Posts Tagged ‘ hunting ’

Pheasant Opener

By all accounts I think most hunters were pleasantly surprised at the number of birds they saw in the field this weekend.  Having crops out of the field helped a lot in many areas with the corn harvest around 75-80% and beans over 95%.  Hunter numbers were down across the state but harvests were good.  Best numbers for pheasants were in the southwest.

Bird numbers in the southeast reflected the effects of a harsh winter and hunter pressure on private land was low.   There are a lot more birds out there for the hunting and a whole season ahead of us!  My advice…try some of the excellent CRP-Hunter Access lands that allow public access to private lands.  Many of these have good bird numbers and are worth the walk.  You can pick up a Map Atlas booklet that shows locations by county at any NGPC office or permit vendor or online at www.outdoornebraska.org

Be safe! 

Know your target and what lies beyond

Wear blaze orange

Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot

Muzzle control – point that thing in a safe direction…always

Know where members of your hunting party are at all times

Get Em’ Out There

Rawly

Two happy hunters on opening morning!

CRP-MAP lands rock!

Grouse Nirvana

After  a long week hosting the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Conservation Ed Training Academy I took the weekend to head out west with my father-in-law to chase grouse.  We had a blast!  I think grouse hunting is just plain awesome and truly enjoy chasing these psychotic sandhill chickens.  You will walk a ton (like I need that kind of impact to my cholesterol level) but in some of the best scenery in the state.  Grouse can pop up at any time and give you little warning but when their numbers are large it is a blast (yes pun intended). 

Grouse can be a challenge for some and generally we have luck when the weather gets a bit cold and they tend to huddle up on the protected side of hills from the wind.  On warmer days, the shady side of hills is best.  They are not like pheasant and do not care for thick cover grass but rather favor more choppy sand hills with mixed grasses that have been thinned a bit by grazing.  Give it a trip or two and you’ll get the hang of it. 

We also enjoyed a bit of waterfowl in the sandhill potholes and of course had no intention of going through an entire pheasant opener without chasing them too!  Life is good!

Get Em’ Out There

Rawly

Last night of camp with a tired old dog (the lab was tired too)!

Did I mention I like a BIG fire?

Finally a critter he was familiar with

Every morning was a gift!

Not a lot of trees in them there hills...

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

Do Deer Really Study The Moon?

Much has been said about deer movement in regards to the various phases of the moon and I will offer my limited observations on this.  Now some may say….”Jeff…how can you comment on the moon having never been to the moon before?”  These observations come from the physical phenomena of being able to look UP.  Looking up, I have been able to notice when the moon is fully visible and what my hunting conditions have been like the next day or so.  Very scientific. 

Some researchers, such as Charles Alzheimer, have powerful data suggesting the full moon triggers rutting activity in deer.  From his research, some have concluded that the first full moon after the autumn equinox, the hunters moon (Oct. 23, 2010), triggers rutting activity, while the second full moon after the autumn equinox hovers around the time rutting activity peaks (Nov. 21 for 2010).  We have long known that day length is a primary trigger for changes in testosterone in deer, stimulating rutting behavior.  What we are not as clear on is how the moon may impact these changes.  One could argue it makes sense because wildlife tune into such constants that are consistent for thousands of years.  Maybe there is something to these sci-fi theories? 

Before you completely discount moon phases on animal behavior, keep in mind many law enforcement and medical facilities have documented strange behavioral abnormalities during nights with full moons.  Are we influenced by the moon?  The maternity ward at some hospitals would suggest so!

My own experience has told me that on full moon nights, morning deer movement will be subdued but mid day activity will be higher.   This may be because deer take advantage of moon lit nights and feed longer, therefor are not as active in the 6am – 10am range?  It would make sense that deer who have not been active since say…4am would need to get up and move around by noon or so the next day.    Regardless, I subscribe to the theory of hunting when you can, regardless of what the lunar tables and telescopes suggest.  One constant is for sure…you can’t shoot a deer if your not out there!”  I wonder what impact Saturn has on deer?

Get Em’ Out There

Rawly

Phases of the moon - can they predict deer behavior?

Must be a full moon fight?

Nebraska Pheasant Outlook

I have heard a lot of discussion lately on the outlook for pheasants in Nebraska this year.  Much of the state will be similar to last year with the hot spot likely in southwest Nebraska.  Several things are impacting our numbers right now.  First, the winter we survived was an unusually tough one with cold temps and prolonged deep snow.  That was hard for most wildlife to survive and undoubtedly had an impact on pheasants.  They can scratch through some snow but not several feet!  Second, we had a really cool and wet spring/early summer which likely did not help pheasant recruitment this year.  Such weather impacts insect populations and is not ideal for young chicks.

My suggestion is to understand these impacts and enjoy the season.  In areas of quality habitat, you will find birds and your dog will be thrilled.  In areas of poor habitat,  hunting may be more difficult.  The key in all this is having quality habitat for pheasants to survive weather outbreaks such as our last winter and spring.  The Commission and Pheasants Forever have been working with landowners for several years now to enhance pheasant habitat and the benefits of such efforts are starting to pay off.   More and more landowners are changing practices to benefit pheasants and we hope such efforts will continue. 

Don’t get discourage as the birds are out there.  Find good habitat and you will find roosters.  Enjoy each outing with friends and dogs and appreciate the birds that they bring to you.

Get Em’ Out There

Rawly

What its all about!

Girls hunt too!! Number 4 & 5! – FIELD REPORT/ARCHERY DEER: From Jessica

God is good!!!

Mentor Jeff, Me & Oct 2 Does

Saturday morning (Oct. 2) was another beautiful crisp morning. Jeff Micek (my mentor) had already harvested a doe about 15 minutes after light, which meant it was my turn now. Around 7:40am, I just so happened to glance over my right shoulder and saw a doe and her fawn standing there at 8 yards. Moving slower then ever, I reached up and grabbed my bow, and waited for her to turn away so I could draw my bow back. She kept walking and made it out to about 11 yards when I grunted at her to make her stop. As soon as I shot, she took off  like a bullet, but only made it about 70 yards before crashing. After field dressing my deer, it turned out to be a ‘CENTER’ punched heart shot! I suprised myself with that one! 

A Picture Any Deer Hunter Would Love

Courtnie & Me - Headed to HC

After a great hunt in the morning, it was all followed by a great night at my high school senior homecoming dance! That’s right…I dress up too!!

The following night (Sunday) I made it out hunting again with my mentor Neil, and made another great shot and harvested my 5th doe.  She passed Neil at about 27 yards and came close enough to lick the steps of my tree before walking out away from me at about 8 yards. She slowly turned broadside then stopped, looking the other way.  As soon as I shot, she jumped but then almost stopped like nothing happened. Then she took off running and made it about thirty yards before tipping over.  Less then 3 mins after she fell over, Neil had nice doe walk by him and he made a great double lung shot! Way to go Neil.

Mentor Neil, Me & Oct 3 Does

Jessica

October 1st – FIELD REPORT/ARCHERY DEER: From Sam

Tonight is October 1st and it wasn’t bad for deer hunting. We got in the stand at about 5:00 p.m. The first deer that I saw was a doe and a fawn about 95 yards to the south of me just across the creek. Right at 6:05, Kevin calls on the radio and says that there is a big buck on the other side of the creek moving east, away from me. I look up and the buck wasn’t there but there was a doe just on my side of the creek about 75 yards away and slowly moving west but after 15 minutes of grazing by the creek, she angled my way and I was ready with the camera on her and my bow ready. She moved very slowly until she was 20 yards away and then she started to run right to the base of my tree. At the moment that I was about to shoot, I noticed little bumps on HIS head, I had mistaken the large button-buck for a doe – I let him go.

At 6:20, just after I let the button-buck go, I look across the creek where the first doe was and saw a white tail flicker. I pulled my 10×42 binoculars up to look and I am staring at a monster 5×5 that would score around 130 inches. I was hoping that he would decide that the grass is greener on THIS side of the creek and come close enough for a good shot on video… He decided to do just the opposite and went back in to the woods not to be seen again for the night. I wasn’t too disappointed because there was still quite a bit of daylight left.

The other side of the creek must have been the hot spot because at 6:50 I look over there again and see 3 does and 2 little 4x4s. They walked east and out of sight, too. Daylight was fading. We were starting to wrap the night up and another fawn shows up out of no-where at 30 yards and starts to come my way, but daylight was fading fast now (he was too small for me to shoot anyway).

That night didn’t end too bad, we saw a shooter buck and several does, I had one only 5 yards and had a shot opportunity, but chose not to take it. Hopefully tomorrow night will be better.

Sam