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Mid-Season Pheasants South Dakota Style By Gary Howey

   Lady, Gary Kubicek’s lab worked out in front of us as did some of Joel Vasek’s dogs and by the way, they were acting, we had better be ready as they were on a bird.

  The habitat we were hunting was perfect, with everything wildlife needed to survive throughout the year. Before us, stretched large tracts of native grasses, milo food plots, rows of Cedars, Maple, Plum and  other bushes, sloughs and shelterbelts, perfect upland game bird habitat.

  Gary Kubicek, Country Vet Dog Food had joined my cameraman and I on a late November pheasant hunt with good friend and Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Joel Vasek, Missouri River Lodge and Missouri River Guide Service.

    The lodge, where we had headquartered out of years ago was beautiful, and since has gone through a major expansion. It’s an astonishing piece of property located in the small community of Geddes, South Dakota. A five star Lodge, which now sleeps forty-four people and with is second story that is in the process of being completed will only become more magnificent.

  Joel, “The Walleye Tamer” known as one of the finest fishing guides on Lake Francis Case and other bodies of water is not just an angler as his guide service also offers pheasant, grouse, prairie chicken, turkey and deer hunting.

  As we prepared to depart from the lodge, at 9:20 am, our group of five hunters, Matt and my cameraman climbed into one of the Lodges well equipped buses where Vasek gave a safety talk letting everyone know what type of habitat we would be hunting, how we would walk them and rules for a safe hunt.

  Then we headed from the Lodge for the short drive to where we would begin our hunt at the ten o’clock opener.

   In the bus were gun racks, comfortable seating, coolers with drinks and snacks as well as an on board DVD player. There was a carrier mounted on the front for the birds we would shoot and the dog’s water jugs and  mounted in the back are seven  large aluminum dog kennels,

  Because our group consisted of five hunters, Joel Vasek, Gary Kubicek, Maverick Hill, Dave Kotob and me, we were working several of the smaller fields with Switch Grass, Big Bluestem and Milo.

  Vasek has well trained dogs with his kennel housing both pointers and flushers including German Shorthairs, Hungarian Vizsla, German Wirehaired, Labs and Raptors. There are also additional kennels there for hunters who bring along their own dogs.

  Shortly after we arrived and started walking, one of Joel’s dogs went on point, the hunters off to our left, Maverick and David moved up behind the dog and as the bird flushed, they yelled “Hen”, as the first of numerous hens we would see on this hunt took flight.

  Maverick, David, Joel and Matt McGinty one of the people who helped Joel on the hunts were pushing the middle and the outside edge of the grass, with several dogs working out in front, when it became obvious that one of the labs as its tail shook in wide circles indicating it was working a bird.

  The other dogs closed in on the lab as the call of “Rooster” rang out across the field with Vasek’s gun coming up as he made a long shot, dropping the bird in an adjacent strip of grass.

  On this field, one dog, then another would get birdy or go on point as we flushed numerous hens, a good sign for the future of the wild birds in this area.  On this walk, all but the one rooster evaded us, with others going out the end of the grass into a wet slough we would not be able to walk.

  Gary would rotate his dogs, running his lab Lady in one field and then run Hannah, his German Shorthair in another, giving both dogs the opportunity to hunt.

  Lady, which was in front of us looking birdy and had a bird cornered as Gary and I moved up, the bird exploded from the cover, another hen with Gary calling “No Bird” as Lady worked her way back to search out another bird.

  In each field, the dogs worked well, pointing and flushing both hens and roosters, with very few roosters escaping, as all hunters in our group were excellent shots that spent many an hour in the field hunting pheasants.

  My cameraman would walk the fields with us, doing his best to capture the dogs working in front of us, the birds as they burst from the cover, the hunters taking aim and the birds being hit and coming down.   Filming wild birds is much different than filming other birds, as wild birds are runners, hard flyers that put as much distance between them and the hunter and dogs. When cornered and forced into the air, they erupt with authority, cackling, their wings grabbing air as they go high, heading in the opposite direction of the hunters.

  In the second field, Gary and I were on the right flank as Hannah locked onto the bird, Gary and I moved up on the bird as it came up, our shotguns firing in unison with the bird dropping, with one of the dogs quickly retrieving the bird.

  Shortly thereafter, another rooster made a fatal mistake coming up in front of David, Maverick and Joel and as it swung left, giving all three hunters the opportunity for a shot; it was hit hard, made one bounce in the grass with Vasek’s Lab catching it before it could bounce again.

  With each walk, we picked up a few birds, seeing good numbers of birds, as we worked our way closer to our fifteen-bird limit.

  After shooting my three birds, the plan was to walk a long field, where I decided to grab my other camera and try to get some footage of the birds that always seem to come out the end of the field. [Read more…]

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Outdoorsmen Adventures Television & Outdoor Adventure Radio Honored

   Rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those attending the Annual Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) annual conference held in Northern Minnesota.

  This four day event, was held on Lake of the Woods, bringing outdoor communicators and corporate sponsors together for numerous outdoor activities including: sturgeon fishing, walleye fishing, grouse and waterfowl hunting as well as Learn It sessions, hands on demonstrations and introduction of new products.

  This event is where outdoor communicators receive recognition for their work during the annual AGLOW Excellence in Craft Award presentations. [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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Bottom Bouncing Slow Death Rigs On Francis Case By Gary Howey

 As we pulled into the parking lot on Tuesday, the second day of our fishing trip on Lake Francis Case, there were sixteen rigs inline waiting to launch their boats, my first thoughts were, Wow doesn’t anyone work anymore!”

  When the bite is on, news travels fast and the bite was definitely on with boats launching out of Platte Creek in the Dock 44 area.

  As I mentioned in the beginning of this column, it was our second day on the water, where we’d be filming with professional angler and Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame inductee, Ted Takasaki, Sioux Falls, S.D.
  Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA., camera operator Bill, Miller, Elgin, NE.  and I had driven up on Monday in heavy wind and intermittent rain showers, and it looked like the bite would surely be off because of the front coming through and we’d have to pound the water late into the first day to find some fish.

  Ted, who arrived mid afternoon had waited out the storms, which took roofs off several buildings in Armour, S.D. and dropped hail east of Sioux Falls. He’s been busy as he just returned from fishing the National Walleye Tour on Lake Sakakawea where he finished in 5th Place.

  We launched Ted’s Lund 219 Pro V mid afternoon, heading out of the bay, expecting to having to fight the wind, when it  calmed down, making for a perfect walleye chop and a nice smooth ride to where we would be fishing.

  This was the first day of our two-day trip and with all the fronts that had gone through, I didn’t know what to expect as cold fronts generally shut the fish off.

  When we arrived at the first spot we’d planned to fish, we were greeted by several boats working the point, with the majority of them pulling plugs.

  Because we were filming, which seems to attract a crowd, Ted maneuvered the boat to an area that was less crowded?

  On this trip, we’d be using bottom bouncers and spinners. Ted uses the Smile spinner blade Slow Death rigs, which proved to be deadly on walleye. The Slow Death hook is off set causing the bait to spin with a corkscrew action with the blade’s extra wiggle gives off more vibration. If you’re using the rig with crawlers, you want to insert the barb of the hook as close to the top of the crawlers head and thread it up past the hooks eye, the pinch off all bur 5 or 6″ of the worm. The vibration from the blade and the action of the hook along with the scent being dispersed from the crawler seemed to draw fish to the bait. [Read more…]

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When the fish won’t bite! Try something different! By Gary Howey

  What I’m about to write about happened to me numerous times over the years and I’m sure it will happen again.

   We were fishing on one of the numerous lakes near Watertown, South Dakota and not having much luck. I was beginning to think there wasn’t a walleye in the lake and as I was about to call it a day, I finally located some fish with my locator.

   My eyes were glued to my locator, as they had most of the day, hoping to find some active fish.

  As I was working my way back and forth over this one particular spot, there they were fish just off the bottom in 12 foot of water, as well as several on the bottom. They were showing up as those big lazy arcs indicating the presence of fish and by the size of the marks on the locator, they appeared to be big!

  Since they were located right on or just a couple of feet or so off the bottom, I guessed they were active walleyes and immediately marked the spot.

  Grabbing a couple rods one rigged with a live bait rigs while on the other I used a jig. I put the one rod with the live bait rig in a rod holder letting it drag along the edge the drop off, while I used a jig, working it up from the deeper water onto the flat where my locator indicated the fish were holding.

  Even though the fish appeared to be active as they were off the bottom, it didn’t take me long to realize that these fish were in a negative mood or weren’t interested in what I was offering.

  I started digging through my tackle bag, switching from one walleye bait to another, going with my old standards, a bottom bouncer with a spinner baited with a minnow. I tried a livebait rig with a crawler, a jig with a Gulp leech, bottom bouncer and spinner and finally going to a crawler on a plain hook with just a small split shot for weight, all to no avail.

  These fish weren’t in the mood, no matter what I was putting in front of them; they just ignored my offerings or lay tight on the bottom refusing to move.

  Once again, I started rummaging through my tackle bag, looking for something different that the walleyes may not have seen before, something to get them to bite. I needed something, that might get the fish’s attention, and to pull them out of their negative mood.

  That’s when I decided to try something different. To do the change up and try a bait I’d used on negative fish in past years. The rig had worked on previous fishing trips on the Missouri River and on lakes in Minnesota to get lethargic walleyes attention and to get them to bite.

  It’s not anything fancy; it’s just something different that most walleye may not have seen before!

When things get slow, and you’ve used every walleye bait in your tackle bag, try something different, Do The Change-Up

  I pulled a floating jig head from my tackle bag and started rigging it in a way that I hoped would work to get them to bite.

  I attached the floating jig head to about a foot of monofilament, tying it about 2′ up the line and at the end of my line, in place of the weight, I attached a ¼ ounce jig.

  Depending on the depth I’m fishing and the amount of current I’m facing, I’ll go with a ¼ oz. jig or a 3/8 oz. jig if I’m fishing in deeper water or in heavier current.

   The style of jig I like to use on this rig is a stand up jig as it “stands up” holding my bait up off the bottom, putting it right in the face of the bottom hugging fish.

  Once the rig ready to go, I baited the floating jig head with a Gulp leech, which would float about, 2′ off the bottom working its way right through the suspended walleyes with the standup jig baited with a minnow running right on the bottom.

  This rig works in several ways, as I jigged along the bottom; it created a cloud of dirt that should attract the fish to my bait.  The floating jig head located above the jig at the depth where I had seen the suspended fish on my locator enticed those fish to bite.

  On this trip, after switching rigs, I managed to take some excellent fish, several in the seventeen to nineteen inch range as well as some smaller fish.

There are days on the water when old walleye standbys may not work, you don’t want to get stuck in the routine where you use the same old traditional bates, not catch fish and go home skunked.

There are times when those baits may not catch fish and you have to come up with a new plan.

When all else fails, you may have to give the fish something different, to do the “Change Up” in order to entice them to look at your bait.

 

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Protect yourself from Tick Borne diseases By Gary Howey

  Most seasons, deer, turkey pheasant can be found listed on the Game, Fish and Parks calendars and web sites, one you won’t find there is the tick season, but don’t let that stop you from being prepared for this season in the same way you’d be prepared for the others.

  Ticks are small disease carrying insects found in grassy and wooded areas and if allowed to get on the skins look for a warm moist area to embed themselves. They come out in the spring, about the time outdoorsmen and women head into the woods looking for morel mushrooms, wild asparagus or hunting turkeys. Spring isn’t the only time you’ll see ticks as these pests hang around all summer on into the fall.

  There are two groups of ticks, the hard and hard or soft ticks. In our area, it’s the hard ticks found in wooded, grassy, and densely vegetated areas.

  Soft ticks tend to live in bird nests, on rodents, and on bats but either can find their way onto us, luckily, no species of ticks solely depend on us for survival. Some ticks are only found on a certain host; luckily, we aren’t one of them.

  A female tick can lay a bunch of eggs, anywhere from 3,000 to 11,000 eggs, so we need to be aware of them and prevent them from catching a ride on us.

  There’s only one way to avoid the possibility of avoiding a tick borne disease and that’s to avoid areas they inhabit, DUH, like that’s going to happen, if you’re an outdoorsmen or women who spends every spare moment out in the field or woods.

  Since we know we are going to be in the same areas that ticks inhabit, below are a few simple precautions that can reduce the chances of a tick encounter.

Tip #1: Ticks crawl upward onto a host, that’s why it’s a good idea to cut off any route they might have in an attempt to get on your skin and why it’s an excellent idea to tuck your pants legs into your boots and your shirts into your pants. For extra protection, tape them shut with duct tape, then twist the tape so the sticky side is out and make one more wrap. [Read more…]

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Spring Walleye Fishing By Gary Howey

     Well it’s finally starting to look and feel like spring and to be honest with you, I’m ready for the warmer weather!

  Each day gets a little longer, the sun is warmer and everything is starting to green up.

  It’s what we outdoorsmen and women have been waiting for, as they’re anxious to hit the water and see what’s biting this time of the year.

  With the water temperatures, starting to raise the walleyes below the dams on the river and in the lakes will start feeding more heavily.

  Spawning in some areas is ending as the water temperatures have or will soon reach 50, which in the upper Midwest is generally in the month of May.

  If you’ve fished the post spawn, you know that the smaller more aggressive males make up the majority of the fish taken during this time of the year.

  After the spawning and recuperation period, walleyes will go on a feeding binge because eating during the spawn wasn’t real high on their “To Do.”

  This feeding binge can last throughout the month and at times may even run into early June.

  On sunny days the best fishing, will be in the morning or towards evening, because in the middle of the day the sun is beating down on the shallows which forces walleye and sauger to move deeper as they’re not big fans of a lot of light.

  If you’re fishing on cloudy day or times when the sunlight is subdued, chances are the walleye and sauger may spend the better part of the day cruising in and out of the shallows looking for a meal.

  It’s during those low-light periods when walleyes are on the prowl in the shallower water, usually 10 foot or less.

  Remember just because the walleyes are on a feeding binge it doesn’t mean they’ll be dashing and darting here and there attacking everything in sight.

  Walleyes like all fish are cold blooded and their metabolism is in direct relation to the water temperature, so they won’t be in high gear, as the water temperature isn’t warm enough.  [Read more…]

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STRUCTURE Makes the difference By Gary Howey

  You won’t have to look very far in most fishing publications or on a fishing show where you won’t hear the words structure mentioned several times.

  One thing is for sure, when you locate the structure on a farm pond, Lake Oahe or Lake Kampeska, you’re going to find the fish.

  Structure, exactly what is it?  A good definition of structure would be any difference or change on the bottom configuration.  At times, it might be large and at others, not large at all.

  No matter what size or type of structure you find on any body of water, it’s a good bet that there will be some aquatic life in that area.

 Now that we know the fish you are hoping to catch might be relating to some sort of structure in the lake, all you need to do is to locate the right piece of structure. This change in the bottom contour can attract numerous species of aquatic creatures, which creates a food chain.

  To make our body of water the underwater structure easier to understand let’s put it into above water terms. Let’s imagine a large pasture is your body of water with a large tree in the middle and a small clump of plum brush in the corner.

  Fish are like any other animal such as a deer or coyote and when they enter the pasture, the first thing they’re going to see is these two changes or features in the field and they’re drawn to them as these may be a good place to look for food.  If they’re underwater, these changes would be called structure.

  As I mentioned earlier, the change doesn’t need to be huge, as it can be a slight depression on the bottom or areas where the bottom content changes from soft mud to hard gravel.

   I’ve caught fish around some structure so small, unless I’d seen it when the water was low, I’d have never known it was there. 

  It could be a few weeds along the shoreline, a change from mud to gravel, a depth change in the old river channel, submerged trees, humps or points in the Missouri River reservoirs lakes. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change; it just needs to be something different.

WHY FISH RELATE TO STRUCTURE

  Studies have shown us how fish relate to structure and how much is needed in order for the fish to be attracted to one particular area.

  In studies, fish were put into a large stock tank and when the bottom configuration is all the same, the fish roamed around the tank. However, when rocks were placed on the bottom, the fish moved onto those rocks.  This example didn’t give the fish all they needed as most real structure does, but it gives you an idea as to how fish react to it.

  What draws these fish to these areas is simple; structure in a lake, reservoir or pond gives the fish everything they need; a food source, security and in some cases comfortable water temperatures. [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…]