New Firearm Laws Benefit Firearms Industry…the Data Speaks

Photo courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation

  • Firearms Industry Economic Impact Rises 171% Since 2008
  • Since 2008, federal tax payments increased by 164 percent
  • Pittman-Robertson excise taxes to support wildlife conservation increased by 100 percent
  • State business taxes increased by 120 percent

From the National Shooting Sports Foundation®, the firearm industry trade association in Newtown, Connecticut, we learn that the total economic impact of the firearms and ammunition industry in the United States increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $52.1 billion in 2018.  That’s a 171 percent increase.

The total number of full-time equivalent jobs rose from approximately 166,000 to almost 312,000. That’s an 88 percent increase in that same period. 

On a more recent year-over-year basis, the firearm industry economic impact rose from $51.4 billion in 2017 to $52.1 billion in 2018, ticking higher even while the industry came off-peak production years. Total jobs increased from nearly 311,000 to almost 312,000 in the same period.

“Our industry is proud to be one of the steady and reliable producers and manufacturers in our economy as Americans continue to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms, and to safely enjoy the shooting sports,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF CEO. “Our workforce is steadily adding good jobs to our local economies averaging $50,000 a year in wages and benefits. In addition, since 2008 we increased federal tax payments by 164 percent, Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that support wildlife conservation by 100 percent and state business taxes by 120 percent.”

The Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report: 2019 provides a state-by-state breakdown of job numbers, wages and output covering direct, supplier and induced employment, as well as federal excise taxes paid. Access the full report here.

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.

Progress in Developing Mentorship and New Participants

  • New Initiatives, Optimism, Support
  • Land Access Improvements
  • Looking for New Hunters Needs a Plan

Click picture to learn more about NSSF

The National Shooting Sports Foundation®(NSSF®), along with several other organizations in the outdoor industry, announced at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade ShowSM (SHOT Show®) a number of initiatives designed to increase participation in hunting and target shooting both through reactivation of those who have lapsed, who have ceased to participate, or participate only sporadically and through recruitment of people completely new to the pastime.

Hunter numbers have declined in recent decades due to a variety of reasons, including lack of mentorship, difficulty in accessing hunting lands and shifts in cultural norms. But there is cause for optimism. Research shows that, despite the decline in participating numbers, many Americans continue to have a strong interest in hunting, and the programs announced today are a clear indicator of progress being made in developing the solutions needed to connect those who are interested in hunting, but haven’t yet participated, with the resources they need to get started.

“There’s a strong, well-documented interest in this great American pastime by people from all walks of life, and one of the keys to taking that interest to active participation is through the support of and encouragement by mentors,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF Director, Research and Market Development. “Programs that provide that connection, such as mentoring programs, are what’s sorely needed to move people from wanting to get involved to actually being involved.”

Curcuruto was joined in the press conference by representatives from the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, the Quality Deer Management Association and the Georgia Wildlife Federation, all of which support programs specifically designed to increase participation numbers.

Curcuruto outlined several new NSSF participation initiatives, including its +ONESM program, which encourages experienced hunters and target shooters to mentor youth and adults and recognizes the efforts of these mentors. This program and others are supported by three new major websites developed by NSSF.

LetsGoHunting.orgTM is dedicated to all things hunting, everything from discussion of calibers to use for elk, treestand safety and how to perfect one’s wingshooting skills to working with Western big-game tag draws and a wealth of tasty field-to-table recipes. NSSF’s +ONE movement is a central component of the site, as are the “Where to Hunt” and “Apprenticeship” links.

LetsGoShooting.orgTM, LetsGoHunting.org’s sister site, is dedicated to all things target sports, with a comprehensive library of video and reading resources, geo-locating services for firearms ranges and retailers, safety instruction, shooting sports organizations and more.

Finally, StepOutside.org focuses on cross-participation across a spectrum of outdoor activities. Using geo-locating services similar to that in the LetsGo websites, StepOutside.org acknowledges the mutual interests of, for example, hikers and kayakers with hunting, target shooting and angling pursuits, and encourages participation.

An innovative program in Georgia is underway to help college students give hunting a try. Charles Evans, the Georgia Wildlife Federation R3 coordinator, said this partnership program with NSSF addresses survey findings that suggest that many college students want to try hunting and target shooting, but have never had that opportunity. This program offers an avenue to get started and the tools to help students continue on their own. “We recognize that college students are curious about hunting, the nutritional benefits of game meat and the hunter’s role in conservation. Lifelong habits start in college, and hunting could be one of the better habits students form,” said Evans.

The sale of hunting licenses and tags, along with excise taxes on the purchase of firearms and ammunition, assist federal and state wildlife conservation efforts, with more than $1.67 billion contributed annually by sportsmen and -women. They provide the bulk of conservation funding, so maintaining hunter ranks and safeguarding this funding level is vitally important for the nation’s wildlife, the speakers said.

Another promising program called “Field to Fork” comes from the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). This modern approach to attracting new hunters works by connecting adults with an all-natural, local, renewable, healthy food source. Field to Fork spans the entire hunting process from hunter education to processing and preparing the harvest for a meal, and it was recently adapted to allow industry members to mentor and participate.

Hank Forester, Hunting Heritage Program Manager for QDMA, said, “Mentoring a new hunter can seem daunting at times, but experience shows that many people interested in hunting will welcome a personal invitation to try it. This is part of what Field to Fork does, provide that invitation that can really make a difference.”

Forester added that, “People in our own industry are interested in learning to hunt, and we’re working to make sure that those desires become a reality by having current participants teach newcomers the ropes.”

To learn more about opportunities to become involved in these programs and to join the national movement to recruit more hunters and target shooters, feel free to contact Jim Curcuruto at jcurcuruto@nssf.org, Hank Forester at hforester@qdma.com, Charles Evans at swanny.evans@gmail.com or Samantha Pedder at samantha@cahss.org.

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.

Winchester Repeating Arms Adds Sporter Model to the XPR Rifle Line

For hunters that prefer the appearance and warmth of a wood stock, Winchester Repeating Arms® has introduced a new Sporter model to the XPR® bolt-action rifle line.

The new rifle features a close-grained Grade I walnut stock with crisp checkering on the pistol grip and fore-end for a classic look and feel. A flattened fore-end profile provides added stability when shooting from sandbags or a rest.

At the heart of any accurate rifle is the barrel and the XPR Sporter does not disappoint. The top-quality chromoly steel barrel is button rifled and thermally stress relieved. A target-style crown protects the rifling. The action is precision bedded to ensure the barrel is free-floating.

The XPR Sporter comes in 12 popular calibers from 243 Win. to 338 Win. Mag. — including the 6.5 Creedmoor round. Barrel lengths are 22″ for short action calibers, 24″ for short magnum and standard long action rounds and 26″ for magnum calibers.

The XPR Sporter sells for an MSRP of $599.99.

Features:

  • M.O.A. Trigger System
  • Bolt unlock button
  • Nickel Teflon® on bolt body
  • Detachable box magazine
  • Close-Grained Grade I walnut stock
  • Perma-Cote® matte black metal surfaces
  • Inflex Technology recoil pad
  • Steel recoil lug
  • Receiver is machined from solid steel bar stock
  • Two-position thumb safety
  • Button-rifled, free-floated steel barrel
  • Recessed target crown

For more information on Winchester Firearms, visit winchesterguns.com.

TRIPLE-UP WINTER FUN in Chautauqua County, NY

 

  • Anglers – Ice Fish for Walleye
  • Hunters – Get Ready for Goose Season
  • Families: It’s Maple Syrup Time and Late Winter Adventures
Brock Windoft of Lakewood, NY, with a beautiful winter musky caught and released from Chautauqua Lake ice.

Chautauqua, New York – Feb. 22, 2018: Winter Fishing – Anglers on Chautauqua Lake have enjoyed one of the finest ice fishing seasons in several years. Huge crappie over three pounds, walleye over 10-pounds, lots of toothy musky – some better than four feet long, as well as bluegills and yellow perch, all have been testing the lightweight winter fishing lines of anglers from Mayville to Jamestown. Hard ice off the north side of Long Point has provided excellent fishing, though anglers accessing the lake from the Mayville Town Park parking area have enjoyed good catches as well. With spring warming trends, the once solid ice of 10-12 inches thickness will thin quickly.  Open water flows from tributary creeks will soon begin and runoffs from warming canals will initiate the onset of early crappie fishing for hardy anglers, well ahead of the usual calendar start.  For the latest fishing news, check with Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut, www.hogans-hut.com/, 716-789-3831 or Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors, www.chautauquareeloutdoors.com/, 716-763-2947.

Shotgun Hunters: Canada geese – they abound as a golden Chautauqua opportunity for 5-bird daily bag limits with the nine-day late Goose Hunting Season that runs March 2-10. Cackling geese and white-fronted geese may be taken as part of the Canada goose daily and possession limit. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Snow geese season is open now too, they may be taken by special Conservation Order through April 15, daily limit is 25 birds. The geese species, possession limit is three times the daily limit, except for snow geese. Use of non-toxic shot required and hunters should remember that the possession limit is the maximum number of birds with you in the field, at home, in transit or in storage. For special hunter regulations visit: www.dec.ny.gov.

Maple Syrup Family Adventures – the sunny winter weather has been with us, maple tree sap is flowing in Chautauqua County. Maple weekends are just ahead: March 17-18 and March 24-25, 2018. There are three Sugar House Sites that will offer free, family-oriented events to learn about maple syrup making, each site offering different “See & Do Fun,” many with free samples. Mmmm! Learn about boiling tree sap, filtering, bottling, packaging and making maple sugar candy. Enjoy horse drawn wagon rides, hiking tours, other activities.  Events run no matter rain or snow or shine. Wear boots. Add these stops to your schedule: Big Tree Maple, 2040 Holly Lane, Lakewood, NY,14750, www.bigtreemaple.com, 716-763-5917; Clear Creek Farm, 5067 Morris Road, Mayville, NY, 14757, www.clearcreekfarms.us/, 716-269-2079; Fairbanks Maple, 9265 Putman Road, Forestville, NY, 14062, www.facebook.com/FairbanksMaple/, 716-965-4208.

For any of these outings, spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast, a warm winter cottage or a deluxe winter water playground hotel. Some options: http://www.tourchautauqua.com/where_to_stay.aspx.

Outdoor Media Contact: Dave Barus – Fishing & Hunting Promotions Associate, Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 1441, Chautauqua, NY, 14722; email: dbarus35@yahoo.com; Cell: 716-597-4081.  Visitors Bureau Travel/Accommodations Contact: R. Andrew Nixon, Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 1441, Chautauqua, NY, 14722; Office: 716-357-4569; email: nixon@tourchautauqua.com; web: http://www.tourchautauqua.com; www.Facebook.com/Tour.Chautauqua.   

 

TURKEY HUNTING SECRETS: CALL THEM – Part 2 of 3

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

By Jim Monteleone

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cluck is generally made throughout the day.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Realism is another factor in raising your skill level.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

By Jim Monteleone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what I know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding turkeys is not just in locating openings.

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

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

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

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

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

Birds will gobble and yelp from the roost.

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

I’m there to listen!

I go in quietly and I listen.

I set up my decoys and I listen.

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

You won’t often find just hens.

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

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

Your set up is critical.

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

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

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

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

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

Preseason scouting should reveal at least a starting point.

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

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

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

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

 

Bear Hunting BANNED in British Columbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

By Forrest Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York is so interesting.

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

New York is so interesting.

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

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

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

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

New York is so interesting.

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

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

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

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

New York is so interesting.

C’mon NY.

That’s my 2 cents.

 

Advantage Blinds Provide Great SAFE Options for Hunters

While many hunters know that permanent hunting blinds can be very comfortable, they also picture blinds that are made of old plywood, are hard to see out of, and might not be safe if they are a couple of seasons old.
If you’re dismissing rigid-sided hunting blinds because that’s what you think they are like, you should take some time to check out the flexibility and options available in modern blinds like those made by Advantage Hunting.
Advantage Hunting makes a range of blinds in different configurations: a dual-threat bow/gun combo blind, the 2-person Advantage Hunting Blind, a Whitetail 2-person blind, and a Whitetail 4-person blind.
All these blinds are rigid-sided and wind- and waterproof. They provide for a comfortable hunt, keeping your movement hidden and the weather outside. They are easy to see out of, but difficult for game to see into. You hunt in comfort, dry and out of the wind – and your trophy won’t know you are there. They are also designed to be safe and, once set up, are virtually maintenance free.
Common features include gasketed windows and doors for a no-breeze, no-noise tight fit, locking doors, and no-rot floors.
They are also designed so that the blinds can be placed on the ground, or in an elevated position with an optional kit, so whatever the requirements of your hunting position, an Advantage Blind will work for you.
The Dual Threat blind has a 7-foot interior height and special vertical windows for hunters using compound or traditional bows. Like other Advantage blinds, the Dual Threat blind was developed with input from top professionals in the hunting industry. The result is that unlike many blinds on the market, the Dual Option blind allows for easy, quick and comfortable stand-up vertical bow shots. No awkward contortions to get in position, no banging your head or the limbs of your bow just before the shot. You just see the deer, stand up, draw and shoot. Silent. Fast. Effective.
But the blind also has horizontal windows set at sitting height for firearm or crossbow hunters. For any firearm or bow that you are shooting, you have a 360-degree view and can take game no matter what direction it comes from.
The Whitetail Blind is a more traditional format, with horizontal windows that can be quickly secured out of the way, and fixed windows in each corner so that you never lose sight of an approaching deer. The 2-man version provides 25 square feet of floor space. The four-man versions offer even more space – 45-square-feet, and a carrying capacity of 1,000 pounds.
Advantage blinds have an option for carpeted flooring for noise reduction. Full, locking doors are standard. The floors are heavy-duty polyethylene that is completely rot proof. Windows are tinted polycarbonate that flip up and out of your way. There are even tinted corner windows, so once you position your seat, you can see out of the blind in any direction without having to shift your position.
Hunting long and hard doesn’t have to mean you have to have long, hard days. This year, resolve to hunt better – and more comfortably – all season long in an Advantage Blind.
For more information on Advantage Blinds’ models, options, and accessories, check out http://www.advantagehunting.com.

DEER CAMP – It’s About CHARACTERS

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

By Larry Whiteley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larry’s book still waiting to be finished.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Niagara Falls USA Fishing Forecast for Nov. 2, 2017

  • Fishing is Switching Gears with Colder Weather
  • Smaller Streams HAVE FISH NOW, especially AFTER EVERY RAIN
  • Musky Tournament is ON, Nov. 5
Tyler Dannhauser of Wilson was fishing in the gorge this week and caught a mixed bag of salmon and trout.

Weather conditions have certainly impacted the fishing this past week. High winds and rain resulted in water temperatures dropping 5 degrees since last weekend. That said, it could be just what the “Fish Doctor” ordered to force a transition into the next phase of fall fishing.

In the Upper Niagara River, the last month of musky fishing action improved with the adverse weather, just in time for the Niagara Musky Association’s Tim Wittek Memorial Catch and Release Tournament. The action will take place on Nov. 5 out of the launch ramp area at the foot of Sheridan from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. To get your blood circulating again, there will be a post-tourney chili-fest at the foot of Sheridan in Tonawanda. Cost is $25 to enter this catch-and-release “iron man” tournament. Call Scott McKee at 716-225-3816 for more information. If you just want to find our more information about fall musky fishing in the Niagara, stop in at the NMA monthly meeting at the Eldredge Club, 17 Broad St., Tonawanda, NY, on Tuesday night (Nov. 7) starting at 7 p.m. Guest speaker will be Marc Arena with Red October Baits. Water conditions were murky this week thanks to the wind. The lower river musky season extends to Dec. 15.

Mike Rzucidlo with another great Lower Niagara River king salmon caught from the NYPA fishing pier.

And speaking of the lower Niagara River, we had a report that there were some boats on the water today, just prior to the weekend. The first fish they caught was a musky – drifting MagLips off three-way rigs. They also caught a walleye before they hit some trout – steelhead and lake trout. Lake trout season is closed until the end of the year, but sometimes you just can keep them off the hook!

In the gorge area of the lower river, shoreline casters are still catching a mix of salmon and trout. Treated egg skein fished under a float has been a consistent producer for Rich Pisa of Kenmore around the whirlpool area. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls was picking off some steelhead and salmon on a No. 4 spinner while casting the New York Power Authority Fishing Platform before he was chased off due to high water levels (probably due to the high winds).

If you want to check whether or not the Fishing Platform is open, call 716-796-0135, ext. 45. It usually closes down for the winter around Dec. 1.

Tyler Dannhauser of Wilson was fishing in the gorge this week and caught a mixed bag of salmon and trout.

At Olcott Harbor and 18 Mile Creek, good reports of steelhead and brown trout have surfaced to complement the salmon that are still hanging around upstream at Burt Dam. Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors in Olcott reports that there are king and Coho salmon in various stages of their life cycle, including some fresh ones entering into the system. Egg skein and egg sacs work best. If the water is stained, chartreuse and orange-colored egg sacs are best. If we get the rain we are supposed to receive, you can try drifting an egg sac or a single egg in some of the smaller streams like Keg Creek to the east of Olcott, or 12 Mile Creek at Wilson, west of Olcott. Fishing pressure should drop off a little bit as whitetail deer fall into their rut stage and as crossbow season opens Nov. 4.

The regular big game season kicks off for the Southern Zone on Nov. 18. Waterfowl and other small game are also open to spread the activity out. No reports on perch in the harbors, but if the waters are clear enough, they should be starting to move in and become active. If you catch any nice fish, please share with us at bhilts@niagarafallsusa.com.

Stay safe!

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions
Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY USA 14303
p: 716.282.8992 x.303| 1.877 FALLS US, f:716.285.0809
website | facebook | twitter | blog
Sportfishing has a $30 million annual economic impact in Niagara USA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ecstasy & Empathy: Dichotomy of Hunting

Killing two young turkeys and watching a mother hen’s reaction to their loss set the writer to thinking about the nature of hunting.  Jim Low Photo

  • If hunting doesn’t occasionally tug at your heartstrings, you might need to think a bit more deeply about it.
  • Far from threatening the natural world, hunting is its best hope for survival.
  • Turkeys share a sacred lesson about Hunting, Kindred Spirits, the Circle of Life

By Jim Low

One of the reasons I love hunting is the way it takes me inside the natural world.

Blood sports make me part of natural processes in ways that are unavailable through nature photography, nature study and other “non-consumptive” activities, which I also enjoy.  Opening day of fall firearms turkey season this year made me keenly aware of this difference.

Dawn found me tucked beneath the screening branches of cedar trees between two pastures.  Just at sunrise, I heard soft clucks issuing from the bordering woods.  I made a few “sleepy yelps” on my slate call, then put it aside and rested my shotgun on my knee.

My pulse rate ticked up a few beats.

Moments later, a young turkey glided down and landed directly in front of me, in easy shotgun range.  It was followed in quick succession by six more poults (turkeys hatched this year) and one hen.

Any turkey, young or old, male or female, is legal during Missouri’s fall hunting season.  I had wanted to shoot a gobbler, but now I began thinking otherwise.  I am a mediocre fall turkey hunter at best, so this was a rare opportunity to harvest the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner.

Also, the fact that you can shoot two turkeys on the same day in the fall season meant I might be able to kill two tender young birds that would be amazing table fare.  So, when two of the small birds stood with their heads inches apart, I dropped the hammer, and both went down.

Hunting turkeys in the fall opens the door to a whole different set of insights into the complicated lives of these amazing birds.  Jim Low Photo

As often happens, the remaining six birds did not scatter immediately.  Inexperienced and bewildered by a thunderclap out of a clear sky, they milled around excitedly, stopping occasionally to gawk at their stricken flock-mates.  I lowered my gun slowly and settled in to watch, expecting the survivors to vacate the premises fairly quickly.

Moments after my shot, a mature hen came on the run from the west, near the center of the pasture.

This open area, unapproachable by predators without being spotted, is where a cautious old bird would fly down.  In the flurry of arrivals in front of me, I hadn’t noticed her leaving the roost.

The old hen quickly made her way to the two downed birds, which were in their final death throes.  She watched until their struggles ceased, then began pecking them gently, first one and then the other.  After a few minutes, she began grasping their wattles in her beak and lifting their heads, then dropping them.  This went on for quite a while, gradually escalating to her taking a step or two backward and tugging at the dead poults.

After this had gone on for perhaps half an hour, she stepped over one of the dead poults, spread her wings and settled down as if brooding a clutch of eggs.  After a brief interval, she arose and did the same thing to the other downed bird.

This dispelled any doubt in my mind that all the hen’s actions were an effort to revive the lifeless poults.

Turkey broods in the fall hang close together and they watch out for each other, sounding the “time to go” call when danger appears to be near. Joe Forma Photo

This was a revelation to me.

Such maternal devotion would not have been surprising in a mammal, but I never expected it from a bird.  During the hen’s ministrations, the rest of the flock made repeated moves to leave, led by another hen.  They would drift away a few yards before looking back to see if the devoted mother was following.  Seeing that she wasn’t, the flock would drift back for a while, but as time went on, the flock’s tentative departures took them farther and farther away.

Finally, drawn by the pull of her flock, the mother hen began her own series of departures and returns.  An hour or so after the fateful shot, she finally abandoned the dead poults and followed the flock out of sight.

For many years, I resisted the urge to attribute human-like behavior to other animals.  Anthropomorphizing wildlife is frowned upon by many biologists and hunters, but well after over half-century of watching quadrupeds, including dogs, I am forced to conclude that “lower” animals share a great deal – perhaps most of human emotional responses.

I don’t know what went on in the brains of that mother hen and her companions, but it’s difficult for me to attribute it to mere instinct.  For that matter, who’s to say that human emotions aren’t instinctive?

This line of reasoning might raise the hackles of some hunters who refuse to concede anything to people whose empathy leads them to eschew or even disapprove of hunting.  But, it seems to me that if we are willing to take the lives of animals, we ought to be willing to think critically about it.

For me, the notion that turkeys and other game animals experience grief and other human-like emotions is not a reason to stop hunting.

All animals, human and nonhuman alike, take life and have it taken from them.

Turkeys eat grasshoppers and lizards.

Deer kill one another and have been photographed eating small mammals.

Strict herbivores kill plants.

Modern-day humans seldom fall victim to predators, but it matters little whether you die in the jaws of a grizzly bear or in the grip of Streptococcus pneumoniea.

Either way, you are dead at the “hands” of something that wants to eat you.

The predator-prey relationship between humans and game animals is as old as our respective species.  They, and we, are intricately adapted for the fateful dance we share.  The predatory urge encoded in human DNA is why many of us still feel a powerful pull to re-enact the timeless drama of the chase.  It reminds us of what we have been and what we remain as, at a very deep level.  And it can tell us much about why we are how we are.

Hunters since time immemorial have felt deep connections to the animals they pursue.

This connection goes deeper than nutritional necessity.

Our hunting forebears saw game in the same light that I saw those turkey poults and their devoted hen.  They saw kindred spirits, worthy of respect and empathy, worthy of immortalizing on cave walls.  They knew themselves to be integral parts of the pulsing, exultant, poignant pageant of life.

Hunting allows us to maintain that intimate connection to the natural world. 

Hunting allows us to maintain that intimate and sacred connection to the natural world, it binds us to the circle of life.  Joe Forma Photo

Without it, we risk thinking ourselves above and outside the circle of life.  We could fail to recall our connection to the natural world at our own peril as a species.

It is no mere coincidence that hunters are, and always have been, the beating heart of the conservation movement.  We don’t only do it simply to ensure the availability of living targets or merely because we like killing things.

As the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset observed, modern humans do not hunt to kill.  We no longer need to pursue game to sustain life.  Rather, we kill in order to have hunted, to maintain an authentic and utterly irreplaceable connection to the natural world.

My exultation in a successful turkey hunt was tinged, as it ought to be, with reflection about what it means to take a life.

I wonder how often nonhunters give similar consideration to the deaths they farm out to others.

In spite of the pang it sometimes gives me, I am more than proud of my hunting.  I see in it the best hope for the future of things “natural, wild and free.”

-end-

Quantum Gravity Fright, RISING MOON Hunting Night

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

By Forrest Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write it down as a MUST-HAVE:

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

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

Pass it on. Please.

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

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

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

By Forrest Fisher

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

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

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

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

In summary, check out these features:

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

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

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

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

Try ‘em.

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

CWD Testing More Important NOW Than Ever

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

By Jim Low

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

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

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

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

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

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

The GREATEST Scent-Control Whitetail Apparel Ever Made

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

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

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

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

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

HOW MUCH IS YOUR HUNTING CLOTHING HELPING YOU?

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

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

Full Season Taktix Jacket

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

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

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

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

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

FOR SALE – A CABIN IN THE WOODS

By Larry Whiteley
When I was younger I used to dream of having a cabin in the woods. A simple cabin nestled among cedars and hardwoods somewhere in the Ozark Mountains of southwest Missouri.

My grandma used to tell me if I dreamed long enough and worked hard enough my dreams would come true. Grandma was right and 20 years ago my wife and I found and bought that cabin. It was only 5 acres, but surrounded by the thousands of acres of the Mark Twain National Forest.

The small cabin sits upon a rock bluff overlooking a creek and waterfall. Just like my dreams, it is surrounded by cedars and hardwoods and a scattering of pines. The trees keep it hidden from view of the few cars that travel the gravel road, and offer shade and protection from the summer’s sun and cold winds of winter.
A little wood stove sits in a corner and warms the cabin on winter days. Antique snowshoes hang on both sides of moose antlers. Deer, pheasant, ducks, trout, bass, and a big muskie hang on the walls. Fox, beaver and raccoon pelts further add to the setting. Each has a special memory and a story.
Deer antlers, turtle shells, feathers, buckeyes, rocks, bird nests and other nature things can be found everywhere you look. Most have been picked up by grandkids while on cabin adventures. They are mixed in with old duck decoys, along with the jars, dishes and other antiques that are my wife’s special touch.

Most noticeable though are all the pictures of our kids and grandkids hung with loving care and sitting on shelves. Pictures of them with turkey, deer, fish or just having a good time at the cabin. Grandkid pictures when they were just babies as well as pictures of them as young adults.

Looking out our windows we see birds of all kinds coming to the feeders. April thru October is hummingbird time and I don’t mean just a few. Hundreds at a time are a sight that thrills everyone who visits.

The deck is a great place to watch squirrels playing in the woods, butterflies landing on wild flowers, or bats diving for insects in a summer’s night sky. You can hear the waterfall as it cascades down Dogwood Mountain, listen to the sounds of the creek as it flows across the riffles, and hear the kingfisher swooping above the water or crows calling up the valley.

The fire pit is where grandkids roasted marshmallows and shared time with PaPaw. It’s a place to watch the flames dance and flicker as the worry and stress melts away. It’s a place for fish fry’s, cookouts and fellowship.
A big barn and a small barn store the ATVs and other things. They are also great for making things and places for grandkids to play when it’s raining.

Grandkids loved going fishing, hunting squirrels, swimming, snorkeling, catching crawdads, skipping rocks, playing in the gravel or waterfall, finding feathers, wading in the creek and riding ATV’s.

Good neighbors like Bob and Barb, Wayne and Jane, Annie and Winnie, Doug and Kim, Judge John, Sheila and Willie love the valley too. With them we have shared hiking trails, ATV rides, campfires and pieces of our lives.

Spring at the cabin is redbuds, dogwoods and wildflowers, along with the sound of peeper frogs and whip-poor-wills. Summer is fishing, swimming, relaxing or playing in the creek. Fall brings a kaleidoscope of color, hunting season, looking for buckeyes, hiking, and cutting wood for the cold months ahead. Winter is books by the fire, making new hiking trails, and hiking in the snow.

 

The 20 years of owning the cabin have passed in a hurry and things have changed.
Kids have grown up and are busy with their own lives now and don’t come to the cabin anymore and won’t after we are gone. The older grandkids don’t come either except for deer season. They would rather go to the lake than the creek. Younger grandkids live a long drive away. All of them will all always have memories of the cabin.

Grandma and I are getting older now too and it’s time for another change. As long as we live we will still have the memories and the pictures. It will be hard to say goodbye to the cabin but it’s time to find someone else who has dreamed of owning a cabin in the woods.

I wipe tears from my eyes as I finish writing this. Remember that a cabin is more than just a cabin. It is a living structure with a soul of memories and dreams. It is a place to get away, to share with others and to share fragments of one’s life with nature.

If you dream of owning a cabin in the woods, e-mail Larry at lwhiteley2@basspro.com

 

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

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

By Forrest Fisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Aldo Leopold would say, “START GROUSING!”

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

By Jim Low

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

-end-

Nockturnal introduces the FIT Universal Lighted Nock

  • Fits X, GT, S and H diameter arrows
  • 20 hour lithium ion battery, Easy switch off
  • Weight: 25 grains

Serious hunters take note.  Nockturnal continues to take all the guesswork out of adding the benefit of lighted nocks to your quiver with the introduction of its new FIT universal-lighted nock designed to fit X, GT, S and H diameter arrows.

Color choice options include Red, Green or a patent-pending Red/Green Strobe.

The Nockturnal FIT includes Nock Collar adapter sleeves in three different sizes, simplifying equipment selection and making color choice—either Red, Green or a patent-pending Red/Green Strobe—the only real shopping decision.

The Nockturnal FIT features ultra-strong, impact resistant, clear-polycarbonate nock construction encapsulating the super-bright red, green or red/green strobing LEDs that are activated by a patented string-activated, piston-driven contact switch. Like all Nockturnal nocks, the FIT is guaranteed to activate immediately when the string is released, and it can be switched off quickly and easily with the Nockturnal Nock Tool, a small screwdriver or most broadhead tips via an opening in the side of the nock.

With a base nock sized for X arrows, Nocturnal FIT nocks are packaged in a three-pack that also includes three Nock Collars for each nock that fit tightly to GT, S and H arrows. Each Nock Collar is marked with its intended arrow diameter, and once fully seated on the FIT, the adapter sleeve and nock become locked together for absolute reliability.

With well in excess of 20 hours of lithium battery life, each Nockturnal FIT will remain brightly lit for plenty of time for arrow retrieval and can be easily spotted in daylight hours as well as at night. The Red/Green Strobe Fit nock alternates 400 times a minute between the two colors.

Weighing around 25 grains, each Nockturnal FIT is waterproof and shockproof, and a three-pack with adapters retails for $34.99. The FIT nocks are available at retailers nationwide or conveniently online at www.nockturnal.com.

Headquartered in Superior, Wis., Nockturnal is a leading designer and manufacturer of lighted nocks for arrows and crossbow bolts. Nockturnal’s unique, patented, bow-string-activated, piston-driven assembly ensures LED illumination every time. Nockturnal nocks feature super-bright LEDs and long-life lithium batteries for superior illumination that lasts. Nockturnal also manufactures the Predator line of lighted crossbow bolts. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of FeraDyne Outdoors, LLC. For more information on the company or its products, visit www.nockturnal.com; or write to Nockturnal, 101 Main Street, Superior, WI 54880; or call 866-387-9307.

 

SPOT & STALK TURKEY HUNTING

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

By Tyer Mahoney

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

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

So what do you do?

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

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

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

SPOTTING

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

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

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

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

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

STALKING

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

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

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

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

SHOOTING

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

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

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

Good luck and happy stalking!

Give Up Wooden Tree Stands!

A True Story of Survival

treestands
Using a haul rope to bring gear up and down from your tree stand keeps your hands free for climbing and reduces the likelihood of a fall.

Dave Reid of New Bloomfield had been in his tree stand for about three hours on opening day of the November deer season. He was stiff from sitting as still as possible, so he allowed himself the luxury of a stretch.

“I stood up, and the stand just went out from under me,” he recalls.

The plastic covering of one of his stand’s mounting cables was old, and the cable had slipped out of its clamp.

“There I was, 20 feet off the ground,” said Reid. “If I hadn’t been wearing a safety harness, I could have been killed.”

Bob Legler of West Plains wasn’t so lucky when he took a day of vacation to celebrate his 55th birthday. It was November 16, the peak of the rut, and Legler climbed into a wooden deer stand on his home property, hoping for a birthday supper of venison loin. The wooden tree stand was swaying noticeably in the wind, but he didn’t think much about that.

Everything fell into place around mid-day. He dropped a fat doe with one well-placed shot and savored the moment with a steaming cup of coffee. The temperature at dawn had been around 20 degrees and the hot drink helped chase away the morning chill.

A careful hunter, Legler lowered his rifle and backpack to the ground with a rope before climbing down to tag and field dress his deer. Adrenalin surged when the first 2X4 handhold he grasped as he left his stand gave way as he put weight on it. He grabbed at another piece of lumber nailed to the tree, but it too broke free, plunging Legler 20 feet to the ground. He landed on his back.

“At impact, I felt a sensation in my legs like an electrical current pulsing through them,” he recalls. “The pain was intense, unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I knew I was hurt bad. I was alone, half a mile from home. No phone.”

Legler lay on the ground for several minutes trying to catch his breath. He prayed. After a while, he noticed that he could move his toes. That answered one of his prayers. He rolled onto his stomach, which triggered a wave of pain. He tried to push himself up onto his hands and knees, only to find that the fall had broken his left arm and wrist. He rolled back onto his back and checked his wristwatch. It was 11:30 a.m.

Legler’s friends and family had considerately stayed out of the woods so he could have them all to himself. It would be hours before help arrived. He tried repeatedly to rise, but excruciating pain stopped him each time. Finally understood that his back was broken, and attempts to move risked severing his spine. He lay back down, tried shouting for help, but his weak voice was swallowed up by the blustery wind.

Knowing that hypothermia was an imminent danger, he used his good arm to scoop dry leaves around his body for insulation. He prayed, recited scripture and sang hymns to bolster his spirit. Then the shivering began. First in his legs. Then in his abdomen and finally in his chest. Legler came to terms with the very real possibility that he would die before help arrived. But he was spared, his wife and son found him around 7:30 p.m.

In the emergency room, doctors determined that Legler had shattered his first lumbar vertebra, an injury that often results in paralysis of the legs. But Legler’s luck held. After surgery and six months of physical therapy, he walked again and regained most of the use of his left arm.

Examination of the faulty tree stand revealed that the deck screws Legler used to anchor lumber across two tree trunks had snapped under stress. The screws had less tensile strength than common nails. However, even stout nails might have loosened or broken after years of exposure to weather and stress from two swaying trees.

Reid and Legler’s cautionary tales are especially important this time of year. Archery season opens in just a few days, and gun seasons aren’t far behind. The Missouri Department of Conservation doesn’t maintain records of tree-stand accidents, but anecdotal evidence suggests that they far outnumber firearms-related deaths and injuries. Here are some important tips for using tree stands safely.

  • Don’t hunt from wooden tree stands. They are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents.
  • Use commercially made tree stands only if they are approved by the Tree Stand Manufacturers Association.
  • Check all components of tree stands for rust, wear or deterioration before and during the hunting season.
  • Pay special attention to the tightness of nuts, bolts, cables and other hardware.
  • Always wear a safety harness when climbing to and from tree stands, as well as when on the stand. Most accidents occur when climbing up, down, into or out of stands. For a reliable, inexpensive climbing safety device, use a Prusik knot and safety rope.
  • Use only OSHA approved, full-body safety harnesses. Lesser devices can cause injury when falls occur or leave you suspended with no way to get back to the tree or down to the ground. Even worse, substandard harnesses can cut off circulation to extremities or impair breathing, leading to suffocation.
  • Keep yourself on a short leash. If you fall only three feet, you are traveling at more than 25 feet per second. The impact when your safety tether snaps tight at this speed can break bones.
  • Use a haul rope to bring guns, bows or other gear to the stand and lower them after hunting. This keeps both hands free for climbing.
  • When using climbing stands, secure them to the tree with a safety chain.
  • Leave your stand if you get sleepy or if it starts to rain, sleet or snow, or when the tree begins to sway in the wind.
  • Use a rope and harness while hanging stands. Practice at ground level before starting.
  • Carry survival gear, including food, water, signal whistle, space blanket and, where practical, a cell phone in your pack, just in case something goes wrong.
  • When hunting alone, always leave word with someone about where you will be and when you expect to return.

Using tree stands safely isn’t hard, and the alternative is too grim to contemplate. I can’t think of a more appropriate topic for the old saying, “Better safe than sorry.”

National Hunting and Fishing Day 2016

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Saturday, September 24, 2016
Kids and Adults Invited to Discover the Fun of the Outdoors
Johnny Morris named 2016 Honorary Chair

National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to celebrate conservation successes of hunters and anglers. From shopping center exhibits to statewide expos, millions of citizens have learned to appreciate America’s sportsman-based system of conservation funding. That system now generates more than $1.7 billion per year, benefiting all who appreciate wildlife and wild places.

In locations all around the country, kids and adults alike, can share in a few of the fun and challenging hands-on activities that include fishing, outdoor gear, archery, firearm safety and much more. Sportsman and conservation groups will feature exhibits with displays of hunting and fishing equipment with demonstrations of outdoor skills.

National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) has named leading national conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder, Johnny Morris, to serve as the honorary chair for NHF Day 2016. A lifelong sportsman with a passion for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation, Morris is one of the country’s foremost leaders working to ensure natural habitats, wildlife and the outdoors remain healthy for future generations to protect and enjoy.

“America’s sportsmen and women are among our nation’s most active conservationists and it’s important we recognize and celebrate everything they do to protect outdoor habitat and ensure thriving populations of wildlife,” said Morris. “I’m proud to lend my support and raise awareness for hunters and anglers, America’s conservation heroes through National Hunting and Fishing Day.”

The NHF Day event is just one more of the ways Morris is honoring the unsung heroes of conservation. Later this year, Morris will unveil the new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, a 315,000-square foot conservation destination envisioned as a tribute to America’s hunters and anglers. Through immersive habitats and interactive displays the experience will inspire future generations to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors.

“NHF Day is continually looking for folks that have a true passion for the outdoors and is very involved with conservation,” said Misty Mitchell, national coordinator, National Hunting and Fishing Day. “Johnny Morris is leading the charge in all facets of conservation. We couldn’t be happier to have him serve as our National Chair.”

This annual event takes place on Saturday, September 24, 2016, with activities taking place across the country.

Morris joins a distinguished group that has included Jim Shockey, Eva Shockey, Craig Morgan, Bill Dance, T. Boone Pickens, Louise Mandrell, Hank Williams Jr., Jeff Foxworthy, Wade Boggs, Arnold Palmer, the USA Olympic Shooting Team, Tony Stewart and others.

For more information, visit http://www.nhfday.org.

huntshootfish

Significant SHARE Act Passes House

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The National Rifle Association applauds the passage of HR2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act last week, on Friday, February 26, 2016. Introduced by Congressional Representative Robert Wittman, the SHARE Act provides enhanced access to public lands and will strengthen America’s hunting, fishing, and sport shooting heritage now and in the future,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “There will be more resources available for public ranges, more hunter access to public lands, and more opportunities for Americans to enjoy the great outdoors.”

In addition to allowing law-abiding gun owners increased access to carry firearms on land managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the SHARE Act also protects the use of traditional ammunition and requires that U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management plans to facilitate hunting, fishing, and shooting. Finally, the bill would more comprehensively address the interstate transportation of firearms and ammunition for hunters and law-abiding gun owners.

The bill also would authorize the appropriation of $5 million a year to enforce laws related to the illegal trading of ivory. Based on information provided by the affected agencies, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the legislation would cost $24 million over the 2016-2020 period and $1 million after 2020, assuming appropriation of the authorized and necessary amounts.

Because CBO estimates that enacting the bill would affect direct spending, pay-as-you-go procedures apply, however, CBO estimates that the net effect on direct spending would be negligible over the 2016-2025 period. Enacting H.R. 2406 would not affect revenues. CBO also estimates that enacting H.R. 2406 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026.

HR2406 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would benefit state agencies by lowering the matching requirement for federal grants that support public shooting ranges. Any costs incurred by those entities would be incurred voluntarily.

HR2406 would impose a private-sector mandate, as defined in UMRA, by eliminating an individual’s existing right to seek compensation for damages occurring at some public target ranges. Based on information from the Department of the Interior, CBO estimates that the cost of the mandate would be small and fall well below the annual threshold established in UMRA for private-sector mandates ($154 million in 2015, adjusted annually for inflation).

The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where a similar package (the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015) has already advanced from the Committees on Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works.

~NRA~

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services. Follow the NRA on social at Facebook.com/National Rifle Association and Twitter @NRA