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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Home Defense For Hunters

Everyone should think about home defense—not just hunters—but as sportsmen and sportswomen we’re different than non-gun owners in this country. Because we already have firearms in our homes, we have the choice of relying on our own hunting rifles or shotguns for protection, or buying a gun specifically for home defense.

For many years I counted on my trusty pump-action shotgun for peace of mind at home. Thank God I never had to use it for that purpose, but I slept better at night knowing my 12 gauge and turkey ammo were readily available under my bed.

However, I began to re-think my plan after having children. No longer was it responsible to have a gun in the house that wasn’t under lock and key. Yes, I could have moved my gun safe next to my bed, but could I really get the safe opened quickly and my hands on my shotgun in an emergency? Not likely.

After talking with numerous shooting sports industry professionals and doing extensive online research, I decided to buy a handgun. I weighed the pros and cons of a semiauto vs. a revolver and then finally purchased a revolver. Specifically, I went with a Ruger KGP-141 (GP100 series; .357 Rem. Mag.; stainless, 4.2-inch barrel with adjustable rear sight). Why a revolver? Bottom line: I simply felt more comfortable in my ability to handle a revolver in an emergency.

Initially I considered a smaller sized handgun, thinking it would be better for my 5-foot 4-inch wife to handle, but after 30 minutes at a gun range testing small-framed handguns vs. medium-framed handguns such as the KGP-141, it was clear she could shoot more accurately with the heavier firearm. When I asked why, she simply stated: “It kicks less, so I’m more steady when pulling the trigger.” I also shot best with the medium-framed handgun because its bigger grip felt better in my hands. (Important note: I had no plans to conceal and carry this handgun.)

Super Sights
My next dilemma was what to do about sights. Although I could shoot fairly well with the revolver’s factory sights, I decided to have my local gunsmith replace the silver-colored front sight with a high-vis orange one. The adjustable rear sight is black, and I preferred the contrast of an orange/black sight picture.

More online research had me considering some form of laser sighting device as well. Something I read from Crimson Trace made a lot of sense: “If you ever need to defend yourself with your revolver, chances are it won’t be from a perfect shooting position. And it will all happen lightning fast. But on your side, you’ll have Lasergrips’ dependable speed and accuracy. Whether it’s the amazingly quick targeting, or just the overall instinctive simplicity of use, Crimson Trace helps you survive.”

The Lasergrips were easy to install on my own, and my wife and I had a lot of fun at the range becoming familiar with laser aiming and shooting. Night-time tests of the Lasergrips convinced me I’d make the right decision; I wouldn’t have to raise the gun to eye-level to make an accurate shot. Instead, I could hold the handgun from many different positions and deliver deadly force if necessary.

Supreme Elite Ammo

Keeping gun recoil in mind—remember, I want my wife to handle this firearm with ease—I settled on loading my .357 Rem. Mag. revolver with Winchester’s Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1 personal protection ammunition in .38 Spec. +P.

According to Winchester, the Bonded PDX1 line uses the same technology the Federal Bureau of Investigation uses as its primary service round. The Bonded PDX1 is engineered to maximize terminal ballistics, as defined by the demanding FBI test protocol, which simulates real-world threats. I don’t know anything about “FBI test protocol,” but I do know the 130-grain jacketed hollow-point bullet was super accurate and did devastating damage to all types of wooden target backing at my gun range.

Lightning-Quick Storage
I found the perfect solution to on-hand firearm storage in a GunVault Multi Safe (model GV2000C - STD). I like the convenient No-Eyes Keypad with user-selectable access codes, as well as the audio feedback that confirms each correct keypad entry. One test-run of the vault in complete darkness at home proved to me I’d made the correct choice. I anchored the safe to my bed frame with a GunVault Security Cable. This 6-foot-long cable is made of high-strength steel and gives me additional peace of mind.

Chances are good I’ll never have to use my revolver in an emergency, but it’s comforting to know I have it close by should the need ever arise.

POSTED BY: NAH Managing Editor Dave Maas                

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

10 Best Hunting Apps For the Tech-Savvy Outdoorsman

One of the biggest thrills about hunting (besides taking home your big trophy) is the ability to detach from the daily grind and feel at one with nature. But heading off into the wild with nothing but yourself, your gear and of course, your hunting license, might leave you feeling out of touch with everyone and everything around you. To help solve this, just bring your Smartphone, that way you can connect when you want and still enjoy your time.

Did you know Smartphones can actually be incredibly useful in the woods when hunting? You can keep track of your locations, get up-to-the-minute details on optimal hunting times, see in the dark, take pictures, log hunting observations and much more. All you need to do this- are the right hunting apps. Having these apps will help you downsize on all the equipment you bring along with you on your next hunting trip, and who knows.. one of these apps could even save your life!

Here they are, the 10 best hunting apps for the tech-savvy outdoorsman:


1. iSolunar Hunting & Fishing Times

The iSolunar Hunting and Fishing App gives hunters and anglers up-to-date details regarding the best time of day for hunting and fishing anywhere in the world. Using astronomical data from the US Naval observatory, users get access to location specific information on feeding/activity periods, sunrises and sunsets.

2. Primos Hunting Calls

Rated best-selling hunting app of all time, Primos Hunting Calls allows you to “speak the language” of nature to attract prey. With over 20 interactive calls you can select from a variety of categories including Turkey, Predator,Elk, Deer, Waterfowl and ‘specialty’ sounds to excel your skills for bringing in prey.

3. iHunt Journal

The iHunt Journal is an all-inclusive app that allows you to track and record all of your hunting observations and other relevant information. What can you do with iHunt? Get updates on the weather as well as sun, moon and solunar periods. Remember all pertinent details about your hunting trip by including information on game type, time hunted and weight. Take a snapshot of your hunting area so you never lose your stand. Record coordinates of key deer rubs and scrapes so you can plan ahead for your next hunt.

4. GoldenPic

The GoldenPic app was initially designed as a photography app but has since extended its utility to hikers, campers, hunters, anglers and even pilots. This app provides sunrise and sunset times as well as lunar phases. The special thing about this app is that it also tells you when the Golden Hours and Blue Hours are.  The Golden Hour is the first and last hour of sunlight during the day. The Blue Hour is the period of twilight each morning and evening where there is neither full daylight nor complete darkness. These are considered the ideal times for getting the best shots.
With GoldenPic you can also save locations, and of course share your pics on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

5. Hunting Light & Blood Tracker

The Hunting Light & Blood Tracker app gives hunters improved visibility in all lighting conditions. Green light enables night vision, blue enhances green objects that would otherwise be camouflaged in the forest and white is for general purposes.
A unique feature of this app is its “blood tracking filter” which enhances the visibility of the blood trail left by wounded game so you can quickly recover the animal's whereabouts.


6. Predator Hunting Calls

With the Predator Hunting Calls app, predator hunters have 12 different precise call sounds, from a coyote pack howl to different wounded animal sounds. This highly-rated app is very handy for bringing in coyotes, bobcats, foxes, wolves, cougars and other game.

predator hunting calls


7. SAS Survival Guide

The SAS Survival Guide is must-have survival and safety guide written by a former Special Air Service (SAS) soldier. It provides vital information on safety and survival, a photo gallery that with detailed descriptions of anything from deadly mushrooms to poisonous plants, a survival checklist, key information supported with illustrations, a Morse code signalling device, a compass and more. Featuring video and images, this device will make sure you get the answers you’re looking for when you need them most.

8. Ballistic

“Intended for serious shooters who want a serious application” the Ballistic app is a highly sophisticated tool that calculates trajectory, windage, velocity, energy, and bullet flight time for any range you plan to shoot at, ensuring the best possible targeted shot. It takes into account temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and altitude. This full feature app has over 3,500 projectiles and factory loads, a range estimation calculator, GPS and atmosphere awareness. This is a must-have application in a range hunter’s app collection!


9. Bug Spray

We all know how pesky those bugs can get and if at some point you run out of bug repellent, you can use the Bug Spray app to emit high frequency tones that will keep the bugs away. The ultrasonic app releases tones at frequencies above the hearing range of most people- but keep in mind that won't be the case for animals, so make sure you don’t scare your prey away with it.


10. ActInNature

The ActInNature app tracks the moves of you and your hunting group, ensuring the safest hunt possible. With the Capture Map you can see your position and orientation as well as the direction and speed of other hunters. The augmented reality browser allows you to see the distance between you and other hunters. Finally you can store important information on hits to refer back to another time.

By choosing the right selection of these highly-rated apps for your specific needs, your hunting adventures will never be the same again. Just remember to bring a charger with you (preferably solar-powered) so your device doesn't die on you when you need it most.

by HunterCourse

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Disabled veteran's 5-year-old triplets get college scholarships from Folds of Honor

In North Carolina, the birth rate is so high at Fort Bragg that locals call it the "Baby Factory."

But even there, the Swegers drew a lot of attention with a set of triplets - a redhead, a blond and a brown-haired child, all boys.

Ronny Sweger met his wife in the early 1990s on their first day of classes at Northeastern State University. But, while he's remained interested in her ever since, he soon grew bored with college and joined the National Guard instead.

"That was boring, too," he remembers. So, in 1994, at age 19, he went active duty.

"Never do anything halfway," Sweger says is his philosophy in life. "If I'm going to be a ditch digger, I'm going to be the best ditch digger in the world."

In the Army, that means the Special Forces.

The selection process, at the time, involved four weeks of "gut punches," as Sweger describes it.

"You average three hours of sleep. And you can eat as much as you want, but I still lost 30 pounds. They push you as far as you can go and then keep pushing."

Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, Sweger has had seven official tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus a number of unofficial missions that he will keep to himself.

He offers no details about where he was or what he was doing when he was injured.

"In my business, you're going to get wounded. It's inevitable," Sweger says, "Thank God, mine are all minor. The real scars are the ones you can't see."

Forced into medical retirement in 2007, not long after his triplets were born, Sweger came home to Oklahoma with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He fidgets all the time. Doesn't like anyone to walk up behind him. And without constant reminders pinging from a smart phone, he'd forget what he's supposed to be doing.

Worst of all, crowds seem to bother him. And that's partly why Sweger moved his family to a little farm near Salina, a town of only 1,400 people at Lake Hudson where his wife grew up.

While his wife teaches middle-school math, Sweger runs the farm, does taxidermy and volunteers as the state director for Wounded Warriors in Action, a national group that arranges exotic hunting trips for injured veterans.

The job involves public speaking.

"And obviously that's a problem," Sweger admits, because he watches hands. Everybody's hands.

That's where threats come from - guns, knives, bombs.

"They train us to watch hands," Sweger says. And now he can't stop. "If I'm at a golf course talking to 200 people, that's a lot of hands to watch."

But if you're going to be a ditch digger. ... Nobody listening to Sweger would think he's even slightly uncomfortable.

The real problem with his volunteer work is the volunteering - it doesn't pay. And remember: Sweger has triplets, now 5 years old.

"How am I supposed to keep them in clothes," he wonders, "much less send them to college someday?

"They all need new shoes at the same time, baseball uniforms at the same time. And when they're older, the tuition will all come at once, too."

Five years ago, about the same time Sweger was leaving the Army, a fighter pilot from the Oklahoma Air National Guard was starting Folds of Honor, a nonprofit group named after the meticulous way that honor guards fold the American flag at military funerals.

Maj. Dan Rooney wanted to help the children of dead or disabled veterans. And Folds of Honor, based in Owasso, has now set up college funds for more than 2,500 students nationwide, including the Sweger triplets.

"It took a huge burden off me," Sweger says. "Frankly, it lets me focus a little more on myself and start to heal more."

At last week's kindergarten "graduation" in Salina, the triplets led the Pledge of Allegiance while their father watched from the bleachers, his wife sitting behind him to give him peace of mind.

They will each have a $5,000 "future use" scholarship accruing interest until college starts, in 12 short years.

"I'll probably blink a couple of times, and they'll be grown up," Sweger says. "And who knows? By then, the money might not pay for one semester. But at least it's a start and that means a lot to us."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

U.S. archer Brady Ellison in the hunt for Olympic medal

Rarely do the Olympics, javelinas and chewing tobacco wind up in the same story.

But then, rarely do the Olympics encounter someone like Brady Ellison.

The young man tugs a faded cap down over curls of blond hair and explains that, if it weren't for a steady hand and a sharp eye, he might still be hunting hogs on the ranch.
"I'm a country boy at heart," he says

 For now, his singular talents have led him in a different direction: Ellison heads into summer as the world's top-ranked archer and a good bet to win gold at the 2012 London Olympics.

"His style is so natural and focused," U.S. national Coach Kisik Lee says. "No other archer in the world can win as consistently as he does."

Ellison, 23, brings something else to a sport that rarely draws attention in America: He is a bit, well, eccentric.

"You know," he says with a grin, "a lot of people tell me that."

Start with a childhood spent around his grandfather's cattle ranch in Arizona, where Ellison tracked grasshoppers with plastic arrows while still in diapers.

Animal lovers might cringe, but the boy was raised to hunt, learning to take down bears, deer, moose and javelinas — which look like wild pigs — with his bow. How many people can say they have stood their ground against a charging elk?

"It comes crashing through the brush at you," he says. "I mean, it's an adrenaline rush."

Though target shooting might seem tame by comparison, the pressure of competition appealed to Ellison. Working his way up the junior ranks, he began to think about the Olympics.

But the shift from country boy to elite athlete required some changes.

Dropping out of high school after his junior year, he earned an equivalency diploma and moved to the U.S. Olympic Committee Training Center in Chula Vista.

The teenager put aside his "compound" bow, an intricate contraption with cams and cables, to learn the simpler yet trickier "recurve" variety used in Olympic events.

Finally, he became perhaps the first athlete in Olympic history whose major sacrifice for his sport involved giving up chewing tobacco.

"I didn't want to quit," he says. "But it's not exactly the healthiest habit."

National coaches soon recognized that behind his "aw shucks" personality, Ellison harbored utter dedication. They saw a unique combination of skills.

To hit a target from 70 meters — that's the better part of a football field — an archer must remain "totally in control of his mind and body," Lee says. "You have people who get frustrated, and that is not good."

Ellison possessed both a fiery edge and the underlying calm of someone who liked to smile and joke, a kid that other athletes at Chula Vista nicknamed "the Pup." Nothing fazed him, and it wasn't long before he emerged on the international stage.

His resume grew to include gold medals at two Pan American Games and handfuls of World Cup titles. His No. 1 world ranking now makes him one of the few Americans who can actually earn a living at archery, collecting a USOC stipend, sponsorships and prize money exceeding $35,000 a year.

"Definitely one of the most talented people I've seen in the sport," Butch Johnson, a five-time U.S. Olympian, says in an email. "He puts in the work, spends a lot of time trying to get the best performance out of his bow and has a good head on his shoulders."

The U.S. is counting on Ellison to help end a recent Olympic drought. More than a decade has passed since an American last stood on the podium for archery, South Koreans and Europeans taking hold of the sport.

"It's a more level playing field," Johnson says, "which means it's much harder to medal now."

A victory in London could mean more than gold. The Summer Games have a way of plucking unknown athletes from overlooked sports and turning them into crossover stars.

Ellison isn't exactly a Michael Phelps or a Natalie Coughlin, but if he can win, that might work in his favor.

At a USOC media gathering in Dallas this week, reporters crowded around, eager to hear tales of hogs and chew and life on the ranch. His fiancee, Samantha Novak, stood nearby with a bemused grin, saying, "I think everyone relates to him because he's fun."

Ellison just shrugged. "That's who I am."

The Olympics don't get stories like him very often.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Time to Work on Your Deer Woods

I know it's May but it's also the time of year when nights are cool and comfortable and day time temperatures and humidity don't suck the breath from you. It's a perfect time to be in your deer woods.

Now's the time to clean up your trails.  New growth green briars are  vulnerable to good herbacides. Winter blow downs can be cleaned off the trails and you can get a head start on those shooting lanes you'll end up working during August.

I like taking a 50 gallon electric sprayer out in my RTV and spraying down the roses, grean briars and bunch grasses that may be starting up on my old trails. It's wise to include a chain saw for the winter blowdowns, and a machete is always nice from pruning back new limbs and tall briars that have managed to intrude on your trails.

It's also an excellent time to be putting down mineral licks and blocks. Deer desperately need this during the time that the antlers are beginning to grow and does are about ready to start dropping fawns. Delaware soil is missing many of the bone growth minerals deer seek and if you have a mineral lick or a salt block hanging out, this is the time of year to insure it's fresh.

And sure, some of the foilage will come back before deer season, but if you get a head start on it, the job won't be so tough when you do have to go back in the late summer. Whatever you do, don't forget the permethrin. Ticks and chiggers are also in their glory this time of year and those are things you can do well without.

By George Roof

Friday, May 18, 2012

British Hunting Guide Faces Death Penalty After Finding 13 Bodies in Africa

Quitting your dreary job and leaving behind your dreary life for an exciting new career as a hunting guide is something we've all dreamed of, and for most of us Africa is the dream destination. But that dream has turned into a nightmare for one British hunting guide who sits in a jail cell in the Central African Republic, accused of murder after discovering 13 bodies believed to have been victims of infamous warlord Joseph Kony.
From this story in the UK Daily Mail:
A British man was last night facing the death penalty after being charged with mass murder following the discovery of 13 bodies in an African jungle. David Simpson, 24, a manager for a big game company, was arrested six weeks ago in the Central African Republic after he reported the gruesome find to police.
He found himself being thrown in prison accused of the killings, which are widely believed to have been carried out by supporters of notorious warlord Joseph Kony. Mr Simpson, whose company offers wealthy clients the opportunity to shoot lions, leopards and buffalo, is being detained in a cramped and filthy jail cell with 80 other inmates in what he has described as a ‘nightmare’.
According to the story, Simpson, who left his family’s pheasant farm in Great Britain two years ago to start a new life as a hunting operation manager, was helping to clear a road through the jungle on his company’s property when he discovered the bodies. Simpson alerted authorities and then took them back to the location, only to be arrested and accused of the crime.
Simpson told the Daily Mail, (via a cell phone smuggled into the jail) he believes the arrest is an attempt to extort money.

“For six weeks they held me without a shred of evidence. And now I have been forced to sign a piece of paper which states that I have been charged with murdering 13 people. ‘It is just ridiculous. Everyone knows I had nothing to do with it. They know it was Kony.‘It’s all about money.”
The story said the British government is working on Simpson’s case. Here’s hoping it works out for him. Do stories like this ever give you pause about hunting in less-than-stable foreign countries?

--Chad Love

Thursday, May 17, 2012

10-year-old twins shoot four turkeys in first hunts

Turkey hunting seems to come naturally to Caden and Jaxon Edwards, 10-year-old twins from Duluth. In their first year of turkey hunting, they’ve already taken four adult gobblers between them, two in Wisconsin and another pair in Minnesota.
Their two Minnesota birds, taken near Rushford, Minn., on April 18 and 19, were big toms. Caden’s weighed 25 pounds and Jaxon’s 25½ pounds. Both birds had 11½-inch beards.
The boys, sons of Dennis and Merissa Edwards who live on Island Lake, took a break from bow hunting practice in the yard to share their stories on Tuesday afternoon.
Their Wisconsin hunt was on their grandparents’ land —Merissa’s parents —near Balsam Lake, Wis., during the Wisconsin youth turkey hunt April 7-8. Caden’s bird came the first day, and he happened to be hunting in the same spot where Merissa had shot her first turkey in 2001. Technically, both boys were with her during that hunt.
“I was in her belly,” Caden explained.
Merissa had been seven months pregnant with the boys.
Caden was hunting with his dad this time. With Dennis calling, they worked a gobbler for three hours and changed locations once before Caden shot the bird at 16 yards. Caden talked about what it’s like to watch a gobbler “spitting and drumming” in close quarters.
“It’s really exciting,” he said. “Normally, they’re small, but they get real big and the sun shines on all their feathers. It’s kind of hard to describe.”
The next afternoon, Jaxon and his dad heard a turkey gobbling and set up in some hardwoods along a cornfield. Dennis could see the bird coming in clearly, but Jaxon couldn’t see it over a downed tree. After the bird ducked under a tree, Jaxon fired once with his 20-gauge pump, but he thinks he may have shot low. As the bird tried to run away, he shot it again.
“He dropped down and started flopping, and I knew I had shot my first turkey,” Jaxon said.
Although this is the first year that Caden and Jaxon have carried guns while hunting turkeys, they’ve spent lots of time in the blind or in the woods, hunting with Dennis or Merissa. And they’ve watched lots of turkey hunts on outdoor television shows.
“They’ve been going with us since they were 2,” Dennis said. “I think part of their success has a lot to do with how many times they’ve gone before. They’re addicted to hunting and fishing shows. When other kids wanted to watch “Barney,” they wanted to watch Michael Waddell, one of the Realtree guys.”
In their Minnesota hunt, on land owned by a farmer friend near Rushford, Caden got his bird the first day of the season, April 18. It was an afternoon bird. He and Dennis heard a bird gobble, but it was across a valley, so they repositioned themselves closer to the bird. Caden had just a small window of an opening, and when the big tom stepped into it —just 6 yards away —it went down with one shot from Caden’s 20-gauge.
“I was pretty nervous knowing he was right there,” he said. “He was pretty much within spitting distance.”
Jaxon got his Minnesota bird the next morning, when, as Caden said, “Every turkey in the world was gobbling.” With Dennis working the pot call, they heard the bird first at 70 yards, then 35. Meanwhile, a jake, or young male turkey, was gobbling just 15 yards from the blind. Finally, the tom came within shotgun range, and Jaxon took the 25½-pounder with a single shot.
“They’re making it look too easy,” said Merissa, who has taken three turkeys over the years.
After Jaxon shot his bird, Dennis took some photos. Then Dennis took his turn at hunting in the same spot where Jaxon had hunted. With dad and both boys calling, they had two gobblers responding. Dennis shot one of them 20 minutes after Jaxon had taken his.
There’s a name for that spot now.
“Turkey Slayer Point,” Jaxon said.
And they’re not through yet. The family is hunting again this weekend at Merissa’s parents’ home in Wisconsin. Hunters in Wisconsin can take additional turkeys if they buy extra tags.
The boys are hoping to catch up with their mom this weekend.

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Louisiana fawns were fathered by trophy buck that was shot in the Midwest

A trophy whitetail buck shot and killed in Illinois is fathering fawns in Louisiana. A half-dozen does are pregnant because hunter Mike Toney remembered a study done years ago at Louisiana State University, called the researcher and drove all night to get the animal's testicles to him. Though Jesse Saenz is now studying cats for his doctorate, he spent a Sunday in November extracting and freezing deer semen.

Mike Toney poses with whitetail buck killed during a hunt in Vienna, Ill.
A total of 16 does were inseminated with semen collected after the buck's death; six became pregnant and are expected to give birth as early as next week.

Dearl Sanders is resident coordinator at the LSU AgCenter's research station in Clinton, about 30 miles from Baton Rouge. He says there are more uses for the technique than breeding what he calls "deer with big horns" as hunter targets.

"It gives a whole new method of moving deer genetics from the wild into other herds of deer," he said. "Say you found a herd of deer in a state where you can't move the deer -- there are a number of those -- that had an inherent resistance to a disease. This could be a way to move that genetic material to any area of the country."

The fawns in Clinton could become much bigger than Louisiana's average Bambi. Toney said his buck had antlers rated in the "high 200s" on a scale that starts trophy whitetails at 160 points, and thinks his buck weighed about 275 pounds. "Here, a 170, 180-pound deer is pretty big," he said.

mike-toney-trophy-whitetail-buck.jpgThere's a thriving market in semen from pedigreed bucks: up to $10,000 for a plastic straw holding half a cubic centimeter, or about one-tenth of a teaspoon. Sanders said he's not planning on semen sales, but LSU lawyers are looking into whether the technique Saenz developed for his master's thesis can be patented and licensed.

Toney almost hadn't gone to the hunting preserve in Vienna, a southern Illinois town about a 580-mile drive from Baton Rouge. His job had kept him from going there with co-workers at Performance Contractors. "About a week later, my boss called and said, 'I arranged it where if you get a chance, you can get up there and go hunting in the next week or two," Toney said.

He went with the thought that if he got a good buck he would get the testicles to LSU, where Saenz's earned his master's degree in 2007 with a thesis about the best techniques for extracting semen from dead bucks. The proof that his techniques worked were three fawns born in June 2006.

Toney didn't see anything the first day of his hunt, a Thursday. The second day, he saw a "nice buck," but the guide told him to wait. About sunset on the third day, a huge buck stepped out near his stand. He shot it and trailed it about 125 feet to the spot where it died. "When I really saw what it was, I said, 'I think I got a friend of mine who could use the semen.'"

Toney called Saenz to ask whether he could use the buck, the deadline for ensuring viable semen and how to pack the testicles for travel.

Once they were in a plastic bag atop a towel folded over ice in a small ice chest, he packed and watched the start of LSU's regular-season football game against Alabama. "I got two presents that day: LSU won," he said. He didn't see the victory. "I fell asleep. When I woke up, I learned they had won," he said. Then he drove 8 hours or so back to Baton Rouge.

Saenz, who was spending weekdays at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans working with cat testicles collected from veterinarians, said he'd expected an afternoon call from Toney, but the phone rang in the morning. He met Toney, picked up the ice chest and took it to an LSU lab in St. Gabriel.

"I processed it, got the sperm out. They were still kicking pretty good," Saenz said.

Then he went to Baton Rouge and Genex Cooperative Inc., a supplier of dairy and cattle semen. Manager James Chenevert and cryotech Jane Laundry loaded the semen into 100 plastic straws and froze them in liquid nitrogen.

"They were able to freeze them for us in a matter of minutes, where if we were to do it by ourselves it would have taken us a couple of hours to freeze the number of straws we had," Saenz said.

Each straw holds enough to inseminate two does, Sanders said.

by Janet McConnaughey

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Legend of Jack Miner

Thanksgiving morning November 22, 2007 was a day that changed my life. Normally I spent Thanksgiving morning hunting pheasants with family and/or close friends, just one of those traditional things we always did, even though the pheasant numbers have drastically fallen off in our area. But this year I wanted to be alone. I had recently lost my mother due to cancer, and Thanksgiving was our favorite holiday. I was really having a hard time trying to deal with the fact that I would never be able to share this special day with her again.
I chose not to go on our traditional pheasant hunt, instead decided to take my young lab and a few decoys down to my duck blind on the Maumee River. I still to this day have no idea why I picked this location, I hadn’t seen any ducks around there all season. It was as if I was supposed to hunt there this particular morning. I spent most of my time just thinking about Mom, and all the special times we shared together over the past 27 years. Occasionally I would look over at my one year old lab Sadie, smiling as I watched her play on the bank of the river. Ducks could have been moving or even working my spread but I really never paid attention to the sky. I was deep in thought, trying to find a way to salvage this day of thanks. I sat until 9:30 and decided to head for home. Just as I leaned forward to stand up I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked closely, and saw two mallards approaching from down river. I made a couple subtle quacks with my duck call and the pair of mallards hooked in with their wings set. I stood up and fired one shot, dropping a fat drake. The other duck, a hen, got a free pass that morning. I wasn’t ready to send my lab into the fast moving current, she was just along for moral support on this hunt. So I tied her up in the blind, and slid my little jon boat into the water. I rowed down stream trying to catch up with the old drake. I finally pulled up beside him and flung him into the boat. As this beautiful bird laid at my feet, I caught a glimpse of something on it’s right leg. I stopped rowing and started drifting down stream. As I picked him up I saw he was sporting an old worn out aluminum band. As I took a closer look, I began to read the words “Be Not Afraid; Only Believe - Mark 5-36, Jack Miner Foundation, Kingsville, ON.
I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion. I had heard the tales of Miner Bands and there biblical scriptures, but had never seen one in person. I knew this was no coincidence, this was a sign, a message from mom telling me she was still with me, and that I need not worry about her. It was her way of helping me through this rough time, like she had done so many times before.
I made it home later that morning, and after we enjoyed our Thanksgiving feast, I picked up the phone. I contacted Kirk Miner, the grandson of Jack Miner, who now runs the sanctuary up in Kingsville. He congratulated me on my recovery and thanked me for reporting it. I never went into detail about the significance of the band, but I didn’t have to. Before we said our goodbyes he told me that his grandfather always said “It might sound strange, but we really believe the people that recover our bands are meant to get them.” He said, “It’s Gods way of reaching into their lives.”
I started doing some more research about Jack Miner and his sanctuary. I soon realized I was apart of something very special.
The legend of Jack Miner dates back to April 10th 1865. The day “The Father of Conservation” was born. Jack lived with his parents and nine brothers and sisters in a small town in Ohio (Now known as Westlake, Ohio) until the age of 13. At that time they moved to Gosfield South Township, just outside Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. There, Miner became a professional trapper and market hunter. Over the years he developed a special bond with the animals for which he pursued. That’s when his vision of conservation began. He started building brushwood shelters and providing grain to the Bobwhite quail, which he noticed had a difficult time surviving the winter. In 1904 he dug a pond on his 10 acre piece of land, and bought four tame geese. He clipped their wings and hoped they would work as live decoys to lure in migrating geese on their long journey southward. Kingsville was not a prominent stop over for migrating waterfowl at this time, and after two years of disappointing results, the skepticism was high throughout the small town. Neighbors would jokingly greet Jack in the streets with honks and clucks, thus arrived his nick name, “Wild Goose Jack”.
But in 1908, four years after he dug the pond, a group of 11 geese descended out of the sky and landed with the clipped wing decoys. The following year 35 geese graced his small pond, and the year after that the number grew to over 400.
This was when Jack Miner changed the way we’d study waterfowl forever. He had a vision to tag ducks and geese with aluminum bands inscribed with his name and address so he could learn where the birds would travel after they left his property. He decided to mark each band with a biblical verse from an old Salvation Army calendar. By doing this, he thought it would truly label them as “Missionaries of the Air”.
Just five months after he started tagging the birds, the first band was returned. It was from a mallard taken by a hunter in Anderson, South Carolina. The scriptures on the band read, “Keep yourselves in the love of God - Jude 1-21” and “With God all things are possible - Mark 10-27” Soon after that, hunter’s began harvesting geese sporting his biblical bands from the James Bay region.
With the bands being reported at a steady rate, Miner soon mapped and identified the northern nesting grounds and the southern wintering stations of the birds that left his property. All of Jack’s data from the band reports helped establish the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. This Act represented an agreement between six nations which made it unlawful to capture, sell, or kill certain migratory birds.
Jack began digging more ponds, and spreading grain throughout his property. By making a safe stop over area for the birds during there migration. The number of waterfowl steadily grew from 11 geese during the first migration to over 15,000 birds during last years southernly push. The then 10-acre farm, is now a 370 acre waterfowl sanctuary, with 2,000 acres of non-hunting farmland around it.
In 1929 Jack Miner was awarded the Outdoor Life Gold Medal, for “ The greatest achievement in wildlife conservation on the continent”. He was also acknowledged for this award by King George VI.
Jack Miner passed away on November 3rd 1944. He had banded over 50,000 wild ducks and over 40,000 migratory Canada geese. Soon after his passing, many U.S. newspapers rated him 5th Best-Known Man on the continent, behind only Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh and Eddie Rickenbacker. And in 1947, just three years after his passing, Canada named the week of April 10th, (his date of birth) National Wildlife Week. An everlasting memorial to remind Canadians of a pioneer who changed the attitude of a continent, against all odds.
Although the man is gone, his legend will live on. His grandson Kirk now runs the day to day operations on the sanctuary. There annual goal is to band 1,000 geese and 2,000 ducks. The data received from there bands are still a vital piece of information used by biologists to decipher the migratory travel of birds and their flight patterns, and to asses the survival of different sexes and age classes of birds.
Jack Miner bands have become collector’s items. “We have people who want to buy them,” Kirk Miner said. “But they’re not for sale… at any price.” At auctions Miner bands have sold for over $500 apiece.
A few weeks after I reported my band to Kirk, I received a package from him in the mail. Enclosed was some great information about his grandfather, a DVD about the sanctuary, and a personalized 8 x 10 certificate that reads,
Dear Robert,
Thanks for your prompt report on the JACK MINER duck band you recovered from a drake mallard today, American Thanksgiving, along the Maumee River, near Liberty Center, Ohio, USA.
JACK MINER duck band # 02598-03 “BE NOT AFRAID; ONLY BELIEVE “ Mark 5:36, was one 471 migrating wild ducks (95% mallards) caught, tagged and released here by myself & volunteers on October 22nd, 2003. (Over 4 years prior)
JACK MINER duck and goose bands, with their unique verses of Biblical scripture, are cherished by collectors around the world and we are pleased you were fortunate enough to get one. Many hunters say it is the JACK MINER band which separates the men from the boys.
Kingsville, on the north shore of Lake Erie, is the southernmost town in Canada, 30 miles SE of Detroit, Michigan, Please visit sometime.
Thanks Robert for making this recovery report possible!
Best wishes,
“Capt” Kirk Miner

Jack Miner once said, “When I came up with the idea of stamping Bible verses on waterfowl bands, it was like a message from God.” I know I have been blessed with one of those messages as well. I will never forget that day as long as I live, and that band will grace my lanyard until it’s time to pass it on to my oldest son. We as waterfowlers owe a great deal of gratitude to Jack Miner and all he has done for our sport. And I know I owe him much more than that. For his band was a true “missionary of the air” and it helped me through one of the roughest times of my life. So if you are ever fortunate enough to recover a Jack Miner band, don’t over look the meaning behind it, for it is a message from God, and it was meant to be.
Other notes:
The Sanctuary is open to the public year round. Monday thru Saturday 8:00am to 5:00pm. Admission is free, the way Jack always wanted it. He once said, about admission to the Sanctuary, “Let there be one place on earth where no money changes hands.”
The Jack Miner Foundation and Bird Sanctuary does not receive any government funding. The operating funds come strictly from gifts and endowments It is a charitable organization in both Canada and the United States. Donations and bequests make it possible to keep the sanctuary open and free to everyone.
The Jack Miner Sanctuary is located in Kingsville, ON, Canada just south of Windsor on the shore of Lake Erie.
Bob Murdock (allflockedup) PHJ FieldStaff    

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wesley Chapel Archer Reinvents the Arrow

His timing couldn't be better.

While Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games and Hawkeye of The Avengers bring crowds to the silver screen and stoke interest in bow hunting, Khosro Hajari is marketing his latest invention that he says revolutionizes the sport.

TwisterNock is a spring-loaded mechanical notch on the end of the arrow. All arrows have nocks, but Hajari's is spring-loaded to make the arrow rotate as it is shot out of the bow.

"It spins the arrow right off the bat," said Hajari, a 50-year-old Wesley Chapel resident who develops hunting products for sale in stores and on his website, "You get accuracy and better speed."

To demonstrate, he drops a traditional arrow and a TwisterNock arrow onto a mat. The arrow with the regular nock immediately falls, while the TwisterNock arrow spins like a top.

"It gets 8,000 revolutions per minute," he said. The rotation gives the arrow greater distance, speed and stabilization, reducing the need for feathers, which cause drag.

"No one has ever done anything like this before," said Hajari, who worked for more than two years to obtain a patent on the device.

Hajari invented TwisterNock after developing another product, Tree Apron. The hunting pack carries gear and also straps to the tree trunk to muffle sound.

Hajari came up with that idea after the sound of his clothes scratching against bark when he leaned on the tree scared away too many deer.

"I lost a lot of opportunities," he said.

The Tree Apron proved popular. Hajari, who as a kid growing up in Iran liked to invent and fix things around the house, set his sights on improving how arrows worked after his arrow fletching got caught on a tiny branch and spoiled a perfect shot.

Feathers had been around since arrows had been invented, he said.

"Here we are hundreds of years later using the same technology," he said. His goal was to make an arrow behave more like a bullet.

Hajari bought a milling machine on eBay. Every night in his basement, he worked on a prototype.

Finally, in 2008, he created one that worked.

In 2011, he received U.S. Patent No. 7922609.

He works on developing new products from a mobile home in Wesley Chapel. He came to New York City in 1987 to work as a chauffeur for the United Nations, then started a construction company. He moved to Florida three years ago after growing tired of the big city.

"I grew up loving America," said Hajari, who gave himself the nickname Jeff because it was easy to pronounce. He became fascinated with the United States after he grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons.

Moving to the United States was a dream since boyhood, said Hajari, the son of an Iranian army general during the heyday of the Shah.

"After the (Iranian) revolution it was tough," he said.

Being in America, he said, offered him the freedom to run his own businesses and unleash his entrepreneurial spirit.

TwisterNock has received positive buzz since it made its debut. Hajari has since developed lighted versions for easier pullbacks as well as one with a delayed buzzer to prevent lost arrows. The basic version sells for about $6 at hunting stores around the country. Hajari also is working on an online store.

"It actually acts like a drill bit," said Billy Courtney, a retired Tampa dairy farmer and avid bow hunter. He said he tried Hajari's invention on a hog hunt after seeing it at a show in Lakeland.

"It shot through the left rib cage and came out the right front shoulder," he said.

Hajari's business is coming together at a good time. Interest in archery is on the rise.

"It is definitely growing," said Laura Cash, who with her husband, Mike, oversees the state's 4-H archery program. The organization hosts events year-round and offers archery at all its summer camps.

While films like The Hunger Games have encouraged more youngsters to get involved, Cash said it was gaining in popularity even before then because it's easy and can be inexpensive.

"You can do it in your back yard," she said. And kids with handicaps can shoot, too.

"We teach kids who have to pull (the bowstring) back with their mouths," she said.

Hajari said aside from making a living, he wants to make hunting a better sport.

"For me, it's very spiritual," he said. "You feel very one with nature. It's great to see the animals as the world comes to life. You also feel connected with the ones who were here before you."

by Lisa Buie

Friday, May 11, 2012

Getting Fit = Better Hunting

Why Improving Your Fitness Will Improve Your Hunting Experience   

DuckBuckGoose - PHJ ProStaff - Cincinnati, OH    

Imagine how taking five, ten or twenty pounds out of your pack could change the way you feel as hike to your treestand, your blind location, or up the ridge to glass for that big bull. It comes as no surprise that you would probably find the walking less strenuous, you wouldn’t be breathing as hard (and would therefore be leaving less scent in the air), and you’d be less likely to get sweaty — which can make you colder more quickly once you stop moving and start the formation of odor causing bacteria.

Losing weight before the season will lighten your load and provide benefits similar to removing those pounds from your pack. You’ll feel better, move through the woods more swiftly and quietly, and maybe even look a little more svelte in your trophy room photos.

Oh…and all that stuff your doctor and spouse keep telling you about decreasing your risk of disease and living a longer, happier life…well that’s all true too. But if you are as obsessed with hunting as I am, the benefits you will experience while in the field just might be your best source of motivation to lose the weight and improve your fitness.

Getting Started:
While you probably already know you should cut back on the biscuits and gravy and get more exercise, you still may not know the best way to start your weight loss adventure. Just like in hunting, to really be successful at managing your weight, you need a plan. You need to be patient. You need to be persistent. And you need to be consistent. Following are some strategies and tips that might help.

Creating a Plan:
Planning and preparation are half the battle when it comes to weight loss (sound familiar?). There are three fundamental areas to focus on when creating a weight management plan: Exercise, nutrition and motivation.

Staying motivated often starts with having a goal. So let’s first figure out how much weight you have to lose and set a realistic goal. Every body is different, so you may not know how much extra poundage you are carrying around, or even how much you want to lose. That choice is certainly up to you, but the standard measure the medical community uses for determining a person’s ideal weight is based on something called the Body Mass Index or “BMI”. Calculating your BMI will tell you where you fall along a continuum, ranging from; "underweight" to "normal" to "overweight" to “obese". You can use this Free Calculator to help you determine your BMI. Be warned, you may not like what the calculator tells you. If you are like 66% of American adults, you will fall into either the "overweight" or the "obese" category (32% of American adults are classified as "obese"). If you don’t like the category you fall into, don’t be discouraged. Even a relatively small amount of weight loss (just 5 - 10% of your current weight) may help lower your risk of disease and can improve your performance as a hunter.

Use the BMI calculator to help you determine how much weight you have to lose and set a realistic goal accordingly. To use myself as an example - I am currently 5 ft. 10 and weigh 180 lbs. By using the BMI calculator I see that my BMI is 25.8, which falls just within the “overweight” category. Because I want to get into a healthier range and lighten up for hunting season, I am going to set a goal to lose 10 pounds by October 1st. Based on the time horizon I have, this goal is both realistic and attainable.

How fast should you expect to lose weight? — If you are increasing your activity and eating within the proper calorie range you should expect to lose somewhere between 1/2 and 2 pounds per week. (Techniques that allow you to lose weight much faster than this typically don’t work long-term.) Of course there will be some weeks where you may lose more than two pounds, and other weeks where you don’t lose anything, or possibly even gain weight. Don’t be discouraged. Keep focused on your motivation, and how this effort will pay off come hunting season.

If you’re focused on losing fat and building muscle, the fat that is easiest to lose is stored under your abdominal muscles and is called “visceral” fat - or perhaps more commonly know as “The Beer Gut”, “The Pittsburgh Tumor” or “Dunlop Disease”. This fat is easiest for men to lose because it tends to be more “metabolically active” — which simply means that it is the fat that your body burns first. The bad news about this mid-section fat is that it puts you at higher risk for heart disease. So think of it this way, losing this fat may prolong your life and extend the years you’ll be able to enjoy hunting. That, for me, is some great motivation.

Start Slowly & Build Momentum
: If you are just getting back on an exercise program, or starting one for the first time you should be careful not to overdo it. Start slowly and gradually work your way up to the more intense stuff. This can be a hard thing to do — especially for guys. We tend to think back to our high school days when we could bench press a small elk and run the stadium steps non-stop for an hour. For most of us the realities of adult life have set in and we don’t have nearly as much time as we used to for exercise. And as a result many of us have simply lost our momentum and found ourselves several pounds heavier than we should be.

To get your momentum back, focus on starting slowly and consistently, rather than all at once. Think of yourself more like a locomotive taking off rather than a rocket. Although the rocket takes off fast in a violent and powerful eruption, it quickly burns out and falls back to the earth. A train on the other hand starts slowly but builds power and momentum fairly quickly. And it doesn’t fizzle out nearly as fast as a rocket. Taking this approach to your fitness program will help prevent pain and injury, make the experience more gratifying, and help you build lasting habits that will stick around well beyond hunting season.


Strength Training:
There are several benefits to doing strength training and we recommend it for all hunters who are trying to get in shape for the season. Some of the best reasons to incorporate strength training into your life include:

Building your balance and stability - The stronger your muscles, the sturdier they are and the better balance they provide when under stress. If you’ve ever walked through the dark woods with a treestand on your back and a bow and pack in your hands, you know how having strength, stamina and balance is important in the field.

Increase calorie burn — strength training increases your metabolic rate, causing your body to burn more calories throughout the day and lose weight more quickly.

Retain more muscle as you age - Adults lose between five and seven pounds of muscle every decade after age 20. Strength training will help prevent this loss of muscle and strength, and help rebuild what you may have lost.

Reduce and Help Prevent Low Back Pain
— setting up treestands or lugging bags of goose decoys across a muddy field are not the most “back-friendly” activities. Strength training helps your back handle those stresses and recover from them more quickly, with less or no pain.

Cardiovascular Exercise:
The importance of getting regular cardiovascular exercise cannot be understated. It is how your heart and lungs get stronger. And since your heart and lungs are much like your body’s “engine” it is important to keep them running efficiently, or you’ll quickly “run out of gas” when attempting some of the strenuous activities that are part of a successful and enjoyable hunting experience. When you follow a program of regular aerobic exercise, over time your heart grows stronger so it can meet the muscles' demands without as much effort.

Frequency - If you’re just starting a fitness program you should aim for a minimum of 3-days of cardio exercise per week, with more than two days rest in between. You’ll want to work your way up from there to 5-6 days per week. Keeping your workouts consistent, with the proper frequency and recovery in between, is an important factor for weight loss. Do not try to cram all your exercise in on the weekends and expect to lose weight. It simply doesn’t work that way.

Intensity - The benefits of cardio exercise come when you get into your Target Heart Rate (THR) zone. The recommended range of the THR is 60-85% of your maximum heart rate. One easy way to tell if you’re in this range is called the “Talk Test”. Basically this just means that if you can comfortably answer a question during exercise, but still feel like you are exerting yourself, you are probably in a good calorie burning heart rate range. This range is a good one for receiving general health benefits and losing weight.

Time: Length/duration of exercise - A minimum of 20 minutes per session is recommended for most people, with a maximum of about 60 minutes. Again, if you’re just getting started you should build up slowly over time. Also, make sure you do some kind of warm up and cool down before and after each workout. These should last about 5 minutes and should be counted separately from the 20 to 60 minutes recommended for the cardio workout in your target heart rate zone.

Type: What counts? - Any activity that meets the Frequency, Intensity and Time criteria above can be considered good aerobic exercise. You just need to make sure you can get in to your target heart range and sustain it for 20-60 minutes, and do so several times per week.

Cardio Exercise Success Tips:
Find exercise you enjoy. By finding something you like to do, rather than something you feel like you “should” do, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it and do it consistently. Here are a few ideas that may be a good alternative to walking, jogging, or the dreaded treadmill:
  • Go for a hike. You can get some quality scouting time in while you get fit. And if it isn’t too close to hunting season yet, you can do so without fear of spooking game.
  • Hit the road. It doesn’t matter when, just put on some good shoes, maybe grab some headphones and hit the road. If you’re a hunter, you probably have some form of foul weather gear; so never let the outside conditions stop you. Getting outside and going for a walk is good for the body and the mind. If walking feels too easy, try to pick up the pace and look for a route that has some hills to climb.
  • Run the Dog. If you hunt with the dog, he’s got to get in shape for the season also. Getting outside and running the dog is great pre-season preparation for both of you. Plus having the dog with you and watching him work a field takes your mind off the fact that you’re actually exercising.
  • Circuit Training. If you want to fit in both strength and cardio exercise on the same day, try doing some circuit training. Circuit training is when you go through a series of exercises or “stations” while taking very little rest in between. The idea is to keep your heart rate elevated near or in the aerobic level without dropping off — while getting a complete, full body workout. Circuit training typically includes doing a series of 4-10 different exercises in a row. This can be done at a gym, but also easily at home. An example of a circuit training session might look like this.

Warm Up / Stretch:
Do the circuit one time (10-12 repetitions)

1. Squats (with or without weights in your hands, bend at the knees and squat like you’re going to sit on a short stump. When the legs bend to 90 degrees, raise back up to a standing position and repeat).

2. Abdominal crunches (try taking your elbow to the opposite knee).

3. Dumbbell rows (while placing your left hand and knee on a bench, and keeping your back parallel to the bench, lift a dumbbell to your side with your right hand (like you are rowing a boat) until the bend in your arm is near 90 degrees. Then slowly straighten your arm towards the floor again and repeat. After 10-12 reps turn around and work the other side).

4. Push-ups (be careful to keep good form and keep your back straight. You may want do more that 12 reps here if you can).

5. Walking lunges (take a series of slow, extra-long “lunging” steps. Go 10 steps, then turn around and come back 10 steps. If you choose, you can hold dumbbells to your sides to add resistance.)

6. Plank Hold (Lie face down on the floor and get up on your toes and your arms (with your elbows and fists on the floor, but elbows bent). Try holding your body and your knees off the floor and in this position for 30 seconds without letting your knees or stomach hit the floor. Keep your body straight like a plank. Over time work up to holding this position for 60 seconds or more).

7. Squat jumps (squat down so your legs make a 90 degree angle at the knee, then jump straight up in the air as high as you can. Then quickly repeat for 10-12 reps.)
Cool down / stretch

Proper Nutrition:

The last thing you probably want is a lecture about what to eat, so I’ll keep this brief and point you to some resources that can help out if you’re serious about getting fit.
What many guys want to know about when they is "Do I have to eat "diet" foods if I want to lose weight?"
Well, the answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, you’ll have to monitor your calories and nutrition if you want to lose weight. But no, you don’t have to limit yourself to salads and carrot sticks. It’s a simple equation — if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. If you don’t, you won’t.

Here’s how the math works. There are 3500 calories in one pound of fat. To lose that pound of fat you need to burn 3500 more calories than you consume. Although that might sound like a lot, it really isn’t. If you cut just 500 calories per day (which is equivalent to a snickers bar and a 20 ounce soda) you can lose that pound in one week. If you double that calorie deficit to 1000 calories a day you’ll lose two pounds in one week. Increase your exercise activity and increase that calorie deficit and you'll either lose more, or can eat more and still lose weight. Pretty simple right? It really can be. You just have to get an understanding of how many calories are in what you are eating and start making smart substitutions so your calories come from better sources of nutrition.

There are a several online resources out there that can help you track your calories and build a weight loss plan. The best I’ve seen is actually available for free and allows you to set up a personalized plan that is tuned just for you. You can access that here.

The Bottom Line:

One of my goals is to be a better hunter this year than I was last year. One of the ways I want to accomplish that is by losing weight - so I can move more efficiently and quietly through my hunting ground, and leave less scent in the air by not having to breath as hard. Plus, by losing weight I know I’ll have more energy, look better, feel better and possibly even get more years to hunt down the road. If these are motivations for you too, there’s no better time to get started than right now.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, or would like someone to help keep you motivated, feel free to reach out to me. I’ve learned that pursuing goals like this with others can make it easier to succeed and be more motivating.

Best of luck and happy hunting!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Frugal Hunter on Scent Control

I know and understand we as hunter’s should support the companies and the industries that support our hunting rights, but sometimes I have a hard time (including my wife) justifying the costs associated with “hunting” supplies. With the economy in shambles and fewer people having excess money to spend on hobbies and such I wanted to share some of my own frugal hunting tips that might benefit others out there (not to mention having three kids which curtail my spending, along with saving up for a new bow). I will say none of these are my inventions, nor am I the first person to think of these, but simply a person compiling different ideas from others that I have tried and had success with. 

Cover Scent – Vanilla

There have been many who claim that the scent of vanilla provides a good cover and curiosity scent for deer. This past year I decided to try it out first hand and see what type of results I got. I made my own formula pretty cheap and simple, with some quality vanilla extract and simple plain old water. I put them in a spray bottle and kept it with me throughout the season. I would spray the bottom of my boots with it before walking to my stand in the morning, quite the same way one would use doe urine on the bottom of a boot pad. I had deer follow directly down the same trails I walked, both bucks and does, including mature bucks in the late season. (Typically I stay off of main trails, but I was experimenting, and wanted to see some results). These deer did not appear to spook at all, and they seemed just fine with the scent of vanilla on the ground and in the air. During the season, I would also pick a tree and spray the base of it with the vanilla, water formula. I did have deer come up to the tree and sniff it; again they were all calm and relaxed as they approached. I will continue to experiment with vanilla as a cover scent, I do think at least for me it has been successful, as well as an inexpensive alternative to other cover scents on the market. I look forward to gathering more results next season, as well as hearing from others and their experiences from using vanilla! 

Cheaper Scent Free Wipes
Use scent free baby wipes for scent free hunting wipes. I have found nothing that works better than these and you can buy at any grocery store. I have used them for years and have had no problems with them leaving scent or residue on any of my equipment. Plus, by comparison, you get a heck of a lot more baby wipes per box then “hunting wipes”. I know they don’t say “odor eliminating” when you buy them, but after having 3 kids, they certainly do a great job of cleaning up, and removing nasty odors and bacteria off of kids, so I figured that it would work just as well as those advertised hunting wipes. I have also used them for cleaning my hands up after field dressing, and again, they do a great job of clean up, and removing any foul odors. 

Scent Free Spray and Wipes (Homemade Version)
(Full disclosure, this is not my recipe. I got it off of someone on an archery website).

Ingredients for Scent Killer: 

• 16 oz. (2 cups) Peroxide ( yes, I use the brown bottled stuff) 

• 16 oz. (2 cups) Distilled Water or water from a dehumidifier 

• ¼ cup baking soda 

1 oz. On non-scented shampoo (I use Hunters Specialties green shampoo) 
(Or adjust amounts to whatever size you make accordingly)

Let sit for several days (a 1 gallon milk jug works good with lid loose). This recipe is also good for removing blood from your hands in the field after dressing your critter! No dried blood, presents a better photo image! 

Heres an idea for some home made scent free baby wipes... 

Mix up a batch of scent killer per instructions above. Next, take a roll of heavy duty paper towels (Bounty, Scott, etc..not the 49 cent cheapies) 

cut the roll in half with an electric knife or saw so you have 2 short rolls of paper towels (don't try a regular knife... it doesn't work). Pull the cardboard tube from the middle of the half roll then 
find a Rubbermaid or Tupperware container big enough to hold the 1/2 roll of paper towels (and with a good sealed lid). 

Put one of the 1/2 rolls of paper in the container, pour in the scent killer, let the wipes soak up the scent killer, keep covered tight so they don't dry out. Because the inner cardboard tube is out, pull the paper towels out the from the middle like a Kleenex! 

Scent Free Soap
OK, how many bottles of scent free body wash have we all bought over the years? That liquid soap sure does not seem to last very long, and gets to be expensive after a while, especially if you have multiple hunters in the family. After spending a lot of money on this myself, I decided to look for fragrance free bar soaps, and finally I found that Dove makes one - Dove Fragrance Free Senstive Skin Unscented Bar. Again I have used this product for over two seasons now, with great success. I have not had issues of deer scenting me due to my soap. This is an inexpensive alternative to those others manufactured specifically for hunting, and you can wash your hair with it as well, and for some reason I feel cleaner and my skin does not dry out as fast! 

Scent Free Deodorant

There are many traditional brands of scent free/fragrance free deodorants out of the market. I truly feel that all of them out perform those branded specifically to hunters as well. So, next time you are at the drugstore browse the deodorant section and you will find many brands that have these scent /fragrance free products in both gel and solids. Again I have been using them for the past couple years myself with great results. 

Scent Free Laundry Soap
Ok, I am sure most of you have heard of this one, but I use plain old backing soda! Again, I can attest that it seems to work just fine, I buy a large box of this at my local super store (Costco) and, for me, and it lasts all season long. I use it to wash all my hunting clothes in. Speaking of washing, always use cold water, and turn your camo inside out to help lengthen the life of your favorite camo garments. I have had the same set for over 5 years now, and they still look new, and work just fine. Another note about using baking soda, put it into the water first, and make sure it is dissolved before you put your clothes in, if you put it over top of your clothes, it may not dissolve, and your clothes will come out with lumps of baking soda on them, not what you want (take it from experience)!!!
In conclusion, 
I hope that these alternatives are useful for some, and again I look forward to any feedback or other ideas that could be added to this article that we could all benefit from. Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Dave Cristinzio - PHJ FieldStaff    

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Treestand Placement Strategies

Everyone knows that hunting from a treestand can increase your odds of harvesting a deer. But if you want to set yourself up to take a mature buck, there’s much more to it that finding a straight, sturdy tree. Here are some strategies, tips and considerations to help you improve your odds of success.

Deer Trails & Travel Corridors:
Just because you can easily see a deer trail, doesn’t mean it is a good spot to hunt. In fact, most mature bucks avoid the “super-highway”, primary deer trails, and prefer the paths less traveled. (If they didn’t, they’d probably never have become mature bucks.) Many hunters on the other hand hunt the most obvious trails. Let them have those spots. Their loss will be your gain.
When you find secondary trails, scout them to see if they have any fresh scrapes or rubs, and dense cover nearby. If they do, they’re probably a good place to start your stand location search. Next, try to find “pinch-points” or bottlenecks somewhere along that trail. Pinch points areas that tend to funnel deer into a more defined and predictable area, and can be created by both natural and man-made structure. For example, wooded fence lines can create pinch points. Thin strips of cover that connect two larger areas of cover can create good pinch points. Natural barriers like ponds and steep ravines can create pinch points. Look for all of the above and more along secondary deer trails and you’re well on your way to finding a good spot to hang a stand.
Food Sources:
Fields filled with a food source like corn, alfalfa, turnips, clover or today’s fancy food plot mixtures can be highly effective at attracting whitetails. When hunting food source fields look for the quietest, most distant corner and set up just inside the woods near that corner. Since the biggest bucks often wait until dark to enter a field, you can sometimes ambush them before dark in their staging areas inside the wood line on a field’s perimeter.
Water Sources:
Small ponds, water holes and woodland streams can be good places to ambush deer at mid-day. If you’re hunting over water sources, check the edges for tracks in the soft earth. Doing so can help you hone in on the most used sections, and will help you pick the best tree in which to set your stand.
Prevailing Winds:
No matter your thoughts about scent blocking clothing, cover scents, special breath control chewing gums, or any of the other products available to aid with scent control, do not think you can forget about wind direction. You can’t. A mature bucks nose will beat you almost every time. That said, when choosing your stand locations, make sure you know the direction of the prevailing winds in that area and choose your tree accordingly. Always place your stand on the downwind side of the expected travel path of the deer.
When hunting mountains or hill country, you also need to keep thermal winds in mind. Thermal winds change throughout the day as the air heats and cools — typically moving air uphill in the morning as the temperatures rise and back downhill in the evening as it cools.
Stand height:
Hunters have differing opinions about this, but some basic rules of thumb are; try to get to a height where you have tree limbs, leaves or other cover behind you to break up your outline. Also, the higher the amount of hunting pressure, the higher you should set your stand. A fairly standard height for stands is 15 feet at the footrest. Personally I like to be a good 20 feet in the tree where I hunt, but the conditions in your area might be different and require less or more height. Keep your weapon and expected shot range in mind also. You don’t want to put yourself so high that your expected shot with a bow is at too steep an angle and limits your ability to get a double lung or heart shot.
Give Yourself Options — Set Multiple Stands:
Even your favorite “honey hole” isn’t always going to be the best spot to hunt. Wind direction, foliage, food supply and breeding conditions are constantly changing throughout the deer season. That’s why the most successful hunters will set multiple stands and give themselves several places to hunt — so they can choose the best ambush location on any give day, based on the conditions they face.
Be Prepared To Be Mobile:
Last season I had what I thought was a great stand location set. As it turned out, it was a great stand for seeing traveling bucks — the only problem was the path they were traveling by that point in the season was 100 yards out of bow range. But there was good news…from where I was, I could tell that several bucks were following this same network of secondary paths that I hadn’t seen during my summer scouting trips. So, that following November morning I took my climbing stand into the woods well before daylight and set up where that network trails converged. It worked like a charm and I arrowed a nice buck at 25 yards — right where I expected him to be. The lesson here is be prepared to be flexible, and consider adding a climbing or quick setting mobile stand to your arsenal for just this type of occasion.

by DuckBuckGoose

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. - The 2012 deer season has been set and will have the fewest licenses available since 1988.
Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said a total of 65,300 licenses will be available this year, 44,650 fewer than last year.
Two major changes for hunters this year will be no issuing of mule deer doe tags in the state’s Badlands units and no concurrent season.
“It is expected there will be very few, if any, licenses remaining after the initial lottery,” Kreil said. “Therefore, there is not a concurrent season this year.”
Hunters will be able to draw one license for the deer gun season, one for the muzzleloader season and purchase an archery license, unlike past years when they were able to receive more than one license for the deer gun season.
The state’s deer population is still rebounding from brutal winter conditions in 2008-10 that resulted in adult mortality and decreased births of fawns.
The numbers tell the story: In 2008, a record 149,400 deer licenses were available.
Hunter success last year bears out the low numbers — 52 percent in 2011, the lowest on record. The normal success rate for deer gun hunters is between 70 percent and 75 percent.
The decline of fawn births in the the Badlands units — 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F — was especially severe.
It was the lowest fawn birth rate observed between 2009-11. Survey numbers show mule deer in the Badlands are down 23 percent from last year and 52 percent below 2007.
The number of licenses available for 2012 is 1,200 for antlered mule deer, a decrease of 3,350 mule deer licenses from last year; 1,282 for muzzleloader, down 826 from last year; and 120 for restricted youth antlered mule deer, a decrease of 130 from last year.
Kreil said it can be assumed that white-tail fawn births also saw record lows during the same period, but surveying white-tail fawns is virtually impossible during the spring.
Mulies are surveyed by air twice a year.
Kreil said only two hunting units in the state are at or above management goals — 4F and 3E2, both in the southwest area of the state.
The harsh conditions followed almost a decade of aggressive management to reduce doe numbers in many areas. The reduction will help deer herds rebound, Kreil said.
Low deer numbers are evident in all portions of North Dakota, Kreil said, since all but two hunting units are below management goals.
The deer gun season opens at noon Nov. 9 and continues through Nov. 25. Online applications for the regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader, and resident gratis and nonresident landowner seasons will be available later this week through the Game and Fish Department’s website at
Paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state the week of May 14. The deadline for applying is June 6.

Reach reporter Brian Gehring 250-8254 or