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Understanding The American Persimmon

Many of us know how attractive the American Persimmon can be to wildlife, especially whitetail deer. But how many of us have spent numerous hours in the field scouting for these fruit-bearing trees only to find a large persimmon tree with no fruit on it at all?

Understanding Persimmon Production

What many people are unaware of is that the American Persimmon tree can be either a male or a female; females produce fruit, and males produce pollen. Determining a persimmon tree’s sex until it actually begins flowering and producing is impossible. So it’s important to do some scouting during the right time of year to figure out which trees are male and which are female.

When To Scout For Persimmons

Late summer/early fall is a great time to let persimmons tell you whether they’re male or female. Pre-season scouting will allow you to flag the fruit-bearing persimmons so you can come back to the “flagged” trees during hunting season. You can also look for calyxes on the ground. The calyx is the woody portion that’s attached to the mature fruits. [Read more…]

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More Habitat = More Wildlife Gary Howey

  The latest pheasant outlook for South Dakota just came out and I do not want to say it is a Doom and Gloom report, but they are indicating that the states pheasant numbers are down significantly.

  To some, especially those who do not live in the upper Midwest, those that travel a long ways to hunt the state bird may think twice about making the trip.

  Well, let me tell you, if I were those individuals, I would not let the report alter your plans as even if the numbers are down, which they could be, there are still more pheasants in South Dakota than in any two or three other states in the U.S.

   In South Dakota and other upper Midwestern states, there has been a huge acreage allocation of Conservation Reserve Plantings (CRP)  land and because of this new habitat, wildlife will not only survive, but also should eventually increase in numbers.

  In my neck of the woods, we are seeing a few more birds and the reason for that is because of the low commodity crop prices and the new CRP bill, which allows good quality land to be pulled out of production and planted to native grasses.  These fields that once produced row crops are now in the CRP program where trees and bushes are planted as well as native plants and grasses. These native grasses; Switchgrass, Indian Grass, Sedgegrass, Little Bluestem or Side Oats Grama which grow best in the heat of the summer will take longer to establish. The first year CRP plantings may look as if there are few grasses and wild flowers with a lot of weeds, but once these grasses start to grow, they will eliminate many of the weeds found in the field the first year. These grasses provide excellent wildlife habitat, giving not only pheasants, but also all wildlife a place to live.

  Some plantings are not huge, maybe just the irrigation pivot corners, while others could be a hundred acres or so, no matter what the size, every little bit helps. [Read more…]

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Looking for Wildlife Hunt the Edges By Gary Howey

  Hunting was not a real big deal in my family, sure, we hunted as kids with our BB-guns and my Dad “Cal” and Grandparents, the Menkveld hunted pheasants but generally, it was on the opener or on the second weekend of the season.

  There were a few times my Dad might hunt waterfowl with a family friend, where they hunted out of a ditch northwest of Watertown hunting geese, but that was about it. 

  Each hunting trip my brother A.J. and I made with Dad was an adventure even if we were there just to help push and retrieve birds, because we cherished every trip with him and the memories they created!

  Our first hunting trips were when we were older, around ten, when we had the opportunity to be with Dad, on a pheasant hunt west of our hometown, Watertown, South Dakota.

  This was back during the soil bank days when the pheasant population in northeastern South Dakota was unbelievable as they were everywhere. 

  These trips for us were more of a long hike than a hunt, but it was really something we enjoyed, as we had gotten big enough to hang out with Dad and the guys, to be part of something we had always wanted.

 Before we could carry a gun and hunt, Dad wanted to make sure we knew how to handle a firearm safely and would need to go through the Hunters Safety Course. Back then, the course was taught through the school and once we graduated, we hoped to get a 22 rifle to hunt gophers. 

  As far as pheasant hunting was concerned, we would have to wait until we were older and had our own shotguns, as in our family there was only one shotgun, an old Winchester Model 97 twelve-gauge and for safety reasons Dad would not allow us to use it.

  Dad introduced us to hunting on these trips and we were always looking forward to these excursions. 

  It was not that we were only excited about the annual hunting trip, but before we would meet up with the other hunters; we would always stop at Tinker Town west on HWY. 212 for an early lunch.   

  This was something special to us, as it was where we got our first “store bought” hamburger and a pop and had an opportunity to see the huge pheasant and burro statues they had there.

  Sure, on these trips, we were not really hunting, just sharing the experience, as my brother and I were Dad’s bird dogs, flushing, running down and retrieving birds.

  Even though I never had the opportunity to shoot a bird, I could not wait until opening day to spend some quality time with Dad in the outdoors.

  After a few years on these trips, I realized that certain areas held more birds and because I wanted to be where the action was, I needed to be with the group of hunters walking those areas.

   At times, there was not much difference between one location and another; maybe just a subtle change that held the birds.

  As I grew older and started to hunt more, I would always look for these, hunting those subtle changes, as there was something, which drew both the birds and I to these spots.

  These areas were not always the best habitat in the field, where the most cover existed and sometimes they would even be some of the poorest cover in the field, but they held birds.

  I could not help but notice the same thing when I did some depredation trapping; some areas just had more sign with the critters using these areas more than others did, even the furbearers were relating to them just as the pheasants had.  [Read more…]

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2 Tips For Successful Food Plots: Mowing and Broadcasting

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2 Tips For Successful Food Plots: Mowing and Broadcasting

1. Mowing Perennial Food Plots: Leave Some For the Deer

Mowing your perennials is essential if you wish to have attractive, palatable clover plots. However, you never want to mow all of your perennials at once! Always leave them something to eat. Your deer have been showing up every day for a reliable meal. If you “wipe the table clean” you run the risk of them hopping the fence to find a different source and you might not get them back. Rotate the areas you leave each time you mow so there is always a dependable meal there for your herd.

2. Broadcasting Food Plot Seed: Too Much Can Hurt

A common mistake when broadcasting seed onto a seedbed is putting it on much too thick. To ensure proper coverage, measure your area, measure the correct amount of seed and set your broadcaster lean so the seeds just start to come out. Then cover the area. Your goal should be to cover the entire area and still have seed left in the hopper. Then, go back over the same area (maybe in a different pattern) until all the seed is used up. This is the best way to ensure proper coverage with broadcasters that are not calibrated to speed or driven by the wheels turning.

For more tips on planting a successful food plot read: When Should You Plant Your Food Plot? When to plant can be just as important as what to plant. For example, a hunter in northern Minnesota who wants an all brassica blend should try to plant toward the end of July. On the other hand, a hunter in the deep South wouldn’t plant the same blend until late September.

 
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Dove Hunting Can be Humbling By Calvin James

 The summer has flown by so fast that it seems like summer is quickly slipping away with the early fall hunting season right around the corner.

  This is when I start to think about the upcoming hunting seasons with the dove season one of the first to open.

  Most of the states in the upper Midwest now allow dove hunting with the opener around September 1.  In the upper Midwest, we have two species of doves that we can hunt the Morning Dove and their larger cousin, the Eurasian Collared Dove.

  When it comes to hunting doves, the weather is a huge factor, as it doesn’t take much of a weather change to get the birds to pack up and migrate south.

  If a cold front or damp weather arrives neat the opener, and stays around for several days, many of the doves will begin to move out.

  The good news is that unless the “fowl” weather stays for a long period, the doves from up north will move down, stopping over, giving us another chance to hunt those birds moving through our area.

  If the numbers of birds that I’ve seen in the upper Midwest are any indicator of what the hunting seasons are going to be like, it should be an excellent one.  With the dry weather we’ve had, the birds are concentrated around water holes, ponds and stock tanks. I’ve seen large numbers of doves in these areas, especially those having the dove’s favorite foods growing nearby.

  Doves concentrate in areas of harvested wheat and those with ragweed or hemp, as doves will fly long distances to feast on the seeds of these plants.

  It might be that the hemp or marijuana is one of the reasons that the dove’s flight path is so erratic.  As about the time you take a shot at them, the birds will fold their wings losing altitude and wing off in a different direction.

  It always seems that doves will change their altitude and direction at will.  Unfortunately, for many hunters, just about the time they shoot, the bird drops a few feet, causing the shooter to shoot where they were before they made such a quick dive.

  The dove season generally opens up on September 1 and it looks as if there will be plenty of these dodging and weaving game birds to shoot at.

  I said shoot at and not shoot or bag, as doves can be some of the toughest of all game birds to bring down.  This is especially true after you’ve fired your first shot and missed!

  Once a dove has heard the first shell go off, they go into an aerial flying act that would make any of the pilots from the Blue Angels envious. [Read more…]

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Food Plot Preparation: Plan Ahead for Success

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Late July and August can be a very busy month for wildlife management chores. Dove season is right around the corner as well as archery season for deer. Formulating a plan this time of year on what, when, and where you are going to plant cool season plots can save time and frustration. Waiting until the very last minute and scrambling to find seed, equipment or fertilizer can be a major headache.

Check Your Equipment Now

A great task for this time of year is to go ahead and do a food plot equipment check and see if any repairs are in order before planting season. Pull your tractor under a shade tree and make sure all fluids, belts, hoses, and tires are up to snuff and ready for use. Bush-hog blades can be checked for sharpness, and the gear box for the proper amount of fluid. Discs may have bearings or blades that need to be replaced, this is also a good time to grease all bearing fittings. Fertilizer and seed spreaders are always in need of some repair it seems. Give your spreader a good run through and see if there are any parts that need repair or replacement. These all seem like common sense farm chores, but doing them before planting season rolls around can help fall planting go much more smoothly by avoiding break downs in the field that cost you valuable time.

Killing Weeds Early Can Pay Off

It’s not too early to start thinking about getting fields ready for fall food plots. Fields that weren’t planted in a spring/summer annual are likely grown up in weeds and need some attention before putting a disc in the ground. Overgrown or fallow fields will work up much better if the existing vegetation is killed off. Tall weeds and grasses can be bush-hogged down and followed up by a non-selective herbicide application such as glyphosate. Killing the existing weeds and letting them get good and crispy makes discing or tilling much easier. This results in saving fuel from making less passes with equipment as well as conserving important soil moisture. Making more passes with a disc, plow, or tiller than is necessary can negatively affect your fields by increasing soil compaction and reducing important bacteria and microbes. If you have noticed that some of your round-up (glyphosate) applications are less effective, it is probably not resistant weeds but rather inefficient herbicide transfer to the target weeds. Most of us use well water on the farm to fill up our spray tanks, and this well water is notoriously hard water. This hard water can negatively affect your spray solutions by not allowing certain minerals to bond together. Adding ammonium sulfate (AMS) to your spray tank can greatly increase herbicide efficiency and give you much better kill on weeds. AMS is available in a liquid or water soluble granular form. The granular form is usually added at a rate of 10-17 lbs per 100 gallons of water and 1-3 quarts of the liquid AMS per 100 gallons.

To learn more about creating the best wildlife habitat possible check out: Want Better Wildlife Habitat? Planning Starts Now. Fall is just around the corner and this can be a great time to look at how your season is going and make a checklist of things you would like to improve in the coming year. Call it a new year’s resolution for wildlife management purposes.

 
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Deer Food Plot Tips : Creating Visual Barriers

Have you ever had a really nice food plot that the deer just didn’t seem to use that much, especially during the daylight? One really easy way to encourage whitetails to use a food source is making them feel safe by planting a food plot screen like BioLogic Blind Spot. The older age class of both bucks and does can be really shy of big, open fields or food plots that are void of close cover. Here are a few suggestions you can try to make your food plots as effective as possible.

  1. Creating Screens For Increased Daylight Activity

Create a screen around the perimeter of the plot or areas that allow the plot to be seen by a road or neighbors. We have seen great results from using tall growing blends like Blind Spot to create a transition zone from woods and thickets where the deer are coming from and the food plot. Planting a screen around the field can really help the deer have a b3 Beetter feeling of security and encourage daytime use. If you have plots that are easily seen by a neighboring property or public road, plant a screen to shield the view. You’ll be amazed how the deer know when they can’t be seen.

  1. Hide Your Stand Approach With Tall Varieties

Use blends like Blind Spot or Whistle Back to create a hidden path to your stand. We have all had one of those stands that was in a great spot for an afternoon hunt, but almost impossible to get to without being spotted. The 8-12 ft tall variety of sorghum in Blind Spot can make a great covered path to get you to your stand un-noticed. Just a tractor width wide planting is all it takes. [Read more…]

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Private landowners may enroll in Nebraska’s Open Fields and Waters

 

                                          

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Game and Parks Commission biologists will be actively enrolling private landowners in the Open Fields and Waters (OFW) Program in June. Through the OFW program, landowners can earn additional income for allowing walk-in hunting or fishing access on their properties. With roughly 97 percent of Nebraska’s land-base in private ownership, finding places to recreate continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing hunters and anglers. OFW helps ensure Nebraska’s rich outdoor heritage is carried forward by expanding public hunting and fishing opportunities on private lands throughout the state. In 2016, Game and Parks biologists enrolled more than 230,000 acres in the program.

Landowners who participate in OFW receive annual, per-acre payments for allowing walk-in hunting and/or fishing access on their properties. Payment rates vary from 50 cents to $15 per acre, depending on habitat type and location. Game and Parks biologists post boundary signs and enrolled property locations are published annually in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, which is available at http://outdoornebraska.gov/publicaccessatlas/. Participating landowners also receive protection from liability under the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act.

Increasing public hunting access is a primary objective outlined in the Berggren Plan, Game and Parks’ five-year initiative aimed at improving the pheasant hunting experience in Nebraska. New enrollments in OWF will be targeted within the eight priority areas identified in the plan. The plan may be viewed at http://outdoornebraska.gov/pheasantplan/.

Private lands providing hunting opportunities for upland gamebirds are preferred, including undisturbed grasslands and draws, tall stubble fields, and lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Additional financial incentives are also available to improve habitat on OFW properties.

Private landowners interested in enrolling their land in OWF should contact their nearest Game and Parks district office: Lincoln (402-471-0641), Norfolk (402-370-3374), Alliance (308-763-2940), or North Platte (308-535-8025).

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Pheasant hunters expect a good season By Larry myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Pheasant hunting prospects look bright for the three-state area. Roadside counts are in and there have been no really significant problems for pheasant numbers.

Although South Dakota numbers show a 20 percent decline, you have to remember that this is South Dakota. It is likely hunters will experience about the same success as last year.

Iowa numbers look about the same as last year, and last year was the best in five years, so expectations look good for another successful season. As a side note, quail numbers are at a 27-year high.

Nebraska pheasant hunters are looking at another good year. Pheasant numbers match the five-year average in most parts of the state. Most areas can expect hunting much like last year’s or, perhaps, a little poorer. Two exceptions are the Sandhill and Central regions, where pheasant numbers jumped 62 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

In Iowa, population patterns tracked the weather. Parts of northwest Iowa had declines due to heavy snowfall, which likely reduced pheasant survival. Parts of southwest Iowa had declines due to heavy spring rains, likely reducing nesting success. Other regions had more favorable weather and saw similar or slightly higher numbers.

“To put it in perspective, our population is similar to 2007 when we harvested 630,000 roosters,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Last year we harvested 270,000 roosters. The difference is, we had twice the hunters in 07. If we had 100,000 hunters last year we would have doubled the harvest. The birds are here; we need hunters to return.”

Iowa’s quail population index has been increasing recently and is now at its highest since 1989 after experiencing increases again across south central and southwest Iowa this year. [Read more…]

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One Small Mistake Can Ruin Your Turkey Population

The wild turkey is an amazing bird. Although their numbers across the U.S. are really good, most any hunter or sportsman wouldn’t mind seeing a few more where they hunt or manage land. A simple mistake we see made every year that can have a negative impact on your turkey numbers is the good old bush hog. After being on your property during the spring, you begin to see a lot of things you would like to mow and keep cut back.

Remember that those hens have nests hidden all over the place and many times they are in those grown up areas we are dying to get the tractor to and mow them down. Even routine maintenance on clover fields in the spring leads to a lot of turkey nest being destroyed. If you have chores to do on your property this spring, take the time to walk the areas out thoroughly and scout for any hidden turkey nests. The main picture here is of a nest found in a Clover Plus field at the BioLogic Proving Grounds last spring, we were really wanting to get in there and get the field sprayed, but we took the time to do some walking around before driving in there with the tractor and look what we found.

We were able to spray and avoid disturbing the nest. Although food plots are usually not the preferred place a hen will lay her eggs, it is not uncommon for them to use a spring food plot that has some good cover height to it. [Read more…]