Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gear for your Trip

When deciding what to bring on your hunting trip, begin by using the internet to research the area you plan to visit. Find out what there is to do in the area, including lodgings and restaurant options if you are not planning to “live off the land” during your trip. Also consult weather websites in the days leading up to the trip to find out what kind of weather you should expect. Also, well in advance of your trip, don’t forget to check with the local authorities to make sure that you will be able to hunt legally, and be sure to pick up some blaze orange hunting clothing. As you begin to pack for your hunting trip, these five items can be the difference in the success or failure of your trip.

Appropriate Weapon

If you are hunting game that you have not hunted previously, take some time to speak to people, either other hunters or sporting goods experts, who know about that animal. Make sure that you have a gun that will be appropriate for hunting the game you are considering. This part of your preparations should come two to three months before you plan to make your trip to give you time to secure and train with the proper weapons.

Climate-Appropriate Gear

The mountains can get extremely cold, even during the summer months. Make sure that you have gloves and hats that will keep you warm and dry during your trip. Consider the condition of your feet as well. As you are making your preparations, you should check the average precipitation and look for streams, creeks, or marshes in the area where you plan to hunt. Wet feet not only can make your trip uncomfortable, but they can also make it dangerous as well.
Portable Food and Drink
All hunters should take some easily transportable food and water on their trip; even if you plan to eat what you kill, it's important to have other food options available to you, as not every hunting trip goes exactly as planned. The easiest and most space-efficient options are camping food packs that are vacuum-sealed and intended for people without access to fires or cooking equipment. Canned meats and bottled water also work well and take up little space.

First Aid Equipment

Having access to basic first aid supplies on your hunting trip is essential. While you probably don’t need anything extensive, getting a basic kit with gauze, band-aids, disinfectant wipes, and medications for common poisons and bites can help you to make the trip more comfortable if there’s a minor problem. Many camping supply stores carry pre-made first aid kids with everything you need.

Communication Devices

Cell phones don’t work everywhere! Some type of walkie-talkie or other communication device is a good idea to take on long hunting expeditions. Being able to get in touch with someone quickly could literally save a life. If your carrier doesn’t get good service in the area where you are visiting, purchasing a disposable cell phone serviced from the best local cell phone company is a good idea. For visiting particularly desolate areas, consider investing in a satellite phone to use in emergencies.
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Why do hunters hunt !

 The answer is given by our friend Russ !

Many of us have been asked to put into words the reasons why we hunt. The problem is, the reasons and motivations that compel me and many others to hunt are pretty hard to put into print. This is my first attempt at explaining what drives me to head into the woods each hunting season.
What leaps to mind is a quote from my father. Someone had asked him why he loved to hunt so much; what was so great about being in the woods. His reply was, "If I have to explain it, you wouldn't understand." This really sums up the feeling many of us have. A recent ad in several hunting magazines shows a fellow festooned in camoflage, with the caption "You can't explain it. But nothing would keep you from it." Our lack of eloquence on this subject is a major factor in the "bunny-huggers'" fight against our rights. The vast majority of our populace is open to suggestion on the topic of hunting, and could take it or leave it. The very fact that the anti-hunting crowd often makes their claims public, with little or no rebuttal from us hunters, will sway many of these neutral folks. It's really a debate with one vocal participant, and the claims made, while illogical and faulty, are the only thoughts to ever reach many of these non-hunters. I believe it's time we delved into ourselves and offered our thoughts, however abstract, to the non-hunting public for their consideration.
I started going to the woods with Dad when I was very young. I don't really remember when I first went, but when I was nine, I got to go on a few hunting trips with him and follow him through the woods. He wisely kept these trips varied, and limited the time we spent on any one thing, as my attention span was fairly short. By the time I was eleven, I got to carry an old heirloom .410 double-barrel shotgun, with the action broken open. If I was to spot some game, then by his permission, I could close the gun and shoot. Soon I was allowed to wander the woods on my own for short times, still following his rule of keeping the gun broken. It was at this time that the hunting seed really began to grow in me. There's just no way to adequately portray the majesty of a forest and the creatures within, when you feel like the only man who's ever stood where you stand. It doesn't matter that you're walking on a well-worn trail, and that you spy spent shotgun shells alongside it from time to time. You feel all alone, at peace, fully alert, ready for anything. I never feel closer to God than I do when I walk in the woods, his most wondrous creations all around me, with the challenge of outwitting them on their own terms in front of me.
The hunting instinct is one of the most basic instincts of mankind. After all, we are the ultimate predator. Take a look at "prey" animals. Their eyes are usually on the sides of their heads, affording a wider field of view. They lose some depth perception with this arrangement, but it helps them survive. Predators, on the other hand, characteristically have their eyes set close together, very useful for estimating the distance between he and his target. Beyond this, the urge to kill lies within us all, especially as children. Without proper channelling of these instincts, children often grow into physically abusive and/or murderous adults. Can any of us honestly say that, as kids, we didn't shoot birds with our slingshots and bb guns, or set homemade traps for other critters? I say that if you can say that, then you either never had an opportunity as a child, or you're an exception to the rule of human nature.
The kill is the fulfillment of the hunt. We hunt to be alone, to observe wildlife without being observed ourselves, to face one of the greatest challenges in this world: to take a wild animal on his own turf, using our brain and little else. Forget the wild tales you may have heard about "automatic" guns and telescopic sites. When it comes right down to it, those things are no good unless you can create an opportunity to use them. We don't swagger into the woods and slay Bambi when he meekly peeks from behind a tree. We have to use every sense, every bit of experience we have, and when we accomplish our goal, it's a milestone. I once watched a videotape on hunting that theorized that, on the average, if you are hunting and get a chance at a deer, that chance will last 7 seconds. In my experience, that's not far off. Sometimes you'll have longer, sometimes not that long, but 7 seconds is just about average. Think of what it takes to be alert and ready, and to make an honest, clean shot on an animal that always believes there's danger behind every tree! In those 7 seconds you must verify that it is, indeed, a legal animal, find a chance to shoot (not easy when you're in brushy country), and you must usually remain undetected by those roving eyes and swivelling ears. What a high! The adrenalin rush I get from it is like nothing else in this world. The fulfillment of long hard hours of hunting is definitely worth it!
I read a quote from a famous writer once, though I can't recall his name. The quote went something like this: "We do not go hunting to kill. We kill in order to have gone hunting." Without the kill, you aren't hunting. That doesn't mean that you have to kill every legal animal you see, but hunting is not hunting if you're not there to kill. But to return to the quote, one does not go hunting expressly for that purpose. Hunting is freedom, a tie to our ancestors, peace, contentment, happiness, joy, sweat, close calls, exploring, hiking, stealth, boring, exhilarating, tiring, satisfying, challenging, and a thousand other things. It's there for you to discover, and judge for yourself if you want to take part in it. But please, "don't knock it until you've tried it." That's the only way you'll ever know for sure.
- Russ Chastain
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Safety Rules

As you join thousands of hunters heading into the woods, fields and marshes during the fall hunting seasons, Wisconsin DNR safety experts remind you to review and think about firearm safety each and every time you head out.
Essential to any responsible hunting trip is an ironclad adherence to the four basic rules of firearm safety that can be easily remembered using the TAB-K formula.

T = Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Never assume a firearm is unloaded and never treat it that way, even if you watch as it is unloaded. Make it a habit to treat guns like they are loaded all the time.

A = Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. About one third of all hunting incidents are self inflicted injuries. That means the muzzle was pointed at some part of the hunter’s body. A safe direction is a direction where the bullet will travel and harm no one in the event of an unwanted discharge. There are no accidental discharges with firearms, only unwanted discharges.

B = Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it. Positive target identification is a must. To shoot at something you only think is a legal target is gambling. In the case of human injury, that means gambling with human life. You must be absolutely certain and correct in judgment before deciding to shoot. Otherwise, it’s reckless behavior. In addition to identifying the target, a hunter must know that a safe backstop for their bullet is present in every shooting situation. We don’t always hit our target, and, in some cases, the bullet passes through the target. A safe backstop guarantees that no one will get hurt.

K = Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot. If a hunter stumbles with a firearm in one hand and nothing in the other, whatever that person does with their free hand will automatically happen with the hand holding the gun. If a finger is inside the trigger guard, that hand is likely going to close around the pistol grip of the gun and on the trigger causing an unwanted discharge.
Planning your fall hunting trip also means having your gear in proper working order. Firearms should be cleaned and closely inspected for any signs of mechanical wear that could result in a problem in the field.
Firearms aren’t the only items that need to be checked well in advance of a hunting trip. Clothing and other equipment should also be inspected for signs of wear and tear. Anything that might cause you to compromise safety should be repaired, discarded or replaced. Blaze orange clothing that has faded over time, a jacket that doesn’t fit right or a scope that isn’t adjusted correctly can compromise your safety and the safety of others.

Have a safe and enjoyable hunt!

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why do you hunt ?

Why do you hunt for ?
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Every Hunter's Dream

Katie Lemon shares footage of a hunt that netted her an amazing southern Utah muley....

    "As hunters, we always had a dream: to hunt in Africa..So we did, to make it come true. The experience was wonderful and we kept on returning and returning, so much so that we brought our dream beyond."

    With no more ties left in Spain other than our work, we decided, some time ago to immigrate to South-Africa. We have established an exclusive lodge for hunters and non-hunters. Our personal vision of this project: careful and customized attention to our clients so that they feel right at home. We want them to feel good.. more than good and above all, a place where you can achieve your dreams and goals: to hunt in feel like an EXPLORER.

    That's why our Lodge is named: THE HUNTER'S DREAM SAFARI - the dream of a hunter! or, in a nutshell, our love affair with Africa!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Train dogs for hunting

Research the different breeds of water dogs. There are many dogs suitable for hunting waterfowl. Some of the most popular are Labrador Retrievers,Golden Retrievers and Springer Spaniels. Look into the different breeds and decide which one is best for you and your hunting adventures. You should also be mindful of the amount of care a particular breed will need. Some dogs require a lot of room to run, for example, while others are more sedentary. Choose a dog that you can provide a good home for.

Pick out a puppy. Although there are many adult dogs that are trained to hunt waterfowl, it is generally best to train your own puppy. Not only will a puppy allow you the time to train the dog for your hunting style, starting with a puppy will also ensure a loyal dog that is bonded and conditioned to its owner. Make sure you use a reputable breeder; you can research breeders online or at your local dog or hunting clubs. 

Introduce the puppy to water when they are little. Instill the idea that water is good, water is fun, and playing in water is a way to earn rewards and other positive reinforcement. You can start in a small wading pool at first, and in no time your dog will be ready for the open water. 

Teach your dog to sit and stay. Although these are basic and cliché dog commands, they serve as the foundational commands for more complex hunting demands. Use food as a way to teach sitting. Hold food over the dog’s head. Give the command to sit while simultaneously pressing gently on the dog’s hind legs. As soon as the dog sits give it a treat. Repeat this over and over. Soon your dog will sit at the first glance of a treat. Eventually, he or she will sit without requiring a treat.

Introduce your dog to decoys and to the scent of waterfowl. It is important that your dog quickly understand the difference between a real duck and a decoy. You can utilize waterfowl scent and dummies to train your dog. Be sure to set decoys far away from the dog before throwing the dummy so they are able to find out where the dummy is and knows the difference between a real bird and a decoy.

Practice daily, if possible. Make waterfowl training a fun, rewarding experience for your dog. 

Reinforce positive behavior with positive rewards. When you attach a scent to a decoy or training device, throw it in the water, and see your dog fetch the trainer and return it to you, make sure to let your dog know what a good job it has done. There is nothing a dog wants more than to please its owner, and to establish a lifelong hunting partnership it is important to let your dog know from a young age that retrieving game is something he or she will be rewarded for. 

Expose your dog to actual hunting situations before taking it out into the field. A dog that is trained only in theory may not perform to expectations in the field. A dog that is expected to perform around guns needs to be trained in the presence of guns. Take your waterfowl dog with you when you target practice, or set up simulated hunts in a proper shooting area. The key point is that your dog has to be prepared for actual situations if you expect it to perform like a seasoned hunter. Condition your dog prior to the hunt. You want your dog at peak performance in the field. 

Use training dummies early and often. The more you train your dog to the scent and feel of waterfowl, the more your dog will impress you in the field. Remember, a dog’s biggest pleasure is pleasing its owner, so if you show appreciation for good behavior in practice your dog will certainly please you in hunting situations. 

Train your dog in a boat prior to a hunt if boats are going to be used. Load it in and out, and practice retrieving dummies from the boat.

Simplify the training by keeping it simple. Your basic goal is to get your dog to retrieve the bird. In your training program focus on rewarding your dog for retrieving the training dummy. It is in the natural instincts of a retriever to want to go after, retrieve, and return a shot bird. It is the job of the owner to get the dog trained to consistently and methodically do so.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Rabbit Hunter Tips

As farming operations and urban development encroach on prime rabbit hunting areas, large contiguous blocks of hunting territory are harder to find. This has caused many rabbit hunters to abandon the traditional method of hunting all day in one large swath of brushy territory.  Instead, many now opt for "leapfrogging," where hunters cover one brush patch or overgrown fencerow in an hour or so, then drive on to another rabbit hideout. By leapfrogging throughout the day, hunting first one spot then another, chances are good you'll locate more rabbits.

Farm help

Savvy rabbit hunters know that farmers are an invaluable aid for finding cottontail concentrations. Since they work their land daily and see rabbits regularly, farmers know where huntable populations are likely to be. Most are eager to keep cottontails thinned out so they don't cause crop damage.

It's a simple matter to cultivate your own contacts in farm country. Remember these things. Ask permission before hunting, every time you visit. Follow all rules the landowner asks you to abide by, like passing up shots at the coveys of quail he's nurturing. Leave everything just as you found it, and always take time to thank the farmer personally. Offer to share your game, and follow up with a thank-you note and a token of your appreciation. Make these easy-to-follow guidelines part of all your farm visits, and you'll always have prime rabbit lands on which to hunt.

Sunrise and sunset scouting

Driving rural roads near dawn and dusk is another good way to find potential hunting sites. Cottontails are most active early and late in the day, especially along the fringes of fields and roadside cover, where briars and thickets provide sanctuary near favorite feeding areas.

Drive slowly, and note any spot where you see several cottontails. Then inquire at nearby homes for the name of the landowner so you can request permission to hunt.
Dress for success

Most good cottontail thickets have one thing in common -- thorns.  Whether you're hunting behind dogs, kicking up rabbits yourself or retrieving downed game, some type of sticker will be clawing at your ears, fingers, thighs and other tender parts.  Wearing protective clothing can do wonders to make your trips afield more enjoyable and less painful.

Blue jeans are preferred by many rabbit fans, but offer little protection. A good pair of briar-busting breeches with thorn-proof material covering the front should be considered essential equipment no matter where and how you hunt. It also helps to wear a briar-resistant hunting coat, gloves and some type of hunting cap with flaps that can be pulled down over your ears.

Remember the orange rhino
A buddy of mine often describes dense rabbit cover by saying, "You couldn't see a blaze orange rhino in there." In some locales we hunt, this is darn near true. Cover is so thick, you can only see a few feet. For this reason, we wear hunter orange hats and bodywear on every trip.

Safety should be the foremost consideration on all your rabbit hunts. Remember the orange rhino, and make hunter orange clothing a must for everyone in your party.

Barrels and bullets

When stomping for cottontails in thick cover, use a shotgun with an improved cylinder choke and No. 6 or 7-1/2 shotshells.  Since cottontails jumped in thick cover usually are close and moving fast, a wide, yet sufficiently heavy, shot pattern is needed to put a rabbit down without excessive damage to the meat.

When hunting cottontails with beagles, you may want to switch to a modified or full choke.  A pack of dogs will push rabbits across fields and woodlots, and the shots you'll make are usually farther than those presented when you flush rabbits yourself.  Use the tighter patterning choke and increase your shot size to No. 4s or 6s.
Icy weather equals hot hunting

Cold, miserable days often provide the best gunning. Rabbit fur has poor insulating qualities, so rabbits are forced to take shelter from the weather, making them easier to find and less likely to flush wildly.

To find bad-weather bunnies, think like a rabbit. Where would you go to escape the cold if all you had to wear was a light jacket? Hunt places that are sheltered from wind and open to warm rays of sunshine, then move to other locales offering protection from adverse conditions.

Look 'em in the eye

Stalking rabbits as they sit in their forms is great sport, especially when hunting with youngsters not yet adept at bagging running rabbits. The trick is to spot the rabbit before it spots you. Considering the rabbit's superb camouflage, this can be tough.

Old hands at this endeavor have a rule: look for their eyes instead of their whole bodies. A rabbit's round, dark eyes look out of place against the crisscross of cover, and are easily spotted by a hunter who walks slowly, carefully examining all brush and weeds. You may overlook rabbits huddled in their forms, but you'll also bag a few at close range after spotting the eye.

Watch over your shoulder
In isolated patches of cover, a cottontail may head directly away, disappearing from sight, then circle well behind the hunter.  Others sit tight until the gunner passes, then squirt out behind.

Look over your shoulder every few minutes, and you'll glimpse some of these renegades before they make good their escape.  Snap shooting is a must, so be careful to identify your target before shooting.
top-and-go hunting

A veteran nimrod taught me a rabbit hunting technique that has proven very effective over the years.  It's based on the idea that rabbits are highly nervous animals, and suspense is something they can't handle very well. It works this way. Enter a covert and begin walking very slowly. Walk ten paces, then stop for at least a minute, then repeat the process. The sound of the approach is sometimes enough to make cottontails flush, but it's just as often the silent period. Apparently, the rabbits think they've been detected and decide to make a run for it.

Woodland rabbits
Most hunters think of thickets and field edges as the places to go for a rabbit race. Some fail to realize woods harbor rabbits, too. Look for cottontails and swamp rabbits in brushpiles, honeysuckle patches, fallen treetops, cane brakes and other forest cover. Because such areas usually receive less hunting pressure, they often hide extraordinary numbers of rabbits.

Take a kid hunting

To get the most out of your next rabbit hunt, take a kid with you -- a son, a daughter, a niece, a nephew, a grandchild or maybe a neighbor's child. It was in the cottontail fields most of us were trained as young hunters. We may have dreamed of deer or more exotic game like grizzlies and lions, but with cottontails, we learned the crucial basics about hunting, nature and ourselves.

Share these things with children. Share the fun and excitement, the triumphs and disappointments, the barrage of wonderful sensations experienced on a rabbit hunt.  Our heritage of hunting is a priceless treasure. Do your part to pass it on.

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