Thursday, May 31, 2007


We are all guilty of with dull hooks. I believe more fish are lost due to dull hooks than all of the other reasons combined. I went through my tackle box recently and I must admit that most of the hooks needed some work. The surprising thing is that it took very little time to bring the hooks back into fish catching condition.

You may be wondering what constitutes a sharp hook. It's simple, if the hook tip does not immediately bite into your fingernail, it is not sharp. Getting the hook sharp is a pretty simple process. All it takes is a few swipes along the bevel of the point with a file or hook sharpener. It doesn't take much. Remember, there is not a lot of metal there to deal with. Too much filing and you may ruin the hook.

A habit that you should acquire is to sharpen your hooks while fishing. This is the part most fisherman forget. There are times when I'm fishing a river that I will sharpen the hook every time before casting back out. Depending on the conditions you are fishing in you may have to do the same thing. At least check the hook quickly. If it doesn't bite your nail give it a quick swipe of the file. You never know, the next cast may be the fish of a lifetime.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Clearing the Path

We have all been there. Laying in bed late at night or early in the morning and all of sudden we here a bang or crack in our house. A sound that is not familiar. Our pulse rate increases and our senses go on high alert. We lay there trying to figure out what made the sound. Temporarily, a sense of fear may have even kicked in. We get out of bed and investigate to find that nothing is out of the ordinary and the sound must have been from house settlement. This scenario happens because we are very familiar with the sounds our house makes. We know what the furnace sounds like, what the water softener sounds like during recharge and how the refrigerator sounds when it turns on. It is the unfamiliar sounds that get our attention.

Now put yourself into the world of a deer. An animal that is very intimate with their surroundings and its' sounds. Their survival depends on highly tuned senses. What happens when they are laying in their bed and hear an unfamiliar sound?

Most deer hunters are very careful concerning scent but the sound factor also needs to be considered. You may have spent the summer scouting the perfect stand location but it will do you no good if you can't get to the stand quietly. It is important to take the time to clear the path to and from your deer stand. Having an alternative route cleared is also a good idea.

You don't want to take a chainsaw and clearcut a path but removing deadfall and cutting face height branches out of the way is advisable. Anything that may cause an alarming sound should be dealt with prior to the hunting season. You should be able to walk to and from your stand undetected. Take the time now and Mr. Deer will have no reason to swivel his ears towards you.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Eyes Have It

When hunting waterfowl a good indicator of whether or not the duck or goose is within shooting range is to look for the eyes. If you can see their eyes take em. When you're in the thick cover trying to spot a deer, look for the eye. The roundness and color of the eye stands out against the mostly vertical plant material. When taking a picture, either of wildlife or people, focus on the eye. If the eye is in sharp focus the picture will look great.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Doe Scent

Scents have been used for deer hunting for as long as we have chased the mystical whitetail across the prairie and through the woods. There are numerous commercial scents available but nothing works as well as the real thing. Several years ago a successful local hunter started to frequent my brothers butcher shop to collect the tarsal glands from the rear legs of doe's that were brought in. The fresher the better. If you choose to try this be sure to handle these glands with care to avoid contamination with human scent. Wearing latex gloves is a must. Once the glands are removed, seal them in a plastic bag and keep them refrigerated until ready to use. Hanging a few of these "scent sacs" close to your stand should produce desirable results. NOTE: Check your local laws to make sure that there are no restrictions on using this type of attractant.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Kid Challange

The future of our sporting life depends on the involvement of kids. Hunting, fishing and trapping are not school sports and many kids have no opportunity to experience the great outdoors. These kids need our help and I challange everyone reading this to take a kid fishing, hunting or trapping. Even one afternoon in the field could be enough to light the fire inside of a kid that will last a lifetime. Taking your own kids into the outdoors is great but it would even be better if you found a kid in the neighborhood whose parents don't hunt or fish. Without our involvement these kids may never get the opportunity to experience the joys that we do when we spend time in the great outdoors. Go ahead, take the challange, maybe you'll gain as much from the experience as the lucky kid you take along.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Going a good way

I'm not afraid of heights but the idea of falling out of a tree scares the heck out of me. Given the choice I would choose sitting my behind on the ground anyday. In my opinion no deer is worth getting injured over. More and more hunters are choosing the ground blind option these days. There are numerous portable blinds available on the market to choose from. My problem with the portable blinds is that they don't fit into the natural surroundings very well and they cost a lot of money. My fear is that I'll spend $200.00 to $400.00 for a blind and then have someone decide that they want it more than me and steal it. I remember as a child hunting ducks that we always made our blinds. Most of our shooting was pass shooting between several sloughs. We would collect fallen tree branches and whatever else was available in the area. Items that looked like they belonged. The blinds that we ended up with were quite impressive and very effective. While hunting ducks we would have all kinds of critters, including deer, pass by our blinds well within bow range. My suggestion is that you take the time to build several ground blinds using native material on the property you hunt, with permission of course. I think you will find that the blinds are more comfortable, more effective and a whole lot of fun to make.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers

If you want to read a great book, a book that will change the way you approach fishing, then you owe it to yourself to buy a copy of "Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers" published by Fishing Facts magazine. The content of this book was written mostly by Buck Perry, the father of structure fishing. This book will provide you a foundation of fishing knowledge that can't be learned from TV fishing shows. I have read a lot of books about hunting and fishing and nothing comes close to the knowledge presented in this book, plus it was fun to read.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Quiet Please

You can learn a lot about fishing at the library. Not only from the books but by how quiet you are. Fish are extremely sensitive to sound vibrations. Come roaring up to your fishing spot, banging around your gear in the boat and talking loudly can spell disaster for your fishing efforts. The same holds true for bank fisherman. I could write all day to try and explain this but a better way to learn how sensitive fish are is to try a little experiment. The next time you are at the bait store, walk slowly up to the minnow tank, look into the water and wait for the minnows to settle down. Now softly, and I mean very softly tap the tank. Enough said.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cleaning Cats

Forget everything you have heard about how to clean a catfish. You know the routine....nail the fish to a tree, cut around its head, use a plier to grab the skin and peel down etc. etc. etc. I will never understand why people go through all of this just to clean a catfish. Instead of this drugery grab your electric fillet knife and procede to fillet the catfish just as you would a walleye. This is the only way that I clean cats, from the small ones to the big ones. To make the job a little easier I'll cut off the sharp pectoral fin on the larger cats. This unfriendly fin has a tendency to stick straight out during the filleting process. Bleeding a catfish will also make the filleting job cleaner and the resulting fillets much more attractive. Just make a cut into and then down through the back side of the gills. After you are finished filleting, soak the fillets in a lightly salted waterbath overnight in the fridge and you will be rewarded with nice firm white fillets that will rival most other freshwater fish.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of the great mother's out there. Being Mother's Day I thought I would pass along some old wisdom that I was taught years ago by a dog breeder. He told me that in nature the canine Mother is responsible for feeding the young pups. Hunting is instilled into the Mother more so than the Father of the pups. The Father, which is of no surprise, is primarily interested in, yes you guessed it, breeding. This being the case the dog breeder said that with everything being equal, choose the female pup when buying a hunting dog. Over the years I have asked dog owners their opinion on this subject and most agree that their female dogs have all been better hunting dogs. Did I listen to this advise, No. My current dog is a male British Lab. He has been a great dog and as you can see in the picture he has the pointing trait which is pretty cool for a lab. Did I make the wrong decision getting a male? Not a chance. I would Love Charlie even if his nose fell off.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Get Organized

Fishing season opens tomorrow in Minnesota and I've seen many guys rummaging through their garages getting ready for the big day. Seeing this activity made me wonder how many of these guys are ready to start throwing things because they can't find everything they are looking for. Things have a way of disappearing over the winter and by next fall the same guys will be looking for their hunting stuff that disappeared over the summer. Worse yet is when you get to your destination and realize that you forgot an important item. Take the time, either now or in the very near future to establish a dedicated location in your house that will become the permanent storage location for all of your sporting goods, a personal warehouse if you will. Take an inventory and make lists of everything you own for your sporting activities. Buy storage boxes or better yet get a plastic storage cabinet like the kind you use to store garden equipment in. They are fairly cheap and most can be locked. Now that you have your storage area and storage container(s) its time to put everything in its place. A checkout sheet is not a bad idea when you are pulling items out of your inventory. Treat your warehouse like they do for tools in high school shop classes. If you borrow out an item make sure you write down who got it and when. Make sure that after each trip you check your items back in. Another good idea is to make a trip list of all the items you will need. Adjust this list during a trip or two until you get it down to exactly what you need and don't need for each outdoor activity. Eventually, when a buddy calls to go on a fishing trip or to look for shed antlers you can say sure, give me a minute and I'll be ready. You can go down to your warehouse, pull out your list of needed items, pack them up and be on your way, confident that you have everything you need.

The Right Equipment

Money, money, money. If we had all we needed we could buy every nice new item that is made available to us from the numerous manufacturers of sporting goods. Every magazine and TV show that we see is loaded with all of the latest and greatest toys for us sportsman to drool over. I've bought my share of new toys and I can tell you one thing, most of it is no longer in my possession. The old adage that there are two kinds of fishing lures 1. The kind that catch fish 2. The kind that catch fisherman, is as true today and it was years ago and will be in the future. We vote with our dollars and with that we should be doing some, if not a lot of research before laying done our hard earned cash. I have always been an advocate of buying the absolute best you can afford. Trust me on this, if you want a new outdoor product but can't afford the best that money can buy, then you would be better off waiting until you can afford it. Save some more money so you can get the best. I would rather experience delayed gratification in order to buy the best equipment possible rather than buying a sub-par item because that was all I could afford at the time. Experience has taught me that the second route is always more expensive in the long run. Take your time to research what is the best and then start saving for it. It may take you longer to develop a first rate personal inventory but the added user enjoyment will be well worth it. There is nothing better than using top quality products in the field.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A New Blog

Well, this is the first entry into the OutdoorU Blog. Hopefully over the next several weeks, months and maybe years we'll get to be like old friends. My goal is to fill this Blog with useful information, tips and outdoor news that will help you become a better hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman. I won't promise earth shaking new information all of the time but I will promise that the information posted will be time tested, proven in the field and relevant to our sporting life. With that, lets start the journey together.