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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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Pheasant Hunting 2017 Gary Howey

  It will not be long before the upland Game Bird season opens up. Several of the states are reporting that their pheasant numbers are down.

  I have talked with several wildlife biologists about this and they have given several reasons for the decrease in pheasant numbers.

  First is the fact that in some areas, they had dry year and moisture, the dew that the young chicks needed was hard to come by.  Secondly was the fact that last season’s numbers were also down.  Lastly, but probably the most important reason is the fact that much of our CRP had disappeared. When commodity prices were high and the dollars the government gave per acre for taking the fields out of production, into CRP were low and much of the CRP plowed under.

  Without the habitat, we just are not going to see the bird numbers others and I saw while growing up in Watertown, South Dakota during the “Good Old Days.”

  The reason that South Dakota has birds is simple; they realize the thousands of dollars their State bird, the Ringneck Pheasant brings into the state’s economy.

  South Dakota definitely have more habitat than Nebraska, the state I reside in and In Much of South Dakota; they farm for pheasants taking care of what habitat they do have.  They do a number of things to enhance the habitat, making it more attractive to wildlife.

  In South Dakota, you will see sloughs; some hold water while others are no more than muddy swamps.  When they plant trees, many of them are specifically suited for wildlife. Many farmers will leave a few rows of corn or sorghum in the field each year, helping wildlife to survive during the harsh South Dakota winters.  This habitat helps to assure that the birds have cover to protect them from predators flying overhead and the food and cover needed to make it through the long winter months.

  This, along with the fact that game preserves stock birds heavily helps to ensure good bird numbers during the season.

  Some folks have the misconception that pheasants can live in the row crops, the corn and bean fields.  Maybe, in years past, but not today as the row crops no longer have pigeon grass and weeds between the rows, they are clean.  Sure, pheasants will move into them to feed before harvest and on what little waste grain there is after harvest, but row crops do not cut it for wildlife habitat.

  In areas where there was dry weather, successful hunters this season may have to hunt areas adjacent to water.  It really does not have to be much, as a small slough, creek, or pond will work.

  Another tip that is worth listening to is to hunt the smallest tracts of land, patches of weeds etc. The larger CRP fields or state hunting grounds are hunted hard.  As soon as one group comes out one end, another group is heading in the opposite end of the field.

  Most hunters tend to pass up these small weed patches or small clumps of trees.  These places can really hold good numbers of birds, those pushed from the larger fields, find safety, and shelter in these small tracts of land.

  It does not take a Rhodes Scholar to figure it out, many of the larger tracts of land are hunted hard and the birds are looking for a place to rest and get away from all the noise and shooting. [Read more…]

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The 15th Annual Paralyzed Veteran’s of America &Fireman’s Fishing event By Gary Howey

  What does it take to have the ability to take dozens of paralyzed veterans and other individuals fishing on the Missouri River? It’s a monumental task, which is pulled off each year in the Missouri River waters adjacent to Chamberlain/Oacoma, S.D.

  Our destination, Arrowwood, Cedar Shore Resort, which located on the west bank of the Missouri River near Oacoma and as  we pulled into the parking lot, there were vehicles from several states including; Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, North Dakota and Texas.

   The resort was the headquarters for the 2017 Firefighters Paralyzed Veterans of America North Central Chapter Joel Niemeyer Memorial Walleye Fishing event that was held May 25 and May 26.

  This event, the 15th annual would give disabled veterans and other individuals the opportunity to get out in a boat to do some fishing, for some; this would be their only opportunity of the year.

  Sponsored by numerous Fire fighters organizations, the North Central Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, local sponsors, several veterans groups, numerous volunteers, that included up to thirty boat commanders and first mates,  who’d volunteer their time, boats and equipment to take these folks out onto the river to fish. [Read more…]

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Small Ponds, Lakes & Weeds By Gary Howey

  If you fish some of the clearer lakes and ponds such as the Glacial Lakes in the Watertown, SD area and others found in in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa or smaller lakes and ponds in late spring and on into summer you’re going to have to deal with weeds.

  As temperatures rise and the sun’s power increases, these bodies of water will weed up in the first eight to ten foot from the shoreline a weedy mess.

  This makes for some tough fishing especially for the bank angler.  Using a simple rig such as the hook, line, sinker and a bobber doesn’t work if the shoreline is weed covered.
  The moss and emergent weed growth can make it impossible to fish from shore, but it’s a blessing for the newly hatched fingerlings as it gives the small fish a place to hide from predator fish such as bass, pike and walleye. 

  It doesn’t take much shoreline cover to give fingerlings a hiding place to keep from being eaten by the many larger species looking for their next meal. 

  Because the predator fish are cruising along and in between the weed lines, why shouldn’t we be fishing in or near them, but that’s easier said than done as nothing eats tackle like heavy weeds.

    There are ways, shore or bank anglers can fish these solid beds of vegetation and take Bluegill and bass. In all weed beds, there are some open areas where the weeds haven’t grown or they don’t come to the surface.  These open pockets may have a rock or sandy bottom where weeds haven’t been able to establish themselves.  These areas form an edge or a bottom change, as all fish and wildlife, like the edge.

  This gives the fish a place to retreat out of sight, a place to hide from any predators and a place for predators to ambush any smaller fish.

  By fishing these pockets, you’re able to pull the fish out of the weedy areas.  Surface lures imitating a frog or insects work well to entice the fish in these areas as do spinners and buzz baits when run over the top of the weeds and through the openings in the weeds.

   When using spinner baits you’ll want to cast your lure into the water past the pocket, hold your rod high and crank quickly in order to keep your bait from sinking into the weeds. Once you come to an open pocket, pause, allowing your bait to helicopter into the pocket and then crank hard to bring the bait back on top and over the top of the weeds.   Your strike should come as the bait helicopters into the pocket or when you start bringing it up out of the pocket.

   The worst thing you can do when fishing weeds is to work your bait too quickly.  All species of fish use their five senses to locate their prey, sight, sound, vibration, taste and hearing. You’ll have to remember when it comes to fishing in the weeds; the fish aren’t able to use all of their senses in heavy weed growth. Its vision and sense of vibration become impaired because of the thick weeds and it will take them longer to locate your bait, so work it as slow as possible. [Read more…]

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Turkey Hunting The “Run and Gun” Method By Gary Howey

No matter what type of outdoor activity you are into, windy, cold, damp days can put an end to most activities before they start!
This especially true when it comes to a spring turkey hunt, making a hunter thinking more about the nice warm bed he’s in than chasing turkeys in the rain!
Calling spring turkey when it is cold and damp is a tough job, but do not think all turkeys hole up during these types of weather conditions. There are always a few toms out there looking around for a receptive hen!
This is when we revert to what we refer to as aggressive turkey hunting tactics. This is something not talked about a lot as it involves more work than other turkey hunting tactics.
You’ve more than likely seen TV shows or videos where the hunter makes a few calls, sets down in one spot for a couple of minutes and then the bird magically appears!
These hunters on these programs do not need to look around a whole lot to locate the birds because they are in an area that they have been in before or he is hunting next to a feeder in his own backyard.
If you spend a lot of time in an area and spend a lot of that time looking for the birds, you are going to know exactly where they are!
Because we are filming in different locations, in areas we may have never seen before, we arrive the day before the hunt, scouting as time allows, but there are times when our schedule puts us into an area after dark and scouting just does not happen.
This is where we revert to my aggressive turkey calling.
On opening morning, we are in the field well before daybreak, not a half hour, I mean when it is pitch dark as turkeys may not have the best night vision, they still can detect movement in low light conditions.
If the area looks like it would hold turkeys, we like to use a locator call to get a response from the Toms.
We start our hunt by jumping from one ridge line to another calling with our owl, crow or predator calls trying to get an old gobbler to shock gobble
Don’t travel along the top of the ridges: as a turkey’s keen eyes will pick you out against the skyline and your hunt will be over before it begins.
Travel just below the ridge line, high enough to be able to see and hear what is going on below you, but not high enough to be silhouetted against the skyline.
If there is no answer, we will break out our binoculars and glance along the ridges, trying to spot the birds as they come down from the roost.

[Read more…]

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Lack Of Snowfall Benefits Iowa Pheasants

BOONE – Based on the positive comments that filled Todd Bogenschutz’s email and voicemail, Iowa pheasant hunters saw more birds last fall and after last winter’s below normal snowfall that good vibe should continue this season.

Bogenschutz, the upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, uses winter snowfall and spring rain totals along with historic trends to predict pheasant population swings. For five years in a row, heavy winter snow followed by cool wet springs sent Iowa pheasant numbers into a free fall bottoming out in 2011.

But after more favorable winter/nesting seasons, including most recently in back to back years, things are looking up for ringnecks.

“We had a good winter and should have had good pheasant and quail survival. Every region in the state was below normal for snowfall, except the east central region and it was only one-inch above normal so we should be poised for an increase in bird numbers as long as we have a good nesting season,” Bogenschutz said. “It will be interesting to see the August roadside survey results.”

The two year reprieve to more normal winter snowfall is encouraging and there are steps landowners can take to help ensure the trend continues – plant shelterbelts and food plots.

Virtually all of Iowa’s winter mortality is attributed to persistent snows or blizzards with the birds dying of exposure, to predators or from the weather. Well designed shelterbelts provide important cover and food plots an additional food source to help pheasants, quail and other wildlife survive periods of prolonged or heavy snow.

A food plot associated with a shelterbelt likely improves survival because food plots provide additional winter habitat as well as food. Pheasants can get a meal quickly and limit their exposure to predators, maximizing their energy reserves. “If hens have good fat supplies coming out of the winter, they are more likely to nest successfully,” said Bogenschutz. [Read more…]

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Prepare now for turkey hunting season by Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

A little preparation right now can put the odds on your side come turkey hunting season.

And when it comes to hunting these wise, old birds, you need all the help you can get. After all, only one in five hunters fill their tag in Iowa.

It’s been interesting to see how turkey hunting has changed over the years. This will be my 30th straight year in the turkey woods. I’ve shot toms in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

When I first began hunting turkeys, everyone was in the woods before the crack of dawn. They’d find roosting toms and then set up as close to them as they dared and begin making quiet hen tones.

By 10 a.m., most of the hunters were on their way home for lunch and maybe watch a game on TV if it were a weekend.

Somewhere along the line, hunters began forgoing the dawn hunt and venturing into the woods at 10 a.m., or later. They learned that their success was greater later in the day when the hens had left the toms and gone to nest.

With the high turkey numbers we have today, there is no shortage of hens. Now hens are roosting with the toms and at fly down, the toms follow the hens, and are reluctant to leave them.

Even though tactics have changed somewhat, it is still important to do that preseason scouting.

There are two things you want to learn. One is where the turkeys are roosting. Two is where they go after fly down. If you are an early morning hunter, you must set up along the path the turkeys take. If you hunt later in the day, you must know where the birds end up at late morning. Once the hens leave them, the toms will remain in that general area for most of the rest of the day.

Turkeys gobble a lot before fly down in the morning and you can locate them that way, or go out just after dark and blow an owl call. They will respond if within ear shot.

The main thing is to do your scouting from afar. You don’t want to spook them because they may change their routine. The more you can learn about them before the hunt the better.

The next important thing before the hunt is to pattern your gun with the loads you have been using. Get some turkey targets and take a shot at 20 yards, 30 yards and 40 yards. Six to ten hits in the spinal cord and head will insure the bird goes down. If you are getting a good target at 40 yards, move out to 50.

The choke in your shotgun is important. At minimum it should be a full choke, but most turkey hunters, myself included, use an extra full turkey choke.

Since the beginning I have used number six buffered and copper plated shot. Other hunters like four or five shot. [Read more…]

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Spring Turkey Hunting By Gary Howey

I can’t wait until old man winter releases his grip on the upper Midwest and spring arrives when I can hit the woods to begin another season to pursue spring turkey.

This will be my forty-first season where I hope to add my 104th bird to my turkey log. This year, I’ll have three Nebraska tags and help my Son-in-Law Matt and grandson Teddy to tag their first birds in South Dakota.

It’s a good time to get out, spend some time in the woods doing a combination turkey scouting and shed hunting trip. Deer general; shed their headgear in mid-February, but not all deer shed at the same time. It’s possible you will find sheds shortly after the rut. While I’m out looking for sheds, I have my eye out for turkey sign as I hunt sheds in the same areas where I hunt turkeys.

When my camera crew and I are seriously thinking about turkey hunting, the first thing we need to do is to put together some sort of a plan.

If you are hunting locally, putting a plan together doesn’t take much time, but if you’re looking at hunting in a different area or even a different state, making a plan will be very important.

If I’m going to be hunting in a different state, I start by checking the web sites of the state’s Game and Parks or DNR I’m looking at getting a permit. If they have a lot of information and columns devoted to turkey hunting, it’s a good bet there a good numbers of the birds in the state.

After looking at the South Dakota Game & Parks site where I had hoped to have the opportunity to do some turkey hunting with my son in law and grandson, I was disappointed to find out the county they would be hunting in, didn’t issue any nonresident permits, I had to re-plan the hunt.

We would have to start checking around at the states where we would have a chance at obtaining a permit; I’ll grab the phone and contact the game department of the state. This is where I obtain as much information as I can from their experts. I’ll talk with the people that spend a lot of time in the field and have their finger on what’s happening as far as turkey numbers. This information helps me to zero in on an area with good numbers of birds and if I’m lucky, I may even be able to obtain some names of folks in the area that may allow hunting.

I choose a zone or area where I have a good chance of getting a permit. Then it’s that anxious time, waiting to find out if you were successful on the draw. Once I know I have a permit or tag I look for any public land in the area, if that area happens to be one the game department was high on, I get an aerial map of it and see what’s there, checking out any heavily wooded areas for possible roosts and areas where the birds could feed.

I’ve hunted turkeys in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Mississippi and got my best information from those states Game & Parks-DNR’s. Some of them have turkey density and harvest information that helps us to choose what area to hunt. [Read more…]

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Mountain lions are on the comeback trail By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

The sun was beginning to paint a pink tinge on the eastern horizon. I sat near the top of the ridge, hunkered down into a small cedar tree. In front of me, about a block away the ridge line dropped away, and a stand of oaks provided an ideal roosting spot for tom turkeys.

I did a quiet tree call, and the response was thunderous gobbles.

It was like this every year. The turkeys were always there, and while most of the time they simply flew down and walked away into the next valley, occasionally one would come over the top, duck under the barbed wire fence that marked the property line and strut into my decoy.

A car door slammed in the far eastern distance. Another hunter, no doubt. The door slam marked him as a beginner. He was too far away to bother my birds. They’d be on the ground before he could cover the distance.

I did another tree call. Got the same response and settled back to await the fly down.

Minutes passed.

Suddenly the turkeys broke into alarm calls like I had never heard before. Loud and shrill.

A large cat ran over the crest of the ridge on a line that was uncomfortably close to where I was sitting.

“Is that a mountain lion?” my mind asked.

“It sure is,” I muttered.

It was spooked. The cat covered the distance in long bounds, waving a long tail. He was angling slightly away from me, and I began breathing a little easier. He came to the fence, ducked under the bottom wire in a fluid movement and ran across the open ground and disappeared into the ravine behind me.

I later paced off the distance from where I was sitting to where the cat went into the ravine. About 75 feet. [Read more…]

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Some thoughts about the ones that got away By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the SiouxCity Journal.

It came charging in. It’s paws pounding the frozen soil so hard it sounded like a horse on the gallop.

My thumb found the safety on my .243. I turned my head to see what was running in, and stared right into the face of a coyote sitting on its haunches not 12 feet away, tongue lolling out in a kind of half smile. But behind that one another was charging in and making all the noise.

“Shoot him, shoot him!” Gary yelled.

But my gun was attached to a bipod and set up to shoot downhill in front of us. I couldn’t get on either coyote, and they were both on the run away from us and into a ravine and then were gone. [Read more…]