Archive for the ‘Turkey Hunting’ Tag

CONCEALED CARRY AND THE OUTDOORSMAN   Leave a 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/).

MAXIMIZE YOUR OUTDOOR SHOW DOLLARS   Leave a comment

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Going to the outdoor show is always a hoot.  It is a chance to see what anglers from all over are buying.  It brings up visions of upcoming trip opportunities and it is a learning experience.

The key to maximizing knowledge from a boat show is advance preparation.  A game plan will allow you to learn with a minimum of exhaustion.  Begin on the Internet.  Most all of the exhibitors web pages.  So too do the sponsors of the show itself.

Most shows are composed of thousands of square feet of products, places to go, and other bits of knowledge.  Covering the entire show and still being able to focus on your favorite aspect of outdoor recreation takes effort.  Some shows are so large that one feels the need of a GPS just to get around.

Once you select the show, check the ads that appear in newspapers, magazines, on radio and television for specific information as to when the show coming to town.  Look for the products and seminars that interest you.  If planning to make purchases, make a list of the items you are seeking.

Make two lists, one that you have to buy and the second of things you would like to examine.  Perhaps you will buy something from the second list and maybe you just want to see it.

Week day traffic is lightest and exhibitors can spend more time with you.  Arrive early to allow maximum time to spend getting the information you seek.

If you are with a group make arrangements to meet at a specific location and time.  You may want to see different things.  Kids do not want to spend the same amount of time at a booth as an adult.  Wives want to see different things than do husbands.

Once at the show, take time to look over the program you usually receive as you enter.  It often has a floor plan and list of the exhibitors.  Use a pen or highlighter marking pen to mark the exhibits and seminars of major interest to you.  Make check marks beside the names of exhibitors who might stock the things you want to purchase.

Make note of the time and location of seminars you want to attend.  Some shows announce the seminars as they are taking place while some do not.  Be sure you have a watch so that you do not miss your favorite speaker.  Make note on the program of any last minute substitute seminar speakers or exhibits.  Look for such changes the entrance to the show or at the seminar area.

Take a cassette tape recorder to the seminar.  Most speakers have no problem with your taping their speech, but it is important to ask permission first.  Take notes in a spiral notebook.  You might even have some questions that you hope the speaker will answer, prepared in advance.  That way if he does not cover the subject, you can ask during the Q & A that usually is part of any seminar.

Pay attention and avoid side conversations with your companions.  If the subject is one in which you are intensely interested, sit near the front so that you can concentrate.  If you are only passively interested, sit in the back or on an aisle.  That way if you decide to leave during the presentation, you will disturb only a minimum number of other people.

Wear comfortable shoes.  You will spend most of your time walking on concrete.  Hiking boots or a new pair of athletic shoes is a good idea as they provide support and cushioning for the feet.  Older athletic shoes are not a good idea as they lack the support necessary to cushion your feet.  They are like walking barefoot and can lead to foot problems as well as fatigue.

If the outside weather is cold, then you need to do something with your coat.  Carrying it is a nuisance.  If the show provides a coat checking service, it is worth the cost.  If not, perhaps you might want to leave it in the vehicle.  A third alternative is to put it in a backpack.

Backpacks are also a good place for brochures that you pick up at the show.  You can acquire a considerable number of them in the course of visiting all the booths.  Although the weight of a brochure is not much, the weight of many brochures is a lot.  If you do not remember to bring your backpack, then look for a booth that is passing out plastic “shopping bags”.  Look around at the other people carrying bags and check for reinforced handles.  They are the ones you want.

Another help is to take frequent breaks and examine what you accumulate.  Sometimes it is stuff that you do not really want.  You can stop for a soft drink and a hot dog while culling your materials.  If after reading the brochure you still have some questions, go back to the booth and get answers.  It is easier than calling or writing from home later.

Finally, check your notes.  Did you miss anything that you had intended to see?

Attendance at sports shows is a great opportunity to gain a maximum benefit from your money.

 

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.

 

 

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS CELEBRATION OF NATIONAL HUNTING & FISHING DAY   Leave a comment

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Each year on the fourth Saturday and Sunday in September 25,000 to 40,000 sportsmen and their families travel to the campus of John A. Logan College for The Southern Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day. They are attending an event designed to teach hunting and fishing skills as well as the ethics, safety and conservation issues associated with them.

Last year’s attendance set a record of 44,000 people attending this, the largest National Hunting & Fishing Day celebration in the nation.

This year’s event takes place on September 26 and 27, 2015. Admittance and parking is free. Food is available from a variety of venders on the campus at nominal prices.

This year Pappy’s Outdoor is the official title sponsor. Other major sponsors include Williamson County Tourism Bureau, Good Guys Motors, McDonalds, Black Diamond Harley-Davidson and the Friends of Crab Orchard.

Children’s activities include a youth goose calling contest as well as archery, shooting sports and fishing. Local sponsors provide the activities free. Volunteers provide instruction and adult supervision.

Dogs and waterfowl activities figure prominently in the celebration with demonstrations by dock dogs, agility dogs, retrievers, search and rescue dogs, police dogs as well as coon and fox hounds. Instruction on training and nutrition for dogs is also available.

The waterfowl calling series begins with the Don Gasaway Youth Goose Calling Contest on Saturday. A number of duck and goose calling contests attracting youth, professional and amateur callers follow during Saturday and Sunday.  They end with the Tim Grounds Southern Illinois World Open Goose Calling Championship on Sunday. A variety of cash and merchandise prizes are available to the contestants.

The High School Bass Fishing Contest involves individual as well as team competition in a fishing contest held on Crab Orchard Lake with the weigh-in held at the Celebration grounds. Area high schools can enter two boats with four anglers and two coaches. The coaches are in the boats but do not fish. The school with the heaviest total weight of bass wins a trophy. There is a penalty for any fish that die. The angler with the largest bass also wins a trophy. Other trophies go to second, third, etc.

Tents erected on the college campus will house some 200 venders. New this year will be an archery tent sponsored by Kevin’s Archery Center, Ava, IL. An adult and a youth shooting range will be inside along with a number of archery manufacturer’s representatives. Instruction will be available along with a chance to get questions answered.

Other activities include wildlife and nature art show, seminars on fishing, game preparation and outdoor cooking as well as a buck skinner’s village with tomahawk throwing area. Displays provide instruction and information about Taxidermy, ATV, RV, boats, deer antler measuring, trapshooting, archery, and a special fishing display.

The Outdoor Art & Heritage Show returns this year inside the college Gymnasium, Skylight Lounge and front lobby. It promotes participation in outdoor recreation through artistic, cultural, natural history, entertainment, and an expanded deer display. Exhibitors include artists, taxidermists, museums, collectors, authors, musicians, not-for-profits, and makers of specialty foods.

Vendors interested in participation should contact Ron Allen as soon as possible. Vendor space is limited and sells out each year. Ron is available at 217-725-7602 (cell), 217-787-8862 (home) or by email at allen92@comcast.net.

Free information regarding motel accommodations and points of interest is available from Williamson County Tourism Bureau, 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, Illinois 62959 or by calling 1-800-GEESE-99. Information is also available online at VisitSI.com, the Williamson County Tourism Bureau website. The e-mail address is info@VisitSI.com.

HEARING PROTECTION FOR THE SHOOTER   1 comment

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Anticipation is high as the geese circle the field before cupping their wings for landing.  As they approach the decoys and are about 10 feet above them, the guide shouts get them boys.

We all rise and begin firing.  As the birds start to fall, a blast from the right explodes just a foot or two from my right ear.  The pain is sudden.

The ability to hear takes a few hours to return but it is apparent I have lost some of my hearing.

Up to this point I have never given much thought to the loss of hearing one experiences from loud noise such as gun shots.  It just seemed to go with the territory.  Reading about it never really hit home.

Following this experience some 15-years ago, I began using hearing protection on the shooting range but had trouble using anything available in the field.

Foam inserts keep falling out and also hinder conversation with companions in the field.  Muffs also block some talking and are hot and uncomfortable in warm weather.  More recently muffs that electronically block sound at certain levels are more like what I seek.  Conservations with companions are possible but they are still bulky and hot under certain field conditions.  They work on the range but under hunting conditions they are less desirable.

At a recent Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Cast & Blast event Lance Kraemer of Starkey Hearing Technologies (www.starkey.com) introduced us to a new ear plug called SoundGear produced by their company.  Their company seems to specialize in high-Definition sound enhancement.

The product is an all-digital electronic hearing production item that comes in three styles.  The one I prefer is an ear plug fitting in the ear canal.  They also make a behind-the-ear model and a custom molded model.

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It fits into the ear canals and stays put unlike the problems I experience with foam plugs.  The unit is smaller and has a baffle type appearance.  A very small (#10) hearing aid battery delivering up to 140 hours of protection powers the electronics.  If continuous protection is not required you simply remove the battery from the device and re-install it later when needed.

Plugged into the ear it allows protection from loud blasts such as a high-powered rifle yet allows one to hear normal conversations.

Once home it was imperative that I test it out on the range as I sight-in my rifle for the next week’s hunt of exotics in Texas.  It works similar to the electronic muffs I use normally with more comfort and flexibility.  The units stay in place unlike foam plugs.

A few days later in Texas, the opportunity to test SoundGear in the field meets with similar success. I even get to test them in rain conditions.  They work perfectly.  I am sold on this product.

TURKEY HUNTER KNOW WHERE YOUR SHOOTING   Leave a comment

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Watching a big tom turkey approach from some two hundred yards across a field to within a few feet is a thrill in and of itself. Watch Ralph Duren use a call and a turkey wing to get the job done is an honor. When he finally said, “I think you need to shoot this one” I was still marveling at the job he had done.

Ralph is one of the premiere game callers in the country. He has appeared on television and in person from one end of the country to the other. Turkeys are not all he calls. He is an accomplished bird imitator as well as someone who can call all sorts of animals. Having seen his program at a writer’s conference one year, it is an honor to be able to sit in a turkey blind and watch him do his thing. So much so that I forgot some of the basics of shooting.

Calling turkeys is the subject of a lot of articles this time of the year. We tend to forget that all the calling the world is of no use if we can not hit the bird. Turkey hunters in particular are prone to forget the patterning of their weapon prior to going into the field.

It is vital that we know the exact point of impact of the shot. If the bulk of the hot is not going where the gun is pointed, then shooters need to adjust accordingly. It is an easy point that I neglected that day in the Missouri river bottom with Ralph.

Once one has decided upon a particular gun and shot load to use on a hunt, it is time to pattern the gun. Patterning is very simple and inexpensive way to make sure it shoots where the hunter is aiming. All you need is a gun, shells, a sheet of plywood, some targets with a turkey head on them and ear and eye protection. A bench rest is helpful in being consistent from one shot to another.

Targets, available at sporting goods stores, usually consist of a large white sheet of paper with a turkey head in the middle. Most are about three foot square. Some target makers have lines of head targets that are stuck to any large sheet of paper. They are brighter in color and stand out more. They are realistic in size to the real thing.

In the interest of time, one can put up several targets and use different size shot on each. The mix of pellets from different size shot is different with each gun.

If the shooter is shooting at the center of the target and the bulk of the shot is consistently hitting off to the side, perhaps the stock needs adjustment by a gunsmith.

If the bulk of the shot is just a little off from center, then the hunter can adjust his point of aim to compensate. If he is shooting a shotgun with a scope, then you adjust the sight to compensate. The idea is to deliver at least six pellets to the head and neck area of the bird.

In patterning a shotgun it is wise to use different chokes. Most modern shotguns have the screw-in choke systems that allow the hunter a variety of shot patterns. Most turkey hunters prefer the full choke, but if another one will work more effectively, this is the time to find out.

Once you establish the pattern of the gun at a specific range, it is time to test it at other increments of distance. If the hunter knows where the shot is going at 30 yards, then it would help to know where it will be at 10 or 20 yards as well. Turkey hunters in the Midwest seldom get a shot at birds that are in excess of 30 yards. Additionally, most loads begin to loose their effectiveness beyond such a range.

Patterning a turkey gun goes a long way toward building a familiarity with the weapon. That in turn aids one in putting a bird on the table. It is something forgotten on the eventful day with Ralph. He did his homework and I did not. I saw a bird up close and personal and watched it run away after I shot clean over its head.

PUBLIC LAND TURKEY HUNTING TIPS   2 comments

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Modern day turkey hunters enjoy some of the best turkey hunting.  Some overlook this opportunity because they do not have a place lined up to hunt.  Illinois also has some of the country’s best public land turkey hunting.  The public land hunting programs have and are used as models by many wildlife management agencies of other states.

The public land hunting opportunities help to meet the demand that cannot be met by private property.

Illinois hunters can receive several permits for the single spring season.

Application forms are available from the IDNR Permit Office in Springfield or on line at the IDNR website: http://www.dnr.state.il.us.  Most IDNR regional office also will have them available.

Additional state regulations and site specific rules can be obtained by contacting the public land site and from the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations.  The later is available free from the IDNR online at the above website.

Like most hunting, public land turkey hunting requires one to know the habits and habitat of the birds.  It is important to know how turkeys react under hunting pressure and different weather conditions.  Weather, the type of cover and having the proper hunting equipment all play a part in finding birds.

Experienced public land hunters learn to concentrate their efforts on areas that do not receive human traffic.  Hedge rows offer concealment opportunities for birds that become call shy early in the season.  Another such cover situation is any brushy areas next to grain fields.

Weather during turkey season is a real iffy proposition.  Passing cold fronts bring with them spring storms.  The time just prior to the passing and just after a storm usually means that the birds will be actively feeding.  Grain fields, or any other place where spilled grain might be found, are good places to seek out Mr. Turkey.  Out of the way roads offer promise of feeding birds.

Scanning the woods is another tool of the turkey hunter on public land.  One not only scans the property looking for birds but also for other hunters.  In the interest of safety it is wise to know where your fellow hunters are and what they are doing.  Any movement in public land hunting should be done slowly and with purpose.  The best rule of thumb is to move only when entering or leaving the woods.  Never use a turkey call when entering or leaving the hunting area.  It is too easy to be mistaken for a turkey moving through the brush.

If you should spot another hunter moving toward you it is recommended that you whistle softly.  It will not spook turkeys or the other hunter but will make him aware of your presence.  Do not wave lest he mistake you for a bird.

Once in place it is wise to begin calling with soft calls.  This is particularly true after the birds have been hunted for some time.  The birds have been hearing lots of calls and tend to regard hard calls as danger.

Soft calls attract a gobbler’s attention out of curiosity.  The purr calls whether hen or fighting purr calls get older birds to respond in response to their desire to dominate their territory.

Well hunted areas can be totally unproductive on any given day.  That does not mean that there are no birds, only that they are not responding to calls.  This could be the result of the gobbler being with a hen or are not paying attention to hen sounds because they have become call shy.  The next day one may find turkey hunting productive in the very same area.

Even pressured birds are aggressive in the spring.  By sitting still and listening for the sounds of the woods, it is possible to hear the disturbance of leaves as gobblers move about in search of hens.  In their pursuit of hens, with which to mate, the gobbler will strut and drum giving away his location.

With a little scouting of the area you plan to hunt, and by paying attention to safety while moving about in the woods, one can enjoy a very fruitful experience hunting turkeys on public land.

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