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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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Pre-Season Scouting The Key to All Hunting Success By Gary Howey

  If you are in the process of planning a hunting trip, the first question you may ask yourself is where do I start my hunt?

  Even if you have hunted in the same area for years, things will change from one year to the next. The cropping system may have changed, high water may have altered the terrain, the ownership of the land changed or disease could have eliminated a better part of the wildlife.

  So, each year, prior to the season, I like to put myself one up on the game, no matter what I am after, I need to do some sort of scouting, to spend a little time in the field before the season..

  You do not have to be a rocket scientist to scout an area and figure out what the game is doing.

  One excellent way to see where the deer, turkey and other game are located is to use your eyes; scouting with your binoculars as it allows the hunter to check out the area without spooking any game.

  This can be accomplished no matter what species you are after, as all wildlife needs to feed and if you can locate their food source, you can be there before they leave their bedding area or roost.

  If it is waterfowl you are after, you will need to look for them in the field just before it gets dark as chances are unless they have cleaned out the field or been pressured hard by hunters, they will be back around sunup.

  All waterfowl have a tendency to feed in the early morning and later in the afternoon unless the weather is extremely warm.

  When it is warm, geese do not need much feed as they do when it is cold, so they may feed only once during the day.

  Scouting for spring turkey is done in much the same fashion except the terrain the turkeys live in is a lot rougher.

  In the spring, I try to make the most use of my time in the field, trying to accomplish several things with each trip.

  I am not just looking for turkey sign, but I am also on the lookout for last year’s deer sheds.

  Late winter, just before spring arrives is a perfect time to scout for turkeys as they bunched up, as all wildlife will bunch up into large flocks or herds when it is cold, close to their food source.

  A flock of turkeys leaves lot of sign, so locating areas that turkeys are using in late winter and early spring is simple!

   Turkeys are scratchers, so they turn over leaves, manure and sticks always looking for a tender shoot, small insect or waste corn to eat. By looking over their scratching, you should be able to tell in which direction they moved. [Read more…]

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Mountain Lion sightings

  Mountain Lion sightings are become a common thin in the Midwest as they are being caught on Game Cameras in southern South Dakota, northern Nebraska and northern Iowa and in numerous other Midwestern states.

  This can be quite concerning when you call predators like my Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Members and I do!

  What do you do if a mountain lion comes stalking in? First of all REMAIN CALM!

  We’d make sure that one of our shooters sees it, just in case it decides to pounce and then film it. [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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Patterning Turkeys With the help of game cameras By Gary Howey

  The key to a successful turkey hunt is to know where the birds are going to be at a given point in the day, there’s no better way to do this than with your game cameras.

  I have certain places where I place my game cameras to pattern deer and these areas; food plots, fence lines, gates, corn and bean fields are areas where I find turkeys in the spring.

  In the fall after deer season, I pull my game cameras as the winter months are hard on cameras and times covered up by snow.

  When I’m out doing my pre-season scouting for turkeys, I’ll put a few of the camera’s out and when I’m scouting or when hunting sheds pull the cards to see if the birds are coming through the area. If they’re using the area, the photo will tell me what time of the day they may be there.

  Using game cameras in the spring cuts down on my scouting time as if the turkeys show up on my game camera numerous times and at about the same time, I now have a place and a time where I can set up and decoy a bird.

  In the early spring, my best bet is to use the game camera photos to get an idea as to where certain flocks of birds are heading in the early morning. One of the first thing turkeys do when they hit the ground, is to go out to feed, but if the area you’re hunting contains dozens of crop fields, a game camera will help you narrow your search.

  Good spots to have your game cameras located include, areas where the birds can move from one field to another, gates and down fence lines, if you have a mineral feeder out, it’s another good location for your camera as turkeys will come to investigate it.  If a farmer has livestock that he feeds, you can bet that the turkeys will visit that location.

  You can’t hunt too close to where they’re feeding as that could be considered baiting, but you can hunt where they come and go into the area. Game camera placed along these routes will give you a good idea as to when they come through.

 When I’m out searching for sheds, and I have an idea as to where the birds may be located, I use my locator calls i.e. crow calls, owl calls, and coyote howler to narrow my search area.

  These work especially well late in the day just about the time the birds are thinking about going to roost. Just prior to flying up into the trees, turkeys will mill around the trees they will roost in, pecking around, getting a bedtime snack before retiring up in the trees and will respond to those calls I mentioned. Once you get a response, you’ve a good idea as to where they will be located the following morning.

  Armed with the information you’ve obtained from your game cameras and your locator calls, the following morning, you can come back before the sun gets up to set up your decoys and blind.

  A couple of mistakes that new hunters make are to get into the field late, as the sun begins to rise and get spotted by the birds. Turkeys have excellent eyesight during the day but once it gets dark their eyesight is poor.  However, once it starts to lighten up, even though it’s still dark, if you’re out moving around, putting up your decoys, the turkeys will know something is up. [Read more…]