Monday, November 26, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Minnesota Hires Non-Hunter To Manage Deer Herd

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

PostHeaderIcon Family Affair: A Big Buck Down Story 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

PostHeaderIcon Action Packed Deer Season Upon Us

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 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

PostHeaderIcon The Stand Video Trailer Released

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 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

PostHeaderIcon The Story Behind The Stand

“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 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” on Facebook for updates.  If you want to see more, the trailer will be released September 17.  
Thursday, August 30, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Are Wolves Going Vegan?

Hunter trends are often a reflection of larger societal trends and the move to social media is no exception. A visit to Facebook or Twitter yields hundreds of thousands of hunters, hunting groups, and companies. I count myself among them. I often find myself in the midst of a debate on a number of issues including baiting, antler point restrictions, crossbow hunting, and “is this a shooter” type questions. By the way, if you’re asking, it probably is. One of the biggest hot button topics out there these days is wolf hunting. You will find very passionate people on both sides of the issue.
Recently, I engaged in a conversation with a wolf hunting opponent that seems to believe wolves have evolved in a very strange way. The only explanation I have for their thought process is that they believe wolves have decided to go vegan. Someone posted a trail camera photo of a group of young wolves scoping out what he says was an area a local farmer buried some dead calves. From there the conversation goes awry. Last names were covered to protect the silly.
Apparently, Lou didn’t see the pasture in the background of the photo. Jerimiah(original poster of the photo) is not amused. It gets better.
So Lou promises not to get into a contest which is disappointing. Luckily, Jim shows up.
Actually Jim, there is no law that says you must send cattle to a rendering plant. In fact, many farmers don’t because of increased regulations on rendering plants. But why would we let the truth get in the way of a perfectly good conspiracy theory. Jim says this photo looks way too good to be real. In fact, he informs us that it was altered. He knows this because of his super duper photo software.
Now that is damning evidence. No trail in the background means it can’t be a trail camera photo. Even if we assume Jim has this awesome software, he obviously is unaware that Facebook compresses your photos to save server space.  So Lou didn’t believe the photo was in cattle territory and Jim swears the photo has been altered. My question is this: Why is this photo so unbelievable to these people? Is it completely uncharacteristic for wolves to seek out a meal? This is what wolves do. They eat meat. Why would this photo need to be altered? There are probably hundreds, if not more, trail camera photos like this. Wolves eat dead livestock all the time.

The only reasonable explanation for this mind set is that wolves have obviously decided to go vegan. These three wolves are innovators. They want to be the friendly, cuddly wolves we see in cartoons. They hired a PR firm to change their image. They hired online reputation management people to hide The Grey from search engine results. Wolves will join deer in farm fields every night. Not to eat the deer but to share the delicious green foliage. Nature will finally live in harmony. Deer and wolf. Wolf and deer. Cattle will no longer be in danger. The sharks in Finding Nemo were trained that “fish are friends.” Wolves will sing to the same beat with different wording. “Cows are comrades.”

I’m not one to demonize wolves. They have a very specific and useful spot in our ecosystem and have for millions of years. However, we’ve had an unchecked population in the Midwest that has grown to unsustainable levels, biologically and sociologically. I understand why it pains these people that even one of these creatures will be killed by a hunter. But in the end, a managed population leads to a healthier population. They are right when stating no one hunted them 500 years ago and they managed to survive. To that I ask, does the landscape around you look as it did 500 years ago?
Friday, August 24, 2012

PostHeaderIcon What Do You Think of The Aporkalypse?

The Sportsman Channel and Pig Man: The Series is heavily promoting a new episode they call Aporkalypse Now. This new episode of Pig Man premieres Sunday, August 26 at 10 PM and features Pig Man Brian Quaca hunting wild pigs in Texas with Ted Nugent. Uncle Ted tends to bring attention, positive and negative, wherever he appears. But Nugent isn’t what is provocative about the episode. Quaca and Nugent hunt pigs from a helicopter with AR style rifles and Nugent is shown shooting pigs with an automatic rifle.

 I have to admit, it looks like a heck of a lot of fun. Shooting fully automatic guns out of helicopters is a dream I didn’t know I had. But after seeing it, I’d like to sign up. The out of control hog population is certainly something that needs to be dealt with. The abundance of wild hogs has led to disease, crop damage, and habitat destruction. Texas hunters donate millions of pounds of wild hog meat to food pantries. There is no doubt that killing hogs is a good thing.

 I’ve always been one to say, “if it’s legal, I’m OK with it.” For example, I’m not a fan of baiting for a variety of reasons. But if someone wants to bait and it’s legal, I have no problem with it. Utilizing a helicopter for hunting hogs makes it easier to find hogs quickly. The producers make it clear that a chase vehicle is rounding up the hogs for processing. I believe Quaca and Nugent are doing everything in their power to make both an entertaining television show and a quality hunt.

However, firing a gun out of a helicopter with great accuracy is next to impossible. Helicopters rigged for television are equipped with very expensive gear to maintain a steady camera shot. It is clear from the video that both Quaca and Nugent are essentially letting the lead fly. There is no doubt that more rounds are missing the pigs than are connecting. What are the odds the bullets that are connecting are hitting vital areas and making quick, clean kills? Deer drives are common in many locales and there is an art to shooting big game on the run. Some hunters master it. Others never figure it out. Buckshot is used where it is legal to increase the odds of a successful shot. If you’ve ever shot at driven deer or pigs, imagine making the same shots from a moving vehicle. Do you think you would be able to shoot accurately?

One of Uncle Ted’s signature lines is “Ethics Schmethics”. He likes being controversial and he’s not one to bow to what others think is the right thing to do. He is who he is and he does what he wants. That is why people love him(or hate him). I would have no problem with Ted and Quaca heading into the Texas plains with night vision scopes and laying waste to as many hogs as possible. But in my mind hunters owe one thing to the animals they pursue; a quick, clean kill. There are no guarantees in hunting, even from the ground. But I don’t believe you can reasonably expect to make a high percentage of accurate shots when shooting from a helicopter. We owe it to our quarry to have at least a reasonable expectation of a quick kill, even if they are pigs.
Monday, July 16, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Turkey Hunting: Kicking Him While He's Down

Turkey hunting is a tough endeavor. Even in states well known for great turkey hunting success rates often hover around 20 to 30 percent. In other words, 70 to 80 percent of hunters are going home without a bird. Dan Ellyson had some success hunting in Nebraska but struggled to find his stride in his home state of Wisconsin. Dan owns A-1 Archery in Hudson, WI and hunts all over Western Wisconsin. He gave it one last shot on the final day of the season. But Dan decided his blind just wasn't quite in the right spot. So he decided to move the blind about 200 yards for his evening hunt. Dan didn't realize his mistake until checking his trail camera over the weekend. In the first photo you'll see Dan picking up his blind. The second two were taken about an hour after he left. It was nice of that bird to throw in a little strutting for good measure. There's always next year!
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Shed Hunting With Tom Dokken & Rookie

Filming hunts all year long would be a real treat.  But we don’t have the budget to travel to the southern hemisphere during the summer and deer hunting in 90 degree weather just doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.  Besides, the Wisconsin DNR would definitely frown on that kind of thing.  But that doesn’t mean my camera gets a break.  I recently produced a DVD with Tom Dokken of Northfield, Minnesota.  Tom is a professional dog trainer with a worldwide reputation as one of the best in the business.

When it comes to working dogs, bird hunting is king and Tom is a leader in the sport.  However, he also has a passion for whitetails.  He has combined that passion with his dog training expertise to create a system for training dogs to find antler sheds.  This training DVD covers everything you need to get started.  One of the great things about training for shed hunting is you can begin training right in your backyard.  You won’t need live birds or a gun for shooting blanks.  There really isn’t much equipment needed at all.  If you already have a bird dog at home, cross training isn’t a problem.  Shed hunting isn’t going to mess up your bird dog.  This is just another opportunity to get into the field with your dog.  Hunting breeds are popular but any dog can be trained to find sheds.

Here’s a short clip from the DVD.  This is a simulated shed hunt with Tom and Rookie, his ace shed hunting dog.  This scenario is similar to what a trainer would set up for a dog who is getting ready for his first real shed hunting experience.  The idea is to build confidence in the dog by guaranteeing early success.

The DVD is hot off the presses!  I just delivered it to Dokken’s Dog Supply early this week.  But you can get your copy right now for $19.99 + s&h.  Give them a call at 507-744-2616.  If you want to win a free copy, simply use the comment box below and write “I want to win”.  I’ll randomly draw one winner this Friday afternoon.  Good luck!
Thursday, May 31, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Save Wisconsin Hunting Group Is Based In Berkeley, California

A few days ago I wrote a post about the Facebook group "Save Wisconsin Hunting" and the political firestorm surrounding it.  At the end I noted that we didn't know where the group was located but judging by the hunting photos used, it probably wasn't Wisconsin.  None of the hunters were wearing backtags.  Sure enough, today I find out the website The Daily Kos is behind it.  I would like to ask you, the deer hunter, do you think a website based out of Berkeley, California really cares about deer hunting in Wisconsin?

I would say the Daily Kos is left leaning, but that would be a huge understatement.  Their sole mission with this issue is to use it to garner votes from hunters against Governor Scott Walker.  It's yet another case of an organization trying to pit hunter against hunter to advance a cause that either hurts hunters or has nothing to do with hunting.

If you disagree with Governor Walker's politics on issues like collective bargaining, vote for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  I'm not saying Governor Walker is "the" choice for governor.  I'm saying deer hunting should have nothing to do with who you vote for on June 5.  This "controversy" is a hoax.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Save The Wisconsin Deer Hunt... It's A Lie

There are a few new groups that have put their hat in the ring when it comes to fueling the Wisconsin recall efforts.  They have grasped on to an “issue” that is rarely used by them.  Wisconsin has a rich tradition of deer hunting and the over 600,000 Wisconsinites who hunt deer are a passionate crowd.  Polling data is showing Governor Scott Walker has a six to eight point lead over his challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  That is certainly not insurmountable, but it doesn’t look good for those looking to oust the Governor.  What they need is to swing a few of Walker’s votes their way.

For the full background of this story, read Making Sense of The Dr. Kroll Controversy.  The short story is the Governor pledged to hire an outside consultant to look at Wisconsin’s deer management strategy in 2010.  Dr. James Kroll got the job.  Some people were critical of the hire but in my opinion it was generally lauded.  Kroll has over three decades of deer management experience.  He is quite possibly the most well known deer biologist in the country, certainly in the Top 3.  However, he does have ties to high fence operations(he owns a small operation and does consulting work for others) and that is the major hang up for most who disapprove.   But Kroll also does a lot of consulting work for organizations who hunt in much the same way Wisconsinites do.

This entire issue was almost exclusively a deer hunter issue until the past few weeks.  As the June 5 recall election drew near, these groups started getting desperate.  So they’ve brought forth a series of lies in attempt to garner support from deer hunters.  Sure, there are plenty of deer hunters who may be voting for Mayor Barrett anyway.  But it’s fair to say most of the deer hunting set are going to vote for Governor Walker.  The intent of these scare tactics is to get some of those people to swing over.

They have made claims about Wisconsin selling off hunting land and deer hunts that cost over $2,000.  The fact is neither Governor Walker, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, or Dr. James Kroll have the ability to sell public hunting land.  The funny thing is, it’s obvious these groups don’t know much about Wisconsin deer hunting.  Look at these photos.  They are screen shots from a face book page and a website.  Notice something missing with these hunters?

All of the hunters in these photos would have expensive Wisconsin deer hunts.  Not because Scott Walker made them pay $2,000 to hunt deer.  Because they would be in violation.  None of them have backtags.  These hunters obviously aren’t from Wisconsin.  Because of the way the groups are structured and their late entry into the game, we don’t know who these groups are.  But it will be interesting to find out.  It probably won’t be  a surprise.

On another note, Wisconsin is about to make the biggest public hunting land purchase in state history.  Pretty cool huh?
Thursday, May 10, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Lost And Found: Trail Cam Photos

The last time I was at the hunting cabin back in February, I set out a trail camera. It was the first serious attempt at getting an idea of what wildlife passed through our woods. I knew I would get some deer photos. The camera was placed on a prominent trail. Due to chronic wasting disease, using bait or mineral blocks is against the law in our area. I was forced to use woodsmanship to select a good camera site. I know deer bed in the area and there are several trails in and out. I was confident I would get some photos.

 A few weeks passed and my dad headed out to the woods to retrieve the camera. After searching for an hour or so, he couldn't find it. A few weeks later, he tried again, this time with a friend. Still no camera. I was back in camp in late April, two months after placing the camera. I figured I would walk right out there and find the camera. I was wrong. After an hour of searching, the idea that someone stole the camera was feeling more and more like a reality. Three more guys were due in camp the next day and I decided to stay positive until we could form a four man search party.

 As a weekend of turkey hunting(which I'll document in a later post) came to a close, the four of us lined up and started walking in to the section of forest the camera was in. The walk didn't have much suspense. After walking less than 100 yards my buddy yelled, "found it!" I popped open the camera and pushed the tell tale button. The meter read 1467. I had the camera set for a three shot burst so that meant it was triggered almost 500 times. I couldn't wait to get back to the cabin to see the pictures and they didn't disappoint. The highlight of the photos was a nearly 80 shot sequence lasting about an hour and 45 minutes. A buck bedded down right in front of the camera. I put together a time lapse video of all the photos that lasts just over a minute. Pretty interesting stuff.

A few days later, another buck sprinted past the camera. There were also numerous photos of does looking around and bedding in front of the camera. I use a Primos Truth Cam Blackout. There is no sound or flash. But many of the deer were looking right at the camera. It was set on a tree that is directly on a trail and I'm sure this peculiar looking box captured their attention.
Deer were not the only visitors to the camera site. Plenty of turkeys also stopped by to say hello. In early March, the birds were still in their winter flocks. In late March, I got several pictures of lone gobblers making their way through the woods. This was nowhere near a field. Yet, gobblers passed by in full strut on numerous occasions.
There are deer and turkeys in a few of the photos. This one is a favorite. Here's a jake showing a yearling whitetail who is boss. I believe he is swearing at him in Turkish.
It wasn't just deer and turkeys looking for a meal in this spot. There are countless raccoon photos and one sequence with a coyote walking down the trail.
I have never hunted this spot but losing the trail camera for a few months gave me a great snapshot of all the activity in the area. This spot definitely will have a treestand hanging there this fall!
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

PostHeaderIcon It's Been A Long Time

by Chris Larsen

After a two month hiatus, I made it back to the cabin this weekend. I loaded up the car with a few Edge by Expedite predator decoys, some guns, and my daughter. She’s just a few weeks shy of her first birthday and has already become a hunting camp veteran. Thankfully, Grandma is more than happy to get some time with Emma and graciously tends to the little one while I’m off gallivanting in the woods.

The plan called for some product testing for Edge by Expedite, venison sausage making, shed hunting, turkey scouting, looking for new deer stand sites, and pulling down a few stands that were left up from last season. But perhaps the best part of the trip was something that wasn’t planned at all. My dad has been cleaning up some of his buildings over the past few months. He made a few discoveries that I found incredibly interesting and I think readers will too.

It turns out I’m not the first in the family with a passion for filming hunts. My grandfather hauled a film movie camera to Wyoming for several years. We pulled out a reel from 1968 and were shocked to find the film to be in incredible condition. What we were watching was nearly 45 years old. My dad turns 60 in less than a month and there he was… 16 year old him… shooting a mule deer in Wyoming. I don’t remember my grandpa with anything but grey hair. It was cool to see him as a strapping 40 year old man. He pulled deer up and down the Rocky Mountain foothills with ease. As the reel begins to grow small, the men of the camp start stacking deer on the roof of the camper shell. A half dozen mulies and a pronghorn were tied down. This was the norm in these days. No one worried about someone being offended.

Before heading back home, the crew paraded through Douglas, Wyoming with game on the roof and their camper in tow. I have to give Grandpa some credit for shooting these scenes. It took a visionary since there were no 24 hour outdoor cable networks to study 45 years ago. They stopped to do some fishing too. The cast-and-blast was complete with a bucket full of rainbows. My dad said these never made it back to Illinois. The fellas fried them up right along the shore. McDonalds was a long way from becoming an empire at that time. A heart-attack-in-a-sack wasn’t available. See that strapping fellow in the picture? That’s my dad at 16. If you look closely you can see the film projector we used. I will be sharing the movies with you in the next few months. It’s an incredible look back at a different era of hunting history.

This past deer season ended with just two deer on the pole all season, both killed by me. I took a young buck during archery season and a doe during the gun season. My dad and my friend Jason decided against shooting a deer this year. They still had venison in the freezer from the previous season and decided it would be a big buck or nothing this year. My supply was exhausted but I didn’t need that excuse. The way I see it, deer season is for getting a deer. If I find myself with surplus venison, I’ll go into hyper venison eating mode! Last year we made 125 pounds of sausage. This year, just 45 pounds. Not bad considering we cut three roasts out of the buck’s hind quarters.

Our deer season ended abruptly and there were a few stands left trees. The stand in the photo was dubbed “The Rut Buster”. I spotted five bucks from that stand this year, but just one came close enough to put an arrow through. After pulling it down, we found a perfect tree closer to where the elusive bucks walked past. If they follow the same path next season, we’ll be putting meat in the freezer and a mount on the wall! The two hangers were in really good shape but my ladder stand had sunk deep into the mud. The ladder pulled away from the seat section making it a little exciting to take down.

Of course, the main even of the weekend was coyote hunting. Edge by Expedite is headquartered just up the road from my house and I’ve made a few contacts there. They have a new management team and were more than happy to allow me to test some of their new products. Look for reviews on our coyote hunting site soon. My dad & I hunted two different sets on Saturday without seeing a coyote. Jason arrived Saturday afternoon. We presided over three more sets before calling it a day. Again, no coyotes. We scoured the area for sheds as well. No dice there either.

Sunday morning I spotted something on the horizon that I thought could be a coyote. I soon realized it was a gobbler in full strut. Moments later, his entourage appeared. Thirty turkeys passed through the field. A spectacle for sure. I dozed off for a quick power nap and was awakened by Jason in short order. A dozen deer burst from the woods into the field. Three bucks were in the group, all with their antlers intact. Nutrition is a big factor in the timing of sheds dropping. The farmer who tends our property lost a lot of corn this year. A wind storm knocked the stalks down in late summer and they were still crooked when the harvester went through. A warm winter and plenty of corn left in the fields squashed our shed hunting efforts this weekend.

Our next coyote setup was deep in the woods right between two areas I’ve seen coyotes before. Nothing showed up but we did see a Pope & Young class buck retreating from the ridge. Again, both antlers were secured to his head. It was fun to see four bucks we’ll be hunting next year survived the season and most of the winter. We did spot a yearling and a doe carcass in the woods. The northern edge of the property skirts a major highway. Unfortunately, finding a dead deer or two in the woods is a yearly occurrence.

We ended up with eleven total coyote sets for the weekend. We hunted field edges and deep woods sets with the same lack of success. I guess 45-to50 degree weather in mid-February isn’t conducive to successful coyote hunting. Or maybe they just know why we’re in the woods. During archery season I had several nice bucks well inside gun range. During gun deer season two coyotes were in the scope but I passed on both. Deer season has been closed for a month and big bucks are running all over. I was confident we could get a kill on video for the guys from Edge. We’ll keep going for it. Maybe those coyotes I passed on fell to the neighbors. Hopefully, the turkeys can make it through nesting without being harassed by yotes. With a year round season, we’ll be at it again soon. Either way, the weekend was a blast. It was nice to be back in the woods again.

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