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I’m a “Fan” of Turkey Hunting By Gary Howey

  It was twelve or so years ago, when I suggested to my  hunting partner Larry Myhre that we should come up with some type of turkey fan that would help us sneak up on Gobblers. He thought it was a good idea, but said it sounded like work and he was looking for less.

   That next spring, I took one of my turkey fans that I had spread out and dried into the field with me, didn’t have much luck with it and abandoned the idea.

   Since then, I’ve used then every spring and have fooled more long beards with them than I had every thought possible.

   Several years ago, my Outdoor Adventures radio co-host Simon Fuller was operating the camera as I called in a group of young birds using a combination of my calls and the fan. They five of them came into my decoys feeling brave with all of the birds fanned out as they approached my jake and hen decoys.

 As they surrounded my jake decoy, I made the raspy call of an old gobbler, raised the fan and all five of the birds about dirtied themselves as they did their best to get away from my fan.

  On the same hunt, using my fan and calling, I called a hen a long ways and when she came within sight of my decoys lost interest and started to move away. However, when I brought my fan back up, she came within arm’s reach of me and refused to leave, I think she fell in love with my turkey fan. I finally had to chase her away as she was messing up my turkey hunting.

  Later that day as we were heading back towards town with my Honda Pioneer, we spooked a big Tom that took off running across a pasture. Down the road a ways, we spotted two gobblers and a hen bout a 1/2 mile away, in order for the birds to hear and see the fan, we crawled through the pasture, with my fan out in front of us, up to the fence line and started calling. I watched the birds with my binoculars and each time I called, they would gobble but not leave the hen.

  Simon had the camera zeroed in on them as I brought the fan up high and worked it from side to side, hoping to get the birds attention, but to no avail. Suddenly I saw the gobbler, the bird we had spooked as we came in, on the other side of the gobblers and hen and each time I raised the fan, he would head in our direction.

  He ran right past the other birds and came in our direction and each time the fan came up would strut and gobble, coming closer all the time.

  When I said “the birds coming in”, Simon who was still locked on the two gobblers and hen disagreed with me and wasn’t sure what I was talking about. By this time the bird was out a 100 yards or so when I told Simon “can you hold this fan up as I can’t shoot and run it at the same time” that he looked my way and spotted the gobbler out in front of me. [Read more…]

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The “Prime” Time for Predator Calling! By Gary Howey

  The weather has changed and its cold, too cold to do many outdoor activates, sure, ice fishing is coming soon, but it may be awhile before there’s enough ice to fish.

  One thing you can do if you bundle up warm is to call predators.  As the weather starts to change, become colder, furbearers, including coyotes and fox will have their heavy winter fur, which helps them make it through the winter.

  Then there are those poor coyotes that have developed the mange a terrible infliction where they lose all or most of their fur, with the most humane thing that could happen to them would be to put out of their misery.

  When it’s cold like it is, all critters and waterfowl will spend time moving and hunting, looking for some high protein food source to help keep their bodies warm. This means they’ll be out more as they have to eat often in order to make it through this tough time of the year.

   This is why, this time of the year is “prime” time to call predators, with several of the predators you may have come to your call be coyotes, fox and bobcats.

  Predator callers generally hunt with a small caliber rifle with lighter grain bullets, with 223-22-250 and 243 being three of the more popular calibers. Having s good variable scope mounted on tour rifle is also a good idea as it allows hunters to make some of the sometimes-difficult shots needed when hunting predators. 

  Getting permission to call predators is generally not too hard of a task as farmers and ranchers who’ve cattle have no love for predators. Predators are opportunists, taking advantage of anything that offering an easy meal and known to hang around calving yards.

All predator’s I mentioned above have excellent eyesight, hearing and an acute sense of smell, when calling predators you’ll want to glass the area you plan to call, then put together a plan, get in and set up quietly, which means using the terrain to your advantage. 

   Because the ground in the area is frozen or snow covered, you’ll want to come in slowly, making as little noise as possible and wearing some sort of camouflage to break up your outline is a big plus. Try to keep something, a cedar tree or some other vegetation between you and the area you’re calling when coming in to set up.

   The most important thing, as is with all hunting is to use the wind to your advantage by calling with the wind in your face so the keen nose of the predators don’t detect you.

  Even if the predators don’t spot you, they may attempt to circle around you to use the wind to their advantage. Don’t panic when this happens, and if you need to change shooting positions, do it slowly when the critter is in a low spot or behind a tree.

    Our best calling has been when we have two or more hunters and whenever possible facing opposite directions so we’ve both avenues of approach covered in case a coyote would come in behind us.

  Another mistake that some callers make, including our group is to hunt with just  scoped rifles, as on occasion, a coyote will pop up in front of you, too close to get a decent shot using a scope.  Now when we call, one of us always brings along a shotgun loaded with heavy loads.

  We use a combination of calls, relying heavily on our ICOtec electronic callers, but all hunters with us will also have mouth calls just in case we’re caught by surprise.

  The wounded rabbit calls, the cottontail and jackrabbit calls have been around a long time. In some areas, have been over used, making predators fooled by them once, much more cautious when coming into these calls. [Read more…]

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Dove hunting season opens September 1st by Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Sept. 1, is the opening day of dove season throughout our three-state area. While there will be many hunters in the field this evening, the big push will not come until the weekend.

I’ve hunted doves for years, mostly in Nebraska and South Dakota, long before Iowa had a season. I’ve enjoyed every hunt, and doves, when prepared correctly, can be mighty good eating.

If dove hunting is a new experience for you, and for many Iowans it will be even though we have had a season for a few years now, I’ll try to get you started.

There are numerous ways to hunt doves. The way I really prefer to do it is to set up at a farm pond to await the evening flight. It is, however, important to pick the right pond. Doves like to fly in, settle on a mud bank and walk down to the water to take a drink. So it is important that you pick a pond with good mud banks at least on one side.

Doves roost in trees at night, so a pond near some timber where doves roost can make one pond fit the “super” category and another just “average.”

This is where scouting comes into play. Just like any other hunting, you want to set up where the game is. It helps to get out and drive around looking for good places to set up. Take a pair of binoculars because they can help you spot doves.

Most landowners will let you hunt doves, but explain your tactics to them so they know what to expect.

Iowa has lots of public shooting areas that have good flights of doves, especially those that have food plots planted for doves. Go to the Iowa DNR website and click on the banner dove picture to find the listings.

South Dakota has over a million acres of “Walk-In” land in addition to a great many other public lands that you can hunt. Nebraska does too. Go to their websites to get all the information. [Read more…]

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Turkey hunting’s most often asked questions By Larry Myhre

 

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Over the years, I have given several turkey hunting seminars.

I am always amazed at the very good questions those in attendance ask. Today, I am going to relate some of those questions and give my answers. If you are a beginning turkey hunter, you may find this very interesting.

Are windy days good for turkey hunting?

The short answer is “No.” Wind makes it difficult for the toms to hear your calling. Your effective range becomes less as the wind becomes stronger. Also, all wildlife is more cautious in windy weather. And the reason is simple. They can’t hear as well, and hearing is one of their defenses. In the case of the wild turkey his best defense is his eyes. Secondly it is his hearing. Of course you can be successful on windy days, it’s just that I’d rather hunt in the rain than in the wind. Which brings us to our next question.

Can you be successful if it is raining?

You can be successful hunting turkeys in the rain. Of course if you are talking monsoon or a thunderstorm with wind and hail, the answer is probably not. But those gentle, all-day spring rains are no reason to stay at home. Turkeys will generally move to the edges of fields outside the timber during light rains and can definitely be found there once the rain stops

What causes a tom turkey to “hang up” and not come in to your calls?

There are lots of reasons, but most likely the tom is already with hens. I think it was probably a tom turkey that came up with the saying “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” If he is with hens he will simply gobble and expect you to come to him and join the harem. After all, that’s how it is done in nature. If the tom is not with hens, he may have come up against a barrier. That may be a fence, a creek, a deep ravine or a road. That’s why it pays to scout thoroughly. If you know the lay of the land, you can make a good guess on why he is not coming in. [Read more…]

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Snows on the ground They are on the Move Gary Howey

This winter, the countryside is covered in the white stuff, snow, which means it is prime time to get out and “take a shot” at calling predators.

No longer can predators, fox and coyotes go almost anywhere to pick up an easy meal as the pastures fence lines and shelterbelts are now covered or buried in snow.

Winter makes it hard for predators to find the critters they eat to build up their energy level and to stay warm during those cold winter nights.

The young not so bright critters, the weak and the old are long since gone, while others have gone into hibernation, so predators in the winter have to work hard and at times travel great distances to find a meal.

Predators like all of Mother Nature’s critters are opportunists, taking the easiest route and taking every opportunity for an easy meal.

When predators hear a distress call or the sound of another animal in trouble, whether it is a bird or fur bearer, they are, going to high tail it to the sound hoping to find whatever is making the noise easy pickings.

Calling Predators isn’t a walk in the park, as predators have keen senses including their sight and sense of smell, which can pick you out before you even get set up to call. Do not get me wrong, you do not need to be a Rhodes Scholar to call predators; you just need to use common sense.

One of those things needed to be successful, is to get into the area you want to call without being seen as the eyes of a predator can spot movement at great distances, so stealth, keeping the noise down and blending in with the terrain you will cross are important.

This is where some sort of camouflage, concealment enters into play. When you are calling in snow covered ground, some sort of snow camo can make or break you. My partners our cameraman and I all don complete camo, and at times, wearing snow ghille suits. Everything we bring into the field where we will set up and call, including our rifles, shotguns, clothing, stocking caps, and facemasks match the terrain.

In northeast Nebraska, where we do much of our calling, there is an over abundance of Cedar trees we can back into when we call.

This means, we will be setting on the ground in the snow while our backs are against the Cedars and when we hunt this way why we wear dark clothing above the waist and snow camo below!

You do not need expensive camo to call predators during the winter as something as simple as an old white sheet can do the job. If you are hunting in open ground, you can cut a slot in the sheet, pull it over your head and wear it like a Mexican serape or poncho. [Read more…]

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Turkey Decoys By Gary Howey

When I started, hunting turkeys back in the 70’s it was a new sport in this part of the country and we learned as we went along.

Hunting turkeys with decoys was the furthest thing from our minds.

A friend of mine from Crofton, NE. heard about hunters down south using decoys to draw gobblers into shotgun range and since none was available in our area, he made one. Using an old Styrofoam Canada goose decoy, he whittled on it and then painted it to resemble a turkey, well, kind-o- sort of! It looked like a deformed, mostly black Canada goose that had gotten in a fight and LOST. It was bulky, made a lot of nose when going through the woods, but it worked.

If I was going to be serious about turkey hunting, I had to have one and when the first plastic expandable hen decoys came out, I got me one. They folded flat, and could be spread out, bulking them up by using the T-handle stake, making them appear larger. I could easily carry the folded up decoy in the game pouch of my turkey-hunting vest. Since they were hard plastic, they too made a lot of noise when walking through the trees.

These first decoys were upright, because of the stake they were on, stuck up in the air quite a ways with the decoys head in the alert position, the way turkeys hold their head when they are alerted, looking around.

To keep my decoy from being positioned too high in the air and to get it out of the alert position, I shortened up the stake, lowering it closer to the ground, tilting it forward into more of a feeding position.

Then there were the foam decoys, allowing me to carry several of these decoys in my game pouch. This is when Ii started experimenting with putting the hen decoy in the breeding position. I’d place my hen decoy flat on the ground with the Tom positioned a short distance away looking in her direction. This worked well until the wind came up when the foam decoys would jump around, working its way out of the ground, and flying off across the field with me in hot pursuit.

Since then, I have used any number of decoys, some in groups of two, on up to a whole flock, experimenting with silhouette, full bodies, stuffed birds and inflatable decoys.

Today, turkey hunters have a wide variety of turkey decoys they can use. If you are just getting into turkey hunting, it can be confusing as there are so many decoy postures. There’s the

feeding, breeding, submissive, alert, strutting and so on and so forth.

There are several things I look for when I choose a decoy or decoys that I plan to use in the spring. The time of the season and how the Toms are putting together their harems re a few of the things you want to consider before heading out into the woods.

When putting out turkey decoys, you want to use a decoy or decoys that aren’t going to alert the birds, a position like the feeding hen, as it is the most natural position in nature.

Almost all turkey flocks have some feeding hens, which are followed closely by strutting Toms, and it doesn’t get more realistic or relaxed than that. The other position that works in a flock situation is the breeding (hen on the ground) position. Since the breeding position puts the hen on the ground, they are hard for the Tom to see so you need an upright decoy to get the gobbler’s attention.

I use a basic, realistic decoy set up, which is a feeding hen, strutting gobbler and an alert (lookout) hen. The number of decoys, how they will be set up depends on the terrain I’m hunting in. [Read more…]

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Let’s Talk Turkey By Gary Howey

Gobblers in the spring re busy, strutting, doing their best to impress the ladies, fighting off other Toms who try to cut into their action and to doing all the other things turkeys do.

This is the time of the year, before the season opens that you need to get out and figure them out. Find a good observation point, and use your binoculars to figure out where they roost, strut, feed and their travel lanes.

Since the states I hunt in allow hunting a half-hour before sunrise, you will want to head out early. Because turkeys don’t see well in the dark, I’m not saying they won’t see you or a predator sneaking in on them, because they are up in a tree, they can see for a long ways, they don’t see a coyote or hunter, they see a dark form coming in.  This spooks them: where they shut up and will fly down as far away from the thing that disturbed them.

The hunter, especially an archery hunter needs to get as close to the roost as possible, set up decoy, then hunker down, and wait for the bird to pitch out of the tree. This is going to take time and getting into the field an hour before sunrise is not a bad plan.

If you haven’t done your scouting in the spring, you may find that the roost area they used in the winter isn’t the same roost they are using in the spring. There are several reason this happens, one is their food source may have changed or something might have spooked them out of the area. You’ll want to locate their spring roost or you may be calling to an empty tree on opening day.

Once you have, their roost tree located, it’s not a bad idea to get your gear out into the woods a few days earlier, especially if you are hunting out of a blind or some other type of camouflage hide. If you get it out several days ahead of the opener, the birds will become familiar with it and it won’t spook them. [Read more…]