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Capture Better Hunting Photos with Your Phone

In today’s world, most everyone has a phone that they use to take pictures. Where you may have to search for a camera, our phones are almost always with us and the cameras in many of  these phones can shoot some amazing images. We’re capturing split seconds of time we cherish later, sometimes years later, and love to relive the memories. As time passes, photos and video are all we have to look back on special times that meant something to us. Whether it is a beautiful sunrise, an antler you found glistening in the sun, or a photo to show your friends the deer you were chasing and finally caught up to this past fall, it’s always great to have a camera at your fingertips. Cell phone technology has improved so much within the past few years; it allows you to have access to an excellent camera wherever you go.

The roots of my job as a photographer began just like that, walking around with a phone looking for anything that caught my eye. Looking back at those pictures, there were several things I wish I had known then that I know now. One quick way to make your photos stand out is to try different angles of the subject. This allows the audience to see your subject in a different perspective and maybe in a way they never have before. A slightly different angle can bring in more or less light and might compose a unique and different scene.

One thing I always ask myself when I’m photographing something is “how does everyone else do it?” Usually I try to go the opposite direction of that or add some sort of a twist to make it more exciting and stand out. The next thing I wish I had learned was to use the focus for your benefit. Using the focus in creative ways can add depth of field or make your subject stand out more than the [Read more…]

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GameKeeper Quick Tip: Managing Your Bass Pond

For a recreational bass fishing pond to reach its full potential and maintain that peak, it must be managed throughout the year. One major component of managing a fish pond is controlling the fish population. If a pond gets overpopulated, there becomes a lack of food and there will be a corresponding decrease in fish size and health.

Controlling the fish population in a pond requires it to be fished enough to take out the right number of fish per year as well as keeping the right size. This process also needs to be organized and kept up with, instead of just “ball-parking” how many fish are taken out of the pond. One great way GameKeepers can keep a detailed track record of their ponds is to have a mailbox by every one of the main docks. In each mailbox is a notebook that everyone fills out when they are finished fishing for the day. This keeps a record of the date, exactly how many fish were caught, the size of each fish and how many were taken out.

For fertilized ponds, try to keep about 20 to 35 pounds of bass per acre per year depending on how bad the overpopulation problem is. If the population in one of your lakes or ponds is balanced, you need to keep about 10 to 20 pounds per acre per year. The sizes of the bass that are generally kept are 14 inches and smaller.

Letting family members and close friends fish these ponds on a regular basis is a great way for all to enjoy and have a part in managing its success. It would not be possible to keep an accurate record of the amount of fish taken out of our ponds without these mailboxes that we put at every dock. Since we have started keeping up with the number and size of the fish caught as well as culling the proper size, there has been a very noticeable increase in the size of the fish in our ponds.

For more info on pond management, read “Habitat Structure for Producing and Holding More Fish”. Some fish species relate to bait more than structure. But even when that’s the case, the bait they’re after usually relates to structure of some kind. So giving your fish something to relate to in the form of structure is a huge step forward to producing and holding more fish.

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Understanding Food Plot Seed Labels

  Buying your food plot seed can sometimes be a little confusing, given all the choices that are on the market today.  Each year the team at BioLogic gets hundreds of phone calls asking about the seed analysis for the blends they are buying.  Often people want to know if they are really buying good seed or are they buying less than perfect seed. 

  At BioLogic we put a lot of thought, time, and effort into each blend to make sure the end consumer is getting the best bag of seed for the money they are spending.  Before buying a bag of seed, be sure to look for the seed analysis label on the bag.  The label will tell the consumer everything about the components inside the bag, so they will know exactly what they are buying.  We get a lot of questions about the seed label and want to try to explain all aspects of the label. There are numerous items on the seed label, but one item you will really want to pay attention to. 

[Read more…]

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Foliar Feeding Your Food Plot Crops

When using herbicides to kill the weeds in your food plots before planting, M.E.E.N. Green can be very useful. If you are using a non-selective herbicide such as glyphosate to kill weeds, the addition of M.E.E.N. Green will increase the efficacy of the glyphosate. Glyphosate has to be taken up by the weed and translocated within the plant. This is where the addition of M.E.E.N. Green comes into play. M.E.E.N. Green is readily absorbed by the weeds thereby speeding up the absorption of the glyphosate and killing the weed faster. As with any product that has to be taken up by the plant, the plant must actively be growing and not drought stressed. If weeds are drought stressed, they are not actively growing and therefore translocation of nutrients and herbicides are greatly reduced, resulting in very little control of the weeds. When using products in combination always do a small jar test to make sure they are compatible. An added benefit of using M.E.E.N. Green is that you will have some residual nutrients for your food plot to get off to a great start.

If using a selective herbicide in your food plots, such as Weed Reaper  to kill grasses, the same principles apply. M.E.E.N. Green will hasten the uptake of the herbicide greatly increasing the efficacy of the herbicide. In addition to the added benefit of better weed control, you are also foliar feeding your food plot crops. Foliar feeding helps young seedlings produce bigger root systems that aid in the growth and palatability of the food plot. Bigger root systems mean less stress on the plant during dry and cool periods. Food plots that are foliar fed by M.E.E.N. Green are more palatable to deer, because they are getting the vital nutrients they need to produce the sugars, amino acids, and carbohydrates within the plant.

For more food plot tips, read “Getting The Most Out Of Your Clover Food Plots”. Most companies will claim a lifespan of three to five years on their perennials. However, if you care for them properly a perennial stand can last for many years. Perennials like red and white clovers, alfalfa, trefoils and chicory provide dependable nutrition and attraction and are especially important for antler growth, fawn rearing and early hunting season attraction.

 

 

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Preparing a Dove Field: Sowing the Seeds of Success

We all know there are many options for preparing a dove field.  Wheat and millets, such as brown top, Japanese, proso, and foxtail, are common choices in this area. But my recommendation for a successful dove field is a sunflower field. At Prairie Wildlife, sunflower fields have resulted in better hunts than millet-planted fields.  On our “opening hunt” in September, bird limits were common among participants. Here are some ideas for your next dove field.

Getting Started

A textbook plot begins with a clean slate. Doves do not like to feed in thick grass or weeds so soil preparation is a key. Your work should ideally begin a year before the hunt. I have found that you should disk and prepare your plots during the late fall (fall in the north), if you plan to use a drill or planter.  By doing the prep work in advance, you get a jump start on the grass and weeds. You also help hold soil moisture in the plot to help the small plants through their most crucial period during the growing process. [Read more…]

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The Best Time To Call For Turkeys: Making Gobblers respond

Timing is important in so many things we do, from a musical beat to hitting a baseball to timing the stock market. The better you can anticipate the pulse, peak or sweet spot the better you’ll do. This holds true in turkey hunting, possibly more so than when hunting other game. From knowing when the gobblers will respond the best to your tactics, to knowing when to call on a specific hunt, as they say, “timing is everything.”

The Changing Seasons

Just as the fall hunting season catches whitetails during the rut, spring is breeding season for turkeys. While the decreasing amount of daylight induces whitetails to rut, the increasing photoperiod indicates it’s time for turkeys to begin the rituals and process of propagation. Depending on the region of the United States that you plan to hunt, certain parts of the season are better than others. Knowing approximately when the different stages of breeding will happen can help you know which season to apply for, when to take your hunting vacation or which tactics to use for the time you’re given to hunt.

Gobblers may vocalize early during the spring, especially during warming trends. However, just because toms are gobbling doesn’t mean breeding has begun. They may gobble at times all year long. We typically will require more evidence than sparse gobbling to guess when breeding has actually begun, like strutting toms and increased vocalizations from the rest of the flock.

Going Against Mother Nature

As most of you know, toms gobble to tell hens where to find them. By calling to them and expecting them to come to us, we’re kind of going against Mother Nature. They also add the visual appeal of strutting for the ladies – so it’s kind of backwards to the way humans do it.

When the tom breeds the hen, sperm is stored in the hen’s oviduct and fertilized eggs may be laid up to four weeks after mating. One mating is typically adequate to fertilize an entire clutch, but hens may be bred over and over again.

Hens begin to lay eggs as spring begins and she will lay an egg nearly every day until her nest contains anywhere from about eight to as many as 16 eggs. Normally, you’ll find an average of about a dozen and you’ll see smaller clutches from younger hens. Hens nest on the ground, so thick cover is a must. You’ll often find nests near food and water sources so hatching poults will have bugs, plants and seeds to eat when hatched. Hens will begin sitting on the eggs after they’re all laid and incubation will take about 25 to 30 days.

From my experience, it’s easiest to call in a tom when the real hens aren’t cooperating very well. So taking in the big picture of the entire season, your best luck should come before breeding actually gets going heavy or later in the season when the hens are sitting on their eggs.

Hunting Pressure

Pressure can also come into play. Early during the season it may be easier to call in a tom, because they haven’t been called to yet by other hunters who might suck at the craft. I’ve heard people say that gobblers get “call shy.” I don’t believe turkeys get call shy, I believe they become “stupid hunter shy.” When turkeys want to get together with other turkeys, they make noise, no matter when it is during the season.

In some states, turkeys might not start nesting until the last few days of the season. In other states the birds are already nesting when season opens, but the best hunting, or should I say one of the easiest times to call a gobbler to you, is when the hens are nesting. The problem is that this time will probably come later in the season, and it’s possible ten other hillbillies may have buggered the birds before your turn. So just because they should come to the call doesn’t mean they will, so pressure may also play a big role in how easy it is to draw a bird into your set-up. [Read more…]

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TURKEY HUNTING TIPS: USING FUNNELS

 

It’s often discussed in deer hunting forums about how hunters can use diversions to direct or funnel deer toward particular areas. Turkeys can be directed in the same fashion. If you are hunting along a food plot, you can use brush piles along the perimeter to create entrance and exit points.

It doesn’t take a lot of money, but it takes time and effort to place brush as barriers along the edges of the plot. Hinge cutting small trees and allowing part of the tree to remain intact with the stump will allow the leaves to continue on living and actually create a living barrier. Turkeys will get hung up along something as simple as a fence and certainly have no desire to pass through a thicket if there is a clear alternate route. Like most critter’s out there, they take the path of least resistance.

As planting, felling trees and arranging brush piles can restrict movement, we can also make it easier for their travel by mowing, or cutting trails by other means. It’s probably best if somehow you enhance a route where the birds already prefer to travel rather than attempting to force them in a particular direction. It’s pretty simple; the easiest route will usually be taken.

Remember, hunting is referred to as a sport because it is competitive and many times your success is relative to your preparation. Fortunately, some of the ways that a gamekeeper can enhance turkey habitat are actually low-cost, but they can have an immediate and lasting impact on your property’s appeal for wild turkeys. 

For more tips to help you in the spring woods, read “Holding Wild Turkeys: The Missing Link”.  Some gamekeepers have roost trees, a water source, mast crop, food plots and bugging areas all going for them, yet wonder why they don’t have turkeys but their neighbors do. The answer is probably “grit.

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Creating Wild Turkey hangouts

Gamekeepers need to study the birds and understand the value of effective scouting. Ideally, anticipating the wild turkeys every move means success in the field. Understanding what turkeys want and then what your farm offers (or lacks) will help you discover ways to enhance your turkey habitat. Since turkeys prefer to travel in large numbers during much of the year, creating “social” areas for them to congregate makes sense if such areas don’t already exist.

Dusting Areas

Amidst a turkey’s daily routines is the event of “dusting.” Turkeys love to find areas where the soil is exceptionally loose where they can lie down kick up dust. These areas are hotspots for congregating flocks. Areas along log roads or beneath pine stands are great locations to find a dusting area. You can however create a dusting area with a tractor or ATV.

Simply plowing or disking small strips along natural travel corridors will provide loose soil where the turkeys can then do their dusting. Placing your hunting blinds within shooting range of a dusting site can greatly increase your odds of scoring a tom. Even in times when the toms are locked up with the hens they’ll many times be drawn to the area as they court their dusting dolls.

Turkey Grit

If you’ve ever harvested a wild turkey and examined its crop and gizzard, you likely discovered that they consume gravel and grit to help digest grains and other hard foods. Much like dusting areas, turkeys will typically spend some time each day in an area where they can consume grit.

You can create your own grit or sand area for the turkeys by simply dumping small loads of the material near frequented areas. Obviously, commercial turkey grit used in poultry farming is an easy way to remedy the lack of grit. Otherwise, if you have a river or creek, oftentimes grit can be found along the bank. Grit is an essential need of all turkeys (and other birds). [Read more…]

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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…]

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Understanding And Controlling Coyotes

The coyote appears often in Native American legends. Like real coyotes, mythological coyotes are typically notable for their crafty intelligence, stealth and voracious appetite. Other names include American jackal, brush wolf and prairie wolf.

The coyote (Canis Latrans) is a member of the dog family. The scientific name literally means, “barking dog.” There are 19 subspecies. Its mournful howl is often joined by other coyotes creating a raucous concert of barks, yips, whines and howls. Historically, coyotes were most common on the Great Plains of North America. Highly adaptable to virtually any type of habitat, including urban and suburban areas, they have since extended their range from Central America, Mexico, to all of the US (except Hawaii), Canada and the Arctic.

Coyote Problems

Coyotes are generally given a bad rap by gamekeepers and hunters, and for good reason. These skilled predators will eat just about anything, including deer (especially fawns) turkeys (including eggs and poults), rabbits and other small game. Their omnivorous diet includes rodents, birds, insects, snakes, fish, frogs, crustaceans, fruits, vegetables, grass, trash, pet food and carrion. Pet owners and ranchers consider them destructive pests that will kill pets, calves, lambs, poultry or other livestock. [Read more…]