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Learning from Past Experiences! By Gary Howey

  I remember while growing up in Watertown, SD, about all the things there were to do and how I wanted to try to do all of them!

  I also remember that several of these things weren’t what I really should have been doing.  My folks were always there to set me straight and would give me that old line, “you don’t need to do that, you could get hurt” and so on and so forth!

  Well after many years of contemplating their statements and many years of wondering how they knew so much about this subject.  I’ve finally concluded that they knew because when they were young, they probably tried it or had a friend that tried it and “got hurt!”

  We all learn from past-experiences and as an outdoorsmen or women, we really should rely on those past-experiences to give us insight on what’s going on around us in the outdoors.

  Take for instance a guide trip that I had a few years back, I had two of the toughest clients that I can ever remember taking out.

  It was late October, a warm October, but none the less October and in my neck of the woods; it’s that time of the year when water is about as close to becoming ice as it gets.

  Well these guys insisted that I take them out as they wanted to take advantage of the warm day, it didn’t make any difference that the water temps were in the 40’s, it was a nice day and they wanted to fish.

  Well as anyone who’s ever been on the water knows that at 40 degrees, fish aren’t exactly bouncing off the wall, heck, they’re hardly moving. [Read more…]

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Tricks for finicky late-season fish By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

There’s one thing you can take to the bank if you are an ice fisherman during the month of February. Catching fish is just going to get tougher.

The bloom of early ice is off. Gamefish have settled into the doldrums of winter. If you are going to catch your share, whether it is bluegills, crappies, perch or walleyes, you are going to have to fish smarter.

Generally that means lightening up. Smaller baits, lighter lines, more precise presentation all play a greater role late in the ice fishing season.

If you have been fishing four pound test, you might consider switching to two pound. But even more importantly, you need to fish fresh line. Monofilament has a memory. That memory means the line comes off your spool in curls. Your tiny ice fishing jigs or teardrops are not heavy enough to take out those curls, so you are never in direct contact with your lure.

One thing underwater cameras have shown us is how lightly late winter panfish hit lures. We’ve watched bluegills and perch swim up to a lure, inhale it and spit it out all in one motion.

If you are using a camera, you can probably hook that fish. If not, you won’t even know it inhaled the bait. Sure, you can see the fish on your flasher, but you can’t tell if he has the lure.

One little trick I use is when I see the fish signal merge with my bait signal I began raising my rod tip feeling for pressure. Quite often, especially this time of year, the fish has taken the bait with no indication even if I’m using a bite indicator.

So here’s the thing. Having coils in your line severely complicates the catching of light biting fish.

I could make a strong argument for changing your line each time you go fishing.

That doesn’t mean you put on an entire 110 yards of new line each time. If you are fishing 30 feet or less, put on 40 feet of new line, using a blood knot to join the old with the new.

Once you are on the ice, it is a good idea to hook your lure on something heavy like your ice shack or snowmobile and stretch the line to remove the memory coils before fishing.

A good argument can be made for using one of the new “super” lines for ice fishing. There will be no coils in the line and no stretch, so your sense of feel will be greater. The deeper water you fish, the more important it is to use a super line.

Are there other ice fishing tricks that will help you take late-winter fish? You bet. [Read more…]

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Late Season Pheasant Hunt Watertown, S.D. Gary Howey

  Anyone who has had the opportunity to hunt late season pheasants in South Dakota can relate to what this column is all about.

  Late season, after the weather turns cold means is when pheasant’s bunch up, sometimes into “huge” flocks.

  It is also that time when every step you take on the frozen ground or in the snow that every critter within hearing distance is going to go on the alert.  This is the time of the season when the first bird takes wing that every critter in the slough will now know something’s is not right!

  As our group of walkers started into the snow covered slough, the first of hundreds of pheasants erupted from the small group of cedars about 250 yards ahead of our wingmen while other birds hunkered down in the heavy slough, hoping our walkers would not find them.

  Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Larry Myhre and I were in the Watertown area taking part in a late season pheasant hunt with Chuck Stone, a friend that graduated with me from Watertown high School. Several other of our WHS classmates were also on the hunt; they included Dennis Murphy and Joe Jipp from Watertown and Tom Sokoll from Omaha.

  Larry and I had been part of this event in years past and were never disappointed.  Over the years, the Stone’s, have developed several areas for pheasant hunting. Each of these has everything wildlife needed to make it through the tough South Dakota winters. The area has plenty of winter cover, several food plots as well as shelterbelts, all of which gave pheasants, deer and other wildlife a place to winter.

  On this trip, I would enter the slough not equipped with my 12-gauge shotgun but handling the filming with a Sony Hi-Def camera with Larry serving as one of the blockers at the end of the first slough.

  It did not take me long to realize how many pheasants were using the covered with cattail covered slough as there were fresh pheasant tracks in the snow going in every direction.

  The Stones knew the area well, setting up the hunt giving the hunters the best opportunity to get a shot at a pheasant.  Many of the hunters in the group had good hunting dogs that worked in between the walkers, with wingmen working on either side out in front of our walkers and blockers strategically placed on the end where we hoped to push the birds.

  Before us was a heavy cattail slough, a ridge off to our right with a cluster of Cedar trees at its northern end, off to our right was an open ridge leading into an unpicked cornfield (food plot) with all three converging into a short grass field where there were several round hay bales were out blockers would be posting.

  As we entered the slough, it looked as if we could walk on top of the hard heavy snow bank, and then drop down working our way in and around the cattails, but a few steps in the snow turned soft with the walkers and me breaking through into snow up to our knees.

  We were all having the same problem, except for the dogs as they could stay on top of the snow, following the numerous deer trails, which ran through the slough and working through the cattails trying to root out the birds that were holding tight. [Read more…]

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Wind, cold, snow part of late season recipe By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

WATERTOWN, S.D. — Late season pheasant hunts can be brutal. And this was one of them.

Temperature was in the teens. Wind was howling out of the northwest at 20 to 30 miles an hour.

I hunkered down in the snow, letting the big, round bale block most of the wind. Over a half mile away a long, thin line of hunters, all friends and veterans of many such hunts, were slugging it out in snow that had crusted on the top, but not enough to support their weight.

Occasionally I could hear a shot, small retorts carried away by the wind.

Then I saw deer busting across a small open field and disappear into the trees. From this distance they looked like long-legged ants scurrying away. I would later learn that the hunters estimated that over a hundred deer were spooked out of the timber.

I wasn’t surprised. We had driven along a field a couple miles to the west and the number of deer trails was unbelievable.

Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb., and I were here as guests of Chuck and his younger brother Rick Stone, both of Watertown. We were hunting private land in the vicinity of a private hunting lodge the Stones own that served as our headquarters. [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…]