Archive for the ‘Article of the Month’ Category

3rd Annual Beast Feast
Monday, March 12th, 2012

Once again TheHeritageHunters.com is hosting BEAST FEAST in Edmeston NY.  The event is set to take place on March 24th and features an atmosphere unlike any other.  It’s part sportsman show, part outdoor film festival, and part wild game dinner with a few stories and a lot of laughs sprinkled on top!  This year’s special guest, all the way from Seneca Falls NY, is…….

Animal House Outdoors.

The Animal House crew will be promoting their new television show, which airs Monday nights at 7pm on the Sportsman Channel.  New hunting footage from City Boyz Outdoors, Animal House Outdoors and of course….Heritage Hunters’ own….Team FieldTrips will be unveiled throughout the night (complete with outtakes and bloopers).  Giveaways and Raffle prizes will also be held so come early and stay late!  Festivities kick off around 4pm.

There will also be information on and/or showcasing of the following products at this year’s event:

K n K Poultry – Edmeston NY

Ruck Packs Combat Nutrition - ruckpacks.com

Dry Case – drycase.com

Quiver Threads – quiverthreads.com

RD’s Whitetails (Ohio) – www.rdswhitetails.com

Ryno Graphics – Edmeston NY

RackHat – www.rackhat.com

Concept Archery’s 99% Let-off Believer Bow – www.conceptarchery.com

Core Heat by Gerbings – www.coreheat.net

ArborWear – www.arborwear.com

Swhacker Broadheads – www.swhacker.com

Come one, come all to this year’s event and make sure you bring a hunting story or two!  We’d love to meet you!

A Young Buck: Heritage in Training
Saturday, January 8th, 2011

A Young Buck
By Ted Arndt

Christian was standing at the base of a massive oak tree in a small hardwood grove.  It was sunny and unseasonably warm and there was a slight breeze in the air.  The surrounding forest was clear of much of the deadfall one would expect in a grove of this maturity which made the boy’s sightlines from his position sharp and long.  Finally, after a seemingly endless wait standing motionless at the base of the tree, a slight movement caught his eye.  Dead up-wind and about thirty-five yards distant, Chris saw a nice buck on the move and looking for love.  He anxiously followed the animal’s movements as it circled his tree from about thirty yards out.  The deer was licking his nose, curious about the flavors in the air.  A tarsal scent bomb set out near the base of Chris’ tree was working its magic and the deer caught wind of it.  Then the most remarkable thing happened; the buck turned and went straight up-wind, directly towards the base of Chris’ tree.  The boy had been backing around its massive trunk, keeping the old oak between him and the buck.  As the deer approached, Chris used his concealed position to draw his bow, and then he waited.  As if on a cable, the buck walked to within six yards of the big oak and stopped to smell the attractant.  Chris then saw his chance.  As the deer was looking away, he stepped out just enough to settle his single pin on the “engine room” behind the seven pointer’s right shoulder.  Then he let fly.  The bow twanged and the arrow struck home with that classic “gotcha” thud that Chris heard for the very first time.  He watched as the buck mule kicked, bounded just a few times and then came crashing to the forest floor about twenty-five yards from where he stood.  The young hunter now stared at the deer as it kicked on the ground, its life ebbing away.  It seemed as if it was over before it even started.  Only now was Chris becoming aware of the magnitude of his achievement;  first deer season, first good buck he’d seen, first well placed shot, and he did it in a blind all his own.

The hunt described above occurred this past deer season and the boy was my son.  I have to say Chris earned every bit of that deer, his success derived from many hours in the yard building his strength, refining his accuracy and listening to his mentors.  It all started about a month before the season, when Chris and I went to see about a used compound bow.  He had saved enough for about half of it, and I said I’d cover the rest as a Christmas present.  Chris knew as soon as he picked up that pig-sticker that he was holding the bow he needed and so we closed the deal.  We then went to a good friends house (the creator of Heritage Hunters) and  I asked, “Dale, Christian here just got a new bow but it needs to be fitted, weighted and tuned so he can get started.  Can you help us out?”  Dale stepped right up to the challenge and measured and tweaked and pulled and cranked that bow until it fit Chris like a glove.  We then went out back and my son fired his first “war shots” from a real hunting bow, even if it only drew about forty pounds.  Christian was very enthusiastic and seemed to have a natural aptitude for sticking the money spot on Dale’s target, but he wasn’t a bow hunter… yet.

Chris knew he only had about three weeks to practice in my yard to built his strength.   During that time, I gradually cranked his bow up to what I felt was poundage that would “do the job”.  I was looking for Chris to draw and hold 55 pounds before we went into the woods.  If he was going to take this seriously, we needed a bow that would hit hard enough to give him the best possibility of a humane kill and I believe any less that 55 and things get iffy.  The week of the Southern zone season opener, Chris finally achieved his goal.  We were ON!

Chris had two bow hunts under his belt before he shot his buck and they served a very important function.  Chris learned the “tricks of the trade” as he watched me and my hunting friends set up for ground-blinding deer.  He watched as we carefully cleared leaves and shooting lanes.  He saw as we moved and adjusted cover.  Most importantly, however, Chris saw how the more experienced hunters tried to anticipate the movements of the deer, to “guess” where the most likely approaches were and to prepare for them.  And Chris is a very good student.

Amazingly, I had taken two first-season hunters with me that afternoon, and both the boys had shooting opportunities that evening.  The other young man, Joseph Toomey, drew on a small spike buck as it passed in easy bow range, but he passed his very first opportunity, waiting for bigger game.  When finally I met up with the boys at twilight, I knew something special had happened.  The boys were smiling as I approached; a smile every deer hunter recognizes instantly.  The “I got one”  I soon heard meant more to me than anything  since my wife Libby’s “I do” more than twenty years ago.  My boy Christian and his friend Joseph are our next generation of bow hunters and they are more than up to the task.  They are caring and conscientious, studious and patient.  They respect their families and their heritage. They are more than I ever imagined they’d be.  If we do our part to instill the values of sportsmanship and honor into our children, the passion we feel for our sport will last forever.

First year Bow Hunter Christian Arndt shown with his Father (Author) Ted Arndt

Shoot Your Heritage: Taking Photos in the Field
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Shoot Your Heritage: Taking Photos in the Field

by Heritage Hunters Staff


We’re not ones to criticize any hunting related photo, regardless of where or how, it’s taken (ie; back of a pick-up or hanging in the garage).  We figure it’s all part of the hunting heritage so our hats are off to all of you that snap those pictures during your seasons.  However, we’ve been asked from time to time about what to consider when taking a photo in the field.  As a result, we thought we would compile some pointers on taking good quality photos of your hunting heritage.

The Setting: Whether you’re taking a game photo with the animal in the shot or you’re just capturing a shot to remember the day afield, you’ll need to consider the background of your picture.  We’re not telling you to forget the pick-up and garage photos, by no means! On the contrary, snap those candids too.  However, you’ll generally want a nice picture simulating the area you made the shot or recovered the animal.  In which direction is the Sun? Do I want the shot up hill or down? Do I want the stand in the background? and Do I want to reposition the animal?  are a few of the questions you should ask yourself.

Cameras: The general rule of thumb is that the higher the megapixels a camera has, the higher picture quality you’ll get.  There are an array of cameras out there that produce fantastic quality shots for around $100.  Think about it, is it worth spending a $100 for a camera to capture not only your hunting heritage, but that of your buddies as well?  These cameras are small enough to put in a pocket or pack if you’re worried about weather proofing, stick it in a zip-lock bag.

Lighting and Flash: Give some thought to the Sun.  If you have it, work with it.  A general rule is that the subject in your photo should be facing the light source but be careful of shadows.  If you’ve got a ball cap on, we still want to see your face instead of a dark shadow.  Use the flash on cloudy days to fill in those shadows caused by your clothing.

Digital Means “Shoot, shoot, shoot!”: Today’s digital Cameras, equipped with LCD Screen allow you to not only see the picture your just took, the media card memory in the camera can store 1000’s of pictures.  Why not take more pictures now and sort them out or delete some later?  You may get home and decide that some look better than they did in the field.  Be sure to take the close ups as well as the wide shots, both at various angles.  We’ve been in that situation before and even though we’re tired, we’d rather spend the time taking various photos in the field, than to wish we had later.

Keep an Album: Once the season is over, take the media card to your local photo place and print out your favorites.  After just a few years, you’ll have a blast looking through the album.  Better yet, start one for your hunting buddies and give it as a gift.  It’s a great way to preserve your hunting heritage and watch it evolve at the same time.

Campbell Outdoor Challenge DVD Slideshow Software: 


A great program for creating a sophisticated slideshow of your field photos is the Campbell Outdoor Challenge DVD Slideshow Software.  This program allows you to drop your photos easily into the program’s interface and customize a slideshow incorporating music, titles and a host of effects.  After your slideshow is complete, simply save it and burn to a DVD to enjoy over and over with friends and family.  The best part about this program is that it was created by hunters for this very purpose and contains many outdoor related effects.   For an initial investment of $60, you can enjoy your hunting heritage in pictures on the big screen for years to come.  This program, as well as the DVDs you’ll be able to create with it, are truly the gifts that keep on giving!
For more information on the Campbell Outdoor Challenge DVD Slideshow: https://www.campbellcameras.com/p-408-campbell-outdoor-challenge-dvd-slideshow-software.aspx

Energy Shots – A Hunters Perspective
Sunday, January 3rd, 2010



Energy Shots – A Hunter’s Perspective


Don’t get me wrong, hunting season doesn’t last long enough.  But if you’re like us, consistently hitting the timber mixed with a day job, quality time with the family and the never ending honey-do list can take a toll on the energy reserves of even the most hardcore hunter.  In other words, it doesn’t take long to feel drained during a hunting season.  I myself reach that “drained” feeling after about 2 weeks of getting up at O’dark-thirty and welcome a boost of energy from time to time.  We wanted to find out if the recent energy drink phenomenon could have any benefit to a hunting lifestyle, especially when you find yourself fulfilling your daily responsibilities in between hunts with little to zero time for a power nap! 


We found two companies that cared how their products were viewed by our hunting community. OnGo Energy and RedFin Energy shipped us out some of their product and we used each over the course of our 3 part season (Bow, Regular Firearm, Muzzleloading). 


A Look at the Energy Drinks:


OnGo Energy Shots: A 2 ounce bottle offered in 3 flavors (Mandarin Orange, Berry Blast and Lemon Lime)   The “shots” are a blend of Vitamins and other substances known to increase and sustain energy levels in human cells.  Here’s the breakdown of the ingredients for OnGo Energy Shots:


Niacin – helps your body use fat and carbohydrates efficiently

Vitamin B6 – helps your body break down and generate amino acids

Folic Acid – healthy red blood cell production

Vitamin B12 – promotes proper nervous system functions

Amino Acids – promotes alertness, improves memory, and regulates mood

Taurine – enhances brain, nervous system and cardiac functions

Malic Acid - produces cellular energy

Glucuronolactone – reduces sleepiness and improves mental performance

Caffeine – boosts energy and heightens alertness

Ginseng – increases your resistance to stress, anxiety, and fatigue

Electrolytes – helps replenish your body

Contains NO SUGAR and ONLY 8 Calories

Click Here for complete Supplemental information on the back of the bottle:





RedFin Energy: Also comes in a 2 ouce bottle that blends the following:

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

Folic Acid

Caffeine (comparable to 2 cups)


Siberian Ginseng

Contains NO SUGAR and ONLY 4 Calories

For Complete Supplemental facts on this Product, Click Here!


Now, as you can see, both of these energy products breakdown with comparable main ingredients which claim to help everything from red blood cell production (more red blood cells mean more oxygen carriers, which lead to more energy production for our cells) to enhancement of the nervous system and reduction of stress and anxiety.  Who doesn’t want all that?  Sustained energy, alertness, and some extra health benefits would all seem to be “no-brainers” in any of our daily lives right?


Our main goal was to see if these products made it easier to “keep going” on those days that started at 3:15 am and allowed us to stay as alert in the tree-stand on the last day of the season as on the first.  If you’re serious about hunting, you know the routine:  Typical morning hunt with a 20 – 45 minute walk to the stand, climb down at 10am so you can make it to your daughters’ soccer games by 11am, winterize the pool, put away the deck furniture, help your friend move a couch and be back in the stand by 2:30pm for the evening sit.  One of those days!  (You can substitute any or all of the above with any mixture of your responsibilities on a typical Saturday).  Here’s what we found with these two products:


Taste:  We only tried the Wild berry flavor from RedFin while OnGo sent all 3 of their flavors (Mandarin Orange, Berry Blast and Lemon Lime).  It’s only 2 ounces of liquid but the edge in taste goes to OnGo.  The Lemon Lime flavor was our favorite and surprised us in how good it tasted.  We found very little after taste with either of these products and although we liked the Lemon flavor the best, it’s all about preference.  None of them tasted bad to us, then again, it’s 2 ounces!   


Size: Two nice aspects in this category. First, these products are small enough to stash in your pack or pocket so you can “refuel” at anytime during the hunt.  Second, you don’t have to drink an entire 12 + ounces of liquid to get the same effect.  This can represent an issue for hunters who are concerned with how often they have to empty their bladder on stand.  2 ounces will not cause this concern.  These “shots” are compact and deliver the goods without the excess water associated with other energy “drinks”


Prolonged Energy and Alertness:  We didn’t experience a “boost” or “Jolt” of energy in the respect that we felt jittery after ingesting the product.  We did however feel like we could “keep going” and keep moving without feeling drained and tired between hunts.  In the example above of a typical Saturday where you try to fit hunting in with all the other chores of the day, we didn’t feel the need for a nap (something Dan has become accustomed to not getting with his young daughter) nor did we feel sleepy while on stand in the evening.  Our alertness seemed to increase as well.  Coincidence or not, Dan seemed to notice the deer “first”, more often this year.  Usually I’m the one to clue him in that a deer is moving toward our stand.  It’s an ongoing joke in our camp.  This year it seemed to be about even between us as to who noticed the deer first.


Side Effects:  Neither Dan or myself noticed any side effects to taking these energy shots during the season.  No jitters, no headaches, no allergic reactions, no sleeplessness, and no “crash” after the product was in our system for a while. 


When we took them:  The majority of our use with these shots came in between the morning and evening hunts.  We knew when our “drain” period was going to be during the day (between 11am and 1pm) so we took the shot somewhere in that time-frame.  This allowed us to stay alert on the evening hunt and not feel like dosing off.  We also tried them a few times before our morning hunts, usually on those days when getting out of bed was ridiculously tough.  On those particular occasions, we stayed alert but the product didn’t seem to cause any jitters on stand.  These 2 products work as advertised and they will be on our shopping list for next season.  Another aspect of these products that impressed us was that we didn’t feel any sort of addictive properties during our testing.  In other words, we didn’t take them every day, nor did we feel an urge to take them every day. 


The Effect on the Immune System: Over the last few years, I’ve been interested in the effect of B12 on the Immune System.  Not only is B12 linked to the production of healthy red blood cells for oxygen transport and subsequent cellular energy, it is suggested to play a role in cytotoxic (those cells in our immune system that destroy germs) activity.  Without getting too scientific and medical here, I’ve noticed a decrease in the frequency of my sickness over the last few years while taking B12 supplements.  It seems to me that ANY B12 supplementation is a good thing, and if that comes from an energy shot-type drink, bonus!


Final Thoughts: We wait 10 months for the start of hunting season and we want to feel energized enough to take full advantage of the time we have in the woods.  Not only will these “energy shot” afford you the ability to keep plugging away after your quarry, they’ll help you fulfill your other daily responsibilities without feeling drained during the season.  After all, as we like to say, “You can’t get anything if you don’t go!” and we found these energy shots to help us in getting up and getting out there.



For more information on OnGo Energy, visit: www.ongoenergy.com


For more information on RedFin Energy, visit: www.redfinenergy.com




Numa Optics In Iraq
Thursday, December 10th, 2009

As most of you know, we here at Heritage Hunters are big fans of Numa Optics Sunglasses because of the style and protection that they offer.  But don’t take our word for it, take the word of our Servicemen in Iraq.  Here’s a look at some of the emails that Numa has been receiving from our brave men and women overseas.

Email #1: Dear Numa,

I hope this email finds you and your loved ones in perfect health!!!

I don’t know how the pictures came out on your email, but the one that has the guys with guns walking one of our wounded are my teammates. The red liquid that looks like Coolaid on the floor is actually blood from the 135+ dead.


I am thankful that I was wearing my Point Ballistic Numas at the time. The debris came from all over the place, no matter where one was standing. It was horrible. My hearing is somewhat gone, my insides still hurt – but my eyes are intact, and that is a good day for me.

After talking to some of my friends, they mentioned that the shades they were wearing did not do the job at staying on their face, or taking the hit from various objects before breaking. My shades stayed on my face even when I was thrown a few feet back, and the lenses only took some mean scratches but did not break… WOW!!!!!  
As a result, three of my teammates asked me to get them the same shades I have with black, clear, and amber lenses.

I thought you might want to hear about this little incident, and take all the credit that you deserve for the great product you represent. As long as I live, I will tell this story to my family and the guys at work. Thank you Jake for saving my eyes!!!!

note: I’m starting to see more and more of your product around here. That makes me very happy…

You can Google “MOFA Bombing in Baghdad” there are several articles about the incident. When you Google it, click images so that you can see some crazy pictures.

Jake, you can rest assured that your product took a very hard, real life, test, and they passed!!!!!    You can now call them anti-terrorist bombing shades… hahaha 

As I told you before, people don’t realize what they have until either that something or somebody is lost, or until you put yourself and your gear through the extreme. Jake, I have to say I am down to 8 lives now and walked away from this terrorist attack with my shades on my face.

Email #2: To: Numa Product Development Team
I use my Numa Sport Optics Ballistic Series sunglasses in Iraq, one of the harshest environments on earth. From the moment I started using them I noticed the lenses maximized clarity in any light condition. I like that the ballistic lenses not only offer performance but impact protection as well. Due to the engineering of the frames the glasses fit tightly to my face which is required in a country where at a moments notice the air can fill with sand. Nothing can ruin your day like eyes full of irritating sand. Thanks for a great product.
Triple Canopy

Email #3: Dear Numa,  My name is C.D. and I currently work as a sniper for Triple Canopy in Baghdad. In my 4 years in Iraq I have worn many different brands of sunglasses and I have been wearing these sunglasses for a few weeks now. I can honestly say they are one of the best I have worn here.
In this environment and in the job I perform I need 3 things from my sunglasses:  good optics, good fit, and something that holds up in a gritty sandy environment. I was impressed by the fact that even though they fit snuggly on my face, the lenses don’t get streaked with sweat and they don’t fog up. They are tough as well, I have dropped them a few times and the lenses didn’t scratch. I will wear these till they wear out and I need to buy a new pair.


“Point” Ballistic Series Sunglasses from Numa Optics

Email #4: Dear Numa, Your Numa X-Frames are much better than the Oakley products floating around here.  Furthermore, I own a pair of Serengeti sun glasses and your polarized lenses are on par with theirs. If you could see what you sun glasses have endured. I left them on top of my Humvee that was traveling 40mph. My buddy saw them fly off my vehicle, stopped and picked them up. Only cosmetic damage to the frames.  The lenses are still great. 
Sgt. C.F.
The United States Marine Corps
Al Anbar, Iraq

Email #5: Dear Numa, My name is Staff Sergeant R. B.  and I am a infantry squad leader with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.  I have used your glasses for the last months and I could not be happier with their performance.  They provide great eye protection without being overly large or bulky. My unit is set to deploy in the next couple months and I plan on wearing your glasses in Afghanistan. 

All of us here at Heritage Hunters would like to wish our Servicemen and Women Happy Holiday wishes and safety in all areas of deployment.  We thank you for your service and pray for your safe return home.  God Bless!

Article of the Month: June 2009
Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Asking Permission
By Ted Arndt

The wind was light and there was a slight overcast.  A fine mist held in the cold morning air. Conditions were perfect for tracking, so when I heard  Boots, my ten-year-old beagle, baying from about  two hundred yards down the hedgerow, I knew we were about to close the deal. I could tell he was getting closer and closer. Then about eighty yards out, I saw him jump out of, and then back into the leafless brush.  His jerky manner and intermittent baying let me know he was hot, so I shouldered my double- twenty and waited for the inevitable brown flash as the rabbit tried to get by.  Just as I did so, a cotton-tail leapt from the brush about fifteen yards from where I stood and I took him with the lower barrel.  But the sound of that first shot was still ringing when another brown-back flashed under my feet and continued up the hedge.  I quickly wheeled and gave him the second barrel; an easy shot at a straight-away hare.

The hunting grounds where I nabbed those two bunnies are some of the best I’ve seen.  I hunt there about twice a year and my team inevitably comes away with five or six rabbits.  I cherish my opportunity to hunt on that farm and take pains to insure the owner of the property knows how I feel.  That farmer is in fact now a friend and has invited me in for lunch on more than one occasion.

In a time when people are growing less and less trusting of others and it seems everyone’s getting sued for even the most trivial issues, it becomes ever more difficult to persuade property owners to allow us to hunt on lands like those described above.  Therefore, when we go out to ask for such permission, it is of critical importance that we do so in a way that, regardless of result, portrays us as sincere and responsible people. So how can we put our best foot forward?  Here are some ideas to think about as you try to land yourself some of the great private hunting lands available in your area.

First things first: know when to go.  Common sense tells us to ask well in advance of the actual hunting trip:  we don’t want to appear impulsive and rushed when we’re asking to use guns in someone else’s back-yard.  But there’s a lot more to it than that. Every region has different agricultural seasons, depending primarily on the severity of winter and kinds of crops grown there.  In Up-State New York, the primary crop is corn.  In my area, farmers are very busy come mid-May plowing, disking and planting.  Similarly, in the fall you can see tractors and combines churning away as farmers bring in their crops.  These are not good times to ask a farmer for permission to hunt.  Waving a farmer down off his Deere to ask to hunt is the same as stopping a banker on the thruway on his way to work. Yes, he may say yes, but more likely he’ll be exasperated that you have the nerve to ask to go have a ball while he’s out, sun-up to sun-down working the fields. It is a far better idea to ask during the summer or winter.  I prefer the winter, because I usually bring a pie or some muffins and a warm treat at that time of year is always welcome.

You must also consider the time of day when you go to ask for permission to hunt.  In dairy country, mid-morning is good, because milking is likely over.  In the evening, say six o’clock, is also good, because many farmers are in for dinner and ready for a conversation.  Regardless of your region, It’s best to be aware of the operations of the farm so you’re as unintrusive as is possible.

What you wear also matters.  My philosophy is to look like a farmer.  Look clean, but not afraid to get dirty.  Look confident but unassuming.  Don’t wear your opinions on your sleeve.  A “Kill’em ALL; let GOD sort ‘em Out!” shirt will surely send you packing, but worse; it will reinforce the idea in the farmer’s mind that many hunters are opinionated SOB’s.  When I go, I usually wear older jeans and a denim jacket.  I also wear boots that have been through it a bit.  No sense wearing nice shoes and conveying the idea that you’re afraid of a day’s work.  Don’t forget the hat either.  And NOT cocked to the side like some gang-banger.  A slightly used John Deere or Cat Power Diesel will work fine.  Don’t go for any foreign brands, as most farmers are a very patriotic and conservative bunch.  That farmer may also take offense if you’re sporting some PETA cap or have Greenpeace across the back of your shirt.  Think about who you want to represent, but don’t wear your opinions on your sleeve.  One possible exception to this rule is an NRA hat.  That farmer you’re facing is likely already a member and if he isn’t he has friends who are.

Now you’re outfitted and have thought about when to go out and ask for permission to hunt.  What are you gonna say once the big moment comes?  First off, be nice.  A sincere “Hi” is worth a thousand fake “hello’s”.  Say what feels comfortable and remember to smile.  After the “hi’s” are over, I usually share a little bit about myself; “I’m a teacher from Fort Plain and I’m also a turkey hunter.  You’ve got some wonderful land here and I’d like to ask for permission to hunt here.”  If I get an “I’m sorry, but we don’t let anyone hunt here” that’s good enough for me.  I say thanks and politely leave.  If I’ve brought a pie or something, that stays, regardless of outcome.  That little gesture has made all the difference on more than one occasion and even if it doesn’t, it shows my character to someone I may meet again one day.

When you go to ask permission to hunt, a farmer may try to strike up a conversation with you.  He could want more information about you and your family or he could just be trying to size you up.  Sometimes, the man just wants to talk.  Farmers can live fairly isolated lives by some standards and many just want someone besides the livestock to talk to.  It would be a grave mistake, and I believe just plain impolite for you to nip this small talk in the bud and go on your way.  If you spend some time with the man you’re asking a favor of it can only help.  Even better, if you’re prepared to offer a day or two in the Hay mow, it might win you some points.  Besides, the farmer knows better than anyone where the game is on his land.  A little small talk might just lead to a slammer buck!

Finally, remember, you represent all of us conscientious hunters when you go out looking for new land to hunt and the people you’re asking a favor of are under no obligation to help you out.  Most of us rely on the kindness of some very hard-working folks and we must be respectful of their property and their ways or our opportunity to enjoy the great American tradition of hunting will surely end.

Late Season Gobblers by Ted Arndt
Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Rolling a Gobbler in
The Late-Season Woods
  By Ted Arndt

It was a cool May morning with a slight breeze.  Wisps of vapor rose from the new grass before me.  I was leaning against an old beech, in the early morning shade of its twisted branches, on the top of a small ridge.  Though I’d chosen to set up in the woods adjacent to some fallow fields, I had a clear view across an ancient cart path that ran along the crest, now covered with low blackberry and grass.  I cackled and was immediately rewarded by a booming gobble from maybe two hundred yards away and slightly down-hill. Perfect!  I remained motionless, my eyes scanning the woods and path, searching for any movement in the direction of the gobble.  Sure enough, maybe fifteen minutes later I saw a dark form moving in my direction. His characteristic jerking, start-stop motion gave the gobbler away as we worked his way up the ridge.  The bird came in and out of view over and over as he searched the forest for the hen he knew was near.  I concentrated on his movements as he picked his way among the deadfall and debris scattering the forest floor.  Then, not sixty yards out, he vanished.   Immediately, I provided a softer, shorter cackle, intentionally redirecting the strength of the call with the palm of my hand.  Then I waited.  I passed the next few minutes scanning with my eyes while trying to remain motionless. Maybe ten minutes passed, but just as I began to worry I’d lost him, I picked up motion out of the corner of my eye.  The old gobbler was just to my right, frozen in place, craning his neck to get a better view of my camouflaged shape! Now the adrenalin was coursing through me and I felt every heart beat as I tried desperately not to give myself away.  I remember seeing the barrel of my Wingmaster rise and fall with my every breath.  The few seconds seemed like an hour, but finally, the bird dismissed me and continued on his way to the cart path.  As he turned away, I let out a putt and the Tom shook out a deafening gobble and filled into a strut.  This was my chance.  His fan obstructed his view, and I quickly swung the shotgun maybe twenty degrees to my right and snapped off the safety. I then sent out a short series of putts and depressed the trigger just as he came out of strut to investigate the close range call.  The shot rang out and that tom dropped like a stone.  He lay there, on that cart path, not ten yards from the base of my tree.

Things don’t always go that way for me, but in the hunt described above, it all just seemed to click.  So, how did I manage to close the deal?  Well, to start with, it was a good day to set up in the woods.  I believe woods hunting for spring turkey is one of the most suspenseful ways to try for a gobbler but if you don’t consider the weather, vegetation, topography, and set-up tactics peculiar to woodland hunting, your task will likely be far more difficult. The following are a few tips to consider that can set you on your way to rolling a tom in the trees.

Well then; what’s a good day to hunt in the woods?  I believe your chances increase dramatically if you can manage to hunt there on a day when it’s hot and sunny, but with little wind or rain.  Turkeys almost always pitch into a clearing or field shortly after there’s enough light for them to see.  I believe they instinctively group in fields right off the bat to “take inventory” of who’s there.  They’ll then communicate in the open for an hour or so, continually moving while they feed and/or display.  And rain and wind will keep them in the fields for far longer than that.  It’s as if a turkey’s natural defenses, those of sight and hearing, are minimized as rainwater drips off a thousand leaves and the wind rattles branches as it lashes the trees.  Yep, on bad weather days I’ve dropped plenty of birds as they waited out the weather in an open field.  But there are a few things that make it less attractive for those birds to stay in the open.  First off, there may be tall grass, alfalfa or other growth that impedes their visibility. This makes them vulnerable to predators in the fields, so they’ll move into the forest, especially where there’re large deciduous trees and a fairly open floor. Therefore, in late season in Upstate New York, the woods can be a good bet.  Also, tom turkeys are, for the most part, very dark birds.  Dark colors absorb heat and birds, unlike us hunters, can’t sweat to cool off.  Therefore, a gobbler is like a fat man in a down jacket on a hot morning and he’ll do all he can to say in the shade.

Now, the weather man’s calling for a warm sunny morning and its late in the season and the grass is tall enough to conceal a coyote; in short, it’s time to hunt the woods.  So where should a hunter set up for his best chance at drilling a gobbler?  Well, if you have the choice, go up.  That’s right; given two equally exciting options, it makes sense to go with the one that is higher than where you believe the birds will pitch in the morning. There are three very good reasons for this.  First, your calling will carry farther from a higher location.  Second, you will likely be more comfortable looking down a hill than up and the visibility tends to be better.  Finally, for some reason I can’t really explain, I believe (as do many other experienced turkey hunters) that it’s easier to call a bird up-hill. There, I said it.  I, know, it sounds a bit strange, but I’m convinced calling a bird up is a higher percentage task than the other way around. Go figure.
OK; now you’ve got a good wooded ridge or hill in mind and you have to select a site for calling in and blasting that old beard-dragger.  Select a site that has good visibility and think of where the sun will be.  If you’re gonna be fairly close to a roost, you don’t want to be facing to the South East or you may be blinded by the rising sun, or worse, spot lit for that bird and all creation to see.  Your sight should also take into account any dead-fall, rocks, steep banks or other natural funnels that may help to steer a turkeys in front of your gun.  Remember that “turkeys are lazy” and, when given two ways to get somewhere, they’ll very likely choose the one that takes the least energy.  Therefore, they tend to walk up steep hills diagonally (like I do, come to think of it).  Finally, if you can, pick a spot where there’re enough trees around to give good concealment.  The standing timber around you will give you opportunities to swing your gun once the time comes, without alerting your quarry.

Now you’ve selected the perfect spot; great!  Just remember to clear out any leaves and twigs that may tip a gobbler off to your whereabouts.  No fair sitting in a bowl of corn flakes and crunching every time you adjust your seat!  Settle in facing where you believe the bird will come from, but know that Murphy’s Law applies to woodland hunting just as it does anywhere else.  In fact, it’s a bit worse in the woods because visibility isn’t always very good.  I can’t tell you how many times a bird came in so quietly, I didn’t know he was there until I saw him blasting away as I lifted a cheek to scratch my butt.  Finally, try to stay focused and still, but if it’s not happening, move the show.  That’s’ what’s nice about the forest.  Moving around is far easier. 

Well, I hope these few tips for hunting turkey in the spring woods inspire you to set out and bag one there.  If you pay attention to the weather, vegetation, topography and site-selection you’ll have a good chance of taking a gobbler in the forest.  Now, go roll a slammer!

Duped by Decoys
Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Duped by Decoys
by Dylan R Ainsworth

Mistakes this spring left me wondering if I’ll ever enter the woods with a turkey decoy again.
 My new found annoyance for the fake birds started off the very first day of open season before daybreak. My ol’ man and I crept silently along a secluded field edge under the cover of darkness.  The bitter chill of this early May morning in Vermont stimulated my senses. We slinked as close to the roost tree as we felt comfortable. 

I set-up my camera on a tripod, and got into position against a stout pine. The ol’man crawled a distance into the open field to set out a breeding pair of turkey decoys.  I sat not twenty yards away, yet I could not see him through the dimness of the dawn mixed with a slight fog that loomed over the field. Then from the serene silence came the two most wretched sounds I could image hearing. The first was a swooshing of plastic bird against vinyl carrying bag.

Immediately following came a precession of wing flapping descending from the tall oaks directly above where I sat.  “Perhaps we got a little too close this time.” I thought to myself, as my dad made his way back to the wood line oblivious to the fact that we were busted. Upon relaying the news he insisted that we stay in hopes of calling the tom in after daylight.

The sun rose to reveal four hens a hundred yards away. They made their way, randomly pecking across the field paying no interest to the false full strut tom parading in front of us, or the clucks and purrs emitting from our box call.  Once the group entered the woods I convinced the ol’ man to admit defeat in hopes of moving to a different area.   To top off the humiliation, as we were driving away down a narrow dirt road, there standing in the driveway of a double-wide trailer, was our quarry. He displayed his distinct fan which had two feathers broken off as if to say “yes it is me, a half-mile away”. My ol’man and I contemplated an ambush from another direction but decided that we’d messed with this bird enough and were likely to make him leave the area entirely if pursued further.

We still had the major portion of the morning to hunt, so it was off to our back-up, the farm near home. To my amazement, there was a flock of five birds in the middle of  the farthest field visible from the road. The ol’ man was apprehensive about stalking up to them until I mapped out a route which took us up a creek bed. Closing the distance to a hundred yards we set-up in an adjacent field separated by a row of aspen. To our delight a hen showed interest in our first series of yelps and headed toward us, bringing a  larger bird in tow. From that distance, even through the trees I could clearly make out his head blazoned with bright red. As the two birds crossed into the field I gained a clear view through my Bushnell binos of the bird’s short beard, which in a queer way stuck straight up toward his beak. Once the hen was aware of the large tom decoy in the brush to my right she skirted to the wood line and rejoined the three other birds. They continued making their way to a plowed section of field behind and to the right of our position. Among them I spotted a tom, who upon seeing our decoy led his harem in the opposite direction.  

 My ol’ man lured the jake closer.  I watched as the full fan of the bird still in the flock was moving farther and farther away. The small turkey came within ten yards and put on an excellent show for the camera with his upright beard. We had no intentions of bagging an immature bird on the first day of the season so I filmed as he meandered by. Nearing the gobbler decoy, he kept a cautious distance while inspecting the rubber hen that was mounted beneath. He eventually lost interest and rejoined the rest of the flock, including the longbeard who so bluntly avoided our decoys.

We glassed the large tom that strutted five hundred yards away. With only one hour left, we had to make a quick plan if we were going to get set up on the gobbler. However our plans were made for us. I watched in astonishment as a man dressed all in blue carrying a shotgun walked through the middle of the field toward the flock. We immediately left and notified the farmer of the intrusion this passer-by was making on his posted property.

The next morning came and I was sitting in the same spot that my father took his tom from the previous year. I was watching an obscured creature coming to investigate the solo hen decoy resting in front of my dad. It was well before daylight so my initial thought was that it was a fox. Nearing the decoy the black object raised its head, gave an alarm putt and sped off in the opposite direction. I was dumbfounded that a turkey would be down from the roost this early and also curious as to what spooked it. Daylight came and in front of me lay a rubber hen on its  side! The early riser must have thought the unstaked decoy was a dead comrade and fled in fear.

The rest of the season came and went leaving me wishing I’d blasted the jake from day one. Learning from your mistakes is a part of hunting and in each mistake there is a lesson.  I think maybe next year I’ll leave the decoy bag at home and forgo anymore lessons in that department.

Workin’ With Your Decoys
Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Workin’ with your Decoys
By Ted Arndt

A light rain was falling as I watched the birds enter the field from an opening in the trees at its far corner.  It was 9:25 and the intermittent rain and cold winds had kept the turkeys in the roost for a bit longer than was usual.  I counted six hens with the gobbler I’d been calling before they disappeared behind a slight rise as they scratched their way along the opposite side of the field.  Just when the last bird was out of sight, I let go with a short series of cackles and was instantly rewarded by the staccato burst of a long gobble.  Then silence.

 My eyes feverishly scanned back and forth across an expanse of corn stubble, but it seemed an eternity before I saw the flock again.  Then, directly in front of me and out about 120 yards, I could just make out the top of an enormous fan and then a white head.  Scattered on either side, the rest of the birds materialized as they slowly followed the gobbler across the field towards my set-up.  I cackled once more as the tom turned to face my decoys, and he came straight at them.

 I waited motionless; gun shouldered and on my knee, as the small flock hung up for a few minutes about 60 yards out.  Finally, after two hens joined my decoys, the old red-head committed.  When he passed the farthest decoy, I knew he was within 35 yards.  I was dialed in as the old gobbler passed the middle decoy of my three-bird spread.  The click of the safety seemed like a rifle shot as I made final adjustments for the kill.  I purred one more time as the gobbler came to full strut.  When the old boy craned his neck to locate the sound, I began to put pressure on the trigger.  Suddenly, my Wingmaster rocked, pushing me backwards as I sent the deadly package of buffered six shot on its way.  The booming report scattered hens in all directions, but when I brought the gun back down, that old tom lay fluttering in the field almost exactly between the two closest decoys.  At 25 yards, he had taken at least a dozen lethal hits in the head and upper neck.

 As with many turkey stories, this successful hunt was the culmination of thorough pre-season scouting, careful sight selection and hours of calling practice with my wife yelling at me from the kitchen.  What really mattered during those final moments though was the decoy setup.  After all, decoys are a time-tested method of bringing in the gobblers.  But what can we really get out of them?  Just how does one set-up decoys for maximum effectiveness? In order to get the most from their plastic hens, turkey hunters should consider several aspects of the decoy set-up beside their visibility to approaching toms.  These factors include axis of approach, decoy orientation and ranging.


 One time a while back I was onto a pretty nice gobbler, and like the bird described above, he hung-up in clear view, this time about 100 yards out.  He was directly in line with me, decoys exactly between us.  “Great!” you might say, but not so in this case.  When I called to get him moving again, he localized me by scanning beyond the decoys and never came an inch closer.  This occurred even though I was in full camo and in what I consider a pretty decent stand.  How might I have bagged that fellow?  If I’d anticipated the turkey’s axis of approach, I could have offset my decoys by 15 yards or more.  This has worked well for me in the past, likely because it distracts gobblers from my calling position.  It’s just not a great idea to get those turkeys looking in your direction if you can help it, and it only takes a little foresight to prevent in most situations. 

 OK, so you’ve considered the most likely direction from which that fat old boss’ll be coming and you’ve set the spread off-axis so he won’t be looking your way.  Now its time to think about which way he he’ll likely be traveling.  You may think this is nuts, but I’d swear that the older birds are sometimes a bit egotistical.  If they already have hens with them, they might not turn and come in for just a couple more, especially if they think they might hook up with ‘em later.  If you face your decoys in the opposite direction though, it may help to “turn the bird”.  It’s as if some gobblers like the challenge of corralling hard-to-get hens and will move more quickly for a decoy spread that gives that impression.  This makes some sense when you consider that many toms will hold tight if the caller gives them the idea that a hen is a little too eager.

 Well now; the set-up is perfect, off-axis and coy.  The gobbler’s on his way in and you’re ready to shoot.  Finally, WHAM!  You send some lead down-range and… holy smokes! That gobbler manages to slip his head right through your pattern!  This will never happen if you use your decoys as range markers.  My stride is about a yard long. When I reach my stand, I grab my backpack, turn, and march-off twenty good paces.  There I set my first decoy.  Ten more paces and the second one goes in.  Another five and the third (if I decide to use three) gets planted.  With this set up, when that bird gets to the farthest decoy, I know I’ve got to get set.  When he passes the middle one, he’s in range.  I always shoot after he passes the second and before he gets to the closest “hen”.  Any closer than the nearest decoy and my pattern is tight enough that the shot becomes more difficult; beyond the farthest and it’s not a sure thing.  If he doesn’t come closer than the thirty yard decoy, I don’t let go.  It’s that simple. I’ve been using this technique since who-knows-when and I haven’t let a bird go once he entered my kill zone.   Now, I use a three inch 12 gauge and a good old-fashioned factory 30 inch, full-choke barrel.  If you’ve got a three and a half 10 gauge turkey buster with one of those ultra tight choke tubes, you maybe can put that spread out a bit farther… fine.  But always pace off the distance so you know for certain how far you’ll be shooting.  Not only does it give you confidence before you take your shot, but it really does prevent maimed birds and a lot of disappointment.


 So, the next time you’re preparing for a turkey hunt, put as much thought into your decoy spread as you do your blind site.  If you consider the axis of approach of that old tom, your decoys’ orientation, and their use as range markers, you’ll bring your spread to a whole new level.  Now, I know everyone has their opinion and maybe I share mine more often than I should, but I’m convinced these three guidelines for turkey decoy set-up will help you to bag more birds.

Play That Back
Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Play That Back
Dylan R Ainsworth

The passion of preserving my hunting heritage by filmmaking has proven a valuable tool in my adventures afield.

 If you’ve read my article “Creating an Obsession” you may recall the story of my ol’ man’s first tom. At the same time he bagged the 21 pounder, I missed my shot at a jake. Flabbergasted at the reason for my inaccuracy, I reviewed footage of the hunt to determine went wrong. It was only when watching my film that I realized a pine bow was engulfing the barrels of my twenty gauge. This tree limb took my shot and the jake escaped. A hard learned lesson and the brunt of many jokes, forever captured on film.

I once filmed a bear hunt with hounds that required watching the video afterward.  I recall helping the successful hunter drag his bear off Umpire Mountain. At first the Maine native was elated at his kill, but halfway down the mountain I noticed a solemn look on his bearded face. He soon revealed to me that he was not wearing his newly purchased spectacles. In the excitement of chasing the hounds to the tree, sighting in on his target, and caring for his quarry after the shot, he must have knocked them off. The likelihood of ever finding them was minuscule due to the amount of territory we had traversed. I tried to reassure him by observing that 250 dollars, the cost of his glasses, was a reasonable price for a fully guided black bear hunt.

During the viewing of the hunt, I saw the man’s glasses on his face throughout various parts of the video and it reminded me of his misfortune. Reviewing the clip of him approaching the treed bear (ten minutes after the dog handlers, my ol’ man, and I had arrived) the hunter could be seen breathing heavily as he ascended the steep terrain. I could also see his glasses hanging vertically from the collar of his shirt. His weariness led him to lean on a small tree, as he pulled his daypack off his chest and over his head the strap snagged his spectacles and they landed on the forest floor. I felt a moral obligation to try and retrieve the glasses, once I knew where they were located. My ol’ man and I hiked back up the mountain-side, located the spot of the kill, and after a few moments of leaf rustling, I found the lost eyewear. On the way down, we looked out into Victory Basin and reveled at the vastness of this natural marvel. 

The successful hunter had given me his phone number and address in hopes of getting a copy of his hunt on DVD. I called him and relayed the good news. Fortunately, he would be coming to Vermont to pick up his butchered meat and bear skin in a couple of days. I wasn’t at home when he came to pick-up the bifocals, though as reward for my generosity I was left with a hefty roast.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve used video footage to identify specific gobblers, or determine exactly what a particular squirrel or bird was feeding on. Apart from the outdoors I’ve even used video to help locate my wedding band, which was lost amongst hordes of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. Video has become an essential part of my life and its ability to astonish me with its many uses never seems to cease.

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