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Early Season Pheasant Hunting Tactics Gary Howey

  For those of us that have been waiting all year for pheasant season, well, it is about here!

  Reports indicate that the pheasant outlook is not as good as in previous years with those states that have a lot of habitat crowing about their pheasant numbers.

  Over the years, I have hunted with hundreds of hunter and was surprised how some of them hunted and amazed by others at how well they would look over the situation, hash things over, approaching each field differently.

  Here are a few tips that I have learned that have helped me to become a more consistent early season pheasant hunter.

* Once you arrive at the field that you plan on hunting, keep the noise down to a minimum as all wild game has a very acute sense of hearing.  This means, do not slam your car door; keep the noise to a minimum. [Read more…]

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Tree Stand Locations: Using Funnels

Much of choosing the proper stand site has to do with “structure.” In the same way that an angler finds the “spot on the spot,” the lay of the land and topography differences that restrict or guide movement are keys to stand placement. Whitetail travel from place to place using cover and terrain to their advantage. Learning to recognize the transition areas, access points, and travel corridors of whitetails is crucial to choosing your ambush location. In fact, if you choose the right funnel during the chase phase of the rut it can seem like “God just pulled the drain plug on a sink full of deer.”

Identifying Funnels

One of the first things you should do when approaching a new spot is to obtain an aerial photo, satellite image or topographical map. The first spots to focus on are the funnels. It doesn’t matter if you’re hunting big timber, agricultural land or rural lots; there are funnels in your hunting area. With agricultural land and more populated areas, funnels are easier located because of the sections and man-made dividers, but there are bottlenecks everywhere. Wherever you can restrict their movement to a smaller zone there will be more traffic and it’s easier to position yourself to remain undetected from their amazing sense of smell.

Subtle Variations In Terrain [Read more…]

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Memorial Pheasant Hunt, Tribute Gary Howey

 

  Veterans and those serving veterans have always been dear to me as the military tradition runs deep in my family, with my father, brother, uncles and cousins all serving in the military.

  My father, brother, uncles, cousin and I all served, some during World War Two and others during Viet Nam. I served in the Army with over-sea tours in Germany and Viet Nam and then in the Iowa and Nebraska National Guard.

  This is why, when the colors pass in review or our National Anthem played, I like others who served, remove our caps and place them our hands over my heart.

  Because I served and my pride in my country, any opportunity I have to thank or highlight veterans, I will be there.

  When asked to take part in the “Doug Brown” Memorial North Central chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America Pheasant Hunt it took me but a split second to say “Yes.”

   Doug served as the Veteran’s Representative at the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Veterans Administration serving veteran’s for many years.

   This annual event, held in his memory allows disabled veterans and individuals the opportunity to take part in a real South Dakota pheasant hunt.

  Friends and family of Brown, the North Central Paralyzed Veterans of America staff, volunteers from throughout the area and the folks at Top Gun Hunting Ranch near Howard, South Dakota all contribute to the success of this great annual event.

  The event starts out with a great breakfast, safety briefing and with the assistance of a special built trailer, that allowed wheel chair bound veterans and others to  load  into the back of the pickups that transferred them to the field and served as their shooting platforms.

   On our first field, the pickups carrying these hunters made their way to the end of each field where they would block while the walkers and I pushed through the crop fields, CRP and grasses.

  The excitement of the hunt started quickly when one of the numerous dogs working in front of the walkers went on point with those walkers stationed on that side moving up on the dog. [Read more…]

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Outdoorsmen Adventures Television & Outdoor Adventure Radio Honored

   Rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those attending the Annual Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) annual conference held in Northern Minnesota.

  This four day event, was held on Lake of the Woods, bringing outdoor communicators and corporate sponsors together for numerous outdoor activities including: sturgeon fishing, walleye fishing, grouse and waterfowl hunting as well as Learn It sessions, hands on demonstrations and introduction of new products.

  This event is where outdoor communicators receive recognition for their work during the annual AGLOW Excellence in Craft Award presentations. [Read more…]

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The Primitive Fish of the North The Lake Sturgeon Gary Howey

  The Rainy River located on the Minnesota Ontario Canada border flows into Lake of the Woods with both the river and the lake premier destinations for anglers.

  I was one of several hundred outdoor communicators that made their way north to attend our annual Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) 2017 conference held on Lake of the Woods.

  They keep us quite busy at the conference, but there was still time for several side trips including sturgeon fishing, walleye fishing, grouse and waterfowl hunting.

  Since I had never fished for Sturgeon, I was looking forward to tangling with one of these primitive fish that inhabit the waters of the Rainy River.

  Lake Sturgeon, are one of twenty-five species of sturgeon found in North America. They are a prehistoric looking ancient bottom feeder. Their skeleton is primarily made up of cartilage. They are streamlined with their armored coated body having rows of bony plates on both sides and their back and when not handled right cut like razor blades.

  They feed using its elongated snout that has taste buds on and around its lips which protrude down from their head. They, like catfish have  barbells coming down from their mouth, which helps them to locate food.  Their main diet is made up of insect larvae, worms, leeches and other small organisms it picks up from the muddy river bottom. [Read more…]

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Pheasant Hunting 2017 Gary Howey

  It will not be long before the upland Game Bird season opens up. Several of the states are reporting that their pheasant numbers are down.

  I have talked with several wildlife biologists about this and they have given several reasons for the decrease in pheasant numbers.

  First is the fact that in some areas, they had dry year and moisture, the dew that the young chicks needed was hard to come by.  Secondly was the fact that last season’s numbers were also down.  Lastly, but probably the most important reason is the fact that much of our CRP had disappeared. When commodity prices were high and the dollars the government gave per acre for taking the fields out of production, into CRP were low and much of the CRP plowed under.

  Without the habitat, we just are not going to see the bird numbers others and I saw while growing up in Watertown, South Dakota during the “Good Old Days.”

  The reason that South Dakota has birds is simple; they realize the thousands of dollars their State bird, the Ringneck Pheasant brings into the state’s economy.

  South Dakota definitely have more habitat than Nebraska, the state I reside in and In Much of South Dakota; they farm for pheasants taking care of what habitat they do have.  They do a number of things to enhance the habitat, making it more attractive to wildlife.

  In South Dakota, you will see sloughs; some hold water while others are no more than muddy swamps.  When they plant trees, many of them are specifically suited for wildlife. Many farmers will leave a few rows of corn or sorghum in the field each year, helping wildlife to survive during the harsh South Dakota winters.  This habitat helps to assure that the birds have cover to protect them from predators flying overhead and the food and cover needed to make it through the long winter months.

  This, along with the fact that game preserves stock birds heavily helps to ensure good bird numbers during the season.

  Some folks have the misconception that pheasants can live in the row crops, the corn and bean fields.  Maybe, in years past, but not today as the row crops no longer have pigeon grass and weeds between the rows, they are clean.  Sure, pheasants will move into them to feed before harvest and on what little waste grain there is after harvest, but row crops do not cut it for wildlife habitat.

  In areas where there was dry weather, successful hunters this season may have to hunt areas adjacent to water.  It really does not have to be much, as a small slough, creek, or pond will work.

  Another tip that is worth listening to is to hunt the smallest tracts of land, patches of weeds etc. The larger CRP fields or state hunting grounds are hunted hard.  As soon as one group comes out one end, another group is heading in the opposite end of the field.

  Most hunters tend to pass up these small weed patches or small clumps of trees.  These places can really hold good numbers of birds, those pushed from the larger fields, find safety, and shelter in these small tracts of land.

  It does not take a Rhodes Scholar to figure it out, many of the larger tracts of land are hunted hard and the birds are looking for a place to rest and get away from all the noise and shooting. [Read more…]

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How Often Should you Check your Game Cameras?

One of the questions we get asked a lot is how often should I check my trail cameras. Everyone is eager to know what’s on their cameras, but checking them too often can leave a lot of scent behind and give mature deer a reason to avoid the area.

Consider Trail Cam Locations

The location of your camera has a lot to do with how often you should check it and each situation can be a little bit different. In a situation where you have a camera on a row crop field edge or well traveled road, it’s not going to hurt to go check your camera every couple of weeks, especially if you can check it out of a truck or UTV. On the other hand, if your camera is close to a bedding area, heavy cover, or a remote food source you don’t want to go in every few days to check your camera.

Checking Trail Cams Digitally

A great feature on some cameras is the ability to send pictures through a cellular network. The cell capable cameras work well if you live a long way from your land and it isn’t feasible to check them as often as you would like. Cameras that send pictures through either email or text messaging can be really advantageous to absentee landowners or for cameras placed in hard to reach areas. It is very tempting to check cameras every couple of days, but remember that disturbing the woods too often and leaving human scent behind can be counterproductive to your hunting and land management. [Read more…]

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Using Highly Visible Line To Catch More Fish Gary Howey

  As we grow older, we find that some of our senses are not quite as acute as they were in our younger years and being successful in the outdoors may become a little tougher.

 It could be your hearing or perhaps your vision. Several things are available that will help to improve these things, such as hearing devices like the Walker Game Ear products and a set of prescription glasses to help to improve your sight.

  Even with prescription glasses, if you are an angler, you may have done your best to make your line invisible to the fish, by using a clear or green line, which at times is almost invisible to you.

  Over the last several years, I have found that by switching to a more visible type line allowed me to detect more bites and catch more fish.

  One reason for this is that with some of the clear lines, you may not detect the bite where the fish does not grab the bait and run with it but comes in at the same level sucks the bait it.  When this happens, your line coming out of the water will move, ever so slightly to the side, indicating a bite.

  If you are not a line watcher, one who continually watches your line or have a highly visible line, you are going to miss many of these subtle bites.

  That is why I fish with a highly visible line, I know what you are thinking, can’t the fish see that type of line better? Yes, they can, but in the turbid, dirtier water we fish down here at the tail end of the South Dakota Missouri River impoundments, you are not able to see your lure or your line once it gets past ten inches to a foot.  Moreover, when the line gets down to the fish, the line color may be invisible and not a big deal.  If I believe the deeper water is clearer, I will tip my line with a six to eight foot of a Fluorocarbon leader.

  When I will be heading to a lake or river where I know I will be fishing clearer water, I will grab my reels; I have loaded up with line for fishing those kinds of conditions. All of these rigs spooled up with the lightest line I believe I can get away with, all of the reels filled with some sort of highly visible lines such as Berkley’s XL or XT.  Their different Hi-Vis colors like the  Fluorescent Blue, Blaze Orange, Solar, Sensation or Trans Optic which is clear under water, yet turns gold in the sunlight  or  Fireline in Flame Green

  I have found that if I use some of these highly visible lines, that I can see every movement, even a slight tick when a fish bumps my bait, it helps me to detect even those subtlest of bites. [Read more…]

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4 Reasons To Start Planting Trees

Tree planting has played an important role in improving wildlife habitat for ages. As GameKeepers, we know how effective “tree plots” and reforestation can be for attracting wildlife to a property, but let’s take a look at some of the other great reasons to go out and plant some trees!

Reliable Food Source

Everyone loves fresh fruit! Planting fruit bearing trees for wildlife can become a “hot spot” for game traffic when the trees are producing. These same trees can also offer up a tasty snack while in the field or at the home.

Improve The Environment

Trees improve the environment by preventing and controlling erosion and help to clean the air and water. Trees in urban areas provide shade and block cold winds, which in turn keeps heating and cooling costs down. The benefits of trees far outweigh the costs, making them a wise investment for the future.

Create Lasting  Habitats

All trees are beneficial to wildlife in some form or fashion. Food, cover and water are the pillars of necessity for all walks of wildlife, and trees can provide both food and cover. Acorns from oaks and leaves and fruits of mulberries are favorite foods by many, and a long row of mixed trees in a barren landscape of the Midwest can provide enough cover to provide safe travels to feeding areas. Advanced tree planting techniques and superior stock means nuts and fruits can mature in a hurry. [Read more…]