Monday, April 26, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Moon Phase Whitetail Hunting

by Naomi K. Shapiro

One of the arguments often heard among deer hunters is whether whitetail hunting based on moon phase projection is helpful. There have been a ton of articles on both sides of the subject. Some articles are very positive -- and some are not; indeed, any number of hunters believe that the importance of moon phase hunting is vastly overrated; some going as far as to say that it's "snake oil." We're going to explore both sides of the issue, being as objective as we can, based on actual experience -- and we'll let you decide.

Some professional guides throw out the idea of total reliance on moon phases because when someone hires a guide he/she must produce every time in the woods -- moon phase or not. Having said that, a good number of guides generally will say they do indeed see increased movement and success because of using moon phase projections. "It's just part of the entire puzzle," says guide Phil Schweik. You can use moon phase tactics in conjunction with many other considerations -- weather (fronts moving in and out), wind, state of the rut, decoys, scent, calling, location, terrain -- every part of the scenario contributes to a successful hunt when used as a totality. Relying on just one item can be iffy."

There are any number of individuals and companies who produce calendars videos, charts and other items that supposedly will school someone in the art of deciphering and using moon phases. Some hunters closely follow the regimen, others decry it.

According to Schweik, three days before a moon phase, and one-to-three days after a moon phase, he has found a definite change in the pattern of animal/wildlife activity --and that surely includes deer. While Schweik doesn't pay rapt attention to moon phases, he does strongly state that when there is a full moon, there is much more midday deer movement and activity. Indeed, when this happens, Schweik changes from the usual "low light" hours hunting to doing more midday -- he says it often works – and at times, doesn't. But that's true of any hunting, he says. One day something works, and the next day it won't. Schweik says he has a number of clients who specifically hire him to hunt during a particular moon phase event. These hunters have been very successful using this method and swear by it.

Obviously, during the rut, the deer are already on the move, but, according to Schweik and other guides, when hunting during the rut, and using other indicators such as a moon phase, the chances of success rise considerably.

On the other side of the coin, not a lot of hunters talk about moon phase utilization. Most hunters plan their hunt around the rut, and if it so happens that there is a moon phase in effect, OK – but not tremendous numbers give credit for a successful hunt to using moon phase opportunities.

Deer hunting season dates are "written in stone." In the gun season (at least in Wisconsin), you've got nine days to hunt—and that's it -- moon phases or not. In researching this article, the writer couldn't really find any definitive information as to whether deer hunting numbers vary greatly if there is a moon phase during the season. Of course when it comes to bow season, which lasts for months, there surely will be a number of moon phase situations during the season. Again, we couldn't find any specific information as to numbers of bow season deer harvested specifically linked to a moon phase.

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Even though Schweik "believes" that deer movement and activity increase during a moon phase, he is not ready to plan a deer hunt using only moon phase information. "I'll use it if the particular situation dictates, but I will only rely on it in conjunction with using all the other variables and techniques involved to maximize my chances of success -- particularly for my clients," Schweik says.

Opinions on the value of moon phase hunting vary greatly -- from the "true believers" to the "true deniers," and the "maybe-ers" in between. Do your own "due diligence," and satisfy yourself as to which position fits your frame of thinking. In the end, there is no "black and white" answer, but certainly there are many shades of "gray." That's what makes hunting interesting!
Monday, April 19, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Video Taping Your Next Hunt

Here is one of the best articles I've ever read about filming your hunt.  This particular article is geared for turkey hunters but the principles apply to all types of hunts.  If you ar thinking about filming your next hunt this article is a good read:

PostHeaderIcon Wild Turkey Subspecies

The wild turkey is one of America’s greatest hunting pursuits. They are also one of our greatest management success stories. After being over harvested in many locales early in the 20th century, wild turkey populations are booming. Their adaptability has helped expand the population to over six million birds across the United States. Many hunters don’t realize there is a difference in birds from sea to shining sea. Here’s a description of the four main subspecies of wild turkeys within our borders.

Eastern Wild Turkey
With over five million birds, the Eastern wild turkey is by far the most prolific. Their range includes nearly every state north, south, and east of Missouri. There are small pockets west of the chief range in states like Kansas and Oklahoma. These birds prefer hardwood forests within agricultural areas but have adapted to an incredible variety of habitats. Easterns are known for being wary but vocal. They are typically responsive to calling. Gobblers can weigh well over 25 pounds with hens weighing in at 8 to 12 pounds. The tail coverts(feathers at the base of the tail) are tipped with chestnut brown. The wing feathers are striped white and black. This coloration is the easiest way to differentiate the Eastern from the Rio.

Rio Wild Turkey

The home range of the Rio extends from Texas into Kansas with transplanted birds in lower numbers throughout the western half of the country. Biologists estimate the Rio population at just over one million birds. Rios prefer open country along streams and rivers. They live among mesquite, pine, and scrub oak forests. In addition to their open country habitat, Rios are known for their long legs. Despite their height, Rios are slightly lighter than Easterns. This could be due to lower quality food sources within their home range. Another way to tell the difference between Rios and Easterns is coloration. Rios have tan tail coverts compared to the brown coverts of the Eastern. Due to overlaps in range, Rio-Eastern hybrids are common in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Merriam’s Wild Turkey
The Merriam’s turkey is a westerner. It’s native range includes New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona, but it has been successfully introduced across the west. US population estimates are nearly 350,000 birds. They are known as mountain dwellers and are often found roosting in the ponderosa pines of the Rocky Mountain foothills. Because of their habitat, Merriam’s tend to have a wider range than Easterns and Rios, making them a bit more difficult to pattern. They are similar in size to the Eastern turkey but have some blue tones in their main body feathers. Merriam’s turkeys are easily distinguishable from their cousins by the white feathers at the base of their tails.

Osceola Wild Turkey
Osceola turkeys are found only in the state of Florida. The population is estimated at just under 100,000 birds. Osceolas are smaller than Eastern turkeys and feature a much darker color pattern. While Eastern turkeys are bronzed, Osceola’s have some green and reddish hues within their main body feathers. Osceolas are well suited to the swamps and pine and palmetto lowlands of their Florida home. Due to warmer habitat, they tend to breed and lay eggs earlier than other species.

Learn more about hunting wild turkeys @ Foremost Hunting

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