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lk hunting is difficult enough trying to strategize and stay one step ahead of a pressured herd of elk. Sorry to say though, elk aren’t the only obstacle on your quest to a winter’s worth of meat enjoyment. You’ll also have to outwit another savvy opponent: other hunters.
To stay one step ahead of your competitors apprise yourself of their behavior just like you do with the autumn behavior of bull elk. Once you know what other hunters are going to do you can put that information into play to sidestep the crowd and maybe even use the masses to your ambush advantage. Hunters are creatures of habit and public land managers love to shape that habitual behavior. They create trails for users to follow and trailheads for jumping off points. Use those when required, but look for alternative entrance and route options to get away from the crowds. Elk know these trailhead locations, especially as hunting pressure spikes. They also avoid them. When is the last time you pulled into a trailhead only to witness a herd of elk feeding within view?
Use maps, topographical and forest service, plus satellite images via sites like Google Earth to locate seldom-used routes that might not be publically advertised. Old maps are great resources for historical insight on abandoned trails. It’s no secret that land management agencies remove abandoned access routes from some newer map editions.
Old jeep trails and mining roads are often removed from updated versions to deter use. Nevertheless, these overgrown pathways still provide an easy footpath up the mountain. Plus, they offer gentle slopes for packing game out. Geographical features also provide routes into country. Scour topographical maps and note ridges, parks, and avalanche chutes providing open alleys or comfortable grades you can use to get in and out without taking a highly-used trail. You can also query the world of online forums for additional hints on how to get away from the crowds. Some social-media junkies have no qualms about sharing locales far and away removed from hunter traffic. And never overlook the knowledge acquired from age and experience. Veteran elk hunters, loggers and retired forestry personnel may yield a wealth of information on remote locales, and long, lost trails. After receiving help with a flat tire from one Montana rancher he graciously showed me how to easily access a large parcel of public land after I hinted my interest to him. You just never know how generous locals can be if they respect your responsible intentions.
Some rugged country requires that you access it from a common trailhead. If thatâ€™s the case you need to get a jump on the other users. Itâ€™s easy to do. Set your alarm earlier than
required. You may even have to sleep in your truck or camp near the trailhead. Leave out an hour before the average hunter would hit the trail, circle wide and downwind to push past where you expect the elk to be. Your strategy is to be where the elk will move to when the masses of hunters come down the trail. Target north-facing slopes and other thick, vertical cover that most hunters will avoid. If you execute your strategy perfectly and the elk cooperate, other hunters will move the elk in your direction, like a whitetail deer drive.
In closing, consider all public hunting options. Most elk country falls within the confines of
Mark Kayser uses elk knowledge and the habits of hunters to put him in the zip code of unpressured herds of elk.
national forests, but small chunks of Bureau of Land Management and state lands provide avenues that may parallel private ranches serving as impromptu elk refuges. Many hunters may overlook these areas simply because they look too small. More than once Iâ€™ve stumbled across elk traveling across BLM sections to escape to private ranches or larger sections of national forest. It takes a savvy mindset to put an elk in the freezer, but it also takes cunning to outsmart the other hunters looking for the same opportunity. August 2013
Poor Man’s Hunting Guide: DIY Over-The-Counter Mule Deer Hunts Montana Decoy www.montanadecoy.com, By Steve Miller M ontana’s decoys are meant to go where no other hunting decoy has gone before – passing the boundary where outfitters and less committed
hunters succumb to pain and discomfort. There are benefits to hunting deep in the backcountry, permeating remote wilderness and creeping into sweltering deserts. The advantages are psychological, strategic and financial. Out in wilderness, off the grid, there’s still a place for the guy who likes to earn his trophy, rather than pay for it. Below is the third article of the Poor Man’s Hunting Guide Series. It contains the best decoys to pack, and how and where to use them. You are going to spend a lot of time getting to where you need to hunt, so you best be sure you are packing the right gear and using the right decoy setups to make the trip worthwhile and pack out a trophy. Best Over-The-Counter Mule Deer States Western hunters once cut their teeth hunting mule deer. In previous decades, tags were easy to get over the counter while populations thrived. Whether it is because coyotes, wolves, harsh winters or the oil and gas companies’ 6 - Hunting & Fishing News
development, mule deer hunting isn’t what it used to be. In fact, very few states offer over-the-counter licenses for archery hunting mulies, while elk hunting opportunities for the DIY hunter are increasing. The mule deer reports are not all doom and gloom, though. While mule deer numbers have been taking it on the chin, antler size is trending up, perhaps due to fewer hunters and recently mild winters. Research, scouting and an understanding of mule deer behavior and tactics are keys to a successful DIY mule deer hunt. Here is a guide that will point you in the right direction when it comes to the best OTC states for mule deer, the best OTC mule deer units and the best mule deer decoy tactics. Preparation and determination will create luck for any mule deer bowhunter looking to overcome struggles in the field. Arizona Over-The-Counter Mule Deer Hunts Buying an OTC mule deer tag in Arizona gives a bowhunter the opportunity to hunt earlier and more often than those who draw tags. While the units do not present as much trophy mule deer potential, (continued on page 17)
RICK HAGGERTY (406) 370-1368 Publisher - Amy Haggerty - Helena, MT.
email@example.com www.huntingfishingnews.net The entire contents is © 2013, all rights reserved. May not be reproduced without prior consent. The material and information printed is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure, Inc. Nor does the printed material necessarily express the views of Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure, Inc. All photo & editorial submissions become the property of big sky outdoor News & adventure, Inc. to use or not use at their discretion. VOLUME 10 Issue 6. cover photo: ©Korban Schwab | shutterstock
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WHEN TO RATTLE
By Brian Johansen, Sponsored by Buck Stop Scents Reprinted with permission from bowhunting.net For more please go to: www.bowhunting.net
am often asked the question, “When is the best time to “RATTLE” for whitetail bucks?” I have rattled in bucks from September through January. The style of rattling is largely dependent on the phase of the rut at the given time. Some of my best rattling experiences have been the first week of October in Michigan. I have successfully rattled in bucks in Canada, Texas, Mexico, Ohio as well. In my 30 plus years of rattling whitetails I have learned some tricks that work year after year. Some of these tricks just might work for you too. Things to remember: deer have 3 important senses that they use the most, smell, hearing and sight. More often than not, you need to trigger 2 of the senses to get either a positive or negative response. Trigger either sight or hearing and the deer will use its sense of smell to reinforce its other senses. So it makes sense to be as scent free as possible, and to use an attractant scent as well. Use non-rutting buck urine during the early pre-rut period. Buck Stops Guide Grade Scents #GG150 or Supreme buck urine #1502 are good choices. During this pre-rut period bucks have shed their velvet and are establishing the pecking order. These early season rattling sessions are a soft tine tickling affair. I have had my best success in rattling in grassy fields about 45 minutes after daylight and the last 90 minutes of daylight. Most of my sessions are done “BLIND” meaning I have no deer in sight. I lightly click the antler tines together for 10-15 seconds, pause a couple seconds, and start over again for another 10-15 seconds. I will repeat this up to 5 minutes. I am always scanning the area for movement. Lots of times a buck will respond before you finish the sequence. You will see manly 1-1/2 year bucks during this pre-rut period. The peak rut period requires a different approach. You will need to be more aggressive and louder in your rattling sessions. I tend to move into the woods and wood lines during this period. I also start using the estrus doe urines like the very popular 200 Proof #1401. Hot scrape areas are a prime set-up spot during the rut. I will always start a semi-lite blind rattle just before daylight unless I can hear deer moving nearby. If I have not seen any movement after the first 30 minutes of daylight, I will launch into an aggressive “LOUD” rattling session. These sessions will last 2-3 minutes. A few rutting grunts from your favorite grunt call helps as well. I will repeat the sessions every 30 minutes or so. I often issue a series of grunts between sessions. This is the period when I rattle in my biggest bucks. Rattling when you have a buck in sight is a hit or miss thing for me. I will just click the antlers together just loud enough for him to hear them. You then have to play off of the way he acts. Grunt calls really help during this situation. If he shows no interest, I will rattle once after I no longer see him, and then play the waiting game. In the morning, wait at least 1 hour after you have seen a good buck leave. They tend to sneak back in from downwind. Play your cards right, and you just may shoot a buck of a lifetime. I always want a buck to know where I am hunting. I just don’t want the buck to know what I am. This is where Buck Stop’s Deer Lures and Scents come into play. Fooling his nose is 3/4 of the battle. Advanced methods include using a decoy or two near a hot scrape. I only use this method a couple times a year, where I place a standing buck over a bedded doe, with the use of scents, grunt calls and rattling antlers. I normally use this when I start seeing big bucks moving during the day searching out does. NOTE: Never use this method during gun season. Good luck next season. Put a little noise into your hunt. Brian Johansen - President, Buck Stop ABOUT BUCK STOP Buck Stop created the scent industry as we know it today. Buck Stop’s many firsts in the industry include: 1st deer scent company to offer a satisfaction money back guarantee, 1st ever Estrus Doe scent Mate-Triks Doe-In-Heat, 1st deer scent company to reach $1,000,000 in sales. These are just a few of the firsts from Buck Stop.
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Photos and article by Bob Humphrey, Yamaha Outdoors
L ast month I talked about tactics for decoying pronghorns. But that’s not the only method for duping these keen-eyed prairie speedsters, or for that matter the easiest. In terms of effort expended, the easiest by far is sitting over a waterhole. And for a bowhunter, it’s also the most productive. What follows are a few tips to improve your odds.
You are far less likely to spook keen-eyed pronghorns by having someone drive you to and from your blind than by walking in and out.
1) Set your blinds well in advance of your hunt. This gives speed goats time to become accustomed to them. A couple years ago I arrived on a Montana hunt the day the guide put out our blinds. For the next three days all hunters reported the same thing. The pronghorn would approach waterholes only to within a hundred yards or so, stopping frequently to stare at the blinds before eventually heading off to other waterholes without blinds. The year before I hunted a different outfit where the blinds had been out weeks ahead of our hunt, and the goats never hesitated coming to our waterholes.
2) Hunt the heat. Hunt all day if you like, but your best odds will come during the hottest part of the day. Pronghorn are much more diurnal than whitetails, moving mostly during daylight hours. This makes dawn and dusk particularly important feeding times. As the sun and the temperatures climb, goats become less active and head for water. 3) Approach carefully. The one advantage to all-day hunting is you can approach in the dark, before the sharpest mammalian eyes on the continent can spot you. If you opt for hunting just peak times, you’re far better off having someone drive you to your blind than walking in. Pronghorn aren’t nearly as bothered by the sight of ranch vehicles and ATVs as by the sight of a human on foot. 4) Whether you hunt all day, or just mid-day, make yourself comfortable. Bring a comfortable chair with a seat cushion and a solid back. Make sure you have plenty of water to stay hydrated, and food to stave off hunger. Be very conscientious about odor control and wear a base layer of moisture-wicking material.
My ground blind stands out from a long way off, but was placed far enough in advance of my hunt that the pronghorn became accustomed to it. 8 - Hunting & Fishing News
5) Stay Alert. It’s easy, and tempting to nod off during the heat of the day when the action is slow. But things can happen fast around waterholes. Antelope are the fastest land animals in North America, and once they make up their mind to visit a certain waterhole, they waste little time getting there, or sticking around when their belly is full.
Rethinking Jigs For “Roller Coaster” Bass By Steve Pennaz How a non-traditional swim jig technique can help you crack conditioned fish
Steve Pennaz with bass
ike a lot of anglers, I grew up fishing bass jigs traditionally, pounding cover with an endless drop-lift-drop-lift routine. And while I caught fish, I didn’t fully grasp how truly versatile jigs are—and how they can be fished in ways that can crack conditioned bass when everything else fails. My “Eureka” moment came on a trip with a saltwater guide who’d throw his jig out as far as he could and rip it back to the boat. Watching him catch fish taught me that we all have preconceived ideas about how we’re supposed to fish jigs. During a TV shoot in Texas a few years back the producers asked me to burn the bait back to boat so they could get a shot of the reel handle rotating. So I start drag racing a jig through two feet of water and all of sudden an 8-pound bass grabs the bait. Here again, I never would have fished a jig that fast, but it produced a solid fish and once again opened my eyes to the efficacy of breaking conventions. And why is that? Bass are typically released after they are caught, which means a percentage of any bass population has been “conditioned.” Larger fish have seen it all. That’s why fishing new bait designs, colors and techniques are essential to staying ahead of the curve. (continued on page 18) August 2013
The Path Less Traveled
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10 - Hunting & Fishing News
Photo and article By Bob Humphrey, Yamaha Outdoors
wo roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost So much is written about successful deer hunting tactics, time-honored techniques that generally provide the hunter with better odds. Sometimes however, in order to be successful you have to “think outside the box,” which is really just a trite modern phrase for taking the path less traveled. And in some cases that advice should be taken quite literally. For example, I deer hunt an area where a narrow travel corridor connects larger bedding and feeding areas. Conventional wisdom says that I should approach from downwind, hunt the feeding area in the afternoon and stay away from the bedding area all together. Walking in there in the morning, even when the wind is right, will only scare deer out. However, there’s a river parallel to the travel corridor. By paddling up the river well before daylight, I can actually slip in close to the bedding area, and far enough away from the feeding area so as not to alarm deer. It takes substantially more time and effort, but it’s the only way the area can effectively be hunted in the morning. Several years ago I hunted a place called Clendening Lake, a large impounded reservoir in Ohio. Most of the surrounding land is public, administered by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, and open to hunting. Much of that land is easily accessed from the road, but some areas take a bit of a hike to reach - a hike that could disturb a lot of deer. We took a different tack, launching from a public ramp and approaching some of the more remote areas by powerboat. That allowed us to slip in quietly and get set up long before daylight. Hunters approaching from the road actually moved deer toward us. This fall I hunted a private farm, also in Ohio, that was dotted with food plots. Afternoon hunts were great but morning hunts proved challenging. It seemed no matter what we tried, we couldn’t approach our stands without bumping deer. As a sort of last act of desperation, we tried something extraordinary. Instead of walking in, I had the owner drive me in his Side-by-Side vehicle. He literally drove me to the foot of my stand, stopping only long enough for me to get out, then he drove on. It worked, and though I never saw a shooter buck, morning deer sightings increased dramatically during the remainder of the hunt. Following conventional wisdom is not a bad thing. Certain tactics become traditional methods because they work. However, even the most tried and true techniques won’t always produce. When that happens it may be a good time to take the path less traveled.
August 2013 11
FISH LIKE A PRO Quick Tips from Berkley Shore Casting for Walleyes at Night In-Fisherman One of the simplest, most efficient, and most effective ways for walleyes during fall is shorecasting at night. Walleyes move into current areas, onto shallow shoals, or along weed edges to feed once waters cool, weeds begin to die, and baitfish become more vulnerable. The key is finding a spot that concentrates fish. Keep it simple at night. You need a 7-foot, medium-action spinning rod and a spinning reel loaded with a tough monofilament line testing 10 pounds, or a superline testing 14 pounds. Prime lures include plastic swimbaits and shallow-running, minnow-imitating crankbaits. Lure sizes typically range from 3 to 5 inches. You also need an insulated pair of waders; a net, which serves as a wading staff, as well as a netting tool; a flashlight; and small lure box. Add a sandwich and a thermos of coffee and you’re set. Keep retrieves slow and steady at night.
Patterning Weed Edges In-Fisherman
One key to successful fall fishing on natural lakes is targeting the edges of thick, green weedbeds. You can spot these edges where the vegetation grows almost to the surface. In deeper areas, use your sonar to find thicker clumps of grass. Cast or pitch softbaits or jigs to the edge where a wall of weeds meets open water. Largemouth bass cruise these edges looking for prey and strike lures that fall into this zone. If you don’t get a bite as the lure lands, give it a shake and wait for a reaction. If nothing happens, reel in and cast again.
Drop Shot Softbaits on Humps and Sunken Islands In-Fisherman
It’s typical to have smallmouths congregate on humps and sunken islands that top out at 15 to 25 feet deep during fall in natural lakes. Finesse worms, grubs, soft jerkbaits and tubes on drop-shot rigs comprise one way to consistently connect with these bass. As the water gets colder, giving the lure less action becomes increasingly more important. It can be critical to use fluorocarbon leaders in clear water with this tactic. 12 - Hunting & Fishing News
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Tips From A Meat Processor - How to Keep Your Meat Fresh By Janet Fadness, Tizer Meats Cool your animal as fast as you can. Animals can start to bone
sour within hours of being shot. Remove the windpipe completely. Split the hide behind the neck along the spine. Peel open the hide to help cool the front shoulders. When you pack an animals chest cavity with ice, and you leave the hide on it, all you are doing is trapping the heat. Hide and ice are both insulators. Don’t take huge chunks of warm meat and put it straight in the freezer. It can take up to a week for your freezer to draw all that heat out and meanwhile, the meat in the middle can start to sour. Air flow is great for cooling out an animal! Get the hide off of it. Get driving to your processor! Don’t drive around showing off your trophy bull or buck when it’s hot out! While you’re showing it off, the meat under that hide will start to sour. Use a clean tarp under your skinned animal to keep as many contaminants as you can off of it. Processors don’t like when you roll the carcass in pine needles, dirt, grass, etc. You lose more meat because all of that contaminated meat will be trimmed off and thrown out so you don’t get sick! Don’t use perfumed garbage bags to store your meat in. You can get food grade bags from your processor. When you save meat in your freezer to bring to your processor, try to keep as much air as possible out of the bag. Air causes freezer burn. When bringing in bulk meat to just have it ground, bring in cleaned, trimmed meat. Get all the hair, dirt, fat, and sinew cleaned off of it. Processors will clean it, but it will cost you more money. Keep in mind when you use a commercial processor (not just some guy that cuts up game for a hobby) they are trained to keep you safe. “When in doubt, throw it out.” Nothing will be put back into your meat that we at Tizer Meats wouldn’t be willing to eat ourselves. If you shoot the animal in any muscle, any meat with blood shot in it will be thrown out. Keep in mind that you may not be the 1st person that has shot that animal. We see animals with wounds that are from years previous, that have healed over and you couldn’t see them until you cut into it and find old bullets, arrowheads, etc. We see animals that have weeks or days old wounds that are infected and no one notices until the hide is peeled off. Anything that comes into contact with any infected part will be thrown away. Your processor is there to keep you safe, and put the best quality meat back into your freezer! Think QUALITY before quantity!
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RECIPE CORNER----------Margarita Whitetail Kabobs By Kris Winkelman, www.winkelman.com
1 cup margarita liquid mix 1⁄2 tsp salt 1 tbsp sugar 3 cloves garlic (minced) 1⁄4 cup olive oil 1 pound whitetail steaks (cubed) Mushrooms Onions Red and green bell peppers Cherry tomatoes 1 gallon ZipVac bag
Directions: Combine margarita mix, salt, sugar, garlic and olive oil and whitetail cubes in a ZipVac bag . Let marinade for 30-45 minutes. Preheat grill to medium. Assemble kabobs by alternating meat and vegetables, brush with marinade and grill to perfection. (10 minutes max). August 2013 13
Develop a Management Plan That Includes Walleye Walleye Suppression in Noxon Reservoir By Paul Rossignol and Scott Muller, Noxon Warm Water Fisheries Assoc. Reprinted with permission from Montana Walleyes Unlimited
Irevisit t’s true that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has suggested, due to overwhelming public outcry, that they will the walleye suppression issue in Noxon Reservoir, but they have not yet announced a decision to stop attempted eradication. In the interest of accuracy, it truly is speculation as to how walleye were introduced. FWP’s Draft Environmental Assessment states, “First documented in 1991, walleye in Noxon appear to be the result of several illegal stocking events. Periodic spikes in catches of walleye 16 inches and larger ... indicated an outside source of walleye. This was supported by informant information although there was not enough evidence to pursue a case.” No one has been identified, ticketed or charged. It has been reported that walleye may have been introduced inadvertently during bass stocking in the 1980s and ‘90s. The two species are raised in the same hatchery. Whatever occurred was more than 22 years ago when there was no defined management plan and everyone’s interest was to establish a sport fishery in a reservoir that had been proven to be predominantly warm water habitat and unsuitable for healthy populations Photo courtesy Paul Rossignol of salmonids. Current policy (2002) on introductions was not fully established and the other important element that requires examination is whether removal is “feasible.” Noxon supports many other species that are important to the fishery but again, the truth is that real impacts from walleye are as yet unknown and uncertain. No stocking or support has been allowed in Noxon since at least 1998 for the important populations of bass, perch or northern pike. Additionally, Noxon is a great deal different in nature from the reservoirs where walleye have conflicted with other species. With adjustment in management tactics, Canyon Ferry is now one of the state’s premier walleye and trout fisheries. It’s great that FWP continues with the “pines for perch project” with assistance from two local Walleye Unlimited Chapters. This project was started in the 1980s before the first walleye was netted in Canyon Ferry. FWP identified that perch populations were cyclical due to a lack of spawning structure. Fort Peck is the state’s best example of record walleye living in harmony with record smallmouth bass. Downstream in the Columbia basin the positive social and economic impact of a thriving walleye fishery is recognized and salmon and steelhead numbers are on the rise. Birds, sea lions and pike-minnows are the predator concerns according to Bonneville Power Administration reports. There is no mention of walleye. In years past, millions of rainbows, browns and even ling cod were planted in Noxon without any true success. Smallmouth bass were the first deliberate plant to successfully create a fishery with largemouth bass, perch and northern pike becoming established incidentally. All reproduce naturally and are good fits for the structure and temperature conditions in Noxon. After more than two decades, walleye are just now achieving a level of population that has created a challenging and rewarding fishery. We absolutely do not condone illegal introductions but we also challenge the position taken by FWP and their loyal supporters that a ready source of walleye will lead to introductions in other western Montana waters. It’s unfair to characterize sportsmen and women as willing violators of state law and sound resource management. Walleye already exist in Cabinet Gorge, Lake Pend Oreille, Lake Roosevelt and downstream in the Columbia River. It’s also unreasonable and poor management to discount the obvious suitability of Noxon Reservoir for operation and support as a warm water species fishery. It has been 15 years since FWP applied any reasonable effort through stocking, structure development, regulation enforcement or other tactics to promote perch, bass, and northern pike. We hope that FWP can develop an integrated management plan that better supports all the existing sport fish including the walleye, which have become an important boost to the social pleasures and economic benefits of this great reservoir. Noxon Warm Water Fisheries Association is a nonprofit entity committed to the social, economic and recreational benefits of the reservoir. We continue to develop support and a library of information (including our full comments to FWP) that we will be happy to share with anyone supporting our mission. We also wish to acknowledge Walleyes Unlimited of Montana and all of their regional chapters for their tremendous response and commitment of resources. Paul Rossignol is president and Scott Muller is secretary of the Missoula-based Noxon Warm Water Fisheries Association. 14 - Hunting & Fishing News
Montana - the Best Stream Access Access in America! America! But it is always under attack from privateers. Defend and advance your public water rights.
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SETTLEMENT ON CHERRY CREEK ROAD - YEARS OF acres PLWA EFFORT PAY OFF 16,000 of public land Public Land/Water Access Association, Inc.
After years of negotiations, legal action , and public comment, settlement has been reached on regaining permanent access via a new
public access route to National Forest System lands in the Cherry Creek area, south of Big Timber, Montana. The landowners Mr. George Matelich and Mr. Michael Goldberg have reached an agreement with the USDA Forest Service to jointly construct a new road approximately ten miles south of Big Timber that will provide permanent public access from State Highway 298 to NFS lands . This will open up about 16,000 acres of public land heretofore only accessible by a long, challenging foot, horseback, or motorcycle trail from the East side of the divide. The planned road will be identified as West Deer Creek Road No. 421. Access will include reasonable public motorized use. Construction standards will be sufficient to accommodate year-round truck and stock trailer use. The landowners will build the first portion of the new road across their land. When the road is complete to agreed-upon standards across the private land, Mr. Matelich and Mr. Goldberg will grant and donate an easement for the constructed road to the United States. If public scoping and environmental review support the proposed work, the Forest Service will continue building the new road as it enters the national forest and will tie the new road into the existing Forest Service road system... The new road will not be available for public use until construction on both private and public land is totally complete. Upon completion , the Forest Service will notify the public and the landowners will close the old road across private property to public use. The Forest Service will be responsible for management and maintenance of the entire new road... Comment from PLWA President John Gibson: “As President and Vice President of the Public Land and Water Access Association, Bernard Lea and I go back some thirteen years on the Cherry Creek access south of Big Timber. We filed suit when the Cherry Creek Road was first closed to the public. Later we had to agree to a deal because we did not have the funds to continue our lawsuit. The landowner offered to leave the road open for ten years and pay our court costs if we would drop the law suit. Our lawyer recommended that we accept that proposal. Since then, the Forest Service, under the leadership of Supervisor Mary Erickson and Lands Staff Bob Denee have found a way to gain access to the 16,000 acres of National Forest land behind the closure. They deserve much credit for working out the details that will allow the public to once again access this special place. But we also must thank the landowners, Mr. Matelich and Mr. Goldberg for spending the time and money to reopen this access .”
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PIONEER IS ONLY FOR DRIVERS 16 YEARS AND OLDER. MULTI- PURPOSE UTILITY VEHICLES CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO OPERATE. FOR YOUR SAFETY, BE RESPONSIBLE.ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, EYE PROTECTION AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING.ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT, AND KEEP THE SIDE NETS AND DOORS CLOSED.AVOID EXCESSIVE SPEEDS AND BE CAREFUL ON DIFFICULT TERRAIN.ALL MUV DRIVERS SHOULD WATCH THE SAFETY VIDEO “MULTIPURPOSE UTILITY VEHICLES:A GUIDE TO SAFE OPERATION”AND READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL BEFORE OPERATING THE VEHICLE. NEVER DRIVE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL, ON PUBLIC ROADS OR WITH MORE THAN ONE PASSENGER. DRIVER AND PASSENGER MUST BE TALL ENOUGH FOR SEAT BELT TO FIT PROPERLY AND TO BRACE THEMSELVES WITH BOTH FEET FIRMLY ON THE FLOOR. PASSENGER MUST BE ABLE TO GRASP THE HAND HOLD WITH THE SEAT BELT ON AND BOTH FEET ON THE FLOOR. RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT WHEN DRIVING. Pioneer™ is a registered trademark of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (08/13)
UTILITY ATVs ARE RECOMMENDED ONLY FOR RIDERS 16 YEARS OF AGE AND OLDER. ATVs CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO OPERATE. FOR YOUR SAFETY, BE RESPONSIBLE. READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL. ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, EYE PROTECTION AND PROTECTIVE CLOTHING. BE CAREFUL ON DIFFICULT TERRAIN. ALL ATV RIDERS SHOULD TAKE A TRAINING COURSE (FREE FOR NEW BUYERS. ASK YOUR DEALER OR CALL ASI AT 800-887-2887). NEVER RIDE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL, ON PAVED SURFACES, ON PUBLIC ROADS, WITH PASSENGERS, OR AT EXCESSIVE SPEEDS. NO STUNT RIDING. RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT WHEN RIDING. Rancher® is a registered trademarks of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (08/13)
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Poor Man’s Guide: DIY Over-The-Counter Mule Deer Hunts (continued from page 6)
© Daburke | Dreamstime.com
there are trophy bucks harvested in these units regularly. Arizona’s Archery-Only Nonpermit Tag seasons offer good mule deer hunting opportunities, especially when you compare it to other states. Having said that, putting a little forethought into applying for a tag goes a long way. The difference in hunt quality from an Arizona OTC Mule Deer hunt and a controlled unit hunt (easy to draw a tag for), is usually vast. But, if you are itching to hunt mule deer this fall and winter and did not apply for a tag, there are some OTC units that will offer a decent chance of tagging an Arizona mule deer. The early season provides spot and stalk opportunities on bedded mule deer hiding in the shade or the option for waterhole hunts. The late season, when mule deer will be rutting in Arizona, allows for more aggressive mule deer tactics, such as calling and rattling and, of course, decoying. Buy a tag in a unit that is open for both the early and late season, or, at least the late season. Persistence and luck is needed to successfully harvest an Arizona mule deer in OTC units. You provide the persistence, and the rut may provide the luck. We spent a lot of time researching success rates, previous hunting reports and maps identifying the best Arizona OTC deer tag units.
South Dakota Over-The-Counter Mule Deer Hunts South Dakota isn’t a true blue OTC mule deer tag state, but it’s easy to get a tag. South Dakota non-resident archery mule deer hunters must apply for a license and once the application is processed, it will be mailed to them. The 2013 archery deer season in South Dakota is Sept. 28-Jan. 15, but only unfilled antlerless tags are valid Jan. 1-Jan. 15. Bowhunters should hunt the early season Walk-in Areas (WIA) or state-owned land before gun season for the best chance of harvesting a big South Dakota mule deer. The majority of the public access property available to DIY South Dakota mule deer hunters is in the western portion of the state near the Black Hills. Be willing to move and work harder than the majority of other hunters and you will find opportunities to spot-and-stalk early season mule deer. Some particular counties to focus your research on are Butte, Lawrence and Harding Counties. There is a mass of public land and plenty of cover to stalk towards a big mule deer, and although there is access to 1.3 million acres of public land, it doesn’t hurt to knock on a few landowner doors, either. If you’re time is limited, try to hunt around the rut, which peaks during early or mid-November. Find the does, and stake a Muley Doe decoy around them. It wouldn’t hurt to try to call to the rut-crazed bucks either. Be sure to research all of South Dakota’s deer hunting regulations, public land areas and past harvest statistics.
(continued on page 38) August 2013 17
Dan Chovanak, owner of One Way Marine & Motor Sports, Inc. of Helena with a 25 lb. northern pike he caught at Fresno Reservoir, the day before a tournament. If it had been caught during the tournament it would have been worth $1,000. Caught on a 3/16 oz jig with a 3” gulp minnow with 6 lb. test line. It took 25 minutes to land, because his net wasn’t large enough. He had to land this big fish by hand.
Rethinking Jigs...(continued from page 9)
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Like modifying your jig routine to offer bass something different. We’ve been taught to fish the three main jig styles according to head design. For example, traditional round-head designs are usually flipped to cover on heavy braid, while a football head is typically dragged over bottom. The keel head (swim jig) is designed to slither through grass and other cover, usually higher in the water column or even bulging the surface on a steady retrieve. But a round-head jig can also be used as a punch bait to penetrate thick vegetation. Likewise, a football head can be fished on a steady retrieve, even burned back to the boat. The heavy weight typically keeps it down, and in situations like riprap, a football head will bounce from rock to rock like a crankbait. I’ve also used footballs in shallow water, burning them over weed tops like a silent spinnerbait—definitely not the norm. Roller Coaster Swimming Yet, of all three major jig head designs, the keel head (or swim jig) is probably the most versatile. Case in point, I don’t often fish them with the rod tip close to the water using a slow, steady retrieve. I like to activate the trailer tail by swimming it three or four feet and letting it glide back to the bottom on a semi-taut line, then repeating until the bait is back to the boat. I call it “roller coaster” swimming. The bait spends very little time on the bottom, and this retrieve offers multiple triggering points on every cast—there’s strike potential during the sweep, the drop and the pause. The technique works in channel areas, flats, around stumps, and open areas off emergent vegetation like cattails—and a lot of other areas, too. When you watch what happens underwater, the sweep makes a trailer like a 4-inch PowerBait grub or Havoc Beat Shad paddletail go crazy, then come to an abrupt stop on the pause, then beat again like crazy again on the glide. Get the cadence right, and the presentation seems almost magical. And it’s a lot more fun than the standard jig retrieve. Fall Rate The most crucial component of the ‘roller coaster’ system is fall rate. Head weight, skirt bulk and trailer all factor in. My go-to swim jig head size for shallow water is 3/8-ounce. Go too light and the bait doesn’t fall fast enough; go too heavy and you drag bottom at typical retrieval speeds. However, as bass orient in and around deep weedlines later in the summer you may want to go with a heavier swim jig fished with a slower ‘roller coaster’ retrieve to achieve maximum depth. Another essential component of the ‘roller coaster’ program is the use of fluorocarbon line. I’ll typically fish 12- or 15-pound test, sometimes moving up to 20 if I’m on a body of water with big fish and lots of cover. Fluoro’s slow stretch means excellent sensitivity, solid hooksets and the line’s sinking tendency gives the bait a natural appearance on the retrieve. Fluoro’s near-invisibility under water can be key in shallow, clear waters. Most importantly, fluorocarbon helps keep jigs near the bottom even at faster retrieves. Next, a properly matched rod and reel can be a huge plus. I fish swim jigs on a fast-action medium heavy seven-foot and a medium-speed, low-profile 7.1:1 ratio baitcaster like the ultra-lightweight Abu Garcia Revo MGX. The reel takes in 28 inches of line for every turn of the reel handle; about the same as other reels geared 6.4:1....
Rick Haggerty with Fort Peck Bass
Topwater Tips For Bass By Babe WInkelman O ne of the most thrilling experiences on fresh water is when a chunky
bass, be it a largemouth or smallmouth, blows up on a surface bait. When there’s a hot topwater bite, chances are you’ll also catch some of the biggest fish of the season. So to help you enjoy more success on top, here are some tips that have helped me score throughout the years. Poppers, walkers, buzzers, prop baits, frogs, rats... there’s no shortage of lure styles, sizes and colors for catching bass on the surface. What’s best? All of them respectively, depending who you ask and on what day you ask them. As far as which one is most versatile, my money is on the revered buzz bait - and I’ll tell you why. Buzz baits work great on all bass, anywhere where bass are found. They’re so versatile because you can swim them across open water, around and over submerged timber, in and around lilly pads, through bulrushes - anywhere! They’re virtually 100% weed-proof, and I don’t have to tell you how heavy cover attracts predatory bass. Another nice thing about buzz baits is their ability to perform at any speed. They stay on top with a slow retrieve, and also create havoc when blasted back at high speed. And here’s a tip: have a buzz bait that has a very light body along with an oversized blade, since you’ll be able to buzz that bait very slowly when bass are neutral to negative during cold fronts. Fishing slowly in cold conditions works with all the other surface bait types too. A good rule of thumb is, the hotter it is - the more energized the lure presentation can be. Also remember, any time you’re in some nasty cover, go weedless with buzz baits, snag-proof frogs and rats. In open water, I’ll almost always opt for double trebles hanging down to improve my hook setting odds. When a bass hammers your topwater lure, avoid the most common mistake anglers make. They tend to set the hook right when they see the strike. This often results in a miss since the bass has not yet closed its mouth around the lure. Wait one or two seconds after the
strike before setting the hook and you’ll catch more fish.
The equipment you use can have a big effect on your topwater success too. Use a good stout rod between 6.5 and 8 feet long. Spool up with fat monofilament line, in the 14-17 pound range. Bigger diameter mono is perfect not only for its strength, but because it floats nice which improves the action of all topwater baits. To enhance the action of surface lures even more, use a loop knot instead of a knot that cinches all the way down on the lure eye. This is especially crucial on “walk the dog” lures like the Zara Spook. The loop now allows the bait to turn and glide a lot better than traditional knots. The addition of a split ring to the lure eye will have a similar effect, although I think split rings can sometimes undermine the intended action of the bait. Finally, another little trick on topwaters is to dress up the rear end of the bait. On plugs, add a little feather or hair to the rear hook. On buzz baits, add a stinger hook with a twist-tail grub body or strip of pork rind. Doing these modifications gives the lure a larger profile, enhanced action and helps turn short-strikes into hooked fish. I hope these pointers increase your topwater thrills this summer. I could keep writing, but I just saw a bass boil in glass-calm water out my window. Think I’ll go walk out on the dock and throw him a topwater! Good Fishing. Babe Winkelman
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Soft Sticks and Fluke Tricks By Travis Peterson Northland Tackle - www.northlandtackle.com
oft plastic baits are very popular for enticing bass. In recent years, a couple of lure-types have gained high regard among bass anglers. Stick-baits and flukes are two categories of soft plastics that have exploded onto the bassin’ radar. They haven’t gone away like some “flash in the pan” lures either.
If you haven’t heard the Senko story, it goes something like this. Businessman/pro bass angler, Gary Yamamoto, accidentally dropped an ink-pen in the lake. He noticed the rate of fall and the action the pen displayed as it descended into the depths. The Senko was born! This story may just be “dock-talk”, but it sure sounds good! Regardless, the success of the Senko spawned an explosion in the soft stick-bait market. Out of the water, one might pre-judge a soft stick-bait to lack action. It doesn’t have a curly tail or other appendages. Put to use, however, it’s obvious that these lures have all the right moves to provoke largemouth and smallmouth bass. Similarly shaped worms have been around for years. They aren’t the same though. Floatworms . . . well, they float. Finesse worms are . . . well, “finessy”. These worms definitely have their place and get called upon for specific situations. However, most bass experts don’t take to the lake in search of bass, largemouth or smallmouth, without a soft-stick bait rigged and ready. Most soft-sticks are salted, which makes them sink. The amount of salt affects their fall rates. Weighted by only a worm hook, they descend in a horizontal position. They “shimmy” ever so slightly as they fall. In addition to salt, some soft-sticks are scented. Such is the case with Northland’s SLURPIES® DIP-STICK WORM which is lathered in Sow Sauce™, a baitfish attractor scent. The number of applications or ways in which anglers rig and use soft-stick baits continues to increase. A popular set-up is an un-weighted Texas-rig. This set-up is dynamite around shallow cover such as aquatic vegetation, brush, logs, and rocks. There may not be a better bait for skipping under docks. A 3/0 or 4/0 offset worm hook is typically employed. Some anglers like to add a small bullet weight ahead of the bait, although this results in a head-down profile and descent. Special weighted hooks are gaining in popularity. These allow for a little extra weight Slurpies® Dip-stick Worm Which Is Lathered In Sow Sauce™ but maintain the horizontal profile. Wacky-rigging is another popular utilization for soft sticks. Special hooks are available for this rig as well, some weighted. The bait is simply impaled on the hook in the mid-body area, point exposed. For working around cover, weedless and weighted wacky-rig hooks like Northland Fishing Tackle’s Lip-Stick® Wacky-Worm Hook LIP-STICK® WACKY-WORM HOOK are an effective option. 20 - Hunting & Fishing News
With the aforementioned set-ups, “dead-sticking” is an often-used term. It refers to pitching the bait to a likely target or area and leaving it there as long as the angler can stand it. This technique is especially productive when the bite is tough due to fishing pressure or cold front situations. The versatility of stick-baits is endless. Carolina-rigging and drop-shotting are other applications in which these lures excel.
John Crane Pro-Angler & NORTHLAND Staff Manager
This category of soft plastics is also labeled “soft jerkbaits” and grew rapidly after the success of the Slug-Go. These lures have a minnow profile. A girthy mid-section tapers to a narrow tail which is often forked or fluked. Many have a hook-slot which reduces the amount of plastic to punch through when setting the hook. An off-set worm hook with generous gap will help too. The realism of fluke baits has increased recently. Consider Northland Tackle’s new SLURPIES® JERK SHAD. This bait is sculpted and colored to look like a baitfish, complete with realistic eyes. Rigged Texas-style with no weight, this bait has tremendous darting action when worked similar to a hard jerkbait. A jerk, jerk, pause action imparted by the angler brings a fluke to life. Worked rapidly, the bait will stay near the surface. By slowing the retrieve or employing a weighted hook, the lure can be worked in mid-depth ranges.
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While flukes appear to be a finesse-bait, many bass anglers use them aggressively, fan casting likely areas and using a relatively rapid retrieve. It’s probably the most subtle or least intimidating “search lure” available. When bass show themselves and won’t bite, it’s time to slow down. Flukes are just as effective on smallies as on their green cousins. Particularly in waters with a strong pelagic forage base like smelt, smallies will unload on these soft jerkbaits in minnow patterns. When bronzebacks leave the banks and chase baitfish in deeper haunts, a fluke paired with a 1⁄4 - 3⁄4 ounce jig will get the minnow imitator in the zone. Soft stick-baits and flukes are deadly on bass across North America. With the versatility and fish-catching qualities of these soft plastic gems, it’s a safe bet that they’ll continue to stand the test of time.
TIPS.......... The author offers these tips when fishing soft plastic jerk-baits and flukes. When Texas-rigging, secure the plastic of choice by applying a drop of super-glue to the eye of the hook before rigging. This will lead to less frustration, especially when skipping the lure under docks, but also when fishing though brush and weeds. Don’t discard stick-baits when they tear. Texas-rig them from the opposite end. When that end splits, save the bait for wacky-rigging. This can triple the life-span of these baits! Around shallow cover, have a fluke rigged and ready at all times. The new SLURPIES® JERK SHAD is a great throw-back bait to fish that miss a topwater spoon or other offering. Try pairing a medium fast spinning rod with 20 pound Berkley FireLine for skipping around docks. Skipping with spinning gear is easier than with casting gear. The low-stretch line is essential for pressuring fish before they wrap around dock posts and other obstructions. When other lures put a number of fish in the boat from a school, follow-up with a soft-stick bait like a SLURPIES® DIP-STICK. By dead-sticking this bait, additional bass can often be extracted from a school.
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2013 Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival By Dale Gilbert from Montana Walleyes Unlimited
The 2013 Canyon Ferry Walleye
Festival turned out to be a walleye challenge for many of the teams this year. Unsettled weather made it a pretty tough bite but the team of Dennis Willert and Mike Corder of Helena weighed 5 fish each day for a total of 19.54 pounds to take home the 1st place honors, a $500 check for the Top Lund Award and a $500 voucher from Townsend Marine and Lund, Top Navionics Team voucher, Top Mack’s Team certificates and the $10,000 check for their efforts. This is their 2nd win at Canyon Ferry, winning the event about 10-11 years ago too. 2nd place went to Jake Monroe from One Way Marine and Marvin Monroe from Helena with 19.50 pounds -- only .04 pounds from a win. They also took home a check for $500 for The Top Towing GMC/Cadillac Award from Rimrock GMC/Cadillac and Doug Quast in Billings. 3rd place went to Rob Hazlewood and David Madden also of Helena with 19 pounds. They also got big walleye on day one and a check for $1380 with a 10.22 pound fish. Rob also was awarded the Dinosaur award from Scheels in Billings -- a nice boat bag. August 2013 21
Say Hello To Success: Where to chase the Fish this Month Brought to you by
Black Canyon stretch can be a good area to fish. The Firehole and Gibbon Rivers may begin to slow a bit.
Jaeger Rusher - Owner JDR SPECIALTY TACKLE of Helena
The warm summer weather will
continue to keep the bugs out and the fishing jumping throughout August, and the rest of the summer. Throwing your favorite hopper patterns on rivers and streams will get the big trout to rise and fight like crazy now. Lakes and reservoirs around Montana will also have outstanding fishing. Get out early in the morning to take advantage of the exceptional walleye, northern pike, bass and trout fishing these waters have to offer. Most of the systems are in good shape and will fish well throughout the month. Here’s a look at a few spots.
MADISON RIVER In southwest Montana, near the famed Yellowstone Park area, the rainbows and browns are fat and fiesty. Pack plenty of hopper and beetle patterns now as the Madison has been fishing phenomenally all the way down to below Hebgen Lake and to Ennis. The hopper
CLARK FORK RIVER
fishing should start to peak by mid-August. Caddis and a variety of streamers should be effective during late summer and into early fall. Trout on the Madison are running 14 to 17 inches with an occasional 20 plus incher pouncing.
YELLOWSTONE PARK STREAMS
As you’re in this general vicinity if fishing the Madison, anglers can also head into Yellowstone National Park for some excellent August stream fishing. Both the Lamar River and the Yellowstone, between Buffalo Ford and Yellowstone Lake will fish well. By mid-August, the Lamar River in the northeast section of the Park should be smokin’ hot with hoppers and beetles on the main menu. Slough Creek, in this area of the Park is another good bet. On the Yellowstone River, expect many anglers this time of the year. It can still be very productive in many spots if you’re willing to walk a bit. The
You can fish all day using hatch-matching flies, and Caddis flies on the Clark Fork River. Cast a Parachute Hopper (one of the most effective patterns on the Clark Fork), or another grass hopper imitation to target huge brown trout in this system. Find seams that are deep enough to hold quality fish that run along grassy sections of the shoreline and under-cut banks. You can fish the Clark Fork from the Warm Springs Ponds, located along Interstate 90 near the Warm Springs Exit, downstream to Garrison. The Little Blackfoot enters the Clark Fork at Garrison. The Little Blackfoot is productive all the way upstream past Elliston, where it enters the Helena National Forest. This system holds cutthroat trout and small rainbows. Bigger brown trout can be caught on the lower river. The terrestrial window isn’t for fly casters alone. You can catch a live grasshopper, impale it on a hook and cast out the bait with the aid of a casting bubble. Just make sure your bait is in front of the bubble on its way downstream.
SUN RIVER The Sun River and its forks in west central Montana on the eastern edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness can be a fabulous late summer destination for cutthroat, rainbow, and big brown trout. Some killer scenery and very few anglers make this area appealing for the fisherman who is willing to work for it. Plan on bringing either bright spinners or a variety of high-riding terrestrial patterns. Smaller Panther Martins
in red and yellow, gold, black and green or red and black combos are effective. Thomas Cyclones are good too. Grasshopper imitations are key now for top water drifts. This area is a bit rugged in spots, depending on which Fork you fish. The North Fork Trail heads over the Pass and eventually drops into the Teton River drainage. You may need to do your homework if you plan on a Sun River outing. While fishing this system, you may encounter mountain whitefish, grayling, and larger trout. All grayling must be released.
BIGHORN RIVER The trout fishing will be tremendous on the Bighorn in August. Nymphs, dries, and streamers will all take trout here. Rapalas, spoons, and spinners can work well in deeper runs or when you fish the Bighorn at night. Red and orange San Juan worms, Woolly Buggers, Pheasant Tails and PMD emergers will catch the trout in warming August waters. Consider floating the lower stretch of the river from Two Leggings to Hardin or below St. Xavier for some good fishing and very few anglers to compete with.
SEELEY & SALMON LAKES
Don’t overlook these lakes this summer for fishing. Pleasure boaters are heavy on these lakes during the summer months, but so are anglers, who know that big pike, bass and kokanee can be caught during the summer. Get out early and fish along the weeded edges of these lakes for nothern pike that will hit on Husky Jerks, spinner baits, and weedless spoons.
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Perch patterns and the colors orange, white and green work on the bass as well. Bass are catch and release on these lakes, but the northern pike have no limits. Fish deeper for schools of kokanee salmon. You can keep 5 daily or 10 in possession on kokanee salmon.
If you can overcome the few access problems on this system located near Livingston, MT., the fishing can be pretty good for rainbows, cutthroat and brown trout. There is good fly fishing up by Clyde Park about 10 miles upstream from Wilsall. Fish with attractor patterns like stimulators. Light gear and short rods are ideal here as river brush is on the plenty. Brushed undercuts are one of the best habitats for brown trout, so fish these upstream to haul big hogs away from the rivers edges.
Pre-spawn action for brown trout this month on the Marias River will be excellent. Try fishing the first 3 to 4 miles below the Dam at Tiber. The best access will be at the Loma Bridge. Large brown trout can be found in good numbers that average 3 pounds and up. The
upper stretch of the Marias River, between its origin and Lake Elwell has decent fishing for walleye, bass, large catfish, and lots of whitefish. Further down river, as the water warms, expect walleye, pike, and smallmouth bass to be the most prominent fish caught.
ASHLEY LAKE Ashley Lake near Kalispell can be a great summertime get-away for fishermen looking for oversized trout. The hybrid rainbows that are planted in this lake can get huge. Ashley Lake is quite large at about 5 miles in length, allowing plenty of space for these fish to get big. Fish that exceed 5 pounds are pretty normal, with a few 10 pounders lurking as well. Fish the shorelines of Ashley early in the morning or right at dusk for the best summertime bite. Cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon can also be caught here. There is a campground available here. Look for it to fill fast on the weekends.
WHITEFISH LAKE Whitefish Lake has populations of lake trout that rival that of nearby Flathead Lake, with huge lake trout that can exceed 20 pounds. Mountain
whitefish are also plentiful right now in the lake. Fish deep trolling spinners for the lake trout near inlets on the north end of the lake. Expect rainbow trout, bull trout, and northern pike in the lake as well. The whitefish bite will be on in August, as they feed aggressively on the small feeder fish in the lake. 5 pound fish are normal here. A Kastmaster, Rattle D’ Zaster or spoons work well now, along with tube jigs or whitefish flies. Pike will hit on Rapalas, spoons, spinnerbaits and top water lures.
TIBER RESERVOIR Catching fish with teeth is the name of the game on Tiber now, as aggressive northern pike command attention during the summer months. If it’s calm weather you can count on exceptional fishing on the reservoir. Much like it’s eastern Montana cousin, Fort Peck, but much smaller, you can fish inlets and bays for pike and walleye in good numbers. Perch can also be had on Tiber. Crankbaits and spoons work on northerns, or pitch a jig near shorelines to pick-up the fish. Bottom bouncing for walleye using orange and chartreuse off the main lake points can be effective during the summer.
GEORGETOWN LAKE Summer fishing on Georgetown Lake is an excellent way to spend quality time in August as the Damsel Fly Hatch, a large Caddis Fly, emerges right at dusk. Big trout attack these low flying insects and gorge right before the sun sets. Casting a fly on top of the water or trolling spoons during this time will catch a lot of fish. A fly rod in hand is a good choice here. It’s a hot time in Montana, and with all of the warm weather, it can make fishing a bit tough at times. Keep track of area river water temps as some rivers will close if the water temps exceed above normal temperatures for too long of a period of time. Available oxygen for the fish decreases if the water temps get too high, thus increasing the chances of fish mortality, especially in trout. Get out this summer and enjoy the weather, and all of the great fishing in Montana! Good fishing. Rick Haggerty
email your fishing photos to email@example.com August 2013 23
HUNTING & CONS CONSE
Hunting & Conservation News Proudly Sponsored By
5 Ways You Can Help Save the Hunt
Republic Services of Montana
National Wild Turkey Federation
W ith nearly 2,000 NWTF chapters, more than 20,000 active volunteers and
State Of The Birds Report Celebrates Private Landowners’ Contributions Ducks Unlimited Private landowners manage 60 percent of U.S. land area
The fourth State of the Birds Report...highlights the enormous contributions
private landowners make to bird and habitat conservation, as well as opportunities for increased contributions. Private landowners, organizations and corporations, including 2 million ranchers and farmers and approximately 10 million woodland owners, own and manage roughly 60 percent of the land area in the United States. Private lands are used by virtually all of the nation’s terrestrial and coastal birds, 251 of which are federally threatened, endangered or of conservation concern. Many privately owned working lands that produce food, timber and other resources for society also provide valuable habitat for birds. “Ducks Unlimited has a long history of working with private landowners across the country to conserve and restore millions of acres of critical waterfowl and wildlife habitat,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “This year’s State of the Birds Report proves that our nation’s birds can be used as an indicator of our effectiveness as stewards of the land. Landowners can add a new way to measure the productiveness of their land with the number of canvasbacks, gadwalls and pintails they see.” The scientific data in this year’s report indicate a very high dependence on private lands among grassland, wetland and eastern forest birds, as well as the tremendous potential for bird conservation. More than 100 species have at least half of their U.S. breeding distributions on private lands.
“More than 90 percent of the land in DU’s number one priority area, the Prairie Pothole Region, is privately owned,” said DU Chief Conservation Officer Paul Schmidt. “The State of the Birds Report highlights the necessity of collaborating with farmers, ranchers and other private landowners to ensure their livelihood while conserving the waterfowl habitat that also results in cleaner water for everyone.” The State of the Birds Report on Private Lands is a collaborative effort as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, involving federal and state wildlife agencies, and scientific and conservation organizations. These include North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee, American Bird Conservancy, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ducks Unlimited, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc., The Nature Conservancy, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, University of Idaho, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Geological Survey. The full report is available at www.stateofthebirds.org. 24 - Hunting & Fishing News
approximately 225,000 members across North America and beyond, the NWTF is prepared to tackle the decline in hunter numbers, as well as habitat loss that threatens the hunt.
How? With the new Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative. It’s the NWTF’s commitment to raise $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, create at least 1.5 million new hunters and open access to 500,000 new, additional acres for hunting, shooting and outdoor enjoyment. NWTF hunting heritage programs are poised to lead the charge in the Save the Hunt portion of the plan, doing all we can to bring new folks into the hunting fold. Here are five ways you can be a part of this game-changing initiative that will make a huge impact in preserving our hunting heritage.
1. Set hunting heritage goals
Determine your chapter’s outreach goals and put them on paper. Without specific objectives, your committee meetings may produce great ideas, but no plans to put them in action.
2. Identify state hunting heritage coordinators
Volunteer state outreach coordinators provide assistance in growing strong outreach programs in your area. Identify an individual or individuals who have the leadership skills to guide your state’s efforts to produce results. This volunteer will mentor new event coordinators, develop new ideas for participant recruitment and assist with identifying leads for potential events. Contact your NWTF regional director for more information...
3. Become a hunter education instructor
If each NWTF chapter has certified hunter education instructors within its ranks, we are positioned to create new hunters. Not only does it provide an opportunity to work with wildlife officers and state agency educators, it allows us to take our message to a wider audience of new hunters. Learn how to become a certified instructor at www.ihea-usa.org/instructors.
4. Focus on families
Successful hunter recruitment programs are family oriented. Plan events that include Mom, Dad and the kids. If your goal is to have a shooting event for youth, incorporate a hands-on learning station for the parents as well. Everyone will leave energized by the new experience, more likely to try it again together.
5. Educate and create experience
NWTF hunting heritage programs were set up to facilitate daylong “round robin” learning events. But as our programs have evolved over the years, they have become more hunter-centric. Many NWTF chapters now offer events like Turkey Hunting 101, where participants learn the basics of turkey hunting, then go on a mock turkey hunt. Other chapters have partnered with state wildlife agencies to host Learn to Hunt courses that involve weeks of classroom and hands-on instruction, followed by a mentored hunt.
SERVATION NEWS Get the Facts Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
The Rocky Mountain Elk
Foundation and our members are concerned about and work for all wildlife resources. One of our nationâ€™s greatest wildlife resources, the elk in and around Yellowstone National Park (YNP), is of particular concern. RMEF members, hunters, and state and federal agencies have worked tirelessly to restore and sustain the elk herds around YNP for almost 100 years. In the last two decades, alarming trends have been identified in the YNP elk herds, particularly the Northern Yellowstone elk herd; a trend that should be alarming to all Americans who enjoy this amazing wildlife resource. In spite of the remarkable conservation efforts of hunters, state agencies, RMEF, and our partners, elk numbers have continued to decline since 1995. Historical fluctuations over the previous 75 years were temporary and lasting only a few years before a rebound to historic levels. YNP elk are currently in a long-term decline, spanning almost two decades. We can no longer ignore the peril of the Yellowstone elk. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, both within and outside the park, is as complex as it is amazing. This system will not sustain by focusing only on one or two species, but must focus on all species, all wildlife, and the complex habitats needed by these animals. It is unfortunate that the one species most used as the food source for all YNP predators, elk, has been forgotten and neglected as other higher profile species garner all the attention in the Yellowstone area. No longer can elk afford to pay the price for management strategies that focus on one or two predator species, at the expense of all other prey species such as elk, moose, deer, and bighorn sheep. As much as some want to discount all of the conservation work hunters have done around YNP, RMEF believes it is necessary to provide the true and indisputable facts related to this issue. Some of these facts are not popular and are not what some groups and organizations want presented. RMEF has always supported science based on facts and results. The facts and results of the past twenty years are alarming to us and we continue to ask all Americans to seek information for themselves, helping them become advocates for this once abundant and now declining wildlife wonder â€“ the elk of the Northern Herd. Please read the facts provided below: Elk Populations in the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd Year Elk Population* 1994 19,045 (year before wolf reintroduction) 1995 16,791 (reintroduction began) 1996 no count taken 1997 no count taken 1998 11,742 1999 14,538 (prior to late season elk hunt) 1994 - 19,045 elk 2000 13, 400 (prior to late season elk hunt) 2001 11,969 2012 - 3,915 elk 2002-03 9,215 2004 8,335 2005 9,545 2006 6,588 2007 6,738 2008 6,279 2009 6,070 2010 4,635 2011 4,174 2012 3,915 (*via U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Map of RMEF Greater Yellowstone Area Projects
Since 1984, the RMEF and partners carried out more than 8,100 projects that enhanced or conserved more than 6.3 million acres of habitat nationwide including 271 specific projects in the Greater Yellowstone Area valued at $88,832,826 positively affecting 765,319 acres. August 2013 25
REGIONAL NEWS Commission Adopts Fall Chinook Salmon Season Idaho Fish and Game Commission
Thursday, July 11, adopted Chinook salmon fishing seasons on parts of the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers to open September 1. The Clearwater River, from its mouth upstream to Memorial Bridge; and the Salmon River, from its mouth upstream about three-fourths Patterson and a big Clearwater River of a mile to Eye of the Needle Rapids, fish - Idaho Fish and Game photo will be open from September 1 until further notice or October 31, whichever comes first.
The Snake River, from the Washington-Idaho border upstream to Cliff Mountain Rapids, a little less than a mile downstream of Hells Canyon Dam, also will be open from September 1 until further notice or October 31. The Snake River, from Cliff Mountain Rapids to Hells Canyon Dam, will be open from September 1 until further notice or November 17. The daily bag limit is six adult Chinook salmon, the possession limit is 18 adult Chinook and there is no season limit on adult Chinook. Only adipose-fin-clipped salmon may be kept. Only adult Chinook must be recorded on the angler’s salmon permit. There are no limits on jacks, but anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and a salmon permit to fish for salmon.
Wolf Season Opens On Panhandle Private Lands
Hunt Application Increase... T
he Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission received... an update on a continued increase in the demand for big game hunting licenses in Colorado. Agency financial staff provided a presentation on future budget projections and explained that wildlife funding projections are not keeping pace with projected spending for the agency. Commissioners welcomed officials with Great Outdoors Colorado for an overview of the nationally recognized program that distributes a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to support Colorado’s amazing places and natural resources. Commissioners learned that Colorado continues to be popular with big-game hunters from around the nation. This year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife processed 468,816 applications - a four percent increase over the 451,161 applications submitted in 2012. “The best part of the application process this year was the fact that more than 82-percent of the applications were submitted online,” said Henrietta Turner, Limited License Manager for CPW. Online applications have virtually no errors or underpayments when compared to paper applications. Additionally, paper applications require more resources to print, mail and process. While demand for hunting in Colorado remains high, the number of licenses the agency can actually sell has declined as large elk herds have been reduced to address agricultural damage. Reductions in license sales revenue means that the agency will need to reduce spending. To address revenue declines in the fiscal year that begins in July, the agency plans to reduce funding for some grant programs, hold some vacant positions in the agency open, reduce operating budgets by five percent, and transfer some property maintenance costs to other funding sources. To address longer term projections of revenue decline, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has established a committee that will be developing three spending reduction proposals for Commission consideration later this fall. 26 - Hunting & Fishing News
he 2013-2014 wolf hunting season opened July 1 on private land only in the Panhandle Zone. The wolf hunting season opens throughout the rest of the state on August 30. The wolf trapping season opens November 15 in eight wolf zones and February 1, 2014 in one additional zone. Wolf hunters may use five tags, with no overall harvest limit... Wolf tags are available for $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents. Wolf hunting tags are valid for a calendar year; trapping tags are valid July 1 through June 30. The 2012-2013 wolf hunting season closed June 30. As of June 24, hunters had taken 200 wolves, and trappers 120, for a total of 320 wolves.
2013 Super Hunt Winners Announced A
fter the first Super Hunt drawing of 2013, 26 lucky hunters won the hunt of their dreams. Winners of Super Hunt tags for a deer, elk, pronghorn or moose can participate in any open hunt in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold. All other rules of individual hunts apply. The results are in from the June drawing: Deer tags went to two hunters from Idaho, two from Washington, and one each from Wyoming, Wisconsin, Texas and Nevada. Elk tags went to five hunters from Idaho, two from Washington and one from Minnesota. Pronghorn tags went to four hunters from Idaho, two from California and one each from Washington and Minnesota. A moose tag went to a hunter from California. And the Super Combo went to an Idaho hunter. The number of entries increased by about 17.5 percent over 2012. This year Fish and Game received 41,722 entries for the June drawing. In 2012, there were 35,499 entries...
REGIONAL NEWS Homework Is The Key To Hunting Success
W hoever said the early bird gets the worm clearly never
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“Get back into shape,” Cox said. “It’s important to have a regimented exercise routine so that you are prepared physically for the hunting season.” Don’t forget to prepare your weapon for the hunt. Make sure to sight in your rifle or bow and practice several times at a local range if available. Always pack extra ammunition and arrows. Making sure your weapon is ready and you can accurately shoot it will ensure a clean kill and prevent senseless wounding of an animal. What hunters pack is very important to the success of their trip as well. For clothing, be sure to pack clothes for all types of weather and temperature. Make sure your boots have been broken in. Don’t forget that you must have your hunting license and tag with you at all times. Binoculars, scopes, rope and a headlamp with extra batteries are a must. The important thing about preparation is that it’s a process that should be spread out over weeks and even months. Doing all this the weekend before you leave on your hunt is a daunting task, but when it’s spread over the course of a few months it’s a great way to extend your hunts from a few days in the field to an activity that you get to enjoy throughout the year at home.
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hunted for big game in Nevada. The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) wants to remind sportsmen that unless you do your homework before the hunt, a worm might be the only thing you do get. “Preparation is the key to a successful hunt,” said Larry Gilbertson, Game Division Chief for NDOW. “Scouting the area, research, sighting in your weapon, physical fitness, gear and packing; all these things are important and if you don’t spend time preparing and doing your homework your chances of a successful and enjoyable hunt decrease.” Each step to preparing for your hunt is just as important as the next. You can’t have an enjoyable hunt if you don’t know your area, but don’t forget that your chances of success are low if you haven’t prepared your weapon. Forget your tag and your trip is over before it begins. Luckily, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has many resources on its website, ndow.org, to help you do your research as you prepare for your hunt. It is important to know your hunt unit; ndow.org can help with its hunter information sheets, hunt unit advisories that warn of difficult hunter access and detailed maps. However, nothing can replace scouting your hunt unit. “The biggest thing is to know your unit by scouting two or three times and studying the resources NDOW has online,” said Mike Cox, a big game staff biologist at NDOW. “Sometimes it’s been a while since you had a tag, so you definitely want to familiarize yourself with the unit and its boundaries. Nevada is 80 percent public land, which is great, but you need to know how best to access it. Make sure you also know where Department of Defense and tribal lands exist, which are closed to hunting and make sure you get permission from a landowner to hunt on any private land.” While studying unit maps, keep an eye out for restricted vehicle use areas. While it sounds obvious, it’s important to remember that hunting is a physical activity and that hunters will want to be in shape when they head out into the field.
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Four Plead Guilty in Hudson Moose Poaching Case --------F
our defendants pleaded guilty today in the 9th District Circuit Court in Riverton to three of seven charges for a poaching incident that occurred northeast of Hudson on Oct. 15, 2012. They unlawfully killed two bull moose and two cow moose. The four—Phillip “Rocky” Hurtado, 73, Arapahoe; Phillip “P.J.” Warren, 31, Arapahoe; Sammy Edlund, 30, Gillette; and Danielle Najera, 28, Gillette—all pleaded guilty to one count of taking an antlered moose © Lawrence W Stolte | Dreamstime.com during a closed season, one count of wanton destruction, and one count of entering closed property without permission. Each was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution and $20,500 in suspended fines. Edlund’s hunting privileges have been revoked for 20 years in Wyoming and 38 states with reciprocity, while Hurtado, Warren and Najera had their hunting privileges revoked for life. With credit for time already served, each was sentenced to 360 days jail time. Edlund, Hurtado and Najera will serve seven days in jail and have 353 days suspended. Warren will serve nine days in jail and have 351 days suspended. Each defendant was also given two years probation. If they violate any law during their probation, they are subject to all suspended penalties. Jason Hunter, Lander regional wildlife supervisor, said: “This effort would not have been possible without the cooperation of the public, Tribal Fish and Game, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Fremont County Prosecutor Ember Oakley was instrumental in the successful prosecution.” Like several investigations, this investigation started with an anonymous tip. Poaching reports may be made to the “Stop Poaching” hotline: 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847) or 1-307-777-4330 (out-of-state calls only). Violations may also be reported to regional offices or online at Online Stop Poaching Report. If you have any questions, please contact Lander Education and Information Specialist Rene Schell or Hunter at 307-332-2688.
August 2013 27
The 10% Truth By Casey L Ripple
© Jameseric | Dreamstime.com
O ne of the most common questions I hear is “Why can’t I kill bulls every year with my bow?” And the answer is actually quite simple. When you see the guys that kill bulls every year with their bow, they are doing it one of two ways. In the first group we have those that are financially able and or willing to pay to hunt in places that the rest of us can’t or won’t. Elk on these ranches just are not that hard to get close to due to lack of hunting pressure and experiences with being called. You see examples of this every year in some of the most popular and prominent “Elk Hunting” DVD series high end video productions. In those places and circumstances, most, if not all hunters with any ability will be consistently successful. Another group that is getting more and more common that fits in to this “buying success” category is the segment of hunters that can, and are, leasing the exclusive hunting rights to huge tracts of private land for themselves only, producing the same results. Another group that fits in this category are the people that have a connection, whether by family, by friend or by work to hunt on a place or places that the rest of the hunting public is not allowed, producing the same experience/advantage that is bought and paid for by the guys in the first group,without the cost. I’m sure we have all heard the old adage that says “90% of the animals are killed by 10% of the hunters”, as if to say that the animals killed every year, whatever the number, 90% will be killed by the same hunter’s year in and year out, the other 10% are killed by different guys each year. If you were to take a closer look at archery elk hunting you would probably find out that the numbers would be closer to “95% of the elk are killed by 5% of the hunters”. We have already discussed the first group of hunters that are likely to have consistent success, but the group that I fall into, like most of you, is the group of hunters that go out and hunt the same public land everybody else can hunt, with general tags, on DIY (do-it-yourself) hunts. This is by far the largest group, and there is only one way to separate and become a part of that 10% in this group, and that is to learn how to “out hunt the money.” The guys in this group that are in that consistent 10% understand one thing: Taking archery bull elk on public land year in and year out is a grind that starts the minute your last hunt ended. Whether it is physical training, scouting, mental preparation, shooting, call practice or just trying to figure out new ways to get close to elk that are not already being over exposed to hunting pressure. One of the best things to do if you hunt public land is do your scouting for the next season during the archery hunt of the previous year. In a lot of cases now days you are not hunting the animal as much as you are hunting the “pressure” applied by your competition. If you can scout during season, either before or after your hunt, you will not have as many of those disappointing surprises. Most hunters after getting an elk go into celebration mode and move on to the next thing, whether that be hunting deer, fishing or just TV and BBQs, this is where you separate, these are the times where you insure consistent future success. (continued on page 34)
28 - Hunting & Fishing News
Lights ... Camera ... Hunting! By Jeff Davis, Editor, Whitetails Unlimited, whitetailsunlimited.com
M ore and more hunters are videotaping their hunts, or their friend’s hunts...Hunter’s Specialties Pro Staff member and professional videographer Phillip Vanderpool offers some tips for taping your hunt. TIP 1: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. The only way to get good at filming is to get out and do plenty of it. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Eventually you will get comfortable running a camera ©Donald Fink|Dreamstime.com and get some great footage that you will be able to enjoy for years to come. TIP 2: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO MOVE. Also take plenty of photos with a still camera. Learning how to compose photos and work with lighting will help make you a better videographer. Use the flash if it is cloudy or shady to get rid of shadows. With today’s digital cameras, it doesn’t cost anything if you have to delete photos, so take plenty. Plus, if you edit your video on a computer, the still images can be included in your final piece. TIP 3: KEEP IT CLEAN. Take along some Scent-A-Way towels or wipes to clean up your animal after the hunt, before taking photos. Remove visible blood, dirt and debris, and pay attention to the background when positioning yourself and the animal for photos. Take photos and video from a variety of angles (right, left, centered, standing, and from ground level). TIP 4: BE PREPARED. You should shoot plenty of scenery and ‘set-up’ shots of the hunt. Record the whole experience, not just the kill. Be sure to carry extra tapes and batteries. The last thing you want to have happen is to have a battery go dead at the moment the animal comes in. Get a good lens cleaning cloth and make sure there is nothing on the lens when you are filming. Put a trash bag and tape in your pack to cover the camera in case it rains (tape the bag so it does not flap in the wind and spook game). TIP 5: IS ‘AUTO’ BETTER? Learn how to use the manual focus on your camera and practice using it. If you use the autofocus feature, the camera will be focusing on things close to you and not on the approaching animal. I like to manually focus on an object like a tree at the distance where I think the animal will come in. Then when I see it, I can get the subject in focus quickly. On most cameras you adjust the focus knob clockwise as the animal walks toward you and counterclockwise as it walks away. Practice following moving objects until you don’t have to think about which way to turn the focus knob. TIP 6: STEADY, STEADY. Zoom in and out slowly for better effect. Fast zooms or pans (moving the camera from side to side) can look confusing. If you can, use a tripod. The shots will be more stable and zooming in and out will be smoother. TIP 7: TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE. If you are taping for another hunter, set up close enough that you can communicate with each other. The cameraman should be able to see the same things as the hunter. TIP 8: ASK AND LEARN. Watch outdoor shows not only for content, but also to examine how they shoot their video and frame their shots. There is a section on the Hunter’s Specialties website (www.hunterspec.com) called Ask the Pros, where you can write to me for more information. August 2013 29
Ten Pheasant Shotgun Patterning Questions Answered By Anthony Hauk T
his is the year to finally pattern your pheasant hunting shotgun. Mike Holm and Erik Carlson of Federal Premium Ammunition bring their expertise and cut through the technical world of patterning to help you master the basics and get ready for wingshooting. 1. Most pheasant hunters never pattern their shotguns. Why should they start? “All hunters should pattern their shotguns to see what their point of impact looks like at different distances,” says Mike Holm, Federal Premium Product Manager, “Not all shotguns shoot dead center. Knowing your pattern can increase your ability to hit game in the field. Patterning also lets you see the pattern density © Steven Oehlenschlager | Dreamstime.com and can help you choose the right choke constriction.” 2. At what range(s) should you pattern your pheasant hunting shotgun? Holm says it’s good to pattern your shotgun at both 20 yards and 40 yards. “This gives you a representation of what your pattern will be for an up-close flushing bird and a more distant flyer.” 3. Should you pattern for both early season and late season pheasant hunting? “By patterning your shotgun at 20 yards and 40 yards you are preparing yourself for both early and late season hunting. As we all know, not all early season birds are close,” Holm says. 4. How many different pheasant loads should you plan on patterning? The most important thing, Holm says, is to pattern the load you plan to take to the field and know what it does. But patterning different loads can be valuable. “It can be interesting to pattern two different loads to see the performance differences. You might even find performance differences that fit different hunting conditions,” Holm says. 5. What choke is a good starting point to begin patterning? “When patterning Prairie Storm® with the FLIGHTCONTROL® wad, start with Improved Cylinder (IC) chokes, because they generally provide a great combination for up close and at distance,” Holm says, “If you are using a load with a standard wad system, try both IC and Mod (Modified) chokes.” 6. How many rounds should be fired to make an accurate assessment? Shoot three rounds at three separate targets and then go look at the patterns, says Erik Carlson, Federal Premium Engineering Manager, “This will give you a good idea of what you are getting from a choke and load combination because it averages out any shooter error.” 7. How do you assess your results? Before you shoot, draw a 3-inch circle in the middle of the paper with a 30-inch diameter ring around it. “If you want to get extremely technical, you can also put a 15-inch diameter ring inside the 30-inch ring,” Holm adds. “You can use these rings to check the average point of impact, pattern density and pattern coverage.” 8. What are the desired results on paper you’re looking for? For pheasant hunting, Holm says it’s a pattern that is consistently split 50/50 both up and down and left and right from center. “The pattern density should be consistent from edge to edge within the 30-inch circle.” 9. Does steel shot pattern much differently than lead shot? Steel loads will tend to open up faster than lead loads due to the lower pellet density (this depends on shot hardness, velocity, payload weight, buffer and wad design). “If you hunt lands that require non-lead loads, Prairie Storm® Steel performs similar to a 2 3/4-inch No. 5 lead load,” Holm points out, “It has a similar pellet count, time of flight to 40 yards, and penetration energy at 40 yards.” 10. When should you consider purchasing an aftermarket choke tube? Holm proclaims aftermarket choke tube makers are experts in their craft. “Each of them has a unique way to look at patterns and performance. If you are looking to perfect your shotgun pattern, do some research and go with the one that best fits your hunting style and preferences.” This story originally appeared in Pheasants Forever’s eNewsletter. Return to On the Wing. Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF. 30 - Hunting & Fishing News
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In other words when we get done packing out our bulls, we will have some spots that we have planned to look at for future hot spots, mature bulls, and low pressure. The only time we will get a true picture of those areas for a public land elk hunt is during the month of September. How many times have we found elk in paradise in the off season and couldn’t wait for the hunt to start, only to show up and find a nightmare had taken its place. Scouting at peak pressure times will give you a lot better perception of what you can expect from an area during the general hunt. The most obvious thing that will separate you from the 90% is a willingness to endure hardship and pain. “If elk hunting don’t hurt you’re not doing it right.” In other words, are you willing to hunt off your back? Most hunters will hunt within a mile or so of their truck. If you are willing to hunt out of your pack instead of your truck you will leave about 90% of the pressure a mile and a half to two miles in. You would be amazed at what even a mile will do. In order to do these kinds of physically demanding hunts you have to be both physically and mentally prepared. To be physically prepared you need to be committed to an off season workout program that peaks you at the right time, the right way. I have developed my own system over the last ten years or so to meet my personal needs. We weight train/cross train year round, and then start doing a rigorous tear down cardio process during the summer leading up to the season so we are peaking at the right time. One mistake I see most guys make in this area is too much focus on purely cardio work-outs: jogging, elliptical, bikes, etc. None of these will replicate or prepare you for the mountains. I fell into that trap for years, and was disappointed when I hit that first ridge with a chase in mind. You have to challenge your body in different ways to achieve true fitness that will hold up in the mountains. During season I only do maintenance, generally the hunting is more than enough to maintain. The physical training and preparation is something that is an absolute must. It is probably the single biggest factor that puts a hunter in to that 10%. The mental preparation is even more personal and situational. What works great for one person might actually be a detriment to another. I like to use a lot of visualization, and over-all just try to mentally prepare myself for disappointment and difficulties. These are things that WILL come with these kinds of grinding hunts. You must prepare yourself to deal with them in a positive constructive way, otherwise they can destroy moral and ultimately contribute to failure. A positive attitude and relentless will and desire have probably killed more elk than any other attribute. The next factor that is a must for a public land hunter is being able to take advantage of the opportunity that comes their way. Notice I said “opportunity” as in single, not plural, because a lot of the time on a public land, DIY hunt you will only get one chance. Serious true archery accuracy and efficiency is not something that can be achieved by picking up your bow in August or even June or July for that matter. This is not a gun, you must have a very close connection with this piece of equipment or it will fail you under pressure, or more correctly, you will fail it. It is very important to have some form/schedule of shooting your bow year round if you want to have consistent success. This is another area where it is getting more and more common to see guys trying to take short cuts, or the easy way to success.
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More and more we are hearing about guys shooting at live animals in hunting situations with archery equipment at what can only be called “rifle shot” distances. I’m sure we have all heard the rationalizations and reasoning for why “they” are “able” to take these shots, but no amount of practice can make an animal stand still while that person releases the arrow. The real problem with this new mind set is that ultimately it’s the animal that pays the price for that person’s inability to hunt, or at the very least accept failure. This practice is ego driven and not ethical. Generally we try to practice with our archery equipment in one form or another the entire year. Another thing we try to do to stay sharp and
focused is at least one DIY desert hunt in the winter.
This really helps to motivate some indoor shooting during the cold winter months, and helps keep that hunting mind set working. In the spring we will hit a couple of the local 3D tournaments to get started judging distance and get the uphill/downhill practice going, and it’s fun to shoot under what little bit of pressure it provides, but it just can’t replicate the real pressure of a hunting situation. The most difficult, high pressure shots any shooter will ever take will be at live animals...We have found that shooting our bows at distances that are further than what we would shoot hunting, makes a normal 30 or 40 yard hunting shot seem like a “can’t miss” proposition, and builds nearly indestructible confidence and shooting form. That is what we really need for usable hunting accuracy. How many times have we seen the guy that was the “target hero” fall apart at the moment of truth on a bull elk? We are also very fortunate, in that we have the space to set up a pretty good 3D course of our own each summer so we can constantly take different shots and keep it challenging. If that’s not possible for you, get access to your local outdoor range or archery club. Just so it stays exciting and challenging. Focus on shot execution and not so much where you hit, if you execute good archery shots the accuracy will follow, and by focusing on the right things it will stay and be consistent. By focusing on form and shot execution year round, your body, and more importantly your mind will not know how to make a bad shot. In the moment of truth auto pilot will take over and allow you to focus on the other factors involved in the shot presented. Another thing that is important is practicing the way you hunt. A lot of guys these days are shooting different equipment in the off season than they will actually use when hunting. This is a mistake unless you can shoot enough hours every day, year round, to have the time it requires to perfect two separate shooting styles. There is only one arrow that really “counts” every year, and you should be practicing with the sight, and release that you will be using at the moment of truth. Another point to emphasize is practice how you hunt: clothing, optics, rangefinders and even packs should be tested when you get closer to the hunt. (continued next page)
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Archery Elk - The 10% Truth (continued from page 35) Another often over looked element of elk hunting is practicing with our calls. I know I have been guilty of this more than
Fun and Easy Way to Test Your Long Range Shooting! By Marty Prokop www.free-deer-hunting-tips.com
ou have been diligent in practicing your long range shooting skills at the rifle range. You are able to consistently shoot a 3-inch group at 250 yards. This is great shooting and is an important step towards deer hunting accuracy, but this shooting is under a semi-controlled environment. Think of this. How many times have you had that big buck in front of you while your deer hunting rifle was in a gun vise or propped up on shooting bags on a shooting bench? Never happens. Here is a fun and easy way to test your long range shooting skills out in the field. Your targets will be one-gallon plastic milk jugs filled with water. Add food coloring to the water so you can see a difference in color from the water to the background. One gallon plastic milk jugs are the perfect target at long ranges as they will be comparable in size to the vital heart/lung area of a deer. So save milk jugs. (continued on page 40) 36 - Hunting & Fishing News
once, and it hurt me when I was basically practicing on elk during my hunt. Since then I make sure to dedicate a certain amount of time to practicing my elk sounds, but also defining calls and sounds that the elk make and what they mean, as well as outlining my responses to certain sounds and building contingency scenarios like a chain. In other words, if he does what I call a nasal whine with chuckles I will do X, if that does not work within a certain time frame, I will move on to Y and then Z ,and so on. Just blowing your call to try and make certain sounds is great, but it is a very small piece to the calling puzzle. Another thing I like to do is try new calls each year just to see if they get different levels of response from the bulls. One thing to remember is certain prominent calls have been used enough at this point that the elk have literally heard them all more than once. One new call I tried last year with great success was the Who’s “YRR” Daddy cow call from Bugling Bull Game Calls. This year I have been trying some of their new mouth reed calls. They are some of the purest sounding calls I have ever used, and the elk have had very limited exposure to the sounds they make. Be willing to think outside the box here. A lot more bulls are being taken now days without calling than most hunters realize. Don’t be afraid to try new things and strategies that may seem strange now, but will probably be over used in the future.
The main thing to remember is to be involved from start to finish, from map study to actually putting boots on the ground.
You will really learn to love and savor the process. Don’t overlook the small stuff; it’s the details that separate the few from the many. Developing “go to” strategies and working through them in the off season with the guys/gals you hunt with can really be fun, and develop friendships that will last a lifetime. It is a lot of work, but it is a labor of love, and will strengthen the connection we all have with nature and the animals we hunt. If for you, being consistently successful is important, you will need to be willing to put in the work and live the elk hunting lifestyle on some level year round. The main thing is to enjoy the process, have fun and always try to do it “the right way for the right reasons.” Casey Ripple lives with his lovely wife Stacy in Helena, Montana where they live the life, and love the process.
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By H&F Pro Staff Jay Sherley of Capital Sports shooting Techno Hunt t’s all about hitting the target at the moment of truth, when that big game animal has put itself within bow range, and hesitates for a moment before moving on. Can you make the shot? In a normal shooting situation with a 3-D target set-up 30 yards away, no sweat, but when you see that big 6x6 bull elk in front of you, your heart is pounding out of your chest, and you’ve only got a few seconds to make the right decision and react, well, that can get a bit nerve racking to say the least. Well, there is a way to practice in nearly the same situation. It’s the Techno Hunt Archery Simulator. Simulated live shots of deer, elk, sheep, upland birds and even snakes help to create a feeling of being on the hunt with only a few seconds to react, and take a quality shot. You are then graded on that shot at the end of the shoot, which lasts from 30 minutes or more. You will feel like you either need to practice much more, or that you are a confident bowhunter that can handle most any situation. Up to six participants can shoot in the same segment. The image can also create windy condition situations, and you can move yardage distance for short or long shots. I had the opportunity to shoot on the Techno Hunt recently, and can tell you without a doubt, that I was totally impressed and felt like a much better and confident shot once it was over. The images that are presented for you are outstanding and real life, as the animal will move in some situations, or put tree branches and obstacles in front of the shot forcing you to take a bad shot, or wait for a clear shot. You have to shoot before the time expires. Capital Sports & Western Wear in Helena, Montana has just opened a brand new Techno Hunt, and they have added new shooting lanes for bow practice, and remodeled their archery Pro Shop. Most bowhunters spare no expense when it comes to purchasing new equipment, but why go out to hunt if you’re not completely ready and confident that you can make the shot? You’ll need to practice as much as possible before the big game season starts. The Techno Hunt will get you prepared. You can check out the latest version of the Techno Hunt at Capital Sports & Western. Their archery staff will help you get set-up with anything you might need to get started. The archery season is now upon us, so you’ll need to book your Techno Hunt today, as the lanes will be filling up fast. Head down today to check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
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Poor Man’s Hunting Guide: DIY Over-The-Counter Mule Deer Hunts (continued from page 17) Idaho Over-The-Counter Mule Deer Hunts The southeast corner of Idaho is often overlooked for its mule deer hunting, but there are some archery OTC units worth looking at. True, Idaho’s mule deer numbers are down, but it still remains a big buck haven. There are not mule deer around every bend of the ridge like the old days, but if you are willing to go off the beaten path, you can succeed. Unit 76 has its fair-share of crowded hunting areas, but there are enough public land access and wilderness areas to evade the packs of hunters. Thirty four percent of mule deer hunters in Unit 76 were successful last season. They harvested 731 mule deer and 40 percent of the bucks killed sported four points or better. Get up above the ATV trails and leave the mule deer call in the pack. The deer in Unit 76 are extremely call shy – due to hunting pressure and predation – but this has made them more visual creatures. A Muley Doe decoy is a must in Unit 76. The situation in Unit 76 is representative of several OTC mule deer units in Idaho. There are good bucks, you just have to go far to find them and get away from the roads. Other units with good success rates and trophy potential include Unit 21A and Unit 28. One thing’s for sure, when you head to Idaho for a mule deer hunt, be sure to pack a camera with plenty of memory. The landscape is truly picturesque. Mule Deer Decoys to Pack Preparation and determination will create luck for any mule deer bowhunter looking to overcome struggles in the field. Be sure to pack the mule deer decoys and calls: Muley Doe Decoy - Mule Deer Decoy Tactics. It makes sense to use a decoy when hunting mule deer just like you would when hunting elk, antelope or moose. They are visual animals that roam the wide open country and are social in the early season and during the rut. However, it is still considered an “outside the box” tactic. “I think the perception of hunting styles for mule deer have made some hesitant to try it,” said Hall. “Many are used to hunting with a rifle and taking shots over 500 yards is not uncommon. But, I see no reason it wouldn’t work for hunters getting close to muleys with a muzzleloader or bow.” Montana Decoy created the Muley Doe in response to the outbreak of hunters realizing that decoying mule deer is becoming a great way to successfully attract mule deer into bow range. “We hunt tons and tons of mule deer every year,” said Rusty Hall, head guide of Western Lands and publisher of Trophy Hunter Magazine. “There are some general things about them. They like the open spaces so you are always trying to close the distance. The majority of hunting that is done for muleys is spot-and-stalk. Anytime you can get their attention on something else when you are trying to get closer to mule deer that are in open country helps.” Before using mule deer decoys, Hall would actually use himself as a distraction. “I would send a hunter in there crawling, and I may show myself to them within their comfort zone,” said Hall. “Maybe I am out there 300 yards. They see me, whether I am walking or driving a truck in some cases. But a lot times they see a guy walking, and that freaks them out because it is not something familiar. So in spot-and-stalk situations, the purpose of using a decoy is to give you a better shot at closing that distance.” (continued page 42) 38 - Hunting & Fishing News
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Fun and Easy Way to Test Your Long Range Shooting! (continued from page 36) Next, find a safe field or area to set up your targets. Make sure there are no buildings, people or animals in your line of fire or beyond the milk jugs. If you hunt from a tree stand, and you are able to, you could even set up your tree stand to simulate actual shooting from that angle. If you shoot from a ground deer blind, consider setting up your deer blind to shoot from it. The goal is to create the closest conditions to your actual deer hunting situation. Pace off 200 to 300 yards from your shooting location or whatever distance you feel confident shooting. After placing your milk jug targets, walk back to your shooting area. Take aim and see how well you shoot. A direct hit will have the milk jugs exploding. An off center hit will still have the jugs emptying on the ground. You can actually see the liquid leaving the container. If you find your original distance of 200 to 300 yards has you missing the target or hitting off center, move closer in 20 yard increments until you can hit center consistently. Once you find you are hitting center consistently, you have found your true long range shooting ability under quasi hunting conditions. This may be a bit humbling at first, but it is far better to know exactly what your long range shooting abilities are before you head out deer hunting. This knowledge will help ensure you don’t wound an animal. To subscribe to the weekly Free-Deer-Hunting-Tips.com Newsletter or get blog posts delivered to you, subscribe at www.marty-prokop.com. Good Luck and Great Hunting! Marty Prokop
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Poor Man’s Hunting Guide: DIY Over-The-Counter Mule Deer Hunts (continued from page 38) Decoying Mule Deer in the Early Season Patterning mule deer can be pretty easy in the early season once you find a group. They are often found in groups feeding in open areas. Their alertness around food sources can be challenging for a bowhunter trying to get into shooting range. Using a muley decoy can help. “When they are bunched like they are in the early season, you are trying to stalk them with a whole bunch of eyes,” said Hall. “Typically, if you try to approach while they are feeding, you have too many eyes watching you, and somebody is going to bust you. If you can put their eyes on a decoy while you approach and not have them get alarmed, that is awesome.” In early season situations, the mobility of portable decoys is a huge advantage when hunting mule deer. “Sometimes you have to belly crawl to get close, and you will need to be moving with the decoy,” said Hall. “Unless you have a hayfield or some kind of agricultural area that are bringing the animals in and you know where they are coming through and coming into it and maybe you can set up a decoy on the edge to get them to come to it and ambush them, you will have to be mobile.” Decoying Mule Deer during the Rut Once mule deer strip their velvet, they turn into a whole different animal. The bucks turn solitary. As time progresses and the rut nears, they start bunching up and does and fawns will get in big groups. The mature bucks will be on the prowl for does ready to be bred. The rut is another time the Muley Doe decoy can be effective. “If you find a buck that is traveling during the rut and has not found a group of does yet and you show him one, he is going to come to you if he is looking for does,” said Hall. “They are pretty similar to whitetails in that aspect, but they are in a lot more open country. They typically depend on their sight a lot.” A mule deer buck’s territory and range is much larger than a whitetail. They keep looking for does until they find them, and if they don’t find a hot doe in the bunch, they will keep moving and cover a lot of ground. Getting close to these roaming bucks and showing them a doe decoy can be the catalyst for a successful hunt. But even if bucks are grouped up with does, a decoy can lure them away. “Other species – moose, antelope, and elk – are super aggressive during the rut,” said Hall. “They will come a long way to chase off another male or check out a doe. Mule deer will too, especially if they see does. I’ve watched them. They will be traveling and tracking the group of does just like a whitetail and if they see a doe they go right to it.” Hall recommends glassing to find a group of does that has a mature buck with it, figure out what way they are heading, and getting close to set up a decoy. A little mule doe-in-heat scent and some calling can add realism to the decoy setup. “During the rut, dominate bucks will run off smaller bucks and single out does,” said Hall. “So if you had a decoy, you can try to get close to a group tended by a buck. He will come to check out the doe, especially if you are grunting at him.” If you haven’t tried it, this season is a great time and there are no excuses because the Muley Doe is currently on sale. Try it and see for yourself why this decoying tactic is taking the West by storm. ©Twildlife|dreamstime.com
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Time Your Scouting By Bob Humphrey, Yamaha Outdoors
There’s no question, pre-season
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scouting is a key element to being a consistently successful deer hunter... when you scout can sometimes be just as important as how much you scout. And that applies to scouting both too early and too late. The “too late” part is fairly obvious. Wait too long and you won’t have sufficient time to scout thoroughly. You’ll be in a hurry. You’ll miss things and you may cause excess disturbance trying to make up for lost time. Most recent information is the best, but you also need a good foundation of less recent info to base your hunting plans on. However, scouting too early could also be a waste of your precious time. Summer’s end is a time of relative ease. Food is plentiful. Does are still nursing, bucks are still growing antlers and both are seeking predominantly foods high in protein to fuel these demands. Deer aren’t moving much right now and when they do it’s usually within relatively small core areas...All that is about to change rather abruptly. Fall is a period of transition. Deer go through a lot of changes, sometimes in a very short time. As the days grow shorter, a surge in testosterone causes cessation of blood supply to the antlers. Velvet dies and falls off. Does begin weaning their fawns. About the same time, the longer, cooler nights stimulate deer to shift their diet from growth-promoting high protein to the carbohydrates they’ll need to fatten up for the winter...They also begin traveling increasingly farther from core areas, and moving later in the morning and earlier in the afternoon. It’s important to know when this transition occurs because it marks the starting point for the most useful scouting information. Much of what you’ve observed up to this point isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good because the deer will change their daily patterns drastically over the next few weeks, before the season opens. But how will you know when to ramp up your scouting? Over much of the whitetail’s range, this transition begins around late August and early September, but that can vary. The best indicator is when bucks shed their velvet. If you live in relatively open country, you’ll also be able to observe the change directly. Of course if your season opens early, then most recent information is still the best, and what you’ve learned up to this point can still be helpful. But don’t stop scouting. Things will be changing on a daily basis and you need to keep scouting to keep up to date...
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Archery Shot Placement By Dana Gertsch, Colorado Parks & Wildlife
Y ou have heard that bull coming for a while now, crashing timber, bugling and snorting. Your buddy is behind you calling and that bull is definitely coming in to the call. The moment of truth is here. You’ve thought about this day for a long time. For some hunters, this is their first archery hunt for elk, and for others, it’s old hat. You’ve finally got that shot you’ve been dreaming of, but what does it take to ensure a good shot, one that puts the animal down quickly? Are you ready? A bow is a primitive weapon, assisting hunters since the dawn of early man. You can’t just buy one the week before opening day, fling a few arrows and expect to be ready. The bow is a piece of equipment that takes some thought before purchase. The spectrum of bows is large, with a great deal of variety: long bows, recurve bows, compound bows, 50% let-off, 80% let-off; the list of choices goes on and on. The cost of a good bow rivals or exceeds the cost of a good rifle and scope combination. Do some research and homework as you build your equipment inventory. Serious archery hunters spend hours, days and weeks preparing, practicing and getting their gear ready for the field. We’ll take a few minutes to discuss some of those preparation items. Arrow choice is a key consideration. These days most people opt for a carbon arrow due to its strength and durability. But there is more than just picking the right material. It must have the correct spine weight for the draw weight and draw length of your bow. The spine or stiffness of your arrow affects its flight characteristics and thus its accuracy. Your local pro shop has the expertise to help you make the right choice. Another piece of the arrow equation is the broadhead. There are really two choices here, fixed or mechanical. You could get into a no-win forum flame-throwing contest by questioning someone’s choice one way or the other. Whatever you choose, make sure it shoots properly and is SHARP. Why do I emphasis the sharpness of the broadhead? To ensure a quick and humane harvest of the animal you shoot. A dull broadhead may not cut or slice the vital organs enough to cause massive blood loss. In fact, if your broadhead is dull it may just push the organs, veins, and arteries off to the side with a surprisingly minimal amount of damage. A razor-sharp blade will produce a larger blood trail, allowing you to find your animal. An animal shot with a dull tip may be lost, or worse suffer until it expires. As for me, I cannot sharpen a broadhead. So I’ve opted for a fixed blade broadhead with replaceable blades. I carry extra blades in my backpack to replace the blades after every missed shot. How much energy or kinetic energy does it take to put an elk down? Most websites place this value around 40 foot-pounds per square inch. So how do you measure this? First, you will need to measure the speed of your hunting arrow setup (Arrow and broadhead) using a chronograph. Most archery shops have one of these. Shoot at least three arrows, and average out the speed. Next weigh your arrow. Now we do the math. Here is the formula for determining Kinetic Energy: Energy = .5 * weight * velocity2 As an example, my arrow weighs 477gr and has an average speed of 260 ft/sec. Using this formula, I end up with about 71 ft/lbs of kinetic energy. An easy way to obtain a rough calculation is to use one of the many kinetic energy calculators available on the web. You can even use a Kinetic energy calculator for a bullet, as the end result is KE calculated. Custom Guns offers a calculator for deriving this information. (next page) August 2013 45
Archery Shot Placement (continued from page 45) Many people will not start shooting their broadheads until a couple of weeks before the season and immediately discover that their broadheads and field tips do not hit in the same place. In fact they are hitting 6 or more inches from each other. There are two approaches to fixing this. One approach is just moving your sights over to the broadhead point of impact. The other is to broadhead tune your bow. This may require several trips to the range, some fine tuning to your rest, paper tuning, and more. I prefer having my broadheads and field tips hitting the same place. This allows me to stump shoot, and verify my point of impact in the field without damaging my broadheads. Range estimation is key for bow hunters. No matter how fast your bow will shoot, gravity will affect the arrow, causing it to drop along its flight path. This can be pretty significant if you have a heavy arrow and low draw weight. My bow setup allows the arrow to drop an inch every two yards, or about 5 inches every 10 yards. Elk are big animals, but people miss shots every year. Their size plays tricks on you, especially if you are used to shooting at smaller whitetails. The elk look further away. I practice my range estimation during the year at 3D shoots. I don’t shoot for score but will take a shot and then pull out my range finder to verify my estimated range. I practice shooting out to 60 yards during the summer to help with my shooting form. I can consistently place arrows onto an eight inch paper plate at that distance, but have set my personal maximum range to 45 yards; that is my comfort zone. And that shot will only be taken if everything is perfect, and I’ve ranged the distance. Anything standing still inside 35 yards is a slam dunk. I know this because of the time I’ve spent at the range and other target shoots. And finally, you have to know your personal maximum effective range. I define mine as that range where I can put a group of five arrows onto an eight inch paper plate consistently. An elk’s kill zone is about 25 inches in diameter, but considering excitement and fatigue, this leaves me with plenty of room for error. For some hunters, the range may be 20 yards, while others may feel comfortable at 60 yards or more. Losing an animal because of a risky shot will make you sick to your stomach and ruin a good hunt quickly. I know the title of this article is Archery Shot Placement and I am finally getting to that discussion, but without understanding the important point I discussed earlier in the article, you cannot “place the arrow” where you want it to go. Elk are big, tough animals. An elk can survive a poorly placed shot. A good shot is one that will penetrate both lungs and cause a maximum amount of blood loss, rapidly. A broadside or slightly quartering away shot is preferable. Some bad shots definitely include an animal quartering toward you. Here the front leg will obstruct your double lung / heart shot. Don’t take this shot. Another shot to avoid is straight-on. Here you have no chance of a double-lung shot, and have to pray for a heart shot. Yes it may be hard to pass up that one shot opportunity you’ve had all season, but you will feel better later on knowing you did the right thing. So where do you aim to get that double lung shot? Pick a spot about one-third to one-half way up the animal, right behind the front leg. This is the dead center of the vital area. Find this point and fix it in your mind. Aim for this specific spot, don’t aim for the animal. Aim small, miss small. How does shooting uphill, downhill or from a tree stand influence your shot? Think about this scenario: You are an accomplished archer and have practiced routinely at 60+ yards with your equipment using the range and the flat field behind your house. You can consistently shoot a tight group at 55 yards and have set your personal maximum effective range at 55 yards. It is opening day; your buddy has called that bull in. You pull your range finder out and see that he is 50 yards, down a steep slope. Since this is in your comfort zone, you draw your bow and take the shot. To your dismay the arrow went OVER the elk. Why? While the distance down the hill was 50 yards, the actual distance was only 40 yards. When taking shots at an incline, remember it is the horizontal distance that matters. This is the distance your arrow is being affected by gravity. Instead of ranging to the animal, you might range to the tree next to the elk, level with your elevation. It’s not intuitive, so you should practice these shots before your season. Even when you’re familiar with the technique, bring your stump-shooting arrow that you carry for practice, and practice. Find a target down the hill with a tree that comes up to your level, range the horizontal distance, and then take the shot. You may find that a downhill shot will hit a bit high. Then take the same shot uphill. This time it hits a bit low. How much either way isn’t important, as long as you know what adjustments you need to make. I usually don’t worry about the minor differences of shooting uphill verses downhill, but focus on the horizontal distance. You can live with an inch high or low. Let me close this article with another short scenario, one that can help you picture, in your mind, all of the practice, preparation and decisions I have written about so far. The scenario sums up some of these thoughts, hopefully gets your heart beating just a bit faster and will make you think about that moment of truth. Are you ready? Your buddy’s calling has that bull coming in hard. Where will you take your shot from? You have to think fast. You decide on a spruce tree, with limbs all the way to the ground. Setting up with the tree behind you breaks up your silhouette. Next, pull your range finder out and range the trees, rocks or other features that are within your shooting range. Settle back into your spot and draw your bow to determine if there are branches that get in your way and quietly break them off. Clear away the pine cones and small twigs where you are kneeling to reduce the risk of making noise when the bull gets close. Here he comes, laser eyes on your buddy’s location. He is getting close now, but the angle of the shot is bad as he is slightly quartered toward you. You know taking this shot would probably result in a wounded animal, as the leg bone covers his vital area. Wait. Wait for the broadside shot, one that will penetrate both lungs. You can see that when he turns broadside, he’ll be covered by a tree, but that also means he won’t see you draw. So you wait. You draw your bow as he passes behind the tree. He clears the tree, slightly quartering away. Your shot will hit both lungs now. A quick mew from your buddy and he stops. You lock in on that spot behind his shoulder and the arrow flies. It’s a complete pass-through and he starts off down the hill, appearing a bit confused. You throw out a few more cow calls to calm the bull. A few minutes later you hear him hit the ground. As you wait for the next 30 minutes or so, you reflect on the year. You’ve made good decisions when it comes to equipment; you’ve practiced, tuned your setup, and patiently waited for the right shot. Congratulations elk hunter, now the real work starts. 46 - Hunting & Fishing News
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