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How To Hunt Mule Deer
Colorado Division Of Wildlife
Photo: David Hannigan, Colorado Division of Wildlife. Colorado Governorʼs Deer tag filled in mid-December between Glendwood and Eagle. Scores near 263 gross non-typical.
unting mule deer in Colorado is always challenging. Hunters can improve their success by understanding the habits of these critters. During the 2011 seasons, for all manners of take, 76,445 hunters harvested 33,217 mule deer for a 43 percent success rate. It is estimated that Colorado is home to about 430,000 deer. In the mountains and foothills, mule deer don’t spend much time in heavy timber. They are primarily browsers and prefer aspen and forest edges where there are plenty of low shrubs, small trees, oak brush and varied vegetation types. Mule deer are most active at night and can often be found in meadow areas during low-light hours. During the day, they’ll bed down in protective cover. In warm weather, look for deer along ridgelines where wind is consistent and helps to keep them cool. During the low-light hours of evening and morning, hunt in meadows at the edge of thick cover. If you see where they are feeding during
times of low-light, it’s likely they’ll move into nearby timbered areas to rest for part of the day. Deer tend to move during the middle of the day toward the areas where they feed in the evening.
A slow stalk is recommended. Spend a lot of time scanning slowly with binoculars--a deer can appear at any time. Pay attention to the wind direction. If the wind is blowing in the direction you are moving, a deer will likely pick up your scent. Deer avoid going to creeks in daylight so there is no advantage to hunting near moving water sources during the day. One advantage mule deer give to hunters is their curiosity. When mule deer are spooked, they’ll often run a short distance then turn to determine if they are being pursued. That may give you one good chance for a shot. A small amount of snow will get deer moving quickly out of high-altitude areas. Usually by late October migrating herds will move to winter range areas, even if there is no snow. Hunters should aim at the vital organ area which presents a small target--about the size of a dinner plate just behind the front quarter. Hunters, no matter how good they are at the range, should never try to make a head shot. Many animals are injured and die slowly because of attempted head shots.
River Of No Return
By Tony Pannkuk, Sponsored by Dead Down Wind
Reprinted with permission from Bowhunting.Net. For more please go to www.bowhunting.net
As we dropped off the precipitous ledge and descended into the valley below, I looked back at the azure eminence sky above the
Jersey Mountains that enveloped us. I said to my guide, “This is God’s country, a place with vast and unforgiving mountains.” Looking around, we could see the tall golden grass shimmering in the wind and leaves drifting rightly to the ground. The brilliant sunshine was great for hunting, but it would help in delaying the elk rut. It would confirm to be a challenge on our part just to get a bull to answer our bugle. Riding in on horses a few days earlier, we saw several old gold mines in these rich and historic mountains. They were dug during the latter part of the 1800’s. The town of Dixie, Idaho was started in 1862 when gold was discovered along the Crooked Creek. The town had several thousand residents during the gold rush peak. Today there are about a dozen year-round residents. Camp was a 5-mile ride in from the Silver Spur Lodge. It took just over an hour to get to camp. The trails were well marked from the years of horses packing in hunters and packing out elk meat. Huge elk antlers secured to the backs of horses and pack mules from hunters that find what they are hunting for are often a common site. Winding along ridges and down through gullies that often crossed small creeks was an exultant journey. It had been 45 years since I had climbed into a saddle but it proved to be the adventure that I was expecting. Riding along, we would admire the landscape of mountains, creeks, trees and bushes of all kind, and the numerous animals of different species, sizes and colors. It seemed to me the horses knew where they were going, as I found out, I did not need to use the reigns to guide the horses. 6 - Hunting & Fishing News
I was hunting with Silver Spur Outfitters and had hunted with them on two previous occasions. Taking a nice cinnamon black bear two years ago using a pistol. My plan was to use the same pistol, a Magnum Research 45-70, in taking an elk. It was now the fifth day of a seven day hunt and we were going to an area that a shot could be taken out beyond 150 yards, choosing to leave my pistol at camp I shouldered my Model 700 Remington rifle in 338 Caliber. In addition to the cinnamon bear, with the shot at 27 yards, I was successful in taking a black bear at 32 yards the following year, using the same Magnum Research 45-70 pistol. Both black bear hunts required sitting over bait. The name “River of no Return” is intriguing in itself. Located in Northern Central Idaho. We are hunting in the Jersey Mountains surrounded by the Gospel Hump Wilderness and the Frank Church River of No Return. In addition to elk hunting, Silver Spur Outfitters offers moose, deer, black bear, cougar, wolf, and big horn sheep. During the off hunting season, you can stay in the lodge for summer horse trips and during the winter, they have over a dozen snow machines for rent to ride the miles of groomed trails. As we descended the steep ledge, Randy Wagner, my guide, gave a call on his bugle; we waited, with no response, and continued navigating the steep downhill terrain. Taking a caricature trail, we would plot a route around rock formations, deep ravines, creeks and the big old growth trees that were in abundance everywhere, this was an adventure in itself. Checking my Leupold GPS, we had traveled close to 1⁄2 mile down, still about 1⁄2 mile above the valley floor below. The Salmon River lay at the bottom, about a mile to the waters edge from where we started the steep descend. I was ready for the long plunge.
However, I was hoping we could make contact with a bull elk before dropping down much farther. Off in the distance the mountains looked wraithlike, as they seemed to reach into the heavens above from the surrounding valleys below. The Salmon River offers a different kind of hunt. You can book a spring black bear hunt and do a spot-n-stalk hunt out of a jet boat. Riding along in the jet boat, navigating the Salmon River looking for black bears feeding along the hillsides is a different kind of adventure. Stopping to eat lunch in a small cove and relaxing out in the wild with no human contact is one of the many advantages you will have over other hunters. Pine trees all around have died from the invasive pine beetle. Nevertheless, the other types of trees and scrubs make up for their loss. Heading down, we crossed through a large area that was cleared from a past forest fire. Yet, the grass was shining from the sun overhead. We paused for a few minutes to glass the area. Taking out my Leupold binoculars from my Crooked Horn Outfitters backpack, I scanned the area and admired the beauty of the wild outdoors. I found myself looking through my binos at the distinct mountains covered in snow. I am one of the lucky ones, a hunter that can enjoy what Idaho has to offer. These rugged mountains offer many things besides the elk that inhabit them. Rugged rock formations, the fauna and flora to swampy areas are always captivating to me. Below us at around 100 yards was a growth of fir trees. These trees have been here for eons and reach well over 100 feet tall. This untouched wilderness is untouched from any machinery made by man. The area is only accessible by horse or the adventurous hunter that is willing to walk for miles to stand where we were. As we entered the patch of timber, Randy gave an estrus call, immediately off in a short distance a bull answered with a resonant chirp. Looking at each other, we just smiled. Quickly making our way forward about another 50 yards, stopping at a spot where we
could call again and set up for a shot if needed. Giving another estrus call Randy said, “Get ready, here he comes” as the brush exploded when a bull came charging in. The bull was closer then I anticipated, I dropped to the ground just behind a tree and got ready. I was elated to see a nice bull appear out of the thick brush. His curiosity dominated his caution as he looked for the cow. Wearing my Scent-Lok hunting attire and using my 3D Evolve Field Spray from Dead Down Wind I knew the bull could not smell our presence. There was no question about taking the shot as the bull stopped and looked for his estrus mate. At 28 yards the thought went through my mind, “I wish I had brought my pistol.” As I squeezed the trigger there was no recoil as my thoughts were on the bull elk. A Hornady slug was on its way. We could hear the shot echoing though the valley floor below. The bull turned to run but the shot took its toll. As he went to jump a large downed old growth, he fell over backwards as his hind legs gave out from under him, dropping where he stood. We crossed over to see a nice 4 X 5 bull elk and I knew what was ahead of us. But that is part of the hunting I enjoy. After skinning and quartering the beast we covered it with fresh pine bows. It took close to 90 minutes of climbing up the hill to reach the trail back to camp. It would be a joyous 5-mile walk back to camp as darkness began to fall around us making the shadows Getting close is a must regardless of the weapon grow longer and used. Here author poses with his trophy bull. longer... (continued page 12) November 2012
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H unting District 620-south Phillips County is prime deer country. This area is well known for producing giant mule deer bucks. Good genetics
plus the fact that this broken-up country could hide any buck from being detected helps to let some of these deer grow old enough to sport big racks. Although this area has seen a down trend in overall deer numbers from the high winter mortality of 2010-11, numbers should start to rebound. Doe licenses in most areas of Region 6 have been significantly reduced, which will help grow deer numbers for the future. Good hunting can still be had in the southern portion of HD 620 and surrounding districts. You will be in the heart of the Missouri River Breaks area that has vast, deep timbered coulees. You’ll have to hunt hard for the bigger antlered deer, but big rutting deer will be out in the open now looking for does. Whitetail deer numbers are mostly down as well, mainly from the EHD outbreak of 2011. The good news is both species of deer roam this area. Hunting south of Sun Prairie in areas like Cow Creek, Timber Ridge and the land bordering the Charles M. Russell Refuge typically produces exceptional deer. There are excellent tracks of BLM land to explore here, plus a few Block Management ranches to hunt.
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RICK HAGGERTY (406) 370-1368 Publisher - Amy Haggerty - Helena, MT.
firstname.lastname@example.org www.huntingfishingnews.net www.bigskyoutdoornews.net The entire contents is © 2012, 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. The Hunting & Fishing News is a product of Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure, Inc. VOLUME 9 issue 8. cover photo: ©Tom Reichner | shutterstock
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Mule Deer Truths
BY ANDREW MCKEAN
©Twildlife | dreamtime.com
F inding a trophy mule deer on public land is a little like finding money in the street. It’s always possible—though highly unlikely—and astonishingly
surprising. Oh, and hugely satisfying. Did I mention that it’s always possible? For some segment of Montana’s deer hunters, that possibility is what keeps them honing their pet load-rifle combination, taking time off work, and hiking and driving likely corners of public land, from lonely BLM land in southeastern Montana to the ridges above the big-cedar bogs of northwestern Montana. No matter where you hunt, here are some ways to boost your odds of finding a trophy-class mule deer on Montana’s public land: ·Hunt on Foot – Old bucks got that way by taking advantage of escape cover. This sounds almost too simple, but if you’re hunting a savvy old buck, you’re going to have to get out of your pickup. In Montana, I’d wager more mule deer are shot in sight of a road than not, and while trolling roads is a great way to locate public-land deer, old bucks associate vehicles with danger. You don’t have to walk far; often great bucks are just on the other side of a gentle hill. But the best bucks are well away from well-traveled byways. ·Glass Relentlessly – Mule deer are so well camouflaged that many hunters miss seeing them. Plan enough time to set up on a vantage point and glass—really glass—the landscape. A friend of mine who guides deer hunters in the Missouri Breaks invests hours picking apart the landscape. He gets comfortable, leans his back against a tire of his pickup, and starts systematically studying every draw, grove of trees and gumbo knob through his spotting scope. Often he’ll see a great buck that other hunters drove right past. Look for the flick of an ear, the white flash of a rump, the fork of an antler, and pay special attention to prime mule deer country at first and last lights. ·Study Slopes – Early in November, old bucks are resting up for the rut, and they’ll spend plenty of time in day beds. On cold days, look for bedding bucks on south-facing slopes, where they can soak up the rays and see danger coming. The most consistent place to find these bedded deer is on the upper third of a slope, often near the crest or nose, so one or two jumps will get them away from danger. ·Hunt Early and Late – Every hunter worth his salt knows that animals are active just after sunrise and just before sunset. Mule deer absolutely define that trend, and give hunters another edge: their white rumps really glow in low light, and many twilight hunters have found great bucks by their bright bums. ·Hunt the Rut – The great leveler for Montana’s public-land hunters is the mid-November rut. It’s like a giant wooden spoon mixes the batter, bringing savvy old bucks to the surface, often in the middle of the day, and they can be oblivious to hunters. And finding one of those heavy-antlered old veterans is like finding money in the street in another way. If you don’t pick it up, someone else is ready to do it for you.
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Do Decoys Really Work? By Jim “Killer” Miller
Sponsored by Great Southwest Outdoors, Mathews Archery and Nikon
Reprinted with permission from Bowhunting.Net. For more please go to www.bowhunting.net
ou know I could answer that with one simple line. Heck Yes! But it’s not that simple so I’m going to break this article down into different species and include my personal experiences with hunting with decoys! To begin, hunting with decoys is not that new. The plains Indians of the Americas were using decoys centuries ago. Primitive weapons meant that the hunter had to get super close to dispatch them, with a sharp rock! TURKEYS: I have been hunting turkeys since the mid 70’s with a bow and there has been a huge change in our hunting tactics. I started out using a decoy in the early 80’s and it was a mounted hen turkey that I had taken in the fall. I took the hen to a taxidermist and had him mount the bird and man that decoy was deadly! I put the hen on a wooden base with swivel along with some fishing line so I could move that hen around as needed. Any wind and the feathers would move and that was a killer. We have seen decoys of today get really elaborate. You now see turkey decoys that have the actual photo of the hen, gobbler, and jake transposed onto the plastic body. You see decoys that are made out of plastic and have feather images. There are skins that fit over your turkey decoy and when applied to the decoy body look just like the feathers of a hen! EXAMPLES: (1) CARRY-LITE: Has The Pretty Boy and the Pretty Girl decoys which are the strutting tom and the squatting hen. Or their Junior Semi Strutting Jake and their Pretty Mama feeding Hen, this is all to represent more than one in the decoy set to attract a Gobbler to come in and see what is going on. Anything to enhance the opportunity of a shot with your bow. (2) PRIMOS: Has their B-Mobile, She Mobile, Jake-Mobile, Swingin’Hen and the Killer B. All great decoys that mount on a stake and are moved in the wind. Very effective and life-like (3) FLAMBEAU: Has really some of the best looking new turkey decoys I’ve ever seen, they have ‘Flocked’ a process of spraying a fuzzy look on the decoy and giving it a realistic look The Flocked King Strut and Shady Lady Turkey Decoys are really deadly. (4) FEATHER FLEX: Has also come out with the ‘flocked’ aggressive jake and a three position hen turkey decoy. This is a great set up as you can position the hen decoy in any position you want her from standing, feeding or breeding. (5) MONTANA DECOYS: Are some of the most amazing decoys on the market. These decoys are actual vivid, high definition photo realistic detail of a teaser hen, feeding hen, punk jake, or the Mr. “T” Strutter and these ultra light-weight decoys are easy to transport and set up. When set up just the slightest wind allows movement. (6) FUSION/CHEROKEE SPORTS: These inflatable turkey decoys come with realistic molded heads. Being inflatable they will move with the wind, plus they are photo printed on an actual inflatable body size decoy. They have the Wobble-head hen, Submissive Sally, Delinquent Jake, and the Bad Act II Tom That’s just a few of the turkey decoys on the market today. This past spring I had the great pleasure of hunting in Mexico with Lenny Rezmer of Eastman Outdoors and his lovely wife Connie for Rio Grande Turkeys. I was using the FUSION / CHEROKEE SPORTS decoys and let me tell you the gobblers could not refuse them. We had turkey coming on the run and when they got within 20 yards of the decoy set they were in full strut, trying to run over each other to get to the hens. Connie was able to take a really good tom. Unfortunately Lenny had equipment (arrow rest) problems and missed the shot of a lifetime. DEER: I have been using Deer Decoys since the late 80’s. My first decoy was a Carry Lite that I still have today. I remember one particular hunt in south Iowa where I had the Carry Lite Decoy out and had antlers on the decoy and a buck tail that had been tanned hanging from the rear. I had been using the decoy both ways doe or buck and this particular morning I was using the decoy as a buck decoy. I had this 120 inch class 8 point come across a cut bean field from over 200 yards out that walked right up to the decoy. He walked around behind the decoy (with his antlers on his head) sniffed the deer’s tail and then proceeded to mount it! I was hunting with my wife we were laughing so hard I never even thought about shooting or filming that buck. So yes Gwendolyn, decoys do work on certain days. By the same token, I have also had days when the bucks took one look at the decoy and were on their way to the next county. (continued on page 40)
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Conquer the Game, Wisconsin Buck Falls Short All at ONE Place of World’s Record Mark The Boone and Crockett Club
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River Of No Return (continued from page 7)
The next morning it would take us just over an hour to ride in on horses to the bluff above the steep down-faulted valley. It was there we left a rider with the horses and continued down taking two pack mules with us. Wrapping the meat and loading them on the mules, it was then I stopped to reflect on the wilderness that surrounded our location. We were hunting in the Gospel Hump Wilderness, Frank Church River of No Return and the Nez Perce National Forest. This intriguing area offers a wildlife habitat of elk, deer, moose, big horn sheep and mountain goat, plus the overabundance of black bears, bobcats and cougar and now the invading wolf. The wolf population has soured in the few years since they were re-introduced back into Idaho. When hunting in Idaho it is a good idea to purchase a wolf tag. You can never tell when one or more of the carnivores will appear. It is hunts like this that will be forever engraved into my mind and soul. This was a unique hunting experience in a challenging habitat. I am one of the fortunate ones to be out in Gods creations enjoying the events some long forgotten by our ancestors. I will be going back next year for a hunt that is not only enjoyable, but also to hunt in a way few hunters get a chance to hunt. I still have that insatiable desire for more hunting, the traveling, seeing and experiencing what most hunters enjoy and I am proud to be part of that family. This is a wonderful example of the rich culture of this part of the backcountry of Idaho. If you would like to hunt the back wilderness of Idaho or a summer vacation riding horses, check out Silver Spur Outfitters or call and talk to Rick Koesel at 208-842-2417. Happy hunting where ever it may take you. NOTE: Bowhunting for over 30 years and now doing more pistol hunting, I know the challenges when stalking to get within bow or pistol range to make an ethical shot. I have tried several scent eliminating sprays, candles and incense to help get close enough without the animal catching my human order. The best product that I have found and use is Dead Down Wind. For clothing, I use the E1 Scent Prevent Laundry Detergent. Making sure all clothing is thoroughly washed, including my cap. Then I will put all clothing in a bag after spraying everything with the Evolve 3D Field Spray and store overnight. I shower using the Dead Down Wind 3D Broad Spectrum Body & Hair Soap. After getting dressed and before going into the woods, I will again spray all my clothing using the Dead Down Wind 3D Evolve Field Spray. Plus, I will use the spray on anyone who will be hunting with me...
Visit www.bowhunting.net for more bowhunting news. 12 - Hunting & Fishing News
in Wisconsin has fallen short of the score needed to become a new World’s Record, according to the Boone and Crockett Club.
Club officials today confirmed the “Johnny King buck” scores 180 typical points, or 217-5/8 non-typical points, both of which include shrinkage allowance. The Boone and Crockett scoring system is used to measure the success of conservation programs across North America. The system rewards antler and horn size and symmetry—classic symbols of outstanding habitat, strong recruitment of game animals into older age classes, sustainable harvest objectives and other elements of sound wildlife management and fair-chase hunting. Two trophy categories are recognized for white-tailed deer. “Typical” antlers are the most representative of the species. Deer may also express antler growth outside the common or typical configuration. To recognize this additional growth, the Club has a “non-typical” category. Boone and Crockett Club publishes a manual and periodicals with rules and guidelines to help official measurers assign normal- or abnormal-point status to all antler projections. This historic and science-based measuring system was at the center of publicity surrounding the King buck. Boone and Crockett Club called a special judges panel to make the final determination. The panel consisted of two 2-man teams of senior official measurers who had not seen nor scored the rack previously. The teams independently scored the buck using the Boone and Crockett scoring manual plus updated directives and processes outlined in other Club literature. Each team completed a score chart. The teams then resolved any differences and finalized a score. The panel determined the third tine on the right antler arises from the inside edge of the top of the main beam, and also arises partially from the base of an adjoining point, thus establishing it as an abnormal point. With this confirmation, two of the rack’s tines must be classified as abnormal points resulting in an entry score well below the current World’s Record.
“There’s a lot of process and due diligence, and through it all, it’s important to remember the chief reason why we keep records in the first place. It’s not to aggrandize hunters, rank individual animals or monetize trophies, but to document conservation success,” said Eldon Buckner, chairman of Boone and Crockett Club’s Records of North American Big Game Committee. “I’m confident that our panel has upheld the historic integrity of our records. It’s not a World’s Record, but the King buck is certainly a world-class specimen and another reason to celebrate the conservation work of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.” Wisconsin is the No. 1 state for Boone and Crockett trophy whitetails, both typical and non-typical, with more entries in record books than any other state. King, of Mount Horeb, Wis., bagged his big buck in 2006 while hunting on family property in western Wisconsin.
Late Season Elk By Rick Haggerty
t’s the midst of our big game hunting season and you have hunted hard to try and find elk steaks for the freezer, but your area is just not producing much sign or is overrun by other hunters looking to do the same. Areas change as we know; habitat, hunting pressure, predators all factor into each and every hunting district. Unless you’re on a private piece of land, you must adjust to these changes. Elk are one of the hardest big game animals to hunt. It takes copious amounts of time, energy, and consistency to kill an elk each and every season. The weather in November can also play a big role in seeing or not seeing elk throughout the hunt. A little snow can help even up the odds a bit, pushing elk to lower elevations where hunters are better able to intercept them. There is no doubt that a blizzard boosts the elk harvest. When this happens, you’ll need to be in the field hunting hard. If we do not get much snowfall this month, head to roadless areas away from the crowd. Hunt timbered edges and try to catch elk as they move back to the timber early in the day or come out in the evening in search of food. Here are a couple of areas you might consider for hunting elk in November. LITTLE BELTS - GREAT FALLS This mountain range that rises between Great Falls and White Sulphur Springs has a healthy elk herd. You can hunt the fringes of Lewis & Clark National Forest along the Judith and Smith River Valleys, and along the North Fork of the Musselshell River. MFWP Region 4 (406) 544-5840 GRAVELLY RANGE - SHERIDAN In this mountain range between the Madison and Ruby rivers, elk hunters either on foot or horses should find elk around Robb Creek, the headwaters of the Ruby and Madison, and Blacktail Creek. MFWP Region 3 (406) 994-4042 CABINET MOUNTAINS - LIBBY Hunting along US Hwy 2 near Libby has produced big bulls. It’s tough, sometimes challenging country, but there are good opportunities around Fisher Creek or anywhere in the Yaak drainage, Libby Creek drainage or Green Mountain area. MFWP Region 1 (406) 752-5501 It’s up to you to adjust during the season when necessary to up your odds! November 2012 13
DUCK & GOOSE HUNTING IN CANADA By Mark Ward
Listen to Mark’s radio show Montana Outdoor Radio Show Saturday mornings 6am - 8am
M y bucket list just got shorter last month! I made it to Canada for my first ever waterfowl hunt. I was joined by my brother Dan Ward from
South Dakota along with Jens Gran from Polson, Rob Hart from Missoula and his friend Pete Larson from Minnesota. It was the first trip that any of us had taken to hunt waterfowl in Canada. I have been to Canada walleye fishing, but that was over 17 years ago before 911. So as you might imagine, getting across the border now requires a little more paperwork and preparation, to avoid any delays or hassles. A passport is now needed to cross the border, as well as a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration. I would recommend planning ahead a couple of months so you can apply for the passport. The firearm declaration can be filled out before you cross the border. This form which comes with a $25 fee, asks for gun type, barrel length, and the serial number of the gun. Once in Canada you will undoubtedly be treated to some world class duck and goose hunting. We were based out of a hunting camp operated by Eric Olson from Havre called Mr. O’s Outfitters. The camp consists of two houses in Beaver Flats Resort located on Lake Diefenbaker. This lake is 140 miles long and is 40 miles from Swift Current in the Providence of Saskatchewan. We booked our trip through Alan Evans of Montana-Canada High Plains Adventure in Missoula. He can be reached at (406-240-4078). Mike Knudson of Havre and Gary Dreikoson also helped in guiding us on our morning and afternoon hunts. We arrived Tuesday afternoon just in time for an afternoon duck hunt. A weather system had just entered the area bringing overcast and windy conditions, creating ideal duck hunting weather for our first hunt. There were 8 hunters in our group. We set-up blinds and a decoy
display in a field next to a pond that contained hundreds of ducks. It was the start of a dream shoot. In a little over an hour and a half we bagged 61 ducks.
Tyler Mullaney of Walkerville, MT. with his DIY archery elk taken on public land - Gross score 351-7/8 14 - Hunting & Fishing News
The next morning we left camp at 4:30am to travel an hour in the dark to a field where we would be setting up for our first goose hunt. By 8am we had bagged our daily limit of geese. The next couple of days we experienced great duck hunting, but the goose hunting suffered, because of the nice weather conditions that had entered the area. If you are planning a trip there are a couple of ways to experience Canada waterfowl hunting. You can employ an outfitter that handles every detail or you can bring your own decoys, scout for waterfowl and then ask permission to hunt after you have discovered where the birds are located. An outfitter like Mr O’s takes a lot of the guess work and hassle out of planning a trip. They charge $1100 for three days of hunting; 3 goose hunts in the morning and 3 duck hunts in the afternoon. Also included in the fee is room and board, so you don’t have to cook or buy food. Whichever way you choose, one thing is certain. If you love to hunt waterfowl you will love hunting in Canada!
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Now Is Time To HUNT THE SIGN
Photo and editorial by Bob Humphrey Yamaha Outdoors
Bucks will be chasing does during what many whitetail enthusiasts consider the most exciting and dynamic periods of the season. It also means predictability goes out the window. Before it does however, bucks can become quite regular in their daily movements. Now, more than ever, is the time to hunt buck sign. Bucks begin making rubs early in the fall as they shed velvet from their antlers. The shedding is initiated by a surge in testosterone, which also makes the bucks increasingly more aggressive. They vent some of this aggression on the local vegetation by rubbing trees. This helps them strengthen neck, shoulder and leg muscles they’ll need to spar over mates in the coming weeks. They also leave scent from forehead glands on the trees as a signal to other deer, though the exact purpose is still not clearly understood. Regardless, a line of fresh rubs indicates a route traveled regularly by one or more bucks. Unless disturbed, they should continue to follow that route and work the rubs on a somewhat regular basis until the real rut kicks in. Now you know where they travel; you just don’t know when. This is where scouting cameras can be very helpful. Images can sometimes help you discern a pattern, if there is one.
of the whitetail’s range, the rut is about to bust open.
You can sometimes make an educated guess based on which side of a tree is rubbed, and what the surrounding cover consists of. If the tree is rubbed on a trail leading to a food source, you may be better off hunting in the afternoon. If it leads to bedding, it might be a good place to intercept a buck heading to bed. Somewhat the same is also true of scrapes. Biologists believe (though they’re still not certain) that scrapes are something of a message board -- a place where bucks and does can communicate with one another without actually being together. It is presumed bucks are signaling their dominance and readiness to breed; and does will signal the latter when it occurs. Until then, bucks will continue visiting scrapes to keep tabs on who’s in town and who’s hot. Most, but not all, scrape visits occur during the night. Hunting over scrapes is a low-odds tactic. However, bucks will occasionally visit scrapes during daylight, and if they do, it is far more likely to happen at twilight. Things will change, and once the first does come into estrus bucks abandon their scrape lines. Rub lines, on the other hand, are often on regularly traveled routes, trails that both bucks and does will use both in and out of the rut; so they remain good places to hunt throughout the fall. November 2012 15
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What’s In Your Duck Boat? There are few things that compare to an early morning in the duck boat, gliding through the dark as the bow breaks skim ice... getting to that perfect bulrush point or backwater bay... planning the decoy spread and setting the blocks perfectly for whatever species that’s targeted... pushing the boat into the rushes and settling in, with a steaming cup of hot coffee in hand; a ready shotgun within reach; and an anxious dog softly whining... waiting for the telltale sound of whistling wings overhead as the sun crests the eastern horizon.
The first consideration is the boat itself. Is it well-suited for your hunting situation? For example, if you hunt big water like I usually do in Minnesota, where the wind can whip up big rollers in an instant, it’s critical to success and safety that the boat can handle it. This means hunting from a deep-V hull design that can take the waves. If you hunt solo or with one other hunter, a 14-footer is ideal. With 3-4 hunters, then upping to a 16 is best.
In marshes and backwaters, a mod-V or flat-bottom boat is preferred for its shallow draft and ability to get into skinny water where puddle ducks like to loaf and feed. Whatever hull fits your application, Waterfowlers are a passionate bunch, because there’s magic to that. Gunning for one thing applies to all boats - and that is dependable power... if there’s an outdoor ducks and geese is something that’s pursuit that demands the finest power, it’s definitely in our blood. I count myself as duck hunting. Think about it: duck hunting one of the crew, even though I can’t get out waterfowling as much as I want to, and is synonymous with cold weather and cold water. Often freezing conditions. And, a lot of my hunting takes place in fields hunters routinely have big bodies of water versus water. But I will always love the all to themselves. Which is great for experience, and that special feeling of anticipation on the water just before sunrise. hunting, but if you get in a jam and need assistance from another boat, there’s The feeling is greatest when everything nobody around to help you like there typically is just right, and that only happens when is while summer fishing on a busy lake. you’ve prepared things properly. Perfection is in the details, which starts with your duck So if you’re as passionate about waterfowling as I am, insist on equipment boat and what you put in it. 16 - Hunting & Fishing News
you can count on. My duck boat has an Evinrude E-TEC 15-hp on it. There isn’t a cold-blooded bone in its body, so I know it’s going to crank right up and perform whether it’s 60 degrees on opener or sub-freezing during the late season. Another reason it’s a perfect choice for waterfowlers is because E-TEC doesn’t require winterization followed by hibernation. When the weather gets below freezing, you can “winterize” it right at home with a simple push-button process after your hunt. Then get up the next morning and fire it right up without fear of freeze-up. With other engines, once they’re winterized they’re out of commission until spring.
1.866.213.3436 By Babe Winkelman
Several boats today are made specifically for waterfowling, complete with lockable, water-tight gun lockers and gear boxes. We don’t all have the luxury of having a boat like that. I know I don’t. But a good waterproof, heavily-padded gun case will protect your expensive shotgun just as well. And a big travel cooler with a secure lid latch, all painted with dead-grass paint, is an affordable and useful dry box for shells, calls, extra clothes and other essentials. Remember to plan for worst-case scenarios whenever you load your boat for duck hunting. Of course you’ll need legal PFDs, and you should wear one at all times. Keep a spare Some other boat considerations for prop and a tool kit on board for potential successful waterfowling are concealment pitfalls. Additional safety equipment and storage. Effective boat camouflage includes a first-aid kit, emergency whistle, is essential to cheating the keen eyesight cell phone, bright flashlights, a fire of wary ducks and geese. Even small worn extinguisher, anchor, push-pole and paddle, spots in painted aluminum can send hand-held GPS and extra clothes including unnatural glints skyward and spook ducks. rain gear. The weather can change on a So whether you camouflage with paint, camo dime during duck season, and preparedness tarps or full enclosures, make sure your can make all the difference in the world. concealment is complete. I always like to I hope you have a fine waterfowl season bend natural cover into the inside of the and that you stay safe, shoot straight and boat too, because having real vegetation thoroughly enjoy the magic of waterfowling incorporated into your man-made camo can with family and friends. So here’s to wishing make a real difference. you whistling wings over your boat...
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New GT ‘Claw’ The HAND’S FREE Bow Carrier Cooking the Wild Belt worn leaving you free to Thanksgiving Bird climb, twist, bend and sit Photos and article by Steve Hickoff Yamaha Outdoors without worrying the bow will tip, shift or fall out. W ild turkeys are different than store-bought frozen roasters, for To retrieve the bow you simply sure. No, they’re not gamy. Yes, they’re delicious. It all depends on the cook of course. To me, wild turkey is as turkey as turkey can be. Want true organic food? Tag a bird during one of the fall or spring turkey seasons. You can bet we’ll serve wild turkey this coming Thanksgiving Day... Here’s hoping you killed one this fall or that you still have some wild turkey in the freezer from last spring. There’s no better way to extend those hunting memories than by cooking them this holiday season. USE IT ALL: Assuming you made a clean shot, dressed that bird in due time, and kept it cool for the transport home on the back of your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle, you should be in good shape for starters. I like to utilize as much of the meat as possible, including the breasts and the drumsticks; even the remaining carcass once the legs and thick chest meat are drawn. You can basically use breast meat in any recipe that includes store-bought domestic chicken fillets or farm turkey. It’s that simple. Many guys simply opt to finger the meat, roll it in egg batter then flour, and fry it in cooking oil. That’s cool—it’s good, and seasonings offer flavor options. BAKED TURKEY: We sometimes like to bake thin fillets cut from several thick turkey breasts. In one mixing bowl add a few tablespoons of fancy mustard and roughly a half cup of milk. On a plate, sift out some flour, and grated jalapeno cheese. Next roll the thinly cut fillets in the mustard-milk mix, then in the flour-cheese deal. With the oven preheated to 400 degrees, put the meat into a glass baking dish, gently pour the remaining mustard-milk liquid on top, and slip it in the oven. Forty minutes will do the trick. Delicious stuff... MEAT FOR SOUPS: I like to parboil the drumsticks in a tall lobster pot 3⁄4 full of boiling water. After 90 minutes or so, you can remove the legs, cool them, and pick the meat for use in soups. Breast meat and legs now removed, you can do the same thing with the upper and lower de-feathered and skinned body of the turkey (snap it into two pieces)... Eating wild game extends the hunt memories; pictured here, various ways to prepare your big wild bird, from Drumstick Turkey Alfredo & Angel Hair Pasta to Wild Gobbler Chili.
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Ice Fishing Tips – Early Ice By Nick Simonson, Nodak Outdoors www.nodakoutdoors.com/ice-fishing-tips-early-ice.php
hile taking those first nervous steps onto the ice this weekend, I stared down into the weedy shallows with their vegetation frozen in place, the last respiration of openwater photosynthesis trapped in the tiny bubbles just inches from the surface of the frozen water. I traced my way along a small crack and as I approached the area where it intersected another fracture, both separations shuddered and the white lines darkened with a slight filling of water. Though nothing more beyond the pop and the slight flow occurred, it was an early-season reminder that no ice is safe ice and it made me remember some other ice fishing tips for another safe season of hardwater angling. 10. Carry basic survival tools with you. A knife, a lighter, a whistle and ice picks are the bare bones basics you’ll need in case of trouble. A small first aid kit, a GPS unit, duct tape and a Ziploc bag are great to have too. Much of what you need to survive can be packed in a tackle box or in an Altoids tin. Use the Ziploc bag to keep it all waterproofed. 9. Be a “half-full” angler. Keep fuel levels on your truck, snowmobile and ATV at half or better when you’re headed to the lake. That way you’re guaranteed not to get stranded for lack of gasoline. 8. Keep it on the rocks, not on the ice. Save the celebration for after the outing. Alcohol impairs judgment, hinders mobility, results in faster body-heat loss and has been a contributing factor in many ice-related incidents in recent years. 7. Stay clear. A lesson passed on to me by a brother of mine, who will remain nameless, was learned the hard way. The drawstrings of his hooded sweatshirt became entangled in the gears of his power auger and the motor pulled his face flush with the housing. Thankfully he was able to hit the kill switch and cut himself free. Lesson learned – keep loose clothing and limbs away from motorized ice equipment – augers, ATVs, etc. 6. Layer up and pack an extra set of clothes. You can’t put on what you don’t bring with. Wear multiple layers of clothes and keep an extra set packed in your truck or sled, just in case a boot – or your whole body – breaks through. 5. Be thick-headed. Know what thicknesses of good, clear ice can support you. Three inches will hold a person. Seven inches will hold an ATV or snowmobile. 12 Inches will hold a small automobile and 16 inches of clear ice will generally hold a pickup. These are just guidelines, so adjust as needed based on ice conditions and formation in your area. 4. Watch the weather. Warming trends and liquid precipitation can have quick negative effects on ice quality. Monitor what’s coming and what has happened recently in the areas you plan to fish, as recent rains or prolonged temperatures above forty can weaken ice. 3. Know your water body. Have a good understanding – and a map – of areas on your fishing waters which are known to have questionable ice. Note areas of currents, springs, aerators, bridges, culverts or vegetation which make ice unstable and avoid traveling or fishing near them. 2. Let ‘em know before you go. Provide information to a non-angler back home as to what lake you’ll be on, what areas you’ll be fishing and when you’ll check in and return. Leave detailed directions on how to find you along with your contact information and that of the anglers you will be with. 1. No ice is safe ice. This is the number one for ice fishing tips. It’s not terra firma, there’s no safety net, and it just can’t be trusted. No matter what month of the hardwater season, no matter how cold it has been, no ice is 100 percent safe. Remember that with every step. Follow these tips as you venture out this month on the first few inches of safe ice. Being cautious and prepared is the first step toward a successful outing, whether you pursue pike, perch or other species on the ice...in our outdoors. November 2012 19
Say Hello To Success: Where to chase the Fish this Month Brought to you by
started to recede, and the fishing will be very good here. Trolling Wedding Rings, Triple Teasers and Rapalas will work for both kokanee salmon and trout. You can also try using a nightcrawler just over the tops of remaining weeds for fat rainbows. Fly anglers should try strip leech and bugger patterns around the pump house, where big trout like to hang this time of the year, dining on eggs. The chances of catching a nice brook trout are also good. Watch for weather patterns as things can change fast up in the mountains here. We’ll be ice fishing up here before we know it!
Sue Nehls with 28”, 8 lb. fall brown, caught on Hebgen Lake
Excellent fishing will continue through the month of November here in the west. Unless an unexpected Arctic Front moves into Montana, all rivers and open lake fishing will be top notch. Plus, you can have most of these spots to yourself with many anglers opting for days afield during our big game season. Let’s take a look at a few options to consider.
FLATHEAD LAKE The Flathead offers up some of its best fishing of the year here in November for macs and whitefish. The lake trout are also routinely cruising the shorelines looking for rocky shoals and ridges as this is the time of year the lake trout spawn. Cast heavy spoons from the boat towards the shoreline to pick up these big trout now. Trolling with Kwikfish, Flatfish and Hoochies are a productive method on the lake. If you find the trout schooled up, drop a lure jigging spoon tipped with cut bait and you will have a boatload of fish before you know it. The whitefish should start to school up at the river inlet and outlet to prepare for spawning.
Polson Bay can be red hot during this time. Jig a small spoon, grubs, and whitefish fly rigs with maggots to produce some action.
LAKE KOOCANUSA It’s time to start fishing for big kamloop rainbows in Lake Koocanusa. Prime fishing time is when the surface temperature gets to 55 degrees or less. Big rainbows will then begin to feed on the surface and will hit your lure hard now. It’s the time of year when you may land a 20 lb. rainbow! It’s whitefish, rainbow and lake trout here. Expect to catch tasty whitefish in the 2 to 3 lb. range. Rainbows average around the 6 lb. mark. Try trolling streamer flies in dark colors, and Lymans in darker patterns. Keep your lure from 75 to 300 feet behind the boat, the rougher the chop, the closer you can run the lures to the boat. Use 12 to 16 test monofilament for these hard fighting fish. Your trolling speed should be around 3 mph.
Another good choice! The weeds that plagued us all summer have
Countdowns from Rapala.
MISSOURI RIVER Fly fishing has been excellent. Move towards nymph fishing off the edge of slow water. Pheasant tail, Copper Johns, Birds nest, (just to name a few), will be productive patterns now. Use streamers and buggers in faster water.
Pull bottom bouncers with a worm harness or a floating crank bait, slow down to get the right depth, and you should catch walleye now. Floating a jig head 18” from your weight tipped with a crawler should This is another great time of the pick up a few tasty fish. For trout, year to be fishing Canyon Ferry. head to the Causeway and keep Ling, walleye and the trout fishing it simple. A slip bobber and a will all be excellent fishing now. You crawler should do the trick. Look for can fish below the Dam off the bank. similar results at Black Sandy and Use crank baits or jigs, or try tossing White Sandy. a few different types of spoons for aggressive trout. The walleye are still around 40 feet deep on the north end of the lake. On the south end Walleye will be catchable on Lake you can pick up walleye from 10 to 20 feet with bottom bouncers. Once Francis here as the water cools. This lake near Valier, is one of the temperatures drop the fish will Montana’s top walleye destinations, move up to feed. Sporadic reports of some northern pike have become and has a fishable population of yellow perch as well. For walleye, more common. troll crankbaits in around 12 to 20 ft. of water. Slow drifting leadhead jigs baited with a nightcrawler are walleye killers on Lake Francis. Look The walleye fishing has been out for a few northerns in the system exceptional all season from the now as these feisty fish will attack at Gates down river, from 15 to 45 ft. These fish are on the move as water will. Two of the deeper sections on the lake are in front of the boat temps begin to fall below the 60 ramp on the island and in the middle degree mark. Use jigs tipped with of the bay between the island and a crawler or Gulp. Trout fishing will the lighthouse. pick up again, as they prepare to fatten up for the winter. Browns are spawning, and will begin returning to deeper water. Below the Dam, Walleye up to 10 lbs. can be caught crank baits and spoons have been now and are biting on everything producing walleye and trout. Try from a trolled minnow to a (next page) using trout colored patterns and
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CLEARWATER, ID REGION Idaho Fish & Game This report highlights a few of the best places to fish, what anglers are using and what they are catching. The information is compiled from regional Fish and Game fishery managers, local tackle shops and anglers. Area Lakes and Reservoirs Area lakes and reservoirs make ideal, easy to reach family fishing destinations. During October, most receive generous stockings of rainbow trout, plus aquatic weeds and algae are less of a problem compared to summer months. Looking for a good place to go fishing?...Contact the Clearwater Fish and Game office at (208) 799-5010. Fly Fishing The water has cooled and the crowds are gone, and fly fishing for trout in the region’s rivers is excellent. Anglers fishing the North Fork Clearwater and the middle and lower Lochsa are doing very well. Attractor patterns--Clarks Stonefly, Stimulator, Royal Wulff, Trude, Parachute Adams--in sizes 8-14 are
working well for cutthroat in most waters. Reds, oranges, and yellows, plus blue-winged olive imitations, such as size 18 Parachute Baetis, are also productive. Steelhead While the steelhead run is likely going to be down compared to the previous 12 years, anglers still have plenty of steelhead to catch. A projected run of 110,000 combined hatchery and wild steelhead will pass over Lower Granite Dam. Recent catch rates were about 15 hours per fish caught in the Clearwater River and 41 hours per fish caught in the Snake River. Expect fishing to pick up in the Snake River soon, and anglers should start catching them in the Salmon River as well. Clearwater River anglers can expect more of the larger B-run fish to show up soon. Boat anglers are having good success back trolling metallic finished plugs. Bank anglers are consistently producing fish with spoons and float and jigs. Clearwater boat anglers need to be especially careful as the water levels are very low right now as flows are decreasing from Dworshak reservoir.
Salmon The fall Chinook salmon run is looking like it will be one of the best on record, with over 70,000 expected to pass over lower Granite Dam. The best fishing has been in the Snake around the mouth of the Clearwater and around Heller Bar. Anglers fishing the confluence are using flashers down deep with plug cut herring or super baits. Up the Snake, anglers are catching fall Chinook while fishing for steelhead. Don’t forget to review the fishing seasons and rules booklet before casting a line. The Fish and Game office in Lewiston (208-799-5010)
can assist you with detailed information and your local tackle shop can help with equipment.
Nelson Reservoir (continued)
Daredevil spoon fishing from shore. Cooling water temps have got these fish feeding again, and there is very little fishing pressure on this water. Fishing should remain good up until ice-up in late December. Bait a leaded jig with a 4 inch sucker minnow and jig in 12 to 18 ft. of water for walleye. There is also a healthy population of northerns here, and they will basically attack anything that moves.
Photo Jarrettʼs Guide Service November 2012 21
2012 Fall Steelhead Outlook By Tom Steinbrenner
If I truly
wasn’t a die-hard, metal-head fisherman, I’d consider being Tom Steinbrenner a little bit pessimistic about this year’s steelhead run. As of mid-fall we are seeing less than half the number of steelhead over the last dams on the Snake River than what has been the 5 year average. Most of the steelhead that are coming to Idaho have already passed Bonneville dam and the numbers reached are far less than the pre-season predictions. Many of the predicted “A” run fish that run up the Salmon River forgot to show up this year, and a fair chunk of the “B” run Clearwater Fish are late or may not be coming either. What this means to the Montana Steelheader is that this year it might be more prudent and economical to spend our limited outdoor days pursuing wolves, big game, waterfowl or trout in Montana’s lakes and rivers. But, those are not my plans. For the fisherman that knows the river at different water levels and also knows what to expect the steelhead to do and where they’ll hang out, those fishermen will tie in to plenty of monster “B Runs” this year. Why, because the key component we won’t face much of this year is pressure from 22 - Hunting & Fishing News
too many other fisherman. Less fish means Less fisherman. The steelhead will be more spread out through the system. Where we used to see 10-12 fish in a run we’ll now be targeting 5-6 fish. This is both good and bad. Sure we’ll have a chance at less fish, but those fish may not see near as many boats over-head and should have far fewer hooks, flies and hardware passing by. Once again this year, the single most important variable to a Steelheader will be presentation. We’ll have more open river and a smaller selection of fish to entice with our offerings. Which makes the way the bait is presented imperative. It needs to be at the right depth, speed, color, size and smell the first time through the area the fish are holding. With the weather we’ve been having, water levels are low and clear. Meaning we need to use lighter lines, smaller baits, weights, bobbers, plugs and even flies. Bright colors may do more to alarm and spook fish than attract them in these conditions. A drift boater using smaller colored metallic plugs might want to be feeding out an extra 10 yards of line. Bobber and jig fisherman should think about using 8 lb Maxima Ultra instead of 10 or 12-pound test as leader with smaller 1/8th oz. or 1/16th oz. jig heads. We expect the Michael Jackson Jig (black body with a white head) to perform as well as it usually does early in the season. Black jigs with pinks, oranges or red should start picking up more fish in November through December. Trout beads and sand shrimp below a bobber or drifted will both take plenty of fish this fall. This year we plan to do more side drifting and boondoggling through the longer, flat and deeper sections between Orofino, Lenore and Cherry Lane. This is where we’ll have all that extra water from the North Fork and we can re-run sections with the help of our little outboard on the drift boat. Fishing above Orofino will have to wait until some water is added by the weather and the fish move up stream. Side drifting very small chunks of steelhead roe (as small as a dime above a size 4 hook) worked well the last several years and we expect it to be one of the top producers again this year. Boondoggling is a different deal all together. It’s side drifting with a small slip bobber, but rather than using enough line to just keep it off the bottom, you are adding a couple of feet so the bait continually bounces down stream rolling along the stream bed. We change up from letting the bobber slightly drag the bait through the current to “trotting” which is holding the bobber back by letting it down through the current slower than a natural drift. This changes a couple of things. Trotting keeps the bait out in front of the weights and allows a good scent trail to build up down stream of the bait. The line below the bobber is no longer hanging straight down; instead it is being pulled down stream at an angle and using that extra line to just barely reach the bottom at intervals. With this method the bite is often felt even before any movement is seen by watching the bobber. It’s telegraph fishing. It’s very close to the technique we use with light sink-tips and thinga-ma-bobbers on our single-handed nine to ten foot 8 weight fly rods, where we use darker flies and trout beads or egg patterns. As always, the best time to fish will be first and last light. Good Luck out there, it’s often better to be lucky than good. And remember they don’t call Steelhead the fish of a thousand casts for nothing.
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A Checklist of Essential Items for Hunters Colorado Division of Wildlife
reparing for a hunting trip is a major effort. Listed below are a few common items that hunters often forget as they get ready to go into the backcountry. First aid kit (include mole skin/duct tape for blisters); Compass and high-quality maps; Fire starter for use in the field; Knife sharpener; Extra batteries; Rain gear; Blaze orange vest and cap; Extra fuel for camp-stove; Tire chains; Cleaning supplies, trash bags; Flashlight/lantern; Game bags; Sunscreen; Toilet tissue; Hunting license; List of family/friends phone numbers; Extra water bottles; Water purification pump or tablets; 2012 ...Big Game Hunting brochure. 24 - Hunting & Fishing News
RIFLE AND BLACK POWDER By Jim Roode
Courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife
Over the past year or so, we have
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had a number of questions...concerning the best shot placement for a large animal such as an elk. Most hunters intuitively know a quick, humane kill will follow a shot placed in the heart-lung area. Then they get in the field and have to judge exactly where that heart-lung area is located on the animal and in the excitement of the moment, may make poor decisions resulting in a wounded or lost animal. It is difficult as a writer to portray all of the possible scenarios that will occur in the field when hunting elk. Most hunters in Colorado do not hunt elk from a tree stand, ground blind or other fixed structure. We stalk, still-hunt, or sit on a likely meadow or crossing point where we expect the elk to traverse when moving from a bedding area to a feeding area. Perhaps the best way to describe proper shot placement with a rifle or muzzleloader is to provide you with a short scenario and some of the questions that run through your mind. Follow along as we discuss a scenario that presents some shot-placement considerations. 150 Yards So you’ve been sitting near a spot where two game trails cross. One trail parallels the ridge line about 10 yards below the top. The second trail crosses a nice saddle in the ridge. At about 4 p.m., you spot a bull elk at 150 yards. You’ve got several decisions to make: -Do I want this elk? -Can the animal be easily processed and returned to camp? -What are the chances I will be prematurely detected (scent or sight)? In the mountains, air generally flows down slope in the morning and rises in the afternoon. This elk is downhill, so chances are it won’t smell you. Although you’re wearing blaze orange, if you’re somewhat concealed and don’t move, chances are the elk won’t see you either. -Is my shooting position good enough to insure a good clean, one-shot harvest? -At what angle will the animal be presented and where will I aim? That is the crux of this article. To answer the question, we must decide where the elk is vulnerable and why.
Photo courtesy Vince Lindgren - Missoula The pictures and table at the end of the article will help you consider the possible answers. 140 Yards The bull turns and walks uphill toward you, presenting a straight-on or slightly “quartering toward” shot. This is a low-percentage shot as only the heart and liver are vulnerable. Two lungs are not possible from this angle. 125 Yards The elk keeps coming and crosses a short bench. Because of your elevation, the entire top of his back - and therefore his spine - is exposed. This could be a potential shot. He is walking directly toward you; there is no question as to the exact location of the spine. If you have a really good shooting position and could stop him by use of a cow call, you might be tempted to consider this shot. The aiming point would be center of the back at the point where the bullet might also intersect the spine or the heart. The target is still the spine but a little redundancy is not a bad thing. This is a shot you should pass up. There are too many variables in this scenario. The elk is still coming on, closing the gap with each step. He doesn’t know you’re there. The optimum conditions for success are not yet present but in just a few more yards, the elk may present you with the perfect broadside shot. Patience is a virtue and will usually be rewarded. 80 Yards Another 40 yards and the elk pauses, quartering toward you at about a 45 degree angle. This is the first good opportunity for a shot since you saw him on the bench over 100 yards away. This is a shot which the cartridge and bullet play a role in the decision to shoot or not. (continued on page 29)
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Hunters! Be Aware HUNTER AND ANGLER NUMBERS UP; EXPENDITURES RIVAL OF AMERICA’S BIGGEST COMPANIES of Major Regulation SOME A Changes in Region 3
National Shooting Sports Foundation
MFWP One area seeing major changes to elk hunting this year is the Madison (Hunting Districts 360-Upper Madison and 362-Lower Madison). In HD 360: Hunters can only harvest one elk (using either their general license or antlerless B license). In HD 360 & 362: Hunters (over the age of 15) may only use their general license for hunting a brow-tined bull. Hunters must have drawn an antlerless elk license for respective districts to harvest a cow. Note that antlerless licenses are valid only for a specific time period. In HD 360 & 362: Within 72 hours, hunters must report a successful elk harvest by calling 1-877-FWP-WILD or going to fwp.mt.gov (click on “For Hunters” then “HDs 360 & 362 - Elk Harvest Reporting.” These changes came in response to concerns from sportsmen, landowners, and outfitters wanting to see a greater documentation of harvest in the Madison. This documentation will help FWP biologists in future season setting and elk management. Another area in which hunters should take note of elk regulation changes is in the Paradise Valley (Hunting Districts 313-Gardiner and 314-Upper Yellowstone West). In HD 313: Hunters (over the age of 15) must have drawn a permit for this district, and may only hunt brow-tined bull during the general season. In HD 314: Hunters (over the age of 15) may only hunt brow-tined bull elk on their general license. Hunters must have drawn an Elk B license to hunt antlerless elk during the general season... 26 - Hunting & Fishing News
coalition of hunting and angling groups and the outdoor industry briefed members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus...on the rise in hunting and fishing participation in this country. The groups, led by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Cabela’s, Safari Club International, American Sportfishing Association and National Marine Manufacturers Association, used recently released data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) 2011 National Survey on Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation to compare hunting and fishing participation and expenditures to mainstream industries.
“To put it in perspective, the 37 million sportsmen and women over the age of 16 in America is the same as the population of the state of California, and the $90 billion they spent in 2011 is the same as the global sales of Apple’s iPad™ and iPhone™ in the same year,” commented Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s
Foundation. “Hunting and fishing have been, and clearly continue to be, important elements of our country’s outdoor heritage and they are critically important to our nation’s economy – particularly the small local economies that support quality hunting and fishing opportunities.” The participation and economic data, released in August by the Service shows a 9 percent increase in hunters and an 11 percent increase in anglers compared to the 2006 survey. The important thing to note is that these numbers are just accounting for sportsmen and women age 16 and older so actual participation is likely higher when adding in youth. Most notable, however, is that hunters and anglers continued their strong spending habits. From equipment expenditures ($8.2 billion for hunters, $6.2 billion for anglers) to special equipment ($25 billion towards boats, RVs, ATVs and other such vehicles) to trip-related expenses totaling over $32 billion, sportsmen and women continue to direct their discretionary income toward their outdoor pursuits. “Our industry has continued to have strong returns, even during this lagging economy, and the reason is the commitment of hunters and shooters to their outdoor activities,” said Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “With National Hunting and Fishing Day taking place on Sept. 22, this new information should make the millions going afield this fall proud.” “The economic impact of hunting and fishing is profound in South Dakota and across the country,” noted Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Republican Senate Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, at the briefing. “It’s important that we have policies that promote hunting and fishing and support the outdoor industries.” “People don’t think about hunting and fishing in terms of economic growth,” stated Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Democratic Senate Co-Chair of the CSC, to the participants. “The statistics in the new economic impact report are great and will go a long way to telling the public just how important hunting and fishing are in this country.” “One of the statistics I learned today is that the $6 billion that hunters spent in 2011 on guns, ammunition and archery equipment is comparable to the sales of bicycles in the United States. This is particularly important because most of those gun and ammunition companies are based right here in this country meaning sportsmen’s dollars support American jobs and American workers,” said Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Republican House Vice-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “In today’s world, we are talking about economics and jobs — those are the main drivers in most policy discussions. It is so important to see how strong the sportsmen’s community is and what they are doing to support the American economy so they have a voice in those discussions,” commented Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Republican Senate Vice Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. Beyond the impact to businesses and local economies, sportsmen and women have played an essential and unmatched role in conserving fish and wildlife and their habitats. Sportsmen and women are the nation’s most ardent conservationists, putting money toward state fish and wildlife management. When you combine license and stamp fees, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, the tax from small engine fuel and membership contributions to conservation organizations, hunters and anglers directed $3 billion towards on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts in 2011 — that is over $95 every second. This does not include their own habitat acquisition and restoration work for lands owned or leased for the purpose of hunting and fishing, which would add another $11 billion to the mix...
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RECREATIONAL USE OF STATE LANDS
Marshall Johnson, Regional Director - Mule Deer Foundation
Public Land/Water Access Association
There sure is a lot of gray hair. I just attended a recent habitat dedication with
As part of the original statehood action 5.2 million acres
my family and the first thing my boys stated when we got into the car was, “Wow, everyone is so old!” Of course to them, 30 is old, but the boys are right, besides my wife and I only one other couple was there that was under the age of 50. I work with many conservation and hunting organizations throughout Montana and unfortunately, I see a lot of gray hair and very few people under 40. Recently, as reported in the Billings Gazette, a survey was conducted and the findings showed a 9% increase in hunting, 11% increase in fishing and 36% of Americans participate in outdoor recreational activities. Yet, very few volunteer to ensure that their outdoor passion and our hunting legacy will be there in the future. In fact only 2.3% of our population volunteers for conservation organizations and 3.8% for shooting sports, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics (9/2011). The #1 reason I hear when a person is asked to volunteer is “I am too busy.” If you are passionate about the outdoors, hunting and/or the shooting sports, you should NEVER be too busy. If you think that someone else will do it, you are terribly mistaken as the culture of our country shifted from a “Best for Us” culture to a “Best for Me” culture, and a lack of responsibility. So, if you are concerned, complain about the current outdoors situations, then it’s time to do something about it and introduce others including our youth. Introducing youth and young adults to giving back and volunteering will improve self esteem and a sense of responsibility. Self esteem will come from being a part of something important, accomplishment and the importance of teamwork. If you enjoy the outdoors it is time to give back by volunteering with an organization whose mission is to ensure conservation, shooting sports, outdoors and our hunting legacy. What a great way to bond with your family and create family memories that benefit what we are passionate about for future generations. But, if you are going to leave it to the gray hairs, because you are too busy, the future of conservation, hunting and other outdoor activities will die with them.
were deeded to the State of Montana to be used for school funding . . These lands are leased for farming, ranching and logging. Prior to 1988, a citizen who wanted to recreate on school trust lands had to get permission from the lessee. This was often difficult because many lessees had contracted with outfitters or restricted access to friends or relatives. In 1988, two members of Public Land/Water Access Association, Tony Schoonen and Jack Atcheson, filed a lawsuit against the State Public Land Department to open these public lands to the public. They continued on this path and won every motion to dismiss the suit filed by the Stockgrowers and other parties . It appeared that they were on the right track and the issue was picked up by Rep. Dave Brown. who introduced the State Trust Lands legislation that became law. This statute opened up about five million acres of School Trust Lands for recreationists use as well as millions of adjoining acres of BLM and Forest Service land. In general, these lands are open for recreational access subject to the rules established by the managing agency, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) . Legally accessible state land is state land that can be accessed by dedicated public roads (roads usable by the public under state or federal law, or which are under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Transportation, or a county or municipal government); public rights-of-way or easements; by public waters such as rivers and streams that are recreationally navigable by adjacent federal, state, county or municipal land if the land is open for public use, or by adjacent private land if permission to cross the private land is secured from the land owner. Entry from state land onto private land, regardless of the absence of fencing or proper notice by the landowner, without permission from the landowner, is trespassing! Hunters and anglers have a permit to use these lands for recreational use by virtue of purchasing a conservation license. Others must buy a permit from the DNRC. November 2012 27
Roy Keefer’s Canada Moose for the Slam By Roy Keefer
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thought as I looked up at the moose that stood mere yards away from me. That experience took place many years ago on a Wyoming elk hunt; I didn’t realize that I would later become obsessed with the idea of taking all three of the North American subspecies of the moose family. Several years later I hunted and killed an Alaska-Yukon moose and followed that with a Shiras Reprinted with permission from Bowhunting.Net. in Utah. If I could be lucky For more please go to again and take a Canadian I www.bowhunting.net would have the moose slam. Fortunately I have made a lot of hunting friends through the years and I called upon them for some advice and guidance. I was given several leads and settled on Big Knife Outfitters in Alberta. The owner, Cody Cassidy, is a professional steer wrestler. He’s good, in fact, he finished 5th in the world at the 2010 National Finals Rodeo. His brother, Curtis, finished second. From talking to Cody, it sounded like he had a great area. Lots of trophy class moose, fairly easy walking terrain and the timing of the season was good. I had drawn an antelope tag in Wyoming and an elk tag in Arizona and this hunt would fit in after those hunts so I booked for late September. The drive from our home in Las Vegas was long but my wife Shelby and I took turns and after driving for a day and a half we arrived at Cody’s home. He has built cabins for his hunters and they are first class. Shelby and I had a cabin all to ourselves. ..That night we had an excellent meal prepared by Cody’s wife and got ready for our hunt. The next morning was cool and pleasant, not like the windy conditions we had experienced on our arrival. Cody had a couple of spots in mind so we drove to an overlook of a valley that was split by the Big Knife River. The river bottom is farmed and we could see fresh cut canola fields divided by thick stands of timber. An ideal spot for moose; water, food and cover. It didn’t take long before we saw a herd of moose consisting of a small bull and some cows. We glassed them for a while and I looked off to our left and saw more moose. The horns of one shown brightly in the morning sun. Cody looked at them and said, “Let’s go, that’s a nice one.” The moose were over a mile away so in order to get into position we drove part of the way and then dropped off the hilltop to begin a stalk. Our plan was to walk along a ditch out of sight of the moose until we got to a small knoll where they were feeding. The walk was easy, the wind was right and everything went as planned until we got to the knoll. By the time we arrived, the moose had finished eating and were leaving. Thinking quickly, Cody cupped his hands and made a bull moose call. The cow, her calf and one small bull continued their exit, but the larger bull moved toward us to fend off the intruding stranger. A bull moose stands about six feet at the shoulder so they are pretty imposing when they are up close and personal. He made his way through the thick brush and headed straight at me as I tried to find a shooting hole. I moved to my left and saw a place where I hoped an arrow would clear the brush. When he was at 20 yards I shot and hit him in the lungs. He quickly moved off and stopped again broadside at 41 yards. I reloaded another arrow and released it. The arrow hit near the first. He managed to travel another 20 yards and stopped. He staggered and fell to his knees. It was over. The entire hunt had taken only two hours. A bull moose is massive in size and their horns are equally impressive. My moose was bigger than anything I’d ever taken. I had the moose officially scored and it measured 181 5/8” gross and 173 6/8” net. The Pope & Young Club minimum score for a Canada moose is 135”. It had been quite a hunt. We met some great people, saw some beautiful country, Shelby had videod the hunt and I had taken a record book animal. It doesn’t get any better than that.
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Shot Placement (continued from page 24)
A light caliber rifle and light grained bullet are not a good combination for this shot decision. The front shoulder bones of an elk are large and dense and can stop or deflect a bullet of lesser size and velocity. With muzzle loaders, a round ball or any load that develops less than 1500 ft lbs of energy is questionable as well. To put a bullet into his vitals, you’ll need enough bullet to punch through the shoulder with enough energy to inflict a fatal wound. This is something that ought to be left to the larger-caliber rifles and heavier-grained bullets. The aiming point here is the front of the front shoulder, center of the body. The target is a little smaller than a broadside shot but if you’ve got the right cartridge and bullet, put in your practice time, have secured a good shooting position, a well-placed shot should result in a hit on both lungs and the bull on the ground. On the other hand, busting up the shoulder will create a lot of bone-damaged meat. The elk still doesn’t know you’re there. In a few more steps, you may get a perfect broadside shot, or at least one where the elk’s vitals are more exposed. 50 Yards Now the elk starts ascending a rather steep narrow section of the trail. You can hear hooves, see the slight jerk in his head with each step. If you can hear him, he can certainly hear you. A savvy hunter will have his cow call at the ready. You issue a couple of soft chirps and he pulls up in an almost perfect, broadside position. Settle your cross hairs at the back edge of the shoulder, in the middle of the body. Exhale and gently squeeze the trigger. We’ve talked a lot...about having enough gun when hunting elk. If you get an elk in this scenario, broadside and motionless at 50 yards, even a .270 or .243 will do the job. If you’ve got something like my .45-70 on your shoulder, the likelihood of a clean kill is very high. The shot echoes in the draw. The bull takes single jump and he is down. Wait. Replace the expended cartridge and watch the elk carefully for any movement. Stay alert for a follow-up shot. When you’re confident the elk isn’t going to jump up, approach carefully while watching for any signs of life. When you get around to the front, observe the eyes: are they open, unmoving, and unblinking? Take a couple of minutes to admire him; to say a word of thanks for having been given this opportunity and the skills to produce a clean and humane harvest. Now your license comes out and the carcass tag on it is torn off, filled out signed and returned to the wallet. A few minutes ago this bull belonged to everybody. Now it is your responsibility to process, share and enjoy this gift. The scenario above is the “perfect” scenario we all hope to see in the field. Remember I said the word patience several times? I think far too often we tell ourselves a marginal shot is a good one rather than letting the full scenario play itself out. (continued on page 33)
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Poacher Caught With Landowner’s Help
C olorado Parks and Wildlife officers in Hot Sulphur Springs have cited a West Virginia resident for “hunting on private property without
permission” and “illegal possession” of a 6x6 bull elk taken on Devil’s Thumb Ranch property in Tabernash earlier this month. David Lee Burner, 61, of West Virginia was assessed $11,509.50 for his role in the incident. The amount included a $10,000 additional penalty that applies when trophy-quality wildlife is poached. “We first received a tip from a concerned hunter who witnessed a suspected trespassing incident in Devil’s Thumb Ranch,” said Lyle Sidener, Area Wildlife Manager in Hot Sulphur Springs. “After the ranch owners found evidence of trespass on their property, they informed us and then assisted us in the investigation.” Information provided by ranch personnel included an eyewitness account of a vehicle with West Virginia plates seen in the area two days after the incident, the exact location of a boned-out, elk carcass found on the property and photos of the carcass. Officers were also able to recover the bull’s head, providing forensic evidence that could help match the confiscated antlers to the head. Additional evidence included photos of Burner’s hunting party, provided by the hunter who first observed what he suspected was trespass activity. With the provided evidence, District Wildlife Manager Gene Abram and AWM Sidener were able to locate Burner’s hunting party. It was during this contact that the officers determined that Burner was the responsible individual. Burner then admitted his guilt to the officers and paid his penalty assessment the next day...
Archery Hunter Bitten In Encounter With Grizzly Bear A nonresident hunter was bitten, but not seriously injured, when he and his
hunting partner went back to retrieve a bull elk shot the evening before. The pair was following the elk’s blood trail when they were suddenly charged by a grizzly bear. The bear bit one hunter on the arm and then ran back into thick cover. The hunters were not carrying bear spray or firearms. The pair was able to hike four miles out and drove to the medical clinic in Ashton, where the hunter was treated for his injuries and released. The Michigan hunter had been archery-hunting the area for elk for 14 years. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game mails out “How to Hunt Safely in Grizzly Bear Country” brochures to all hunters holding tags for elk hunts in areas that are known to be frequented by grizzlies. The incident occurred near Sheridan Creek and was originally handled by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office until the GPS coordinates of the location indicated that the incident actually occurred in Clark County. Fish and Game, along with the U.S. Forest Service is handling the remainder of the investigation. The Forest Service has posted the area to alert the public about grizzly bear activity. All hunters in the Island Park area are encouraged to carry bear spray and have it readily accessible. When returning to retrieve game it is important to make lots of noise and be ready to encounter a bear. If a bear has claimed their animal, hunters may contact Fish and Game about a replacement tag. If a hunter has time to field dress an animal, but cannot remove it all before dark, the entrails should be moved as far as possible from the carcass and items with human scent left in the area. 30 - Hunting & Fishing News
Fall Wetland Survey Conducted T
he North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates fair wetland conditions statewide for duck hunting. However, hunters will need to plan ahead because most areas of the state are substantially drier than last year. Wetland counts were down by about one-half in the northern tier of the state, and about two-thirds in the southern tier. However, waterfowl biologist Mike Szymanski said perception is everything. “Last year’s moisture level was one for the record books,” Szymanski said. “We are left with numbers of wetlands slightly lower than in 2005 and 2009, despite very dry conditions.” Hunters may find shallow wetlands they hunted last year to be dry. However, deeper semi-permanent wetlands will likely be holding water. “Most semi-permanent wetlands will also have a mud-margin between cover and the water’s edge,” Szymanski said. “That margin will vary a lot depending on the shape of the wetland, but should not be a major hindrance to hunters in most cases.” The wetland survey is conducted in mid-September just prior to the waterfowl hunting season, to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect...
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in Black Hills Deer Wyoming Game and Fish biologists have confirmed that epizootic hemorrhagic
disease (EHD) has killed a number of white-tailed deer in the Black Hills this summer. Due to the difficulty in locating carcasses and the broad area affected, the exact number of deer succumbing to the disease cannot be determined. EHD is mostly a disease of white-tailed deer, but also occurs in pronghorn antelope, elk, and mule deer. Variants of the disease can affect species such as bighorn sheep and some domestic animals. EHD is spread by a biting gnat. Symptoms include loss of appetite, extreme weakness, and dribbling of blood-stained urine and feces. Affected animals usually die in late summer and fall. EHD die-offs are a common occurrence in the Black Hills, especially following long, dry summers when the first frost is delayed. Lack of water sources and rapidly drying ponds also tend to concentrate deer in areas where gnat populations are high and facilitate the spread of the disease. Drought conditions have led to EHD outbreaks and the loss of white-tailed deer across much of the western United States this summer. “It appears the die-off is widespread geographically and significant in some locations,” said Newcastle Wildlife Biologist Joe Sandrini. “However, the disease is endemic in the Black Hills and we experience some level of die-off most years. We’ll be able to get a better handle on this in mid October when we do our deer trend counts in the Black Hills, and hopefully by then we will have had a good hard frost and the disease will have run its course.” In recent weeks concerned citizens have contacted the Game and Fish Department about dead or dying deer. “I have been fielding a lot of phone calls about sick and dead deer in Crook County,” said Sundance Game Warden Chris Teter. “It seems like there have been more phone calls than with past outbreaks, but we also have a lot more people living on small acreages where deer concentrate in the summer.” Newcastle Game Warden Troy Achterhof noted that all of the dead deer he has found and those that have been reported are whitetails... “The current EHD die-off really emphasizes how many factors come together to regulate deer populations in the Black Hills,” Sandrini said. “The weather, disease, insect populations, predators such as mountain lions, and habitat all interact, affecting each other and ultimately acting to increase or decrease deer production and survival. You just cannot point your finger at one thing and say it is solely responsible for trends in deer numbers.” But he also noted, “Something like this current EHD epidemic can have a significant short term effect, the results of which can impact hunting opportunity for several years, and unfortunately, this latest impact follows on the heels of the 2010-11 winter which was most responsible for our current low numbers of deer.”
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Most Chukars Since 2006
Photo by Brent Stettler Jason Robinson broke into a big grin as he flew over central Tooele County recently. Below him were the most chukar partridge seen by Division of Wildlife Resources biologists in the area since 2006. “I think hunters will have a good chukar hunt in central Utah this fall,” says Robinson, upland game coordinator for the DWR. “Conditions were good for chukars to nest and raise their chicks.” During a helicopter survey Robinson flew over the county on Sept. 12, he counted 46 chukars per square mile. That’s more than double the 18 chukars per square mile biologists saw in the same area last year. And it’s the highest number seen since 2006, when 97 chukars per square mile were counted...Based on what he saw during the survey, Robinson says Millard, Juab, Tooele and Utah counties should be chukar-hunting hotspots this season. Outside of those counties, the picture is a little different: In southern Utah, hot weather in April and May made it difficult for hens to regulate their body temperature. And that made it difficult for them to incubate their eggs. Also, the hens had to leave their nests more often for water, which left the nests open to predators. In northern Utah, it wasn’t as hot in April and May, and most of the hens successfully hatched their eggs. Unfortunately, because the amount of rain received this spring was lower than normal, not as much green vegetation grew. Less green vegetation meant fewer insects for the chicks to eat. And that reduced the chicks’ survival rate... HUNTING TIPS You’ll find chukars on steep, rocky slopes that are covered in cheatgrass and also have sagebrush, rabbit brush or other brush on them. To find success, Robinson says you should hike to the top of the hill you’re hunting, and then walk down the hill towards the birds. If you try to hunt the birds on the way up the hill, the birds will outrun you and hide themselves in cover at the top of the hill. Robinson says for some reason, chukars don’t run as much if they see you coming down the hill towards them. “If they see you coming down the hill,” he says, “they’ll usually hold tight and try to hide from you.” Chukars live in coveys that usually number between five to 20 birds. When one bird flushes, most of covey will flush with it. “Don’t ‘flock shoot’ though,” Robinson says. “Instead, focus on a single bird.” After the first birds flush, get ready—a few stragglers could fly up at any moment. When chukars flush, they usually fly straight out and then turn right or left. “If you miss a bird when it flushes,” Robinson says, “watch where it flies to. You can often go to that spot and flush the bird again.” When you arrive in an area, a good way to locate birds is to listen for their calls. Most coveys have a sentinel bird that stands on a rock and watches for hawks while the other birds feed. “The sentinel bird can be very vocal,” Robinson says. “If you listen for its call, you’ll know where a covey of birds is.” When you go afield for chukars, wear good, sturdy shoes. And if you take a dog, put boots on its feet to protect its paws from sharp cutting rocks. And make sure you take plenty of water, not only for yourself, but also for your dog. Robinson says chukars are the most delicious game bird in Utah. “That’s one of the major reasons I hunt them,” he says. A distribution map that shows where chukars are found in Utah is available on page 31 of the 2012–2013 Utah Upland Game and Turkey Guidebook. The free guidebook is available at wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks. November 2012 31
Plan Your Approach Photo and article by Bob Humphrey Yamaha Outdoors
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sometimes overlook how they’ll get there, which can be just as important. We’re taught at a very young age that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But a direct approach is not always best when hunting wily whitetails. It may take a little more time and effort, but the route that causes the least disturbance is the path best traveled. Know Before You Go - You should have some idea, from scouting, where the deer will be when you enter the woods. Try to avoid these areas as much as possible. Bumping deer can have a domino effect, where one fleeing or snorting deer alarms others, putting them on edge or sending them on their way as well. Mind the Wind - Just as you did when setting your stand, pay attention to wind direction when approaching it. If at all possible, approach with the wind in your face. If you can’t, at least use a quartering wind, or one that will blow in a direction where it won’t disturb too many deer. Take the Highway - No matter how conscientious you are about scent control, you’ll always leave some trace where you tread. That’s why it’s sometimes better to travel existing roads, two-tracks or ATV trails to the greatest extent possible. Deer are more accustomed to both disturbance and human scent on and around them. Take it Easy - Speaking of ATV trails, there are circumstances where riding may be a better option than walking. In farm or cattle country, deer are used to seeing motorized vehicles come and go, and are often less alarmed than they are by a walking human. Ride within a reasonable distance, then get off and walk the rest of the way.
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Shot Placement (continued from page 29)
Far too often, we do not work hard at our shooting skills and are willing to take shots at angles and distances we are unsure of and make a bad decision and take a shot that we would like to have back after the shot is fired. The decision process in the scenario can teach the reader
several things, first is patience: let the scenario play out for a bit. Second, develop the ability to clearly see the shot placement and know how the bullet will enter the elk and where it will intersect the vital areas. Third, make the decision to pull the trigger in a deliberate manner
We also need to discuss “quartering away” and moving straight away shots. Quartering away at more than a 45-degree angle can be almost as To sum up, a good ethical hunter strives for a clean, quick and humane good as broadside. The target is getting narrower as the angle increases one-shot harvest. For me, that means I don’t shoot if I’m not 99 percent but no big bones are nearby to stop or deflect bullets. The aiming point is sure that pulling the trigger will result in a humane harvest.... the off side front leg. At an angle less than 45 degrees, the target area is too small and a successful shot must necessarily pass through the Good luck. Practice your shots, and know your own limits. stomach - thus contaminating much of the meat in proximity to the wound channel. If the shot is off, even a few inches, it could result in a complete miss of the vital area. A shot taken with the elk moving straight away from the hunter is a poor shot choice and will rarely result in a successful harvest. The bullet entering from the stern must travel too far to create fatal damage in the heart-lung area on an elk. The target area is too small and even at a close range, will probably result in a wounded elk. The chart below is provided as an effort to give the reader a few concepts on shot placement decisions. You will note the heart/lung area provides the most reliable shot placement location and the largest “target area.” The heart/lung area for a bull elk is roughly 25 inches across, allowing for some error in shooting skills and still providing good shot placement. The other locations are small in size and failure to have an “exact” shot placement may result in a wounded animal. SHOT INCAPACITATING/ LOCATION FATAL? TIME COMMENT Double/ Yes 0 to 10 seconds The most reliable way to insure minimal travel Lung Heart Yes 0 to 1 minute Always fatal, but an elk can travel several hundred yards in a minute. Spine Yes Instant A spine shot instantly paralyzes everything to the rear of the impact. If the shot is in the neck, death is also instantaneous. The spine is a very small target. Not recommended for primary point of aim. Brain Yes Instant The brain is a small organ on the end of three feet of bobbing and weaving neck, protected by large amounts of bone and horn. Under most circumstances it should not be considered a target. Arteries Maybe 5 minutes to fatal Bleeding contributed to debilitation. Arteries are more important for the archer to find... Liver Yes Minutes to several hours If that was your shot, sit down, wait two hours and get ready for a long tracking session. 1 Lung No Hours, if at all A single lung shot by itself will not bring down an elk. Stomach Maybe Hours to days A gut-shot elk can go a long, long way. Legs No Not An elk can go a long ways very fast on three legs.
November 2012 33
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34 - Hunting & Fishing News
By Rick Haggerty
IRiver t was the second hunting trip of 2011 into north central Montana’s Judith country. The previous hunt in late October had revealed our worst
fears of an EHD outbreak in the white-tail deer herd. Our hopes were that the outbreak we had heard about in the weeks leading up to rifle season was that the outbreak was further northeast of where we had hunted the past 3 seasons. It was an area just below the Missouri Breaks country that held both good numbers of whitetails on the river bottoms and mule deer up high in the bluffs near trees and pasture lands. The previous season was one like no other; heavy snow, sub-zero temperatures and big bucks roaming the area looking for does to breed. Every hunting day was a new journey. The excitement of knowing there were lots of big deer roaming around kept the adrenaline levels high. Once I had shot my whitetail buck, which happened to be the first evening of the hunt, it was searching to find a good buck for my hunting partners and one doe tag to fill. As I mentioned earlier, sub-zero temperatures kept us moving all day looking for a big rutting buck. Missed opportunities fell, in between my buddies finally tagging out on a buck and doe on the last day of our hunt, 2010. A trip we won’t forget! Fast forward to 2011, and a much different ending to this season. Let’s go back to the first trip to our area: EHD outbreak, late October, really just waiting to see if the stories were true of the whitetail kill-off. Our hopes were high driving over, but our first morning of the hunt, we knew it was much different on the river. There were very few whitetails spotted, and the mule deer had moved down where you would typically see many whitey’s. We had only planned to hunt two days over the weekend to see how things were, and then take our week long hunt during the heat of the rut in late November. (continued next page)
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Fast forward three weeks later - November 16, 2011. As we loaded our gear that day, the excitement was very high. It was the middle of the deer rut and our hopes were that the bigger bucks were just not showing up early in the season, and that our second trip to the river bottoms would be a much different story. Day 1 - First morning out we hiked behind the gate to our spot only to see a couple of whitetail does and yearlings and a small buck across the river feeding. Several muley does and three or four small mule deer bucks filled out the morning hunt. The evening hunt was again a hike into our spot, set-up on the side of a bluff overlooking the river until dark, and wait to see what comes out to feed. With Whitetail “B” tags in our pockets, do we shoot a doe? We decided with these low numbers, and the fact that it was clearly evident that the EHD outbreak had indeed hit this area of Montana, we would not kill any does this year. We hunt until dark only seeing a few muleys feeding and three whitetail does right at dusk. As we get back to the parking area just before dark, we talk to four guys from Lewistown that say they haven’t seen much at all driving around, but one of them did shoot a little buck earlier. I look into the back of their truck and to my chagrin, it’s a very small whitetail yearling buck with three inch spikes. I ask myself, “Why would these guys shoot this small buck?” It did not seem right to me, and I felt bad that this small deer did not get a chance to mature. Especially this year! After pondering what to do for our next four days of prime time hunting, I ask myself, “Should we stay and hunt this area or pack it up and head back to Helena and hunt near home?” Disappointed, we head back home to hunt the rest of the season. 2011 hunting season in review: Personally speaking, the 2011 Big Game Season ended up being a big disappointment, only in the fact of seeing a great area decimated by Mother Nature, not only in this area, but many others across the state. Add to that, some hunters feel the pressure to get a deer, and will shoot pretty much the first buck that they see with horns, which adds stress to an already unbalanced deer herd. If normal weather patterns continue, in my opinion, it will take at least three to five years to see the deer numbers rebound to what they should be. In some areas, limiting doe “B” tags and maybe a 3 or 4 point restriction on bucks in a few hunting districts is what is needed. There would be more big bucks to hunt, and more deer in the field, and that is what most hunters want. Hopefully, more hunters who take This is the result of a well to the field this season will not managed deer herd. shoot that small buck, and hunt a little harder for a mature deer. A lot of hunters have passed up small bucks during the hunting season, and yes, ended up eating our buck tag. I believe that is part of conservation, and being a hunter and sportsman. Good luck this hunting season. ©Twildlife|dreamstime
November 2012 35
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Memories Never Fade For my dad, Bob Lindgren By Vince Lindgren
Bob Lindgren 1985
Iturned t was the tail end of August and with a wide sweeping bank to the left, the Cub as the pilot skillfully maneuvered the plane to observe a large caribou feeding its way through the large bowl below us. In the plane was the pilot, my older brother Scott, my dad Robert, and myself. Peering out the window, we viewed a superb caribou with what looked to be an exceedingly large rack, double shovels, exceptional spread between the large upper palms and still in velvet! I was chomping at the bit hoping our pilot would land the plane so our hunt could begin, but unfortunately, there was no place to put down on the ridge top. So, we continued on, a total of 150 miles due north of Fairbanks. There we found a long, forgiving ridge running east to west. The pilot was in touch with another Cub which had flown ahead of us to find the perfect location. This plane was already on the ground, with the pilot flagging us as to which direction we should land. Next thing I know, we are making our approach across the top of the ridge, perpendicular to the direction the pilot on the ground had flagged us. We weren’t coming in from east to west, we were bouncing across the ridge to the north at 45 mph! The plane went off a small rise and nose dived into the tundra-like terrain with an abrupt stop. We crash landed. Who said hunting in Alaska would be dull? And so began our once-in-a-lifetime hunting experience. With the four of us sandwiched into the plane with our gear, we felt like packaged sardines. This probably accounted for the lack of injuries procured, except for the pilot’s ego (and his job), which is another story. Thank the Lord we all walked away from the incident with only a few scratches and bruises. Gathering up all our gear, we made our way over to a large rock out-cropping about a half mile away where we pitched the tent and prepared for the next day’s hunt. After talking with our guide about the fate of the plane, we learned he would have to return with parts to repair his $80,000 transport and fly it out again. “That’s a pretty gutsy thing to do,” I thought. The prop and one of the wheels had to be replaced due to severe damage, and for the wing, which had rippled metal from the wing being bent upward from laying on the ground, I don’t know how that could get straightened well enough to fly soundly. The biggest question would be, how would you get the plane back on the ridge top? After being pelted with a whole lot of questions, our guide just smiled and told us not to worry, to enjoy our hunt, and he would be back in 2 days to check on us. With that, he and his hired hand (for now), were back in his plane and up in the air, getting smaller by the minute. We settled into our surroundings, glassing the ridges and valleys for signs of life, specifically, mountain caribou. The terrain looked much like one would expect to see on the open tundra, but much higher in elevation. The only firm, sometimes solid ground, was on the top of the ridges. Once we tried to cut the distance by walking across a saddle to the next ridge, only to find the ground to be persistently soft, spongy and constantly lumpy. This made the hiking tiresome, so we opted to stick to the ridges and glass more. Later, we retired to our tent to dine on canned stew while discussing the next day’s objectives. Then it was lights out. (continued on page 39)
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38 - Hunting & Fishing News
Memories Never Fade (continued from page 37)
The next morning found me up early and ready to get going while my brother stayed in the tent to recheck the gear and dad wrote in his journal, recording each day’s events. The morning was cool and clear as I searched for my quarry. Then, up over a rise about 100 yards out, came 2 bulls and a cow. The first bull was
average, but the second had a nice rack, so I immediately made my decision to try for it. I laid down and took aim as he fed broadside to me. I relaxed and squeezed the trigger and at the report, they turned and ran directly away with my bull lagging, breaking away, and collapsing. Slowly, I got to make my way over to this beautiful animal with antlers still in full velvet. After the pictures, I methodically began the process of caping and deboning, as I wanted to get as far away from the carcass as quickly as possible to avoid any run-ins with a grizzly. After all, a gun shot seems to be more of a dinner bell than a deterrent once they figure out it spells “easy food.”
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Author, Vince Lindgren 1985
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Well, that’s two out of three. The next morning found Scott and I walking in the general direction of the plane, and where I took my bull. We were doing a little scouting for dad’s caribou, while he continued his journal entries. We were well beyond the kill site of my caribou and looking back, could see the plane halfway between us and the tent. It made for a good marker!
We spotted our dad walking the ridge towards us, yet, were startled to see a very large grizzly sauntering its way up the deep ravine directly towards...DAD! We tried in vain to get his attention, but he
was too far away and kept turning to view the other side of the ridge, unaware of the griz. Passing the plane, he noticed us motioning him to head over the ridge. This would put him out of the bear’s line of sight. Finding the scent from the caribou meat that was packed from my bull, the bear methodically traced each meat-scented rest stop back to our camp. Fortunately, we had stored the meat on top of the 20 foot high rock behind the tent, but made a regretful mistake by leaving the heads with capes and antlers on the ground. In no time at all, the griz made a meal out of them, making short work of our trophies as we slipped over to the downed plane to get a better vantage point. Dad then discharged two rounds over the griz causing them to ricochet off the rock and consequently scaring away the bear. Good job dad!!! Once back at camp, we could see the capes were useless. Unless one thought a caribou without ears looked normal. We focused our attention on the whereabouts of our new resident we located about 200 yards away in the expansive saddle between our tent and the farthest ridge. We found the griz alright; it had found the carcass of Scott’s bull and was in the process of digging, churning up and “backhoeing” the ground to bury the remains to which he then sat down on top of. This was his spot now and woe to any intruder who even came near! At this point, we realized our hunt
had just taken on a whole new meaning, and it started with us rotating shifts at night to keep tabs on our new neighbor. Surprisingly enough, we slept quite well. At around 4:00 a.m. the last shift fell to me as I kept a
Scott Lindgren 1985 While getting my gear ready, I noticed my dad walking towards me wearing a big smile. “Heard the shot, so I figured I’d better take a look,” he said. As we began our trek back, loaded with meat and antlers, we heard a single shot in the direction of the tent.
Seems Scott had a clean 200 yard shot, solidly anchoring his trophy bull.
sharp eye on our large, hairy friend and noticed he was stirring around and now had proceeded up the slope in our direction. Without delay, we were up and moving, sticking to our plan of climbing to the top of the 20 foot out cropping which we accessed from around the back side and with our rifles in hand, laid down on the top looking down on our tent. Soon after, we found ourselves staring face to face with this enormous bruin when he stood and leaned up against the rock grunting, huffing and sniffling. He could smell the caribou meat we had stored on top and we were now laying next to it! This bear was of exceptional size and we figured it must be at least 10 feet tall as we could see it easily stood half as tall as the height of the rock. Impressively, the head with its thick hair completely encompassed chest! As we watched in nervous anticipation waiting to see what it would do next, I noted how I could clearly see the inside of the mouth, the stained teeth, the splotchy pink and dark purplish color of the tongue and at one point, the back of the throat. Then I asked, “Did any of us remember to grab a camera?” I guess at a moment like this, that was the furthest thought from our minds. Safety was of utmost importance. As the encounter drug on, I remembered what our guide had told us to bring; that being a referee whistle which was used to ward off bears. I dug it our of my pocket and gave a loud, shrill blast, causing the bear to push away from the rock and shake it’s head. I did it again and he ran off to the mound he was previously sitting on. I think if I was asked what I thought would be a bigger “rush”, this or bungy-jumping off a bridge, I would certainly say a close encounter with a grizzly! We waited a bit before climbing down, noting the bear looked to be staying put. We made plans for another hunt hoping we could find another bull for dad. (continued on page 44) November 2012 39
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Do Decoys Really Work?
(continued from page 11)
EXAMPLES: (1) CARRY-LITE: These folks have an excellent decoy called the EZ-Buck Deer Decoy. It’s very light (no pun intended) and has a special material that keeps the noise down as you carry it thru the woods, fields, or brush. The legs also fold for easy setup and take down and includes a carry band and ground stakes. (2) PRIMOS: Will Primos has been very innovative when it comes to decoys and this decoy is excellent, The Scarface Deer Decoy comes with a head and tail that move in the slightest breeze. The Scarface is a realistic decoy with a soft body. It is also quiet to carry and easy to assemble in the field with a sturdy metal stake to support the decoy. The head, legs, ears and antlers are removable and store in the body cavity. (3) FLAMBEAU: These folks have a great decoy called the Maters Series of Boss Buck and Boss Babe decoys. Both are realistic looking and feature a twist locking leg system that adds stability, durability and ease of assembly. The legs, head, and antlers all break down and fit inside in the body cavity. Plus the rear legs will accept pads to apply your favorite scent. (4) MONTANA DECOYS: As always Jerry McPherson’s lightweight, easily packable fold up decoys are absolutely the most realistic on the market! These durable polyester units show a photographic image printed on both sides giving you an almost perfect image of the deer you are hunting. Choices are the Dreamy Doe, Playmate Feed Doe, Whitetail Buck and Whitetail Dream Team Combo. MONTANA DECOYS are some of the best looking decoys on the market, but the nice thing is how easy they are to carry and put up. (5) EASY DOE DECOY: The EASY DOE is a blow up decoy that features a motorized tail that moves via remote control. When you want it to move, you hit the remote control. The decoy comes with a D-battery portable pump so you can quietly blow it up in the field and an adjustable stake that also allows the decoy to move with the wind. I have had does come in many times and be wired to the max and I just flick that EASY DOE tail and it immediately calms them down. One of the great decoys on the market. This past fall/winter I was the guest at Geronimo Creek Ranch and was using the Easy Doe Decoy and it was the reason I was able to take a really great 9 point Buck... SETUPS: No matter what species I’m hunting the first thing I always do when using a decoy is check the wind! No matter whether I’m using a ground blind or a tree stand I want to be on the down wind side of that decoy so if the game I’m hunting does come in down wind, I have a chance of catching that animal on the down wind side and having a better shot. Many times I’ve set up for a buck using a doe decoy and that bugger will come down wind and be very cautious. I think what happens is if a buck has been decoyed before, they become decoy shy and will take all precautions necessary to make sure they are coming into a live deer! Gobblers are especially notorious about being decoy shy if they have had a lot of pressure! This past spring I had a very unusual occurrence with Rio Grande gobblers in Mexico. I was hunting on a Ranch that I know had not had any hunting pressure for gobblers and yet they were very wary about decoys, calling and even feeders. So I made some major changes. Instead of using one hen decoy I switched to a flock of FUSION / CHEROKEE SPORTS Decoys. I set out a Wobble-Head Hen, a Submissive Sally and a Delinquent Jake and that combination did the trick. The birds came in running just begging for someone to shoot them! Therefore, whenever you start having problems with a single set up change to a flock of turkeys or more than one deer decoy. I’ve used different style of decoys from different manufactures to get the deer to come in. One of my favorite tricks on bucks is to put a buck out in front of me, making sure to turn the decoy broadside to you. This helps ensure you will have a broadside shot as the deer comes in to check out that decoy. I’ve heard people say to have the decoy facing away from you. Well I’ve tried that and it’s failed every time. I never seem to be able to get the shot I want. Back to the hunt; with my buck decoy out in front of me, I will use one of the Montana Decoys placed in the brush to my left or right depending on the wind, and it looks realistic! This is especially a great set up on old mature bucks as they come to the rattling horns and decoy, and will also help calm them down and help you get that shot you want and need. People often ask me the question, ‘do decoys work’ and I always answer the same. Yes they do. Maybe not all the time, but they work enough to make them a part of your hunting gear. They will, if set up correctly, draw in the game and they will calm down the game you’re hunting. They help grab the attention of the deer so you can take your shot. So, my advice, pick up a good decoy, take it to the woods, fields, or brush and put it to work. You may be surprised at how effective a properly placed decoy can be for you. Caution: Do not carry a deer decoy during the gun season...! Be sure to put florescence [sic] orange bag over the decoy...
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located east of Malta, south of US Hwy. 2 in northeast Montana. This waterfowl spot in northeastern Montana offers good opportunities ©Schlag|dreamstime.com to shoot over big water decoy spreads. You can shoot ducks and geese as they leave and return to the refuge. In addition to waterfowl, you can also chase pheasants and sharptail grouse on the refuge. The refuge is 156 acres with spots to park and signs on the east side of the lake. All reports are there are plenty of birds in the air, and that will increase through the month of November.
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Generally, the peak of
UT HUNT TIPS By Rick Haggerty
Emma, age 12 at hunt 2011 hunting season whitetail buck first hunting season first deer ©Twildlife | dreamstime
the rut will start anywhere from early to mid-November, depending mainly on the weather conditions and the moon phase. Keep in mind that the prime rut can happen anytime over several weeks now.
Here are a few tips for hunting the rut: Find the does!
Hopefully, by now you have a “go-to” area that you’ll be concentrating on. If not, try to find pockets of does feeding and watering. This will bring in mature bucks to the area now. Look for signs like heavy tracks, droppings and rubs in the area. Once you find the does, the bucks will be hanging close. Bucks may not only move all day long during the rut, they may also travel outside their safe haven areas to find does.
Scrapes and rub lines - Deer use the same breeding areas year
N ovember offers some of the seasons best chances to shoot the buck of a lifetime, and with the rut dead ahead in the West, big bucks will be cruising for does to tend. Here in Montana hunters packing a rifle have the opportunity to hunt this magical time of the year to look for a deer whose head is loaded with heavy antlers.
after year. You may not see many bucks in a certain area in September where deer are, but come November, big bucks magically appear. Concentrate on creek bottoms, thickets, and edges of timber or brushy areas.
Rattling - If you have a good idea that bucks are cruising an area, try
setting up in the brush, on a high point or the side of a bluff overlooking your area. Set up downwind and rattle intensely for a minute, then taper off. Wait for any movement around you. If there is a buck in the area and he hears this, generally he will come to check it out, unless he is already tending to a doe. Rattling works best right before the peak of the rut.
Grunts and bleats - When a buck is tending a doe, he makes a grunting sound. Bucks are very territorial, so when another buck hears a grunt in his territory, he will come to investigate. Grunt tubes work well if you are hunting timber or brushy areas and there is a lot of fresh sign that deer are in the vicinity. You can draw bucks out this way. Again, watch the wind direction, and use the cover to your advantage.
Weather - Probably one of the biggest factors in seeing lots of deer
will be weather patterns in November. Watch the weather forecast closely and try to hunt before and right after storms move in. The deer will be most active during this time, and remember that bucks will be moving all day long.
Hunting attitude - This in my opinion, is the main reason some hunters “score” every year and some do not. You must get yourself in a “predatory mode” to find big deer. This is when you go out and hunt all day long looking for that 30 inch muley or a 160 inch whitetail. When you only “partially commit” to hunting early in the morning for an hour or two, you’ll be missing out on most of that days hunt. It is easy to pack it up and head out for lunch and then hunt right before dark again. On days when the weather is unseasonably warm and the sun is out all day, it can be tough to stick it out all day. My suggestion on these days would be to hunt in the bedding areas where the deer are. Timbered areas and brushy coulees are where you will want to focus until closer to the evening when the deer are up and moving to feed. Putting as much time in the field each and every day that you can and being mentally tough, will produce. On the average, expect to spend around 20 hunting days in the field hunting if you are looking for a trophy class buck. 42 - Hunting & Fishing News
Top Spots For BIG BUCKS
Region 1: Northwest Montana offers virtually unlimited entry to public lands. It’s, tough, brushy country, but you can still find big deer that live here. You can hunt a long time without seeing a deer, because of the cover, but whitetail deer in the 140” - 150” class can be found. Hunting around HD Unit 109 and 110 near Eureka can produce big bucks. HD Unit 130 along Highway 83 north of Seeley Lake generally holds a lot of whitetails. HD Unit 170 just east of Kalispell is also well known for producing some giants. Region 2: Mule deer and whitetail bucks should be on the rebound in HD Unit 201 near Superior. HD Unit 216 east of Hamilton up around Skalkaho Pass in the past has been very good for big racked muleys up high. HD Unit 293 near Helmville is a big unit that can be good for both species of deer. Region 3: This area is better known for elk hunting, but there are very good deer units here. Hunt higher mountain ranges in this unit during the pre-rut for mule deer and major river systems for whitetails during the rut. Hunt HD Unit 391 for big muleys near the foothils and mountains. HD Unit 360 near Ennis is a high country muley area, and for lowland whitetails, it’s any river drainage or crop land area. HD Unit 325 north of Lima is a good district for whitetail bucks. Region 4: This area is one of the most diverse in the state with a mix of units in the high mountain ranges, more open prairies, and the breaks of the Missouri River country. Focus on transition zones on the front range and the Missouri River Breaks for muleys. HD Unit 426 near Winifred will hold good muley bucks. HD Unit 410 north of Winnett also produces big deer every year. For whitetail bucks concentrate on river drainages such as the Sun River around Choteau and near mountain ranges like the Snowies, Moccasins and the Highwoods. HD Unit 404 is big and holds a lot of deer. You may have to knock on a few doors for access in some cases. HD Unit 471 east of Ft. Benton holds both mule deer and good whitetail numbers. There are also some good Block Management Areas in Region 4. Region 5: This region is roughly 75% private making access tough, but it also has many Block Management Areas to hunt. Concentrate your efforts on BMA’s near creek bottoms or with access to the Yellowstone or other river drainages for mule deer and good whitetail numbers. HD Units 530 and 590 near Round Up along the Musselshell River are good units to hunt. Region 6: Many trophy bucks of either species have been taken out of Region 6. Broken up by the Missouri Breaks, it holds many hiding spots for big bruiser bucks. Hunt Blaine, Phillips and Valley Counties for mulies. HD Unit 620 south of Malta is a big area to cover with lots of mule deer. HD Unit 690 south of Chinook in the Cow Creek area is a hot bed for big deer holding up in the coulees. For whitetails, it gets good around HD 640 in Sheridan County near Plentywood and Scobey. HD Unit 651 near Sidney is typically a great area for lots of whitetail deer. Region 7: Look for areas with public access along the Missouri River, Custer Forest and areas around Broadus for mule deer. HD Unit 705 near Ekalaka normally has some huge, big racked mule deer roaming around. Gaining access is again your key to success here. There are BMA ranches to hunt, but knowing someone sure does help. For whitetails, irrigated farming areas around the Yellowstone, Tongue and Powder River County are some of the best in the land. HD Unit 704 near Ashland is mighty fine country that holds plenty of deer. HD Unit 703 south of Glendive is notorious for lots of whitetail deer. The numbers are down a bit this year, but there are still plenty of opportunities to take a nice buck.
Wherever you may be headed this season, hunt hard, respect other hunters and landowners, and take a kid hunting if you can. Good luck!
Photo Courtesy Mossy Oak - Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity pattern
By Bob Humphrey for Yamaha Outdoors
Deer hunting often consists of long hours waiting patiently for something to happen. There are ways to make them happen, and one of the best is by rattling. It won’t always work, but when it does, results can be dynamic and exciting. Here are a few tips to doing so more effectively. WIND
Deer hunters know the importance of wind, and it applies to rattling as well. A buck will often circle downwind of the sound, trying to scent check before venturing into the open. One way to overcome this is to pair up and place the shooter downwind of the rattler. When trying to slip in on the rattler the unsuspecting buck may blunder into the shooter’s lap. Another way is to position yourself so any approaching deer will have to expose themselves if circling downwind. You can also use cover and terrain to make circling downwind difficult for any approaching deer. TIMING
Early in the fall deer will spar and joust, but don’t do much serious fighting. You should imitate that with light tickling. As rut activity and fighting increase, amp up the intensity, volume and frequency. You can rattle any time of day, but better odds lie in rattling when deer are already on their feet, at dawn and dusk. Research has also shown that mornings tend to be more productive than afternoons. FREQUENCY
The first time is not always a charm when it comes to rattling. Too often hunters try once, then give up when nothing happens. My personal experience has been that you’ll see more deer after the second or third rattling bout. There’s no specific formula, but rattling about every 20 minutes is a good guideline. BE READY
It may take several bouts to lure a deer in; and they may come sneaking. Just as often however, they may come on the run. Be prepared to shuck your antlers (in a safe and quiet manner) and grab your gun or bow in a hurry. They may depart just as quickly as they arrive, particularly if they spot or smell you. You may also need to be good at field judging, particularly if you’re an outfitter or you have minimums. Practice by looking at deer, or at least pictures. Learn what a mature buck looks like, and what characteristics make for higher antler scores. And never judge a buck that is going away. They always look bigger, and you’ll be more likely to rush the shot. November 2012 43
Memories Never Fade (continued from page 39) As Scott chose to stay and keep an eye on things from camp, dad and I trekked out on our hunt. We followed a ridge top for about one hour while occasionally dropping off to survey the lower reaches in hopes of any caribou feeding their way to the top.
At last! There was a nice bull slowly working it’s way towards us and a rocky point we found with large rocks jutting upwards. If we read the bull correctly, dad would have him down in about 15 minutes, provided the rocks were enough to conceal our presence. It worked! We lay silent and
motionless next to the rocks while he fed along, now within 50 yards broadside as dad squeezed the trigger. I watched the bull drop from the 1st shot then immediately rose up only to collapse again at the sound of the second. Both rounds met their mark less than one inch apart directly through the heart. Nice shooting! After the hugs and pictures, we went to work on the deboning and caping, and not long after, Scott showed up to lend a helping hand. Back at camp, we recalled the events of the past two days as dad diligently recorded all the details which if one wanted to read a novel, well....... We heard the sound of a small plane growing louder and saw our guide coming to pay us a visit. Once out of the plane, the look on his face was priceless as he saw the large grizzly down in the saddle. We all kept a watchful eye on it as we packed up the gear and caribou. I flew out on a second plane that was brought in to take some of the gear and additional load of meat. Dad and Scott stayed to wrap things up and while doing so, were treated to a show-down between our resident bear and another smaller one. Apparently, our neighbor decided to venture away from his mount and in doing so, allowed the younger grizzly time to sneak in, grab one of the caribou legs and make a break for it. Thus, a 10 minute all-out chase ensued until the intruder dropped its prize and made for another drainage. Wish I could have been there to witness this, “Marty Stauffer” video moment unfold. There is so much that takes place there in nature and we have such a small window of opportunity to view it. What a privilege when we can! Now it was time for this dream hunt to come to an end as we bade farewell to this rugged and virtually untouched wilderness. Nearing Fairbanks, we were treated to a visual display of another animal Alaska is well known for. Below us, we could see three moose; a cow and a calf and a surprisingly large bull sporting an antler spread one could almost lay in! What a sight to see before landing the plane and heading back home to Montana.
Thank you so much dad for sharing with Scott and me, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. What deep, lasting and fond memories you have created for us, always. We love you. Maybe someday, I too can share in the same privilege with my son. Seems he’s leaning more towards an Alaskan Moose than a Caribou, so I had better keep my back in shape! 44 - Hunting & Fishing News
Don’t miss the Hunting Photo Contest!
Casey Ripple of Helena
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[sic] By Jeff Davis, Editor, Whitetails Unlimited
ome areas of the country allow deer hunting, but for safety reasons restrict the use of rifles. Shotguns with rifled slugs are the answer if this is the law where you are going to hunt. Slugs are heavy, fairly slow moving projectiles, and can easily and consistently take deer. However, they do have limits. Here’s some basic information on rifled slugs. TIP 1 GROOVY. Shotgun slugs usually have a solid round nose and a hollow base, with spiral rifling grooves to impart a spin while the slug is in flight. The rifling also provides some space for compression if fired through a full choke. Slugs are usually manufactured under bore dimension, and unlike bullets, there can be a lot of variation in the exact diameter between brands. Rifled slugs can be used in either rifled or smooth barrels. TIP 2 DON’T CROSS ME. Use slugs in single barrel guns only. Double-barreled shotguns (particularly side-by-sides) may crossfire, due to the alignment of the barrels. TIP 3 ONE GUN, TWO USES. A number of gun companies offer shotguns with rifled barrels and conventional rifle sights on top (and are tapped for scopes), or interchangeable barrels so one shotgun can do double duty. Slugs can be used with any choke, but cylinder chokes are usually recommended. TIP 4 KEEP IT CLOSE. Slugs are only useful at short ranges, because of their limited accuracy. A decent shooter should be able to get 3-inch groups at 50 yards with slugs. However, if you sight to hit dead-on at 50 yards, the slug will drop another five inches by the time it reaches 100 yards. (Slugs can drop more than 10 inches over 100 yards.) With practice and accurate ranging, a good shooter could consistently hit a deer-size kill zone at 100 yards. If you don’t put in the time to practice at those ranges, keep your shots to a maximum of 50-75 yards. TIP 5 THE PROBLEM WITH DISTANCE. The other problem with slugs at longer ranges is the drop in power. A standard 12-gauge slug normally weighs an ounce, and comes out of the muzzle at around 1,650 fps. One catalog lists 2,361 ft.lbs. of energy at the muzzle, but that drops to only 926 ft.lbs. at 100 yards. Even if you can be accurate at ranges from 100-150 yards, the drop in power provides an absolute effective limit of about 150 yards for conventional rifled slugs. TIP 6 KEEP IT SAFE. Remember that whatever your maximum range is to hit a deer, the projectile will actually travel much further than that. The most common reason to have a shotgun-only restriction is, because there are a lot of people, buildings, or livestock around. Know what your target is, and what is behind it. TIP 7 THERE’S THAT FRENCH WORD. Sabot slugs have been around for a while, and work very well, providing performance similar to modern in-line muzzleloading rifles. A plastic cover surrounds a more conventional bullet-shaped projectile. The lighter weight projectile leaves the muzzle at a faster speed, and the improved aerodynamic shape of the bullet prevents the velocity loss of conventional slugs. The ballistic chart for one Winchester sabot lists a drop of only 2.2 inches at 100 yards. Note that sabot slugs can only be used in fully rifled barrels. TIP 8 THE WORLD HAS CHANGED. If you hunt in a shotgun-only area, and you’re still using the same slugs you did 20 years ago, do some research. There are many new kinds of slugs — new designs, new material, and a wide variety of sabot types and designs. Get some targets, buy a variety of slugs, and get to the range. November 2012 45
hunting tips MNDNR Photo
By Scott W. Roemhildt, DNR information officer Minnesota DNR
heasants may seem elusive and mysterious to some hunters, but they are creatures of habit and follow a regular routine. Understanding how their daily patterns work will dramatically increase odds of flushing roosters this fall. Just after sunrise, pheasants leave their roosting cover. This is the short to medium grass where they have spent the night. As they move from roosting cover, hunters will see pheasants on roadsides, picking gravel or grit, before they move into crop fields to start feeding. When the season opens at 9 a.m., the birds have just about finished breakfast and might be seen working their way through the grassy fringes of fields looking for a safe place to spend the day. By mid-to-late morning, pheasants have settled into thick, dense cover such as standing corn, brush patches, native grass or wetlands. This is known as loafing cover. Strong winds, precipitation, cold weather
or heavy hunting pressure will drive the birds into thicker loafing cover.
Pheasants are hungry again by late afternoon and will move from loafing areas back into crop fields. They will feed until just before sunset, when they head back to roosting cover for the night.
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-Be ready to hunt at 9 a.m. and take advantage of pheasants on the move. -Hunt line fences, the edges of picked cornfields, field access roads and other edge cover. -The last hour of the day is known to hunters as the “golden hour.” This is when pheasants are moving from crop fields into roosting cover and can make for great hunting. Don’t miss it. -Be quiet! Talk softly and don’t slam doors. Pheasants rely heavily on hearing to detect danger and may split before you see them. They get jumpier as the season progresses. -Hunt slowly and work in a zigzag pattern. Many hunters speed right past wiley roosters. Stopping occasionally will make even the smartest rooster nervous and force a flush. -Hunt the backsides of properties, away from roadways. Hunt habitat across creeks and drainage ditches. Many hunters won’t make the effort to reach these challenging areas that will often produce pheasants. -Remember that pheasants are edge birds. Look for places where one type of habitat transitions into another: crops, grass, brush, cattails, ditches and fence lines. -Only hunt row crops if you have posters or standers at the end. Without them, pheasants will run down the rows and flush early. Always know where other hunters are located. -Don’t hunt standing corn on windy days. The rustling leaves will keep you from hearing the birds flush and it will be more difficult to keep track of dogs or other hunters. -Look for grassy patches in picked corn fields. These can be real “honey holes” for pheasants. -Hunt the weeks after Thanksgiving. You will have very little competition from other hunters and birds will be more congregated than early in the season. Look for some great hunting. -If you shoot a pheasant, immediately mark where it landed and move to that spot. Grass and brush can make downed birds difficult to find. -Most of all, be aware of dogs and other hunters, be safe and follow hunting regulations.
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