Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Bow Fishing -- or how to "hunt" on water

by Naomi K. Shapiro

So you like to bow hunt, and you like to fish. But you've never been able to do both at once – well, you can, and many do – it's called "bow fishing;" and it's becoming so popular, some even call it a " sporting cult." But it's a total, screaming "blast" like you've never had before. Fun. Laughs. Great sport. AND, you're doing a lot of good for the environment.

We're going to be talking about bow fishing in Wisconsin. Again, as always, check your local areas and regs to insure that you're in compliance.

The two main species targeted are carp and suckers. These are "rough fish," and it's good for all if their populations in our rivers and lakes are controlled -- that's where bow fishing comes in.

Here are the basics – actually, bow fishing is all pretty "basic."

Equipment you'll need: A bow -- you can use whatever you have -- just make sure that it's set from 20 to 30 pounds. Nothing stronger. Arrows: Heavy fiberglas with a special bowfishing tip on it, which consists of two, two inch barbs which spring out upon striking the fish, to form a "backwards V" thereby preventing the arrow from being pulled out by any fish movement. Attach a 100 to 200 pound test, thin diameter, high strength fishing line to your arrow. You hook the line up to the arrow through a hole below the "nock" in the arrow, which is attached to a reel hooked up to your bow (there are any number of excellent bow fishing reels made – and they're not that expensive). Then there's the "boat" you'll need. Best bet is a simple Jon boat -- flat bottomed and easily maneuverable. Most bow fishing addicts (and bow fishing IS addictive!) build or buy an elevated "stand" for placement on either the front or the rear of the Jon boat. If you fish at night (we'll get into that), you'll need a set of halogen lights powered by a small generator which you'll place in the boat.

You can fish 24/7 -- both day and night. If you fish during the day, you'll move slowly around shallow water (one to three feet deep) and back bays. The carp (99% of what you'll get are carp – and they can go over 40 pounds -- with big suckers secondary) hang out in shallow, dirty, mucky water. And the action can be furious. Don't think for a moment that a big carp isn't a challenge. It is.

Lots of bow fishing addicts prefer the night time hours. It's quiet. The water is calmer. Not much wind, usually, and you'll spot a lot of critters -- which is terrific -- muskrat, beaver, raccoons, among others. You turn on your halogen lights and scout the same shallow areas. While many carp and suckers stick to deeper water during the day, they all come in shallow at night. That means you may see hundreds upon hundreds of fish. It's non-stop, until your arms feel like they're going to fall off. By the way, in Wisconsin at least, you cannot LEAVE the fish. You must take them with you. And that's OK, because many give the fish to farmers who use them as fertilizer. And many an eagle or osprey will spot them in a field and grab them. And that's all good.

When shooting fish in the water with a bow, it's a lot different than shooting something on land. There's a different angle, and the reflective traits of water mean that it's almost like seeing an illusion when you a spot a fish. If you aim right at the fish, you'll miss. They're further "down" or "away" than you think. If you aim below the fish, and allow for the difference caused by the water's light refraction, it'll be "game on." And for sure, however you'll try to follow this simple "rule," you won't -- at least initially -- and you'll miss -- until you've practiced enough to get the proper "angle" to shoot at. After you hit the fish, you just reel it in -- easier said than done, with maybe a 40-pound carp on the other end. Some old timers pooh-pooh the reel bit, and just pull the fish in hand-over-hand. Better use gloves if you do that, one quick run by the fish and your hands can be shredded by the line.

Guide Phil Schweik says that bow fishing starts as soon as ice is out, and continues throughout the year, with warm summer nights being particularly popular, echoing the guffaws and laughter of men and women who are enjoying the "best of both worlds" --hunting with a bow, while fishing, the excitement of hitting a huge carp that fights like all get-out – and ridding our waters from the overpopulation of invasive rough fish. "Win/win" all the way down the line. And Phil says that anyone who bow fishes just once, become figuratively "hooked" for life. He says he's seen this happen time and time again. 

PostHeaderIcon The First Days of Training Your Hunting Puppy

Just because your puppy is nearing professional status at fetch with a tennis ball, does not mean he will retrieve birds. The introduction of birds to your puppy is best accomplished by doing just that: introducing them to birds. Bird decoys, fake bird scent, or feathers will probably not be sufficient in exposing your puppy to the hunt. In the same way, introducing a puppy to the gun is not best achieved by making loud, sudden noises.

The first introduction to birds is commonly achieved with pigeons. They are not usually aggressive and they can be used again and again. They are also a good size for most puppies or young dogs. Quails are also a good choice, although they are less durable. For either choice, pull out the flight feathers of one wing so that the bird cannot fly far away from your training area. For an initial exposure to birds, tie the puppy to a long thin rope, then tease the dog with the live bird, leaving it just a few feet from the dog. At this point, any reaction is positive. The dog may just bark at the bird, or may pounce on it and drag it around. It may take a few practice sessions before the pup is willing to pick up the bird.

When the puppy does hold the bird in its mouth, call the puppy to you and praise him/her until the dog naturally drops the bird. Do not grab it out of the dog’s mouth; this can encourage the dog to fight for it and start a game that you will not want to play on your hunt! Allow the dog to keep the prize and let him or her be aware of your praise for holding the bird and bringing it to you. Keeping the process simple, repeat the bird training by tossing it to the dog again and again, each time allowing the distance to grow further. You will want the pup to be very successful at this stage, so do not add other challenges until further in the training.

Introducing your puppy to the gun should involve teaching your puppy to relate the gun to the excitement of chasing birds. What you want to do is teach the dog that the gunshot means that something fun is coming. While you are holding your dog’s collar or leash, have a friend take a live bird about 40 yards away and throw the bird so the dog can see the direction of the fall. As soon as the helper releases the bird, you let the dog go. At first you will do this without noise. Next, the helper will work to distract the pup by calling him just before the throw. You shoot a starter pistol and the helper releases the bird, then you release the pup. Later, add a second shot while the bird is in the air.

When you have had a few successful practice sessions with your puppy, shoot a live bird for the pup. Your helper will toss it in the air for the shot; you should be prepared with at least two shots ready, using small loads so the bird is left intact.

Your puppy should be ready for this kind of training at 3 months old. It is important that you train the puppy with the birds first and successfully accomplish this step before moving on to gun training. If your dog is showing resistance to any kind of bird or gun training, it may be wise to call a professional. 

Related Puppy Training Articles:

Geese & Guns- Taking Your Dog Hunting For The First Time By Kelly Olson

Thursday, March 11, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Deer Shed Hunting

by Naomi K. Shapiro

What could be better than a walk in the woods in early spring? Answer: Walking in the woods in early spring and getting a big load of "deer sheds" --l as in "antlers." Deer shed "hunters" have been pursuing these natural prizes for generations. Indeed, family or affinity groups can do a thorough area-wide "checkerboard search" gleaning every shed antler in the area. Usually led by one or more very experienced deer hunters, these groups -- or individuals -- use some simple rules for maximum reward.

What you want to look for are deer herding and wintering areas. It's early spring. The deer are still bunched up in their "safe" bedding areas. Drive around, if you're not familiar with a particular area (still best to be with someone who KNOWS the area inside-out), and look for any remaining food source -- usually some ag fields that have produced corn, alfalfa, or beans. The deer will herd up and winter bed near and around these areas. If the area you're looking at doesn't have a lot of agriculture, or is a hardwood area, then look for an oak ridge, a cedar swamp, or, really good -- a freshly clear cut area. Loggers leave all the tops of the trees and small branches in these clear cut areas, and they're perfect forage for deer. And, yes, loggers do clearcut in winter.

Once in the general area you're walking, look for deer trails, and the foraging spots just described. You'll see sheds all over. Indeed, if you're out real early, when the snow has just left, the antlers stick out like "sore thumbs." Real easy to spot. Bring a back pack – or something to carry the sheds with you, as they can be cumbersome. Some real nice sheds are always found, and they're used for many purposes.

Here are some things that people do with the sheds, or the way they insure they get them. I cannot attest to the fact that these methods in any particular state or area are legal. You're urged to VERY CAREFULLY find out your state or area regs before you do any shed hunting, or indeed do any thing I'm about to describe.

Some people save the sheds as souvenirs or decorations. People buy them -- if such sales are legal in that particular jurisdiction. Artisans use them to construct lamps or chandeliers -- whatever. We've all seen some absolutely gorgeous bric-a-brac produced from sheds. Affinity groups gather the sheds and then have a "sale" to benefit a charity or something akin to it. All kinds of things... and what always struck me is why more folks don't go out and get these sheds. Friends have seen some enormous sets of antlers -- and grumbled that they didn't get the buck that wore them during the season!

Some savvy shed hunters use a special method to harvest sheds (again -- this may or may not be legal in your jurisdiction. Check your regs out carefully! Don't call us from the hoosegow for bail!). First off, there are many jurisdictions that don't allow deer baiting. If you're in one that DOES, you MAY be in luck. Again, we urge total and strict compliance with all laws and regulations. The following method is something that we've heard about that we want to share with you, but can't be certain of the legality.

Shedding usually begins in early spring, when the sheds are ready to drop or close to it. Shed hunters will set out an old bed spring, or contraption which will "entangle" a deer's antlers -- but have large enough "holes" so that the deer won't become stuck (I cannot in all honesty attest to this). They "seed" the old spring or contraption and surrounding area with corn, and when the deer goes down to feed, the antler will be caught, and a quick twist by the deer will cause the shed to drop – usually quite easily. It sort of like a real loose tooth being pulled out without any effort.

(Phil Schweik of Hooksetters Guide Services contributed to this article)

Read More About Whitetail Deer Shed Hunting On the Foremost Hunting Website
Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Standing The Charge - Face To Face With An Alaskan Moose

By John Simeone

I have heard a lot of explanations of courage and valor over the years, the best is the adage of “when you know your dead anyway, you may as well just shoot.”

I loved Alaska having the best job in the Army back in 78, as an Army federal game warden at Ft Richardson. Now you might believe this is some sort of romantic adventure of patrolling the high country and saving little animals from the mean old poachers. Well somewhere along the way we did that too.

We had this little Lieutenant in the MP station almost five feet tall that the Provost Marshal allowed to call the shots which lead to my daily suicide missions to check the roads for black ice on Alieska Mountain about 13,000 feet up in the Chugiacks. Although common sense dictated if it was below zero

there was ice on the roads, but Lt Milktoast had to keep his statistics straight so anything but a physical road inspection would not do for his daily 100 page report to the PM. Half a league, half a league up the mountain I went again, mine is not to question why.

They built the place to have the Winter Olympics there but evidently the roads were too treacherous. I certainly can attest to that fact. So it turned into a military ski resort at the cost of at least one vehicle going off the cliff a day. I never did catch on to the mystique of snow skiing, however the officers would go up on Friday afternoon and hopefully get snowed in until a chopper shuttled them down on Monday. They needed me to confirm the road was too hazardous so they didn't have to come down and go to work. The rest of us had enough brains not to go up there.

On the day in question I put my tire chains on the CJ-5 and made it all the way to the top, an effort in foolhardiness to say the least. It was on the way down, however, that was the problem. The road was so slick you couldn't stand on it and if you were on a grade you started sliding downhill spontaneously. That's what happened to my CJ as the ice was so slick the chains wouldn't bite in. I went into a flat spin at 0 mph and only by luck hit the wall side of the mountain instead of going off the cliff, the vehicle flipped on the driver's side and I then slid right toward the cliff with no guard rail and oblivion. The vehicle stopped short of the cliff by a few feet, and just before I embarrassed myself and started screaming.

I got out packed up my gear and weapons just as the Provost Marshal past me going skiing. He couldn't stop but called in a chopper for me. The Suicide missions ended that day.

How does one train for something like that? Well you do and you don't, they pick you for jobs like that depending on your “Crazy” factor. With that, they must have thought me insane.

It was my two Karate instructors that made me the way I am today. Lou Ellison the Cherokee, was nuts himself and tested his courage daily by allowing a rattlesnake to strike at his face when he stared at the snake inside the aquarium. He didn't even blink when it struck the glass right in his face. It took me three days before I stopped jumping back. Then he insisted I “Catch” a patrol dog. Joe “Pat”Patrick was in full agreement, gave me an arm guard and lip slip the dogs of war. Catching “King” a magnificent German Shepard was like putting your arm in a vise and then letting someone turn the crank to see how much you can take. Pat still enjoys aggravating me to this very day.

Now George Chaney was the task master, and a grand master of the martial arts. If you trained with him you didn't expect to be mediocre, you were a champ or hit the road. Many are told that Karate is for defense only, well not Combat Karate, Chaney taught us to “Attack.” It took many a Japanese and Korean stylist by surprise, as they couldn't stand a charge, so we just ran right over them.

I never had time for alcohol or drugs, but I do remember Lou telling me that the reason he didn't do such things was because he would probably like it, that was good enough for me.

You may wonder why I'm a well known pontificator of the large caliber hunting weapons. This story will tell you the reason. Elmer Keith has always been my gun hero, mainly because his invention saved me on two occasions, that would be the 44 magnum handgun.

They gave me a Smith and Wesson M-29 with a six inch barrel in 44 magnum as well as a pre-64 Winchester M-70 in 300 H&H Magnum as my duty weapons for Army Game Warden duty, still not big enough. I requested them to give me the 300 and I would buy them a 458 out of my own pocket for use as a duty rifle. Later the Commander in his infinite wisdom said he had two new rifles for us. They turned out to be Ruger 77s in 30-06, Captain Dipstick thought if it had four numbers instead of three it was more powerful. More reason not to trust officers.

I can't blame anyone for this but me. I was checking fishing licenses on a remote lake when I heard nearby gunfire. I walked up on a blithering idiot shooting at a trout that his little 9 year old boy was trying to land on a rod and reel. Of course he was drunk too, never thinking about the bullets skipping across the lake and endangering the boaters out there. I counted 5 shots when I said drop the gun Military Police, instead he came around suddenly and we were locked in a deadly “Mexican Standoff.” A millisecond just before I made him a wall pizza, he dropped the gun, making me doublely glad I didn't have to shoot him in front of his son. He turned out to be an Air Force MP, E-6, that cried like a baby and wanted me to give him a break. No, when you point a gun at me that's it. Never did like the Air Force anyway.

It was a full moon at about 20 below zero, I got a call that a bull moose was hit by a car just South of the Ship Creek bridge on the Glen Highway. This was a common occurrence, my job was to put the moose down if it was injured as that area was near a school and we didn't need a wounded bull in the school yard. Little did I know I was about to be up Ship Creek without a paddle.

I met the Alaska State Trooper at the scene who was just finishing up the traffic accident report. “You wouldn't happen to have an elephant gun in your patrol car,” I inquired, as some of the officers did actually have them. “No just a shotgun and #4 buck.” “No thanks, just leave it, it will just piss him off.” He did have a 357 magnum Smith and Wesson, and decided to tag along.

They always go in the alders you know, these thick little trees much like a short pine thicket in Louisiana. There he was, down on his knees so I made some noise and he got up revealing a broken left leg. I could see real good in the moon light but I needed the Kel Light to see the sights on the gun. I always shot single action for accuracy, the first two Speer 240 grain soft points in the shoulder should have been enough. I watched and he turned his other side to me, I went for a neck shot at less than 20 yards. After 4 shots he should have gone down, but no here he came head down in a full irresistible charge.

Now here are some of the things I haven't told you yet, I was up to my waist in a snow bank so there was no way to run. Just for the record Lt Milktoast figured it was not politically correct for a soldier to carry a 44 magnum, so we were only allowed to carry 6 rounds.

Shot number 5 hit the base of the antler as he came in, the Trooper was now shooting from my right side but to no apparent effect.

A moose doesn't charge flamboyantly like a Spanish fighting bull or a Cape Buffalo, no, its more like being run over by the loader end of a backhoe. He had 55 inches of massive antler growth with three nice foot long brow tines on both sides to skewer me, with about 1500 pounds of mad bull moose pushing it. When you know you are dead anyway you may as well just shoot. I fired my last shot at point blank right between the eyes. He crashed before me in a shower of snow that caused a momentary white out, as the Trooper came to my side. I put out my foot and touched his head, it was that close.

I guess that was the only big game animal I ever felt sorry for because neither one of us wanted to be there, it wasn't hunting, it wasn't fun, but it was high adventure. Long live the beast, and ...Pass it on.

Related Links:
Find an Alaska Moose Or Deer Hunting Guide
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PostHeaderIcon 10 Kansas Deer Confirmed Positive For CWD

10 Kansas Deer Confirmed Positive For CWD

On March 2, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) announced that 10 white-tailed deer from northwestern Kansas had tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). These were animals taken by hunters in the 2009 hunting seasons. The agency is still awaiting the result from another deer sample that was presumed to be positive after preliminary testing at the K-State Diagnostic Veterinary Lab in Manhattan.
Saturday, March 6, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Processing Your Own Venison

Have you ever thought about processing your own deer.

It's not that hard to do.   This article contains some great tips to help get you started.

Processing Your Own Venison
Friday, March 5, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Lets Go Pheasant Hunting In South Dakota!

New Article Added To The Site:

South Dakota: A Premier Pheasant Hunting State

A great new article on why South Dakota is considered to be the "Pheasant Hunting Capital of the World"

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