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Looking Back at Another Year By Gary Howey

  It’s the time of the year, when temperatures are dropping and the northwest wind is making a visit to our part of the country.

  I’m in the office working with my computer, hating to think that I’ll have to head outside again, when I think about all the last year, 2016, which will be ending soon.

  Overall, it was a very good year, where Team members and I spent some time on the water and in the field with old friends as well as making some new ones along the way.

  We started out our year in Howard, S.D. on a late season hunt where Team member Josh Anderson and I filmed a pheasant hunt, on this trip; it was easy to see why South Dakota is the “Pheasant Capital of the World”.  This trip brought back memories, reminding me of how the pheasant hunting was when I was a boy growing up in Watertown, S.D.  

  Back then, they had a government program, the Soil Bank program with a potion of the farm left idle. This and the method they farmed back then, created thousands of acres of habitat, which help to create excellent pheasant numbers.

  Current pheasant numbers in our area are down, but I’m optimistic and looking forward to bird numbers improving. The new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will create thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, which gives birds a place to nest, roost, raise their chicks and help to protect the birds from predators.

  Following that trip, Team member Simon Fuller and I headed to the Aberdeen-Webster area to do some ice fishing. On the trip there were some big walleyes caught and returned into the icy depths of the Glacial Lake we were fishing. On that trip, I set a record for the most fish caught; unfortunately, they were minuscule, about the length of my hand and released, allowing them to grow up. It was a great trip as it gave us the opportunity to spend time on the ice with folks cut from the same cloth we were, spending time with others who loved to spend time in the outdoors, on the ice on a cold winter day. [Read more…]

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Mild weather gives waterfowl an edge By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

SISSETON, S.D. | There are few better ways to spend part of a day than to be tucked into a layout blind waiting for the geese to fly. Even if they don’t.

There were a bunch of them sitting on sandbars in Dry Wood Lake just behind us. We could see them but wish as we might, they stayed as if their feet were glued to the sand.

Of course it was 65 degrees, no wind and the migration had mired up because of the unseasonably warm weather. If you are a waterfowler, you know that under those conditions, all bets are off.

And if they were taking odds on our success at the Dakota Magic Casino in North Dakota, just across the South Dakota border, where we were staying, those in the know would have laid their Benjamins against us.

And they would have collected their bets. Only one goose came off the water and seemed to thumb his nose at us as he flew behind our setup and into the lake beyond.

As the sun sank below the horizon we began the work of picking up over 50 full-body Canada goose decoys and layout blinds.

We were hunting on the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Lake Traverse Reservation. I was with Gary Howey and cameraman Josh Anderson, both of Hartington, Neb. We had long heard about the excellent waterfowl hunting on this reservation, which stretches across nine counties from Lake Traverse to Watertown, S.D., and back up to form a kind of triangle of which part is in North Dakota.

We were there for a three-day trip hunting with Brandon Adams of N8tive Hunting Guidez and his friend and fellow guide Ray Eastman.

But, as luck would have it, we ran into the most unseasonable November weather that I can remember.

The migration had come to a halt. The ducks and geese we were hunting had stayed put in the area for over three weeks. Without the influx of new birds, our birds had become educated to the ways of hunters. And believe me, a trophy whitetail buck could take some lessons in how to avoid hunters from ducks and geese that have been educated by hanging out in the same area for too long.

Our hunt began the day before on a small slough just a few yards away from a larger lake. Such small sloughs are loafing areas for puddle ducks throughout the daytime. They prefer this kind of water, primarily from a feeding standpoint. Divers will hold to the larger lakes.

We spooked a lot of ducks off the pond on our way in and set up about 50 decoys, including a couple of Mojo motion decoys. [Read more…]

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Down to the Last Wire – In the final Hour Nebraska Turkey Hunt By Gary Howey

  The Tom gobbled once as he made his way west out of the field and I knew it was going to be a tough hunt as it was the last day of the Nebraska Spring turkey season and his harem of hens were with him.

 In Nebraska, the turkeys began mating before the April 26 Nebraska opener and it was on May 31, the last day of the season.  This wasn’t our first trip as Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Josh Anderson, Hartington and I had been out several times, only to return home empty handed.

  It had been a good season for both of us as Josh had three tags, filling all three. On two of them, I had the opportunity to be along, filming his first archery turkey hunt as well as his  shotgun hunt, while he had gone out and called in his third bird.

  It was a tough spring to hunt, as when it wasn’t raining, it was windy, so calling birds was tough. Not that it’s impossible, but when you’re hunting and have a camera along, moisture and winds don’t go well when bringing along camera equipment.

  My first bird came when I was scouting for the next day’s filming,  when I stumbled into a flock of turkeys, with several big Gobblers. I couldn’t help myself and called one in, allowed him to strut around my decoy a bit and then knocked him down.

  Josh and I had planned several different trips, but we’re beaten back by rain and the horrendous winds we’ve had this spring. When we did make it out, our calls must have not sounded sweet enough for the Gobblers, as they refused to leave their hens and come our way.

  When it’s the last few hours of the last day of the season, things change and we decided in order to film the show and fill the tag we may have to change our tactics. This late in the season, if they wouldn’t come to us we were going to have to go to them.

  Our first set up on the final day required a good quarter mile hike toting our decoys, shotgun, camera and turkey fan, as we made our way to a thick shelterbelt.  Once there, we would need to get through it quietly to where we had first spotted the birds. As we came to the north side of the trees, we hunkered down and glassed the area, seeing no birds; I gave a soft hen yelp. A resounding gobble came from behind us on the side we had just come through and while making our way through the chest high grass, we must have bypassed the bird.

  Not wanting to give up on the bird, I’d call, and if there were no response, pause a minute or two before Josh would give it a go. One gobble was all we could get from the bird and he seemed happy to stay right where he was.

  On the outside of the trees was some more tall grass, so seeing very far out in front of us was impossible. I motioned to Josh that I was going to move up to the fence line along the edge of the alfalfa field and that he should follow.

  We managed to move a short distance to the fence line without making too much racket and once we were settled in, glassed the field. Off to our right we could see one good bird and several hens, but they were heading away from us. I called to the gobbler, getting his attention, with his red head and neck extending out as far as possible, hoping to see the bird that was calling to him.

  He continued to move away from us, went under the fence as he walked away and with nothing but open ground between us, we had to wait for the gobbler and hens to disappear in a low spot in the alfalfa field.

  It looked like this would be another one of those days, where we would see gobblers, but couldn’t get to them. [Read more…]

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Archery Gobblers Nebraska Style By Gary Howey

It looked as if it would be a tough season for Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Josh Anderson, Hartington, NE. and I as we tried to film Josh’s first archery turkey hunt.

  Our first set up (Plan A) was in the field the birds had been using last year, but this year, they decided to do their thing in a field below.

  Our second set up (Plan B) was in the bottom where the gobblers were strutting this year: where we relocated a ground blind in amongst the trees along the creek. When the sun rose, the birds pitched out into the field east of our blind, refusing to come to the west.

  Then the birds changed their pattern, moving west of the blind and not coming east, so we relocated the blind to the west field (Plan B).   

  (Plan C)  Happened a few days later, where they moved back to their old haunt, so we grabbed my blind and stuck it in the ground just west of where they were roosting, I called in a nice gobbler, but the bird spotted Josh bringing his bow up and high tailed it back to the east.

  (Plan D) On our last scouting trip, the birds weren’t in the field we had hunted, so we changed tactics, moving to a new area, as we worked our way in along the edge of the tree line several Toms gobbled north of an open field.  We quickly set up the blind, tucking it in amongst the plum bushes, doing our best to brush in the front of the blind, slid out of the area and came back that evening. With our decoys out in front of the blind, we patiently waited for those Toms that had gobbled at us earlier to respond to our calls. Nothing no gobbles and no sign of the birds, it looked like we would have to come up with a better plan. We tried using Plan A & B and had blown right through Plans C, D, so it was time to get serious and go to Plan E.

  (Plan E)  We would be to quietly sneak into the trees around midday, pull the blind and relocate it to the north side of the grove where, in the past we observed several Gobblers and hens feeding the open secluded open ground.

It was late afternoon, as we snuck into the blind, putting out our decoys and started calling. We would be using the Big Three, calls that always seemed to get a response from a gobbler, my box, slate and diaphragm calls. Since we weren’t sure how close the birds might be, I begun calling with my slate, calling quietly, throwing in a few purrs, the sound a hen makes when she’s contented and when she’s mating. We waited, waiting for the gobbles to ring out across the valley; we waited and waited and waited. 

  Getting no answer, I raised the volume of the call, putting more pressure on the striker and picking up the pace, still no response. 

  Perhaps, because of the gusting winds, I wasn’t getting enough volume and my call wasn’t reaching the birds upwind from the blind.

  I picked up my box call, applied pressure to the paddle and quickly slid it across the edges of the box call, increasing the pressure on the paddle and volume as I waited for the thundering response from an old Gobbler. As before, nothing, we knew the birds were using the area, perhaps our moving of the blind had spooked them, but there still was a lot of time before sundown.

  I tried all three calls, with no response, which really didn’t surprise me as in the past Gobblers had them come on in stealth mode, silently, strutting, tail feathers spread, their chest puffed out with their wings dragging on the ground. [Read more…]