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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. 

Backfire

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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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Northeast Nebraska and Southeastern South Dakota Upcoming Events

 

* Saturday February 24-South East Mark Deffenbaugh Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Banquet @ Minerva’s-Yankton, S.D. beginning @ 5:30 pm for more information contact Jason Kral @ 605-665-0444

 

* Saturday April 21-Friends of the NRA Banquet-Newcastle, NE. Fire Hall beginning @ 5:30 pm for more information contact selectpartsjeff@aol.com or call Jeff Attema @ (712) 212-5287

 

[Read more…]

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New Products at SHOT Show 2018 By Gary Howey

  With all of the meteorologists in the area predicting heavy snow and wind, and not sure where the blizzard would hit while predictions up to fifteen inches of snow, I did not want to miss my flight from Sioux Falls to Las Vegas for the SHOOTING HUNTING and OUTDOOR TECHNOLOGY, the SHOT Show.

  I hate to be late and with a blizzard forecast, I figured it would be better to be at the airport ahead of time and not stranded along the road in a blizzard. 

  I departed home early, before 11:00 Sunday the January 21, making my way to Sioux Falls to catch my 8:57 pm flight to Vegas.

  My timing was perfect, and even though I arrived early and had several hours to blow, I made my flight, which was the last flight out before the Sioux Falls airport shut down because of the blizzard.  

  The SHOT Show, a four-day convention where manufacturers of products used in shooting and by hunting enthusiasts, the military and police proudly displayed their products to buyers from throughout the world.

  I would be in Las Vegas, six days, hoping to cover at least part of the huge show held at the Sands Expo Convention Center.

Outdoor Edge Razor Lite Knives

  Because I collect knives, one of my first stops would be at the Outdoor Edge booth, where they have knives and accessories for about anything an outdoorsmen like myself would or could need in the great outdoors. [Read more…]

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Getting the Jump on Spring Turkeys By Gary Howey & Josh Anderson

  Turkey hunters like us are already thinking about our Spring Gobbler hunt, and it is not very long before the spring turkey season will be upon us. If you are like many of us die-hard turkey hunters like me, you probably are counting the days.

  Spring turkey hunting can be one of the most exciting sports known to man or it can be one of the most frustrating walks in the woods that you can imagine.

  A successful spring hunt requires some pre-season preparation in order to get the jump on the birds and have a plan before you head for the field.

  The first thing you are going to need to do is to know where the birds are because traipsing around in the hills, hoping to stumble across a turkey is not what turkey hunting is all about.

  If you think you know where the birds are today, because you saw them this winter, then you could be in for a truly rude awaking.

  In the winter, turkeys, much like other wild animals will head towards their food source, herding up in certain areas because of the abundance of food found there.

  Just because you saw them in the winter, I would not count on them being in that spot when the sun rises on opening day.

  They maybe in the general area, within a half to one mile away, but that is a huge area to cover when you are trying to set up on them opening morning.

  As the weather warms, these large flocks will start to break up and as the hens move out, the Toms will follow.

  The dominant Toms will start to show their authority, whipping the feathers off the younger birds, showing them whose boss and their place in the pecking order.

  This is the time of the year that you need to grab your binoculars and head for the woods to try to locate the birds.

  Once a Tom has established his territory, he will fight to keep it and found in that area through out the breeding season unless something catastrophic happens to force them out.

  Now that you have your big Gobbler spotted, you will need to figure out his routine, to make a mental map of where he roosts, travels, struts, feeds and likes to hangs out.

   Like all of us, wild critters seem to do much of the same things day in and day out, sleeping, traveling and eating in a certain place.

  By observing where they roost, fly down and eat, you can set up between these areas and get a shot at them as they go about their everyday routine.

  If the birds fly down on the east side of the trees and then wander off to feed in a field in the same direction, you are not going to get them to come to the west, no matter how good you are at calling.

  Pattern them, set up along their travel route and your success rate will increase 

  Ok, so you have got the birds figured out, know where they are heading, your decoys are set out and your calling is impeccable but the Tom still does not come within range, then what? [Read more…]