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Stance and Shooting Tips

Don’t Bring The Gun To Your Shoulder

When you bring the gun to your shoulder, you tend to throw it up to your shoulder and then throw your head down to the gun. When you do that, you cock your eyes and lose the depth perception needed to make the shot. The proper technique would be bring the gun to your face. In doing this, your shoulder just follows without creating excessive movement. When you bring it straight to your face, your eyes remain level and are fixated right down the barrel.

Keep The Muzzle Up

The other thing that I notice a lot of times with shooters is that they’ve got the gun in a lowered position. What happens here is when the bird comes close, you have to bring the gun up, find the gun, find your target and set your lead. This is very difficult to do when you’ve got a bird flying 90 miles an hour. It’s a tough shot anyway, but if you have the gun already up in the mount forward position, you already know where your gun is. You can see your barrel, you see the bird come in, and all you do is bring the barrel right to your face.

Lean Forward

You want to lean forward into the gun all the time and not shoot while leaning back. If you’re leaning back, you’ll absorb full recoil and it can hurt. Just remember to bring the gun to your face, keep your muzzle up, and lean forward. Follow these pointers and you’ll have much more success in the field. 

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For more GameKeeper shooting tips, read “How To Determine Your Dominant Eye.” As GameKeepers, we owe it to the animals we hunt to be a good marksman and make ethical shots. For new shooters or those that have trouble looking at open sights or scopes, finding your dominant eye is the first step in becoming a better shot.

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simple stance and mount techniques to improve your shooting accuracy.

 

Don’t Bring The Gun To Your Shoulder

When you bring the gun to your shoulder, you tend to throw it up to your shoulder and then throw your head down to the gun. When you do that, you cock your eyes and lose the depth perception needed to make the shot. The proper technique would be bring the gun to your face. In doing this, your shoulder just follows without creating excessive movement. When you bring it straight to your face, your eyes remain level and are fixated right down the barrel.

Keep The Muzzle Up

The other thing that I notice a lot of times with shooters is that they’ve got the gun in a lowered position. What happens here is when the bird comes close, you have to bring the gun up, find the gun, find your target and set your lead. This is very difficult to do when you’ve got a bird flying 90 miles an hour. It’s a tough shot anyway, but if you have the gun already up in the mount forward position, you already know where your gun is. You can see your barrel, you see the bird come in, and all you do is bring the barrel right to your face.

Lean Forward

You want to lean forward into the gun all the time and not shoot while leaning back. If you’re leaning back, you’ll absorb full recoil and it can hurt. Just remember to bring the gun to your face, keep your muzzle up, and lean forward. Follow these pointers and you’ll have much more success in the field. 

READ ONLINE >>

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For more GameKeeper shooting tips, read “How To Determine Your Dominant Eye.” As GameKeepers, we owe it to the animals we hunt to be a good marksman and make ethical shots. For new shooters or those that have trouble looking at

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Hunting Seasons are Here by Gary Howey

  You have to feel it, the air, the cool brisk temperatures and the breeze that will soon bring the cold weather our way. 

  My old hunting dog, “Mo” knew right away that it was here; he had a little more bounce in his step when I let out for his run

  He would come out of the kennel on a dead run, nose to the ground, tail high in the air and after two or three laps around the yard, run to the back of the pickup thinking that it was time to go hunting.

   You will not have to look at a calendar to know that fall arrives on September 22. You will feel it!

  With the arrival of fall outdoorsmen and women, know that hunting seasons have begun or are getting close

    In South Dakota, one of the first seasons to open is the sharptail grouse/prairie chicken season, which opened Sep 15, 2018, closing January 6, 2019. 
  South Dakota Game & Parks lek surveys indicated that grouse numbers were looking good this year with substantial increase in numbers in several counties including; Jackson, with a 321% change, Beadle with its 100% change and Jerauld-Aurora  that has a 125% change over last year.

  Sharp-tailed grouse, the sharptails and greater prairie chickens, known as prairie grouse, closely related native birds found across areas of the state where you will find mainly prairie landscapes of central and western South Dakota. 

  Sharptails have a short tail with its two center feathers longer and darker than its outer tail feathers, giving its tail feathers that sharper look than those of the prairie chicken and where these birds gained their name. Their coloring is mottled dark with a light brown and a light background, while prairie chickens have a shorter tail that is, dark, and rounded. Grouse have feathers running all the way down their legs to their toes, while the prairie grouses feet are hairless.         

 Most prairie grouse hunting occurs on large expanses of grassland, but some birds occur in cropland along the field edges in grassland areas. They group up in coveys, which grows in numbers size in later season. Prairie grouse can also be found in mixed flocks in areas where their habitat or range overlaps.

  Grouse are a creature of the prairie and like most other wildlife living on the prairie; depend on their eyesight for safety.

  Grouse locate in areas where they have a clear sight of vision.  At times, it will be an area with thinnest cover as this gives them the ability to spot danger at a distance.

  Since they inhabit the prairie, where it seems like it is always windy, look for grouse on the downwind side of a ridge or hill.

  They will move into thick cover to get out of the sun and I have found them nestled under cedar trees on very warm sunny days.

  If you are hunting on a day that is very warm, especially during the early season, look for them around stock tanks, ponds or any location where they might easily find water.

  The edges of irrigated alfalfa fields are also a good spot to look for grouse as the alfalfa is a good food source for the birds and the irrigation systems wheel tracks generally hold enough water to quench the grouses thirst.

  A good way to locate grouse is to look a field over with your field glasses before heading into it to hunt. As grouse will usually have a sentry or two with their head protruding above the grass looking for danger. [Read more…]

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The Outdoors A place to Get it Together By Gary Howey

 

I have always been somewhat of a sports enthusiast. Competing in about every sport a person can imagine.

In grade school, it was track, baseball, and football, in high school track and football and once I moved to Nebraska it was softball. 

I no longer compete in any of these sports, not because I do not enjoy them, it is just that I have slowed down a bit and I do not move quite as fast as I used to or heal up as fast.  I still think I can do these things, but my body tells me different.

I still spend thousands of hours each year watching or listening to sports on the radio and TV, so I have not lost my love for these sports.

As a youngster, growing up in Watertown, South Dakota, an outdoor paradise where my father, grandfather and our neighbor introduced me to hunting and fishing, which was the start of my lifelong love of being in the outdoors.

Many of my fondest memories as a youngster were those that I spent learning about it from Glen Matteson our neighbor and excursions into the outdoors with my dad Cal and my grandfather Butch Menkveld. 

I have always enjoyed the outdoors and since my early years have really gotten into outdoor activities.

I love fishing, I am hooked, and enjoy fishing with a rod & reel, it does not matter what species of fish I am after.  I have been very fortunate to have an occupation where I can fish for walleye and catfish in several provinces of Canada and walleye as well as fishing for smallmouth bass on several of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. On one trip to Mississippi, I caught crappies while keeping an eye out for alligators and had time to spend hundreds of hundreds hours pursuing walleyes, northerns and bass in the many Glacial Lakes of South Dakota and on the Missouri River and its reservoirs.

Therefore, it just makes sense that I also bow fish for paddlefish and rough fish on the Missouri River after the invasive species, the Grass, Big Head and Silver carp trying to put a dent, it may be a small one, but every one out of the river is one less we need to worry about. 

  Invasive species, devastating are waters, devouring much of the plankton available as they have a voracious appetite, feeding continuously. These fast growing plankton feeders compete and to the baitfish, young gamefish, and our paddlefish.

To some the outdoors is not successful unless you get your limit. To others it is the time spent with friends, in that special place as Mother Nature awakens the World. (Outdoorsmen Productions Photo)

When it comes to hunting, another of my favorite pastimes, I hunt with a rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader and bow, pursuing pheasant, quail, waterfowl, turkey, deer, antelope, wild boar, bear, predators and elk. 
  My family has probably eaten as much wild game as any family.  It is lean, low in cholesterol and when taken care of in the field and prepared properly makes for some excellent eating.

However, it is not the fish or wild game that I bring home that keeps bringing me back, it is the outdoors. I know some people will find that hard to believe, but it is a fact.

I head outdoors to get away, to get back to reality.  I have learned many of lives lessons in the outdoors as I watched and listened to the world waking up when a squirrel is chattering at the birds that are  bothering him  and as I watched a doe and her fawn making their way from where they were feeding to their bedding area.

  You might say the outdoors is my therapy.   Many people go to a therapist to get things figured out, to get their life in order.  I guess I am from the old school and feel that a little peace and quiet along with fresh air will solve many problems.

When I am outdoors, I have a lot of time to think and reflect on what I have done right and wrong with my life.

There is nothing like hearing a tom turkey gobble or a pheasant cackle as the sun is coming up.  The sound of a bull elk bugling in the distance will awaken senses that you never knew you had.

When I first got into the outdoors, it was great to be outside, but I was of that age where I had to be successful, to bring something home, hoping to get my limit, to prove to my folks and myself that I had accomplished something.

  Now days, I do not need to fill my tags or my limit in order to get something out of a day in the woods or on the water, in the outdoors.  The time spent with friends and family camping, fishing or hunting allows me to forget about the deadlines that I have given myself.

 I do not worry about things when I am in the outdoors.  I know that those things will still be there when I return to my office, but the time I am outdoors is relaxing and invigorating to me, it helps me to recharge my internal batteries.

I get just as much of a thrill out of introducing someone to the great things the outdoors has to offer as I do from bagging a big buck or catching a nice walleye.

That is the reason I have been a Nebraska certified fishing instructor and a certified hunting instructor for twenty-five years.

Learning about the outdoors is not hard as those who love the outdoors and there are thousands of them, individuals who have spent time in every aspect of the outdoors, more than willing to help you to discover the outdoors.

 Conservation groups such as Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, The National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited and other conservation groups all have youth programs.

 Most states have hunter’s safety instructors, bow hunter education instructors and aquatic education instructors that hold classes throughout the state, every year. 

The outdoors is not just a male thing as there are programs set up just for the women.   The “Becoming an Outdoorswomen” is a very popular program that is given several times each year in Nebraska as well as in other states.

  In our hunter’s safety classes, we always have at least six girls and women taking the course as women are the fastest growing segment of the outdoors.

Getting into the outdoors is not very hard to learn about and has something for everyone. The next time you feel like you need to catch your breath and get yourself together, look into the outdoors, go fishing, boating, kayaking, bird watching or just hiking as the sunshine, fresh air and tranquility of the outdoors can help you to get back on track.

  Good advice, after this hectic week, trying to get everything taken care of before heading north to our writer’s conference, I need a break, think I need to spend some quality time in the outdoors, so I am going to head out to the pond I hunt to see if any new doves have migrated south!

 

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Dove Opener 2018 BY Gary Howey

  The sun was beginning to makes its decent into the western sky as I pulled into the field where we would park our pickups on opening day of the Nebraska dove season.

   We had planned this hunt later in the day as the hours from about five pm to sundown is generally an excellent time of the day to set up and hunt doves near ponds.  Dove, after feeding, like to come to water to drink before going into the trees to roost for the night.

  I had not so patiently waited for this year’s dove season and was more than ready for the hunt as everything was ready the week prior to Saturdays dove hunting season.  

  I had my upland game permit & stamps, my hip number, which is required in Nebraska and a method the Game & Parks uses to get an idea on what species of migratory birds you hunted in the previous year.

  My shotgun was cleaned, I had checked its choke to make sure I would be shooting an improved cylinder choke, checked to make sure I had my plug in, as when hunt migratory birds you are not allowed to holds more than three shells in your shotgun.

  I had located my hunting vest along with the rest of my camo and hunting clothing in my back office, Camo is not terribly important when hunting doves, but it allows the hunter to blend in with the terrain he is hunting.

  My vest pockets had been loaded with AA loads and because I did not want to run out of ammo again, as I had while defending the base perimeter from a bunker we were manning during an extended firefight in Viet Nam, I had stashed an additional shotgun shells, a full case in my truck.

  As there are times when hunting doves, you need to walk a ways to get to the location you plan to hunt; it is a good idea to have a bucket or two along to transport your gear. I carry two; a six-gallon bucket filled with my decoys and ammo along with a swivel seat, which is the perfect height for me to set on as it is comfortable, allowing me to turn from side to side without much movement.

  I also bring along a five-gallon bucket  that holds the rest of my essential dove hunting gear, insect repellent, Hornady Hearing Protectors, water and a couple of salted nut rolls just in case I get hungry.

  Arriving at our designated time, Anthony Thoene, Hartington, NE. one of my hunting partners was there waiting for me, his brother Dani, would join us later, completing our threesome.

  It was the first day of the 2018 Dove season and Anthony, his brother Dani and I hoped to have a good dove shoot as we did several years back as we were hunting the same dam, with very similar hunting conditions. On that hunt, the birds started coming in early, beginning around five in groups of eight to ten and continued to come in throughout late afternoon.

  On that hunt, empty shotgun casings, both twenty and twelve gauge covered the ground around us as we did our best to drop one bird for every ten shots, which is said to about the average shells expended per bird for the average hunter.

  We were fortunate in a way, as we had received rain through the better parts of June, July and into August, filling the pond we were hunting.

   In years past, when the dam was not holding the water, the Thoene brothers installed a liner in the depression,  in hopes of getting enough water in the dam to allow the cattle as well as the doves to have a place to drink.

  For two years, the pond remained either dry or not enough water there to interest the cattle as well as the doves.

  This year, the ponds throughout northeast Nebraska all had water, giving the doves numerous of places to get a drink before going to roost.

  We knew that ponds with high line poles or dead tree close by would attract doves as they like to land and check things out before coming down to drink. [Read more…]

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Fall, When The Bite is on Gary Howey

It is hard to believe that the summer is gone and we are heading into the fall, it seems like just a week or so ago, that school was out and summer had just begun.

 Well, it is that time of the year, the time our kids are back to school, temperatures should start to decrease, and with the water temperatures, starting to cool all species of fish will be packing on the pounds.

When these things happen, it is a good bet that it will not be long before the fall bite begins.

As the water temperatures decline, all species of fish will really start to feed heavily and because of this, in the fall, larger live bait works best. 

This is the time of the year, when, fish are on a mission, fattening up before the freeze up.  Larger baits, chubs, larger minnows and even more than a single minnow on a hook seems to attract the larger fish, out producing smaller baits.

In the rivers, you will find the walleye, sauger and smallmouth bass moving shallow to clean up any remaining baitfish, crawfish that made it through the summer and smaller game fish.

In our lakes, bluegills, crappies, largemouth bass and pike will move into and along the edge of the weeds, picking off the few baitfish left, insects and of course each other.

Those walleyes in the lake will spread out over the mud flats or cruise the weeds looking for a late season snacks.

The key to locating good numbers of fish will be to find the greenest vegetation as in the fall it attracts the fish. 

There are several reasons that fish will move into these green weed beds.  The first is that their food source, baitfish and other aquatic species have relocated there, another is this is where the most comfortable water temperatures are found as the vegetation gives off oxygen, making it more comfortable for the fish, where they find shade, and of course, ambush locations to attack their food.

If you have fished these weedy areas you know, they are a nightmare, as weeds eat tackle as fast as you can tie it on.

When fishing for bass you will probably be working these weedy areas with some sort of weedless rig such as a Texas rig or some sort of weedless jig and pig combination. 

Fall bass love to bury themselves deep inside the weeds, adjacent to the open pockets in the weeds, waiting in ambush for some aquatic creature to swim by. These open water pockets are good locations to fish and run spinnerbaits over the top of the weeds.  As the bait comes into the open pocket allowing it to helicopter down and when you get a bite or a no-show, no bite, you will need to bring your rod tip up high while power cranking the spinnerbait back up onto the surface.

  Buzzbaits are also very productive baits when fishing weedy areas, especially during the fall. They too should be run quickly, power cranked across the weed with the disturbance they make on the surface and the racket from the bait, bringing the fish up through the weeds to attack the bait. 

As water temperatures drop and late fall approaches, fish, which are cold blooded, their metabolism slows down and you will need to do the same, slowing down the way you fish and moving to smaller baits.

If you are fishing for panfish, work the pockets and along the edge of the weeds with small tube jigs or a light livebait jigs. 

One of the best baits to draw panfish from the thicker cover they are using this time of the year, go with a Slip bobber rig, a slip bobber, split shot, micro jig or a small hook tipped with minnows or pieces of night crawler worked slowly along the outer weed edge.

Walleye anglers this time off the year switch from night crawlers and leeches back to minnows.  Experiment a little bit with your baits during late fall, as all walleyes do not change from worms to minnows at the same time or on a given date. On one trip, they may still prefer the larger live bait and the next a smaller bait presentation.

Those fall fishing for walleye have good luck using jigs drifting through current breaks, worked along the edge of the weeds and on the mud flats.

Guide Chuck Krause and author with a few of the fish they caught while fishing during the fall near Gettysburg, S.D. on Lake Oahe. (Outdoorsmen Productions Photo)

Pike anglers will be working the weeds as where you find weeds, you will find pike. Several baits that will pull pike from within the weeds, include spinnerbaits ran over the top or along the edge of the weeds.

When fishing for pike in the fall, as I mentioned earlier when bass fishing in the weeds, you will want to hold your rod high and power or speed crank the bait over the top of the weeds, using the helicopter drop method into the open water pocket.

  If fishing the weeds edge, the old reliable daredevil ran along the edge will drive pike crazy and if the pike are nearby, results in a thunderous hit as the fish charges out of the weeds, smashing the lure and making an attempt to bury itself back deep into the cover.

  Slip bobber rigs with large hooks and bait drifted along the weed edge is another big pike producer in the fall.

Bottom loving catfish make the move from their summer haunts, those cooler, deeper holes that held them in the hotter weather and head shallower. When fishing for fall cat, anglers fish their prepared (stinkbaits), cutbaits and live bait rigs into the in water with less current and cooler temperatures locations where catfish will be located.        

The fast water below the powerhouse will also hold catfish, as when the water came through the turbines, it created oxygen and the cooler water temperatures and oxygenated water, the catfish will be there, as they love to lie there behind the rock piles, dead falls and snags.

You should not overlook any of the slack water pockets just off the current near the dam or others in the river, as no matter what species of fish you are after, these areas hold fish sometime during the day, as the fish cruise these current breaks regularly searching for a meal.

Fall is the time of the year you do not want to make the mistake that some anglers do and put your fishing tackle away, only think only of hunting, as you are going to miss some of the finest fishing there is during the year.

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Dove Hunt Etiquette

With dove season just around the corner, it’s not a bad idea to keep these 10 dove hunting etiquette tips on your mind.

  1. Don’t race to the field and hog the best spots. Make sure the older shooters have access to shade first. If the birds are flying, hopefully everyone will get some shooing. If not, make sure to rotate spots.
  2. Try to camouflage your spot the best you can to keep from flaring birds that are entering the field. Take care to hide vehicles.
  3. Do NOT shoot low birds. Help to warn others and holler “low bird” to the other shooters.
  4. Space yourself safely away from the next hunter.
  5.  Make sure you don’t kill birds that fall into areas where they can’t be retrieved.
  6. Pick up your empty shells and trash.
  7. Obey the game laws.
  8. If you kill your limit, move out so someone who hasn’t had as much shooting can have some action.
  9. Alert the hunters next to you as birds approach, and ask them to do the same for you.
  10. Don’t “burn out” the field. Always try to stop early so the remaining birds can feed. 

[Read more…]

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Successful Food Plots By Gary Howey

  When it comes to food plots and mineral licks, some believe the best time to plant them is in the spring and there is no doubt that spring plantings are beneficial, as long as the wildlife does not eat or destroy it before the cold weather arrives.

  Any food plot, as well as mineral licks, no matter when they are established can be beneficial to wildlife, but it needs to be available throughout the year at those times, when wildlife most needs it.

  For me, I have tried both spring and fall food plots, but after several disappointing spring plantings that were devastated by deer, turkeys and other wildlife before winter, I decided that late summer or early fall planting, those put in late July and August worked the best for me.

  Just like any planting in order to do well, come up and used by wildlife when archery season opens, they need decent timely rains.  With good weather conditions, there is a good chance that at least some of it will be available after the rut on into the winter.

  There has been a lot said as far as the good and the bad when it comes to putting in food plots.

  On one side, there are those who believe there is no need for food plots, believing that there is plenty for wildlife to feed on and they do more harm than good, while on the other side, there are those who feel food plots are something important wildlife and needed, especially in our northern tier of states.

  To me there is no doubt that good food plots concentrates wildlife. Making it easier for predators to find the game, but their benefits, especially during our cold tough winters, after the rut when bucks are worn out and later when does are carrying their fawns, when other good food sources are gone, or unavailable, is when wildlife suffers. This is when wildlife needs a place to feed, when having established food plots outweigh the disadvantages.

  I feel that any food plot, whether it was planted in the spring or in the fall, if put in properly and established correctly serves its purpose, giving upland game, deer and other wildlife the help needed when other food sources are gone.

  The important thing is to establish your food plot in proper locations and that you put them in properly.

  Just like anything else from a business to food plots, the important thing is location, location, location. Food plot locations should be close by and easily accessed by wildlife, especially during the winter.

  They need to be in close proximity to the area where wildlife lives! During the winter, wildlife has very little energy to waste and if they leave cover and travel a long distance to get to a food plot they use up valuable energy, exposing themselves and more susceptible to attacks by predators.

  The closer a food source is to where wildlife beds down or roosts in winter cover, such as sloughs, CRP and wooded areas the better their chances of survival will be. [Read more…]

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Pheasant Survey Indicates 47% Increase for South Dakota’s 100th Hunting Season

August 27, 2018

PIERRE, S.D. – According to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), this year’s pheasant brood survey shows a 47 percent increase over last year. The 2018 statewide pheasants-per-mile (PPM) index is 2.47, up from the 2017 index of 1.68.

“A substantial increase in the pheasants-per-mile index is an exciting prospect for South Dakota’s 100th pheasant hunting season this fall,” stated Kelly Hepler, GFP Secretary. “Weather conditions continue to play a significant role when it comes to bird numbers and better weather helped this year with the average pheasant brood size increasing 22 percent over last year.”

From late July through mid-August, GFP surveyed 110, thirty-mile routes across the state’s pheasant range to estimate pheasant production and calculate the PPM index. The survey is not a population estimate, but rather compares the number of pheasants observed on the routes and establishes trend information. Statewide, 85 of the 110 survey routes had a higher PPM than 2017.

“We are pleased to see pheasant numbers improve across the state; particularly in the far eastern part of the state where hunters will have more opportunities to harvest birds than in recent years,” stated Hepler. “The full report provides an overview of upland habitat; which remains a concern for all wildlife across the state. Just as changes in landscape-level habitat conditions have produced peaks and valleys in the pheasant population for 100 years, habitat will again be the key to preserving pheasant hunting for another century.” [Read more…]