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May 2009 Member Profile
Thursday, May 14th, 2009

This Month’s Member Profile is on Ted Rutkowski from Michigan.  We caught up with Ted and asked him a few questions about his hunting preferences and the Michigan heritage. 
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HH: Tell us a little about yourself and hunting background.

TR:  As a lifelong Michigan hunter (hence the username Michihunter) and fisherman, I’ve had an abundance of opportunities to participate in some of the best hunting and fishing in the country. I’m a 43 year old husband and father to a great supportive family. I’ve been blessed with two boys that have followed my love for the outdoors and who have also taken up my greatest pleasure- Bow hunting white-tailed deer. But I also love to small game hunt, turkey hunt and fish for Walleye. Fortunately for me, all of these things are plentiful in the great state of Michigan. Another thing that I try to do is have fun. I feel that if you aren’t smiling doing something, chances are you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

HH: What is your favorite type of hunting and why?
  
TR:
My favorite type of hunting would have to be with my compound bow for white tailed deer. Here in MI we are blessed with a 3 month archery season, a large amount of public land, and  plenty of deer. What makes it even more special for me is that both of my sons share in this pleasure. In fact, all 3 of us have often shrugged off firearms hunting in favor of the bow a lot of years. The challenge in having a shorter range of  effectiveness with a bow and witnessing the  success that comes from the practice we put in makes this type of hunting our favorite by far. As can be seen in the above picture of a past Fathers Day shootout,  we’ve been doing this since the boys were just youngsters.  

HH: What advice about this type of hunting can you relay to the members of Heritage Hunters?

TR: Bowhunting presents many challenges that any hunter should take seriously when pursuing their game. Knowing your effective range is the number one factor in this type of hunting. This comes from many hours of practice. And that practice should be done in a manner that allows you to duplicate the types of conditions and shots that you may experience in a real life situation.

Another key to becoming successful with the bow is by actually knowing your bow and how it’s setup and tuned. By become proficient in these things you will learn to know the difference between equipment produced errors and user produced errors. This will lead to not only a successful time with your bow, but a reduced chance at wounding your game. And the latter is something we should all strive for as managers of our resources.

HH: If you could hunt anywhere in the world for any type of animal, where and what would it be for?

TR: Not sure I’d ever leave Michigan on a full time basis but I definitely would love to travel to a few areas in pursuit of game not currently available here in this state. Alaska for Grizzly and Moose, New Zealand for Red Stag,  and Quebec for Caribou are a few of the places that interest me most. Also would love to try my hand at Antelope in Wyoming and Razorbacks in Arkansas.

HH: What are your plans for the 2009 Seasons?

TR: I’ve never been one to actually plan too much in advance. But for 2009, as with most years, there are definitely a few things that are on my calendar. May brings Turkey hunting and Walleye fishing and of course Morel hunting. June, July and August will see more Walleye fishing and some bass and pike fishing thrown in as well. September begins small game and preparation for the October bow opener for deer. And of course October, November and December you’ll find me out in the woods of Michigan sporting my trusty bow in pursuit of both Whitetail and small game.
 
HH: What’s unique about a Michigan Hunting Heritage?

TR: Michigan boasts some of the largest numbers of outdoorsman in the country. We consistently have some of the top harvest numbers of whitetail deer as well as the number of hunters pursuing the same. Not sure about other states, but a lot of schools here actually call November 15th a holiday because that’s when close to a million people  open up our firearm deer season. Of course I’d like to believe that it’s because it’s also my birthday but I truly doubt that that has crossed the minds of our educators.

One other thing that makes this state unique is that we also boast some of the top numbers of fisherman. We either lead or place in the top 3 every year in boater registration. And regardless of where you are in Michigan, you’re never more than 10 miles from a great place to fish.

HH: How are you passing on / or intend to pass on the Hunting Heritage?

TR: I’m a huge advocate of passing on our heritage to our youth./ As such I have been named as youth coordinator in a nationally recognized program called Hoosieroutdoorsman.  We involve ourselves in helping youngsters, who are otherwise unable to, get involved in outdoor activities. Whether it be hunting, fishing, or camping, we are continuously striving to get as many children as possible out of their houses and into the outdoors.

Aside from that, I have been actively involved with my sons and their friends by teaching, mentoring, and taking them out hunting and fishing as often as possible. It seems to have a contagious effect because most of their friends are now avid hunters and fisherman as well.

HH: Can you tell us a little about your favorite hunting moment?

TR: There are just too many to choose from really. But if I had to pick just one moment, it would be this past firearms deer season with my youngest boy David.  He had just turned 14 and he had never connected on a deer yet. It was getting a bit frustrating for him because many of his friends and of course his brother had all been successful prior to turning 14. To make things worse, opening day was as nasty as it’s ever been with rain, snow, and sleet all coming down, (horizontally I might add)  at one point or another during the day.  Even in those conditions my son remained optimistic and it was going to pay off even if at first it didn’t appear that way.  As we walked a tree line, I happened to see the biggest deer I have ever witnessed up close and personal. He stood behind a bunch of trees and apparently didn’t give us any thought.  As we stealthily approached this beast, he began to amble away in a direct line away from us never giving my son a clear shot with his Ithaca Deerslayer. The buck never ran or spooked but instead made sure he never gave a clear shot at his vitals as he walked over a hill and never to be seen again. Although this particular sequence of events never ended in a kill, it was still my second favorite times due to what we witnessed together as a father and son team. But alas, the story does not end there but rather leads us to my all-time favorite experience hunting.

The next day was just as bad weather-wise but we intended to pursue the monster from the day before regardless of the comfort level. . So we went directly to where we felt David’s best opportunity would be at connecting with this deer. As we sat behind a huge oak tree, the wind picked up and the snow began pelting us relentlessly. It was downright miserable and I could sense the disappointment in my son’s eyes. So I pulled out the grunt tube and was attempting to make him smile by playing a goofy tune on it ala a kazoo. Not sure what the name of the tune was but I think I should call it “A Prelude to Whitetail Pleasure” because lo and behold, a scrappy old buck came up on us like a ghost and was less than ten yards from where we sat. Like a seasoned veteran, David shouldered the gun, took aim, and put a perfect shot into the boiler room. Although it wasn’t the monster from the day before, this half racked Michigan buck was none too shabby at all. Success at last!! Not sure a boy could ever smile as much as David did that day but I’m sure I came pretty darn close.

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Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Ted and good luck to you and your sons this season!

Review of the Tru-Brite Binoculars by TruGlo
Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Review of the Tru-Brite Binoculars by TruGlo

TruGlo is most well known for their advanced array of fiber optic sites and shooting accessories. They have added a new product to their arsenal in the Tru-Brite Binocular. We tested the 8 x 42 version (dimensions = 5.5″H x 5.0″ W x 2.12″ D) of these Binoculars and here’s what we thought:

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Specs on the Tru-Brite Binoculars by TruGlo:
Compact roof prism design with phase coated prisms.
Apochromatic (3-element) objectives.
4-element ocular lens assembly.
Long eye relief for use with eyewear.
Twist-up eyecups with click stops.
Click-stop diopter adjustment.
Fully multi-coated.
Phase coated prisms.
High transmission silver coating on prisms.
Hydrophobic coating on objective and oculars.
Waterproof.
Fog-proof.
Shock resistant.
Textured synthetic covering provides a non-slip grip in all weather conditions.
Matte finish on all metal parts
Cleaning kit.
Custom binocular restraint-harness system.
Premium padded bag.

First Impressions: We utilized these Binoculars during our 2008 Bow Season and can honestly say that the view through the Tru-Brite lenses is crisp and ultra clear. Our first impression while looking through these binoculars, during one of our Fall archery practice sessions, was that they feel and view like a much higher priced pair of binocs. They had some heft to them without being too heavy and provided crystal clear vision with a long eye relief.

Eye Relief: Since I wear both contacts and glasses, I wondered how the Tru-brites would fair with eyewear. Once again, I was impressed after using the Tru-brite binocs with my glasses and sunglasses. The true test for Dan and I was when we would ride around glassing for deer in our favorite hunting spots and pass the Tru-brites back and forth (each wanting to check out what is roaming around our stand sites). He’s blessed with better vision than I but we had zero problems quickly adjusting the focus. A quick turn of the central focusing wheel and Bingo!, crystal clear vision. The winged rubber eye cups also helped with comfortable placement on our eye sockets and the ocular focus is stiff enough to not worry about accidental rotation going in/out of the case.

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Lenses and Prisms: The Tru-Brites have a hydrophobic coating on the objectives and oculars as well as phase coated prisms. We did not notice any blurring at the edges of the field of view like is common with the less expensive binoculars.

Coating: The textured synthetic coating gives the user a sure grip in all weather conditions and adds to the shock resistance and waterproof characteristics of these binocs.

Accessories: The accessories included with the Tru-Brites is what really sets these binocs apart from their competition. They come with a sharp looking padded camo bag / case that opens and closes via a magnet system for smooth and quiet operation. Inside the case is a variety of pockets in which to stuff whatever important items you feel you need. Also incorporated into the design of the case is a restraint-harness system that can be worn while scouting or during the hunt itself. The harness system keeps the binoculars close to the chest and the magnet system allows for super quick access to the binoculars in the case. Truly a brilliant design!

Our marks on this Product!

Performance: 5 out of 5: Great eye relief with and without glasses providing a crisp, clear image

Ease of Use: 5 out of 5: Simple and precise focusing abilities make the Tru-brites very user friendly.

Features: 5 out of 5: The Tru-brites encompass all of the features you would want in a high quality pair of optics and the extra case and harness system included is hard to beat!

Overall Value: 5 out of 5: A price tag of around $320 suits these Binoculars very well. In our opinion, they perform like binoculars that cost twice that!

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!

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