Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 â€˘ Page 1
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Special Destination Section
2018 Pheasant Fest 5 Sioux Falls Visitor’s Bureau 6-7 Lodging • Restaurants 8-11 Aberdeen, SD 20-22 Redfield, SD 23-25 Hunt Pierre, SD 26-27 Pierre, SD/Lake Oahe 28-31 Missouri River/Lake Francis Case 32-33 Mitchell, SD 34-35 Glacial Lakes of SD 36-37
Hunting Be Fully Prepared
Tune Up for your Trip...............................................12 Big Habitat
on Small Acreages...................................................16 Scout Your Own "Master Pit"
Fall Fowl.............................................................................46 “The King of Game Birds” in Minnesota
Grouse Hunting at Its Best................................50
Special Fall Destination Sections Hunt Southwest Minnesota 38-39 Sandhills of Nebraska 40-41 Explore Northern Minnesota 50-53 Hunt & Fish Canada 67
New Strategies for
Goose Hunting with the Flow.........................54 Grouse Hunting at
Lake of the Woods.......................................56 Coyote Calling Basics
Calling All Coyotes.................................60
Check Your Stand Early
Deer Stand Safety.................................64
Multi Species Fishing
In the Fall..........................................68
Hunter Safety for Dogs.............66
“Falling” In Love With The Driftless Area
Autumn Fly Fishing Southeastern Minnesota........................................72
Pheasant Gourmet..........42-45 Upland Game Recipes
EDITORIAL Get Sunglasses on Your Gear List Don’t Overlook Eye Protection......78 Avera.org
Note from the Editor
We are coming up on my favorite time of the year. You can get up in the morning and go fishing, hunt for pheasants during the day and maybe pass shoot a goose at the end of the day, does it get any better! Check out the Sioux Falls section and start making plans to attend the 2018 Pheasant Fest, February 16-18. Anyone that enjoys the outdoors will be amazed at this event. We have some exceptional stories on upland game birds in this issue. Check out the articles on the grouse hunting opportunities and the Walk in Areas for pheasant hunting in Minnesota. We also have some great recipes for your upland harvest this season. Check out the fall fishing stories on Multi-Species fishing and trout fishing.
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Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s largest city, and the gateway to some of the best pheasant hunting in the country. Located in the heart of America, getting here is easy. Flying in? The Sioux Falls Regional Airport offers direct flights from all of the primary destination flight hubs and hundreds of one-stop flights both domestic and international. The airport is served by Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, and United airlines. Private charters are also available. Driving in? The city is within a day’s drive from many major Midwestern metropolitan areas conveniently located at the junction of I-90 and I-29. Just hop on the interstate after a good night’s stay and you are only a short drive from bagging your limit. Prior to or upon arrival you will find a wide variety of welcoming accommodations, restaurants featuring local flavor cuisine, and sporting outfitters that provide the gear you need to hit the fields. The city also offers many things to fill up your free time.
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Good Earth State Park at Blood Run South Dakota’s newest state park in more than 40 years is now open on the southeast corner of Sioux Falls. Part of the Blood Run National Historic Landmark, the park lies on both sides of the Big Sioux River and includes over 3,000 acres. A new 11,000 square foot visitor center features exhibits and programming focused on the cultural and historical significance of the area.
Active travelers and outdoor explorers rave about the city’s Big Sioux River Recreation Trail and Greenway. The 26-mile bike trail begins at Falls Park and loops around the city. This paved trail follows along the Big Sioux River through scenic urban and wildlife areas. The Outdoor Campus is a great stop along the way to view wildlife, catch up on outdoor skills and pick up complete South Dakota outdoor recreation information. Visitors from around the world say you can’t miss Falls Park. It’s the city’s namesake that sits on 123 acres in the heart of a vibrant downtown. Each second, an average of 7,400 gallons of water drop 100 feet over the course of the falls. Falls Park also features a visitor information center, five-story viewing tower, Overlook Café and historic ruins. A lively music scene, renowned arts, robust culture, and foodie favorites can be found citywide. Enjoy endless entertainment options in local venues, intimate settings, or large scale premier event centers. Go to VisitSiouxFallsEvents.com for a complete listing of events.
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 7
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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 â€˘ Page 9
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By Dennis Foster
FOR YOUR TRIP Here in South Dakota, our bird numbers are bouncing back, but that does not necessarily mean easy pickins for hunters. Unless you frequent preserves or commercial operations that release tame, penraised pheasants—birds I jokingly refer to as colorful chickens—you had best be fully prepared Wild pheasants do not lead an easy life, nor are they willing to give it up to you just because you showed up in your pretty orange hunting outfit. Put simply, they are not impressed with what you wear or your dog’s pedigree and expensive training. Wild birds face any number of challenges on a daily basis, and, quite frankly, human hunters are one of the least deadly. Despite habitat losses and cruel Dakota weather conditions, these hardy survivors continue to eke out a living no matter what challenges they face. They encounter predators on a daily basis that are far more skilled, cunning and effective than we humans could ever hope to be. As hunters, a hungry coyote or fox makes us look far worse than even Elmer Fudd’s clumsy and inept attempts to bag that famous, wascally wabbit. That being said, here are some hard-earned, common-sense suggestions that I have gleaned from years of hunting and guiding hunters to limits of these beautiful birds. Personal Training The biggest thing to remember is training is not all about you. Rather, it should be about you and your dog. This is where I see many hunts quickly ruined, and I will be the very first to point out that it is seldom the dog’s fault. Yes, the dog may have shot directly from the pickup and beat the blockers to the end of the field, gleefully busting up birds all the way. But this is simply because the dog did not fully comprehend what was expected of him, and, even worse, the owner did nothing to stop the dog’s behavior beyond screaming a stream of obscenities in the direction the dog was last seen streaking.
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Electronic collars are a humane tool that serve as a way to reinforce training. At times they also serve as a great hearing aid and should defnitely be used when needed. The dog may have a pedigree a mile long and may have been through schools costlier than those of your own kids. It might have even won a ribbon in so-called field trials with lots of letters behind them. However, if they have not experienced truly wild birds, growing pains should be expected. By far the biggest mistake I see made every year is that dogs spend too much time with the trainer and not the owner. The trainer can only teach, and dogs perform well in the field only when they truly like and respect their master. Once they understand the program, they will gladly do whatever it takes to make their humans happy. This requires an emphasis on the amount of time spent with the dog, and not the amount of money. Quite frankly, the best dogs I see every year are with hunters who take pride in actually working and partnering with their dogs. The worst are the ones that are purchased, taken to a trainer, forgotten until hunting season and then expected to perform like a circus animal.
It never ceases to amaze me how much pride some people can have in something that is merely a commodity to them and then be so disappointed when it doesn’t meet some ridiculous set of expectations. Midwesthuntfish.com
Walk with Purpose My advice would be to simply spend time with your dog as often as you can, and one of the ways you can actually do this is by getting outside and taking your dog for a walk. Try to do this in the country and not in some dog park filled with the scent of other dogs. Even if you live in an area without pheasants, it will do both you and your dog a wonder of good from more than just a mere exercise standpoint. If it takes a half-hour to drive out of the city in which you live, make sure you schedule time for the drive and the walk. It can be a fun event you and your dog can look forward to. Walking with a purpose gives you valuable time bonding and getting your hunting partner used to more than the living room and treat time. They actually get the opportunity to practice by hunting in front of you, and by doing so, they quickly learn what is an acceptable distance. About 25 yards is plenty, and this goes for pointing dogs, too. Always, and I mean always, remember that a wild bird’s first instinct is to run. Believe me, if a pheasant has survived long enough to outsmart a constant barrage of hungry ground predators and stay hidden from the eyes of owls and hawks, they can make your dog look more than a bit silly. You see, truly wild birds don’t buy into the same sit-nicely-for-the-pretty-point philosophy that you might. On rare days the birds behave better and sit much tighter for reasons unknown, and on those special days the dogs have to all but root them out and may even catch a few in the process. Relish those days, though, as they are the exception and not the rule. The bottom line is it’s always better to have control, and going for walks helps the dog understand what’s expected in the eld. Even with the most boisterous and energetic of pointing dogs, having control over dogs can be easily accomplished by spending time with them and taking them for purposeful walks. They will quickly learn to use their running instincts to work up and down a line of hunters or more thoroughly quarter back and forth directly in front of you, locating birds they would have otherwise missed in hot pursuit of running roosters. In the process you are not only brushing up your dog’s skills, but you will also be getting yourself in at least some semblance of shape to walk and keep up with your dog during the season. I am out in the field every single day and see plenty of guys who struggle to fight through the cover pheasants like to call home. When hunters worry more about what their legs are telling them, it just takes away from the enjoyment of being outdoors with friends
and family. You don’t need to be the star of the track team, but before chasing wild birds you should be able to get from Point A to Point B without too much difficulty. This is not to say you have to make every walk on every single day you’re afield. If physical ailments plague you or your age is a limiting factor, there is a distinct and honored role for you. Good blockers and flankers who take a leisurely stroll through more open and sparse cover are always needed, and it’s an unwritten pheasant rule that the old guys always get first choice on the tasks of blocking and flanking the other hunters. Shells and Chokes When it comes to shotguns, money spent has very little, if anything at all, to do with results. In the right hands a well-worn old pump shotgun will knock down as many, if not more, birds out here in the real world than any of the supremely expensive over/under shotguns or new autoloaders. To put it simply, I would use the gun you’re most comfortable with, practice with it regularly and feed it properly. By feed it, I am referring to the shells you run through it. Quality trumps quantity here, as ethical hunters should not be constantly shooting and wounding birds that fly off only to die later. Premium shells help prevent this, and spending a few extra bucks on a box of shells is the ethical choice to make. A general rule I go by is to start the season using larger loads than the 6-shot most folks load up with in October. All of the major manufacturers such as Federal, Fiocchi and Winchester have suitable options, and after some experimentation the last couple of seasons, my guests and I will be relying on a couple of the hotter offerings from Rio when the season opens this year.
Switch to tighter chokes as the season wears on toward December, starting with improved cylinder, moving to modified and finally improved modified. Choke tubes
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page13 13
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I suggest starting with 12-gauge, 2.75-inch No. 5s, and then within a couple of weeks, graduate to No. 4s. After the first six weeks or so of the season, and depending on temperature and snow, move right into magnum 3-inch, 4-shot loads to finish the year. Also, pay attention to the label on a box of shells, especially when it comes to feet per second. Hotter loads do two things. First, they compensate for failing to lead a bird enough, and faster loads also mean the pellets strike downrange with more kinetic energy, which means they have more penetration and killing power. Switching to tighter chokes follows the same general timeline and theme as the season wears on toward December, starting with improved cylinder early on, then moving to modified and finally improved modified. Toward the tail end of the season, the surviving birds aren’t just better educated, they are tougher with more fat and heavier feathers that are difficult to penetrate with lesser load-andchoke combinations. To wrap up, make a dedicated effort to prepare as best you can. If you just can’t shoot, go hunting with someone who can. If you don’t have good dogs, go hunting with someone who does. Now, if you don’t have a good dog and can’t shoot, hire a guide. We need to eat, too, ya know! When you hunt with a guide, you and your dogs might just pick up a thing or two in the process that will help make your future, unassisted outings more successful.
About the Author: Dennis Foster is a freelance writer and pheasant guide from Mellette, SD. For more information or to contact him directly, go to dakotapheasantguide.com.
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It doesn’t take huge amounts of land, deep pockets or an advanced degree to create a place for wildlife to call home. Some or all of the above are helpful, to be sure, but there’s nothing to say that folks who have a few acres and a few hundred bucks, as well as a willingness to get their hands dirty and their elbows sweaty, can’t create a wildlife Mecca of their own. Just ask Jared Wiklund, public relations manager for Pheasants Forever, who owns and lives on 10 acres of grassland and wetland near Forest Lake, Minn., on the outskirts of the Twin Cities. His story is proof that anyone who finds the right piece of land – say, 10 to 40 acres in size – has a vision for what it can become, and is willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty can create a great piece of wildlife ground. “It’s a nice little piece of heaven, and it’s close to town,” said Wiklund, who commutes about 20 minutes each way to PF’s headquarters in St. Paul. “We wanted an acreage, and I wanted to be fairly close to work. We found this property, which borders a state wildlife management area, and where shooting is allowed, which is good because I like to hunt. It kind of has the best of all worlds.”
First, consider the location. Wiklund’s property is private, of course, but the fact it borders a state wildlife management area is nothing but helpful and increases its attractiveness and utility to wildlife. Not only can he hunt on the public land if he chooses, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages that land specifically for wildlife habitat. “You can suck in a lot more wildlife, too, since you’re not just out there on an island,” Wiklund said. Additionally, he’s developed good relationships with neighboring landowners – and made decisions based on some of the features of their properties. One of the neighbors to the north has a 500-acre dairy farm. That property has a big cattail slough on it, and Wiklund has planted food plots near that cover so birds can access both food and cover during the winter with relative ease. There’s also a 100-acre pasture, and Wiklund has talked to those landowners about haying later in the year, and also about starting to hay in the middle of the pasture and then working their way out. According to a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) paper on wildlife friendly haying management, haying during the nesting season “can cause tremendous mortality losses to both ground-nesting birds and wildlife.” Beginning in the center of the field and working outward is one way to flush wildlife from hay fields during the mowing operation. “Working with the neighbors to try to minimize those mortalities hasn’t really been a challenge,” Wiklund said. “It’s something that’s been fun and that they’re receptive to it.”
s e g a e r c a on small
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Wiklund’s property is hilly and dominated by wetlands. Among his main priorities is to keep warm-season grasses in and reed canary grass out. The latter is a terrestrial invasive species, according to the Minnesota DNR, and “is a major threat to natural wetlands.” If left unchecked, it grows in large, single-species stands and outcompetes native vegetation. Reed canary grass was brought to the United States in the 1800s to provide forage and erosion control. “I manage specifically for nesting cover for the birds,” said Wiklund, who loves hunting a variety of birds, including pheasants, ruffed grouse and wild turkeys. “This spring is the most birds I’ve seen on my property. One day recently it was cold and rainy and I pulled into my driveway and there were seven hens and two roosters standing there.” While that would be impressive just about anywhere, it’s even more so given the fact Wiklund’s land is on the northeastern edge of the Twin Cities, which isn’t exactly in the heart of Minnesota’s pheasant range. “I rent equipment to get my work done, and it has paid huge dividends as far as wildlife goes. I get lots of pheasants, deer and turkeys. And there are even wood duck pairs on some of the wetlands.”
By virtue of working for Pheasants Forever, Wiklund spends a lot of time thinking about wildlife habitat. But other than purchasing some grass mixes and picking his co-workers’ brains, he’s largely been on his own when it comes to improving his property. “I call myself an armchair biologist,” he said. “I’ve learned to do this stuff, and I am getting better at it each year. It’s all guess-and-check. I read a lot of books as well as online articles about what deer prefer, what turkeys prefer and what pheasants prefer. I’m also really big into pollinators. My land is holding more game and I’m harvesting more species each year—but that’s not the ultimate goal. The real prize is making sure food and cover is available to wildlife when its needed most in the winter and spring months.”
“By learning as much as he can about creating wildlife habitat, and having a willingness to experiment and give things a try, Jared Wiklund, public relations manager for Pheasants Forever, has been able to create a piece of ground that many hunters could only dream about.”
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page17 17
With that, let’s look at some of the ways Wiklund has transformed property into an oasis for a variety of wildlife species. Following are descriptions of some of the work he’s done:
Brush piles can serve as supplemental dense cover for a wide variety of wildlife species. In addition to serving as escape cover, brush piles also provide protection from avian and mammalian predators, as well as from precipitation and wind, according to the NRCS. Wiklund has quite a few brush piles that he’s incorporated into his food plots. He cut down some large trees on his property but didn’t have the ability to use a tractor to remove the stumps, so he cut off the bigger limbs and sprouts and stacked them. “The birds use that as cover year-round,” he said. “I’ll see the chicks standing on top of it, and the birds use it to cool down when the weather gets warm.”
In areas where there are both stands of trees and open prairies—such as on Wiklund’s property—it’s important there’s something of a transition between the two habitat types. Landowners can create those transition areas by edge feathering. In addition to providing safety, these areas also are important feeding and brood-rearing spots. Wiklund’s property had a lot of ash trees, some of them also have emerald ash borer, and rather than wait for them to die, he’s gone in with a chainsaw and hinge-cut them. “It’s used as escape cover by the birds,” he said. “And the grass also grows up really nicely around there. I’ve even seen deer bedding in there.”
Buckthorn is another invasive plant that chokes out native vegetation and develops a thick canopy that reduces the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground. As a result, areas with thick buckthorn growth may have little vegetation on the ground—not a good combination for wildlife. “Removing buckthorn just takes good old-fashioned elbow grease,” Wiklund said. “I just pull the buckthorn right out of the ground.”
Tree and shrub planting
Wiklund plans this year to plant evergreen trees on the north side of his property to serve as what will amount to a snow fence. He also has apple trees that deer, in particular, enjoy, and Wiklund plans to incorporate plum trees into his tree mix.
Wiklund has spent a lot of time thinking about food plots and how they best can serve the wildlife he hopes to attract. This is one area where he hires someone to help. He hires a person with big tractor and 60-inch tiller to work up the ground, which helps to ensure successful plant growth by promoting good soil-to-seed contact. Though he plans to continue experimenting with what he plants, Wiklund particularly likes corn and sorghum. But just as important, at least as far as he’s concerned, is maintaining a “dirty food plot” that has weeds and vegetation growing in among the food, which attracts the insects that are so important for broods. He likes a food plot mix that includes buckwheat, which has high sugar content and attracts pollinators. “This last year, you could walk up there and hardly hear yourself think because there were so many bees on the plants,” Wiklund said.
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By learning as much as he can about creating wildlife habitat, and having a willingness to experiment and give things a try, Wiklund has been able to create a piece of ground that many hunters could only dream about. Just as important as having an open mind, though, is having a willingness to work hard. “The first year or year and a half was just getting a palette out there that I could work with,” he said. “The second year—last year—was really when I dove in and started replacing the things I didn’t want see. I’ve been able to create a wildlife haven that I’m proud of, and I look forward to harvesting a few animals off it this year.”
Have a question related to small acreage projects with the most benefit for wildlife? Email Jared Wiklund at Jwiklund@PheasantsForever. Org to discuss your project and be connected with one of the organization’s professional Farm Bill wildlife biologists to develop a conservation plan today!
Fire is a common management technique that replicates some of the disturbance at one time underwent naturally. Wiklund has completed a number of prescribed burns on his property, though he does it such that there’s always nesting cover available to birds. One of his main priorities in burning is to knock back the reed canary grass.
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d Depot Museum oa lr ai R W N & C ic Visit the histor ld! hen you hunt Redfie & Visitor Center w ! ring hunting season hours -du 24 Ex • M tend H ed & F S -O 2017 idwest
Redfield’s claim as the
Pheasant Capital of the World® dates back to 1908...
The first recorded successful stocking of pheasants took place in June 1908. The number of pheasants grew steadily over the years with subsequent releases by the Redfield Chamber of Commerce and the State Game Department. The first one-day open season on cock pheasants occurred in Spink County on October 30, 1919. Each person holding a small game license was permitted to kill two cock pheasants. From Spink County, pheasant hunting grew throughout the state. Hunters still flock to Redfield to bag their limit.
Re-enactment of the his toric, first recorded release of the Chines Ringneck Pheasant in Jun e 1908.
rvel over their Left: Hunters ma success. ng nti hu nt sa phea sant hunt at the Below: 1925 phea m. far Koester
Redfield has the distinction of being registered as the “Pheasant Capital of the World”®.
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 25
GET IN THE KNOW. THEN GET INTO THE Fields. You know hunting. Now get to know Pierre, South Dakota. Not only is it the capital city—it’s the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Serene landscapes. Pristine reservoirs. One unforgettable hunt.
Pheasants are plentiful thanks to the ideal weather, prairie habitat and nearby Fort Pierre National Grasslands.
Rolling prairies. Breathtaking river bluffs. Endless fields. You won’t find a better backdrop for your hunt.
Plan your trip online at VisitPierreSD.com
Page 26 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017
After you’ve bagged your limit, cast your line on the Missouri River. Our year-round fishing season means anglers can always try to reel in walleye, trout, northern pike and bass.
From conveniently located hotels to rustic cabins, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect accommodations.
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 27
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of a hunt. Pierre’s location makes it the ideal place for the state capital and the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Pierre and Hughes County boasts one of the highest bird and harvest counts in the state of South Dakota.
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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 29 29
Even though Oahe is known for its walleye and salmon fishing, it is also known for exceptional hunting. Canada geese, ducks, pheasants and sharp-tailed grouse are some of the most hunted species. This is a place where you can go fishing in the morning and finish the day shooting a limit of pheasants.
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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 31 31
Lake Francis Case is the large, gently winding reservoir behind Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River in south-central South Dakota. The lake has an area of 102,000 acres and a maximum depth of 140 feet. Lake Francis Case covers just over 100 miles and has a shoreline of 540 miles. The rolling prairie terrain surrounding along Lake Francis Case is a peaceful paradise for outdoors enthusiasts, while the reservoir itself is home to all kinds of water recreation. Species of fish in the reservoir include walleye, northern pike, sauger, sunfish, yellow perch, common carp, black bullhead, channel catfish and smallmouth bass. Lake Francis Case cuts through grassy prairie and grain fields that provide habitat for pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chickens, turkeys and geese. Hunters also pursue big game animals such as white-tailed deer, mule deer and antelope. Source: Missouri River Tourism
Page 32 â€˘ Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 32
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 â€˘ Page 33 33
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Page 34 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 34
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 â€˘ Page 35
Formed by the glaciers receding to the north over 20,000 years ago, this area of South Dakota is unique in its variety of family attractions, festivals, scenery, parks, hunting, fishing, outdoor activities and history. With over 100 great fishing lakes, you can fish a new lake every day.
Over the past several years, the fishing has been outstanding, some of the best in the Upper Midwest for walleye, perch and northern. Fisherman are coming to the glacial lakes area to experience some of the best fishing in our five-state area. Pheasant populations have rebounded and now present excellent bird numbers. Fishing & pheasant hunting along with great waterfowl hunting give you opportunities unmatched in other surrounding states.
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Page 36 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 36
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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 37 37
The Minnesota Walk in Access (WIA) program started in 2011 and has grown to 27,000 acres. This year, approximately 220 WIA sites are enrolled in 46 Southwest and Western Minnesota counties.
The WIA Program is targeted towards lands with high quality cover on thousands of acres of private land that is open to the public through this program. WIA is perfect for landowners with parcels of 40 acres or more with high quality natural cover. This may include parcels already in a conservation program. Local Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) enroll landowners in WIA programs. The agreements are voluntary and include an optout clause. Landowners receive $10-$13/acre to allow public hunting access.
Hunters may access these hunting lands by selecting the simple addition of a $3 WIA validation to another valid hunting license allows hunting on WIA parcels, with no landowner contact necessary, from Sept. 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018. WIA validations are available at any DNR license vendor. WIA parcels are for walk-in traffic only. Motorized vehicles of any kind are not allowed on these WIA parcels. Parking is allowed along roads or in designated parking areas. Landowner participation is crucial to this program, so being respectful and ethical while hunting WIA parcels is also very important. No target practice, trapping, dog training or walking, camping, horseback riding, hiking, fires or similar activities are allowed by the public in these designated WIA points. This program has been very vital to making Southwest Minnesota a premier hunting 38 Page 38 â€˘ Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 destination for groups and families. Midwesthuntfish.com
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10713 300th St., Marshall, MN 56258 (507) 336-2638 • (800) 993-3781 shooterssporting.com SHOOTERS offers a sporting clay experience for everyone. Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 39
Unique upland opportunities including grouse and prairie chickens, as well as more common species including pheasant, rabbit and squirrel, have led some to refer to Nebraska as the “mixed bag capital.” Throw in ample waterfowl species, and you’ve got hunting opportunities that are tough to beat.
The diversity of Nebraska’s hunting opportunities is difficult to overstate. Big game species available in Nebraska include mule deer, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, elk and four different varieties of wild turkey.
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www.fishercreekkennels.com Page 40 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 40
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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 41 41
Recipe by: Lizzy
Ingredients: • 1 1/2 lb. pheasant breast • 1 (4 oz.) jar sliced jalapeno peppers • 12 slices bacon, cut into thirds • 36 toothpicks • 6 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes Directions: Cut the pheasant breast into 36 pieces; place into a bowl. Pour liquid from the jalapeno peppers over pheasant; stir. Set aside to marinate for 20 min. Preheat an outdoor grill on medium heat. Lightly oil grate. Drain marinade from the pheasant; discard. Place a slice of jalapeno pepper onto each piece of pheasant breast, and wrap with a third of a strip of bacon. Put 6 pheasant pieces on each skewer. Cook on preheated grill. Turn frequently, until bacon is crispy, 15 to 20 min. Remove skewers from pheasant pieces, placing a toothpick into each piece.
Recipe by: Little Miss Higgins
Ingredients: • 4 skinless pheasant breast halves • 3/4 C. white wine • 8 oz. dry fettuccine pasta • 1 Tbsp. olive oil • 1/2 onion, chopped • 8 mushrooms, sliced • 1 C. fresh spinach leaves, chopped • 1/2 C. white wine • 1/4 C. heavy cream • 1/4 C. pesto sauce • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Directions: Preheat an oven to 350º. Place pheasant breasts into a baking dish, and pour in 3/4 C. white wine. Bake in preheated oven until the pheasant is no longer pink in center, about 45 min. Thermometer inserted near a bone should read 165º. Remove from oven; cool. Once cooled, remove meat from bones, then cut into bite sized pieces. Fill large pot with lightly salted water; bring to boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir in fettuccine; returning to a boil. Cook pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally until pasta is cooked through, but still slightly firm, about 8 min. Drain well. Heat olive oil in a skillet over med. heat. Cook; stirring chopped onions until softened and translucent, about 5 min. Add mushrooms, spinach, and pheasant meat. Cook until mushrooms have softened, then pour in 1/2 C. of white wine; cover, cooking an additional 5 min. Stir in cream and pesto; remove from heat. To serve: Place fettuccine in a serving bowl, pouring pheasant meat sauce over top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Page 42 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017
We are sure to have something to satisfy your taste buds!
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605-332-0214 • firstname.lastname@example.org Midwesthuntfish.com
Soy-Peanut Glaze Recipe by Derrick Riches
Ingredients • 1 whole pheasant • 1/2 C. honey • 1/4 C. peanut butter, creamy style • 1/4 C. soy sauce • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar • 1 tsp. olive oil • 1/4 C. chicken stock Directions: In med. sauce pan, simmer ingredients, except pheasant, 5 - 8 min. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Brush half of marinade onto pheasant, reserving the other half for basting. Cover, marinate for 1-2 hours in refrigerator. Preheat grill to med-high heat. Place bird on oiled grill grate. Cover, cook for 50 - 60 min., or until internal temp is 165º. Baste with reserved marinade after 15 min. of cooking; again at 30 min. Remove pheasant from grill, slice, and serve.
or Grouse Recipe by ladypit
Ingredients • 2 pheasants or 4 grouse • 1 Tbsp. salt • 1⁄2 C. flour • 4 Tbsp. butter, divided • 1⁄4 C. celery, chopped • 1⁄4 C. onion, chopped • 1⁄2 C. boiling water Directions: Skin, wash, and quarter pheasant or grouse. Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix flour and salt in a brown paper bag. Shake the pheasant or grouse pieces in bag, two at a time until coated. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a skillet. Sauté celery and onion until tender. Place in a shallow baking pan. Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in skillet. Add floured meat pieces; brown. Transfer browned meat to baking pan. Add boiling water; cover with wax paper. Bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Serve at once.
Dimock Dairy is located in the Heart of Pheasant Country Varieties to complement your Pheasant include: Blue Cheddar • Black Pepper Smoked Cheddar • Garlic & Parsley Or for anytime: Salsa • Pepper Colby Jack • Pepperoni Bacon & Onion and many more!
Pick some up while Hunting in South Dakota or Order Online at www.DimockDairy.com Email: email@example.com 400 Main St., Dimock, SD • (605) 928-3833 Hrs: Mon. Tues. Weds. Fri.: 8am - 4pm • Thurs.: 8am - 5:30pm • Sat.: 8am - 12 noon Midwesthuntfish.com
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 43
Recipe by: Iowahorse
Recipe by: Lorac
Ingredients • 1⁄2 C. flour • 1⁄2 tsp. salt • 1⁄8 tsp. pepper • 1 pheasant • 1⁄4 C. butter • 1⁄2 tsp. salt • 1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme • 1⁄8 tsp. pepper • 2 tart apples, peeled,cored and sliced • 1 C. apple cider • 2 Tbsp. wine vinegar Directions: Preheat oven to 350°. In small bowl, combine flour, salt & pepper. Cut pheasant into serving pieces; thoroughly coat each piece with flour mixture. Melt butter in large skillet, add pheasant. Brown on both sides. Remove pieces to a 3 qt. baking dish or casserole; sprinkle with salt, pepper & thyme. Stir in apple slices, mix cider & vinegar; pour over pheasant and apples. Cover & bake 1 & 1/4 hours.
Recipe by: Charlotte J
Page 44 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017
Ingredients • 8 pheasants, breasts boned • 1 (10 1/2 oz.) can green chilies, chopped • 8 oz. monterey jack cheese, cut in 8 strips • 1⁄4 C. breadcrumbs • 1⁄4 C. parmesan cheese • 1 Tbsp. chili powder • 1⁄2 tsp. salt • 1⁄4 tsp. cumin • 10 Tbsp. butter, melted • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce • 1⁄2 tsp. cumin • 1⁄3 C. onion, sliced • hot pepper sauce to taste • Salt & pepper Directions: Flatten pheasant breasts then place 1 Tbsp. of green chilies and 1 strip of jack cheese on each breast; roll to wrap filling. Secure with a toothpick. Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, chili powder, salt, pepper and half of the tsp. of cumin, mixing well. Dip the breast rolls in butter; coat with crumb mixture. Place in a baking dish, chilling in frig for 4 hours or more. Drizzle the remaining butter on the breast rolls and bake at 400º for 20 to 30 min. or until brown. Combine the tomato sauce and the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook until heated through. To serve: Spoon sauce over rolls. Add hot sauce if desired.
Ingredients • 2 C. cooked wild rice (2/3 C. dry) • 1 C. carrot, julienned 1” strips cooked • 5 slices bacon • 1-2 Tbsp. oil, or 1-2 Tbsp. butter • 2 skinless boneless pheasant breast halves, cut in 2x2” pieces • salt & pepper • 5 med. mushrooms, sliced • 5 green onions, sliced • 1 can cream of chicken soup • 1⁄4 C. cream, or 1⁄4 C. milk • 1⁄4 C. sherry wine, or 1⁄4 C. dry white wine • 1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz.) • 1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained, quartered • 1⁄4 C. grated parmesan cheese Directions: Put rice in 9x9x2” baking dish sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray. Layer carrots over rice. In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; drain & crumble over carrots. Pour off grease from skillet; add a Tbsp. or two of oil. Saute pheasant until well browned on both sides (about 10 min.). Transfer to baking dish. In same skillet, saute mushrooms and green onions until tender, adding additional oil if needed. Add soup, cream & sherry; mix well. Add mozzarella and gently stir in artichokes. Spread over pheasant layer. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover dish with foil sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray. Bake at 350° for 30 min. Remove foil; bake 15 more min. until bubbly throughout. Midwesthuntfish.com
Recipe by: Monica in PA
Recipe by: MommyFromSeattle
Ingredients • 2 Tbsp. butter • 2 cloves garlic, sliced • 2 (1 lb.) grouse, cut into quarters and patted dry • 1/4 C. dry sherry • 1/4 C. chicken stock • 2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon • 1/4 C. peach or apricot jam • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, or to taste Directions: Melt butter with garlic in large skillet over low heat. Allow to bubble slowly for about 10 min. to infuse the garlic into butter, then remove garlic & reserve. Increase heat to med-hi. When hot, brown grouse on both sides, about 3 min. per side; set aside. Pour sherry into skillet and allow to simmer for 20 sec. Stir in chicken stock, tarragon, and peach jam; bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to med-low, cover, and simmer for 5 min. Add balsamic vinegar, and cook, covered for 2 min. Return grouse to pan, and simmer until fully cooked, 3 to 5 min. Midwesthuntfish.com
f German S me o au o H s
with PeachBalsamic Sauce
Recipe by: Hank Shaw
Ingredients • 1 1/2 C. wild rice, divided • 3 C. grouse or chicken stock • Breasts from 4 grouse, skinned with tenders removed • Salt • 1/4 C. butter, divided • 1/2 C. rye, barley or whole wheat flour • 1 to 2 lb. fresh mushrooms, any variety • 2 garlic cloves, minced • 1 tsp. dried thyme • 1 C. cranberries • 1/4 C. fruit syrup - gooseberry, • 1/3 C. cider vinegar highbush cranberry or blueberry Directions: Salt grouse breasts well; set aside at room temp. Simmer 1 C. rice in grouse or chicken broth until tender, 20-50 min. depending on rice. When rice is done, drain and set aside in a covered bowl. Grind remaining rice in a spice grinder into a powder. Mix ground rice with rye flour; dredge grouse breasts in it. Heat 3 Tbsp. of butter in a large saute pan; saute breasts until just barely done, about 4-5 min. each side. Set aside. Put remaining butter in pan; turn up heat to high. Add mushrooms. Shake pan so they don't stick to the bottom. Continue searing mushrooms; shaking the pan until water from mushrooms is gone. Sprinkle with salt; add garlic & thyme. Let mushrooms sear without moving the pan for 1-2 min. so they get a little brown, about 8 minutes. Add cranberries and toss to combine. Cook until berries just begin to pop, then add rice, vinegar and fruit syrup. To serve: Toss to combine; serve with grouse.
Ingredients • 1 pheasant (skin if desired, split in half, lengthwise) • paprika • 2-3 Tbsp. butter • 1 cup water • 1 tsp. instant chicken bouillon • 1⁄2 C. orange marmalade • 1⁄4 C. orange juice • 1⁄4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (opt) Directions: Wash pheasant; pat dry. Sprinkle paprika on both sides. Heat 2 Tbsp. of butter in a skillet and brown pheasant on both sides. Use more butter if necessary. Mix water and bouillon together; pour over pheasant. Lower heat; cover. Simmer for 30 min. until tender. Add more water if necessary. Turn meat several times. Combine remaining ingredients. Let liquid on pheasant cook away; baste orange sauce over meat. Simmer uncovered and baste frequently for 10-15 min. To serve: Serves 2. Great served with rice.
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The alarm clock was set only as a formality, as there was no doubt that I would be awake long before it ever went off. It was late October and my hunting buddy and I were about to embark on a diver duck hunt that had the potential to be one that dreams are made of. The area was scouted the previous day and wave upon wave of ringnecks and buffleheads poured into a bay known to locals as the “Master Pit”
Page 46 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 46
The Master Pit has rewarded me several times in years past, especially during bumper crop years of wild rice. In addition to having an ample food source, the bay is also protected which makes it the ideal retreat for Northern ducks making their way South. As we arrived at the lake’s landing, a steady North wind could be felt which had the unmistakable bite that waterfowlers crave. The boat was launched and we made our way under the cover of an icy darkness with navigation only being assisted by a full harvest moon and the gentle hum of the outboard motor. Every so often, we caught the glimpse of shimmering wings on the water's surface as ducks took off from their roosting slumber in front of us. Needless to say, the anticipation was building. The decoys were placed and the boat was nestled in the cattails for concealment…all there was left to do was wait for legal light. As we sat in total darkness and the skies began to lighten, the unmistakable swoosh could be heard. There is no sound that replicates: cupped wings on frigid air in the fall; the sound is reminiscent to an F-18 buzzing the tower and never fails to make the hair rise on the back of my neck!! As the horizon to the East began to take on shape from the rising sun, I slipped 3 rounds of 3” steel into my Beretta and anxiously sat while scouring for birds.
It didn't take long before the first flock appeared on the horizon. A few purrs on the call and a nice flock of ringnecks turned towards the spread and came in on a rope. 60 yards, 50 yards, 40 yards, 30 yards, 20 yards…take em!!! The morning silence was shattered as a volley of steel was sent skyward. In the aftermath, a couple beautiful drakes floated among the dekes as several steaming hulls lay in the bottom of the boat, filling the air with the thick odor of burnt gunpowder. The scene was duplicated on several occasions that morning and we ended up going home with a mixed bag of fat Northern ringnecks and buffleheads for our efforts. There are a couple key things to remember if you want to increase the amount of ammunition you purchase this fall:
The single most important thing to remember when it comes to waterfowl hunting is scouting. Waterfowl hunting is akin to real estate, in that it’s all about location, location, location!! A hunter can have the latest and greatest gear when it comes to decoys, camouflage, shotgun and ammunition, however it is all futile if there are no birds in the area. Being where the birds want to be is what we call being on “the X” and usually provides a hunt that is logged in the memory book for years to come. For every hour spent actually sitting in the blind, I would guess another 5 hours are spent at the tiller of the boat, putting on miles in search of our quarry. There are areas that migrating birds traditionally use, however they all have the same characteristics. Wild rice is the primary food source in my area and will attract ducks like a moth to a flame. The best areas are also off the beaten path, offering ducks a quiet resting place away from other hunters and boat traffic. The availability of topographic maps and satellite imagery offer great starting points, however they cannot be replaced with actually getting out into the field.
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 47 47
We live in a technological era and it seems that everything outdoor related has become very technical; waterfowl hunting is no different. For a newcomer to the sport, just walking through an outdoor store can become overwhelming with all the options with respect to gear. I can tell you that when I started hunting at 14 years old, dad and I had a dozen and a half decoys, a skiff with a bunch of burlap and I donned my trusty Remington 870 Express shotgun. That’s right…no fancy autoloader shotgun, high end motion decoys or camouflage john boat. And you know what? We saw plenty of birds and got in plenty of shooting; likely because I knew early on the importance of scouting!! Once birds are located, select a blind location where the ducks can approach into the wind. There are countless patterns with respect to placing decoys, just make sure that you leave a landing zone. The opening should be well within range, as most shots will come as the ducks make their approach to land. True waterfowl hunters have great respect for their quarry and will never shoot at a bird unless it is on the wing, so do not let the birds land. The only exception here is to dispatch a crippled bird. Ensure that both the boat and hunters are concealed. Typically, hunters will sit in a blind on shore with the boat hidden or hunt from a boat that is hidden. The sky is the limit when it Photo Credits: comes to concealment and Shane Wepruk is only hindered by one’s HSM Outdoors imagination. I prefer to use what Mother Nature provides and what is readily available.
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The main objective here is to avoid being detected first and believe me when I say that if the birds are seeing you, they will let you know in a hurry. When the birds are approaching only to flare 100 yards out, chances are you’ve been busted. The culprit could be anything from a shiny gun barrel, boat gunnels, or movement from anxious hunters. Flaring birds give hunters immediate feedback that something isn’t right and an adjustment is in order. When it comes to calling birds, I’m of the opinion that a bad caller is much worse than no calling at all. Calling takes minutes to learn, especially through online videos, however it takes a lifetime to master. The important thing to remember is to have fun with it and not be discouraged when mistakes are made. That being said, if every flock of approaching birds are flying to the opposite county to avoid the music you’re playing, it may be a good time to leave the call in your pocket…ask me how I know!! Waterfowl hunting is as rich in tradition as the ritual of ducks migrating to their winter retreats. I can honestly say that I have never spent a bad day in the marsh and any true duck hunter will admit that the success of a hunt is never measured in terms of the number of ducks brought home. Not every hunt will produce bag limits, but the memories made are what stay with you. To this day after an unexplainable miss, I always think to myself “they sure fly pretty”! Fall is a special time to be on the water or in the woods and experiencing a waterfowl hunt is by far my favorite way to soak up the experience as we have the privilege of witnessing the colors of gold, crimson and orange saturate the landscape and transcend the lush greenery of summer. Before you know it, North winds sweep the last leaves to the ground and the honks of migrating geese fade into silence, drawing the season to a close. Make time this fall to get out with family and friends to make enough memories to carry you through to the next season. Play safe and see ya on the water
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49 Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 â€¢ Page 49
Minnesota is home to 17 million acres of forest land and 630 miles of walking trails open to hunters. Ruffed grouse habitats are primarily in the central and northern regions and extend into the southeast along the Mississippi River. In northern Minnesota, ongoing timber management aids in continued creation of excellent grouse habitat in various stages of growth, which provides hunters with many more options than other states.
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“Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin are the top grousehunting states in the lower 48, but Minnesota has more young aspen forest [that grouse prefer] than Wisconsin and Michigan combined,” says Ted Dick, forest game bird coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. According to a recent DNR survey, “The ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is the most popular game bird in Minnesota, with an annual harvest averaging more than 500,000 birds.” Even in below average years, hunters in other states envy Minnesota’s flush rates. “The out-of-state grouse hunters love to come to Minnesota, because even our lowest bird population years are still better than their best.” says Ed Fussy of Pimushe Resort near Bemidji. Fussy has hosted avid grouse hunters for more than 20 years at his resort. “Just last fall, some of our hunters had 20- to 30-a-day bird flushes.”
Considered “the king of game birds,” grouse challenge hunters to use all their senses, DNR’s Dick says. Grouse hunters need to be careful, quiet and quick on the draw, but even novices can easily pick up the sport. The only equipment needed is a basic shotgun and some good boots; guides and hunting dogs are not required. Wayne Jacobson, owner of the Sawmill Inn of Grand Rapids, has hosted the National Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Hunt for more than 30 years. This prestigious annual hunt attracts hunters from all over the world. Jacobson says the two top reasons that Minnesota is so popular with grouse hunters are “more public hunting land available” and “more birds to hunt, even in our down years.” Minnesota’s fall climate is perfect for grouse hunting— cool temperatures for ruffed grouse, hunters and dogs. The leaves begin to change to brilliant hues of gold and red in mid- to late September. Grouse hunting success tends to peak around the second and third week in October, while there’s still fall color but a lot of the leaves are off the trees. At peak grouse hunting season, temperatures can reach below freezing at night and a pleasant 55 to 60º by midday.
51 Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 51
Eric Hanson, owner of Pehrson Lodge Resort on Lake Vermilion, says his “out-of-state hunting guests appreciate the uncrowded hunting land they find here in northern Minnesota. Rarely will you see a no trespassing sign or other hunters while you’re out for the day.”
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Noted for its muffled drumming sounds during the mating season. During courtship, ruffed grouse display banded fanshaped tails. Males have a concealed neck ‘ruff’. Colors from gray to chestnut. In winter, they have comb-like fringes on their toes, allowing for easy travel on snow. Ruffed grouse are loners, except during mating season in April. Length: About 12” • Weight: About 1.5 lb.
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The sharptail is a large grouse, that lives in open grassy or brushland areas. Sharp-tailed grouse are a mottled brown and gray. During spring mating season, the male’s eyebrows are yellow and its air-inflated throat sacks are lavender. They make a cackle while flying. Length: 15 - 20” • Weight: 2 - 3 lb.
Similar to the ruffed grouse, the spruce is darker with a head that’s a mix of red, yellow and white, especially during the spring mating season. The male tries to attract females by making one or two loud "claps" by beating air beneath its wings. They mate in April or May. Nicknamed fool's hen or fool's grouse because they aren't afraid of people. Length: 16 - 19” • Weight: About 1 1/5 lb. Source: mndnr.gov
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I have been an avid Canada goose hunter for more than 25 years. During this time, I am amazed at the changes that have occurred in the goose hunting world. Today’s tactics and strategies are far different from the basic game plan of my early goose hunting career. If a person is going to consistently harvest geese in today’s world of sophisticated honkers, they have to go with the flow. Being able to switch gears and figure out new strategies is an absolute must! One of the first changes in my strategies is to move away from the layout blind. I have found that educated geese are very leery about the rectangular profile of a layout blind. Frequently, geese will make a pass overhead to look directly down into the spread before committing. Even well concealed layout blinds are hard to hide when viewed from directly above. I am not saying I don’t ever use layout blinds as they are more comfortable than boards and still are useful concealment tools. When hunting alfalfa, layout blinds will settle into the greenery and do an excellent job of hiding the hunters. They also keep some of the mosquitoes at bay.
I have discovered that by incorporating a layout board and ghillie suit, I can give the birds less of a geometric look. This seems to help in getting the birds to finish and not flair at a hundred yards. Many times, we will place a big shell decoy over our legs to help break up our outline. The ghillie suit is also very versatile when it comes to moving locations. On one hunt last season, we found the geese would make a swing at a hundred yards and only cut the corner of our spread. I quickly ran out and plopped myself down right in the dirt of the chisel plowed field. The next group of geese that cut the corner were well within range. At times, going with the flow has forced us into using fencerows for concealment. By watching the geese work a particular field, we learned they had no fear of a patch of brush and weeds along a stretch of fence. The next morning, we took advantage of that and made them pay. There was a time when I always placed my spread on the top of a knoll. I loved the visibility associated with the high ground. Not only could I see the birds coming from a great distance, they could also see my decoys.
istently s n o c ing to o g ld of r s i o n w o s s ’ If a per eese in today ave to h y e h g t t itch kers, w n harves s o h o t d e e ticat g abl n i e B . sophis egies w t o a fl r t e s h t t new u o go with e r u nd fig ust! gears a m e t u l bso is an a
er ffer a low and o s it u s e s Ghilli yout blind lore la n a th exp profile d option to o o g a e r a Page 54 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 54
However, I learned the hard way that sticking out on top of the knoll made it easy for the geese to see our profile as they approached. By relocating into a dip on the far side of the knoll with the exact same spread, we had no trouble getting the birds to finish. Goose hunting is a different game than it used to be. Birds that have such tiny brains seem to have developed quite a memory for the bad things that have materialized from decoy spreads. If what you are doing is not working, something needs to be changed. By listening to what the birds are telling you and by experimenting with your set-up and concealment, positive adjustments can be made. You need to go with the flow of the moment to make it happen. Photo Credits: Jerry Carlson
he n holds t sults o ls r a C ful re Jerry success â€™s g in n r mo
suits t ghillie a h t d n u close rrigan fo Brian Co g these geese in rin helped b
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 â€˘ Page 55 55
When we think about September and October around Lake of the Woods, most outdoors folks start thinking about big walleyes putting on the feedbag, aggressive muskies or even slab NW Angle crappies. Others prefer to mix it up a bit. The thought of a beautiful walking trail in the woods, the instant adrenalin rush of a flush and the smell of the fall forest. It is ruffed grouse season—a special time to target the “chicken of the north woods”.
Lake of the Woods is not what many would call a cosmopolitan grouse hunting area. It doesn’t get the private jets flying in for a weekend of hunting and there is not any overpriced hunting lodges. In these parts, it’s more about a variety of public hunting habitat that supports good populations of grouse and is ideal for hunters who enjoy getting out in the woods and having the opportunity at some nice birds. Page 56 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 2017
Lake of the Woods, which is about a 4-hour drive north from St. Cloud, has more than 65,000 miles of shoreline and 14,000 islands. As well as trophy walleye open water and ice fishing, the area also has a reputation for grouse hunting, snowmobiling and camping.
These three areas will provide more land with grouse than most could hunt in a lifetime: Beltrami Island State Forest & Red Lake Wildlife Management Area Pine Island State Forest Lake of the Woods State Forest Midwesthuntfish.com
”The forests around Lake of the Woods are amongst the best in the state for grouse”, explains Scott Laudenslager, the MN DNR Area Wildlife Manager in Baudette, MN. “The key to having good populations of grouse is to have the right habitat and good weather conditions. A low snow year can be hard on grouse as they burrow under the snow for warmth and security. If they use up too much energy trying to stay warm, it is hard on them. A wet or cold spring is also bad for survival rates. Luckily, the past few years have been pretty good.” Grouse populations are on the rise and it is a great time to get out hunting. “In addition, the ruffed grouse are on the upward climb when we look at their 10 year cycle. It seems the cycle bottomed in 2001 & 2002,” explains Laudenslager. “Statewide, drumming counts are up. Around Baudette and Lake of the Woods, the drumming counts are up 50% vs 2016. We are very optimistic as the first half of June was very dry. This bodes well for the young chicks and the numbers of grouse in the area.” Believe it or not, there are actually three species of grouse that call this region home. In addition to the ruffed which is the most sought after and tastes the best, there is the spruce grouse and sharp-tailed grouse. Spruce grouse have a very red meat and many hunters say they taste gamey. For this reason, they drop in popularity. The taste is partly because of their diet, jack pine needles, black spruce needles, white cedar and tamarack. These birds tend to prefer stands of pine mixed with hardwoods. The sharp-tailed grouse prefers more agricultural settings, tall grasses, etc. They are in good numbers, but as one hunter told me, “There is so much land it helps to know what areas they are targeting and the need for permission on private agricultural land.” Sharpies also live on pieces of public land but will not be as readily available as ruffed and spruce grouse. Planning leads to success As on most hunting trips, things will go smoother if you create a plan. If you haven’t hunted these parts, there is a ton of public hunting land. Hundreds of thousands of acres to be exact. Much of the land has roads, ATV trails and designated walking trails. It is very helpful to target some areas using a map. Maps can be located online by resourcing the MN Department of Natural Resources website. Another source is Lake of the Woods Tourism in Baudette. You can stop by, email them or give them a call and they will mail one out. Where do ruffed grouse live and what do they eat? Habitat is key for success with ruffed grouse. Knowing what grouse prefer and what they like to eat can help break down large patches of land into smaller key areas. Ruffed grouse love aspen areas with 5-20 year growth. In terms that are better to understand, aspen that are about the circumference of a broom handle up to 4”. They also like edges, specifically the edges of jack pine stands. The grouse diet consists of a variety of vegetation and insects if available. Aspen and hazel buds, dogwood berries, insects, clover (which is why grouse will hang out on and around trails) and high bush cranberries are all desired by grouse.
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 57 57
Fall behavior patterns Have you ever noticed when you are hunting grouse early in the season you will kick up small groups of grouse, but as the season progresses later, often times you see singles and doubles? The reason for this according to Laudenslager is “the broods break up”. “In late September to early October, young grouse find themselves in new areas and on a variety of land that simply isn’t occupied by other grouse. As they mature, they will learn, gravitating back where the best habitat is and start to live more in the areas we think of as productive grouse areas.” There are plenty of options when deciding where to hunt in the area. These 3 areas will provide more land than most could hunt in a lifetime. Beltrami Island State Forest and Red Lake Wildlife Management Area Located just west of Baudette is the Beltrami Island State Forest and Red Lake Wildlife Management Area. Beltrami Island State Forest has over 600,000 acres. Within the forest is the Red Lake Wildlife Management Area which is about 250,000 acres. This is a lot of public land, key habitat and a lot of grouse live here. This area has a nice variety of dirt roads, ATV trails and walking trails. The Lake of the Woods chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society partners with the MN DNR to add two new walking trails each year in this forest. Walking trails are nice as they have an area to park, a map posted on a sign at the trail head and make a big loop so you never walk the same ground and end up back at your vehicle. These trails are set up strategically through some excellent grouse habitat areas. Within this forest are small pockets of Red Lake Tribal Land. This land is off limits to hunting unless you purchase a small game license from the Red Lake Band of Ojibwa. This land is marked on maps and also marked with signs along roads.
With the fishing so good, other great opportunities such as grouse hunting often get missed. For those who have experienced grouse hunting around Lake of the Woods, it is often times the fishing that ends up playing second fiddle.
Pine Island State Forest Just to the southeast of Baudette lies Pine Island State Forest. This is a massive piece of land encompassing 878,000 acres. Some of this land is excellent grouse territory. Some is not as there is bog land to the south. With this much land, it is helpful to identify preferred grouse habitat to save time and increase your odds. There are a series of roads, ATV trails and walking trails through this area as well and good maps to help you scout high percentage areas. Lake of the Woods State Forest This forest is made up of a variety of scattered parcels of land sandwiched between Beltrami Island and Pine Island State Forests. This forest extends throughout Lake of the Wood County making up 142,000 acres, most of it open to public hunting. Within this state forest, you will have various plots of land such as the Carp WMA, Graceton Bog WMA, and Prosper WMA which are all available to public hunting. Flying under the radar screen, these forests are small in comparison to Beltrami and Pine Island, but anywhere else in the state would be large parcels of land. These areas are accessible to hunters and also hold good numbers of birds. It is good to brush up on the MN DNR laws around hunting in state forests and in wildlife management areas. For instance, in most state forests, it is legal to use your ATV on designated ATV trails. You cannot use your ATV, however, in wildlife management areas. Again, it is good to review. Cast and Blast opportunities. There are a variety of dog friendly hotels and resorts in the area. In addition, a new kennel just opened this year. Some hunters will pull a boat and take advantage of the great fall walleye fishing or possibly bag a few ducks in the morning. Some have dedicated one day of their adventure to stepping aboard a resort charter boat and catching some nice walleyes. With such good fishing available, the temptation, even for hunters, is hard to resist. Page 58 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017
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The coyote popped out of the brush on a dead run, his entire being focused on grabbing (and eating) the crippled rabbit that was screaming bloody murder. Thirty yards from me he veered to the right a bit and I laid him low with a charge of copper plated #4 buckshot. As I was shucking another shell into the chamber of the old 870 Remington, another coyote came the same route, running low and fast. At the crack of the gun, this sheep eater crumbled and slid to a stop beside his buddy. After waiting a few minutes to see if any others would show up, I set the pump by the cedar tree I was backed up against and lit up a smoke. I had to chuckle at myself when I noticed that my hands were shaking a little. This was not my first encounter with hard charging coyotes. In fact, I’d killed hundreds of them before this, but the wild dogs never failed to get this old hunter and trapper’s blood a-pumping. Coyotes are now plentiful across all of the United States. With fur prices being low, many trappers (who do 90% of the coyote control work) have hung up their traps. The coyote population grows. A few are killed by small and big game hunters, but these incidental kills do little to control coyotes. Calling coyotes in to the gun is an old sport that does (or can) account for the deaths of many coyotes. There are some predator callers who take out 100 or more coyotes a year and this does help. Professional predator control men such as myself take them with traps, snares and guns, but our numbers are diminishing. We will never eradicate coyotes, but they must be controlled.
As with any endeavor we decide to partake in, there is a right and a wrong way to do it. “Wanna be” coyote callers who do not want to approach the venture seriously and do it the right way, will not be successful at it. The coyote is an intelligent critter that learns fast and rarely makes the same mistake twice. Sloppy coyote hunters rarely kill any coyotes but educate dozens of them. Volumes of material have been written on calling coyotes. There are many DVDs on the market that will, as a rule, help educate coyote hunters. In this short writing, this old coyotero will only attempt to share with the reader some of the most basic procedures. It will then be up to you to learn all you can and become a successful coyote killer. Before I delve into coyote calling basics, let’s take a brief look at the animal itself. Any hunter worth his or her salt knows that knowledge of the quarry is a necessity. The coyote (canis latrans, dog barking) is a true survivor. They can live and multiply (even in cities) most anywhere and will eat whatever is on hand to survive. I have never found a coyote that starved to death. As a rule, they are afraid of direct confrontations with man, but they have learned that where man is, there is food to eat. They have adapted to living with mankind. Coyotes will eat insects, fruit, some vegetables, snakes, mice, small game, big game, road kills, livestock and garbage. They relish the flesh of housecats and dogs. Chickens, turkeys, quail, geese and other species of fowl are consumed whenever possible, as are nests of any
Calling ALL 60 Page 60 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017
kinds of eggs. Knowledgeable coyote men, the guys who spend their lives chasing coyotes, will tell you that they do kill a heap of deer fawns, young birds, and turkeys and livestock. I have seen 2 coyotes run down and kill a healthy, grown deer. Coyotes will and have attacked humans, especially small children, though this is not the norm. Female coyotes come in heat once a year in January and February as a rule. Once bred, they go through a gestation period of 62-63 days (same as a dog) and then anywhere from 1-10 pups are born. The older females have the larger litters. When having and raising pups it is the only time any coyote, male or female, lives in a den. They generally curl up on the ground in a thick place when not hunting. The male (father) coyote will help raise the pups by bringing food to the den, but is not allowed in the den. The average weight of a mature coyote varies across the country. Most females will average about 25-35 pounds and the males will weigh 5-10 pounds more. Eastern coyotes in some states have been weighed in at 50-60 pounds in recent years. Iâ€™ve been getting some in the 70 pound class and one was recently killed weighing 82 pounds. We have many coyotes now that are part dog or part
wolf, hence the larger size. Coyotes hunt singularly at times and as a pack at others. They are swift on their feet, being able to attain speeds of 35mph. Their sense of smell, hearing and sight is very acute. I have hunted or trapped most every species of animal in North America in my 60 years of hunting and consider coyotes to be one of the most intelligent of all.
Expert coyote caller J.D. Piatt, Pro Staff Director for Icotec Game calls has called coyotes over much of the U.S.
The author used a mouth blown predator call to lure in and kill these 2 coyotes
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 â€˘ Page 61
Coyote callers take a “stand” to do their calling from. This is merely a location that provides them with some form of cover to hide themselves in, much like any deer or big game hunter would do. A good stand location also provides a good field of fire. In brushy country, shotguns are most often used and 30-40 yard shots are the norm, although I’ve killed some overzealous yotes at 10 feet. Small clearings, natural or manmade are good. Woods and logging roads through thick cover provide shooting lanes. In more open country, callers back up against (or sit) in front of cover such as evergreen trees, rocks, etc. to conceal themselves and break their outline. Open country callers most always use rifles and take longer shots. The use of shooting sticks or bipods are often used to enhance accuracy. In farming country, hedgerows and hay bales often provide good locations for calling stands. I have backed up against abandoned farm machinery to call and shoot coyotes. There are dozens of brands and styles of calls used to call in yotes. While many have certain different designs and features, they all basically fall into 5 or 6 categories. They are; the closed reed tube call, the open reed call, the howler, the squeaker, the diaphragm call and the electronic call. Hand held, mouth calls have been used for years and have been very effective. They still are. These calls do, however, call for the user to apply himself more to the art. Practice makes perfect. The electronic calls are by far the easiest to use and are very effective if used properly. Dying rabbit screams (jack or cottontail) are probably the most used sounds and have accounted for the downfall of many an old Wiley. Crippled bird, fawn distress, fox or coyote pup distress and squeaking mouse or rodent calls are all very good. Remember that a coyote or any other predator responds to calls for one or more reasons. One is to fill their bellies on an easy meal, another is curiosity and the other is to protect their young. Some coyotes respond to territorial barks and howls, and this is where the howlers come in. Coyote hunters sometimes use howlers to locate their prey and then set up a stand to call them in with other sounds. These howls are often referred to as locator or territorial howls. Coyotes are often located by the sound of a siren.
I most always wear camouflage clothing that blends in with the flora and fauna that I’m hunting in. Lightweight gloves and a face mask help hide the caller. Most of my coyote guns are dull colored or camo covered. Ghillie suits are tops for blending in with the surroundings. The more you act and think like you’re hunting a trophy buck when hunting coyotes, the more successful you are apt to be. I personally don’t use cover scents and scent lock clothing. Having been a trapper, hunter and big game guide for over half a century, I have learned that absolutely nothing will completely mask human odor from any animal if the wind is blowing from you to it. I’m not saying that it may not help at times, so if it makes you feel better or more confident, go for it. Coyotes have a super sense of smell and use it every waking moment. When at all possible, I like to scout and pre-select calling stands. I want to approach the area quietly, park the vehicle several hundred yards away from my calling stand and out of sight. Close doors quietly and walk softly to your stand, get settled in, check your fields of fire and let all get quieted down. Using either a mouth blown call or an electronic call, I will let go of a 15-20 second blast and then remain quiet for probably a minute. I will repeat this sequence until I shoot or leave the stand. After years of calling many different predators, I don’t think that continuous, unbroken calling is as effective. Be as still as possible, use your eyes and head to scan for approaching coyotes. Some coyotes will attempt to circle the sound or come in from the side. They will be checking the wind and air currents. Some will pick you off before you can get a shot or even see them. Callers
“...As I was shucking another shell into the chamber of the old 870 Remington, another coyote came running low and fast. I had to chuckle at myself when I noticed that my hands were shaking a little. The wild dogs never failed to get this old hunter and trapper’s blood a-pumping.”
Photo Credits: Don Shumaker
So there you have the basics of calling coyotes. Much can be learned from other successful callers and a lot more can be learned by just being out there and doing it. Stick with it and success can be yours.
Coyotes are here to stay and they do play an important role in the scheme of nature. This old boy is showing off some very impressive fangs.
Page 62 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 62
often use the rodent squeaker calls to lure in a coyote that has sat down or “hung up” on the primary call. Ninety percent of the coyotes I’ve called in or killed have been spotted or shot within 15-20 minutes of calling time. Sometimes a longer wait will produce, but that’s your call. If I kill a single coyote, I will continue to call for maybe 10 minutes more before I leave. I have picked up an extra coyote or two this way. Depending on the terrain and how loud my calls are, I will move at least a mile as a rule before taking another stand. Coyotes can hear a long ways. When scouting coyote territory, look for tracks and droppings. Calling stands near hunting, travel and bedding areas will bring more success than randomly picked ones. Hunters and landowners can often tell you where they hear the devils yapping and howling. I use a 12-gauge shotgun shooting #4 copper plated buckshot when calling in tight quarters. BB’s will kill them, but with limited range. Pattern your shotgun and know how it shoots! You may have to change choke tubes or even switch to another gun. Don’t take a bird gun to hunt coyotes with. I don’t use anything less than a .222 Remington when rifle hunting coyotes. The .223 is good, so is the 22/250 and similar calibers. I use 55 grain boattail hollow points in the 22 calibers. My favorite long range coyote gun is a well tuned .243 or 6mm shooting 85 grain bullets. Good scopes are a must for serious coyote killers. When calling coyotes in daylight hours, the first 2 hours of daylight in the morning are generally the most productive. The last hour or two before dusk is my second choice. In the far, unsettled areas of the West, daytime calling for coyotes is far more productive than daylight calling in the east. Patience, persistence and a strong desire to succeed is a must for the coyote caller. You may endure many unproductive stands, but when you do connect, you’ll know it was worth it! Calling coyotes at night can be very productive, but expensive night vision optics are a must. Coyotes don’t take to lights (red, white, blue or green) being shined into their eyes as fox and bobcats do.
Don Shumaker’s book “Journals of a Coyotero” is a MUST HAVE for any hunter. This book takes you into the real world of the coyote, a fascinating creature, indeed. Learn the true facts about how they live, what they eat and how they evolved into ultimate survivors. Go with the author as he writes about many of his adventures dealing with coyotes across America.
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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 63
Photo Credits: Kevin Dahlke HSM Outdoors
The deer stands that we use, if left in the woods year after year, need to be looked at before every season begins as well as every time that you use that location. Many parts of the deer stand can either malfunction or just plain fall apart throughout the days left in the weather. There are many varieties of stands and ways of getting into the stand, so we are going to look at the hang on stand with the hang on climbing sticks. Both of these are light weight and easy to carry, but are typically installed before the season comes around as it takes a bit of time to set them up. First thing to look at on the climbing sticks are the section locking pins. Making sure that each pin is all the way through the square tubing and that the locking mechanism is flipped over the pin so that the pin can’t back out of the hole and possibly come apart. For the most part, this can be done visually from the ground, giving yourself a bit of reassurance that you can climb the sticks safely. Also, the holding straps that are tied around the tree need to be looked at for any signs of rotting or any signs that the hardware is failing at these tie points is critical as well. These holding straps keep the climbing sticks tight to the tree so that it is fixed without any movement as you progress upwards into the stand. As you are climbing, glance at the welds on the sticks to see if they are coming apart—usually a heavy coat of rust is a clue. Extreme caution needs to be used if you don’t take that section out, as any items that are cracked, need to be taken out and replaced. One thing that you really don’t want to do is fall out of the stand as there are so many things that are going to happen and no one wants to experience that. Make sure that the strap winch is tight and locked into position, so that the strap doesn’t slip through when there is weight applied to the stand. Always look at any and all hardware for wear and tear as the elements really are not kind to these items. Now that the holding parts have been checked and you feel they are good, look at the wire mesh of the floor of the stand so that it is still secured to the framework of the stand. Clean off any debris that may have accumulated and ease yourself onto the stand. Always have a strap that is tied around the tree above you and to your body harness so that if any of these items were to fail while you are in them the strap will prevent broken bones and possibly save your life if you were ever to fall to the ground. This strap is definitely your most valuable item compared to anything else that you have with you. Now is the time to sit back and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer you, with the squirrels that make every sound resemble that of a deer coming towards you. Hunting from a tree stand definitely gives the hunter an advantage, but with that, common sense and some precautions will make your hunt a safe and enjoyable one.
Now that we are in the stand, inspections are in order before placing a foot onto it. The holding straps need a good amount of attention—look for weakness and rotting around the tree. After these stands are left in the woods for any length of time through a variety of weather conditions, they don’t last forever and the straps start to fall apart.
Page 64 • Midwest 64 Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 â€˘ Page 65 65
By Dr. Jason Heezen There are a few basics of first aid, stop the bleeding, keep the wound clean, prevent further damage, if needed call the Vet. Some of these basic safety items may keep you hunting, instead of visiting me. • Never let Rover ride in the back of a pickup unless he is in a kennel. The most common life threatening injury I see is a dog jumping out of a pickup. I often get to place bone plates on femurs as a result of this, as much as I enjoy the repair; I wish this service wasn’t needed. Many times one dog has jumped at another dog, passing by, in a pickup. The outcome is never good. • The most common fatal injury to dogs in my experience is heat exhaustion. Often times where we are, six feet in the air, the breeze is blowing cooling us off on a hot day. Down where Rover is, a foot or two off the ground, there is no breeze, and is often much warmer. Also Rover has 4 legs, but he covers 10 times as much ground as we 2 leggers do. Take plenty of water breaks, and remember to take along water for Rover. He probably needs it more that we do. NEVER put a heat exhausted dog in a pond of water. This is almost always fatal. Place a cool wet rag between his rear legs, and the ear flap to cool him off. If the dog collapses get him to the vet ASAP, start to cool him down en route. • Fence danger. Dogs seem to have more fence problems on warm dry windy days. I think they aren’t as able to see the fence as well, or they are concentrating more on the bird due to difficult tracking conditions. Whatever the reason, train your dog to recognize, and respect fences. This is not only a safety issue, but may be a trespass issue. Don’t let Rover run on someone else’s hunting ground. The fastest way to lose hunting privilege is to disregard property rights. If Rover does get a fence cut, try to keep it clean, put pressure on wound to stop bleeding and call Doc right away. • Get the pooch in shape prior to opening day! A marathon runner doesn’t spend 360 days on the couch, start running on Wednesday, and compete in a marathon on Saturday! Don’t expect your super pooch to be on the top of his game if he is so tired he can’t think straight. Sore muscles may be the least of your concerns if he is pushed to hard opening weekend. Many cruciate ligament ruptures happen as a result of an out of shape dog doing things he shouldn’t be doing! As a matter of fact the same things apply to humans! • Don’t shoot too soon, I’ve treated many gunshot victims because the gunner thought the bird was high enough, it wasn’t. I find lots of pellets in dogs that come in for other problems, I take an x-ray, see the pellets. Some of you have been to my clinic when I ask “When did you shoot your dog?” Be careful, I’ve been involved with several cases where I was unable to save a dog that was a victim of a gunshot wound. Page 66 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 66
I’ve been involved with injured hunting dogs for most of my life, as my father was a Vet in Plankinton, SD. I watched him suture skin, set bones, and remove pellets, ever since I was big enough to look over the surgery table and ask, “why” or “what’s that”. Now that treating injured hunting dogs is my job, I realize although medications, techniques, and procedures have changed, the principals that determine a positive outcome are the same. “Opening Day”, a religion in South Dakota, is a time of great anticipation and a time to reconnect with friends and family, and enjoy each other’s company. My Opening Day starts out with a couple drives and hunting with family. I’ve shot a box of shells, with not much to show. Then, invariably, my cell phone rings and there is a 4-legged hunting companion in trouble. So off I go to suture, set bones, and remove pellets. My children have all stood beside the surgery table and asked “why” or “what’s that.” I’ve come to anticipate this dance, and even embrace the journey, as it usually gets me out of cleaning pheasants! More importantly I get to meet some of the world’s best hunters…and their humans! To be sure Rover gets the best care possible if needed, call ahead to a vet clinic in the area to ask if the Doctor is going to be available for emergencies. Get the clinic’s emergency number, and put it into your cell phone contact list. Enter the name as vet, then the location. Don’t wait until Rover is critically injured to find a Vet. This could be fatal. Many hunters like to have a doggie first aid kit. I am in favor of keeping the kit close by anytime you’re with your dog. In fact we sell a kit at our clinic put together with Gun Dogs in mind. Please be sure to get your hunting companion to a Vet for any laceration that goes all the way through the skin. The skin is the barrier to all sorts of nasty bacteria that can infect a laceration. If you decide to use a skin stapler or glue, make sure wound is clean! I’ve seen several life threatening, human inflicted infections because staples were used to close a contaminated wound. Closing a wound in the field should be viewed as a means to prevent further contamination until a Vet can properly address the injury. Dr. Jason Heezen Safe Have Animal Hospital 201 E Norway Ave., Mitchell, SD 57301 I own & operate Safe Haven Small (605) 996-4798
Animal Hospital in Mitchell, SD. We examine and treat dozens of injured hunting dogs every year. Most of these injuries occur in and around fall bird hunting season. Over the years we have treated almost every type of hunting accident. I consider myself and my staff to be experts in the area of treating injured hunting dogs.
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Page 68 â€˘ Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 68
If you’re like me, it starts to bring a sparkle to your eyes because you know what’s coming. As the temperatures outside begin to drop, many of us fishermen and women begin to see images of biting fish in our futures. Fall is here and as the leaves on the trees are changing, so too are the eating habits of our underwater quarry with it. As the days grow shorter and the air temperature drops, the water temperature drops with it, spurring on the fish to want to begin to feed heavily in preparation for the coming cold of winter. Fall has traditionally been one of the hottest times of the year for finding and getting fish to bite, especially the bigger predator species. All fish are looking to put the feedbags on to gain as much body mass as possible in order to make getting through the lean months of winter easier. With most fish having moved deeper during the hottest months of the summer, now the fish will begin to transition back to the shallows in search of food, be it bluegill and perch or bass and pike. As the water cools, the shallows will hold the warmest water, much like right after the ice comes off in the spring, and fish will gather there again. It’s a great time to fish from a boat and shore fishing also becomes more productive. But the question can be, where to look for to find any of the different species. The best answer is to just pick what you want to fish for and it can be relatively easy to find them as long as you look for much of the same structure you looked for right after the ice melted. Schools of bluegills and crappie will begin to congregate along the shallower weed lines as well as near brush and underwater trees looking to soak up the last warmth of fall and feed more heavily on insects and any leftover baby minnows before the hatches die off. The heavier weeds and brush also help with protection from larger predators looking to do the same thing.
Perch will start to school up and concentrate along mud flats next to rock or weed lines searching for bloodworms and other insects in the mud. One thing you can usually count on with all panfish is the schooling they will do as they compete for smaller amounts of available food. Look for bays that still have good weed cover and try slip bobbers with chunks of worms and small minnows, or, if you’re vertical jigging from a boat using your Vexilar, don’t forget those ice fishing plastics which will work very well this time of the year. Small crankbaits can work well too if you’re trolling or casting into the shallows.
The trout bite picks up in the fall as the hard fighting fish look to bulk up and they become much more aggressive towards spinners and spoons.
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 69 69
Walleyes will follow the smelt, shiners, ciscoes, or other bait fish into the shallows as they seek to feed on plankton and other microscopic organisms in the warmer water as well. Walleyes will be more aggressive towards baits and can strike them with such determination that you may want to make sure you have a good grip on your fishing rod. Typically walleyes will be patrolling along gravel and rocky areas off of points and breaks searching for food. These areas can be found on most lake maps available online or on most GPS/sonar systems. If you see schools of baitfish on your sonar, chances are it’s a good place to try. Trolling with crankbaits works well in the shallows as does using Lindy rigs or bottom bouncers with worms. If you’re using cranks, be sure to look for lures that have varying diving depths, though for me, ones that dive nine to eleven feet like Flicker Shads have been the most productive ones over the past few years. Here in the Black Hills, the Trout bite also picks up as the hard fighting fish look to bulk up and they become much more aggressive towards spinners and spoons. Most days, trout can be found on the inside turns of points and back in bays as they cruise around in the warmer water looking for insects and small fish to eat. Being a mid to top water level fish, you don’t have to fish very deep for them once they are in the shallows. Gold and silver spoons like Kastmasters and Little Jakes spoons work great as well as spinners with bucktails. Look for surface activity in the mornings to be an indication if the fish are around. When fishing for trout, I look to cast beyond where the surface activity is if possible and then bring the spoon back over it. More times than not, there will be a strike. Lastly are bass and pike. I can usually find both of these apex predators hanging out in the same areas, which is usually in thick weeds and back in calm bays. Bass will gather in warm shallow areas along or in weeds, but will be very aggressive to any bait that comes into their view. I look for gaps in the weeds or corridors that the weeds created and aim to cast into those areas. If you can bring a lure through a corridor in the weeds, you have a good chance at finding bass waiting to strike. Large spinnerbaits, spoons, and Rapala rattle baits work well when the fish are shallow like this. These presentations will work as well on pike, though casting along or just above weeds and moss beds has a better chance as pike like cruise along these areas. Like bass, they can be super aggressive towards anything that looks like food that comes into their line of sight. The flashier and noisier the lure is, the better. Be prepared to catch a lot of weeds fishing for them in these areas but the reward for patience, though, can be one great fish!
Fall can be one of the best times of the year to catch some great sized fish. It can also be one of the times when there isn’t as much as activity on the water as well since hunting seasons have started. Many times, you might have an entire lake to yourself. Be sure you pay attention to where you are catching fish as well. Where fish are hanging out at now is a good place to look at first ice since they may not move very far from an area with good cover and plenty of food once winter hits. So enjoy the crisp air, the solitude of the water, and the biting fish while you can and look for these areas to find your quarry. Here’s to a great fall fishing season! Photo Credits: Scott Olson/ HSM Outdoors
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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 71
fall. Trout can be extremely sensitive to bright colors, so wear clothes that are muted. The intent is to blend as best you can with your natural surroundings and to minimize your presence while on the stream. Use natural occurring camouflage like foliage, brush and bank side trees to your advantage by using them to break up your profile. It is also paramount to “mind your shadow”. The autumn sun appears lower in the sky than during the summer months resulting in lower sun angles. Longer shadows will be cast on the water so one must be mindful of this when approaching the water. Use a stealthy approach as the ability for your shadow to spook fish is increased, as they know death often comes from above and you can’t catch fish that you’ve chased off with a careless and unthoughtful approach. Anyone who has fished in the fall knows how covered the water can be with fallen leaves, twigs and other wind-blown debris. This detritus on and in the stream can add to the confusion for any upward looking trout. Since fall is still an excellent time to fish terrestrial patterns, imparting some movement to your fly can help it appear more food-like. Giving your fly an occasional little “twitch” can grab a trout’s attention and often times is enough to trigger a strike.
Just as important as being aware of aforementioned aspects that come with fall fly fishing in the Minnesota Driftless area is knowledge of the top flies to have on hand and how to effectively use them during this time of year. It’s still terrestrial time. Aggressive top-water feeding isn’t limited to the warmer, drier period of summer, in fact, late September and early October can offer up some of the best terrestrial fishing of the year. These patterns are most productive from mid-morning until late afternoon. This is generally the warmest part of the day when the insects are most active making them more susceptible to falling or accidentally jumping into a stream. Terrestrials are an important trout food source since they boast a lot of protein, an aspect that becomes extremely important as the fish up their caloric intake as they head into the spawning season. Be sure to carry a few ants, beetles and grasshopper patterns in your fly box. Fall fly fishing has become synonymous with throwing streamers in search of larger, predatory Browns. Trout become more territorial and aggressive in late summer / early fall. The spawning urge and the coming of winter creates a fly fishing situation that can turn fish that normally key in on small midges and mayflies into predators willing to attack continued on page 74
Page 72 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 72
THE DRIFTLESS AREA or Paleozoic Plateau is a region in the American Midwest noted mainly for its deeply carved river valleys. It includes areas of southwestern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and extreme northwestern Illinois. The region’s distinctive terrain is the result of being bypassed by the last continental glacier. The term “driftless” indicates a lack of glacial drift, the deposits of silt, gravel, and rock that retreating glaciers leave behind. The area’s Karst topography is characterized by its steep, rugged landscape, and by one of the largest concentrations of cold-water streams in the world. The absence of glaciers gave the rivers time to cut deeply into the ancient bedrock and create the distinctive landforms. Cave systems, disappearing streams, sinkholes, springs, and cold streams are all hallmarks found in the Driftless Area of southeastern Minnesota. These cold, highly oxygenated waters provide superb trout habitat with many streams sustaining population counts ranging in the area of 2,000 to 4,000 trout per mile. When targeting this incredible biomass of fish in autumn, a number of specific challenges face the angler armed with a fly rod. Streams are typically lower and clearer than other times of the year, hatches have tapered off and falling leaves start coating the water.
Although these changes are ones that must be addressed by the fly angler and require a change in approach in order to have continued success, fall also brings the spawn for Brown and Brook Trout that call southeastern Minnesota home. With this comes two key aspects they become much more aggressive as a result of behavioral changes related to spawning that creates increased territoriality, and for several weeks prior to the spawn and again after the eggs have been fertilized, trout appetites are immense. Anglers who are mindful of these unique circumstances stand a very good chance of not only experiencing some incredible fly angling in terms of number of fish caught but of hooking up with a true trophy specimen as the fall pre-spawning / spawning season makes normally hard-to-catch trophy brown trout more vulnerable to anglers who follow these suggestions. The low and clear water conditions that so often times accompany the fall season make it easier for trout to see things above the water's surface thus making them all the more vigilant for the threat of danger. Clothing is always an important factor in maintaining stealth as a fly angler in the Minnesota Driftless, but its importance is crucial in the continued on page 72
Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear
Pheasant Tail nymph
Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 73
flies several inches long. Sometimes these trout are eating the fly out of hunger and other times it is an anger induced territorial response to a smaller fish invading their holding area and threatening potential offspring. When choosing streamers for your fall outings think about size, profile and color with the aim of irritating an already hungry and cantankerous fish. There are thousands of streamer patterns out there, ranging from the many effective variations of the Woolly Bugger, to newer patterns like the Sculpzilla and Slumpbuster. The most productive patterns tend to have a profile that generally represents a food source, like a sculpin and contain materials like marabou that undulates in the water. Desirable color schemes can range from natural olives and browns to bright chartreuse or yellows with a little flash. Although your terrestrial and streamer patterns may see more use during the fall season in the Minnesota Driftless area—don’t leave your nymph fly box at home! On streams with significant summer weed growth, fall represents a time of expanding nymph opportunity as those slower seams and slots are finally free of green and once again are open for business. Bead head flies like the Pheasant Tail, Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear and Prince nymphs can be very effective fished dead drift in the current on a floating line with a strike indicator. Trout will move, and sometimes move a good distance, for these relatively “meaty” offerings. Fall in the Minnesota Driftless is a special time for fly anglers. Tree foliage hangs like a multi-colored “tapestry” along stream edges, which serves as a backdrop for some of the best fly fishing of the year. As temps start cooling off the fishing starts heating up. It’s no secret that fall is one of the best times for trout fishing activity as cooler surface water temps create a more comfortable environment for trout and cooler air temps make it more pleasant for the angler. If you enjoy challenging yet potentially rewarding fly angling amongst beautiful surroundings, then be sure when Autumn rolls around you make it a priority to fly fish southeastern Minnesota. I’m sure you will “Fall” in love with the area!
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It’s still terrestrial time. They are an important food source with a lot of protein—important as the fish head into the spawning season. Carry a few ants, beetles & grasshopper patterns in your fly box.
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Page 74 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017
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dakotaangler.com SIOUX FALLS, SD Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017 • Page 77
Gearing up for an angling expedition or a hefty hunt is, for many of us, half the fun. But for too many anglers and hunters, it’s easy to overlook the importance of eye protection. Sunglasses should be on your gear list, because they provide your eyes a lot more than just glare-reduction.
Avera Medical Group Eye Care Optometrist Paul Draayer, OD, said if you’re among the 46% of American who do not wear sunglasses, you should reconsider. “Everyone should be wearing this specific type of eyewear, and I would say to all of the people who think sunglasses are only for fashion purposes, remember the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause several eye problems,” he said. “Those problems may not manifest overnight or even in the near future, but UV damage is cumulative and irreversible, so start protecting your eyes today.” Some of the eye problems people might develop from long-term UV exposure include cataract formation, macular degeneration and cancerous growths on both the eye and eyelid. UV rays also can cause growths on the clear covering over the white portion of your eye that’s known as pinguecula. It looks like a yellow spot or bump on your eyes. The rays also can lead to pterygium, a fleshy growth that may start as pinguecula. “One of the more immediate effects of UV exposure is photokeratitis, or basically sunburn of the eyes,” Draayer said. “It usually presents a few hours after exposure with symptoms of irritation, pain and a gritty feeling. It can become a serious situation and sunglasses can help prevent it and the other issues that come with UV rays.” If you’re a “cap or hat” person and think that’s enough, think again. Wearing a cap/hat can provide a decent amount of protection for the eyes from the sun, but reflected light will still reach your peepers. This goes double for you if you’re out in the boat for hours/days, at a time.
“When UV rays are coming off of water, snow or concrete, they can still find a way into the eyes, thus, it is always recommended to wear sunglasses along with a hat whenever possible,” said Draayer. “It is important to protect your eyes from the sun at any age, but especially when we are younger. UV damage is cumulative, and obviously we are more likely to get longer sun exposure when we are young. Finding a pair of good sunglasses for your children is exceedingly important.” So now that you’re going to seek out sunglasses for you and your children, choose wisely. Look for labels that say “Blocks 99 (or 100%) of all UV light” but be careful not to be tricked by dark sunglasses. “Many people think the darker the sunglasses, the better, but while darker lenses may prevent more light from entering your eye, they do not necessarily block UV rays any better,” Draayer said. “Look for that level of UV protection more than the shade of the lens.” He added that while some contact lenses have built-in UV protection, that’s not a universal feature in contacts. “Ask your eye doctor if your contact lenses offer this protection, and even if they do, wearing sunglasses over your contacts will provide added protection to your eyes,” he said. “Sunglasses also will extend coverage to the eyelids and surrounding areas.” Draayer reminded individuals with dark skin that while it’s true you have a lower risk of skin cancer from UV damage, that doesn’t apply to your eyes; UV damage occurs in the same fashion for darker-skinned and lighter-skinned and affects both genders about the same. “If you have any of the symptoms I mentioned, or you notice creamcolored growth on white part of eye, changes to color vision, night vision, or overall vision, consult your eye doctor,” he said. “Discolorations or bumps on eyelids and even sometimes on the eye can be early warning signs of a more serious issue that could affect your vision. If you discover them, get help so the problem can be addressed. And wear your sunglasses! They’ll help protect your eyes.”
Remember, you can’t bag what you cannot see, whether it’s in the air or below the waves of your favorite walleye lake.
Article courtesy of Avera.org 78 Page 78 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - September-October 2017
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