Turkey Season is Upon Us!

turkey

We are quickly approaching Spring Turkey Season, Are you ready? Do you have your turkey vest, decoys, calls, ammo, bug repellant, the perfect  camo, a tick key, and any other minor detail to make your next hunt perfect? Never fear, swing into your local Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and let our great Team of associates help you find everything you will need to make your first hunt of Spring Turkey season 2014 a blast!

Try the All New RedHead Striker Turkey Vest, http://www.basspro.com/RedHead-Striker-Turkey-Vests-for-Men/product/13082106113916/.  This vest has been redesigned with some awesome feature to make your hunt comfortable and safe; shell loops, maganetic flip seat, memory foam seat, hydration pack compatable, detacable blaze orange flag, padded back, adjustable game bag, accessory pockets, mesh mouth call pocket, box call and striker pocket, and double slate call pocket.  It can be yours for the price of $59.99.

One thing you do not want to over look is the pesky bugs. Try Sawyer Permethrin,http://www.basspro.com/Sawyer-Permethrin-Insect-Repellent-for-Clothing/product/10223263/,  to keep all those pesky insects away from mosquitos to black flies to gnats to chiggers and so many more. This is made in the U.S.A, lasts up to six washings, and is super easy to use; you simply go to a well ventilated area and spray one side of your clothing, let it dry, flip it over, spray the other side, let it dry, and you will be bug free.

As you get ready for the kick off of this Spring Turkey Season, swing into your local Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and let our knowledgable team help you get ready!

 

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My Letter To Santa

My Letter To Santa

Dear Santa,

It’s that time of year again and I just started making my list of things I need.  “Want” is the more correct term according to some members of the family who shall remain unnamed.  Let’s just say they wear dresses, have long hair, and have more shoes to wear with black skinny jeans, than I have total.  Regardless of what we call it, there are a few things on my list this year.

  • 12’ 7weight Switch Rod.  I sure could use one even though I have no idea how to throw it.  Spey and TFO Deer Creek Switchswitch rod casting just looks so cool that I can’t be left out.  A bunch of guys and I plan on taking a trip to Michigan for salmon and steelhead and I figure it would be a great addition to my fly rod collection.  I guess while we’re talking about fly rods, we could add an 8’ 8weight for peacocks in Miami, an 8’6” 5weight for trout in Georgia, and a decent 9’ 10 weight for fishing the beach next fall.
  • New kayak:  Theresa really wants to join me a bit more on kayaking trips so putting a new one in my garage would be greatly appreciated.  If it just happened to be “TOO BIG” for her to handle that wouldn’t be a big disaster.  I’d just have to make the sacrifice and take it off her hands.  Oh yeah, she could use a new Bending Branches paddle, a high-back paddling seat with gel padding for my (I mean her tush), and a bunch of rod leashes so she doesn’t drop any rods overboard.
  • Thermal underwear:  After all these years of freezing my butt off while hunting or fishing in the cold weather, I’d really appreciate some warm clothes.  I still think my father believed the snowmobile suits we wore during deer season in Pennsylvania were “warm enough” for sub –zero temperatures.  Effective layering with micro fiber materials wasn’t around yet, but it’s still a wonder that he didn’t find me frozen to a tree like John Torrence in “The Shining.”  I’d have looked like a 13 year old, blaze orange creamsicle stuck to the base of a Hemlock tree on the first day of deer season.
  • 6’ Ultra-light action spinning rod:  Theresa wants to begin trout fishing and she could use a new rod.  I’ll make sure it works as advertised during the upcoming shad season so I won’t argue if you want to add it to my rod rack for safe keeping.
  • An AR-15:  Theresa is a bit concerned about home defense so she has been shopping for a weapon she M&P 15can use for repelling the attacking hordes whether they’re zombies or apocalyptic raiding parties.  Oh who am I kidding?  I want one too, so you may as well bring a matching pair.
  • Fly boxes:  Despite my best efforts to whittle down my fly collection, it continues to grow each month as I find more and more patterns to tie.  I’ve got a pretty sweet collection of flies for Giant Trevaly, and Golden Dorado even though there aren’t any in Florida and the prospects of making a trip to Seychelles or Argentina seems pretty remote right now.  You never know when they’ll come in handy.
  • A new Kindle:  I seem to have misplaced the last one and despite looking in all the normal places (the freezers, jelly cupboard, clothes hamper, the kayak hold, under the bed, under the truck seat, under the couch, on top of the refrigerator, etc…) I can’t seem to find it.
  • Hearing Aids!!!!:  These aren’t so much for me as for my loving wife.  She’s getting tired of repeating herself and I’m getting tired of her yelling.  At least then I can blame my not paying attention on the “DEAD” batteries.

Well Santa, you can see there are a few things on the list this year that would come in handy and I would be grateful if I got one or more of them.  I’ll even leave it up to you to decide which of the gifts would go the furthest towards maintaining family harmony so don’t feel any pressure.  Marriage counseling is much cheaper than it was 20 years ago.

I hope you and the family have a blessed holiday and a prosperous new year.  Be safe while gallivanting across roof tops and please wear your seatbelt while flying.  I’d hate to hear that you fell out of the sleigh while doing barrel rolls at 20,000 feet!

Thanks in advance for the gifts.  Oh, and by the way....  If you're looking to do some fishing in Florida once the holiday season is over, you could check out the fly shop newsletter for some nifty tips and info.  Not that I'm trying to move myself up the "NICE" list or anything.  But, every little bit helps.

Sincerely,

Brian

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First Hunt of the Year!

By: Jerry Costabile

With the changing leaves and the waterfowl migration starting, I finally got out on my first hunt of the season.

I really needed to get out and watch the sunrise, get the smell of fall in my nose and put the everyday stress on the shelf, even if it was for a single morning. Sadie, my Yellow Lab, has been giving me that look for weeks. It’s that “If you don’t get me out hunting soon, we are going to have problems” look. So with my son Jake, home from college, and a morning off, it was ON!

We went and purchased our license’s, got the gear ready, decoys out of the garage and the dog crate into the truck. As I loaded the crate, I heard a noise inside the open back door of the house, there was Sadie standing at the top of the stairs. I think I heard her say, “It’s about time!” She has a sixth sense when it comes to knowing I am getting the hunting stuff ready, I have never been able to get ready without her knowing it!

So after I got the truck loaded and the dog calmed down, it was time for a good meal and off to bed, 5:00am comes early! When the alarm went off and I finally woke up, I realized that I had been dreaming of the hunt that was coming up in a few hours. Guess I am still a young hunter at heart!

With Jake up and me half awake, we made our way down stairs to the basement to the man cave. This is the room that contains all of the necessities to survive as an outdoorsman. Camo and blaze orange color scheme makes it a beautiful room. The air freshener is a combination of WD-40, Rem Oil, and a hint of natural earth scent from my bow hunting clothes. Truly a room only I can appreciate.

After getting dressed in my waterfowl camouflage and ready to walk out the door, I picked up Sadie’s camo collar and she knew it was finally time as she sprinted past me to the back door and jumped up and down until I opened it. Without missing a beat, she ran right to the back of the truck and waited for me to open the tailgate so she could get into her crate. We have worked on a way to get her into the crate without running anyone over, “Sadie sit!” I open the door to her crate looked at her and she is shaking uncontrollably. “Kennel! I said” with one leap she was in the crate and ready to go hunting!

After a quick stop at the gas station for coffee, we had about a 15 minute drive to the recently cut soybean field that has been holding geese a few days ago. In the darkness of the early morning, I pulled off of the paved road onto the two track road that the farmer uses to get his equipment in and out of the fields. With recent rains, the road that is usually dry and easy to navigate has become muddy and the pot holes deep. I guess my truck will have a new color tone added free of charge! As we approached the spot in the field that I wanted to hunt, I swung the trucks headlights into the field to have light to set the decoys.

Before I could get out of the truck, I heard a whimper from the back. Sadie was ready to come unglued! I let her out and she ran as fast as she could out into the field and ran in circles until we got the decoys out and set.

Using the new Wisconsin DNR shooting time App. on my phone, I was able to determine that shooting time was 6:34am. With about a half an hour to wait, Jake and I set up our natural blind, and enjoyed my coffee and watched as the sky showed just a hint of daylight on the eastern horizon. 6:34am and we are loaded and watching the marsh behind us, there has to be ducks that roosted for the night out there.

As that thought entered my head, Jake grabbed my arm and said, “Dad, ducks!” We both got down behind the tall marsh grass and waited for our chance. The first ducks which were teal, went to our right out of gun range. But the next flock lifted and were headed right at us! When they got within range, I hollered “Take’em Jake!” With a flurry of three shots each, two wood ducks were down. Not the best average, .333 if you are a baseball fan, but for the first hunt not bad.

After getting Sadie back to where I could send her out to retrieve the first duck, she made a leap into the water and stayed on line to recover the woodie without any problem. The second duck turned out to be a little more difficult, it sailed to the far side of the field before hitting the ground. Jake took Sadie and headed in the direction of the duck and Sadie was up for the challenge. After a walk of about two hundred yards, Sadie headed into the cover on the field edge and returned proudly with the drake wood duck.

It was now getting time for the geese to start flying and we were watching and listening for the honks of the Canadian goose. It was about 8:00am when the first geese flew over head, and I started my best effort to call them into our decoy spread. But that flock like the next three or four flocks didn’t like what they saw. After a few adjustments, we had the decoys looking like they should bring in the next birds.

We finally had three geese coming in from the southeast and they look interested in joining our decoys for breakfast! As I called, and the birds got closer, I could feel Sadie start shivering with excitement. The big wings of the geese locked up and just as they started to put the landing gear down, I shouted to take’em. Well our batting average didn’t get any better, but we did have one of the three down. Sadie raced out to the big honker and found the right location on the bird and made a perfect retrieve. When she retrieves a bird she take sole ownership of it, why not she deserves it.

The morning ended with that, and we packed up the gear and headed home. I pulled into the driveway and Sadie knew she was home and would get her breakfast and that I would reward her with a couple of treats. When I left for work about an hour later, she was asleep and probably dreaming of the next hunt. Just like I will.


First Hunt!

 

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The Colorful Side of Women's Archery Products

Stroll through the Bass Pro Shops Altoona Hunting Department and you're likely to find loads of blaze orange, camo green, black, and...pink. Pink? Yes, pink...and red, blue, green. The archery aisles, in particular, are beginning to bloom with color.

From arrow parts to archery accessories, Gun Vault Specialist Alicia Bricker says the women's archery products are growing in leaps and bounds with variations of pink to appeal to the increasing number of women who are bow hunting.

"We have several different arrows to choose from and now even a few different ones in pink, such as the Mayhem Hot Pursuit arrow by Carbon Express. We also have pink fletchings that can be used to accent an arrow, as well."

Ladies' Archery Products from Bass Pro Shops

From pink lighted arrow nocks, to pink arrow wraps, fletchings, and pink broadheads, such as the Queen Wasp (100 grain, 3-blade fixed blade, 1" cutting diameter), there are plenty of ways for women to dress up their bow. Lighted nocks are also available in blue, red, green, and orange. Wraps and fletchings are available in a wide assortment of colors and styles, as well. Bricker uses the pink Montec G5 85 grain fixed broadheads because she uses a smaller bow, with a smaller draw length and draw weight.

"The 85 grain is lighter than a higher grain and the fixed broadhead gives better penetration than an expandable broadhead for shooting a lighter draw weight combined with my shorter draw length. My draw weight is 50 lbs and length is 22.5”. My draw weight is actually pretty good now, but when I started with the broadheads I was only pulling back 40 lbs. My draw length is really short compared to most people. With my draw weight and length being small the lighter grained broadhead allows me to make up some speed and then the fixed blade allows for an ensured penetration since I don’t have enough “UMPH,” let’s just say, behind mine."

Ladies' Archery Products
For accessories, Bricker points out the Cobra Bushwacker Sight  in pink camo, with light, four fiber optic pins, and a level for holding your bow steady and at the same angle each shot. She'll be using it this season. For wrist straps, she uses the Outdoor ProStaff black with pink deer prints. With the wrist straps, a hunter won't have to grip the bow after the shot to keep it from falling. It will still drop forward, but you won’t drop it to the ground. It allows your shot to follow through. The strap will catch and slow down some of the fall.  
 
Other pink bow and shooting accessories include:
  • G5 Meta peep - Multiple colors are available.
  • Pink String Chubs - helps with string vibration making one less sound to spook the deer! Multiple colors available.
  • Pink Ultramax and String Leech -  Limbsaver by SVL - Another noise/vibration energy dampening system. Multiple colors available.
  • Pink cable slides - Multiple colors also available
  • Releases - single caliper and dual caliper. Bricker prefers a spring-loaded release since it only needs one motion Ladies' Archery Products from Bass Pro Shops Altoonato open and close the release rather than having to push the trigger back up. She also prefers a stiff shaft on a release, instead of the cloth strap, so that the release stays up in her  hand and is easier to get into her hand when she's ready to shoot.  Some people prefer the cloth strap, so that they are more hands free when they are wearing the release. Fox brand also has a blue one and they all have camo or black, of course.
  • Treestand Harnesses - Gorilla G-Tac Air safety harness and the HSS (Hunter Safety System) Lady Pro Series. Specifically designed with women in mind, they are contoured for a women which provides a more comfortable fit than a regular harness.

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Ladies' Archery ProductsBows? Bricker shoots a Diamond Razor Edge, which is a youth bow instead of a women’s, mainly because her draw length is smaller than most people. The bow gives her the range she needs with weight and length, so she is able to go down to 30 lbs and up to 60 lbs. Since most bows don't have under a 24 inch draw length, this one fits her perfectly.


Come see for yourself what's pretty in pink...and other colors...at Bass Pro Shops Altoona or check out what's online at www.basspro.com.

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Redhead Striker - The Only Turkey Vest You'll Ever Need!

vestRun, do not walk, to your nearest Bass Pro Shops. Once inside, head directly to the Hunting Clothing Department. As soon as you see them, grab yourself a Redhead Strike Turkey Vest.  These vests are one of the most useful tools you will have for spring hunting. The vest has numerous pockets on the outside for all your calls and accessories. There are two zippered pockets on the inside as well as additional pouches for accessories and shells.  The vest comes with a padded back and shoulder strap, fold-down seat and removable blaze orange safety flag.  summer

Justin Little, Hunting Clothing associate at Bass Pro Shops - Macon, recommends the vest, saying "the Striker vest is an all-around good buy and comes with a good seat." Priced at under $50, this is one hunting accessory you can't afford not to have! For detailed information on the Striker Turkey Vest, visit our website at:  http://www.basspro.com/RedHead-Striker-Turkey-Vests-for-Men/product/11100805013010/

 

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Turkey Hunting Tools, Part 1

toolWith turkey season just days away (March 23 - May 15), it's time to take a look at your equipment and make sure you're all set to bag your three gobblers. Head over to Bass Pro Shops - Macon to check out the variety of turkey hunting tools we have available, including blinds, seats, hunting clothing, scents, calls and more.

When you're stocking up on shotgun shells, take a look at the Real Avid Turkey Tool. This all-in-one tool replaces multiple items in your vest. The tool measures 4 1/2" by 3/4" and comes with a belt sheath to make it easy to keep up with.

Real Avid Turkey Tool Features:

• Brush/game saw
• 440 SS drop point knife
• .10ga - .410ga choke wrench
• Gun pin punch
• Carry hook
• 15” beard/spur ruler
• Toter Sheath
• Rubber side grips
• Black nickel coated SS implements

bagAnother item to add to your equipment list is a game bag, such as the Hunter's Specialties Blaze Orange Game BagThe bag is 27" x 18", providing plenty of room for your turkey. Transporting in a bag like this keeps the turkey hidden, so it can't be mistaken for a live bird, putting you at risk. The bag folds for easy storage, is bloodproof and washable.

 

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Choosing Deer Hunting Clothing, Part 3

Blaze Orange

Third, in some cases, hunting clothing is designed to advertise your position to other hunters. Most states require hunters to wear a minimum amount of hunter orange clothing during the modern firearm seasons. Hunter orange has been shown to greatly reduce the number of hunting accidents that occur each year, so be sure to wear it if it’s required in your area.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t make you visible to the deer. Studies have shown that deer do not see colors in the orange spectrum.

In most cases, a blaze orange vest and/or hat will meet the required amount. Vests are a great way to go because you can just put them on over your other layers. Make sure your vest is made of quiet material so you don’t spook deer when you brush up against bushes or tree branches. It can also be quite worth it to spend a few extra bucks and get a vest that has some conveniently placed pockets. This can help you keep small items that you use frequently right at your fingertips.

You might also consider going with blaze orange clothing that includes a black camouflage pattern. Solid colors can make your human outline stand out against the forest backdrop. It’s sort of silly to go through the trouble of wearing camouflage clothing that breaks up your outline, only to then throw on a vest with a solid color.

Blaze orange with a black camo pattern will complete your outline-shattering outfit and ensure that you don’t stand out to deer like a sore thumb (be sure to check your state game regulations, though, because some states require solid orange).

www.hungry-for-hunting.com
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Choosing Your Deer Hunting Clothing

deerClothing is one of your most important pieces of deer hunting gear. When chosen well, it can last a lifetime (or at least a good part of a lifetime). But with all the options available today, it can be difficult to narrow your search down to the best options.

Deer hunting clothing serves three basic purposes:

  1. Keeping you warm, dry, and alive.
  2. Concealing you from deer.
  3. Advertising your presence to other humans (in the case of  blaze orange).

Comfort and Survival

First and foremost, clothing for deer hunting keeps you warm, dry, and alive. You need protection from the elements when you’re out in the field pursuing deer. The better your clothing is at keeping you comfortable, the longer you’ll be able to hunt, which will translate into more success. And in extreme conditions, quality clothing can make the difference between a safe and an unsafe hunt.

 Layering

The concept of layering is pretty much considered gospel these days for any type of outdoor activity, including hunting. The idea is that you wear multiple thinner layers of clothing (rather than one thick one) so you can add or remove layers as your body temperature fluctuates. This allows you to stay warm and, at the same time, not overheat.

 If you have too many layers on, then overexertion will lead to overheating. Overheating leads to sweating, which can then make you colder once you stop moving. Sweating also increases the amount of human scent you give off, which can increase the likelihood of deer smelling you. Dressing in layers can keep your scent level down and keep you warm and dry at the same time.

 Layers typically consist of a base layer, a mid layer, and an outer layer. Base layers (sometimes referred to as long underwear or long johns) are usually relatively thin and excel at holding warm air close to your body. Mid layers are usually thicker and provide a greater degree of insulation. Outer layers are often waterproof and designed to keep moisture from soaking the mid and base layers (the more expensive waterproof outer layers also allow your perspiration to escape).

 Of course, in warm conditions, you may sometimes wear less than three layers. And, in cold conditions, you may wear more than three. It all depends on your regions, the time of year, and the particular weather that day.

 Types of Fabric

There are quite a few options when it comes to fabrics that will keep you warm, dry and alive. One fabric you’ll definitely want to avoid is cotton. Cotton has a terrible habit of holding water next to your skin when it gets wet (some say you’re better off being naked than wearing wet cotton in cold conditions). As long as you’re not wearing cotton, most any fabric designed for hunting or the outdoors in general will work.

 Here are some of the more common fabrics used to make deer hunting clothing:

  • Wool
  • Merino Wool
  • Fleece
  • Down
  • Synthetic Down
  • Gore-Tex
  • Gore-Tex-Like Fabrics
  • High-Tech Fabrics
 www.hungry-for-hunting.com
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Essentials to Go With Your Hunting Clothing

Essential Accessories: Your hunting clothes are part of a total system that the well-equipped hunter uses to maximize his or her effectiveness. Here are some ideas for accessorizing. . . . . .

  • Thermals Thermals: Nothing dulls the senses like the biting cold of a frosty morning in the woods. Thermal underwear is available in several weights to help keep you comfortable in varying conditions. Don't go heavier than you'll need most of the time; you can always add layers for additional warmth. Look for materials that wick moisture away from your skin, to prevent clammy discomfort. Scent protection available.
  • Headwear: From ball caps to boonies to balaclavas to face shields, a hunter's choice of headgear is an important decision.  Do you need camo or blaze orange? Warmth or heat relief? A bill to shade the sun, or all -over wind protection? You will find plenty of choices in the hunting department at Bass Pro Shops for every situation. Scent protection available.
  • Gloves/Mittens: Gloves offer form-fitting protection from the cold. Some styles are "fingerless," which allow you to shoot or perform tasks without removing your gloves. Others have a pullback trigger finger (great when it's really cold). Mittens offer maximum warmth, but less dexterity; for the hunter, glo-mitts (hybrid fingerless gloves with pull-back mittens over the fingers) may be preferable. Scent protection available.
  • Backpack/Fanny Pack: How to carry your gear? For the footbound hunter, a well-designed pack is worth its weight in gold.  The type you choose will depend on the amount of storage you need, how far you'll hike, and where you're headed. Look for a large main compartment to hold primary gear, plus well-placed pockets and pouches for accessories. Some styles feature special holder and attachments for carrying additional gear. Scent protection available
  • Scent-A-WayScents/Detergents: Regardless of whether a garment has built-in scent protection, most will benefit from the use of special laundry detergents designed to remove human odors during cleaning.

At Bass Pro Shops please see one of our knowledgeable associates for all of you hunting needs and all of the accessories as well. If you have any questions they are always happy to help you choose the right equipment/accessories to fit your needs.

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Before You Buy New Clothing for Hunting; Consider This!

 

Performance Features: Hunting clothing is specifically designed to provide concealment and/or comfort under tough outdoor conditions. Depending on your needs, here are some things to look for.  . 

  • Silent-Hide Quietness - Silent-Hide - For stalking or stand hunting, or any close-range work. look for soft, easy-moving cotton or polyester based material that don't "crinkle" or rustle when flexed.

  • Breathability - Free air exchange is important in any weather. Breathable fabrics allow perspiration to evaporate off your skin, eliminating the clamminess that makes you uncomfortable cold or warm.
  • Scent ControlScent Control - Some styles incorporate a layer of activated carbon to absorb human odors, keeping them contained inside your suit. The idea is to keep your scent off the breeze, so you can move in from any direction and get more shot opportunities. Though pricey, scent-control camo is very popular these days.
  • Temperature Control - Do you hunt in cold weather? then you'll want an insulated style designed to fend off those unwanted drafts.  But for warmer conditions, choose an ultra-light style that promotes enhanced air circulation; these are general made of polymesh.
  • Moisture Management - Waterproof styles prevent outside moisture (snow, rain, dew) from entering. Water-resistance styles slow moistures progress, but will keep you dry forever. Waterproof/breathable styles allow perspiration to escape without letting water in.
  • Abrasion Resistance - For hunting in heavy cover or upland fields, look for tightly woven synthetic-based fabrics such as Silent-Hide. there materials resist tearing and easily fend off burrs and thorns.
  • Insect Control - Mesh-based overclothing designed to seal off potential entry points. essential in some areas.

Construction Features:

  • Materials - Check the labels and hang tags. Synthetic fabrics (such as polyester and nylon) offer the greatest balance of performance features, and thus are pricier than natural fabrics (cotton, wool).
  • Stitching - For outerwear, look for double- or triple-needle stitching; this method of reinforcement virtually guarantees long-wearing durability.
  • Hardware/Closures - As with all things, brand names (VELCRO, YKK) command higher prices. In general, metal snaps are tougher and more dependable than plastic; 4-hole sewn buttons last longest; hook 'n' loop-type closures offer super-quick adjustability and seldom wear out over the life of the garment.
  • Insulation - Thinsulate insulation by 3M offers maximum heat with minimum bulk. Other synthetics (DuPont, Hollofil fiberfill) efficiently trap warm air, but end to loft higher. Natural goose down is unique in that it holds its warmth even when wet, but although it's extremely light in weight, it's also very bulky. Weigh your need for warmth against your activity level, and choose accordingly.
  • Pockets - Check not only the number of pockets and ouches, but also their size, placement, and types of closures. will you be able to easily retrieve an accessory while sitting in a treestand, without making a commotion?  Meanwhile, most hunters agree that the more interior pockets the better.
  • Fit, Comfort, Durability - You'll find a wide range of detailing on these types of clothing. Generally, you want a roomy, non-binding fit so you can move and shoot with ease.  Special features such as articulated sleeves, gusseted underarms and crotches, bi-swing backs and specially constructed hoods are designed to accommodate a hunter's need for comport and mobility.  Pants with snap-up or zip-up legs go on easily over your boots.  Draw cords and ties help seal out cold air, insects and debris.

Special Fabrics :

  • RedHead GoreTex JacketGORE-TEX - The standard for 100% waterproof, breathable performance in outdoor clothing.  Thousands of ting perforations per square inch keep water molecules out (they're larger), yet allow perspiration vapors to escape. Pricey, but proven-the best wet-weather protection available.
  • Durable Water Repellent (DWR) - A surface treatment that causes water to bead up and run off the fabric. Not necessarily waterproof.

General Hunting: Blaze - Most states require that you wear safety blaze orange during the gun deer season. Check local regulations. For economy, reversible styles (camo to blaze) are available at your local Bass Pro Shops.

 

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What Everybody Ought to Know About Turkey Hunting Equipment

Turkey Hunting Equipment

There are only four days left to get yourself a turkey before the season is over. Do you have the right equipment to make the last days of the season successful? Proper equipment can make the difference between an enjoyable or miserable hunt.

 Shotgun selection is the first concern of most new turkey hunters. Most turkey hunters use a 12 gauge shot gun because using a smaller gauge may increase the chance of crippling. Although, using a smaller gauge has its advantages because more pellets can be delivered and could possibly make a cleaner kill. But, a smaller gauge will not substantially increase your effective range. Shooting at a turkey at more than 40 yards in not recommended, regardless of which gauge shotgun is used.

The choice of choke may make the difference between a crippled bird and a clean kill. The trendiest is an extra-full choke, which gives the tightest pattern. It is important to have a tight pattern to ensure a strike at the head-and-neck area. Research has shown that after 18 inches, the length of the barrel does not affect the shot pattern. Consequently, many hunters now use shorter-barreled shotguns that are lighter and easier to maneuver. The most common shot sizes are No. 6 and No. 4. Missouri regulations prohibit the use of shot size larger than No. 4 for turkey hunting.

An additional technique of hunting turkeys in Missouri is with a bow. Only some hunters are successful with this technique because it can be difficult. However, with practice and patience you can get the kill. While aiming at a turkey with your bow, you should focus on the junction of neck and body. If a turkey is hit at this spot, it will break the backbone. You want to use the sharpest arrow possible to make certain you get a clean kill.

A turkey call is another important piece of equipment that you will need. There is a wide range of turkey calls but they basically fall into two categories, air- operated and friction calls. Friction calls are the easiest to use, two surfaces are rubbed together and create friction that produces sound. Slate and box calls are examples of friction calls. The three basic air operated calls are the yelper, tube call, and the diaphragm call. The air operated calls create sound when air is passed through the call.

All turkey calls require practice to become proficient. There are audio and video tapes that are available to demonstrate calls and can be a big help for a beginner. Still, listening to a wild turkey or learning from an experienced caller is the best method.

Some other equipment you may need consist of: a knife, compass, maps, first aid kit, insect repellent, rain gear, and turkey-hunting permit. Your camouflage clothing and blaze orange vest is recommended when moving through the woods.

Turkey hunting in Missouri can be physically trying. You should plan for long walks, steep hills, and weather conditions, be prepared for the unexpected.

 

 

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Spring Turkey Hunting in Missouri

Montana 2010First I would like to introduce myself, I am one of the Hunting Department Team Leads at the St. Charles Bass Pro Shops store. My name is David and I actively engage in several of the hunting and fishing seasons here in Missouri and in other states around the country. I enjoy the freedom and the serenity that is provided by actively engaging in such activities through out the year.

As spring begins to blossom, the weather begins to break and the temperatures increase, it sounds the signal on the spring turkey season. Spring turkey hunting this season promises to be more of a challenge than it has been in the previous few years. According to the MDC; several breeding seasons of foul and unfavorable weather conditions have reduced the number of birds per acre on average, and as such the large gobblers are more scarce and harder to call in and the jakes are even scarcer and are smaller on average. Though the overall numbers remain strong the competition for food, space, and hens is not as aggressive; setting the stage for a challenging season.

This year's season runs from April 18-May 8th, so now is the time to get equipped and get that essential must have gear:
  1. Shotgun
  2. Call
  3. Camouflage
  4. Permit
  5. Other items that I suggest you take but are not entirely necessary:
    • Knife or Knives for cleaning your bird
    • Camera- to capture that great moment
    • Binoculars- its a great help to spot those distant birds
    • Bug Repellent as often it can be damp and humid
    • Rain gear for those days when mother nature just doesn't cooperate

First lets look at the Shotgun, its the most essential part of your gear. There are a number of suitable choices from brands such as Mossberg, Remington, Browning, Winchester, and Benelli. While there is a dizzying array of choices, just keep in mind that there a a few specific features that make a "Turkey Gun" different from just another shot gun. Most are customized to some degree to take full advantage of the condition that most turkeys are hunted in, there fore they have shorter barrels that allow for great movement and ease of handling in dense foliage. They have more constrictive chokes either full or extra full to maximize the killing potential at the greatest distance possible by controlling the spread of the shot pattern. Many also make use of fiber optic rifle style sights to aid the shooter in aiming and making that perfect shot. Many now also make use of collapsible or pistol grip stocks to give the shooter greater comfort and control; and number one single defining factor is that a turkey gun sports a dense foliage camo pattern. Some of the best choices this season for a turkey gun are the Mossberg 500 series "Thug", and the Remington 887 Turkey Magnum- which is a Bass Pro Shops Exclusive. Both feature a dense woodland camo pattern, with fiber optic sights, and chokes optimized for turkey hunting. The Mossberg also sports a Choate Inc. Pistol grip stock.

The ammunition also makes a big difference on your success. Winchester, Remington and Environ-metal Hevi-Shot all make turkey specific hunting loads designed to exploit the advantages of the full and extra full chokes. These loads maximize effective range and killing power while being easy on the shooter and reliable in all conditions.

Next, we will look at the call. Once again this can prove to be a harrowing experience. To simplify your life there are two basic types of calls, the diaphragm call and the friction call.
  • The diaphragm call produces sound by the user forcing air through either a silicone of latex reed. The diaphragm call will often be referred to as a mouth call.
  • The friction call produces sound by rubbing two pieces of material against one another. The most common of the friction calls are the box and slate.
The diaphragm is most likely the hardest for the beginner to use, as it requires conditioning and hours of practice to master. Then it requires a different call for each type of sound you are wanting to produce. The box and slate calls however are rather user friendly and you can produce many types of sounds of varying length, volume and urgency from a single call. The box call is the simplest of the calls and can be used by anyone with little to no experience. The slate is a bit more advanced and its benefits far outweigh its learning curve. I suggest that even the greenest novice learn to use a slate call as its versatility lend itself to the varying conditions that are often encountered on a hunt. You can call soft and subtle or loud and aggressive, from a simple yelp to a full blown mating call. New for this year and one of my favorites is the Knight & Hale Warlord diaphragm call- quickly becoming a customer favorite. Its a full featured call ideally suited to the conditions that many face hunting spring turkey in Missouri. In the box calls the RedHead RTX box calls are a great value and are built to last through years of punishing use! In the slate call arena there are several great options; One of my favorites is the Primos Jackpot Slate, however there are some others that are great options as well: the HS Strut Lil Deuce II is a great beginners slate call as well as the all new for 2011 RedHead Cherry Friction slate call.

On to the camouflage, many times you can simply use what you have for early season bow hunting. However if your starting from scratch you will want to look at a thinner weight camo clothing that will provide comfort and concealment for those cool mornings but won't overheat you in the early afternoons. Ideally you want to be looking at something in an Mossy Oak, or a Real Tree pattern, as this best matches the Missouri foliage conditions. You also might want to purchase a blaze orange vest to wear when traveling to and from your hunting area. A face mask is also a good idea for a couple of reasons. One, it keeps the pestering bugs from your face. Two, turkey have particularly strong eye sight and your face and eyes are most often the portion of your body that give your position away when the rest of you is concealed.

The permit is just that: the state issued hunting permit that is required to be on you at all times while you are in the field hunting. It is available at any sporting goods retailer and now through the MDC website for an additional dollar. Its amazing just how many people forget just how important this piece of gear is. Its arguably the single most important piece of gear in your assortment. Don't risk your hunting privileges, get your permits on time and guard them like cash!

The other category is where many people go overboard and collect a lot of useless items. You have to remember everything you pack takes up space and adds weight, so pack sensibly. I prefer to keep my other items as light and compact as possible. For a knife I carry either a Buck Alpha Hunter with the Gut Hook feature or a Knives of Alaska Muskrat. For a camera I rely on either a Nikon or Canon pocket size digital camera. When using binoculars I prefer to carry the Nikon Monarch 8X36's. They are robust and have great light transmission for those early morning birds that are just out of naked eyesight, but be careful because you don't want to use them when there is a change of shadowing or prismatic reflection which may give away your position.

As far as bug repellent goes the best thing going right now is the Therma Cell. If you want or require bug repellent look no further; its light, compact, highly effective, and refillable. For those wet mornings quality rain gear is a must. I prefer a product with Gore Tex, as I have had great experience with it. However there are some new fleece materials on the market that are just as effective. Both the RedHead Storm Tex and Bone Dry backed clothes are great, as well as the Storm Kloth branded products.

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Women's Hunting Clothing Buyer's Guide

By Alyssa Haukom


Proper-fitting clothes will make your days afield more comfortable.

Women's hunting wear has come a long way over the last two decades. We've gone from virtually no options to a quite large collection of styles and patterns of hunting wear designed specifically for women.

The first hunting garments made for women often focused more on style rather than function. What these clothes boasted in fit, they severely lacked in features. However, over the years, many options and useful features emerged as women's involvement in the sport increased. The industry listened to our requests and took our demands to heart by producing clothing designed for serious hunters and styled for the female form.

Yet, when looking for hunting clothing, many women still ask, "Where do I begin?" Whether you're a seasoned hunter or anticipating your first day in a treestand, stop and ask yourself a few of the following questions; this will make your hunt for quality clothing less confusing and your day afield more rewarding.

What Are You Hunting?

The hunting clothing you look for largely depends on the game you pursue. Consider all the game you might hunt. Will you be after deer, elk, turkey, pheasant, bear or a combination of these animals?

Women
Women hunters need clothes that fit their female form, clothes that don't bag or sag or interfere with shooting their weapons.

Consider what methods you'll use for each animal. You'll dress differently when bowhunting bear or deer from an elevated treestand than you will shooting ducks from a marshy duck blind.

Camouflage patterns should change to match your surroundings. Perhaps you'll be pursuing mule deer and elk on foot in the fall, but turkeys out of a blind in the spring. A varied pattern of branches and leaves is great for treestands, but you'll require a marsh grass or wetlands pattern while duck hunting.

Use your answers to the following questions as your criteria when it comes time to search for hunting clothes. Do you need clothing that protects your legs when walking through heavy brush and thickets? Do you need clothing that "breathes" as you continually move throughout the day? Or will you spend several hours motionless in a treestand, requiring insulated clothing to retain body heat. You may be surprised to find that some clothing manufacturers incorporate several of the features you desire into one versatile garment.

What Kind of Hunting Will You Do?

Will you be bowhunting, gun hunting or both? Will you hunt with a handgun, crossbow, muzzleloader or shotgun? All these factors need to be considered when choosing your clothing. Bowhunters prefer less bulk in the front of their clothing (snaps and storm flaps may interfere with drawing a bow), more radial arm and shoulder movement for pulling back their bows, and sleeves that fit snug so as not to interfere with bowstrings when released.

Gun hunters, on the other had, need jackets and shirts that don't bind and that allow for a comfortable shoulder mount. Jackets and shirts that incorporate gusseted arm seams are ideal for increased mobility.

Both types of hunters may or may not do a lot of tree climbing. But if you're a treestand hunter, you'll want to be certain your pants don't bind so that they allow for easy climbing in and out of trees. Articulated knees are a great feature that keeps pants from riding up when climbing. Reinforced knees and rear-ends and double-stitched seams are a must -- women, like men, are hard on their hunting clothing.

Finally, don't neglect to research the state and county hunting laws and regulations in which you're hunt will take place to find out if blaze orange is required. 
 
Where Will You Hunt?

Women
The time of year you hunt will determine whether you need insulated or non-insulated clothing. Some garments, such as this All-Season Jacket, work in nearly all conditions.

Geographically speaking, determine where your hunts will take place. Will you be hunting turkeys in the Deep South, deer in the upper Midwest, elk in the mountains of New Mexico or javelina in Arizona? Where you'll be traveling on your hunts is perhaps the foremost factor when determining what gear to purchase. It will determine which fabrics you'll need and what camouflage patterns to consider. Fabric options can range from 100-percent brushed cotton or poly-cotton blends, to fleece, scent control or waterproof finishes.

Do you hunt in the hardwoods or along fencerows beside a cornfield? Maybe you prefer river bottoms or marshes? While the patterns available are as varied as the terrain around the world, women's clothing options still aren't nearly as numerous as the men's. But the camouflage patterns that are available are researched and developed to be used in specific cover -- whether it's the desert southwest, the cornfields of the Midwest or in the northern forest. You need to be smart and choose the pattern that best matches your hunting environment.

When Will You Hunt?

Consider the climate you'll be hunting in and the time of year you'll find yourself outdoors. Some deer hunters enjoy early season, others primarily hunt the rut, and others get out as much as they can the entire season. Turkey hunters in some states have several months to hunt, making for a long season, while other states have hunts lasting only days.

The time of year you'll find yourself in the woods will determine if you need insulated or non-insulated clothing, a single layer or several layers, waterproof or windproof features and brown camouflage or green. Research the geography and weather conditions in your hunting zone to better educate yourself on the type of clothing and camouflage you'll need. Staying warm and dry is key. Regardless of the climate, consider waterproof clothing or waterproof finishes for your outerwear and footwear -- you can't go wrong guaranteeing you'll stay dry in unpredictable weather.

Why Not Purchase Men's Clothing?

Simple answer: the fit.

Men and women are physically different. The average man is approximately 5'10" tall and 190 pounds; the average woman is 5'4" tall, 135 lbs. Because of these differences, there is much more fabric used to make men's clothing than the female's -- that's extra fabric we don't need.

Additionally, men's chest and waist sizes are nearly 2 to 3 inches larger than a woman's, while a woman's hips are approximately 2 inches wider than a man's. This all translates into big problems for women who try to fit into men's clothing.

Women hunters want to hunt and be comfortable; they want clothes that fit their female form, clothes that don't bag or sag or interfere with shooting their weapons. We don't want jackets and vests that hit below our waist or hang down to our knees. We don't want to purchase pants that need hemming or to be held onto our bodies by a tightly cinched belt. We want clothes that eliminate bulk where we don't want it, but "give" where we do need it.

Over the years manufacturers of women's hunting wear often sacrificed function for style. Yes, they acknowledged our desire to look good in the field, but they often underestimated our love of hunting and our dedication to the sport by leaving off essential features needed in quality hunting wear. In recent years women's clothing has improved and we're now seeing features included that have been requested for a long time.

When shopping, expect the following "female-specific" features to be advertised on women's clothing. (If not advertised, ask customer service for confirmation of these features.)

Shirts and Jackets

Shorter length (from shoulder to waist) in jackets and vests Gusseted underarms (a triangular insert in the underarm seam for increased mobility) Tapered waist or mid-section (to accommodate our smaller waistlines, this eliminates bulk you'll encounter when wearing men's "boxy-cut" shirts) Darted chest (accommodates our bust lines) Pleated back/shoulder yoke for better arm and shoulder movement Extended shirt-tails (stay tucked in better) Heavy-duty YKK, two-way zippers (not often found in women's clothing, but a great feature to have) Adjustable Velcro wristbands Zippered insulated liner (a nice option for jackets); adds great versatility in unpredictable weather

Pants

Wider fit through the hips Smaller waist sizes  Adjustable tab or elastic waistband (a great feature for layering) Hem-to-desired-length option  Belt loops (yes, women like to wear a belt and carry a knife too!) Adjustable Velcro, ties or snap-tabs on pant legs

Jackets & Pants

Pockets! Pockets! Pockets! We hunt and we bring lots of gear with us. Double check the clothing for pockets, whether it's jackets, pants or shirts.  Zippered "license" pocket Waterproof outerwear (not water-resistant!) Windproof fabric options Scent containment options Insulated/non-insulated choices   A variety of camouflage patterns available (very often, women's choices are still quite limited in comparison to men's options)

Thankfully, women's hunting clothing options are continually increasing, as are the camouflage patterns, and they not only look good, they fulfill our hunting requirements as well. With concerns about baggy, cumbersome clothes eliminated, you can now focus on your hunt. Take advantage of clothing manufactured and designed for women and see for yourself the difference that good fitting clothing can have on your hunt.

Shop all Women's Hunting Apparel

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Choosing A Turkey Decoy

By Alyssa Haukom


Nothing ensures success more than using the right decoy setup with the right calling tactics.

Any turkey hunter will tell you that decoys can be an effective hunting tool, utilized best during the spring turkey season. When the timing is right nothing can ensure a successful end to your hunt more than using the right decoy setup combined with the right calling tactics. The question is, how do you pick the correct decoy or group of decoys to use, and what are the decoy options available? Here's a quick review of your choices and how they can best work to make your time in the field well spent.

 

Decoy Materials

 

Decoys are manufactured from a variety of materials. The most simplistic designs found in stores are simply turkey images on cardboard. More sophisticated are lightweight one-dimensional fabrics with either the hen or gobbler image on both sides, and the most sophisticated designs are three-dimensional vinyl, foam, or polyethylene turkey bodies with extremely realistic feathers and colors impregnated onto the material used.  Any of these styles may work in the right situation, but there are obvious choices as to which style to choose based on ease of use, weight, and weather conditions.

 

Obviously, the cardboard and fabric one-dimensional styles may appear realistic head-on, but as a turkey approaches to investigate your setup, it may become wary at the lack of "volume" these decoys display as they're circled by an approaching bird. Another drawback is the deterioration of the cardboard in wet weather. Not a good, reliable decoy to use in inclement weather.  If you're heading out on a long hunt, you don't need your hunt to be cut short by an unsuspected rain shower which ruins your decoy.  While the cardboard styles tend to be lightweight to carry, they can still be awkward in shape to easily pack. The fabric styles are extremely lightweight and fold up for easy transport while taking up minimal space in a fanny pack or backpack.  They are also excellent for wind-induced movement in the field, although once again, they lack volume and can put a smart old tom on alert when detected at close range.

 

By far, the optimum decoys to use are the realistic and weatherproof three-dimensional vinyl, foam or polyethylene styles.  While some "molded" designs may be more cumbersome to carry and best used for hunting at nearby locations, the majority of these new 3-D decoys feature lightweight, compact, collapsible bodies which literally "pop" right into shape once shaken or punched-out from the inside cavity. Inflatable styles are generally made of vinyl and can be quickly inflated or deflated for easy transport in and out of the woods. These newer materials are waterproof and extremely realistic in appearance but an added bonus for these 3-D decoys are their ability to move with even the slightest of breezes, mimicking actual turkey behavior in the field and thereby calming any wary hens or toms in the immediate area. The three-dimensional decoys come in a variety of poses and configurations, which can all be used to your advantage in the field.

 


Nothing can infuriate a mature Tom more, than to see some young boy chasing after "his" hens.

Turkey Decoy Styles 

 

Next to consider when choosing your decoy or group of decoys, are the different styles available.  For the males, you'll find Jakes, "hot" or "aggressive" Jakes, full strut Toms or even a breeding pair setup, with a Hen below and Jake positioned on top. 

 

Hen decoys are sold as "alert" hens (standing upright), "feeding" hens (bent over) or "breeding" hens (low to the ground).  Moveable hen decoys

can be purchased that will mimic all three positions which increases your flexibility to use it effectively in the field and reduces your need to carry several different styles. 

 

One of the best choices to make when purchasing a decoy is a hen.  An even better choice would be to purchase several hens of various positions.

 

Generally, you're trying to attract a big old Tom turkey.  In the spring, a mature Tom is usually in search of a hen to breed, regardless of the timing...whether it's early, mid or late spring.  When he sees a hen, he's going to gravitate toward it.  Simply placing a standing or feeding hen approximately 15 to 20 yards in front of your position will usually lure that Tom right in. Several hens are even better, since they commonly travel in flocks, and can add to the "natural" look of your setup.  Consider placing a few standing and a couple of others feeding; start your yelping and cutting, and you're set!


If you're after a more mature Tom, consider adding a Jake to the group or a breeding hen with a Jake positioned nearby.

 

Nothing can infuriate a mature Tom more, than to see some young boy chasing after "his" hens.  A "Full Strut Tom" or "Breeding Pair" can both be used to lure a mature Boss Tom who doesn't appreciate a stranger moving in on his harem. 

 

These "challenge" setups may work best during early season when the mature gobblers are ready to fight each other for the available hens, but don't hesitate to experiment with different setups; sometimes the tried and true setups can work, other times they won't.  Remember too, that while these setups can provoke an older bird earlier in the season, it may also deter an older bird later in the season when their urge to breed has waned a bit and their eagerness to fight has dwindled. Later in the season you might consider simply using a variety of hens placed in a group, without adding a Jake to the setup.

 

Moving Decoys

 

Several decoy manufacturers have catered to hunter's requests for lifelike movement in their decoys, as found in the Buckwing LifeLite Bobb'n Head Series Decoys and the MOJO Outdoors Turn Around Remote-Controlled Turkey. (A word of caution: before utilizing these styles in the field, be sure to check turkey hunting regulations and state hunting laws where you'll be hunting to be sure use of moving or electronic decoys are legal.)

 


The added naturalness displayed by moveable decoys is just what's needed to bring that old Gobbler within shooting distance.

Some decoys feature "moveable" bodies, allowing the hunter to choose which of several positions he wishes to place his decoy, such as in the alert, breeding, or feeding positions. More advanced moveable styles enable the hunter to tie string from decoy to hunter (the string is usually sold with the decoy and wound onto a "reel" which is also included) and with a twitch of the string, the hunter can rock the entire body up and down, or pull it to the side, or pull just the head down, to mimic a feeding turkey.  With the electronic models, simply pushing a specific button will result in a desired movement.

 

While a bit more work and more movement will be required by the hunter, the added naturalness displayed by these moveable decoy setups is often just what's needed to bring that old Gobbler within shooting distance.

 

Decoy Accessories

 

While decoys are fun to experiment with, it's imperative you make using them and transporting them a pleasure as well. When purchased, most are usually sold with a decoy stake or stand.  The easiest to carry are the two-piece collapsible rods, best if attached with a bungee cord to ensure the two pieces don't get separated from each other.  A nice option for the 3-D decoys, are the "umbrella" type expander stakes which feature several prongs at the top which help maintain the decoy's 3-D shape, especially in a stiff wind which can otherwise collapse them if attached to a thin rod.

 

If you wish to create movement with any decoy, simply purchase and tie some monofilament fishing line to your decoy and use it to create a bit of movement as a gobbler approaches -- often just some simple wiggling detected by the approaching bird is all it takes to keep it coming and prevent it from "hanging up" just out of range. 

 

Be sure to use a quality turkey vest with padded hunting seat, plenty of accessory pockets and built-in backpack large enough to hold several decoys.  Rods can be placed at the bottom of the backpack pocket and decoys folded and stacked.  Be sure to never leave a decoys head, especially a red or blue painted head, poking out from your backpack when walking, as this could potentially attract the attention of an eager turkey hunter in the woods, unaware of your presence. Too avoid accidents, the best choice is to wear a blaze orange hat or blaze orange piece of clothing whenever walking in or out of the turkey woods. 

 

Upon returning to camp, be sure to use a dry cloth to wipe any dirt or water from your decoys and stakes, and to dry them thoroughly to preserve them and prevent damage or decay from moisture.  Repair any rips or holes with either glue or tape, and store decoys in a clean, dry place out of direct sunlight. 

 

With the proper care and storage, your decoys should last a long time and serve you well on many successful turkey hunts.

 

Shop Bass Pro's complete selection of Turkey Decoys.

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Turkey Vest Buyer's Guide

By Don Sangster


Next to your gun or bow and your turkey calls, a good turkey vest is perhaps the most important item a serious turkey hunter can own.

Turkey hunting is one of the most exciting and fastest growing forms of hunting today. Wild turkeys are hunted in 49 States and three Canadian Provinces. Many of these places offer both a spring and fall hunting season. Although there are differences in how turkeys are hunted in each season, one thing the two seasons have in common is the need for the hunter to be able to call in a turkey.

 

This usually requires some type of calling device, and often more than one kind. In fact, most serious turkey hunters carry an assortment of calls into the field in order to suit a variety of different situations that might be encountered. This usually leads to another thing that the spring and fall seasons have in common - the need for a good turkey vest to carry all those calls and other essential gear into the turkey woods. Here's what you need to know to make an informed choice when it comes to buying a turkey vest.

 

Pockets


An abundance of assorted-sized pockets, both inside and outside the vest, is the biggest thing to look for in a turkey vest. If you use only one or two different calls, you may not see the need for so many pockets, but trust me when I say that as you get more involved in this thrilling sport, you'll be amazed at how many different calls and accessories you will collect over the years. And just as fishermen feel the need to lug their entire tackle box out on the water every day, even though they know they will likely only use a few different lures, you too will want to have it all with you in the field, "just in case." Personally, I think that you can never have too many pockets on a turkey vest. You will always find something to put in them, be it an extra sandwich for lunch, a GPS unit, etc.

 

But all pockets are not created equal. In fact, large, single-compartment pockets can be annoying. Pockets need to not only store and carry your gear securely, but they need to also keep your gear, especially your calls, organized and accessible. Cavernous single pockets lead to fumbling and searching frantically for just the right call at critical times. Look for a vest that has both large pockets, for bulkier items such as binoculars, rangefinders or your lunch, as well as smaller pockets for smaller items, such as your different turkey calls or shells.

 

These pockets should have either zippers, snaps, or Velcro closures. Which you prefer is largely a matter of personal taste. However, a nice feature to look for is elasticized pockets. This helps to keep items secure and prevents them from moving around and making noise. This not only allows you to move quietly through the woods, but also prevents friction calls such as box calls and slate calls from shifting and making inadvertent sounds that could spook a wary gobbler. Some vests accomplish the same thing by having drawstrings in the pockets.

 

Some of the finest vests have a mesh pocket for diaphragm calls, which allows the calls to dry while not in use. These vests may also have a pocket specifically for storing a slate call, perhaps with dividers for different strikers. By having a separate pocket for each specific type of call, you never have to search through random pockets looking for just the right one.

 

When it comes to concealment, camouflage is mandatory. Comfort


Besides being practical, a good turkey vest also needs to be comfortable. Unlike most outer garments, size is not usually an issue, as most turkey vests are oversized and "one size fits all." If you are buying a fitted vest, keep in mind the amount of clothing you will be wearing underneath, and allow for cool mornings, especially during the fall and in the northern States and Canada. Some versatile vests also feature zip-off sleeves for cool autumn mornings, which can be removed when the temperature climbs.

 

But comfort isn't only about fit; it's also about sit. If there's one thing that you will likely be doing a lot of, it's sitting. A wary gobbler responding to your calling can often take a long time to finally move into shooting range. During that time, the last thing you want to be doing is squirming and fidgeting because you're uncomfortable. That's why I believe that a built-in back pad is essential.

 

Most vests are made of a thin, light material, in order to keep you cool during mild temperatures, but that thin material does not provide much cushioning when leaning up against a tree, especially those with rough bark. A vest with a padded back will allow you to sit comfortably for hours.

 

Many vests also have a fold-down padded seat. If you don't want to carry a separate seat cushion or stool with you, a built-in seat pad is also essential for keeping your backside off the cold, hard, ground.

 

For safety reasons, it's wise to always sit with your back against a tree that's wider than your shoulders. But what if you suddenly stumble upon a flock of turkeys, or one spots you while you are standing out in the open, and there are no large trees around to sit against? No problem, if you have one of the latest turkey vests with an internal frame for back support. One of these vests will allow you to simply sit down wherever you are, no tree required (and they provide additional comfort and support when sitting against a small or crooked tree). Some of these vests also have an internal frame in the seat cushion, for further comfort and support.

 

Concealment


When it comes to concealment, camouflage is mandatory. Wild turkeys have excellent visual acuity, as well as the ability to see color, meaning that head-to-toe camo is in order. All turkey vests are camouflaged, but care should be taken in selecting an appropriate camo pattern.

 

During the early spring, when new vegetation and leaves have not yet sprouted, a pattern with more brown and gray is more effective than one that is predominantly green. Same goes for the fall season. However, as the spring season progresses, especially in the South, a green-based pattern blends in much better. For this reason, and because most vests are priced between $25 and $100, some hunters wear different vests at different times of the year and in different locations.

  

Safety


Safety should always be a paramount consideration in all forms of hunting, and turkey hunting is no exception. In fact, a very dangerous situation can arise when attempting to carry your bird out of the woods following a successful hunt, especially in thick cover or on public land.

 

A dead turkey being carried over your back or at your side can seem to be alive and moving as it bounces along through heavy cover. When combined with the hunter's total camouflage, and his inability to see another hunter that may be hidden and camouflaged nearby, it's easy to see how disaster can strike. The key is to keep yourself easy to see at this point, with the help of your turkey vest.

 

Most turkey vests have a removable blaze orange safety flag on the back of the vest. By simply making sure this is visible as you are leaving the woods, whether you're carrying a turkey or not, other hunters should have no problem seeing you.

 

Another option is to make sure that the bird you are carrying is not visible at all. For this reason, most turkey vests also feature a large game bag in the back. These compartments are also great for carrying decoys.

 

Next to your gun or bow and your turkey calls, a good turkey vest is perhaps the most important item a serious turkey hunter can own. A little knowledge of what to look for will help you choose the right vest for you.

 

View all Turkey Vests.

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Hunting Gift Guide

By Keith Sutton

Searching for the perfect Christmas gift to give a friend or family member who enjoys hunting? This can seem like a daunting task since such a great variety of products are available, but this guide to holiday shopping can help you get started. Here are some hot items you'll certainly want to consider gift-wrapping this year.

Guns

If you really want to make an impression, you can't go wrong with the gift of a new rifle, shotgun or handgun. Most veteran hunters already own one or several, yet all will tell you there's always room for a new caliber, gauge or style in the gun cabinet. A matched pair of collectible British doubles might set you back $40,000 or more. But more budget-conscious shoppers can find firearms that will long be treasured by the lucky hunter starting at just a few hundred dollars.

Archery and Blackpowder Equipment

MuzzleloaderIf you know someone interested in bowhunting, you might ask them to make a list showing some of the specialty items they'd like to find under the tree Christmas morning. The possibilities are almost endless, everything from a brand new bow or crossbow to a new set of arrows or accessories such as broadheads, bow cases, targets, sights, quivers, releases and stabilizers.

The blackpowder enthusiast will probably have some great gift ideas as well. Give something truly special like a new muzzleloading rifle, shotgun or handgun, or keep them well-stocked with commonly used items such as powder, caps, bullets, lubricants and patches. Accessories such as powder measures, flasks, speed loaders and cappers make great stocking stuffers.

Clothing and Footwear

It's hard to go wrong in this department because every hunter always can use a new shirt, pants, outerwear or other item of clothing made especially for hunting.

Cold-weather ApparelCold-weather apparel always is appreciated, anything from a complete insulated waterproof parka system and bib overalls to more moderately priced items such as thermal underwear, gloves, face masks, caps and hats. And the first time they get caught in a downpour, they'll be glad you thought about a gift of new rainwear.

There's clothing made especially for waterfowl hunters and turkey hunters, and specialty items such as scent-control apparel that will put a smile on the face of any big-game hunter. For upland hunters, consider a new vest with game bag and shell holders. And what outdoorsman wouldn't be thrilled to find a new pair of boots or waders under the tree?

Don't forget the ladies and youngsters in the family either. Clothing made just for them is available in a wide variety of camo and blaze-orange patterns.

Treestands

TreestandIf you have a budding deer hunter in the family, he'll surely appreciate a new treestand where he can get a bird's-eye view of his hunting territory. And hunters who already have stands may need upgrades that include safety features unavailable on many early models.

Choices are many. Ladder stands, which are simply leaned against and secured to a tree, are preferred by many. But climbing stands, which tend to be more compact and lightweight, may be the best selection for those who hunt backcountry or public areas where stands must be carried out daily. Also available are big comfortable tower stands that are more permanent in nature and ideal for hunters who regularly pursue deer on their own property or lease. With prices starting around $70, there's something for every budget. See the "Treestand Buyer's Guide" for more.

Optics

A good set of binoculars or a spotting scope aren't necessary for many types of hunting, but they'll be appreciated anyway as they'll provide hours of enjoyment watching wildlife outdoors and at home.

Rifle ScopeA new rifle scope makes a great gift as well, and many hunters wish they had but don't yet own a red-dot or holographic sight for their handgun, slug gun, turkey gun or muzzleloader.

Rangefinders are one of the hottest gifts for today's hunter who wants to improve accuracy on the range and in the field. And your loved one is sure to love you even more if he unwraps a package and finds one of the many new game cameras inside that will capture great photos of deer and other animals on the trails he hunts.

Electronics

Handheld GPSThe newest technological toys are big hits when it comes to gift giving, even for hunters. Near the top of list would be a handheld GPS unit that will help your hunter get into and out of the backcountry without getting lost, and help him navigate to prime hunting spots on return visits. See "Choosing a Handheld GPS Unit" for more info.

Other electronic options include two-way radios for outdoor communication, electronic predator calls and accessories, electronic collars for hunting dogs, hearing enhancers and weather-alert radios.

ATV Accessories

Does your gift recipient own an ATV? A wide variety of ATV accessories are available, any of which might make a great Christmas gift. Choose from items as diverse as winches, gun racks, bow racks, cargo/storage bags, camouflage covers and tree-stand transporters.

ATV accessoriesOther add-ons include drink holders, halogen trail lights, spotlights, cell phone holders and carts. You can even purchase a passenger cart for some models that permits the rider to carry extra friends or family on a single ATV to their hunting blind. See "Outfitting Your ATV" for more.

Calls and Decoys

Nowadays, there's a call and decoy made for just about every type of game, from deer, elk and predators to waterfowl, turkeys and squirrels. Calls make wonderful stocking stuffers, and when you gift-wrap a dozen duck decoys or a full-body deer decoy, you'll have the gift recipient wondering what that huge package is under the tree.
     
Hunting and Shooting Accessories

KnivesIf you can't decide on one or two gifts for your favorite hunter, consider buying a daypack or travel bag and stuffing it with a variety of small hunting accessories. Some items to consider include a hunting knife, pocketknife or multi-tool; hunting scents and scent eliminators; ammunition; targets; hearing protection and eye protection; gun-cleaning kitcompass; flashlight or headlamp; first-aid kit; water purifier or shooting glasses.

Books and DVDs

Hunters always are looking for ways to improve their skills, and instructional books and DVDs are very helpful in this regard. Scores of titles are available for hunting sports of all sorts, from bear hunting and waterfowling to archery and dog training. Gift subscriptions to hunting magazines also make superb Christmas presents that will be appreciated year-round.

TentCamping Gear

If none of the above is inspiring, consider camping-related gifts. Options include a new tent, sleeping bag, cot, sleeping pad, lantern, cooler, backpack or camp chair.

Cookery items will be appreciated as well, with much to choose from. A new camp stove can get your chef started, and a camper's kitchen is great for keeping everything organized. Coffee pots, grills, cooking utensils, cast-iron cookware and accessories such as roasting forks, mugs and cookbooks are just a few of the many other items from which to choose.

A Hunting Trip

Big Cedar LodgeFor that really special someone, think about booking an outdoor hunting adventure with a reputable guide or outfitter. The cost may be more affordable than you think, and many options are available, from big-game hunting in remote wilderness areas to family affairs where hunters can spend time with their loved ones enjoying a variety of activities together. A visit to Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri, is one option your whole family is sure to remember for years to come.

Gift Cards

And finally, if you still can't decide on the just-right gift, let your hunter make the selection. A gift card stuck in a stocking shows you really care and makes the perfect present for someone who seems to have everything. You pick the dollar amount, and the recipient can redeem the card for online purchases, catalog orders and purchases made in the store. And if you're one of those last-minute shoppers, you can even purchase an E-Gift Card to send a gift almost instantly to your favorite outdoor enthusiast.

This doesn't begin to cover all the hunting-related gifts you'll have to choose from when making selections this holiday season, but for most hunters, it's the thought that counts anyway. No matter what you give this Christmas, you know the person who receives it will be thinking good thoughts of you when they use it.

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12 Tips for Rabbit Hunters

By Keith Sutton

 rabbit2

 Rabbit hunting is a great way to get afield and put some good-tasting meat on the table.

Although most rabbit hunters bag a few cottontails or swamp rabbits on each trip afield, certain techniques can bolster your success.  These 12 tips should help you better enjoy the experience of rabbit hunting this season.

Leapfrogging

 

As farming operations and urban development encroach on prime rabbit hunting areas, large contiguous blocks of hunting territory are harder to find.  This has caused many rabbit hunters to abandon the traditional method of hunting all day in one large swath of brushy territory.  Instead, many now opt for "leapfrogging, " where hunters cover one brush patch or overgrown fencerow in an hour or so, then drive on to another rabbit hideout. By leapfrogging throughout the day, hunting first one spot then another, chances are good you'll locate more rabbits.

 

Farm help

 

Savvy rabbit hunters know that farmers are an invaluable aid for finding cottontail concentrations.  Since they work their land daily and see rabbits regularly, farmers know where huntable populations are likely to be.  Most are eager to keep cottontails thinned out so they don't cause crop damage.

 

It's a simple matter to cultivate your own contacts in farm country.  Remember these things.  Ask permission before hunting, every time you visit.  Follow all rules the landowner asks you to abide by, like passing up shots at the coveys of quail he's nurturing.  Leave everything just as you found it, and always take time to thank the farmer personally.  Offer to share your game, and follow up with a thank-you note and a token of your appreciation.  Make these easy-to-follow guidelines part of all your farm visits, and you'll always have prime rabbit lands on which to hunt.

 

Sunrise and sunset scouting

 

Driving rural roads near dawn and dusk is another good way to find potential hunting sites.  Cottontails are most active early and late in the day, especially along the fringes of fields and roadside cover, where briars and thickets provide sanctuary near favorite feeding areas.

 

Drive slowly, and note any spot where you see several cottontails.  Then inquire at nearby homes for the name of the landowner so you can request permission to hunt.

 

Dress for success

 

Most good cottontail thickets have one thing in common -- thorns.  Whether you're hunting behind dogs, kicking up rabbits yourself or retrieving downed game, some type of sticker will be clawing at your ears, fingers, thighs and other tender parts.  Wearing protective clothing can do wonders to make your trips afield more enjoyable and less painful.

 

Blue jeans are preferred by many rabbit fans, but offer little protection.  A good pair of briar-busting breeches with thorn-proof material covering the front should be considered essential equipment no matter where and how you hunt.  It also helps to wear a briar-resistant hunting coat, gloves and some type of hunting cap with flaps that can be pulled down over your ears.

 

Remember the orange rhino

 

 rabbit

 A good pair of briar-busting breeches with thorn-proof material covering the front should be considered essential equipment.

A buddy of mine often describes dense rabbit cover by saying, "You couldn't see a blaze orange rhino in there."  In some locales we hunt, this is darn near true.  Cover is so thick, you can only see a few feet.  For this reason, we wear hunter orange hats and bodywear on every trip.

Safety should be the foremost consideration on all your rabbit hunts.  Remember the orange rhino, and make hunter orange clothing a must for everyone in your party.

 

Barrels and bullets

 

When stomping for cottontails in thick cover, use a shotgun with an improved cylinder choke and No. 6 or 7-1/2 shotshells.  Since cottontails jumped in thick cover usually are close and moving fast, a wide, yet sufficiently heavy, shot pattern is needed to put a rabbit down without excessive damage to the meat.

 

When hunting cottontails with beagles, you may want to switch to a modified or full choke.  A pack of dogs will push rabbits across fields and woodlots, and the shots you'll make are usually farther than those presented when you flush rabbits yourself.  Use the tighter patterning choke and increase your shot size to No. 4s or 6s.

 

Icy weather equals hot hunting

 

Cold, miserable days often provide the best gunning.  Rabbit fur has poor insulating qualities, so rabbits are forced to take shelter from the weather, making them easier to find and less likely to flush wildly.

 

To find bad-weather bunnies, think like a rabbit.  Where would you go to escape the cold if all you had to wear was a light jacket?  Hunt places that are sheltered from wind and open to warm rays of sunshine, then move to other locales offering protection from adverse conditions.

 

Look 'em in the eye

 

Stalking rabbits as they sit in their forms is great sport, especially when hunting with youngsters not yet adept at bagging running rabbits.  The trick is to spot the rabbit before it spots you.  Considering the rabbit's superb camouflage, this can be tough.

 

Old hands at this endeavor have a rule: look for their eyes instead of their whole bodies.  A rabbit's round, dark eyes look out of place against the crisscross of cover, and are easily spotted by a hunter who walks slowly, carefully examining all brush and weeds.  You may overlook rabbits huddled in their forms, but you'll also bag a few at close range after spotting the eye.

 

Watch over your shoulder

 

 Rabbit3

 Look for cottontails and swamp rabbits in brushpiles, honeysuckle patches, fallen treetops, cane brakes and other forest cover.

In isolated patches of cover, a cottontail may head directly away, disappearing from sight, then circle well behind the hunter.  Others sit tight until the gunner passes, then squirt out behind.

Look over your shoulder every few minutes, and you'll glimpse some of these renegades before they make good their escape.  Snap shooting is a must, so be careful to identify your target before shooting.

 

Stop-and-go hunting

 

A veteran nimrod taught me a rabbit hunting technique that has proven very effective over the years.  It's based on the idea that rabbits are highly nervous animals, and suspense is something they can't handle very well.  It works this way.  Enter a covert and begin walking very slowly.  Walk ten paces, then stop for at least a minute, then repeat the process.  The sound of the approach is sometimes enough to make cottontails flush, but it's just as often the silent period.  Apparently, the rabbits think they've been detected and decide to make a run for it.

 

Woodland rabbits

 

Most hunters think of thickets and field edges as the places to go for a rabbit race.  Some fail to realize woods harbor rabbits, too.  Look for cottontails and swamp rabbits in brushpiles, honeysuckle patches, fallen treetops, cane brakes and other forest cover.  Because such areas usually receive less hunting pressure, they often hide extraordinary numbers of rabbits.

 

Take a kid hunting

 

To get the most out of your next rabbit hunt, take a kid with you -- a son, a daughter, a niece, a nephew, a grandchild or maybe a neighbor's child.  It was in the cottontail fields most of us were trained as young hunters.  We may have dreamed of deer or more exotic game like grizzlies and lions, but with cottontails, we learned the crucial basics about hunting, nature and ourselves.

 

Share these things with children.  Share the fun and excitement, the triumphs and disappointments, the barrage of wonderful sensations experienced on a rabbit hunt.  Our heritage of hunting is a priceless treasure.  Do your part to pass it on.

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Rabbit Hunting 101

By Keith Sutton

Rabbit Hunting Basics

Hunting rabbits with beagles can be an exciting experience for young hunters and veterans alike.

There's no doubt about it: chasing rabbits is fantastic sport. Hunting cottontails may lack the sudden explosiveness of quail hunting or the mesmerism of a green-timber mallard hunt at dawn, but it has an immeasurable allure all its own.

If you carefully pick the coverts you visit, you can be fairly certain you'll bag at least a few rabbits, making each day a success. Thus, rabbit hunting is a great way to introduce youngsters and novices to hunting. Chances of gathering enough rabbits for several tasty meals are excellent as well. And whether you hunt with or without dogs, you'll find rabbits offer an exciting challenge.

Rabbit hunting isn't a complicated sport. It can be as simple as a quiet walk with the ol' single-shot and a pocketful of shells. Or it can be a precise outdoor ritual with packs of beagles, planning to decide who will hunt where and the specialized equipment many hunters take along. There are many ways to hunt rabbits and lots of habitat types where rabbits are found. Perhaps that's why rabbit hunting is so popular.

How to Find Them

Some places, naturally, are better than others for rabbit hunting, and it's not hard to locate the hotspots. Cottontails usually are found in areas with good cover adjacent to their favorite foods -- grasses, clover, broadleaf weeds, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, garden crops and the buds, twigs and bark of small saplings and bushes.

Look for cottontails around small fields bordered by woods, brush and briars; along drainages and fencerows where vegetation has grown up, in recently cleaned timber clearcuts, in brushpiles on freshly cleared land sites, in densely covered powerline and railroad right-of-ways and other places providing hideouts and nearby forage. Favorite cover includes blackberry patches, briars, honeysuckle, thick grass and weeds and even rolled hay bales, abandoned farm machinery, irrigation pipes and culverts.

Rabbit Hunting 101

Hunting edge areas where good cover and food are available is a good way to walk up rabbits without dogs.

One good way to scout for cottontails is driving rural roads at dawn or dusk, using a county road map to mark where you see rabbits. It's a simple matter to locate rabbits later, because they'll be in cover nearest to where you saw them. Most of these places are on private land, but many landowners allow hunting if asked politely. 

Gearing Up

Good marksmen with excellent stalking skills can bag plenty of rabbits with a .22 rifle, a pistol or even a bow and arrow. But most hunters find a light, quick-handling shotgun most effective in overgrown, close-quarters rabbit habitat where snap shooting is common. A 20-gauge shotgun with an improved-cylinder choke is one of the best choices, but almost any shotgun, regardless of gauge, action or choke, is adequate to hunt rabbits. As far as shot sizes, 6s and 7-1/2s are both good choices for cottontails.

Briars and thorns can make hamburger meat out of unprotected skin, so it's wise to wear thick clothing when rabbit hunting. It's amazing how much a pair of vinyl-faced canvas field pants can bolster a hunter's courage and success. A durable canvas upland hunting coat with a game bag for carrying rabbits makes plowing through chest-high stuff easier, too, and a heavy pair of gloves will help protect the hands. Because brush is often so thick that hunting partners are tough to see, it's wise to wear highly-visible, blaze-orange vests and hats for added safety. 

Bunnies and Beagles

Some things go together so perfectly that when one of the elements is missing, the whole thing seems out of kilter. One such combination is rabbits and beagles. It's possible to hunt rabbits without dogs, but it's tough to hunt them as well. 

Two things make the beagle/bunny coterie so appealing. First is the rabbit's instinctive habit of circling. Rabbits have a small area they call home, and they don't like to leave it. So when flushed from cover, ol' longlegs is likely to sprint away, leaving the dogs far behind, then slow down until it feels threatened again, when it once more easily outdistances the dogs. But somewhere out yonder, usually not more than a couple hundred yards, Br'er Rabbit begins turning back to the area where he initially hopped out.

Rabbit Hunting 101

Rabbits usually hide in thick cover that provides protection from predators and the elements.

The hunters follow the chase by listening to the baying of the dogs, and that's the second big thrill of this sport. The hullabaloo of a beagle pack hounding a rabbit on a frosty winter morning is the kind of music angels will play for hunters who make it to the Happy Hunting Grounds.

Before long, the beagle music starts back the hunter's way, and he climbs up on some high ground to watch and wait. With luck, he'll soon catch a glimpse of the quarry running, maybe hopping, depending on how far back the dogs are. When the time is right, the gun comes up and another tasty rabbit is added to the bag. Usually. Sometimes the music is so enthralling the hunter doesn't want it to end, and he stands there, cradling his gun, just taking in the magical sights and sounds.

Walking Up Rabbits

Of course, not every rabbit hunter can afford the luxury of a pack of beagles. Walking up rabbits is the most basic hunting method. 

Methods differ from hunter to hunter, but if there's a sure-fire way for the "walk-'em-up" hunter to get a rabbit to forsake its tight-sitting, hope-that-human-doesn't-see-me custom, it's using a similar plan. Like other well-camouflaged critters, the rabbit can't stand to be outwaited. A pause in the hunter's motions makes it a nervous wreck.

It works this way: Enter a good location and begin walking through it very slowly. Ten paces, then stop for about 30 seconds. Then repeat the process. The sound of the approach may flush some rabbits, but often as not, it's the silent period that does the trick. Apparently the rabbits think they've been spotted and decide to make a run for it. 

When hunting with a partner, it's best to be about 50 feet apart, walking abreast. Move in staggered succession. One hunter moves up about 10 feet and waits; the other hunter walks 10 feet, waits, and so on, alternating until the cover is worked. Occasionally, turn around and view the area just walked. Rabbits that didn't fall for the freeze trick often will break cover when passed.

Shooting Tips

Learn to snap shoot. Rabbits in heavy cover seldom offer more than an instant in which to make your shot. There's no time to swing through your target. You have to locate the dashing rabbit, shoulder your gun and shoot all in one motion.

Rabbit hunting gear

Rabbit hunting requires little in the way of equipment: a shotgun or other firearm, some shotshells, bright orange clothing for safety and maybe a game bag to carry the kill.

On the rare occasions when a rabbit bolts across open ground you'll do well to ponder your shot, but not very long. On pass shots, swing through the body and beyond the head, shooting just as the bead clears the rabbit's nose. When your target is running straight away from you, don't draw your bead on that cottony-white tail. Instead, swing through the rabbit, centering your shot just beyond the head. The result is a fast kill and undamaged meat.

It pays to be ready for a cottontail's fleet rush from cover. Rabbits are adept at making their move when you and your partners are chewing the fat and let your guard down. Don't prop your gun over a shoulder or cradle it in your arm. Keep your firearm in the ready position, with your trigger hand on the grip and your index finger on the trigger guard. You'll miss too many shots if you parade around like a soldier with your gun pointed at the sky.

The real magic of rabbit hunting is its simplicity. It takes some work for rabbits, but it's not as hard as for some other game animals. There's no need to build blinds or stands. It's not imperative to be out at daybreak, and fancy, high-dollar equipment isn't needed. Just find the rabbits, and the fun comes naturally. 

Field Care and Cooking

Few wild game meats are as delectable and versatile as rabbit. The flesh is delicate, white and lean, with just a hint of gaminess. It can be cooked in every conceivable way, from simply fried, baked or roasted to stews, casseroles and pies. The taste is comparable to that of chicken, and recipes for the two are interchangeable.
 
Wear disposable rubber gloves when dressing rabbits to avoid the possibility of contracting tularemia or other diseases cottontails occasionally carry. Use a sharp knife to skin and gut the rabbit, and remove the feet and head. To prepare the rabbit for cooking, cut the forelegs from the body at the shoulder, and then cut and remove the hind legs at the hip. Separate the rib section from the loin and you're done.

For delicious fried rabbit, cut a rabbit into serving pieces and parboil in a pot with enough water to cover plus one hot pepper and four sliced cloves of garlic. When the rabbit is tender, remove from the heat and drain off the water. Combine 1 cup milk and 2 slightly beaten eggs in a shallow bowl. Dip the rabbit pieces in the egg mixture, dredge in plain flour seasoned with some salt and pepper, and fry the pieces until done to taste in 1/2 cup shortening heated in a skillet. Serves 2.

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Beat the Crowds for Better Deer Hunting

By Keith Sutton

Hunting Pressured Deer

When hunting public ground, look for hard-to-reach areas or small isolated tracts of land as these areas are often neglected by other hunters.

 

One of the most satisfying aspects of deer hunting is spending hours in the field carefully patterning the movements of deer, then using that knowledge to ambush your quarry as it goes about its daily routine of feeding and traveling when the season opens.

Unfortunately, most of the deer we pursue today are heavily pressured by hunters. Unless you hunt during archery season or on large tracts of privately owned, heavily controlled land during modern firearms seasons, you'll probably find it tough to enjoy this pleasant experience.

This shouldn't ruin your hunt, however. It simply changes the nature of the challenge facing you. How well you cope with this pressure element in today's hunting equation often determines whether you have enough venison to fill your freezer or have to head to the grocery store's meat department.

Go Deep

One of the first things to think about is the option of avoiding the most heavily pounded areas. You may think without a large tract of private land available that you are forced to go to areas thick with other hunters, but if you really sit back and analyze the situation, a different story reveals itself. The vast majority of these hunters are in areas within a quarter to half mile of a road or parking area. On big tracts of federal or state lands, you often can get beyond most hunters by simply starting earlier and walking in a bit farther. Study topographic maps and find areas where no roads or trails are present, then look for features that would make them prime deer habitat.

There are other alternatives as well. Ride a mountain bike to reach lightly pressured areas. Float down a river in a canoe or johnboat, or motor across a lake to a parcel of public land that is hard to get to from a vehicle. Hunt islands, which can be magnets for deer when hunting pressure intensifies. Make sure the place you hunt is on public property, though, or obtain permission in advance from the landowner.

Scout for Sign

Check out such potential areas before the season to see if there are tracks, trails, rubs and/or other signs of deer use. Then try to determine the animals' patterns of movement. The nice thing about these locations is that the bucks are not as apt to change their routines much after hunting season arrives because they rarely see people.

Isolated Tracts

Besides seeking out hard-to-reach areas, also consider hunting isolated, cut-off tracts of public land that are so small they tend to get neglected by other hunters.

Hunting Pressured Bucks

Unpressured bucks are less apt to change their routines after hunting season arrives because they rarely see people.

 

Public areas are usually big spreads with plenty of parking areas and good access. But often there are also a few small parcels that are cut off from the main acreage. If there's no easy parking, these isolated patches of habitat -- sometimes just 50 or 75 acres -- may hold several deer, and if it's really overlooked, possibly a nice buck.

Dense cover or steep rugged terrain are the keys. When bucks feel the pressure of just a few hours of hunting, they immediately move to places where they can escape the pressure from humans.

Look for a rugged area with jumbled cover where an old buck might feel safe. This can mean thick brush along a creek bottom or in a swamp, hollows full of vines and blowdowns, a bench just below a mountain ridge, knolls and hills overlooking feeding areas or a patch of mountain laurel or dense stand of conifers in an otherwise open, mature hardwood forest.

Strip Down

It's tough, but taking these pressured bucks is definitely an achievable goal. One way is to strip down to the necessities and get mobile. Leave your tree stand or blind at home. Bucks in this situation tend to be so attuned to their habitat you'll probably spook the animal just by setting up. Rely on camouflage, immobility and patience instead of equipment. Begin hunting the minute you enter the woods. You may have to relearn how to walk soundlessly, recognize places to blend in and sit perfectly still.

Slip in to the downwind edge of a mature buck's hideout or the thinly outlined trails leading to it, and sit back against a big tree or rock outcropping. Or hunker down in the branches of a blowdown. Don't alter or brush it up in any way. Silence is key. Wear camouflage clothing except for the required blaze orange and put on a face mask. Wait patiently and watch intently. The buck you're after may get up to stretch, urinate and nibble on honeysuckle, or perhaps he'll slink in after a night's feeding.

Consider Drives

Hunting Pressured Whitetail DeerIf you're hunting with a partner or partners and it's legal, you might also consider organizing drives through pockets of thick cover. Focus on small pieces of dense cover so inconspicuous other hunters ignore them. Post standers on the side seams where deer might curl out, and have the drivers on the edges move slightly ahead of those in the middle to herd the bucks inward. Also station one or two hunters behind the drivers to get a shot at a buck that lays low and tries to escape out the back.

Silent drives are best. A crosswind is ideal, so bucks don't scent walkers or standers. If that's not possible, set up with the wind blowing toward the posted hunters, using the scent of the drivers to help push the deer.

Split-Second Shooting Required

Regardless of how you hunt these deer -- stalking, driving, whatever -- it's a good idea to go to a rifle range and practice getting on target fast. You won't have much time when you surprise a buck in dense out-of-the-way cover. A split-second shot is required.

Many hunters I know prefer a scoped rifle in this situation, setting the variable on low power. If there's not time to get the animal cleanly in the crosshairs, they don't fire. Others prefer hunting with open sights or a shotgun with buckshot.

Use whatever you're most comfortable shooting, but be practiced enough you can make a good shot when you see the right deer. Move at a moderate walk on the edges of and through bedding cover, but make as little noise as possible. You need to analyze trophy quality and age quickly and be prepared to shoot immediately.

When you do bag one of these difficult, elusive animals, you'll find the feeling of accomplishment runs much deeper than when you score on a private area where there's less challenge involved. That makes the extra effort worthwhile.

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