Friday, June 29, 2007

Freefalling for Panfish

When the bite gets tough try lightening up. Get rid of any terminal tackle and weight. Going to just a hook and worm may do the trick.

Cast out and let the worm freefall to the bottom. The action of the worm falling is usually when the fish will take the bait. You must watch your line for the slightly movement and be ready to set the hook.

Adding a bobber up the line a ways is ok if you need the extra weight to make an effective cast but go as small as you can.

Saving Tackle

Sunfish and Crappies love to hang out in think cover, especially around sunken logs. Getting hung up and breaking off tackle is a pain and one way to reduce your losses is to weaken your hooks.

By taking the temper out of your hooks you can pull your rig loose with relative ease. Once you're free, straighten the hook back out and get back to fishing.

Take a lighter or match and heat the hook up until it is "light red", cool it off and you're good to go. Weakening the hook in this manner will leave the hook strong enough for panfish yet weak enough to pull loose if you get hung up.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Catch & Release Advice

This is an excellent guide for catch & release fisherman. This information was from a post on ND Outdoors & Beyond

  • Decide to release the fish as soon as you hook it.
  • Generally, land the fish quickly and don't play it to exhaustion.
  • Set the hook quickly to reduce the likelihood the fish will swallow the bait.
  • Bring a fish in slowly from deep water to help it adjust to changing pressure.
  • Don't use barbed or rusty hooks.
  • Keep your release tools close by.
  • Handling Your Catch
  • Leave the fish in the water if you can and use a tool to remove the hook.
  • Keep the fish from thrashing without using a net if there is anyway you can.
IF you must handle a fish:
  • Use a wet rag or glove.
  • Turn it on its back and cover its eyes to calm it.
  • Don't put your fingers in the eyes or gills of the fish.
  • Avoid removing mucous or scales.
  • Get the fish back in the water as quickly as possible.
  • Handle each fish carefully to avoid person injury.
Removing the Hook
  • If the hook is very deep within the fish or it can't be removed quickly, cut the leader close to the fish's mouth
  • Back the hook out the opposite way it went in.
  • Use needle-nose pliers, hemostats, or a hookout to remove the hook and protect your hands.
  • For a larger fish in the water, slip a gaff around the leader and slide it to the hook. Lift the gaff upward while pulling downward on the leader
  • Do not jerk or pop a leader to break it -- it injures vital organs in the fish.
The Final Moments
  • Place the fish in the water gently supporting the mid-section and tail until it swims away.
  • Resuscitate an exhausted fish by moving it back and forth to force water through its gills.
FOR SALTWATER OR DEEP WATER FISH ONLY: When releasing fish that cannot right itself or is showing a distended air bladder the bladder should be gently punctured:
  • Gently insert a thin oint (knife blade, wire or ice pick) through the side of the fish immediately behind the upper part of the pectoral finbase. This is usually directly below the fourth or fifth spine.
  • Let the air escape without pressing on the fish and put it in the water to let it swim away.

    Watch the fish when released. If it doesn't swim away, recover it and try again.
  • Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Camp Cooking

    With all the talk about hunting and fishing I thought it was time to learn how to do some camp cooking. I stepped back in history to learn how they used to cook on the trail, except that I used purchased coals. As you can see in the pictures I got out the Dutch Oven and tried my hand at this tried and true method of cooking for the first time.

    Lets just say that if you have not had Peach Cobbler from a Dutch Oven you have not lived...What a treat! Every sportsman should learn how to cook by this method.

    Dutch oven cooking is a practical method to use when you are in camp or at home. It takes very little equipment, the learning curve is pretty low and the results are fantastic.

    My advice is to go out and buy an oven made by Lodge. They are the the best quality ovens I have found. Get the pre-seasoned versions of their cookware. I've seasoned new cast iron before and it's a pain to get right. Next get a video on Dutch Oven cooking. You can learn more in a half-hour video then you could in several camp outings.

    If you could smell the picture and taste the cobbler you would agree that learning to use a Dutch Oven would be well worth your time. I think I'll go have seconds.

    Elk hunting with thermals

    Here is a tip submitted by Kevin Paulson from

    When hunting elk there is no need for scent control! Walking up and down
    mountains with a scent lock suite or carbon suit is only going to get you
    covered in sweat. Chasing elk is hard work and if you want to be successful
    you need to learn how to hunt with the wind and to watch the thermals. In
    most situations in the morning and once the sun goes down, the thermals are
    going to be headed down the mountain. During early morning once the sun
    hits the valley floor, the thermals are going to change and come rushing up
    the mountain. If you want a bull during archery season you are going to
    have to place yourself to the left or right of the elk herd.

    Heal Thy Target

    In my basement shop I have an archery shooting lane set up for “rough-tuning” my bow. I shoot into the foam target at a fairly close range and by doing this I wreak havoc on the target. It does not take long before the foam core is coming out in large chunks.

    Most of the archery targets I’ve bought in last 3 years have all been over $70.00 apiece. It gets pretty expensive in a hurry when it’s cold outside and you’re having fun shooting in the basement.

    Recently, I walked past my latest target and seen the foam chunks coming out and muttered a few kind words that I can’t write in this blog. Later the same day I was in my shop looking for some parts and came across a half-used can of expandable spray insulation foam. The light bulb came on and I instantly grabbed the can, walked over to my target, pulled out the loose foam, inserted the tip of my spray foam can into the targets wounds and presto!! My target has been resurrected, at least for a little while longer and it only cost me few dollars.

    Monday, June 25, 2007

    Moving & Grooving

    Adding movement to your set of duck or goose decoys can make a huge difference, as long as you don’t over do it.

    There are many commercial decoys available that provide movement or you can simply grab a white or gray towel, attach it to a stick and start waving.

    The thing that most guys forget is that the movement amongst your decoy spread is there to get attention. Let me say that again, the movement is there to get attention. The movement is not there to decoy the birds into shooting range. Too much erratic movement and you run the chance of scaring the flock off.

    The next time you head to the field for a day of shooting be sure to get your groove on but don’t be the last one at the dance.

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    A belated Happy Fathers Day

    I'm posting this in the hopes that one Father out there who has been busy takes the time to do what I'm going to tell you to do.

    I was listening to the HuntCast Podcast today. It was Joe's Fathers Day show and at the opening of his show he was playing a song that brings a lump to my throat every time I hear it and think about what the song is saying.

    I know that we are all very busy in our daily lives but as Fathers we need to make the time to spend with our children. They grow up so fast and before we know it we'll be standing there looking back and wondering were our little buddies have gone.

    What I want you to do is find, buy or download a copy of Cat's in the Cradle. Listen to the song and imagine being the Father in this song. I don't want to be him and I know you don't either.

    I wish you a Happy Belated Fathers Day and remember what Joe said in his Podcast...Memories are life's currency.

    A Bucks' Trail

    It’s exciting to be walking through your hunting woods and discover a well used deer trail. You’re first thought is “Wow” and you start looking for a place to put your stand. This may be OK if you’re planning on shooting a doe or yearling buck but if your intention is to shoot something bigger then you will need to keep looking.

    Larger bucks don’t use the same trails that does and yearling bucks do. That is one of the reasons they are bigger. Sure, they may use the well worn trail occasionally at certain times of year, but the odds are against it during the times of year that we hunt.

    Larger bucks do use trails but they are more difficult to find. Start by looking to the sides of the main trail in ever increasing distances. Sometimes it may only be a few yards and at other times it may 50-70 yards or more. In some cases the dominant bucks simply don’t have trails anywhere near the main trails.

    What you are looking for is a trail that looks like a single deer passed through.
    There won’t be telltale signs of deer movement but the signs are there if you are looking. The trails will always be in or very near areas of thick cover. Once the trail has been found try to figure where the trail comes from and where it is going. If the trail connects a bedding area to a feeding area you may be in luck.

    When you are in the woods keep a lookout for these small insignificant trails. Just the knowledge alone that a deer is or was in the area will make sitting in your stand a whole lot more exciting.

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    Fish the Windy Side

    Arriving at a lake and pondering where to start fishing can be a daunting task. If there has been a strong wind recently or currently, head to the down wind side of the lake a start there. The wind will stir up the lake and send the food with it. Fish follow the food and we want to follow the fish.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Microsoft Sticks it to Sportsmen

    From this day forward I will not spend one single dime on a Microsoft product, you shouldn't either. When it comes to computers and software there are alternatives. I know that in some cases for business you can’t use anything but a Microsoft product but if there is a way I will find it. My Macintosh runs circles around my Windows machine and if it were not for one program that I need for business the Windows machine would be going into the garbage tonight for tomorrow mornings garbage pick-up day.

    Why am I talking so much trash about Microsoft when you came here for a hunting or fishing tip? Well let me tell you.

    I received my response letter back from Microsoft about their “i’ m” Initiative. This is the program where people can donate money while using instant messaging. Earlier this month Microsoft added the Humane Society to the list of recipients for this cash. There was a widespread effort from sportsman to have this Anti-Hunting and Anti-Trapping group removed from the list. The Humane Society hides behind cute little puppies and kitties in order to gain the support of millions to further their effort to STOP ALL HUNTING AND TRAPPING. Don’t believe me? Do a web search and you’ll be amazed what the Humane Society is up to. Just ask the Michigan sportsman.

    Here is the response letter I got back from Microsoft.

    Dear Mr. Manock.

    Thank you for forwarding your concern.

    At Microsoft, our mission and values are to help people and organizations throughout the world realize their full potential. With the “i’m” Initiative, our goal is to empower our users to support causes that are most important to them through something they do every day - send instant messages. Consistent with our initiative slogan “It’s your voice, it’s your choice”, people are able to choose from among ten of the most recognized social cause organizations that address issues ranging from poverty, child protection, disease, environmental degradation and animal protection.

    We respect and value your opinion, however, we do not plan to make changes to our relationships with our partners. We feel strongly that these organizations provide a range of causes that will appeal to a wide range of passions.

    Microsoft Corporation

    I guess that sportsmen mean nothing to Microsoft and it appears that they are totally satisfied being PARTNERS with the Humane Society. I just wonder what would happen if the NRA would approach Microsoft to be included on their list of recipients?

    Pheasant Know How

    Improve your success by understanding the pheasants daily movement patterns. Pheasants are similar to whitetails in their daily patterns. Deer have bedding areas and pheasants have roosting areas. Deer and Pheasant both have feeding areas and they both utilize escape routes.

    A day in the life of a pheasant goes something like this. They wake up and shortly after sunrise they walk or fly out of their roosting area headed towards their breakfast table, which is usually a crop field. They will spend an hour or two eating and then will head to their loafing cover such as a grassy field edge. Pheasants have also been known to spend their loafing time in shelter belts. After several hours of loafing they head back out to their food source for an evening meal, usually an hour before sunset. After filling up they head to their roosting cover which is normally thick grassy areas and sloughs.

    Pheasants will also combine their roosting, feeding and loafing areas if the habitat allows. Give a pheasant a corn field with a lot of grass and weeds in between the rows and they may never leave the field until its harvested. Pheasants are not big travelers and will spend the majority of their life within a 1/2 mile area or less.

    Weather and hunting pressure changes the pheasants daily patterns. Extreme cold, heavy snow and hunting pressure will cause pheasants to hold tight in the thickest cover available. On warm late season days the pheasants may spend the majority of their day scratching for food rather than loafing and this can be prime time to spot and stalk pheasants.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    The First Arrow

    Many guys brag about their shooting ability and the tight groups they get. This is great as long as the first shot they make is also hitting the mark.

    In archery, the first shot is really the only one that counts. If it is taking you several shots to get “warmed up” before you start keeping score than you need to change your practice methods.

    If all you are going to shoot is 3D, then a warming up period is fine, but the luxury of a warm up shot in not available while hunting. You must become proficient on your first shot, cold muscles and all.

    Try shooting at least once a day, taking only one shot. Take your time and pretend that the buck of a lifetime is at the other end of the arrows path. Practice this one shot until you are dead on every time. This first shot practice will give you the needed confidence you need when the moment of truth arrives.

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Shooting Uphill & Downhill

    I'll never forget the nice buck that walked to the bottom of a small river bank as I was standing on top of an old farm bridge. I was 15 years old and it was the nicest buck I had ever seen as a young hunter. I was alone and I was already thinking about the stories I'd be telling.

    I pulled up, took careful aim, fired, and watched my prize buck run away untouched. I could have cried. An important lesson was learned that day.

    When you are presented with an uphill or downhill shot always aim low. There is some tricky math that can explain the reasons for this but forget the math and just remember to aim low in either situation.

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Improving Rifle Accuracy

    I would venture a guess that most of us have not thought about our deer rifles since they were put away last fall.

    You did a thorough cleaning before putting Ole' Betsy away didn't you? No I don't mean wiping off the exterior and giving it a light coating of oil. When I say cleaning, I mean a complete spit shine of the rifles bore.

    Carbon and copper buildup is the leading cause of inaccuracy. It is imperative that all of this be removed. Using the right equipment for cleaning is important. Use a coated cleaning rod and a properly sized wire brush. Over or undersized brushes simply won't get the job done. There are several solvents available and I have used many different brands with good results. The main ingredient to a good cleaning job is elbow grease and patience.

    After the scrubbing is done, swab out the barrel several times with a properly sized cleaning patch. I keep working until my patches are coming out clean. Look for blue coloration on the patches. If there is blue on the patch there is still copper in the barrel. Once the barrel is clean you can apply a light coating of oil. Omit the oil if you are planning on shooting the rifle in the near future. If you don't have the tools or the confidence to do a complete cleaning of your rifle, take your rifle to a gunsmith for a professional cleaning. The small cost will be worth it.

    Now that the rifle is truly clean, the next thing you should do is to have the trigger pull checked. Most rifles are set too heavy from the factory and a heavy trigger reduces accuracy. Most hunters would be comfortable with a trigger pull between 2.5-3lbs. Some triggers cannot be adjusted and may need to be replaced with an aftermarket trigger. For trigger pull adjustments I strongly suggest that you let a gunsmith do the job for you.

    Once your gun is clean and the trigger is set right it's time to think about bedding the action and floating the barrel. Not all guns need the barrel floated but most rifles will benefit from having the action bedded. A gunsmith is the logical choice for these procedures.

    Lastly, you should check your scope base and rings. All screws need to be tight and the scope aligned properly with the rifle barrel.

    A properly tuned rifle is within reach of every hunter. It doesn't take a lot of time or money and you owe it to your quarry to have your rifle shooting the best is can. The only problem with a clean and tuned rifle is that you can no longer blame your rifle for that missed shot.

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Fishing Rivers II

    The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. River fisherman seem to live by that saying more than anyone else I know. Go to any river and watch what happens. The first thing the arriving fisherman does is to cast to other side of the river. There must be fish over there right? And then a new fisherman arrives on the other side and casts over to this side.

    The problem with this is that you are blowing the fish out of your fishing area. Start fishing close to "your" bank and work outward. By doing this you can work the water in a pattern that doesn't spook all of the fish in the river. Eventually you may make it to the other side but hopefully it's to tell the other fisherman your little secret.

    Fishing Rivers

    When fishing rivers I always look for an outside bend first. This is one of the places that big fish like to hang out.

    Water flows in the path of least resistance and when it hits harder ground it turns. This is how outside river bends are formed. The water also speeds up as it goes around the corner. This rushing action takes soil with it and makes the water deeper and undercuts the bank. This cutting action can also cause trees to tip into the water creating protection and shade for the fish to utilize.

    Fish the outside bends and their undercut banks. They are a perfect location for the big boys to take a little rest from the current and wait in ambush for their next meal.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Use Your Fill Flash

    We've all seen the pictures of the guy with the big buck or the kid holding up their first fish and half of their face is in the shadows.

    Don't ruin the once in a lifetime shot by forgetting to turn on the flash. Most people don't think that you need a flash outside but for portraits it is imperative in many cases.

    Check your camera settings. There should be an option to use the flash at all times rather that using the auto setting. In the auto setting the camera meter will shut off the flash and leave you with a shadow on the subjects face.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Field Judging Whitetails

    This bit of wisdom does not come from me but from a friend that has a garage full of racks that I would be proud to have. Determining what constitutes a trophy whitetail is very personal. What I would consider a trophy is very unlikely the same size deer that you would consider a trophy. This fact alone is what makes this system of field judging so fool proof.

    Scott's fool proof system of field judging a trophy buck is simple. There is no estimating how far the antlers are above or beyond the ears. There is no guessing the length of the brow tines etc. etc.

    Are you ready for the method? Simply put, when you get the deer in your sights and if there is ANY mental hesitation as to whether the buck is big enough or not then it is not a trophy you. You will know instantly if the buck is a trophy the split second the buck is in your sights...period.

    Does the system work? Walk into Scott's garage and the wall full of nice racks will give you the answer.

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Field Judging Black Bears

    Determining whether the bear that just walked into your shooting lane is a shooter or not can be a daunting task. Most bears look big.

    One trick to help determine if the bear is an adult male and not a female or young male is to look at the head. Forget about body size for the moment. Imagine a triangle placed on the head of the bear with the base of the triangle between the ears and the other 2 sides pointing towards the nose. On an adult male bear the 3 sides of the triangle will be an equal length. On a female or young male the 2 sides of the triangle pointing towards the nose will be longer than the base of the triangle between the ears. The picture shows an example of an adult male that would be sausage if it walked into my shooting long as I didn't wet my pants first.

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    Sink or Swim

    Getting a young dog into the water can be a challenge at times. To help out the process get some help. Not from a person but from another dog.

    My neighbors young Vizsla pup had no intention of getting her feet wet. They had tried all types of coaxing to get her to swim, all with no success. My solution was simple, take my fish...I mean dog out to the water with the pup and let him do the training.

    I took just two throws of the dummy before the young pup couldn't take it any longer. Within just a few minutes my dog did what my neighbor couldn't do in several trips to the lake.

    Friday, June 8, 2007

    Finding North

    Lost your compass? Finding North without a compass can be a challenge but if you have an analog wrist watch on you can still find North with ease.

    One way to use your watch as a compass is to:
    1. Find a straight stick & push it into the ground.
    2. Hold your watch on the top of the stick
    3. Rotate the watch until the hour hand lines up with the shadow of the stick
    4. 12 o'clock is now pointing North.

    Another way of using your watch to find North is to:
    1. Get a blade of grass, or a short straight twig, or a match to use as a pointer
    2. Hold your watch horizontally, with the hour hand pointing in the sun's direction
    3. Lay the blade of grass or match across the middle of your watch, halfway between the hour hand and the 12.
    4. The grass blade or match will then be pointing North.

    Thursday, June 7, 2007

    Clean Crawlers

    One of my favorite live baits is the good ol' nightcrawler. Most fish love them and they are readily available. If you are a shore fisherman the mess associated with nightcrawlers is usually not a problem, but if you are fishing out of a boat the story changes. Many guys refuse to bring a tub of nightcrawlers on their boat because of the mess the bedding makes. I can't blame them. It is no fun cleaning up smelly bedding that has found its way into every nook and cranny.

    The answer.....get out the minnow bucket. That's right, dump the crawlers out of their tub of bedding and make your crawlers go for a swim. The best type of minnow bucket is the flow through type. Make sure the holes are small enough and you're in business. The reason you want the flow through type minnow bucket is that the crawlers will stay best in cold water.

    An added advantage to keeping your crawlers in water for the "day" is that they will hydrate or should I say swell up nicely. Given the choice a fish will choose a nice plump crawler over a skinny crawler any day.

    Tuesday, June 5, 2007

    A Biking We Will Go

    Are you looking for a fairly quiet, scent reduced way of getting to your hunting stand? Maybe you want to park further away from your hunting stand to keep your location a little more secret. Try loading up your mountain bike and going for a ride.

    Not all terrain will allow the use of a mountain bike but even if you can make part of the trip on two wheels it may make your hunt more productive.

    If you do choose to ride in PLEASE take the time to make transporting your weapon a safe process.

    Monday, June 4, 2007

    Asian Carp

    Check out the videos of the jumping asian carp I just loaded into Cool Videos. It's amazing seeing these fish in action. I think that I'd be wearing a helmet while on these waters!

    Sleep in

    Have you been hunting your deer stand every morning for the past several outings and just can't seem to get Mr. Big to present himself to you. It could be that you are chasing him away without even knowing it.

    Many deer are moving early in the morning. The problem is they are moving well before we are even thinking about getting out of bed. If you are having no luck in your stand in the morning, try giving it a break. Sleep in and then try sneaking into your stand about mid-afternoon and sit until dark. This method will likely improve your chances of intercepting Mr. Big.

    Friday, June 1, 2007

    Stop Jerking...

    I have come to love and hate braided fishing line. The hate part came from learning how to use it properly. The love part comes from the results you can get with braided line.

    One of the hardest things for me to learn, or should I say remember, was the fact that braided line does not stretch. Setting the hook and landing a fish is different when using braided line. After a few lost fish you start to catch on.

    The best advice I can give you is to set the hook once, load the rod and reel in the fish. Don't keep jerking the rod trying to set the hook or fight the fish. If you do this you will only be tearing a big hole in the fish's mouth and a big hole gives the fish a better chance at throwing the hook.