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Tips For Patterning Your Turkey Gun

Have you ever patterned your shotgun? I mean really put it through the paces with several different manufacturers’ loads and shot sizes to determine what shoots the best through your gun? I can tell you that each gun is a bit different and something is going to perform best. Don’t just shoot what your local sporting goods store has on sale. Take an hour, some butcher paper or targets, cardboard boxes, maybe a realty sign, a sharpie and go somewhere safe to shoot. 

Shooting Distance

Check out how your gun performs at 25, 35 and 45 yards. I know you’ll want to try 55 to 60 yards, but please think twice before ever shooting at a turkey at this distance. These new loads and chokes have hunters thinking they can regularly do this now, but please use caution. You don’t want to cripple an old bird. They deserve more than that.

Choke Tubes and Shells

I’ve been pleased with the Browning Full Strut Turkey choke that came with my Browning A5, but it took several different tests to decide that it liked the Winchester Extended Range #5’s the best. I have an old single shot 20 gauge that loves a “Jebs” choke. There are a number of aftermarket choke tube companies that you can experiment with to find what works for you, along with plenty of shell manufacturers and loads. Don’t leave this to chance and don’t assume your gun shoots just like your friend’s. They all are a bit different.

By knowing what your gun shoots best, you can have confidence when the moment of truth comes and you squeeze the trigger. [Read more…]


Shallow water Perch Bite On Big Stone Gary Howey


The red line below my tungsten jig on my Vexilar locator rose up from the bottom slowly indicating a fish was moving up to my bait. Peering down into the clear water, I could see the perch moving up to the same level as my jig.

I twitched my bait ever so slightly as the perch moved in on it and inhaled my micro jig and wax worm. As I brought my rod up, I felt the added weight and set the hook bringing the first of the numerous perch we would take on this trip.

Team Member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, Iowa and I were ice fishing on Big Stone with Tanner Arndt, a guide from Artie’s Bait & Tackle of Ortonville, Minnesota.  Tanner knew the lake as Larry and I had spent time on the water with him on a spring fishing trip, one where we caught good numbers of crappie, bluegill and bass. [Read more…]


Conservation Organizations Supporters of Wildlife By Gary Howey

What do local Whitetails Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Quail Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have in common?

They are all conservation organizations that support wildlife, habitat as well as numerous other programs, working hard to promote hunting and conservation.

With the greater population of the United States becoming urbanized, with less people living in our rural areas, people are becoming disconnected with the land and the outdoors.

Hunting has always been an American tradition, helping to put food on the table, an opportunity for friends and families to spend time together and to celebrate the great outdoors. [Read more…]


Horse Honks, High Pitched Quacks, the Call of the Snow Goose By Gary Howey

  It started; the other day, when the racket above was not hard to miss, as the skies filled with birds and their high-pitched quacks and the horse honks of Snow goose heading north into the Dakotas.

  Snow geese, which migrate in huge flocks are very vocal, when they are close, the racket they make can be deafening, as it seems that every goose in the flock, thousands of them are all carrying on at the same time.

  With the warmer weather, causing the snow line to reseed, the older mature birds are making their way north to get the best nesting grounds on the Canadian and Northern Alaskan tundra.

  Last week, one of our Team members traveled to Omaha as flock after flock of Snow geese migrated north, with open water along the way holding huge numbers of the geese.

  Light or Snow geese; come in two color phases, the white and blue, as the name implies the white phase are pure white with black wing tips while the blues are bluish gray with white heads.

  The Snows and Blues are the largest of the species, weighing in at around six pounds while the smaller pure white Ross goose, weighs only about three to four pounds.

  Light geese, are migratory waterfowl that spends over half of the year migrating, with some birds migrating over three thousand miles to and from their wintering grounds in the southern United States and Mexico.

  In a report released in 1997 by Ducks Unlimited, indicated because of the Snow geese over population, the tundra habitat along seven hundred miles of coastline from the southern James Bay to the west coast of Hudson Bay in Canada destroyed. More than 130,000 of the acres destroyed and similar-sized acres critically damaged that not only affects the Snows, it affects other waterfowl and species.

  The Snow goose population is skyrocketing by over five percent each year and a breeding population of the lesser snow geese exceeding over five million birds that is an increase of more than 300% since the mid-1970.

  Because of this over-population, the Light Goose Conservation Order special spring season was established to help control them.

  Because of this special season, some of the hunting laws for this season changed, those hunting still need to have a legal hunting license in the state they are hunting, with hunters in South Dakota will needing a 2018 Migratory Bird Certification while in Nebraska they will need the  State’s Waterfowl stamp.

  The laws that have changed during the spring season include allowing hunters to use electronic calls, have unplugged shotguns, with no daily or possession limit and no Federal Waterfowl Stamp is required.

  With the “No” limit, hunters need to be reminded that all game is used and not wasted. If you abandoning, dump or waste game birds you may be subject to fines and restitution.

  Because Snows are so leery, they can grow to a ripe old age with banded birds taken that were up to 20 years old. They migrate in huge flocks and are some of the toughest waterfowl in the world to decoy, and call in.

  In these flocks, numbering thousands of thousands birds they are always eyeing the ground looking for anything that does not seem right, something that is out of place.

  If alerted, older birds will come between birds that are starting to decoy, pushing them away from the hunters and their spread.

  Early migrators can be toughest of all Snows to call as their flocks are comprised of the older birds, but after a long flight will be tired and may be looking for a place to rest.

  When it comes to Light goose hunting, it is being there at the right time and of course location, location, location!

 If you are in the right place, have a decent spread and a good call going, chances are that you will have the opportunity to pull a few birds out of the flock. [Read more…]


Prescribed Burning: Three Types of Fires

In the world of prescribed burning, three types of fires are used; a “backfire,” “head fire,” and “flank fire,” and each type provides differing intensities for varying results. 


The slowest and easiest to control is a “backfire,” which burns into the wind. Flame length is sometimes so low you can step over the fire. However, that all depends on the fuel load on the ground. Fuel load is typically the amount of duff, leaves and dead grass on the ground – stuff that will burn. If you are burning slopes, this fire would be started at the top of the hill and slowly creep down slope. In most cases you can out-walk a backfire. Backfires are considered “cool” fires in that little damage is done to the larger trees.

Ironically, because a backfire is slow, the heat remains on site longer. This longer duration is perfect for killing smaller woody stems. It only takes 146° F to break the cambium on small trees, which is sufficient to kill them. If you are managing a native grass stand with woody encroachment, a backfire may be the best way to knock it back. These cooler fires are normally ignited when air temperatures are less than 68°and relative humidity is more than 50%. [Read more…]


Predators Come in all Sizes By Gary Howey

  I have had numerous questions about predators; those furred critters adored by some and detested by others, they can become a big problem for man as well as being beneficial to him and the environment.

  Questions varied from, “why would anyone want to harm such beautiful animals”, what happens when there are too many predators or the animals they feed on”, what happens when there are not enough prey animals, or predators, and how does it affect the environment” and the list goes on and on?

  I am not an expert as once you think you are there are many people out there that can prove you wrong. What knowledge I have about the outdoors, its animals and the environment I gained by spending years studying and hunting wildlife.  What I was unable to learn from Mother Nature, I had to do research, talking with those that know much more than I do, both college educated individuals as well as interviewing hunters, outdoorsmen and women. Talking with those who have more experience in the outdoors, those I consider friends and mentors and whose opinions I respect.

  I hope that the information listed below will answer some of the questioned people have asked me about predators that are both large and small.

   Predators are an important part of a healthy environment, keeping the balance of nature in check, as too many animals will destroy their habitat, devouring all available food and slowly starve to death.  They cull prey, the old, the sick and young leaving more food for the healthy animals and by controlling the prey populations they help to stop the spread of disease.

  Too many of any animal species can be detrimental as overpopulation leads to the destruction of food sources and habitat.

  As food sources disappear, animals will herd up on the remaining food sources, which allow any diseased animal to spread their sickness to the entire herd.

  Predators come in all sizes, small, medium, large as well as aerial predators. Some of the small predators would be; skunks, raccoons, opossums and badgers

  Many of these predators inhabit much of the same area, feeding on many of the same things.

  Raccoons will eat just about anything but really enjoys feeding on the creatures in our creeks, rivers and ponds, which include clams, crayfish, frogs, fish, and snails. They also eat insects, slugs, carrion (dead animals), birds, their eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and when living adjacent to people will eat garbage and pet food.

  Opossums eat much the same types of food as the raccoon including; fruits, insects, snails, slugs, eggs, mice, rats, fish, frogs, crayfish, carrion and snakes as most snake venom has no affect on opossums.

  The skunk, a smelly creature, eats both plants and animals. Consuming insects, insect larvae, earthworms, grubs, rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles, eggs, berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi and nuts.

  Badgers, Mother Nature’s digging machine feed on earthworms, insects, grubs, and the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as roots and fruit.

  Medium size predators could be the coyote, fox, and bobcats.

   The coyote are very adaptive, living almost anywhere. They primarily feed on small animals including mice, rats, gophers, , rabbits, and squirrels,  snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, birds, carrion (animal carcasses), and larger animals which can include beaver, sheep, your family’s dogs, cats, and if conditions are right deer fawns, calves, sheep  as well as grass, fruits and berries.

  Their smaller relative, the fox mainly feeds on mice, rats, squirrels, chickens, small fawns, wild birds, eggs, feral cats and rabbits.

  The larger medium size member of the feline family, the bobcat also preys on smaller game; mice, rats, squirrels, chickens, small fawns, wild birds, feral cats as well as rabbits.

  If the populations of predator’s get out of hand, they become a huge problem, needing to be controlled and if man cannot do it Mother Nature takes care of it with the mange, blue tongue and other diseases. [Read more…]


4 Steps For A Successful Spring Food Plot

The spring and summer months are critical when it comes to herd health. By providing a consistent, high-protein food source, whitetails will have their best chance for reaching their full genetic potential. Below are 4 key steps to help you grow a successful spring food plot this year. 

Step 1: Know Your Dirt
If you haven’t recently taken a soil test to know where your pH level is or if you are in need of soil nutrients, get it done. Knowing the characteristics of the soil not only helps determine the most productive species to plant but gives land managers the information needed to properly amend the soil ensuring a successful , nutritious food plot. Soil tests through the BioLogic lab are fast, simple, and inexpensive. Choose the crop you are planning to plant, and you will receive fertilizer recommendations specific to that crop and your soil.

STEP 2: Determining the Right Seed Blend
Where you live can help you determine what you need to plant. For the North/Midwest perennials and annuals can both be planted in the spring. If you have plots you want to plant with cool season annuals late in the summer, choose an annual to plant this spring. If you would like a perennial crop like clover, alfalfa, or chicory you can get them started this spring. Non-Typical Clover is one of our top producing perennials. For the South, warm season annuals are the ideal spring planting, Lablab or one of the new Protein Pea blends are perfect for providing attraction and nutrition through the growing months. To help you choose the best seed for your area search BioLogic’s Planting Guide.

STEP 3: Controlling Food Plot Weeds
Food plots overtaken with weeds is one of the top reasons for crop failure. Many of these blends can be sprayed with specific herbicides with great results. Weeds and grasses need to be identified early in the growing cycle and sprayed with the appropriate herbicide for best results. Weed Reaper grass herbicide can be used to eliminate grasses from all clover, warm season legumes, and chicory. Imazamox is a great broadleaf weed herbicide for use in legumes and pre-emergent herbicides. Also utilizing metolachlor works great on many common warm season blends like Protein Pea Plus that contains peas, beans, sunflowers and sorghum. [Read more…]


Hard Water Ice Angling Near Webster, S.D. By Gary Howey


   We arrived in Webster, South Dakota the afternoon before we were to be on the ice and spent a leisurely afternoon eating lunch at Perebooms and stopping at Sportsman’s Cove to see where the best bite was and what baits the anglers were using.

  I always like to know what the main forage species is on the waters we will fish, on the Glacial Lakes of N.E. South Dakota, the freshwater shrimp are plentiful and what the perch feed on, so I try to find small bait that resembles the small shrimp or baits that is similar in color.

   Some anglers were using Wax Worms, but those catching the most perch seemed to be partial to Red Wigglers on their baits and to be on the safe side we grabbed both wigglers and wax worms just in case the fish had changed their diet.

   I also added several white tungsten jigs and jigging spoons to my tackle bag, hoping that they would be the bait that the perch were after.

  Then we unloaded our extra gear at Boomer’s Motel, ordered a pizza and spent the evening watching one of the best Super Bowl games either of us had ever seen.

  The following morning, we talked with our guide who indicated we would start fishing on Reid Lake, one of the hundreds of shallow Glacial Lakes found throughout the region. Reid is a nine hundred and eighty acre lake that lies southwest of Webster, South Dakota.  

  Arriving at the lake, the wind was howling, bringing the wind chill down well below zero and we were glad we did not have to fish out of the two-man sled in the back of my pickup.

  Our guide, Brandyn Hulsebus, one of the guides with Cory Ewing’s Waubay Lakes Guide Service had set up the icehouse we would be fishing out of before our arrival and had everything ready to go when we pulled onto the lake.

  It was mid season with several fronts having moved through the area, which could be devastating when it comes to ice fishing as the fronts affect the barometric pressure and when it is up as it is when fronts move through it has a tendency to slow the bite.  

  Fortunately, for us, Cory and his guides had spent time on ice locating areas the perch were coming into.

  When we get into the house, we set up our Vexilar locators and started jigging using Red Wigglers as that was what the perch were biting on.  When we first get on a lake, each of us go with different baits, as this allows the fish to tell us what they like.

  Once we land several fish on a certain bait, the others in our group will switch to that bait until the fish quit biting and then use an attractor bait, a jigging spoon, Jiggin Rap or some bait with a lot of action to pull the fish in while the others in our party all put down  different baits.

  Larry and I would be using two and four-pound Berkley ice line with tungsten jigs. While, Brandyn would use his jigging spoon to draw the fish in.

  The attractor spoon would bring the fish in, allowing us to catch one or two of the aggressive biters from the school and then we switched to our tungsten lures, allowing us to use smaller yet heavier baits that dropped quickly. Using them allowed us to getting our baits down and not waste any time when the perch were below us.

  Perch have a tendency to school according to size with the smaller perch being more aggressive than those found in larger schools.

  The bite had slowed since the week before, so we had to earn each fish, but those fish we took were good size, in the eleven to thirteen and a half inch range. [Read more…]


The Importance Of Pollinators

Do you know where your food comes from? It’s said that pollinators, like honey bees, are directly responsible for over 1/3 of the world’s food production, and they are linked to the other 2/3! Few realize how important pollinators are to our food plot crops, let alone the food “colony collapse disorder” that has been devastating North America’s honey bee population since 2006. It is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a honey bee colony suddenly disappear! 

Attracting Pollinators With Wildflowers [Read more…]


Shallow water Perch Bite On Big Stone By Gary Howey

  The red line below my tungsten jig on my Vexilar locator rose up from the bottom slowly indicating a fish was moving up to my bait. Peering down into the clear water, I could see the perch moving up to the same level as my jig.

  I twitched my bait ever so slightly as the perch moved in on it and inhaled my micro jig and wax worm. As I brought my rod up, I felt the added weight and set the hook bringing the first of the numerous perch we would take on this trip.

  Team Member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, Iowa and I were ice fishing on Big Stone with Tanner Arndt, a guide from Artie’s Bait & Tackle of Ortonville, Minnesota.  Tanner knew the lake as Larry and I had spent time on the water with him on a spring fishing trip, one where we caught good numbers of crappie, bluegill and bass.

   Ortonville lies along the east shore of Big Stone and is a thriving community; with excellent schools, new housing developments, a large hospital, year round recreation possibilities, an eighteen-hole golf course and an area where you will not find finer people.

  Big Stone is a large lake, part of the waters forming the border between northeastern South Dakota and Western Minnesota. It is one of the numerous glacial lakes found in South Dakota and Minnesota, a twenty-six miles long body of water averaging around one mile wide.

  On this trip, we were after perch, one of the numerous species of fish that inhabit the lake along with walleye, northern pike, bass and bluegill.

  Perch, have a tendency to cruise throughout the lake, not spending much time in one location and when our indicators showed perch under our house, we did our best to get them to hit our lures before they moved on.

  If they moved off my bait, depending on the direction they were going, we would let each other know they were on their way, giving each a little warning to be ready and to look for them to arrive.

  It was early February, when it can be a the slow time for ice anglers as the fish moved from their early ice bite where they were still feeding and it would be a good month away before  late ice when the fish began to feed again.

  This was the time of the year, when to a falling barometric pressure seemed to be a good sign, as when the pressure dropped, the fish seemed to be a little more eager to take our baits.

  We were in one of Artie’s Ice Castles, a large icehouse equipped with lights, heat, and television, fold down beds. cooking stove and a bathroom, which allowed us to fish very comfortably beings the outside temperatures, were well below zero.

  I was running the camera, so Larry and Tanner kept me busy and when, my Vexilar showed fish below me, I had an opportunity to catch a fish or two, some were keepers while others, the smaller perch we released.

  We were using small tungsten jigs, as tungsten is heavier than other metals, allowing you have smaller heavier baits that sink quickly down to where the fish are holding.

  There were times when the fish were so tight to the bottom were they moved in quickly or when they were tight to the bottom when Tanner or I became spotters for Larry, watching the fish move in on his bait and when it sucked in his bait, told him to set the hook.

  Throughout the day, schools of fish moved in under our Ice Castle, where we would pick up a fish or two and when things slowed, one of us would switch rods and put down attractor bait, a small Jiggin Rap, rattle spoon or some other larger bait to draw fish into our area.

  This was a tactic our late friend Jim McDonnell, of Royal, Iowa used quite often, taking it to an extreme, using a larger spearfishing decoy to attract the fish. [Read more…]