Monday, November 18, 2013
9:55 AM | Posted by Jon Ballard | Edit Post
Named "Lord of the Prairie," the American bison once roamed the North America in numbers estimated between 30 million and 75 million. By the end of the 19th century, American bison were hunted to the brink of extinction with only an estimated 750 head remaining in North America by 1890. The American bison as a species were largely saved by the separate efforts of conservationist James "Scotty" Philip of South Dakota and two Montana ranchers, Charles Allard Sr. and Michel Pablo. The progeny of their small herds, along with the Yellowstone National Park wild bison herd, form the majority of the antecedents of today's American bison population which, according to the National Bison Association, stands at approximately 500,000-head.
Modern Bison Hunting
Today, bison hunting in America has fallen under strict regulatory auspices, but there are many opportunities for avid hunters to participate in these big game challenges. Bison hunting generally falls into two categories: hunts on public lands of free roaming herds and hunts of restricted herds on private lands.
Public Land Hunts
There are several states that issue hunting licenses every year for open bison hunting on public lands, including but not limited to the following states: Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska and Utah. The process for obtaining a bison hunting license varies by state but is in all instances very competitive. In 2012, there were nearly 8,000 applicants in Montana with only 34 licenses issued. Last year, more than 15,000 hunters applied for licenses in Alaska with only 100 awarded.
Private hunts operated by professional ranches offer an advantage for many hunters seeking big game. With the sparsity of bison hunting licenses, as well as the limited number of wild bison herds, private ranches offer an alternative to enthusiasts who are unable to obtain a license or travel to regions where public hunting is permitted. The type of hunts range from smaller hunting grounds such as that of the South Dakota Mickelson Ranch which organizes hunts of choice bulls within 1 to 3 thousand acre enclosed grounds, to larger fair chase hunts like the Thousand Hills Bison Ranch in Southern Colorado which organizes hunts more than 62,000 acres of open prairie.
California is another state where bison hunting has become popular in recent years in both public and private venues. Across the state, the government works with third parties to offer a safety course for all prospective courses. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife requires a California hunting safety course before a hunting license can be issued.
Safety & Preparedness in Big Game Hunting
An integral part of safety is bringing the appropriate weapon. On the frontier, single-action rifles were used to bring bison down — and they'll still do the job. A single shot .45 to .70 Browning 1885 High Wall falling block rifle will work; however, it'd be smart to bring a backup repeating rifle, or have your hunting partner carry one as insurance. An auto-loading, bolt-action rifle firing rounds of .338 caliber and up is most recommended. Another advantage to private hunts is the provision of experienced guides with backup weapons in the case of an overly-aggressive animal.
A public bison hunt is not limited as a privilege of only the most experienced. There are a wealth of third-party hunting guides who offer services and assistance to ensure a successful and memorable hunt. Muley Madness offers a superior listing of such services in California. Prospective hunters should understand these animals can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds, are known to be temperamental and can run with extreme agility at 30 to 40 mph. Many hunters may want to consider using these services before taking on a bison hunt for the first time.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
3:24 PM | Posted by Jon Ballard | Edit Post
Shortly after the Newtown shootings I sent a letter to President Obama asking him to protect my rights as a legal gun owner. Today I received the following response:
Thank you for taking the time to write. I have heard from many Americans regarding firearms policy and gun violence in our Nation, and I appreciate your perspective. From Aurora to Newtown to the streets of Chicago, we have seen the devastating effects gun violence has on our American family. I join countless others in grieving for all those whose lives have been taken too soon by gun violence.
Like the majority of Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. In this country, we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that has been handed down from generation to generation. Hunting and sport shooting are part of our national heritage. Yet, even as we acknowledge that almost all gun owners in America are responsible, when we look at the devastation caused by gun violence—whether in high-profile tragedies or the daily heartbreak that plagues our cities—we must ask ourselves whether we are doing enough.
While reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm should not be a divisive one. Most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. Most also agree that if we took commonsense steps to curtail gun violence, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown. We will not be able to stop every violent act, but if there is even one thing we can do to reduce gun violence—if even one life can be saved—then we have an obligation to try.
That is why I asked Vice President Joe Biden to identify concrete steps we can take to keep our children safe, help prevent mass shootings, and reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country. He met with over 200 groups representing a broad cross-section of Americans and heard their best ideas. I have put forward a specific set of proposals based off of his efforts, and in the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality.
My plan gives law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence. These tools include strengthening the background check system, helping schools hire more resource officers and counselors and develop emergency preparedness plans, and ensuring mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence. And I directed the Centers for Disease Control to study the best ways to reduce gun violence—because it is critical that we understand the science behind this public health crisis. From improving mental health services to looking more closely at a culture that too often glorifies violence, we must leave no stone unturned when working to keep Americans safe.
As important as these steps are, they are not a substitute for action from Congress. To make a real and lasting difference, members of Congress must also act. As part of my comprehensive plan, I have called on them to pass some specific proposals right away. First, it is time to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. Second, Congress should renew the 10-round limit on magazines and reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban. We should get tougher on those who buy guns with the purpose of selling them to criminals, and we should impose serious punishments on anyone who helps them do this.
These are reasonable, commonsense measures that have the support of the majority of the American people. But change will not come unless the American people demand it from their lawmakers. Now is the time to do the right thing for our children, our communities, and the country we love. We owe the victims of heartbreaking national tragedies and the countless unheralded tragedies each year nothing less than our best effort—to seek consensus in order to save lives and ensure a brighter future for our children.
Thank you, again, for writing. I encourage you to visitwww.WhiteHouse.gov/
NowIsTheTime to learn more about my Administration’s approach.
Monday, November 26, 2012
11:21 PM | Posted by Chris | Edit Post
Journalists often use the phrase “burying the lead”. It means the reporter doesn’t mention the most important part of the story until the end. Two reporters from the two largest newspapers in Minnesota have done just that over the past few weeks. In fact, one of them has ignored the lead completely. Minnesota has hired a new big game program leader. The position manages the deer, elk, and moose programs. Leslie McInenly started her new position within the DNR on November 15. She was previously on staff with the Minnesota Forest Resources Council. Before taking that position, McInenly spent four years studying elk in Alberta. She majored in wildlife management and biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, one of the prestigious wildlife management schools in the country.
If we look at the above qualifications on paper, McInenly certainly deserves to be in the discussion for the job of managing the deer herd in Minnesota. But there is one big problem. McInenly has never hunted deer. Sure, there are sales managers that have never worked in sales. There is a good chance your boss has never done your job. But this is deer hunting. Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans and several thousand non-residents hunt the state’s forests and fields for deer every year. Now their hunt will be managed by someone who has never participated in a tradition they live for.
The funny thing is both Twin Cities newspapers make readers work to find out about this apparently unimportant nugget. In fact, readers of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wouldn’t know about it at all. The writer never mentions it in his story. Dave Orrick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press does write about it but doesn’t bring it up until nearly the end of the story. Here’s the most interesting part of Orrick’s story:
"Actually, I don't hunt," she said. "Obviously I'm not at all opposed to it. My father died when I was 10. A lot of people get hunting from a family tradition. I didn't have that opportunity. Just me personally, I'm not someone who joins groups of people I don't know, and hunting, it's always appeared to me, has involved groups of friends and family going out together. I've never been invited to a hunt."
She’s not at all opposed to it?? What a relief. She’s not someone who joins groups of people she doesn’t know?? She just joined the fraternity of deer hunters whether she likes it or not. According to Orrick’s story, she was never asked whether or not she hunted during the interview process. That could be the most egregious statement in the story. Why wouldn’t that be part of the interview process? Isn’t that important? It is to deer hunters.
But the story gets even better. We’ve all seen political debates in which candidates are asked about specifics. Orrick does a great job of doing just that. When political candidates don’t know the answer or don’t want to be tied to one side of an issue they often side step the question. Here’s McInenly’s answer when Orrick asks about deer management specifics:
"I don't think I'm in a position at this point to talk about specifics. I'm still getting up to speed. I am really eager to see how the harvest data looks in a lot of these areas, like the antler-point restrictions."
I applaud Orrick for asking McInenly these questions when it seems that no one else was willing to. But I’m left to wonder why he waited until the closing paragraphs to reveal the answers. Orrick is the outdoor reporter for the Pioneer Press and as a beat reporter it is often difficult to be critical of those you will deal with on a day-to-day basis. Deer hunting probably isn’t as important as legislative issues or crime, but it is a big deal to many.
Perhaps McInenly will do great work in her new position. I hope she takes on the challenge of hunting for the first time. But until we see results, deer hunters should keep an eye on what is going on within the department. We may be the only ones who are.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
9:30 AM | Posted by Chris | Edit Post
ForemostHunting.com ProStaffer Justin Davis recently tagged his best buck ever. It is a big one by any measure. Here is Justin's story.
My 2012 season started off slow. After not taking a deer with my bow, and seeing very few deer in the first six days of the Wisconsin nine day gun deer season, my luck finally changed on Friday. The warm streak finally broke and the temperature dropped. Our mid fifty to sixty degree weather was replaced with low thirties and high winds, too windy to sit in a stand. My father, brother-in-law, and I were forced to sit on the ground that morning.
After a few hours, the wind and cold temps had taken their toll on my father who was the most exposed to the wind. We hunted as a team, as we always do. Finally we decided that I would push some small brushy areas to try and move some deer. I worked my way down the hill, through the briars and brush. After nothing came out I went around the woods to come from a different angle hoping that the deer would run toward my father. After emerging onto the field and remarking to my team over the radio that there was nothing in the woods, we decided to head back in and try again later in the day.
Before going in, I checked my trail cameras to see if any deer were moving in the area. As I came to the camera I heard a crash in the brush, the sound of breaking branches. As I looked, I saw the buck running away. It happened so fast-I remember seeing the deer falling in the scope, but I don’t remember aiming or pulling the trigger. As my dad and I walked up on my buck together, we could see it’s rack a foot above the grass. I realized I had shot the biggest buck of my life.
As amazing as it was to shoot that deer, the reaction of my dad and my brother-in-law was even better.
They were just as excited as I was, cheering and hands shaking. They were happy for me as team
members should be, not jealous or envious. That is what hunting should be like.
Justin has a little history with this deer. He has three incredible trail camera photos of this great deer from earlier this season.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
8:31 PM | Posted by Chris | Edit Post
The last four weeks have been a whirlwind and there is just one more week to go. Instead of spreading out my hunting days throughout the season this year, I put all of my chips in from late October through November. Three of the past four weekends have been four day hunting excursions. This will be my last weekend in the field for at least a month.
As mentioned in previous blog posts, the ForemostHunting.com team is documenting the season by camera. Our film project is titled The Stand. My goal was to begin premiering episodes November 1. I was able to produce the trailer for the video but unfortunately, the episodes are still in the works. I’ve only been at home for four of the past 14 days… It’s been tough to get the time to put out the episodes I want to produce. My new target date for the first episode is November 28. I want the episode to reflect the effort we’ve put into it. Rushing the project out doesn’t serve anyone.
To say it has been an exciting season is an understatement. I have never spent this much time in the woods in November. My friend Jason has been in the tree with me all season and we have seen some amazing sights. Here is a short clip of a half rack buck that walked directly under our stand. He arrived within a few minutes of putting down the rattling antlers. You will see the tree in front of us shake just before he walks into frame. He rubbed that tree before walking up to ours. Very exciting stuff!
We nicknamed that buck “Hollywood”. He just couldn’t get enough of the camera. We filmed him once in late October and then three times on the day the video was shot. We spent a lot of time hunting scrape lines this fall and we had several deer make scrapes in front of us. The rut literally unfolded in front of us over the past few weeks. In early November we noticed a lot of young bucks chasing does with very little movement from more mature bucks. Last week the big boys started moving. We identified at least four different mature bucks tending does in front of us. Here’s a short video clip of a buck pursuing a doe. Unfortunately for him, the doe he was looking for was piled up by an arrow about 30 minutes before he arrived. There would be no love for him.
The rifle season opens this weekend. Jason and I are looking forward to having a little more range this week. We were teased by a few very nice bucks that skirted the edges of our effective archery range this past weekend. The rutting cycle has surely changed since last week but we expect pressure from neighboring properties to help us out this weekend. As is the case with hunting any time of year, you never know what will happen. It will be fun and I can’t wait to share our season with you over the next few months.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
10:23 AM | Posted by Chris | Edit Post
By Chris Larsen
Deer season is in full swing with many hunters pursuing pre-rut or even early rut bucks. Hunting has become a gear intense sport and I have taken carrying gear into the woods to a whole new level. My hunting partner and I now carry three cameras when hunting. It’s all part of a new ForemostHunting.com film project called The Stand. Jason Oswald is my hunting partner and we’re both dedicated to not only being successful in the deer woods, but capturing successful hunts on video.
The show is reality based. It’s not just a hunting show. The Stand is a show about what goes into filming hunts and how we balance work and family commitments with our passion for hunting. We don’t stage shots. We won’t do interviews in a studio months after the hunt. The Stand is real and as it is happening. Episodes are released within a month from when they were filmed. Jason and I have been planning this project since the end of last season. We’re very excited to share how we hunt with you. It may not be what you’re used to seeing on TV. But it’s not supposed to be. The Stand showcases how we hunt through an unfiltered lens. To see the trailer, press play above.
Friday, September 7, 2012
12:58 AM | Posted by Chris | Edit Post
“I just can’t relate to it.” I hear that statement nearly every day. Outdoor television is constantly re-upping itself. Bigger is better and anything with average antlers is considered passé. People see the stars of outdoor television pass up deer most people would love to have every half hour. There is nothing wrong with that. Seeing giant bucks gets my blood pumping too. Watching the Drury’s take down monsters is great. But people will never see anything in the woods resembling the deer Terry & Mark pass up every episode.
If you have never hunted before and watched one of these shows you would think the woods are stocked with big antlered brutes. A non-hunter would think it is just a matter of sitting in the woods and waiting for “the right one” to walk by. But even the big time hunters will tell you it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks. Several days, sometimes weeks go into producing one half hour episode. In an ever expanding market, sponsors demand producers to deliver something special. Most of them believe bigger bucks equal bigger ratings.
But the tide is shifting. Shows like Heartland Bowhunter and Hallowed Ground Outdoors are thriving with top notch production quality and compelling storytelling. Online outdoor producers like Mark Seacat and Jeff Simpson are making films that rival anything a network puts on the air. They have sponsors to satisfy too. But they do so without coming across as cheesy. They kill big bucks but you rarely see the guys pass up a giant for a mega-giant. Viewers will rarely say, “What was wrong with that deer?”
This attitude has made its way to the real world too. It sickens me to hear a youngster apologize for his first deer. “He’s not the biggest, but…” In my opinion, any legal deer is a great deer for a first time hunter. In my home state of Wisconsin success rates are around 50%. So if that young man or lady kills a deer, he or she did what half of their fellow hunters could not. No apology needed.
These days, Twitter and Facebook is loaded with hunters asking, “Is this a shooter?” Who are they asking? Why are they asking? Do they need someone to validate the deer they would like shoot? The only person who should judge whether or not a deer is a shooter is the person behind the bow or gun. I judge a buck in a very simple way. Is he bigger than the biggest one I’ve killed? Is this shot one that will bring a quick and humane death? If the answer is yes to both, I pull the trigger. Hopefully, I will be lucky enough to kill a trophy buck. At that point I may have to alter my “bigger than my biggest” equation. But for now, that is what I am using. Of course, deer don’t have to have antlers for me to target them. Backstraps get me fired up! We’ll be taking our share of baldies this year too.
There is a point to my five paragraph rant. I think outdoor television can be better. I believe it can appeal to the masses. Producing a quality outdoor show that people want to watch shouldn’t require a six figure budget. People want to see hunters make mistakes. They want to see fresh faces get excited about tagging a doe. This is why I’m creating The Stand.
The Stand will follow two hunters throughout the 2012 season. Jason Oswald, my hunting partner, will be in the woods with me the entire fall. We will alternate between filming and hunting on a daily basis. You will witness our season as it unfolds. We will be hunting both the archery and firearm seasons. New episodes of The Stand will be released on ForemostHunting.com every two weeks starting November 1.
We will carry three cameras into the woods for every hunt. This will offer the viewer several angles of the action and most importantly, no staged shots. We will share our thoughts as they occur, no studio interviews months afterward. The Stand is a real look at how real hunters hunt. I think most hunters are going to love this show. Jason and I have spent countless hours planning and preparing to create something people will enjoy. The season is approaching and the countdown is on.
“Like” ForemostHunting.com on Facebook for updates. If you want to see more, the trailer will be released September 17.
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