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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…]

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Advantages Of Supplemental Feeding Deer

Nutrition For Your Deer Herd

Providing a year-round source of nutrition for your whitetail herd is very important. Inadequate nutrition leads to weight loss, poor conception rates, lower fawn survival, increased susceptibility to disease…and where it counts to some gamekeepers most – poor antler development and increased mortality rates. Food plots can be vital to a nutrition program, there’s no way a gamekeeper can supply the amount or quality of food than by planting food plots. However, many managers have a difficult time supplying a year-round food source, especially during the winter in the north or in areas where you simply cannot supply enough acreage for the amount of mouths you have to feed.

Providing The Best Nutrients For Antler Growth

Antler growth begins in February and runs through September, but during peak months, mineral deposition exceeds mineral intake so bucks must build up reserves prior to summer. Having a supplemental feed that provides these nutrients is crucial if you wish for your herd to reach its potential.  Even if you have ample acreage in food plots, many choose to supplement their herd all year to ensure they receive everything they need to flourish. It’s very important, however, that you stay committed to your feeding program if you wish to see noticeable results. [Read more…]

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Herd Status Reveals Best Late Season Hunting Tactics

To know which tactics will serve you best during late season, you need to know the “status” of the herd. Everything will hinge upon temperatures, if you have snow, and whether or not there are does left that have yet to be successfully bred. Frequently there are does that aren’t bred or didn’t effectively conceive during the main rut. If they haven’t been bred successfully, they will come into heat 28 days later. And if it doesn’t happen that time they’ll come into estrus again 28 days after that. And under thriving conditions, it is also possible for first-year doe fawns to come into heat their first time. This may happen anytime from December through February and occurs most often in areas where conditions are good and they have ample nutrition. [Read more…]

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Scent Trail Techniques: Fooling Mature Bucks

When leaving a scent trail in a straight line you’ve only got a fifty-fifty chance the buck will follow the trail in your direction. Half of the time they follow it in the wrong direction, even with a real doe’s trail. They’re searching for the “goodies” at the end of the trail so even if they do follow it in the wrong direction, when they get to where you started the trail and don’t find what they’re looking for, sometimes they’ll follow it back in your direction. It might not happen immediately; a buck may come back several hours later and follow the trail back the opposite way. In fact, some bucks will go back and forth several times on a scent trail, so if a buck crosses your trail and heads the wrong way, don’t give up hope

Figure 8 Scent Trail

A cure-all for this problem is a figure-8 scent trail. Create your scent trail in a large figure 8 and place yourself downwind of the intersection of the 8. This way regardless of where the buck cuts the trail or which way he follows it, eventually he’ll wind up in front of you. You have to use your judgment; this may or may not be the best way for you to leave a trail.  Maybe you’ll make too much of a commotion or contaminate the area too much with human scent to make this tactic work properly, but this method has fooled mature bucks time and time again. [Read more…]

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TOP 4 TIPS FOR TREE STAND PLACEMENT

Many hunters have questions about tree stand placement. Every situation is different and there aren’t any rules where there aren’t exceptions. However, there are some general practices that will help in most situations when placing a tree stand.

  1. Play The Wind And Thermal

Once you have your general area selected, pay heed to the wind and thermal current in the area. You want to remain downwind or cross-wind of where you think the deer will be. This is the most important of the four.

  1. Use The Available cover

This kind of goes hand in hand with tree stand height – in a bald tree you’re more likely to go higher than in a tree with good cover. Look for trees that lose their foliage late, clusters of trees, or trees with a “Y” in the trunk for concealment.

  1. Pick a Tree That Is Easy To Climb

If you have a great spot, but you alert every deer within 400 yards by making a commotion while climbing your stand, your great spot will go for naught. Use enough tree steps or climbing sticks so you can scale the tree easily, safely and quietly.

  1. Prepare The Site To Make The shot

So you have a good spot, and you have a stand in the perfect ambush tree. What happens if a deer walks through and there’s no way you can take a bow shot? Take the time to trim some shooting lanes or “windows” so you can sneak an arrow through when the “moment of truth” arrives. [Read more…]

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Tree Stand Locations: Using Funnels

Much of choosing the proper stand site has to do with “structure.” In the same way that an angler finds the “spot on the spot,” the lay of the land and topography differences that restrict or guide movement are keys to stand placement. Whitetail travel from place to place using cover and terrain to their advantage. Learning to recognize the transition areas, access points, and travel corridors of whitetails is crucial to choosing your ambush location. In fact, if you choose the right funnel during the chase phase of the rut it can seem like “God just pulled the drain plug on a sink full of deer.”

Identifying Funnels

One of the first things you should do when approaching a new spot is to obtain an aerial photo, satellite image or topographical map. The first spots to focus on are the funnels. It doesn’t matter if you’re hunting big timber, agricultural land or rural lots; there are funnels in your hunting area. With agricultural land and more populated areas, funnels are easier located because of the sections and man-made dividers, but there are bottlenecks everywhere. Wherever you can restrict their movement to a smaller zone there will be more traffic and it’s easier to position yourself to remain undetected from their amazing sense of smell.

Subtle Variations In Terrain [Read more…]

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How Often Should you Check your Game Cameras?

One of the questions we get asked a lot is how often should I check my trail cameras. Everyone is eager to know what’s on their cameras, but checking them too often can leave a lot of scent behind and give mature deer a reason to avoid the area.

Consider Trail Cam Locations

The location of your camera has a lot to do with how often you should check it and each situation can be a little bit different. In a situation where you have a camera on a row crop field edge or well traveled road, it’s not going to hurt to go check your camera every couple of weeks, especially if you can check it out of a truck or UTV. On the other hand, if your camera is close to a bedding area, heavy cover, or a remote food source you don’t want to go in every few days to check your camera.

Checking Trail Cams Digitally

A great feature on some cameras is the ability to send pictures through a cellular network. The cell capable cameras work well if you live a long way from your land and it isn’t feasible to check them as often as you would like. Cameras that send pictures through either email or text messaging can be really advantageous to absentee landowners or for cameras placed in hard to reach areas. It is very tempting to check cameras every couple of days, but remember that disturbing the woods too often and leaving human scent behind can be counterproductive to your hunting and land management. [Read more…]

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4 Reasons To Start Planting Trees

Tree planting has played an important role in improving wildlife habitat for ages. As GameKeepers, we know how effective “tree plots” and reforestation can be for attracting wildlife to a property, but let’s take a look at some of the other great reasons to go out and plant some trees!

Reliable Food Source

Everyone loves fresh fruit! Planting fruit bearing trees for wildlife can become a “hot spot” for game traffic when the trees are producing. These same trees can also offer up a tasty snack while in the field or at the home.

Improve The Environment

Trees improve the environment by preventing and controlling erosion and help to clean the air and water. Trees in urban areas provide shade and block cold winds, which in turn keeps heating and cooling costs down. The benefits of trees far outweigh the costs, making them a wise investment for the future.

Create Lasting  Habitats

All trees are beneficial to wildlife in some form or fashion. Food, cover and water are the pillars of necessity for all walks of wildlife, and trees can provide both food and cover. Acorns from oaks and leaves and fruits of mulberries are favorite foods by many, and a long row of mixed trees in a barren landscape of the Midwest can provide enough cover to provide safe travels to feeding areas. Advanced tree planting techniques and superior stock means nuts and fruits can mature in a hurry. [Read more…]