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Pre-Season Scouting A little thing that really Pays Off By Gary Howey

  Have you ever noticed how some hunters can be a whole lot more successful that all other hunters that hunt in the same area?

  If you ask a dozen of these hunters why this one individual or Top Gun is so successful, you’ll probably get a dozen different answers.

  Some may say that it’s because he has better habitat and then there’s those that might suggest that no one can be that successful year after year and hunt legally.

  The majority of the hunters may not have a clue, figuring that someone got lucky and continued hunting as they always have and continue to have limited success.

  Once a few of these hunters do their homework, they’ll figure out what they need to do to become as successful as the Top Gun is.

  The homework I’m referring to is “Pre-Season Scouting” or getting out into the field prior to season so you know what’s out there, their favorite location throughout the day and their travel routes.

  Some of you might think that scouting is only for deer hunters, not really as a hunter who gets out into the woods or field before season is way ahead of the game when it comes to opening day.

  Let’s break it down by species and see how scouting will give you one up on the hunter that simply goes out on the first day of the season.

Doves

Dove hunting is a great sport, but without doing some sort of pre-season scouting, and once the season opens, you’re going to do a lot of running around looking for places to hunt which means you’ll have a lot less time for hunting doves.

  Before the season starts, my hunting partners and I are looking for large concentrations of birds. We look for them sitting on high lines, around dams or a food source.

  There is several things doves need, but the main things they require are nesting areas, feed and water.

  Generally in the area where doves roost or nest you’ll find power lines, and there’s nothing doves like better than to rest on an elevated area, allowing them to look things over. Therefore, if you spot a group of doves close to a tree line, it’s a safe bet that that’s where the birds roost.

  Searching out areas where the dove feed is another place you need to check out. Doves love wheat, hemp and ragweed seed, but will make use of any seed they can get their beak around. If there is a harvested wheat field or a weedy draw that contains hemp or ragweed, you can bet that sometime during the day, doves will be in the area will be there filling their crops in these areas.

  Water is what every creature needs and doves after feeding when they are on their way to their roost will have to stop by some dam or stock pond to get a drink before calling it a day. You’ll want to look for a pond that has a bare shoreline as doves need to walk down to the edge of the water to get a drink and will avoid ponds with weeds growing right to the water’s edge.

  If you find a pond with a bare shoreline near what the birds are feeding on as they make their way back to their roost, you best be set up late afternoon just before the sun sets as the birds will be coming to you.

Pheasants [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…]

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Spring Turkey Hunting By Gary Howey

I can’t wait until old man winter releases his grip on the upper Midwest and spring arrives when I can hit the woods to begin another season to pursue spring turkey.

This will be my forty-first season where I hope to add my 104th bird to my turkey log. This year, I’ll have three Nebraska tags and help my Son-in-Law Matt and grandson Teddy to tag their first birds in South Dakota.

It’s a good time to get out, spend some time in the woods doing a combination turkey scouting and shed hunting trip. Deer general; shed their headgear in mid-February, but not all deer shed at the same time. It’s possible you will find sheds shortly after the rut. While I’m out looking for sheds, I have my eye out for turkey sign as I hunt sheds in the same areas where I hunt turkeys.

When my camera crew and I are seriously thinking about turkey hunting, the first thing we need to do is to put together some sort of a plan.

If you are hunting locally, putting a plan together doesn’t take much time, but if you’re looking at hunting in a different area or even a different state, making a plan will be very important.

If I’m going to be hunting in a different state, I start by checking the web sites of the state’s Game and Parks or DNR I’m looking at getting a permit. If they have a lot of information and columns devoted to turkey hunting, it’s a good bet there a good numbers of the birds in the state.

After looking at the South Dakota Game & Parks site where I had hoped to have the opportunity to do some turkey hunting with my son in law and grandson, I was disappointed to find out the county they would be hunting in, didn’t issue any nonresident permits, I had to re-plan the hunt.

We would have to start checking around at the states where we would have a chance at obtaining a permit; I’ll grab the phone and contact the game department of the state. This is where I obtain as much information as I can from their experts. I’ll talk with the people that spend a lot of time in the field and have their finger on what’s happening as far as turkey numbers. This information helps me to zero in on an area with good numbers of birds and if I’m lucky, I may even be able to obtain some names of folks in the area that may allow hunting.

I choose a zone or area where I have a good chance of getting a permit. Then it’s that anxious time, waiting to find out if you were successful on the draw. Once I know I have a permit or tag I look for any public land in the area, if that area happens to be one the game department was high on, I get an aerial map of it and see what’s there, checking out any heavily wooded areas for possible roosts and areas where the birds could feed.

I’ve hunted turkeys in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Mississippi and got my best information from those states Game & Parks-DNR’s. Some of them have turkey density and harvest information that helps us to choose what area to hunt. [Read more…]