2 of “Bull Rush” follows along with Mossy Oak’s Ben Maki, Dustin “Shed” Whitacre, and Daniel Haas as they each experience heart-pounding encounters with screaming bulls. The fourth hunt takes viewers along with legendary comedian, Jeff Foxworthy in the mountains of Utah as he experiences one of the most exciting hunts of his lifetime.
A new episode of Bull Rush will be delivered through Mossy Oak digital platforms each week through the end of September coinciding with elk seasons all across the west. Watch the second episode of “Bull Rush” now at MossyOak.com.
To learn more about Mossy Oak, or to enjoy free, timely and entertaining hunting and outdoors content, visit https://www.mossyoak.com.
 
Established in 1986, Haas Outdoors Inc. is headquartered in West Point, Miss., 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, Capture Productions, MOOSE Media, Nativ Nurseries, Nativ Living, GameKeepers, GameKeepers 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.

 

TRULOCK TIP…GET A SHOTGUN THAT FITS!

  • Help Your Shotgun Shoot Where You Look, Get it Fitted.
  • Tune Your Fitted Shotgun With the Right Choke
  • Choke Tubes are a Shooters Best Friend…Learn More

By Blake Tabb

Understanding chokes, pellet density, range, and percent of pellets on target at a variety of ranges will make you more successful on the target range or the next time a flock of big honkers descend on your blind.

The excited chatter of big honkers descending on the blind echoes through your head like a reoccurring dream. The big birds cup their wings, drop their feet and start to backpedal for a landing and are so close you can see the ridges on their tongues when they honk. The command is yelled to “take them!”-hunters emerge from blinds. Who can hit a moving target that can change direction in a fraction of a second?

The straight shooters in the crowd and those at the trap and skeet range are the ones who have a shotgun that fit properly. The fit of a shotgun is considerably more important than it is with rifles. The basics of shooting come into play, where a rifle is aimed, a shotgun is pointed. Your eye creates the critical line down the barrel and acts the same as the rear sight on a rifle. If your shotgun fits properly and you can mount it to your shoulder the same every time, the result should be that your shotgun shoots where you look.

The main considerations are the length of pull, drop at the comb and at the heel, but for most, it’s not critical to know those dimensions. Most important is that you mount your shotgun so your eye looks straight down the barrel where you should see the bead, but not the top surface of the rib. Many shotguns on the market come with a spacer kit and adjustable combs to help ensure a proper fit.

When your shotgun is shooting where you are looking, you can maximize your hit rate by utilizing different choke tubes. Trulock Choke Tubes specializes in constriction tubes that maximize the effective shot pattern at a specific distance and for a particular target.

Hunters often carry an assortment of chokes to maximize their shotgun pattern on decoying birds or those birds that might be a little decoy shy. Trap, skeet, and sporting clay shooters can benefit greatly by packing a close-range choke like a cylinder, skeet or improved cylinder or a mid-range choke such as skeet 2 or modified choke to break intermediate range targets.

It’s easy to spot a shooter who uses a shotgun that fits. More birds fall from the sky and more clays shatter into pieces. Choke tubes are a hunter or target shooter’s best front-end offense to hitting more targets.

Explore the many options of choke tubes to fit most shotguns at 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.

Triple Spur Turkey taken in New York Woods

There are only two reports of birds with triple spurs, this one was taken by a veteran hunter in Columbia County, New York.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Hunting & Trapping Newsletter brings news of a veteran spring turkey hunter from New York that bagged a bird with rare triple spurs

This spring, retired DEC biologist and avid turkey hunter Bill Hollister knew he had found something rare after he bagged a gobbler in Columbia County. Once he had the bird in hand, he saw that it had three spurs on each leg!

In general, most gobblers have spurs and the length of the spurs is an indication of a bird’s age. On rare occasions, a gobbler will fail to develop one or both spurs and even more rare still, is a gobbler with two spurs on a leg. A bird with triple spurs is almost unheard of.

There are only two reports of birds with triple spurs, this one was taken by a veteran hunter in Columbia County, New York. 

Over the past decade, DEC staff have examined thousands of legs from turkeys killed by hunters in the fall and have seen missing spurs and double spurs, but never a triple spur.

From the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks: “Mature gobblers without spurs, or with only one spur, comprise less than two percent of the total harvest. It is more common for gobblers to be missing a spur on only one leg than to not have any spurs. Another abnormality is when gobblers have multiple spurs.

According to Lovett Williams, a renowned turkey biologist in Florida, less than two dozen gobblers with double spurs have been reported.

There are only two reports of birds with triple spurs – one of which is from Mississippi.”

A triple spur is quite the find!

For more New York hunting news, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/.

 

 

Hunting for Beginners – Getting Started

A hunters first deer provides an unforgettable smile into the heritage of our ancesters. Forest Fisher Photo

  • Hunting is Inexpensive
  • Hunting is Ethical
  • Hunting is Challenging and Builds Character
Hunting with a mentor can provide understanding of animal habits, calls and safety awareness. Forrest Fisher Photo

Compiled by Dave Barus, this story is shared in detail through the courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Wildlife.

Harvest Your Own Natural Food

Hunting is a source of natural, free-range, and inexpensive food. Not to mention the meat is lean and healthy!

Hunting is one of the most inexpensive and ethical ways to fill your freezer with natural, free-range meat, but taking up hunting can be challenging and intimidating.

Don’t let this discourage you.

We can help you with all the information and resources you’ll need to safely and responsibly hunt and harvest your own local food.

The Challenge

On a hunt, your senses are sharpened. Awareness of your surroundings is heightened. This is more than observing the environment – it’s active engagement. Hunting challenges the mind and the body. It demands skill, knowledge, and patience. It also brings us closer to nature and understanding our natural environment.

A young hunter’s first deer provides an unforgettable smile and an understanding of why hunting is healthy and resourceful. Forrest Fisher Photo

Conservation

Hunting in the United States is highly regulated, which helps make it a safe, sustainable, and highly popular activity. The sale of hunting licenses, permits, and stamps provides much-needed funds to wildlife research and management programs. Ethical hunters care about the environment. Without proper conservation, our wild spaces could be lost.

Ecological Balance

Ohio hunters play a critical role in the control of deer and other animal populations, which are carefully studied by the Division of Wildlife. The length of hunting seasons and other regulations are directly related to the need to thin or extend species numbers in the state. Without the help of Ohio hunters, a few of the risks include uncontrolled deer populations devastating crops and creating hazards for drivers on roads and highways throughout the state.

For learn more, please visit: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/hunting-trapping-and-shooting-sports/hunting-and-trapping-basics/hunting-for-beginners.

Editor Note: Many other states have similar “get started” young hunter or “1st time” hunter programs, but this program explanation from Ohio does a good job of providing all the right things to know in very little space. Hats off to Ohio! Dave Barus

IT MAKES NO SCENTS

Deer can Scent us Humans from Far, Far Away. Reasons why are part of this story.

  • Modern Secret for Seeing More Deer
  • When to Use Cover Scent
  • Why Deer can Smell Us

By Larry Whiteley

Don’t get busted this deer season! Jim Monteleone Photo

My wife has what you might call a “sensitive nose”. She smells odors a lot of times and I don’t. When I get in her vehicle it smells like a rose garden or an ocean breeze because she has these little scent things clipped to her visor and air vents. If I ran into any of my hunting or fishing buddies after riding with her, they would probably smell me and look at me kind of weird.

When she rides in my truck, she can tell if I ate a bowl of beans the day before or if my friend that smokes cigars has been in the truck with me, or if I left a pair of dirty socks under the back seat.

She knows I don’t like my hunting/fishing/camping truck smelling like a flower so she bought me one of those little pine trees to hang from my rearview mirror. I would rather not smell anything than have fake smelling things in my truck, so I started searching the internet for a solution that would make us both happy.

During my search, I clicked on www.scentlok.com and learned about their OZ20 small ozone generator unit. It plugs into the dash of your car or truck and doesn’t cover up smells, it gets rid of them so you smell nothing. I ordered one, plugged it in and turned it on when I parked the truck for the night and the next morning turned it off and let it air out. No smells!

OZ20 Generator keeps my wife happy. Photo by Anna Whiteley

It’s as simple as that. Without going into all the technical reasons as to how this thing works, other than saying it destroys organic scent-containing molecules, I can tell you it definitely does. My wife is happy and that’s good because as the old saying goes, “When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

To make her even happier and so I don’t have to smell flowers or ocean breezes around the house, I also got ScentLok’s® OZ100 ozone generator unit for small rooms and OZ500 ozone generator for big rooms and just plug them into a wall outlet when we are leaving. We come back to a scent free house. She especially likes me to use the small unit in the bathroom after I have been in it. I can’t understand why!

OZ100 Generator plugged in and eliminating smells. Photo by Anna Whiteley

While I was on ScentLok’s® website, I also read about their hunting clothing and accessories with their Carbon Alloy™ technology that helps keep you free of scent in the deer woods. It also has NeverWet™ technology that repels water, mud, blood & other liquids. I ordered their full season Taktix jacket and pant combo with lots of pockets, and in my favorite camo pattern, True Timber Kanati. The jacket also has an NRA approved conceal carry chest pocket to carry my pistol. In this crazy world we live in you never know when you might need it, even in the deer woods.

After every 30 to 40 hours of hunting in them, I just need to reactivate the carbon by throwing them in the dryer. If they’re not muddy or bloody I don’t need to wash them. They will be stored in the ScentLok® OZ Chamber 8K Bag, which I also ordered, that includes the OZ500 generator and plug it in to keep them scent free for the next hunt.

My granddog Max is unable to detect any odors on my hunting clothes. Photo by Anna Whiteley

Now even though I will be doing all this, I still need to make sure I am not wearing the clothing I hunt with while in my truck or on my ATV to where I park, and then on to my stand. I still need to use scent cover sprays on any clothing that is not ScentLok®. Also use the cover spray on my pack, gun, bow or any other equipment, plus the deer stand or blind. You better do the same if you don’t want to get busted by the amazing nose of a deer.

Deer have up to 297 million scent receptors in their nose. In comparison, dogs have 220 million and humans have just 5 million scent receptors. I think my wife has around 10 million at least. Not only do deer have a huge number of scent receptors in their nose, they also have a secondary scent gland called the vomer nasal organ that is located in their mouth.

Above that, deer also have 2 large scent-processing areas in their brains. These processing areas are 9 times larger than a human’s scent processing area. So a sniff test of yourself or your clothing is nothing compared to what a deer can do.

Us deer hunters need to remember that no matter how much scouting we have done or how many food plots we have planted. Our best chance of taking a deer this year is making no scents.

 

THIS COULD BE YOUR LAST DEER SEASON

Bonus time. Click the picture for the story.

  • Some 300-500 hunters are KILLED ANNUALLY in tree stand accidents
  • Some 6,000 hunters sustain permanent injuries ANNUALLY
  • FACT: 1 out of every 3 hunters who use tree stands will fall during their hunting career

By Larry Whiteley

Go online, search for “tree stand accidents”. Read all the stories about people just like you who fell from a tree stand and it changed their life forever.

Did that headline scare you? I hope so because I wanted to get your full attention. For your sake and your family I want you to read every word of this article.

There’s nothing quite like sitting in your stand watching as the sun starts gradually peeking through the trees is there? Bird songs welcome the morning and squirrels start their chatter. Sometimes you’re rewarded with a fox or bobcat sneaking through the woods. It’s a special time to be high in a tree watching and waiting for a deer to come by your secret hiding place. If they do, that’s a bonus.

How can you prevent this from being your last deer season? Wear a safety harness with a lifeline before you climb into any kind of stand.

You may not want to hear this, but this could be your last year to sit in a tree stand. When you hear or read “hunting accident” the first thing that probably comes to mind is an accidental shooting. However, according to Tree Stand Safety Awareness (TSSA), tree stand accidents are the number one cause of serious injury and death to deer hunters.

It is estimated that 1 out of every 3 hunters who use tree stands will be involved in a fall sometime in their hunting careers. Did you understand that? 1 out of 3!

Tree stand accident injuries can be fatal and those that do survive can be permanently disabled. Some 300-500 hunters are killed annually in tree stand accidents and about 6,000 more sustain permanent injuries, according to a study by the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA).

Could this be the year you are one of those statistics? I certainly hope not, but the odds are not in your favor. I know you probably think it could never happen to you, but you are wrong. Go online and search for “tree stand accidents”. Read all the stories about people just like you who fell from a tree stand and it changed their life forever.

Read about Mike Callahan who is one of the few lucky ones who can still hunt. Except now he hunts from a wheelchair with the assistance of a friend. He finds flat areas in the woods or a field to roll onto, and behind camouflage material, rests his crossbow or shotgun onto a shooter’s rest. He aims it with a bar controlled by his teeth and activates the trigger with an air tube.

Survey’s also show a lot of hunters own one or both of these devices, but don’t always use them. The day you don’t have them both on is probably the day the accident will happen.

Also read about Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost. He was checking a tree stand on his property in Missouri when the bottom fell as he attempted to clip on his safety harness. He dropped 20 feet, crushing his pelvis and coming very close to bleeding to death. Had it not been for his cellphone and good cell reception, he admits he would have died.

Also read the stories from spouses, family members and friends talking about how life has changed for them since their loved one was paralyzed or died. You see, you are not the only one that would be affected if you fell from a tree stand.

How can you prevent this from being your last deer season? Wear a safety harness with a lifeline before you climb into any kind of stand. You can still fall, but you won’t fall to the ground because you are safely attached to the tree at all times with the lifeline.

Survey’s also show a lot of hunters own one or both of these devices, but don’t always use them. The day you don’t have them both on is probably the day the accident will happen. You have to use both the safety vest and the lifeline.

86% of tree stand accidents don’t happen while you are sitting or standing, they occur while ascending or descending the tree or getting into or out of the stand. I don’t care if you hunt from a hanging stand, a ladder stand or a climber, it can happen to you in an instant.

I started doing research several months ago for this article and it scared me so bad that I went out and bought a Hunter Safety Systems Ultra-Lite Flex safety harness and lifeline for myself and for everyone in my family that deer hunts. AND, they have all been told they are never to get in a tree stand again without using them.

Go online right now or to your favorite outdoor store and buy the best safety harness and lifeline you can buy. Then go home and practice using it over and over until you are totally comfortable with it. Make it second nature to put it on every time you go out hunting.

I hope I have scared you enough that you will never again get in a tree stand without a safety vest and a lifeline. Do it for yourself and do it for your family. It will help insure that it will not be your last deer season and that you will be around to watch birds singing, squirrels chattering, sunrise through the trees and wildlife sneaking through the woods…for many years to come.

Check out Hunter Safety Systems full lineup of products to keep you safe in the deer woods at http://www.huntersafetysystem.com/.

Bonus time.  It’s a special time to be high in a tree watching and waiting for a deer to come by your secret hiding place. If they do, that’s a bonus.

Trulock Dove Choke Tube TEST RESULTS With Federal High Bird Shotshells

Trulock Choke Tube Test Results TO KNOW

By George Trulock

Trulock Choke used for the test provided a 0.017 inch constriction.

We recently tested two similar dove loads from Federal using our new Trulock Dove Choke in the Mid-Range choke constriction.

The choke that we used for these specific tests was of the extended mobile style and had a .707 inch exit diameter.

The shotgun used was a Benelli Super Nova with a .724 inch bore which works out to a .017 inch constriction.

All tests were done at a measured 35 yards.

We had intended to also test our Trulock Dove Choke Long Range version but due to an increase in wind gusts that portion had to be post poned to a later date.

Shells used were Federal High Bird

The shells used were Federal High Bird loads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One had 1.250 oz., 7.5 size shot, 1330 FPS.

Compare one target density to the other.

 

The other was 1.125 oz., 7.5 size shot, 1275 FPS

Note the interesting similarities and differences.

A 10-shot string was completed for each load.

Both loads gave very good patterns with minimal holes.

Both loads averaged 80% at 35 yards.

If you’re Looking for the right choke? CALL: 1-800-293-9402 or look us up online: http://trulockchokes.com/.

 

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

Center

  • 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.

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

The author in his camo Costas.

  • 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.

 

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 toda