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Archive for August, 2008

What Makes a Successful Hunt?
Friday, August 29th, 2008

What Makes a Successful Hunt?
By: Paul J. Brown

The definition to success will range as widely as the personality of the individuals you ask that question.  To some it means taking an animal of trophy quality, to others it just means getting game on the ground.  To me it at least means seeing game but mostly the relaxation that comes with being out in the woods away from work, phones, faxes and emails.  On a few occasions I am able to share these experiences with my son and/or friends.  This year for the first time in my life I actually went on some guided hunts for the opportunity to see and do some things I have always only dreamed about.  Lets face it I’m not getting any younger and I don’t want to die wishing I would’ve.

Only one of these trips ended with a downed animal but I enjoyed them all none the less.  I developed a great friendship with the guides and their families, saw some magnificent country and even animals I had never been that close to before in the wild.  Each trip became an adventure into itself, different locations provide unique terrain and different species abundance.  I could never fault the guides for the lack of taking an animal on the last 2 trips, it had nothing to do with their lack of effort to put me on an animal.  It was mostly weather related, or me with an inured shoulder and the fact that a seismograph crew moved in on us didn’t help in keeping the animals in our valley…. For some reason they are shy of helicopters and dynamite charges.  Also prior to scheduling a hunt check local forecasts, rain keeps most animals bedded and deep snow can drive them to lower elevations which are usually inaccessible patches of private land.  Keep in mind guided or not this is still hunting and anything can happen, game activity and availability are never guaranteed.

Which brings me to deer season here at home.  I hunt smaller patches of private land in Southwest Mississippi that have historically yielded taking, shots at or at least sightings of quality bucks along with seeing fairly large quantities of deer.  The season started out normally, fairly cool weather, buck rubbings and deer in view.  As the time for the rut neared you would have sworn somebody dug a hole and hid the deer.  Not withstanding elevated temps that even had the turkeys gobbling on some days but for some reason even rut signs disappeared.  On the few cool weekends and after work hunts that happened along I did spot a few younger bucks that needed to age and even a few does.  Not long ago I watched a Mossy Oak Obsession show in which Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland emphasized patience.  I will be the first to admit mine was wearing thin.

The moral to this story is I’ve spent a lot of time in the field this year and quite a few dollars on guided excursions with little to show for it in the way of game harvest.  But I have a lot to show for it in terms of just being there, making memories, enjoying what life gave me and planting seeds of friendship that will grow for an eternity.  Don’t judge the success of your hunt by the harvest, as I’ve always been told…”A bad day hunting is better than a good day working” enjoy the outdoors and its beauty for what it is.  Make a new friend, take a kid, your dad, wife, uncle, neighbor or the old guy down the road who hauled you around when you were young to take you hunting.  Share the experience.

Heritage Hunters Apparel
Thursday, August 14th, 2008

COMING SOON!

America’s Frugal Sportsman – August 2008
Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Hat
By Hollister DeLong

Hey y’all. This time I am going to be writing about optics.  There is nothing better to startan argument with than optics. But before we start the arguing; I have a couple of items.  They deal with the trip to sporting goods store and the possible nightmare that awaits.
 
It was always the practice that quality sporting goods store employed personnel that were trained or at least had experience in the items that they were in care of. Then came big box mentality and a new meaning for customer service. I am sure many of you have agonized, trying to get a simple question answered about a product you were interested in, only to have the clerk tell you they were filling in at the Sporting Goods counter, usually they were in the golf shoe department aahhhhhhh!

I guess I would not be a good marketing person, because if a person did not know anything about Sporting Goods…they would not be in there. Just last week I was in a large chain Sporting Goods store looking through the rifles, for a steal. I do find them every once in a while. I wanted to see a particular weapon and asked the clerk for assistance. His name tag indicated he was the Hunting Lodge Manager…ok…so could I see the 799 Remington that was advertised? Well, his response was “Ah, is that a rifle or shotgun?” Friends that is your clue to leave immediately and look for a local mom and pop shop to spend your hard earned money at. I cannot fathom a store or chain of stores so ignorant to have a totally unqualified person in charge of selling lethal weapons. How can they answer an inexperienced person’s questions if they do not know the answer themselves? All too often, they simply  fabricate a plausible and believeable answer, even if it is out of left field.
 
I have observed this a number of times. It reminds me of a used car lot in the late 1960’s. All the clerk needs is the yellow and green plaid sports coat.
 
“Do we have deer rifles? Of course we do! We have some of the best deer rifles in the county. This is a Winchester…(he looks down) I’m sorry, Remington. It’s the long hours, I swear sometimes I don’t even know my own name. That’s why I wear a name tag…hahahaha…This rifle is in 338 Winchester Magnum, perfect for whitetail deer and it’s on sale! Why yes, your 12 year-old will be to handle this little beauty. I sold one of these to a lady at my church just last week and she loves it!”
 
No sir, I will be happy to pay a few dollars more to get the service I expect when hunting items are concerned. No one wants to spend less on anything than I do. But there are times that spending less actually costs more. If you know exactly what you are looking for and how to properly use it, then the big box store can, sometimes, save you money. What many people do not realize is that quite a bit of the “sale” merchandise can very well be last year’s stock from some other store or warehouse. Buying left-over merchandise only makes sense if the priced cut is dramatic. I am not objectionable to buying certain outdated items, as long as that item is not scents, attractants or other items that lose there potency with time, which is why many scent manufacturers tell you to discard the scents at the end of your hunting season. Come next season, they have lost their punch. You have to ask the clerk if they are fresh for this year. If you are lucky, some manufacturers, that they carry, date their products.

I am about 5 Maine miles off my topic for this column. A Maine mile can be anywhere from a mile to 15 miles, depending on who gave you the directions! It’s abow ta mile, ayuh”

Now folks are thinking about new optics for hunting season, instead of last January when those optics were collecting dust on the store shelves. That’s okay, optics are necessary for many folks, me among them. Where the arguing comes in is over which optics are “best”. Good grief, how I despise that word. Best for who? The only person who can say what optics are best for you is…you. Do not listen to some guy on a hunting channel that says his scope is the “best”…he is paid to say that. Do not listen to some friend who tells you what you should buy. And especially do not listen to the kid from the golf shoe department telling you which one is the “best” buy.
 
I am asked that very question all the time. My answer is always the same. I can only give you an idea of the optics, in your price range, that I find are good quality and will do the job. I would do that if I worked for the big box store. Tell me a range for your optic budget and I will suggest some for you to physically look through. See which one suits you best, as far as clarity and brightness. That’s what it boils down to folks. Forget the ads and hype. Yes Zeiss scopes, generally, are superior in optic quality to a low end scope from anyone. Does that mean you should run out and buy a Zeiss…not at all. Optics, more than many items, are priced according to the quality of the process that produced the lenses (the optic in optics). But if you have $50, $150, $350, whatever your budget says you can spend, to buy a scope or binoculars, it is imperative to find items in that range, pick them up and look through them. Then you can make an intelligent decision. “These will work,” I am attempting to put together some optics in the various price ranges and let you know what I feel about them. All this will be is a guide. How they look to me may not be how they look to you. Here is a quick case and point: Back in the late 80’s, a gunshop owner friend of mine convinced me to order a Leupold 3-9X40 Vari-x II for $349. He said it is the “best” scope going. Ok, I ordered it and he mounted it for me. I sighted in on an overcast day, but I felt the scope was a little dark and had a brownish tinge to it. I mentioned this to my friend who told me it was a design feature, great in snowy conditions. I have not purchased anything there since and the Leupold went down the road. Those scopes and the models that followed enjoy a large fan base. But, my eyesight does not match up with them.

A couple of years ago, I needed a cheap scope for my son’s muzzleloader. He could only hunt a couple of days (he is in the Army and was in Afghanistan at the time). I went on EBay and won a BSA Catseye 3.5-10X44 and installed it on Tyler’s smokepole. I was shocked! It is extremely bright, extremely clear, adjusts perfectly and was $35!! The scope works so well, Tyler wants it left on his gun. Sure, I might have gotten lucky. But I would have still felt better if it were not as good than I felt with a $350 scope I could not use!

That is what prompted me to put together a “guide”. That and listening to a clerk at the big box store tell a customer he should buy the Nikon 4-12, that was on special (it was over-priced to begin with and now they were scrambling to sell it). He looked the customer in the eyes and said “You are new to hunting, then yes sir, THIS is the perfect scope. Sight it in at a 100 yards and, look here, see where it is marked 4, 5, 6, right up to 12? Well, there you go. You see a deer up to 400 yards just hold right on him. Further than that, just match how far you think he is with the number on this ring, right up tom 1200 yards.” You cannot make up something like that. 1968 Used Car Salesman, alright. “Yes sir, this little beauty will do everything you want a car to do, and at the best price in town, my word on it. I will even throw in a hat, breeze and tunes at no charge. Whadda ya say?  In case you were not around then, hat, breeze and tunes translates vinyl top, air conditioning and radio. 

When you head outdoors, take a youngster with you. Remember, enjoy the outdoors, just do it cheaply. God Bless.

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Thursday, August 7th, 2008

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Ethics Check – August 2008
Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Ethics Check – August 2008
by Bob Peck

“A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.”
 – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Very few modern hunters under the age of 45 have ever heard of Aldo Leopold.  To the young, if they have heard of him he’s some old dude in black and white photographs who had something to do with conservation. Asking hunters to pick up books on conservation is like asking them to attend an anti-PETA rally.  We get all riled up about anti-hunting groups trying to stop us but we don’t jump in and immerse ourselves unless we’re immediately threatened.  This doesn’t mean we don’t care it just means the problem needs to be parked in our living room for us to organize and act.

It doesn’t take much to set off an ethics “bomb”.  Hunters do it all the time as we in fight over baiting, high fences, herd management, property rights and whole long laundry list of divisive issue.  We all have an opinion of what’s right and what’s wrong and mostly we’re not shy about expressing those opinions without prompting.  It’s as if our opinions are absolutes and should be followed by everyone but secretly we all know that’s not the case.

What is ethical to some is often painted in black and white absolutes.  To others they see gray. Ethics often boils down to what’s right and wrong.  This is the proverbial fork in the logging road.  Leopold put it this way:

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

In the next few columns I’ll be plucking choice real world and true scenarios to ignite some healthy discussion.  Trust me.  We won’t agree, we’ll likely get mad at each other but hopefully with some care and respect we might just learn something from each other so play nice and be civil and before anyone asks, my opinion is not the only opinion.

So I ask you in this maiden voyage Ethics Check to consider what is “right” and what is ethical about the following true scenario:

You find yourself hunting in a familiar spot without a doe tag but just as you’re ready to pack it in along comes a gravely wounded doe.  It’s not clear exactly how the animal was wounded from your vantage point in the tree stand but it’s clear from the limping and large amounts of blood caked on the fur that this doe is suffering terribly and will be blessed if she makes it through the next 24 hours.  Since you’ve hunted the area for years you know the coyote problem is ongoing.  The doe is stopping every 10 yards and looking over her shoulder.  Eventually she decides to bed down within 20 yards and in clear view of your tree stand.  What, if anything do you do?  Go home?  End the misery?  Call the game warden?

Tis the Season for Ticks – August 2008
Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

‘Tis the season for Ticks!
by Kelly Hayes (Co-Owner of Code 3 Game Calls www.code3calls.com)

The spring and summer months in the woods and fields bring with it sunshine, warm breezes and the dreaded…….Tick. There are many species of ticks in the United States to include the Deer Tick, Western Black Legged Tick, Lone Star Tick, American Dog Tick or Wood Tick and the Brown Tick.

Ticks are found in all types of climates and normally hang out in tall grasses or wooded areas to await a passing host. A common belief is that a tick can jump. They CANNOT jump and can only be passed on by physical contact. Ticks can drop from a branch or overhead limb but they cannot jump. Deer trails and horse paths are prime tick locations.

Ticks can carry several types of diseases. Two of the most popular diseases associated with ticks are Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

(Photo Below: Adult Deer Tick)

Outdoorsmen and Hunters should make it a regular practice to check for ticks upon returning from an outing in potential tick locations. Its easier to have someone assist in checking for ticks as they like spots that may not be viewable by the person who has the tick on their person. Examples of tick preferred locations are the underarm, creases in skin, behind the ears and the base of the neck. Ticks can obviously imbed in any area on the body but, these are some common areas.

How should you remove a tick once you find one? DO NOT BURN THE TICK! This is a common practice and can actually cause the tick to imbed further into the host. The best way to remove a tick is to grasp the head of the tick with a pair of tweezers if possible. Pull firmly until the tick lets go. Do not twist the tick as you are removing it. Be extra careful to not squeeze the tick as it can cause bacteria to be left behind in the person that can cause infection. Be sure the entire tick is removed and a part has not been left behind. Clean the area with alcohol and be sure to wash your hands after removal and disposal of the tick.

There are some precautions that you can take to help detect ticks and help prevent tick bites. Wear long sleeve shirts and pants in the woods. Some people suggest light colored clothing as this will make the tick standout on the body. This can be a problem for the hunter and outdoorsmen who routinely utilize camo clothing that consises in skin, behind the ears and the base of the neck. Ticks can obviously imbed in any area on the body but, these are some common areas.

There is no fool-proof tick prevention plan available today except staying inside and out of the woods……and to all the outdoorsmen and hunters out there this is obviously not an option. If you follow some suggested prevention techniques this can help you remain “tick-free”. As always, be safe and enjoy the outdoors.

Member Profile – August 2008
Friday, August 1st, 2008

NOTE: Since Dan and I will be heading down to the State of New Jersey for a family reunion later this month, we thought we’d stick with the Jersey theme for this Member Profile.

This Month’s Member Profile is on Jim Kinlan (AKA Jersey Whitetails) from New Jersey (of Course!). Jim is an avid hunter who’s been a regular on our forum. He is also an outdoor videographer and recently produced his first DVD called Jersey Whitetail. This is what Jim had to say about his hunting heritage:

HH: How did you get started Hunting?

Jim: My father has been hunting since the late 50’s, early 60’s. As far back as I can remember I was around the hunting camps and the deer. When I was a little guy I couldnt wait until my Dad came home from gun week, he always had deer on the old Bronco. My friends would always come over to see the bucks hanging upside down in the old garage. This was most likely the seed that was planted in me.

HH: What is your favorite type of hunting and why?

Jim: I would have to say that bow-hunting deer has to be my favorite type of hunting. I started bow hunting in 1982 using a browning nomad stalker #1 recurve with cedar shaft arrows and the famous Fred Bear broad-heads. I had gone out every season since the 1982 Fall bow missing my first deer opening day. I had missed plenty of them until opening day of the New Jersey Fall bow where i connected with a very large doe out of the south Jersey pine lands. Dont get me wrong i love my shotgun hunting and black powder hunting but overall its bow hunting that is my biggest passion.

HH: What is the biggest piece of advice you can give to our members about
hunting these creatures (from question above)?

Jim: Wow great question…. I have hunted in NY and PA. There is nothing like a south Jersey pine deer. I feel they are the smartest deer walking out there. They are so heavily hunted and that’s what makes them smart. Now the pine lands are thick, very thick. On average a small spike buck my go 1 and a half YO to 2 and a half YO. I have taken many 4 and 6 pointers that were aged by their teeth as 4 to 5 YO deer and thats all they were, 4 and 6 pointers. Its not uncommon to take a nice 8 or ten pointer that my be 6 or 7 YO or better. That is the biggest reason they are smart, they get old. Now the north jersey deer can be 8 points and just a year and a half. as in our video JERSEY WHITETAIL the opening hunt small 8 pointer 1 1/2 YO, we shoot a small pine buck in november and he was every-bit of a 3 YO buck. Different regions, different deer, different tactics. the biggest piece of advice you can give to the members of Heritage Hunters is patience, patience, patience… Just remember a big buck has nowhere to go and all day to get there and that a buck or a big buck is somewhere all the time. In the pines we do our scouting but we dont over scout, if you push out that big buck you wont even know it, you’ll be hunting dead sign!

HH: You have you own website (www.jerseywhitetails.com). Can you tell us a little about it and what you’re trying to accomplish?

Jim: I own and operate jerseywhitetails.com. I have been filming deer hunting on my own since 1990. Within the past few years i have taken it to the next level. I purchased lots of top-end camera gear and began filming the hunt. Jerseywhitetails is a web page that supports what i do along with my friends and family. You will find all of our photo’s and videos on the web page and it’s solely Jersey footage. Don’t get us wrong, we have posted photos from some of our pals on a few out of state deer, we like just about anything about deer hunting.  Click here to check out Jerseywhitetails.com

HH: Many of your hunts are self-filmed. What advice would you give to someone looking to get into filming their own hunts?

Jim: Yes, many of my hunts ARE selfed filmed. I dont have too many folks film me while hunting, however I do enjoy filming other hunters. I wouldnt say i have mastered filming a self filmed hunt but I do think I’m good at it. My first kill on video was in 1990 (Fall bow). I stopped by my buddies house to see if he wanted to go, but he could not. I left telling him it was going to be a spine shot and on video. I had made my own camera arms. Remember a successful hunter is creative! I had an aluminum angle screwed to the tree with a tree step with the center of a tripod zip-tied to the angle. I would try to position the camera to where i thought the deer would come from and go from there. shortly after i was in the stand i had a huge doe walk right under my stand and it was a spine shot, the deer went right down.
Now with todays cameras they have flip out screens which is a huge bonus when filming. You don’t have to move to look into a view finder. I have many hunts from my early years, some real good and some real bad. There are many smaller camera arms on the market for the self filmer.. remember what you plan will happen during your hunt usually never happens. Today I use two cameras when I do a self filmed hunt. A Sony pd170 which is a large camera and a smaller sony 8mm camera. I sometimes have both cameras on the same camera arm, one on the hunter and the other on the deer. I also use a hand control for the pd170. This hand controller alows me to limit my movement in the tree. the main camera can be as far as three feet away from me and I can simply operate it with the hand controller. This has made my self filmed hunts much better. I have to say it is a real pain in the butt lugging all of this gear in the woods with me and setting it up. You can simply go to a store, spend under 300 bucks and get a great camera and find a nice camera arm for under 50 bucks. Go in your backyard and play with the camera on the tree arm this will make you a better hunter/filmer… Before I leave this question, there has been many times where if I tried to get the shot and thought the deer were going to see me, I would forget the camera and take the shot. When I would play it back I would regret not following through with the camera. Take your time and video your hunt. Shaky footage is no good and over zoomed footage is not that great also unless your filming bigfoot or the jersey devil.

HH: Why do you think more people don’t bring the video camera on the hunt with them?

Jim: WHY? Most guys or hunters are not into videos, if they don’t buy them they won’t film them. There are a lot of older hunters out there and I think thats great but if they dont have a cell phone or computer they don’t have a camera. Another reason is that most guys don’t want to carry extra gear in the stand with them and worry about getting the video shot. Most importantly, I feel lots of guys don’t have much time off to hunt so when they get a day out they just want to hunt and score.

HH: Out of the many hunts you have captured on video, is there a particular hunt that is your favorite? Why is that?

Jim: Tuff question, very tuff question. The best hunts I have filmed are my kids. Kathleen when she shot at her first buck, short spike on the ground out of the tent. She knocked him down and we never found him. She was so pumped and extremely dissapointed not to find him. Yes, Jesses’ hunt on jersey whitetail! That hunt says it all. NOTE: If you haven’t seen this hunt that Jim is speaking of here, you owe it to yourself to take a look. It is a hunt with his 10 year old son shooting his first deer with a bow. Priceless!

There are so many hunts! I have on older 8mm video but hard to put it on the computer. Another that stands out is from the 1995 winter bow season. I meet a great friend of mine. I tell him im going to shoot a 12 pointer and we both laugh. I get set up in the tree in a thick south Jersey pine cedar swamp. Shortly after i have a doe and fawn walking under me. I’m filming them and out of nowhere the doe jerks her head up and stairs looking at my left. After a few minutes she drops to her belly and crawls out of there fast. I knew right away what was coming, the MAN, the big boy. I could hear this buck coming, banging his rack off of every thing he passed. I new he was going to come within ten yards and the wind was in my face. Out steps this giant 5 by 5 buck with split browtines! I think, “There’s my 12 pointer”. A perfect broadside shot at ten yards looking away from me. You can see 3/4 of me in the camera with the buck. I draw back and miss! …. Like i said there are so many hunts…

HH: If you had the opportunity to hunt anything, anywhere, what and where
would it be? What hunting implement would you use on this hunt?

Jim: One day i would like to go to the big Northern woods or to the Milk River for a giant Whitetail buck. I would love to take it with my recurve bow if possible.

HH: What are your plans for the upcoming season?

Jim: We have already started filming our second Whitetail production. We have filmed some summertime deer but not too much. The Ticks and Chiggers are way out of control and I don’t like them. If we get the kills on video this year we will do it again.

HH: What are some aspects of hunting in NJ that make this state a special part of your hunting heritage?

Jim: The hunting world does not recognize New Jersey as a record deer producing state but as we live and hunt here we know different. New Jersey has a quality deer population and many a great buck have been taken in the Garden State. You can hunt the south Jersey pine deer or make a trip up to north Jersey and hunt the mountain deer. There are also many deer management areas you can hunt throughout the state, not to mention that there are almost 6 months of continous hunting here.

HH: How do you plan on sharing or preserving your hunting heritage this year?

Jim: Simple, film, film, film, film! Document everything, photo everything. Make the hunt last forever!

Well said Jim, “Make the Hunt last forever”, well said!

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