Archive for the ‘ Outdoor How-To ’ Category

Sighting In

I was helping out at the Lincoln Ike’s Hunter Sight In day today and am amazed at how many people only shoot their deer rifles once a year and then are frustrated when they can’t make the shot.  Sighting in is important (even if the gun shot well last year) but so is shooting throughout the year to keep your edge. 

If you have not sighted in your rifle for the November 13 opener its not too late.  You owe it to the deer and the time you have invested in the hunt.  Here are a few tips:

1. Sight in from a bench for the most steady hold possible.  You want to see what the gun will do not how skilled you are.

2. Use sandbags or a good rifle/handgun rest.

3. A quick method for sighting in is to fire one round at the target center at 100 yards.  Now see where the bullet actually hit.  While holding the crosshairs on the bullseye, move use the scope turrets to move the crosshairs now over to the bullet hole.  Now fire another round at the bullseye.  You should be on!

4. Now fire a three shot group (always three shots…then make adjustments). 

5. After a three shot group, clean the bore prior to the next group.

6. When making scope adjustments, remember most scopes move the point of aim 1/4″ per click at 100 yards.

7. Once sighted in, take a few shots using the type of rest you will use in the field.  Your groups will open a bit but that is okay.  As long as you can keep all shots fired into a 9″ pie plate you are good to go.  If everything is working, you should expect groups no larger than 3″ from the bench at 100 yards.  Don’t forget the eye and ear protection!

You will be amazed at how good it feels to head to the deer woods with the confidence of a well sighted in rifle that you know how to shoot well!  That is a skill to be proud of!

Get Em’ Out There

Rawly

Experts work with hunters to prep them for deer season at the Lincoln Ikes

Sighting in requires a good rest and sometimes a bit of coaching

Pre-hunt Prep – FIELD REPORT/ARCHERY DEER: From Sam

(…we wanted to see what our archers do “behind-the-scenes” to help prepare themselves for the hunt – successful deer hunting goes well beyond just going to the woods, especially for the bow hunter…so we asked Sam what he does to get himself ready – here is his reply…hershy)

I spend a lot of time preparing for a hunt. Most of the things I do for pre-hunt preparations focus around scent control. I wash my clothes in scent shield’s scentless laundry detergent. When they go in the dryer, I also put in an earth-scented dryer sheet. After everything is clean, I put all of my clothes in a scent controlled bin with scent killer and activated carbon. When we get to our hunting spot, I spray them down with earth scented scent-killer. But even more important than masking your scent, is playing by the wind. Playing the wind means simply being up wind of where the shot should happen. We set our tree stands up so that we have an opportunity to hunt up wind from the deer trails & crossings.

During the Rut, we use doe urine as an attractant for the bucks. We spray the scent on cotton balls that are placed on the trails. Hopefully the bucks smell it and come in looking for a doe in heat and give us the opportunity to get a good shot. Keep in mind, like anything else, they don’t ALWAYS work. But sometimes, they work like magic.

Another tactic that will also increase your chance of success is being as quiet as possible going to the stand and moving as little as possible so that you don’t spook the deer if they sneak up on you. I have had countless deer see me before I see them. Most people think that deer can’t see all that well, but they can see movement very well. Just simply moving your head can spook a deer from farther than 30 yards!

Also, I spend countless hours in the back yard or at local ranges practicing with different scenarios so that I am ready for any shot opportunity. No matter how much preparation you go through for a hunt, you aren’t ready to take a shot if you haven’t practiced and tuned your bow. Make sure your broad heads are sharp and screwed in to your arrows well. We add silencers to our bows to make them less noticeable to the deer’s ears.

Sam

First deer of 2010 – FIELD REPORT/ARCHERY DEER: From Sam

For the last 2 years, it has been my tradition of shooting a doe on the second hunt of the year. This year was no different. On Saturday September 25, we were in the stands by 6:15 a.m. and shooting time was 6:45. It was a cool and rainy morning, but yet the deer were some-what active.

 At 7:00, I saw a doe 7 yards away about to walk right in front of me. She walked to 11 yards, broadside; all I needed her to do was to turn away. Unfortunately, she didn’t and she cautiously walked back where she came from. Only 5 minutes later, I saw her again, but this time I saw her  when she was still in the cover where she couldn’t see me. So as slowly as possible I stood up and got ready for a shot. Once again she stopped exactly in the same spot she was before. She had her eyes on me once again. Then, she made her last mistake, she turned away just long enough for me to raise and draw my bow. She saw the movement but still didn’t move. I released my arrow and my bow’s limb bounced off a tree branch. Luckily I heard the CRACK of her shoulder and saw that my arrow had buried all the way down to the fletchings of my arrow.

I began to worry as the rain started to come down hard – off and on. Later my mentor, Kevin, called me on my radio and said that there was a doe and 2 fawns headed my way. I saw them to the north-west of me and running my way along the creek. I pulled my bow back again and grunted at her to stop. She stopped and I guessed the yardage at 30 (we only take shots 20 yards or less). So I let my bow down as she and her fawns trotted away. I got my rangefinder out and found out that she was only 20 yards – but I did the right thing by not taking the shot.

We got out of the stand early at about 9:45 to look for my doe. It was so rainy that day that there was no blood trail and that made me a little nervous. Kevin was the last one to see her just as she jumped across the field road. When we got down and went to the spot where we saw her last, we looked across and saw her white belly only 20 yards away – only 12 yards away from the property line!

When we got to her I noticed that my arrow had punched through both of the shoulders and she had only gone 90 yards (deer can run that far in a matter of seconds).  I picked her head up and she was a big doe. Since the weather wasn’t the best, a lot of hunters would have just stayed home, but we go whenever we can as long as it’s still safe.

I got to go out that afternoon as well, but our luck wasn’t quite as great. It was an amazing afternoon weather-wise, but the deer just didn’t seem to be moving quite as well as I thought they would. I only saw 2 fawns and 2 does and none of which were within 35 yards of me. No one got anything, but one member of our team got really close to a buck, but the shot just didn’t present itself.  I had a lot of fun on this hunt, and it’s only the start to a really long season, so hopefully, a lot more deer will be taken by our mentor program. 

Mentor Kevin & Me

Sam

Whatchagot-Grouse

Those Beautiful Hills

…the prairie grouse (sharp-tailed grouse & prairie chickens) that inhabit the short-grass areas of the sandhills have several defenses against the human hunter…one is their good eyesight that allows them to see danger coming from afar – another is their mottled browns & off-white feathers that allow them to become dang-near invisible to the shotgun carrying predator as they make their living in the clump grasses…as if these two adaptations weren’t enough these sandhill birds have a very sinister desire to “off” us hunters by living in vast expanses of very un-flat terrain that is covered in sandburs & prickly pear…you may think my statement is a little extreme but that would just prove that you have never chased these feathered-boogers across miles of short-grassed, sand dunes only to see a family flock of sharpies jump 20 yards beyond your gun’s reach and appear to land ‘just over the hill‘ – which spurs you to walk several more hills of sand so that your trusty pointer can lock up hard on 1 ornate box turtle and exactly zero grouse…

…to celebrate opening weekend of the Prairie Grouse season I headed towards Valentine chasing the promise of grouse and good weather with my former College Adviser and two other grouse-nuts…we set-up base camp at Big Alkali Wildlife Area and had lots of fun telling stories and reliving past hunts…we ate some wonderful food and did our best to stay warm on the chilly, wet mornings of our hunt…though, the grouse were scarce and the shots few we had an amazing time – and surprisingly saw very few other hunters, even on the public access areas…we did manage to put enough sharpies in the game-pouch for a decent meal and plenty of memories to help start the season and perhaps provide some fodder for campfires yet to come…

Success

…Dr. Jim Pease, my former college prof, was in charge of cooking the grouse and I wanted to watch his technique so that I could add another recipe to my file – prairie grouse are sometimes given a bad name as table-fare, but I think this is mainly due to the fact that even ice cream wouldn’t be as popular if you had to walk several miles over rough terrain to secure it…so I watched Jim work his magic on the skinned-out birds as he readied them for the pot…he started  by placing garden-fresh tomatoes and peppers around the grouse as they lay in the cast-iron dutch oven…he then sprinkled onion flakes, garlic salt and several other spices on them…just as the dutch oven was being placed over the fire I asked Jim what he called his grouse recipe – his reply was “Whatchagot Grousecause you take whatcha-got in camp and put it in the pot with the grouse”…worked for me! – it was delicious…

Whatchagot Grouse

hershy

Family Outdoor Adventure Camp

Hershy and I will be hosting a family outdoor adventure camp for families in eastern Nebraska September 25-26 in cooperation with Camp Kateri just south of York, NE.  The camp will allow families to participate in fun outdoor programs including fishing, kayaking, shotgunning, archery, air guns, camping and outdoor cooking.  Families of up to six are just $99 and we have room for two more families in the camp.  To register just follow the link below and send in the form with your hard earned cash.  I guarantee you will enjoy the weekend!

Get Em’ Out There

Rawly

Missouri River Outdoor Expo

Folks if you have made the short drive to Ponca State Park in northeast Nebraska for the Fall Expo you really owe it to yourself and family to get up there.  The largest Expo in Nebraska (and maybe the midwest) Ponca has something for everyone…from shooting rifle, shotgun,  muzzleloaders, archery, big game rifles, kayaking, Missouri River boat rides, fishing, bow fishing, camping, tree stand safety, outdoor villages, crafts, games, wildlife activities…you just can’t go wrong this weekend at Ponca. 

Jeff Fields and the team at Ponca have done an outstanding job, along with all the volunteers that make this huge program such a success.  And of course, just visiting Ponca State Park in the fall is a treat in itself.  The attitude amongst all the staff and volunteers just seems to foster a fun and exciting time for all who are fortunate enough to participate in this grand event.  Don’t miss out!  The Expo will run Saturday through Sunday this weekend only.  We’ll see you out there!

Get Em’ Out There

Rawly

Shooting is a big part of the Ponca Expo and is a lot of fun for anyone!

Archery Deer Season…Finally Here

hallelujah it’s finally here!  I thought I would never make it!  Tomorrow many will  start the pilgrimage from civilized citizen to life in the woods as the 2010 Archery Deer Season begins.  Here are just a few tips for this early season.

1. Buy a ThermaCell

2. If Scheels or WalMart are out of ThermaCells steal your buddies ThermaCell

3. Cut a clean path to your stand.  That way you are not leaving your scent on all  that green vegetation you had to wade through to put your stand in the tree.  Plus, as these annuals die back, they get brown, dry and noisy.  Walking through this stuff in the fall can be like sending off a warning siren to deer

4. Focus on good feeding sources.  Remember as harvest kicks in, deer will rapidly change their movements to take advantage of waste or spilled grain areas but for now, patterning can be good. 

5.  You have the whole season to score so don’t get too bold and take risks, such as hunting a bedding area, that could send deer to the next county. 

6. Scout field edges from a distance (what those binoculars are for) and determine best locations to hang a stand where deer consistently enter fields.  Even then, I like to hang stands 20 or so yards back into the woods.  You will be more likely to catch deer milling around in the woods waiting for sundown.

7. If your buddy shoots big deer each year…hunting with him/her more!

8. This early season can be a great time to harvest does.

9. Don’t waste your  time with too much grunting or even rattling this early.  Good early season calls to use include fawn-in-distress (easily made on your predator call) and doe contact bleats are always good but still  use sparingly!

10. Deer are not in rut yet (hardly thinking about it I  imagine) so stay away from estrous lures, scents, etc. and focus on controlling your own scent (that time of year to bathe again).

11. Ground cover scents such as earth or pine can work well to help confuse deer and mask your odor.  Better yet, next time afield, take several young bows of cedar and place them in a bag.  Then at home, store some cedar with your hunting clothes.  When hunting, rub fresh crushed cedar bows on your clothes.

Several years ago my brother-in-law Dave and I were bowhunting for deer.  Dave used the earth scent a bit strong and I have grabbed handfuls of weeds and rubbed them on my clothes (two genius hunters for sure-no deer was going to smell us).  On the way home…you guessed it, the counties finest wanted to discuss the speed limit.  When we rolled down the window I could tell he caught a huge whiff of earth scent and weeds (by now our eyes were watering as I have allergies too).  My first thought was this may be a long night.  But as luck would have it, our good servant of the public was a hunter himself.  He even guessed the scent we were using.  We all laughed so hard – I guess he just didn’t have the heart to write a ticket (Still  not sure why he stopped us).   Thank God for hunters!

Get Em’ Out There

Rawly 

A proud and dedicate archer