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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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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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Now you see it Now you don’t By Gary Howey

As legal shooting time begun to fade, the Mule deer buck came out about three hundred yards down in the draw.

My camera operator who zoomed in on the deer earlier indicated it was a good buck, pulling my 25:06 up to my shoulder; I put the cross-hairs near the top of the buck and fired. The buck did not flinch; I jacked another round into the chamber adjusted my scope, fired and when the round hit, the deer hunched up, but refused to go down.

I slid another round into the chamber, adjusted my aim a bit and fired. The buck jumped up into the air, crashed on his right side, kicked a few times, and was down for the count.

We celebrated for just a moment as I headed to the truck to grab my knife, and cleaning gear parked among a group of cedars not far away from the blind.   Before I could get what I needed my videographer hollered, “The deer is gone”. What, it just couldn’t be as I was sure I had hit him twice and put him down for good.

I arrived in Lynch Thursday around noon where I met with my videographer at Ponca Creek Outfitters. It was the end of the week of our Nebraska rifle deer season and there were only three and a half days before the 2017 season closed.

My videographer had been in the area for four or five days rifle hunting and took a nice older whitetail 4 X 4 and after tagging, his buck was scouting the area while looking to fill his archery tag. He had seen numerous deer, both Whitetail and Mule deer bucks, but did not want to shoot a young deer, so he passed on them as his archery tag was good through the end of the year.

While he was hunting, he scouted the area thoroughly, so he knew where the blinds where and had a good idea as to where the deer where bedded.

The first afternoon found us perched on a hill in a blind overlooking an area where several Cedar and Buck brush lined draws came together.

As the sun started to slip away under the horizon, several does with fawns came out and started grazing in the Buck brush.  We were still in the first Rut and I thought because all the does we were seeing, that a buck would be hanging around close by, but as the last half hour after sunset came to a close, nothing appeared; we headed back to the cabin.

The following morning are plan was to set up on a ridge overlooking the Ponca Creek, hoping to catch a buck running around looking for a receptive doe. My videographer had sat there one morning and spotted several deer including a nice buck. He circled the area, getting downwind from the deer trying to get close enough for a shot with his bow. Unfortunately, one of the does the buck was pursuing may have spotted him and they spooked.

We had a great vantage point as we had a large open area below us, with the creek meandering down through the bottom with a huge expanse of open pasture behind it.

On this set, we were unable to see any deer, which was not a good sign as this was during the Rut and if the bucks were not out chasing, it could mean that the first Rut was winding down, which would make hunting tougher.

Later that afternoon, we worked from pasture to pasture using our binoculars to try to locate a buck in an area where we might have the opportunity to do a spot and stalk. We saw but one buck, a good one, but he spotted us coming up the hill and charged out of the pasture up over several hills, never to be seen again.

On my final day, the heavy winds returned, and if it would be, anything like our last windy day would keep deer movement to a minimum. That morning, we went to the north side of the property, setting up in a blind on wide plateau where several deer trails converged up from the draws, all crossing well within rifle range of our blind. Once again, there was no deer movement and for our evening hunt, we would have to find a location where the deer would have the ability to get out of the wind.

Once again, we would be in the hilltop blind above the heavily wooded Cedar draw where we had seen a good number of does the day before. [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…]