Archive for the ‘Bowhunting’ Tag

FALL HUNTING IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS   Leave a comment

Fall hunting trips bring out the hunter in all of us.  Just such a trip to southeastern Illinois is an excellent idea for an extended weekend or even just for a day afield.

Excellent wildlife habitats and thousands of acres of public access land, make southern Illinois a paradise for the hunter.  The combination of state, federal, and county lands provide hunters with more than 400,000 acres in which to pursue game and enjoy the outdoors.

Weather and habitat conditions during the hunting season affect wildlife.  Farm production schedules’ do also affect the presence of game in certain areas.  If the crops have all been harvested the game may move to another area.  Game is usually common in and around the agricultural fields.

Although not abundant, quail are present in larger numbers than most of the rest of the state. Quail like areas with a good mix of row crops, small grains, legumes and grassland.  Land connected by wooded fencerows and forest edges is best.  Turkeys also like this type of cover and they are much more numerous.

Illinois deer population owes its numbers to programs that brought back their numbers from a time when they were devastated by over hunting. The programs began in southern Illinois.  Deer like grain crops but seek those fields located next to heavy edge cover and forests.  They like to feed in the fields and feel more secure in the heavy cover as they rest.

Rabbits prefer the abandoned farmsteads with their mix of row crops, small grain and shrubby fencerows.  Southern Illinois contains probably the largest numbers of cottontail rabbits. Old pastures and forest edges provide the right combination of open areas with an overhead canopy that protects them from flying predators.

Fall hunting trips also provide sportsmen with an opportunity to wet a line in one of the many lakes and ponds of southeastern Illinois.  Such adventures are Cast & Blast trips.

For a complete listing of the public lands of southern Illinois check the IDNR Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations available wherever hunting licenses are available.  It is also on line or from the IDNR offices around the state.  The booklet lists the properties, the game available and any special site-specific regulations that apply.  It is fall and time for hunters to trek to base camp in southeast Illinois.

 

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CONCEALED CARRY AND THE OUTDOORSMAN   1 comment

Kevin and his two pre-teen sons find a scenic camping location with a waterfowl in a remote location. As they pitch their tent, have dinner over an open fire and settle in for the night, four drunken teens announce their presence.  The location is a favorite drinking location for them.

The teens, embolden by their drinking decide to evict the family. As the discussion becomes more threatening and the teens encroach on the campsite.  Kevin pulls his pistol and points it suggesting that perhaps the teens may want to find another location.  They decide to leave rather than risk a shot from an angry father.

Once the invaders are safely out of sight, Kevin packs up his children and gear. They safely leave what could have been a very serious situation.

This parent protected his family thanks to his right to concealed carry.

Stories such as this spotlight the need for concealed carry for the outdoor recreationist as well as potential victims of crime in urban areas.

However, before you carry your concealed weapon on your next outing there is some precautions needed.

To begin with some states have laws prohibiting carrying while in the field. For instance a state might ban bowhunters from carrying a firearm in the field regardless of the reason.  Some governmental agencies prohibit handguns at all times on their parks and refuges.  Still other states do not recognize concealed carry permit from other states.  This is reciprocity.

If you are traveling from one state to another it is important to know the law in all the states through which you are traveling. Your permit might be valid in your home state and the destination state but you might be traveling through another state where it is not valid.

How can you keep up with the ever changing laws that might affect your carrying protection while in the field? One of the best sources of current information regarding concealed carry is the website of United States Concealed Carry Association (www.USCCA.com).

They also have an App there as well so that you can access the information on your phone while in the field.

One of the easiest ways to get information on reciprocity is the State Reciprocity Map (www.usconcealedcarry.com/travel/).

Another valuable website is the Safe Gun Travel site (www.safeguntravel.com/).

ILLINOIS PUBLIC LAND WHITETAIL HUNTING   Leave a comment

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Many deer hunters see deer hunting as going to the same area each year and sitting in a tree. They hope for a deer to walk past and that they shoot straight.  Successful deer hunting requires study of the quarry, its biology, and the effect that man has had on both.

White-tailed deer disappeared from Illinois around the turn of the last century. Reintroduced to Southern Illinois in the early 1930’s, reintroduction came in three phases:

The first deer came to southern Illinois and allowed to reproduce. The idea was to get sufficient numbers to allow the program to move to step II.

Step II involved the trapping and translocation of deer to a suitable habitat in other parts of the state. This was so successful that by 1957 some 33 counties opened to deer hunting.  By 1975, some 98 counties had deer seasons.

Step III became the over population that has caused depredation of crops and homeowner landscaping. It also involves an increase in auto-deer accidents on area highways.  By the 1980’s over population of deer in many areas of the state was becoming a significant problem.

In the 1990’s wildlife officials decided to stress maintenance of deer density that would be capable of sustaining deer hunting. It had to take into account the carrying capacity of the land.

Today there is emphasis in some areas to maintain trophy quality in the deer herd. But, deer hunting is more than just shooting a big deer.  Deer hunters seek size and symmetry.

First is the preparation and anticipation of a hunt. Some say it is the most fun part of a deer hunt. Then there is the isolation of sitting in a cold treestand waiting for a deer to come past.  Finally, there sometimes is the disappointment of being unsuccessful in getting a deer.  To the deer hunter these are all part of the game.

Deer hunting is about leveraging experience and knowledge. All knowledge is cumulative.  The more one hunts, the better hunter he becomes.  The more he reads about hunting, he becomes a more informed hunter.  The more videos about hunting he views, the more discriminating he is in selecting his quarry.

As knowledge accumulates, one sorts out valid theories to test in a specific type of habitat. One tests theories in the field.  Then the hunter begins to develop his own theories and test them.  That is how one becomes a better hunter.  One can always learn if he just keeps an open mind.

This year, study your deer hunting area. Does it present the habitat that will attract and keep deer?  If deer are present, why are they there and where do they regularly travel.  By knowing why deer do what they do, one improves his chances of being able to be in position for that all important shot.

The huge expanses of public and private land available in southern Illinois attract hunters. The lack of overcrowding makes the area an excellent place to hunt.  The Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations contains lists of all the public land hunting areas.  It is available free from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources offices though out the state.  It is also available anywhere place selling hunting and fishing licenses.

 

 

 

DO NOT FORGET FALL TURKEY SEASON   Leave a comment

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In fall high turkey numbers provide the opportunity and hunters need only provide the preparation. Success is when opportunity meets preparation.

The changing seasons mean an anticipation of fall turkey hunting success throughout the entire country. Midwest turkey hunters have hunted spring turkeys with great success and look forward to fall birds.

Many of the tactics used during the spring season also work in fall. The birds are just as wary and frustrating.  Hunters are quick to discover all hunting can be just as heart pounding.

There are a few more wrinkles to fall hunting. Turkey hunters should shoot their shotguns to make sure they are delivering the kind of pattern needed.  It is not unusual for identical guns and ammunition combinations to throw different patterns.

One of the turkey patterning kits made by Birchwood Casey simplifies the job. It contains turkey head targets at which the hunter shoots.  Once the turkey head is the center of the pattern, the hunter knows where his point of impact is in regard to the sight or scope of the gun.

Once the point of impact is determined, hunters can shoot shells with different pellet sizes, or from different manufacturers, to find the best load combination. Many companies make special turkey loads that have the right pellet weight combined with velocity needed to penetrate the vitals of a turkey.  These loads deliver a pattern density that is superior and places more pellets in the vital zone of the turkey target.

If shooting with a bead sight, the hunter might want to make the sight more visible. Birchwood has touch‑up pins in white or fluorescent red.  Once painted the sight is brighter and more visible in low light conditions.

The calls, box, slate, glass and diaphragms, will work well in the fall, as they did last spring. Turkeys still yelp, cluck, purr and gobble.  The one addition is the young turkey’s “kee‑kee”.  This is the sound made by young‑of‑the‑year birds that are lost and looking to regroup.  You can produce this high pitched call with a diaphragm call or one of the aluminum calls.

Fall hunters begin by looking for birds where they found them last spring. The most difficult part of hunting turkeys in the fall is finding them.  Food sources such as acorns, corn or soybeans are a lure of fall birds.  During dry periods, water is a major attractant.  The fall birds tend to roost in the same areas they use in the spring.

Drive back roads, check harvested fields and talk with local landowners. The best times to locate turkeys are in the early morning and early evening.

Hunters who traditionally use a decoy in the spring leave it home in the fall. The turkeys usually ignore them except during the spring mating season.

Once a flock of birds, usually a family group of hen and young‑ of‑the year, are found they are “rushed”. The flock scatters as each bird takes an “everyone for himself” approach.  Once the action has quieted down, the birds begin to call to one another in an attempt to reassemble.  These flocks are large and can contain as many as 40 birds.

There are two other types of flocks in the fall. Males group in the summer and stay together until the following spring.  More rarely found are groups of barren hens.  The male groups can range in size from 3 to 15 birds and the hen groups are small and more difficult to find.

Once adult hens begin with their assembly yelps, the hunter takes up a position and allows the woods to calm down. He then begins calling by using yelps and kee‑kees to let the scattered and confused birds know where to find him.  As they begin to re‑assemble, the hunter can pick his quarry and concentrate on getting it into the range of his shotgun.

The fall season is usually an either‑sex hunt but one should still be sure of target identification. A safe and responsible hunter is sure of his target before aiming a gun at it.  Adherence to safe gun handing skills is an utmost priority.

While hunting fall birds is different, it is usually more successful from the hunter’s point of view. With advance preparation fall turkey hunting is an excellent way to get a bird for the Thanksgiving table.

 

 

DEER HUNTERS ASK YOURSELF THESE QUETIONS   Leave a comment

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When evaluating land for deer hunting, here are some questions you might ask yourself.

Does it present habitat that attracts and holds deer? Are there ample food, shelter and water sources present?

If deer are present, where do they travel and why? In the morning deer travel toward bedding areas and toward feeding areas in the evening.

If water is present close to the bedding areas they will not move from them during the day. If not they will get up occasionally and move to creeks, puddles, ponds and rivers for a drink.  Learn what they are doing.

Regardless of the time of day, deer leave well-worn trails in the areas they frequent. Study those tracks and learn their patterns of behavior.

If you know why deer do what they do, it improves chances of being able to be in a position for that important shot opportunity.

 

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE FOR BOWHUNTERS   1 comment

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Is it time to kick the cobwebs out of you favorite hunting bow? Every year we all hear stories of the buck that got away because of equipment failure.  But it is one part of hunting failure that can be avoided with a little effort and common sense.

By doing the maintenance early, you can work with it longer and really be prepared for the hunting season in the fall.

The purpose of maintenance is to ensure that you have a bow that will launch the arrow that will have good smooth, stable flight and accurate results at the target. Generally speaking, good flight will have good results.

Begin by placing the bow on a table or in a bow vice with a white cotton cloth. The white cloth helps when if you have to look for a dropped screw or other small part.  Examine the bow beginning at one end and working toward the other.  Make note of any unusual wear of a part of the bow.  Look for dirty wheels, frayed string or cable, loose arrow rest, loose nocking point or peep site, or any broken parts.

After the initial inspection, look at your notes and order or purchase the parts you are going to need to fix or replace these parts. If it has been a year or more since you replaced the cables or string, you will probably need to do it again now.

Unless you have replaced a cable or bowstring on your bow previously, it is probably a good idea to have the pro at your archery shop take care of it. He has the equipment to do so without throwing your wheels out or alignment.  Remember that a compound bow is under tension all the time.  When you release that tension, the wheels move as do the limbs, cables and string.  Getting everything back together again can be a bit tricky.

While the bow is apart, check the wheel bearings and axles. Make sure they move freely.  Pull the axles and lube them as a preventative measure.  It is also a good time to lube the limb bolts.

Once these parts are taken care of you can do the rest of the maintenance yourself. Check the tiller.  The tiller is the distance between the base of the limb, where it enter the limb pocket, and the bowstring.  If you shoot a release, the tiller distance for the bottom and top limbs should be the same.  Some archers prefer a slightly longer distance at the top limb.  But, never more than 1/8th inch.  The advantage to always having the limbs at equal tiller is that if there is a difference, you know that something moved and should be checked.

Next check the synchronization of the wheels. For accuracy, the wheels should both turn at the same time.  Have someone draw the bow while you check the turning over of the wheels.  If they are not turning over together, check your owner’s manual or with archery pro-shop to see how to get them back in alignment.

Examine the condition of the arrow rest. If it shows signs of unusual wear or is broken, it should be replaced.  If it has adjustments for tension, now is the time to work with it.  Do so slowly so as not to over adjust it.  The instruction sheets that come with many rests, give information on adjustment and fine tuning.  Otherwise seek advice from a pro.

Once you are satisfied with the rest, it is time to install nocking points and peep sights. The location of the nocking point is dependent on the type of rest.  Shoot‑through models work better with the nocking point at one angle while plunger models and launchers require higher nocking points.

To adjust the location of nocking points, peep sights and kisser buttons requires the assistance of another person. The owner of the bow draws it with the release and arrow that he plans to use later.  The other person, adjust the points, peep and kisser.  Once the location has been ascertained, they are then installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Finally, check the bowsight for loose or broken parts. Repair or replace as necessary.  Wipe down the bow with a soft cotton cloth and you are ready to take to the field.

By paying attention to the details of bow maintenance, you are prepared to take to the field fully confident that it will perform satisfactorily. Practice with it and periodically check it out during the season to make sure nothing has changed or broken.

Posted 06/13/2016 by Donald Gasaway in Bowhunting

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SCOUT DEER ALL YEAR AROUND   1 comment

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Looking at Charlie’s cellphone one cannot help but realize how technology and good old fashioned ground pounding can aid in taking that deer next season. Deer hunting in the 21st century has come a long way.

Hunting season is upon us. Modern technology allows hunters to observe their quarry all year with the use of trail cameras.  Some can even connect to cellphones and computers so the hunter can monitor the activity on a specified piece of land.

The hunter who consistently takes big bucks year after year spends hours in the field, reads all he can find about the animals and makes effective use of trail cameras to pattern their activity. He does not overlook any opportunity to learn.

In the case of white-tailed deer, big bucks have different feeding patterns and travel different trails in summer and early fall than later in the year. In response to hunting pressure deer change their travel patterns at the opening of deer season.

Tracks lead to either feeding or bedding areas. Deer will move toward bedding areas in the morning and toward feeding areas in the evening.  This tells you where to focus your hunting during those periods of the day.

Bucks make rubs along the trail on the side of the tree he is facing. This is another clue to which direction he is moving on a trail.  Seldom does he use the same trail both coming and going to the feeding/bedding areas.

Later the rut activity makes for more changes as they drive off rival bucks and seek out the does still in estrus.

Bucks maintain these habits until late winter when feeding habits force them to change in concert with the change of diet from brose to grasses.

Sign found by the scouting hunter in spring is sign of most importance to the hunter in pursuit of a dominant buck. Post season hunters can get a clear picture of where he will be in the fall by scouting a deer’s home area.

By making field notes one can map the planned hunting area. Expertise in map making is not a requirement. You just have to be able to find the same terrain in the fall.  Mark wooded areas, swamps, sloughs, ridges, scrapes, rubs, bedding areas, feeding areas, water, doe trails, buck trails and where you sight game.  The use of a GPS unit helps by using way points in the same manner.

For those wanting a more accurate map, local governmental agencies often have maps for sale at a nominal price. They portray roads in the area.  Add some of the things mentioned earlier and some additional items might include changes in terrain such as small valleys with bluffs on each side that funnel deer activity.  Creek crossings often are full of sign as animals depend on the water sources.  Small ponds, stock tanks, and creeks become regular watering holes for all wildlife.

A benefit of post season scouting is that signs found are from animals that have made it through the season and the winter. They should be still around the next fall.

Due to the lack of vegetation late in the season the amount of sign is not as clear as is the case in late summer.  Rubs are a bit hard to find, as they are aged and difficult to distinguish from ones of previous years.  Scrapes are easy to spot.  Mark them for future reference to see if they are refreshed.

Fresh rubs in an area with older ones leave the impression that the deer making them has been around for a while. Deer return to old scrapes from one year to another.  Once they begin to use them they will return to refresh them every 12 to 48 hours.

Scrapes usually are located along field edges where there is a change from one type of vegetation to another. They are almost always beneath an overhanging branch that is about 4 to 5 feet off the ground.  In making the scrape the buck leaves his scent on the tree by depositing his saliva as he licks or chews the branch.

If no suitable tree is available deer make scrapes next to saplings and leave a rub on the tree itself.

Rubs serve two purposes. They aid in getting the velvet off of antlers during the early season.  Later they mark the buck’s territory.  The territory is the buck’s breeding ground.  The best prospect is an area with both old and new scrapes and rubs in large numbers.  The chance of a big deer being there is good.

Deer tracks tell one of the presence of game. A single track of an animal wandering aimlessly through the woods is not one that needs recording.  It is the track of a feeding animal and one probably not likely to use the trail again.  Tracks of lots of deer indicate a major trail going to or from feeding and bedding areas.  Such trails should be recorded and check frequently for activity.  Check the tracks for size.

If tracks are large mixed with small ones then you are looking at a trail used by does and fawns. Check the area to the side of such trails for large tracks running in the same direction but not on the trail.  Bucks usually leave these tracks.  Bucks like to stay near the does but seek heavier cover.

By setting up stands to use the appropriate trails at the time of day indicated by the sign, a hunter increases his chances.

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