Follow by Email

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Huge alligator killed in west-central Alabama: 14 feet, 2 inches, 838 pounds!

Keith Fancher of Sterrett, Ala., killed the biggest alligator ever taken during any of Alabama's regulated hunts Friday night, a 14-foot, 2-inch, 838-pound monster.

Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries biologist Chris Cook said Fancher captured and killed the record gator on the Alabama River near Portland Landing in Dallas County. The kill came during the opening night of the second split of the season in the new west-central hunt zone.
Cook, who witnessed the weigh-in, said the alligator was so big it stretched a backing cable on the scales. The cable had to be replaced.
Cook said Fancher's gator had a 65-inch girth around the stomach and measured 44 inches around the base of the tail.
Efforts to reach Fancher Saturday were unsuccessful.
His gator was one of only seven checked in Friday night into Saturday morning, Cook said.
Previously, the largest alligator checked in anywhere in the state was the 13-foot, 4-inch, 734-pounder tagged by John Fulton of Bessemer last year on the Tensaw River just above Cliff's Landing.
Matt Thornton of Mobile is the only other hunter to check in a 13-footer on the Delta, accomplishing the feat in 2009 with a 13-foot, 5-inch behemoth that tipped the scales at 701 pounds.
For comparison's sake, Josh Ishee checked in an impressive 12-foot, 7-inch, 469-pound male alligator Friday night. Ishee's animal was the largest of 17 brought to the Causeway scales.
Delta hunters had filled 55 of 125 available tags heading into Saturday night's hunt.
During a night this reporter spent on the Delta with tag-holder Lynn Pridgen and his crew, it became obvious that four nights of hunting combined with untold encounters with hunters using spotlights during preseason scouting had caused alligators to become skittish on the Tensaw River.
Pridgen also said there appears to be fewer of the larger animals that hunters have chosen to go after since the Delta hunts began.
"I do think there's less big ones. I don't know the perspective of the biologists exactly, but I know part of it is to control the population and you do that by taking out the females," he said. "On the Delta, it's become more like a trophy hunt."
Pridgen pointed to a group of successful hunters his crew came upon on the Tensaw River. They had killed a fine alligator that was probably 10 feet long.
"Take those boys we saw Saturday morning," he said. "It was the guy's first gator and they were excited they had killed a nice one. Then they go to the scales and maybe see a 600-pounder hanging there, and they're like, 'Hey, next time we're going to get one like that.'"
For Pridgen, who tagged a 12-foot, 400-pound-plus male last year, the hunt is more about the experience.
"I really don't care to kill another one," he said. "I like looking at them, touching them. It's something not a lot of people get into. If I knew then the hassle it was going to be, I never would have killed that big one last year.
"Just getting it into the boat was really hard. Then lugging it to the check station, and dealing with it once I got it home. Anyone can go out with their family and kill a little gator and have no trouble handling it, skinning out and keeping the meat if they want to.
"I just don't see many of those big alligators actually getting skinned out."
He added that the elements of the hunt -- stalking close, throwing over an alligator, hooking up, the fight, then getting eye-to-eye with the animal -- are what appeal to him.
"It would probably be better to concentrate on taking the smaller females, but, you know, in the heat of the moment, I can't tell you absolutely we'd turn a really big gator loose," he said. "The thing is, just like with fishing, I get excited finding them, hooking up and fighting them to the boat. I get excited about every one of them.
"I guess if I stop getting excited, I might as well quit."
Delta and west-central zone seasons wrap up for the year when hunting hours start tonight at 8 and end at 6 a.m. Monday. Check stations at both locations close at 7 a.m.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The "Shooter".

The 2010 Wisconsin firearm season provided quite a thrill for the youngest hunter in our party, thirteen-year-old Paco Castro.
On opening day, the only notable event of our afternoon drives was the third deer down. Paco was in a stand with his dad and grandfather (that’s what deer hunting is all about) and there were drivers coming from the east.
His Grandfather said he saw a pretty big deer and apparently Paco did too as he fired and told his his grandpa that he had connected with the buck, which he did!
The buck ran 50 yards back into the field but no further. Radio communication of a big deer down brought the group together and the buck was found and dragged into the lane for whooping, hollering and pictures.
Paco shot this big guy with one shot with his Remington 770 youth model that was chambered and loaded with 95-grain .243 win. Federal Fusion centerfire ammo.
It was remarked that Paco had taken two deer in his hunting career — each with one shot. At that rate, he may not have to buy another box of shells until he reaches his twenties! We nick-named him “Shooter.” His success made the season for all of us!

by rrusch

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kentucky Deer Classic on Saturday

This weekend marks the 23rd Annual Kentucky Deer Classic in Muhlenberg County Kentucky.

Thousands of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts come from across the region to take part in a day of fun-filled outdoor sports activities, booths, and displays.

This years’ event will feature special guest Travis T-Bone Turner.

A nationally renowned outdoorsman, Turner started his own archery business, held the Outdoor 3-D Archery Word Champion title and has appeared on numerous television shows and videos, including Realtree's "Monster Bucks" video series.

"Whether it's in a tree stand or competing in an indoor arena, I just love to be around hunters and archers who have a desire to shoot and have a good time,” said Turner. “I can't tell you how many friends I've made just having fun, and building relationships is what this sport is all about.”

The Kentucky Deer Classic has become known as "the" showcase for Kentucky's avid deer hunter and
outdoorsman. Hunters from all over the region look forward to the Kentucky Deer Classic as part of their annual preparation for the upcoming hunting season. The exhibition floor will be filled with the latest hunting and outdoor equipment from the leading vendors in the hunting industry.

The traditional seminars, the "Kentucky Wall of Fame", the 3-D Archery Shoot, and the games such as paintball and BB gun shoot will add to the day's activities. This year's 23rd Anniversary celebration will certainly bring special opportunities and excitement for all ages.

iSurf News will have a booth at the event, giving away balloons to children and selling paintings by outdoor columnist J.L. Graham and Muhlenberg County artist Steve Spears, with all proceeds going to local non-profit and charity organizations. iSurf News outdoor columnist Randy Adams, aka Big Country, will be present as well. Adams will be autographing photos of his record Kentucky buck.

Written by KY Deer Classic

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dove season is coming!

Dove season opens in September and it’s time to get ready. Camouflaged hunters will soon be positioned where doves pass from roost or resting trees to food and water. The biggest key has always been bringing a lot of shotgun shells for this hard-to-hit speedster. They generally dart, dive and dip about the time you pull the trigger. The key is being ready to shoot this difficult target.
I recently talked to Jim Wilson, Senior Field Editor for NRA Publications and learned some tips for hitting the speedster. He concurs with me that you should practice before ever shooting at anything live, no matter how experienced you are.
You’ve still got time to get out to the shooting range and burn some ammo at the skeet houses. Sporting clays is also a good way to tune up, but I prefer shooting skeet.
“Working your way around the skeet stations gives you consistent angles to deal with and successful dove shooting is all about judging angles of flight,” Wilson said. “Instead of having your gun mounted when you call for your bird, try holding it at low-ready, or some other field position. You won’t bust as many clay birds, but your practice will be much more realistic.”
Wilson recommends that you begin by shooting a full round of skeet, but take special note of the stations where you miss the birds. Your misses indicate that you haven’t judged the angles properly. The rest of your practice should be at those stations where you were missing. Just remember: most misses are caused by shooting behind the bird.
“Probably the greatest mistake that shot gunners make is stopping the swing,” Wilson said. “I know that it’s certainly my biggest failing. You are on the bird and doing a pretty good job of tracking him when, just as you pull the trigger, you stop your swing. This could be caused by lack of practice and it could be due to fatigue. Either way, make yourself swing completely through the target. A good rule to remember on passing

birds is BUTT-BELLY-BEAK-BANG.”
Finally, you should remember that dove are easy to kill, they’re just hard to hit. This means that you certainly don’t need to be pounding yourself with high-velocity loads. Two or three pellets in the body of a dove will kill it.
For more information about Jim Wilson, check his web site at: www.sheriffjimwilson.com.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CAMOUFLAGE: Today we have excellent camouflage available. Blending in with your surroundings and sitting still are important factors of dove hunting.
Doves can easily pick out color and movement. They survive by noting anything out of place where they intend to land. You can manage with a camouflage shirt, hat, gloves and a face mask if you wear dark colored pants.
You can blend in with the surroundings, but many hunt under a camouflaged net and sit on plastic buckets. This allows comfort and the buckets are useful for transporting shotgun shells, decoys, water, snacks and other equipment.
DECOYS: I have always been surprised that most dove hunters don’t use decoys. Few take advantage of this easy to transport and highly effective tool. Doves attract to other doves, watch a field full of birds and you will see several setting together. Chances are good that others will land with that group.
Decoys are confidence builders for flying doves. They will land beside your decoy if given the chance. But the chances are that they will be dead or flying away from a poor shot by the time that happens.
SHOTGUNS AND SHELLS: What shotgun to use is an age-old argument between dove hunters. Many prefer pump shotguns while others use a semi-automatic version. Some swear by a 20 or 28 gauge while others only shoot a 12 gauge. I spent the first years of my hunting life shooting doves with a 16 gauge.
The best skeet shooters might even use a 4.10. I was never that good. Gauge is a matter of personal choice
“I started killing a lot more dove when I switched to guns with cylinder or improved cylinder bores and gentle cartridges,” Wilson said. “In 12 gauge a 1-ounce target load of 7 1/2s or 8s will do quite nicely. In 20 gauge
make it a light 7/8-ounce load. And, in 28 gauge the 3/4-ounce load will do the job. These target loads will kill a limit of dove in no time and they won’t mistreat you, and cause you to start flinching while you’re doing it.”
I have successfully shot dove with 7 ½, 8 or 9 shot. We occasionally shot doves with 6 shot during my youth because that was all we had. A 6 shot will drop a dove, but with too much damage.
Dove hunting is not a difficult sport, but it is fun. Doves dip and dive, often creating a frustrating target. Many miss on the first shot.
 The key is to stay on your bird and shoot again.  Don’t forget to take a lot of shotgun shells.

By Kenneth L. Kieser

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Elk could be reintroduced to Maryland


A study will soon begin to see if Rocky Mountain elk will be reintroduced into Western Maryland, where they have not roamed since the 1700s.

The Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have joined forces to investigate the situation.

“The elk foundation has given a grant of $125,000 to the legislative sportsmen’s foundation to look into the possibility,” said Paul Peditto, director of the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service. “We will provide technical expertise.”

Peditto said the announcement appears to be big news, but much will have to happen before talk takes place about where the elk would go and how many of the animals would be brought into the state.

Of primary concern, according to Peditto, is whether or not the residents of Allegany and Garrett counties want elk.

“I suspect there will be a formal professional survey along with face-to-face meetings to make that determination,” he said.

The biological, social and economic feasibility assessments will require at least 12 months to complete before decisions are made, according to a press release from the three partners.

DNR Secretary John Griffin said “Consensus from our experts and all impacted stakeholders will be a prerequisite to this decision.”

There will be an outreach to the farming community to ascertain their thoughts about an elk reintroduction.

Mike Griffith, longtime officer with the Allegany-Garrett Sportsmen’s Association, said Monday that he is enthusiastic about the possibility of having elk in Maryland.

“That’s pretty sweet,” Griffith said. “I mean they have elk in Pennsylvania and Kentucky now. I’d love to see it happen in my lifetime.”

Both Pennsylvania and Kentucky have highly regulated hunting seasons for the animals. Bulls can weigh 700 pounds and stand five feet at the shoulder. Cows tip the scales up to 500 pounds.

Peditto said neighboring states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia will be kept in the loop during the study.

“Our state is narrow and elk are mobile,” he said.

Place names reflect the fact that elk formerly inhabited the area. Just across the North Branch of the Potomac River from Kitzmiller is Elk Garden, W.Va. In southern Somerset County, Pa., touching the Maryland border, is Elk Lick Township.

Most relocations of elk into the East are reclaimed strip mines, according to Peditto.

Elk can contract chronic wasting disease. Maryland’s first case of the disease was in a deer from eastern
Allegany County tested in late 2010.

Peditto said there is no test to determine if a deer or elk has chronic wasting disease.

“If a reintroduction be-comes a reality, we will rely on the best available science in that regard,” he said.

Maryland-based chapters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have raised significant amounts of money, but it has usually gone to projects in the western United States, Peditto said. “Those chapters have become interested in seeing us take a look at Maryland’s ability to house elk.”
“Far Western Maryland offers ideal habitat for elk...” said David Allen, president and CEO of the Montana-based elk foundation. “That is why this partnership, the first step for gauging support in Maryland, is so important.”

By: Michael A. Sawyers

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Last Elk and Deer Expected to Be Killed By End of Upcoming Commercial Hunt


Roughly a century since they were introduced as trophy hunt animals on Santa Rosa Island, the elk and deer that remain on this grassy slice of Channel Islands National Park will soon be hunted to extinction. Though a hard number is not known, there are expected to be a little more than 100 individual animals still alive, and Park Service officials believe that the upcoming August 28 to October 11 commercial hunt will rid the island of the mule deer and elk, which are a genetic mix of Roosevelt and tule elk. If that doesn’t do the trick, the Park Service and a hired hunting firm will complete the job. As such, the island will be off-limits to the public from October 11 to November 1, and then only open on weekends until the end of the year.
The complete removal of the nonnative species — which biologists say harm at least eight endangered plant species, foul the watersheds, destroy archaeological sites, and threaten the rare island fox.
“We expect [the hunters] to remove a great majority of the animals,” said park spokesperson Yvonne Menard on Tuesday. “Following the commercial hunt, the Park Service is going to remove any remnant animals at that point with a co-operator.”
by attracting golden eagles during the ungulates’ birthing months — was outlined in a 1997 court deal between the park and Vail & Vickers, the family cattle ranching company that brought the deer and elk to the island in the early 1900s. The family sold the island to the park in 1986 for $29.5 million and removed their cattle in 1998, but retained the right to run commercial elk and deer hunts as well as stay in the island’s buildings until the end of 2011. That era comes to an end this year, and the hunts have intensified since 2008 in order to gradually draw down the elk and deer populations, which Menard noted are the private property of the family.
“The former owners are working together with the National Park Service to meet requirements to eliminate the deer and elk by the end of December 31, 2011,” said Menard. “They are committed to removing as many of the remaining deer and elk as is feasible.”
Perhaps more significantly than the ecological impacts, however, is that the presence of deer and elk and the annual hunts effectively shut off 90 percent of Santa Rosa Island for visitors for five months out of the every year. And that’s a big reason as to why the park always wanted them removed. “Hunting is not authorized in national parks,” said Menard. “National parks are set aside to preserve the natural environment. The impacts of nonnative deer and elk are known to have impacts on visitors as well as on natural and cultural resources.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Four Tactics for Bowhunting Antelope

Earning a close-range shot at a swift-footed, sharp-eyed pronghorn with archery gear can prove one of bowhunting’s toughest assignments. Or it can prove relatively easy, though “easy” always comes with qualifiers. Stalking antelope in open country while toting archery gear can prove as frustrating as college calculus, including tedious belly crawls and plenty of long-range shooting. Set up on the right water during the
right weather, however, and archery pronghorn success is nearly guaranteed with proper preparation.
Yet pronghorn hunts too often arrive with rain that turns every dip and road ditch into a potential watering site. In these cases — and for bowhunters who abhor strenuous hands-and-knees approaches beneath a blazing sun — a blind set up near an antelope territorial scrape sometimes works magic. And if you’re lucky enough to bowhunt a state where seasons are held during the antelope’s rut, decoying offers heart-pounding excitement like no other mode of operation.
1. THE WATER CONNECTION
Most bowhunters find antelope success while guarding water, because during August and early September (when most antelope are pursued) animals must drink daily to survive. Water means dirt-dam ponds, float-equipped stock tanks, windmill troughs or natural springs. Finding water becomes priority one. Water holes may be wholly obvious or more difficult to locate, but investing in concerted pre-season scouting will make for more fruitful hunting later.
Shot timing is extremely critical on water, as it is here pronghorns anticipate ambush by predators. Don't blink an eye until you see the pronghorn's neck muscles moving water upward. Then it's safe to draw and shoot.
Once an obviously “hot” watering site is located, you have several choices in terms of concealment. Windmill towers offer a viable treestand base, adding lumber and ratchet straps as needed for safety and security.
On private lands or remote areas where theft is less likely, pop-up blinds make great options. Place them
well ahead of the season to allow speed goats to grow accustomed to them (consider a week minimum, two when dealing with trophy bucks).
The hand-dug pit blind is standard in pronghorn country, and normally the price you’ll pay for an “easy” antelope. They not only provide inconspicuous concealment but the most comfort. A pop-up on a 95-degree day, an exposed treestand situated beneath searing sun, can prove downright murderous!
Always ask permission before digging on private lands, and fill pits when your hunt is completed. Understand also that some land agencies or states (Idaho, for instance) may prohibit digging on public lands. Consult current game regulations to be sure.
Consider prevailing breezes and available cover before beginning with pick and shovel. Your goal is a pit

deep enough that your bow handle just clears its front lip while sitting and at full draw. You also want it spacious enough to allow bow clearance in all directions, plus a seat at its rear. As you dig, pile loose soil to create a backdrop and an anchor for camouflaging vegetation.
After digging is completed, add camouflaging material so your blind blends seamlessly with surrounding terrain, when possible adding a tree-limb frame covered with disguising material to create a dark cave better concealing movement and keeping you shaded during hot days. Natural blinds allow you to begin hunting immediately, something not true of freshly placed pop-ups.

Blinds constructed of natural materials, especially the time-honored, naturally camouflage pit blind, alert pronghorn arriving at water less than man-made pop-up blinds, allowing hunting immediately without preseason setup.
Guarding water is time consuming. Take a lunch, plenty of fluids (it’s going to get hot after all) and a pee
bottle. It’s also a good idea to keep a fat novel handy to occupy yourself during all-day vigils. Pronghorn might arrive any time, from dawn to dusk.
Shot timing is hyper critical to pronghorn success, as antelope are sometimes jumpier than hard-hunted whitetails.
After approaching water, pronghorn will often go through several false starts before settling to drink, jerking their heads up repeatedly in an attempt to catch ambushing predators.
Don’t move a muscle until you see a buck’s neck muscles moving water upward. You then have about 30 seconds to execute your shot. Don’t be in a hurry.

If you’ve done your homework (scouted a sure-fire water hole, assembled a top-notch blind, etc.), rest assured more pronghorn are on the way. It’s then just a matter of remaining calm and making your shot count.
2. STALKING SPEEDSTERS
Let me start by saying that stalking pronghorn, even in open terrain, isn’t impossible. The last pronghorn I took, with a recurve bow, came after a three-hour stalk in featureless terrain. Still, to make the best of this mode of operation, it’s best to seek terrain that gives you an edge and arrive with equipment assembled for long-range shooting.

Steady binoculars, a powerful spotting scope, laser rangefinder and flat- shooting compound bow; these are the tools of the trade when endeavoring to find success while stalking antelope.
Though antelope are creatures of open habitat, they certainly aren’t opposed to wandering the edges of vegetated arroyos and sharp rim rock, or even occasionally venturing into wooded areas.
The savvy pronghorn hunter forced to stalk due to rain ignores pan-flat, sparsely vegetated areas, taking time to locate antelope in broken or otherwise bowhunter-friendly terrain.
Never dismiss even the scantest cover while stalking, as it only takes a single fold of topography, knee-deep sage or a single waist-deep arroyo — and the patience to allow a buck to wander near such a place — to make a successful stalk.
This isn’t easy or painless, but a bit of extra effort can get you within range of more speed goats than you 
think. Knee pads and leather gloves are a must, as you’ll surely encounter sun-baked earth, sharp rock and ground-hugging cacti.
Move only when your target animal has its head down to feed, pushing your bow ahead to scramble ahead on hands and knees, or slithering on your belly, according to available cover.
When using the term “long-range shooting” in relation to bowhunting, we’re talking in terms of a personal maximum effective range. Consider 40 yards a slam-dunk opportunity. Choose light arrows (6.5-8.5 grains per inch) and streamlined mechanical broadheads (75-100 grains) made for pure speed.
Unseasonably cool weather combined with persistent rains put a damper on water hole activity during Field Editor Patrick Meitin's Montana pronghorn hunt, forcing him to apply spot-and-stalk skills to find success on this heavy-horned buck.
The light arrows flatten trajectory, providing a wider margin of error should your laser rangefinder find a grass stem five yards in front of your goat instead of his hide.
The mechanicals not only provide superior long-range flight, but open up to put a hurting on thin-skinned, light-boned pronghorns hit marginally. A shoulder- or liver-hit pronghorn, for instance, won’t go far, and certainly can’t get out of sight in open country. Your sight will need some additional pins, or choose a single-pin mover capable of extra yardage.
It also doesn’t hurt to crank up the draw weight on your bow to give your arrows extra zip. You’ll certainly stay warm during the hunt, making the added draw weight more easily managed.
3. BLIND-SIDED
Scrape hunting isn’t a normal ploy in most antelope-hunting circles, but it can prove highly effective with enough pre-hunt scouting. And when water hole hunting is at its worst — meaning rainy, wet days — scrape hunting is at its very best. When it’s raining regularly, pronghorn bucks visit territorial scrapes more often in order to keep them freshened.
The best scrapes are those shared by several bucks. These are normally found at the corner of overlapping territories. Look for a large, hoof-scraped area and multiple clusters of small, ball bearing-sized droppings and pungent urine stains.
Finding an active scrape requires plenty of time and effort, covering plenty of ground afoot or getting lucky and stumbling onto them while driving back roads. The best way to locate scrapes is to target a particular buck, a trophy you have pinned your hopes on, and spend long pre-season days spying on him from a safe distance through a powerful spotting scope.
At some point during the day, especially following heavy thunderstorms (plan scouting trips accordingly), you’ll witness your buck pause, scrape the ground furiously and squat to deposit droppings and urine. Mark the spot carefully and continue watching. Your buck might make several scrapes in a single day. Your job is to determine, by reading sign, which scrape is most active. Ideally, you’ll find additional time to watch a scrape you’ve earmarked, witnessing other bucks adding their scent.
Once you’ve determined the most likely scrape to hunt, it’s time to erect your blind. An inconspicuous pit blind is preferable, though given enough time pop-ups (preferably set a bit farther from a scrape than you might a watering site) should suffice. Scraping bucks normally aren’t as on edge as they are at water.
4. DECOYING ALL ANTELOPE
Depending on latitude and altitude, most antelope rut from mid-September through early October. Many states don’t offer archery seasons during these dates, though bowhunters are often welcome to employ archery tackle during general rifle seasons held later in the fall. That’s a viable option on private land where competition is limited. Montana, the Dakotas and Alberta, Canada (there may be others I’m unaware of), allow bowhunters to hit the field during prime rut dates, and if there’s anything more exciting than a charging pronghorn buck, hackles on end, snorting like a steam engine, I’ve yet to experience it.
The most effective decoys normally imitate an immature buck; dominate bucks arriving to chase the upstart out of the country while marshalling collected harems. Doe decoys are also worth trying (many pronghorn decoys have removable horns for this reason), bringing a randy buck in looking for action, but the reactions aren’t as dramatic as those witnessed while using buck decoys.
The basic approach is to locate a target buck from a distance through careful glassing, preferably one with a knot of gathered does, though lone bucks are often worthwhile targets. Using terrain and your best snake-belly stalking skills, attempt to approach to within 200 or 300 yards without being detected (the closer the better). The decoy is then tipped up and the wait begins. Normally, a rutting buck will spot your fake quickly and the reaction is often immediate. If you go unnoticed after a time, produce a series of chuckling snorts (like a hyperventilating whitetail) to get his attention. Pronghorn calls are offered by Knight & Hale and Primos, among others.
The bowhunter kneels behind the decoy inconspicuously, using the decoy as cover as the buck draws within range Draw your bow behind this unlikely cover and pop up to shoot over the deke’s back. Shots range from 45 yards standing to five yards grazing past your position. You must shoot quickly, because once you pop over the top of the decoy the ruse fades quickly. For a pure adrenaline rush, nothing beats decoying antelope.
Pronghorn are uniquely gorgeous and challenging, related to nothing else in North America, and simply fun to hunt. Plus, their seasons don’t cut into regularly scheduled events such as elk or deer. When all systems are go, look to water for high-odds success. But when rain dampens action at water, when seeking the greatest challenge possible, or to experience pronghorn hunting at its most exciting, stalking, scrape hunting and decoying rutting bucks offer viable options, getting you into antelope when less adventurous bowhunters might throw up their hands in defeat.

 by Patrick Meitin

Friday, August 19, 2011

Texas Senate OKs 'noodling,' the sport of catching catfish by hand

The Texas Senate, facing an enormous budget battle this year, took time out this week to pass a bill legalizing "noodling," or the sport of hand-fishing for catfish, the Texas Tribune report
 "Noodling" involves dipping a hand into fresh water and waiting for a catfish to clamp down it. The sport is illegal in Texas, punishable by a $500 fine.
Under the bill, noodlers can only go after catfish and must first get a fishing license and fishing stamp.
"I personally don't noodle, but I would defend to the death your right to do so," says Republican state Sen. Bob Deuell, author of the bill, the Tribune reports.
Republican state Sen. Robert Nichols says noodling is common in his district, but he didn't realize it was illegal.
"People really do noodle, but sometimes they find things other than catfish," he says. "It's actually a quite dangerous hobby out there."
By: Douglas Stanglin,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Alabama gator hunts go smoothly on opening night


If there is such a thing as a perfect night for alligator hunting, the first 10 hours of the 2011 season may have been just that.
   
Hunters enjoyed windless conditions, low tides, cloudless skies and a night lit by a full moon and occasional yellowish fireballs as the Perseid meteor shower peaked Saturday morning.
   
Twenty gators were harvested on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta on the first day of this weekend's hunt, and another 14 were harvested in the new south-central Alabama area in Dallas, Wilcox and part of Monroe counties also enjoyed the sweet success of filling their tags.
   

Keith Roseta'

s huge alligator sent a ripple of excitement through a large crowd of spectators gathered at Roland Cooper State Park to see the first alligators ever killed in a regulated hunt on Millers Ferry and its tributaries, according to Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Enforcement Officer Keith Gauldin, who also coordinates the southwest Alabama hunts.
   
The Odenville resident's male gator that he found in Big Cedar Creek measured 12 feet, 9 inches and strained the scale before the digital reading settled at 661 pounds, Gauldin said.

"Everything went pretty smooth up here for the first night," Gauldin said. "We had a big crowd of spectators early that thinned out toward morning. The hunter reports seem to indicate they're not seeing as many alligators as they do on the Delta, but those they are seeing are quality animals."
   
Fifty tags were issued for the first south-central Alabama hunt.
   
Daniel Brown of Saraland made the most of his first tag, bringing the heaviest Delta gator to the scales at the WFF District V office on the Causeway. His 561 lb male measured 11' 8".    
Brown said he and his crew of his brother Bruce Brown of Saraland and Joey Rowell of Citronelle located the animal at about 1:30 a.m. as it swam the Mobile River near a well-known local bait-catching spot called "the bubbly hole."
   
There, outfall pipes from a paper company debarking operation roils the water's surface. Algae growing on the pipes attract small baitfish, which in turn attract larger fish that ultimately gain the attention of alligators.
   


Brown said he was able to get a treble hook in the gator at about 2:30 and it took roughly 2½ hours to get it secured to the boat and dispatched. Then the real work of loading it into the boat began. They called some friends who were hunting nearby and it took five of them to finally get the animal rolled into the friend's boat because it had lower gunwales.
   
They made it to the scales just as the sun was clearing the treetops over Daphne.
   
"I just bought a new gun safe and his skull mount is going to look perfect sitting on it," Brown said.
   
Upon overhearing that, one of his friends said, "Man, you may need a bigger safe."
   
A very familiar face also made it to the scales just before the sun rose.
   
With help from her husband Aaron Boone, her brother Jeremy Parks of Magnolia Springs and friend Morris King of Mobile, Darlene Boone's 10-foot, 351-pound male pulled from the Apalachee River was the fifth straight big alligator she's taken.
   
The Loxley residents individually buy 30 chances to be drawn for one each of the 125 tags issued for the Delta hunt in the state's computerized random drawing that awards the tags.
   
Aaron Boone has drawn two tags. The only hunt Darlene Boone missed was in its inaugural year and only because she found out about it after the application deadline had passed.
   
"My husband hunts everything -- deer, turkey, squirrels, ducks, but this is the only thing I hunt," she said. "I love this."
   
The first weekend of the 2011 hunt in each of the southwest Alabama areas wraps up tonight with hunting allowed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday morning. Scales at Roland Cooper State Park and on the Causeway close at 7 a.m.

   
The second split in both hunt areas starts Friday.
  

By: Jeff Dute

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Surprise catch of 575-pound tiger shark could shatter world record

Brett Sinclair's recent catch of a 575-pound tiger shark is impressive not merely because of the predator's sheer size, but because it was made on fishing line with a breaking strength of only 13 pounds ... aboard a boat that was not much longer than the fearsome beast.
If the catch is approved by the International Game Fish Assn., it'll become a new world record for the line class, eclipsing the present record by more than 220 pounds. That process could take weeks but Sinclair had been fishing in the Dampier Classic off Western Australia, and competitors are supposed to abide by IGFA guidelines.

Clearly, the angler had been after smaller game. His group was anchored when the shark took the bait, and had to quickly pull anchor and give chase, to avoid having the reel stripped of its line.

"It took hours for the shark to tire," Sinclair, 27, told Perth Now.

The boat was only 19 feet long and jaws dropped when the great shark materialized at the surface, thrashing.


"It was an intense moment," Sinclair said, adding that the shark was far too large to be brought onto the boat and instead was secured to its side and towed into port at Dampier.

Sinclair had been fishing with Chris Bonnici, his cousin, and Aaron Pierkarski, the boat's captain. Sinclair told the Herald Sun that the group had previously caught a smaller shark. "When this one took the bait I thought it would be about the same size," he said. "I actually asked the other lads if they wanted to grab the rod and have a go, but luckily they said no."

The Dampier Classic is hosted annually by the King Bay Game Fishing Club. Both the tournament and the club emphasize catch-and-release except when exceptional catches are made. Perhaps because killing sharks has become so controversial, the tournament did not publicize this particular catch.

For the sake of comparison, the IGFA lists the all-tackle world record tiger shark catch as a 1,785-pound specimen caught on much stronger line off Ulladulla, Australia, in 2004.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to Cook Venison

Well the hunt is over and success was in the air. Now it’s time to reap the rewards. FRESH VENISON, the
predominant reward for most. A highly treasured red meat, in fact Venison was once known as the ‘meat of kings’, as only royalty and favorite courtiers were permitted to own or hunt deer. Its traditional use as a cold-weather dish, often marinated and cooked over a slow heat for many hours, stems from those olden days. In Europe, those traditions remain, and venison is prized as a meat for festive occasions. In Pennsylvania, I would say any day is an occasion for venison.
Farmed Venison Versus Wild Venison
Modern farmed venison is changing this tradition, allowing chefs to be more adventurous and include farm raised venison in modern cuisine. This has become big business for New Zealand. Farm raised New Zealand venison is exported worldwide; however Western Europe (including Scandinavia) is the major market for New Zealand venison exports, taking approximately 85 percent of total exports. Germany is their largest single market, as venison is an important part of traditional German autumn and winter cuisine. Other major European markets include Belgium, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. The USA is the industry's main export market outside Europe.

Farm raised venison differs somewhat from wild venison. Like beef cattle, these deer live life in a smaller controlled area where they are free of any strenuous activity, and are kept on a highly nutritious diet. Wild deer roam a larger area and eat what’s available from mother earth. They pack on more fat as well as toughen up their muscles from the added stress they encounter.

These lifestyle differences can effect your meats flavor even before you pull the trigger. Panicked deer flood their body with adrenaline when they’re in danger. Their heart races and blood pours into their muscles. The extra blood helps rev up the muscles for flight, but produces lactic and pyruvic acids in return. These acids, extra blood, and adrenaline are the major reasons venison tastes wild or gamey. That and the unpleasant flavor of venison fat. This is why you should field dress your deer as soon as possible and get rid of most of the blood. You should also remove as much fat from the venison as possible. This is fairly easy since most of it is on the outside of the deer, whereas the meat itself is pretty lean with little to no marbling. There's a layer of tallow between the muscles. This tallow must be discarded when it is being processed, because it can become rancid even when frozen. Removing all the tallow and fat during processing will eliminate the gamey taste.
Venison is a healthy choice.
Venison is a healthy choice and an alternative for other red meats. It has a finer texture and higher water content than beef. It is a low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie, and a high protein meat as well as a rich source of iron. A 3-ounce serving of venison loin contains 139 calories, 62 grams of cholesterol and 5 grams of fat. A comparable cut of beef has 223 calories, 77 grams of cholesterol and 13 grams of fat.
Organ meats of a deer.
The organ meats of a deer can be eaten also. Liver, heart and kidneys are best if eaten immediately while the rest of the meat is still hanging. The heart can simply be washed, sliced and fried in butter. Liver and kidneys are improved by cleaning and kneading gently in salt water to remove excess blood, then rinsed well. They are excellent if pan-fried in butter over low to medium heat. Cook to at least 160 degrees, but do not overcook.
Preparing the Venison.
If the meat you are planning to cook is frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees. Never thaw at room temperature, as game meat is often high in bacterial content and this would enhance bacterial growth. Once thawed it should be used within 2 days. Ground venison should be used sooner, as it spoils faster than other ground meats. If any meat is to be marinated, either to flavor or to tenderize, it should be done in the refrigerator.

Venison can sometimes be tough due to reasons mentioned earlier. But it can be tenderized by various methods. Use mild vegetable acid to tenderize. Vinegar, tomato sauce, milk, and some French dressing sauces are good for tenderizing. Cover the meat with the marinating sauces. Only marinade in the refrigerator for a maximum of 24 hours. After marinating longer than 24 hours, the meats tends to get mushy. Other marinades that work well with venison are: 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar. Reduce the sugar in sauce recipes. Venison's natural flavor is sweeter than other meats, therefore, sauces developed for beef may be too sweet.
Methods used to cook venison.
There are generally two methods used to cook venison. Dry heat-which would be grilling, roasting, broiling, and pan frying. Moist heat- which would be braising and stewing. My rule of thumb is either hot-n-fast or low-n-slow, depending on the cut. The same general cooking rules apply to most kinds of big game animals. Game meat is generally cooked the same way as a similar cut of lean beef.
Dry heat- Grilling:
The cuts best suited to grilling are the loin and rump cuts. Cuts other than the loin and rump and meat from older animals will be most flavorful and tender if they are cooked with moist heat - braising, stewing or pot roasting. When barbecuing or grilling, brush the venison on each side with a light cooking oil (or spray). Apply any spices you may desire prior to adding the meat to the grill. Try not to use salt as a seasoning as it pulls the juices out of the meat and can dry it out. Since there’s little fat and limited juices, it’s best to grill to medium rare to medium.
Dry heat- Roasting:
This is usually done with a loin or rib roast. Trim off all game fat, rub with bacon drippings or similar fat. Season with salt, pepper, and desired herbs. Place on roasting rack in uncovered pan, bone down. For added flavor, place bacon strips on top of roast. Baste with additional fat as needed, but do not add water. Roast uncovered at 300ºF. Allow 20 to 25 min/lb. Since lean game meat usually cooks faster than beef, use a meat thermometer, if possible.
Dry heat- Broiling:
This can be done with loins, steaks, or chops. Preheat the broiler. Trim all natural fat from steaks or chops. Rub meat with bacon fat, beef suet, or salt pork, and season it. Place steaks or chops on the broiler rack with the top surface 3 to 5 inches below the heat source, depending upon the thickness of cut. Leave broiler or oven door open a few inches unless range directions advise otherwise. If meat smokes or spatters, the flame or heat is too high or the meat is too close. Brown meat on each side but avoid charring.
Dry heat- Pan frying:
This can also be done with loins, steaks, or chops. Partially heat a heavy frying pan. Rub the medium hot pan with bacon fat or lard works great, as it gets hotter than most other oils. Season as desired. You can even roll in flour or cornstarch at this point. Cook meat quickly over high heat. Cooking time varies with thickness, but if you wait till the blood rises to the top, then flip it and wait for the same to happen on this side. Then remove it and it will be medium to medium well.
Moist heat- Braising:
This would be used for less tender cuts of meat like a chuck, round, or shoulder roast. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Rub with flour or cornstarch. Brown all sides in moderately hot fat or lard. Add a small
 amount of water (about 2/3 cup). Cover tightly. Cook very slowly (simmer) until tender (2 to 3 hours). Turn the meat occasionally, adding water, if necessary. The remaining drippings could be used to make gravy with.
Moist heat- Stewing:
Again, this method would be for less tender cuts like the shank or neck meat. Cut the meat into one inch cubes. Sprinkle with flour and season. Brown on all sides in medium hot fat or lard. Cover meat with boiling water. Cover kettle tightly. Simmer until tender (about 2 to 3 hours). Do not boil! Add vegetables just long

 enough before serving time so they will be tender.
Ground venison:
When cooking ground venison, because venison is so lean, some people add a binding ingredient to ground venison for meatloaf or burgers. Ground pork or pork sausage adds flavor; bread, oatmeal, eggs or a grated potato also will help hold the meat together. Onion also helps to add flavor, and season well.

By PA Buck's Pro-Staff Member: renegade


Monday, August 15, 2011

Hunting The Rut






The breeding phase for white-tailed deer is an annual occurrence referred to as the rut.   
For deer hunters, the rut is the most exciting time of the year because during the rut, bucks throw caution to
the wind and move about during daylight hours in search of receptive does.  
This time of year, the majority of every state’s annual harvest takes place, and it’s generally when the biggest bucks are shot.   
There are different theories on what triggers the timing of the rut. Depending upon which expert you believe, geographic location, weather and lunar phases all take part in scheduling the year’s rut.  
From the northern border of the U.S. down through the Midwest, the peak of the rut typically occurs during November. It can occur as much as a month later in the South.  
The time period just before the peak of the rut is referred to as the pre-rut, and the time period after the peak of the rut is referred to as the post-rut.  

To stack the odds of success in his or her favor, a deer hunter should know how to hunt each of these phases.  

With proper planning and a little luck, hunters will have a good chance to put a tag on a wall-hanger whitetail during the rut this season.
1. Pre-rut
Around mid-October, white-tailed bucks begin gearing up for the rut. During this time, bucks will work on establishing their hierarchy and territory. They’ll mark their range by rubbing t
heir antlers on trees, scraping away the bark and depositing scent from glands on their head. These “rubs” are signs announcing a buck’s presence. Finding rubs lets you know a buck is in the area.
As the pre-rut progresses, bucks will begin searching for does coming into estrous. With their hormones raging, they’ll travel much further than normal to find that first doe ready to be bred.
Hunting the pre-rut is best accomplished by placing a treestand or ground blind in a high-traffic corridor. Examples of such are funnels connecting two blocks of timber, along the edges of crop fields and at major creek crossings.
Using calls and scents, such as grunt calls, rattling antlers and doe-in-heat urine, can be effective at luring mature bucks into range during the pre-rut.

2. Peak rut
The peak of the rut occurs when the highest number of does come into estrous at once. This is a busy time for bucks, as they have only one thing on their minds. Many will even forgo food for days as they seek out and breed as many does as possible.
During this time, bucks can become difficult to locate because many are bedded up with does. Calls won’t usually work on bucks that have already found a receptive doe.
Your best bet for locating a buck during the peak rut is to hunt a location close to a known doe bedding area in hopes that a hot doe will be hosting or leading a buck to her bedroom. Once a buck is through breeding, he will move on in search of another doe.
Bucks make scrapes on the ground with their hooves. These circular areas are scraped clean so a doe can
urinate in them, announcing her estrous cycle has begun. She will leave a scent trail for bucks to follow. Hunt near a scrape long enough during the rut, and there’s a good chance a buck will show up to check for scent from a doe.

3. Post-rut
Once the peak breeding activity has wound down, a few does, often younger ones, will come into estrous. Bucks will still be looking for mates, but they won’t be as aggressive about it as they were before the peak breeding cycle.
By the time the post-rut rolls around, bucks are worn down and in need of replenishment. Look for them to be in picked agricultural fields where does often congregate. The post-rut is also a great time to hunt secluded food plots.

By Brandon Butler

Friday, August 12, 2011

12 Charged with Poaching In Kansas

Twelve people have been charged in U.S. District Court in Wichita with poaching deer in Kansas, the U.S. attorney's office said Thursday. The 12, at least eight of whom reside in Texas, were charged with committing the misdemeanor offenses in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
They are among 60 people who could be charged with breaking state and federal hunting laws while at Camp Lone Star in Comanche County.
Camp Lone Star owner James Butler Jr. and his
brother, guide Marlin Butler, were sentenced in June for their part in running operations at the camp.
James Butler was sentenced to 41 months in jail and fined $50,000 for conspiracy and illegally trafficking game across state lines.
Marlin Butler was sentenced to 27 months in jail and ordered to pay $20,000. Both men are appealing their sentences.
Investigations said Camp Lone Star clients illegally shot deer after dark with the aid of lights and night-vision equipment, shot them with rifles during the archery season, and placed illegal permits on the deer.
More than 100 mounted deer or antlers have been
confiscated from Camp Lone Star personnel or clients. Camp clients paid between $2,500 and $5,500 to hunt with the Butlers.
Among those charged were Charles B. Sapp, 32, Center, Texas; Douglas Baker, 52, Palestine, Texas; Zach Belrose, 21, Center, Texas; Kyle Bush, 39, Timpson, Texas; James Donnan, 57, Center, Texas; James Jacobs, 41, Shelbyville, Texas; Michael Scarber, 31, Center, Texas; and Arthur Clemons, 67, Cushing, Texas;
Also charged were Jerry Deville, 39, Denham Springs, La.; Michael Herne, 37, Monroe, La.; Harry Wells, 53, Denham Springs, La.; and Bazil Moore, whose age and hometown were unavailable.

 

BY HURST LAVIANA