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Coyote calling can be an unexpected adventure By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

Things don’t always go as planned when you are calling coyotes. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it so much.

If you are calling in coyote-rich country such as western Nebraska, there’s little doubt you can call in several in a day. Other places, not so much.

If I can call in one coyote for six different sets, that’s about average. So, you will spend a lot of time looking over the landscape with nothing to show for it.

But sometimes you get the surprise of your life.

It was early morning on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota a few years ago. Three of us were set up alongside a deep, tree-lined ravine. We were each leaning back against a tree trunk and looking out over the prairie. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon spreading its light slowly. It reminded me of raising a shade in a dark room.

Suddenly, out of the ravine burst a big, mangy-looking dog, snarling and looking left and right for that dying rabbit. I was holding the camera, not a gun and the beast was now right in front of me, staring into my eyes. I had tangled with wild dogs before and knew if they see a gun they will run. I had no gun. Yet, in a heartbeat he turned and ran back into the ravine.

Good riddance.

We called in a bobcat on that set, but the season was closed. The cat crossed right in front of us through a 100-yard long clearing and into the same ravine the dog had come from.

The cat ended up sitting in a plum patch not more than 12 feet away from one of us. After its curiosity was satisfied it turned back into the ravine and vanished.

Sometimes a little humor can be included.

Fran and I were with my cousin Denny Myhre and his wife, Audrey, driving down a road, I think in Grand Teton National Park, when two young coyotes crossed in front of us. I grabbed my camera with the 300mm lens.

“I’ll see if I can call them in,” I said.

Just as I left the car another filled with Japanese students pulled alongside asking what we had seen.

“Coyotes,” Denny answered.

“Mistake,” I thought.

I ran over the rise that was hiding the vehicles and ran about 200 yards to a lodgepole pine, which I got behind and began trying to catch my breath. Then I saw the two coyotes about 200 yards off and heading away. I did my dying rabbit sound with my mouth and as soon as they heard that they began running in. Hiding behind the tree trunk, I began making pictures of them.

At about one hundred yards out they stopped. I did the mouth squeak several times but they would not respond. Then they turned and ran.

“That was strange,” I thought. “They were about five-month-old pups and should have run right in.”

[Read more…]

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Figuring Out Spring Fishing By Gary Howey

  To me, it seems like this has been one long winter and unfortunately, there’s a lot of it left! It hasn’t been overly cold, but the wind has been blowing a lot. I like winter to a point, for ice fishing and predator calling, but each year, it seems like I like winter less.

  When the weather has been decent, anglers have been on the water below the Missouri River dams hard.

  Like any other area we fish, the more boats you have out, the better your chances are that someone will locate a concentration of fish. Once people hear that fish are being caught, there are going to be numerous boats on the water during the nice days.

  The majority of the walleyes, sauger and bass caught during the early spring are probably going to be those smaller aggressive males.

  Catching small fish isn’t all-bad because those smaller fish are a good sign for the fishing in the future, indicating that previous spawns were successful and at least there’s something jerking on the line.

  It won’t be long before these smaller fish will be legal size and the fishing down the road should be good.

  The walleyes that they’re catching below the dams now are fish, which started their movement upstream last fall and wintered over below the dam in preparation for this spring’s spawn.

  The larger females will be the last to come up and they’ll set up in the deeper water, waiting for water temperatures to warm up enough for the spawning to begin.

  The walleye & sauger begin spawning when water temperatures hit around 48 degrees, which, during most years is around the first part of May.

  However, who knows, with the temperatures changing the way they do, it could happen earlier than that!

  You’ll find that the smaller males will bite throughout the spawning period, as they are traveling around looking for receptive females and will exert more energy than the females that are in a holding pattern.

  Fishing for the females can be slow up to, through the spawn, and as much as two weeks after the spawn, as the spawn is harder on the females and they will require more time to recuperate.

  After recuperating, the females will go on a feeding binge, as the spawning ritual has taken a lot out of them. This feeding binge, where they’ll feed heavily could last as long as a month.

  After the spawn, with water temperatures warming, all fish will become more active and begin to feed heavily.

  As the water warms, you’ll find the walleyes prowling the shallower water looking for their next meal, generally cruising in 15 foot of water or less.

  Remember just because the walleyes are on the bite, doesn’t mean they’ll be dashing and darting here and there grabbing everything in sight.

  Walleyes like all fish are cold blooded and their metabolism is directly related to the water temperature, so they’ll still be in their slow mode until summer temperatures arrive.  [Read more…]

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Studying Missouri River fisheries is his job By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

ONAWA, Iowa — Monitoring the Missouri River fishery is the job of Ryan Hupfeld, Missouri River fish management biologist.

Hupfeld was named to the position last fall after Van Sterner, fisheries biologist, retired.

While much of the work on the river addresses the endangered pallid sturgeon, other fish are also studied, and, as time goes on, Hupfeld hopes to expand those studies.

“The paddlefish season opened a couple of years ago, and we have been monitoring that by gill netting every spring and fall,” Ryan says. “They seem to be doing very well. We caught fish from 18 to 41 inches, and the average weight was between 17 and 20 pounds.

“We are also jaw tagging these fish to look at movement and also exploitation to some degree,” he continued. “We’ve had nine recaptures and eight of them were from our tagging and one was from South Dakota. We also have had multiple numbers that were called in by anglers.”

What the paddlefish snagging studies have shown is somewhat surprising. It is clear that these fish roam up and down our rivers a lot.

“We learned most of them traveled well over 500 river miles,” he said. One of the paddlefish we tagged in March right here at Decatur was caught in October. It went all the way down the Missouri, down the Mississippi and up the Big Muddy River and was caught below a dam. That’s 1000 miles.”

“We’re also trying to work with and cooperate with other states to manage these fish,” he says.

Invasive fish species are of great concern.

Over the years, grass carp, bighead carp and silver carp have exploded in numbers through the Missouri below Gavins Point Dam at Yankton, S.D. All of these carp, including another called black carp, originally came from Asia and were brought over by fish farmers in an effort to keep their growing ponds clean. Floods enabled many of them to escape into our waterways.

“Black carp haven’t made it up here that we know of,” Ryan says. “Asian carp spawn from April through October, and they are very efficient at feeding, much more so than native plankton feeders.

“There are no natural predators for them like there is in China,” he continues. “They are having a big effect on our native fish. We’re monitoring silver carp populations, looking at age and growth. They’re very good to eat. We need to start developing a market for them so we can relieve our native fish populations from the stresses of them.” [Read more…]

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Warmest memories created in the cold By Larry Myhre

There’s nothing quite like that hour before dawn on the ice. Throughout my long ice fishing career, I harbor many cherished memories. It’s not the big fish or the number of fish I’ve caught on an outing that occupies the high points of my memory of many hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of hours and days on the ice.

No, it is those predawn hours spent on the ice of West Lake Okoboji through the late 1960s and early 1970s that come to mind most often. I was in my early 20s and just happy to be able to join the seasoned outdoors veterans who allowed me to fish with them virtually every weekend all winter.

They were a group of ice fishing addicts. They always ate a big breakfast at whichever lakeside cottage we were staying at. Then they were on the ice a full hour before daylight. And they stayed out there until a limit of perch was reached or dark, whichever came first. Lunch? Forget it. They might have a thermos of coffee and perhaps a snack in their bucket, but most likely not.

My idea of breakfast was a Coke and a cigarette. But I choked down the fried eggs, bacon or sausage and pancakes because I knew we wouldn’t eat again until about 7 p.m.

I was not an early riser. I would hear them banging around and yelling for me to get up. But I was often reluctant to leave the pleasant warmth of my sleeping bag. One morning, one of the group, a big, linebacker-type of man, picked up my sleeping bag with me in it and dumped me out on the cold floor. Another time he dumped me into a baby’s crib. He said that’s where I belonged. Do you know how hard it is to get out of a baby’s crib?

There we’d be. Sitting on a white, five-gallon bucket. If it were windy, a big rock would reside in the bucket so it wouldn’t blow away. Our short ice fishing rods were rigged with a Mitchell 308 spooled with four-pound-test line at the end of which danced a quarter-ounce Swedish Pimple spoon, its single hook sporting several tiny grubs.

So there I’d sit, back to the wind, wondering why in the hell did we have to start so early because perch don’t bite in the dark. Walleyes? Oh yes. They love that hour before dawn. But we were never on a walleye spot. These guys wanted perch. And they usually got them.

Those hours in the pre-dawn darkness reminded me a lot of listening to the marsh wake up when you are duck hunting. It’s eerily quiet at first and then you begin to hear sounds. It might be the wingbeats of ducks flying over, then later the quiet is shattered by the loud quacks of a hen mallard saying nothing in particular. Then the redwing blackbirds begin to sing.

On the ice it is the sounds of vehicles driving out, the snow squeaking under their tires. Loud voices. Laughter. The scream of ice augers punching through 30 inches of ice. All the while a pink tinge to the eastern sky begins to signal that there is, indeed, a sun. As that pink blush splashes into a hot red-orange glow all across the horizon you make out trees, their branches back lit by the morning light.

It’s another half hour before the sun finally crests the hills and splashes its light across the ice.

That’s about when you notice your first bite of the day. A faint pull on the rod tip and you raise it quickly, feeling the resistance of another Okoboji yellow-ringed perch at the other end. Even though the sun is now fully upon the ice, the day seems a little brighter.

And so it is with memories. Time makes them seem a little brighter. [Read more…]

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True Conservationists “Hunters” By Gary Howey

 For years, we’ve all heard anti-hunters yell and scream about animals having rights and that hunters don’t care about wildlife.

  I’m sure there are some of you reading this, may think what these anti-hunting groups are saying could be factual.

  When in fact, it was hunters supported the 1937 Pitman Robertson Act, which imposed a 10% excise tax on their purchases of guns, ammunition and outdoor equipment. Through this excise tax, hunters have contributed over $4-billion dollars used to purchase millions of acres of public land that benefits all species of wildlife.

   Another fact you may not heard is that hunters since 1923 asked for and have paid for their state’s hunting licenses.

  This amounts to over $6.5-billion dollars received from these licensing fees, that’s paid for by hunters, the dollars raised from these fees are a major portion of the Nebraska’s and South Dakota’s Game & Parks and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources budgets.

  Since 1934, our waterfowl hunters purchased their Federal Duck Stamps, bringing in close to 800-million dollars, with a percentage of these dollars going directly towards the purchase or lease wetlands and wildlife habitat.

  Add to this the dollars donated by hunters to wildlife groups such as Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Whitetails Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others, they contribute an additional $300-million each year to wildlife conservation activities. 

  Other items that enter into these figures according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is that hunting contributes over $30-billion to the economy every year and supports over 1-million jobs

 There are many ways hunters not only support wildlife but also contribute to other worthwhile programs, including numerous fundraisers such as celebrity hunts and benefit trap shoots. These hunters and celebrities at these events help to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. These events do not just support hunting related projects, but projects such as Habitat for Humanity and other events, proving hunters not only care about the outdoors and wildlife; they also care about their fellow man. [Read more…]

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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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Mother Nature and Waterfowl Hunting On the Sisseton-Wahpeton Reservation Gary Howey

  It was early November, but surely didn’t feel like it, as it’s not often we see the warm 60 to 70 degree temperatures we’ve seen so far this month. 

  Higher temperatures are great for most outdoor activities, however, for those of us who’ve been straining our eyes scanning the horizon, hoping to see those huge flocks of migrating waterfowl, it’s been a slow start for waterfowl hunting.

  The warmer weather hadn’t moved the birds south into northern Nebraska, so Team Outdoorsmen Adventures members Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA., Josh Anderson, Hartington, NE. and I headed north to do some waterfowl hunting in Northeastern South Dakota near Sisseton, S.D.  hunting on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Reservation. This is a large reservation, encompassing land coming down from the southern North Dakota border east to Travis along the Minnesota line on down to Watertown, the glacial Lakes area, so we had plenty of reservation land to hunt.

  The warmer weather we experience in Nebraska was with us as we came through southern South Dakota and as we arrived at the Casino on I-29 east of Sisseton where we were to meet our guides; the sun was shining brightly with 62 degrees temperatures.

   We’d spend a couple of days in the field with N8tive Hunting Guidez, Brandon Adams and Ray Eastman out of Sisseton, Brandon and Ray offer waterfowl and turkey hunting trips on the tribal ground in northeastern S.D. and southern N.D.

  There were plenty of birds on the reservation, but the waterfowl in the area we’d be hunting had been there for a while and were well educated. We’d heard, because of the warmer weather, the main migration hadn’t made it this far south with the waterfowl stacking up in southern Manitoba and North Dakota.

  The first afternoon hunt would be on a small slough just off one of the larger lakes in the area, and as we approached the slough, the water erupted as a mixed flock of Widgeons and Gadwalls took wing, flying up and over the tree-lined shoreline.

  Brandon and Ray quickly put out two dozen decoys and two robo ducks while our crew blended into the cattails and trees along the shoreline with Ray’s lab, Sophie setting patiently in the cattails waiting for his master to rejoin him.

  Once everything settled down, our guides begin calling, with the call of a lonely hen mallard ringing out across the slough. There’re plenty of birds in the air with several groups of them winging into the decoys, setting down out in front of the decoys, well out of our shooting range.

  As another pair passed overhead, our guide’s calls echoed out across the water, through the trees and out into the distance.

   It didn’t take long before the pair of Gadwalls, approached the decoy spread circling several times, looking and then pulling away.  Our guide’s comeback call rang out causing the birds to circle around, coming back in the direction of our spread.

  Their wings were set, feet down as Brandon called out “Take Em” and all in one motion, our shotguns came up and a volley of steel shot reached out towards the birds. The birds back peddled, pumping hard to put distance between themselves and the pond. Somehow, the birds worked their way up through our shot avoiding it, making their way to safety, up and away through the trees that lined the one side of the pond. [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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PDR Hunt 2016 by Gary Howey

“It’s not about the harvesting of a deer as much as telling the story each kid has of overcoming significant limitations”.

  Clark, S.D. We at Outdoorsmen Adventures television  had the privilege to send our film crew to Clark, South Dakota in September to film at the ninth annual PDR Disabled Youth Deer Hunt.

  Dean Rasmussen, Clark, S.D. developed the hunt honoring his grandson Payton Dean Rasmussen whose life was taken by spinal meningitis in 1999.

  Dean says that the hunt would not have gotten off the ground without the support from many people, including landowners, businesses and agencies.  Sponsored events includes, all arrangements, food, overnight accommodations, rifle, ammunition, deer stands, and transportation to and from the field, all of which are provided to the hunters at no cost.  

  The P.D.R. Youth Hunt allows young children with disabilities to enjoy a carefree weekend of hunting where friends and memories are made.

  The celebration begins the afternoon before when the hunters get an opportunity to meet and to have an opportunity to check out and zero their weapons at the shooting range set-up at the Day Betterment Lodge outside of Clark, S.D. followed by a barbecue dinner. 

  Rasmussen indicated, “Parents and others tell them the biggest reason kids like to come isn’t always because of the hunting experience, although that’s special to them, what they really enjoy is being accepted as they are. For this one weekend, the kids feel like any other kid. The community of Clark is a special place.”

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The youth that attended this years 2016 PDR Youth Hunt with Dean Rasmussen, (Center) Director of the hunt .

that attended this years 2016 PDR Youth Deer hunt in Clark, S.D

  There were twelve youth hunters attended this year’s event from throughout South Dakota and Minnesota hunters at this year event which included; Lane Smith from Gary,  S.D., Austin Clark,  Sioux Falls, S.D., Jorden Steltz, Ortonville MN., Logan Morey, Harrisburg, S.D.,  Marcus Van Dam, Coleman, S.D., Calvin Lozinski, Tauton, MN., Cameron Lewis, Mission Hill, S.D., Ethan Kittelson Good Thunder, MN., Logan Winkelmann Hector, MN, James Byukkonen Tripp, S.D., James Brown Centerville, S.D., and Felicia Charging Elk Gettysburg, S.D. 
 

[Read more…]

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Late fall is prime time for big smallies by Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

WEBSTER, S.D. — When those big old cottonwoods begin shedding their bright yellow leaves, there awakens in me an almost uncontrollable desire to be on the water.

            And not just any water.

            No, I begin to dream of lakes harboring strong populations of those big ole brown fish. And if you don’t do Southern speak, let me interpret for you. We are talking about smallmouth bass.

            In my book, the smallmouth bass is the fightingest freshwater fish that swims.

            And the best time to take numbers of huge smallies, sometimes in areas no bigger than your average living room, is right now till freeze up.

            That’s why I called my brother Dean, who lives on a farmstead near Worthing, S.D., and asked if he wanted to chase big smallies on a couple of northeastern South Dakota lakes. It was, of course, a question that needed no answer.

            Fast forward a few days. We had been fishing maybe five minutes when Dean’s seven foot spinning rod bent over and began to pulse with the thrust of a good fish.

            “Got one,” Dean muttered to no one in particular, and I began digging for the landing net. It’s a fold up style and takes a little bit to get unlimbered and ready for action.

            “Should have gotten this ready before we began fishing,” I said as I opened the mesh and began pushing buttons and sliding the handle back and forth.

            I got the thing together just as the three-and-a-half pound smallie surfaced alongside the boat. I dipped him up and placed the net in the boat at Dean’s feet. [Read more…]