Daily Archives: February 10, 2015

6 things you can do this winter to help you shoot a big buck next fall

If you are sitting on the couch in front of a basketball game instead of spending a few hours improving your hunting property, your chances of success during the upcoming hunting season are not going to be as good as they could be. Winter is often seen as downtime by hunters, but there are a few simple improvements you can make to your hunting property during the cold months that will pay dividends in the fall.


  1. Logging and hinge cutting

One of the best ways to hold deer on your property is to improve food and bedding cover areas. One of the best ways to improve both is to remove undesirable trees to let more sunlight to the forest floor and increase the amount of edible plants. Taking a few trees out can really help make the area more attractive to deer.

Hinge cutting is done by cutting a tree at an angle about shoulder height, about three-fourths of the way through. Just cut until the tree starts to fall and let it fall. The fallen tree will provide cover and browse for the deer during the winter. It also provides thermal cover, security cover for bedding, and allows more sunlight to the forest floor.


  1. Food plot fertilizer

Winter is the time to put lime and some other fertilizers on your food plots. Lime can be applied right on top of snow. Have your soil sampled so you know what fertilizer you need. Have the pH checked also so you know if your ground is too acidic.

In the late winter right before the snow goes off you can apply clover seed. Clover seed is very small and will germinate well when spring rains and snowmelt come. This is called “frost seeding” and it allows the seeds to hit the ground and be ready once the temperatures are warm enough for germination.


  1. Cutting and maintaining trails

Winter is a good time to clean up the trails you use to approach your stands and food plots. Clear logs and debris from the trails and mow them if snow conditions permit. Sneaking to your stand sites can be made much easier by having a smooth clean place to walk without making too much noise or movements.

If you do not have good entry trails to your stands along food plots, make them in the winter. Make them with a curve right before the plot so you can approach the field secretly. If you make a trail that goes straight to the plot and there are deer already in the plot when you approach or leave, they can see you coming. Put a bend in the trail to avoid that.


  1. Improving deer beds

One of the best ways to keep neighbors from shooting the bucks you have been letting grow is to provide attractive bedding cover and improve actual bedding sites. A lot has been written about improving bedding cover, but not so much is known about actually creating specific deer beds.

Bucks like to lie with their back against some sort of structure, just like a big old bass likes a brushpile to hide out in. They do not like to lie down on rough ground like rocks or sticks. You can encourage deer to lie in the beds you make by creating the perfect deer beds. Clean the sticks and rough objects out and make small C-shaped piles of limbs. You will be amazed at how fast the deer will begin using them.


  1. Trim shooting lanes

The human scent left by trimming branches and saplings to create shooting lanes around your stands can really put deer on edge when done too close to the season or during the season. Doing it in the winter allows you to trim these out without affecting deer movement during hunting season.

Take a pole saw and brush nippers and go to work. Don’t overtrim, of course, just make sure you have a clear shot in any direction you anticipate needing one. This can be accomplished by working in pairs, especially if your stands are in the trees. Have one person get up in the stand and point out the limbs that need trimming.


  1. Predator control

Studies have consistently shown that the more coyotes you have on your property, the lower fawn recruitment is going to be. If you are seeing coyotes on your game cameras, or if you are seeing a significant number of mature does with only one fawn or no fawns, you probably have a predation problem. Time to take action.

Coyote calling is fun and effective. It’s a great way to thin out the population and get some exercise and fresh air during the winter. Trapping and snaring coyotes is the most effective way to curb their numbers. If you don’t have the interest in catching them yourself, find a local trapper you can trust and give him a key to the gate. Most trappers will control coyotes if you also allow them to take other animals, such as raccoon and foxes. It’s well worth the trouble to maintain a good relationship with a trapper.

Get off the couch and spend some time on your hunting property this winter. You will definitely see the difference come next hunting season.


By Bernie Barringer

The OutdoorHub

Senate Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus members introduce Sportsmen’s Act

On February 5, leaders and Members of the Senate Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) introduced the Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 as a comprehensive sportsmen’s package of legislation aimed to benefit America’s sportsmen’s community.

Introduced by CSC Members Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), with original cosponsors, CSC Co-Chairs Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), and CSC Vice-Chairs Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), this package of legislation starts out with strong bipartisan support in the 114th Congress.

The bill includes 14 provisions, several similar to those within the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 from the 113th Congress. Among other provisions, the bill makes the existing exemption from EPA regulation for lead shot permanent, and adds lead tackle to the exempted products, leaving regulatory authority to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state fish and wildlife agencies; Requires federal land managers to consider how management plans affect opportunities to engage in hunting, fishing and recreational shooting; enables states to allocate a greater proportion of federal funding to create and maintain shooting ranges on federal and non-federal lands; and directs 1.5 percent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to enhancing public recreational access for hunting, angling, and recreational shooting, otherwise known as Making Public Lands Public (MPLP).

“The Bipartisan Sportsman’s Act is not only an access bill, but also a way to promote economic growth in our country. Sportsmen and women across the country spend billions of dollars each year on outdoor activities. In Alaska alone there are more than 125,000 individuals who engage in hunting each year. This economic activity not only helps local communities but aids conservation efforts as well,” said Sen. Murkowski. “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation supports conservation efforts while also improving access to recreational hunting and fishing on federal lands.”

“The number one issue for sportsmen and women across the country is access. This widely supported, bipartisan bill will open more areas to hunting and fishing and grow America’s thriving outdoor recreation economy. Hunters and anglers alone spend more than $465 million per year in New Mexico, and outdoor recreation as a whole is directly responsible for 68,000 jobs in our state,” said Sen. Heinrich. “As an avid hunter myself, I remain deeply committed to preserving our outdoor heritage and treasured public lands for future generations to enjoy.”

On Wednesday, February 4, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) hosted the annual “Welcome to Congress” reception on Capitol Hill, welcoming new and returning Members of the CSC, and giving the CSC and sportsmen’s community an opportunity to discuss the introduction of the Sportsmen’s Act. “Getting a sportsmen’s package passed in this Congress is vital to the future of the nation’s hunting and angling opportunities. We have great bipartisan CSC support so far, but need to get as many Members of Congress involved as possible,” said CSF President Jeff Crane.

“Whether sportsmen and sportswomen go hunting or fishing to put food on the table, or for sport, or to pass down a tradition to their family, or for game management purposes, there is something in the Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 for all of them,” said Sen. Risch. “With more than 39 million sportsmen and sportswomen of all ages in the United States, this legislation will ensure all can continue to access their favorite hunting or fishing spot. As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I cannot put into words how important sporting issues are to so many Americans and their families. Hunting and fishing give us a great reason to be in the great outdoors, a great reason to hand down traditions, and a great reason to support this legislation.”

“As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and as an avid sportsman, it makes me so proud that we can come together as Democrats and Republicans to preserve America’s beloved outdoor traditions,” Sen. Manchin said. “I’ve worked hard on these priorities ever since being the inaugural Co-Chairman of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus, and I am continuing that work here in the Senate. Outdoor recreation is vital to sustaining our economy, preserving our family traditions, and maintaining our way of life. This comprehensive package will boost opportunities for hunters, anglers, outdoor enthusiasts, and conservationists alike; improve access to federal lands; and strengthen the overall outdoor recreation industry. I truly believe that the American people should be able to enjoy the great outdoors, and this bill expands people’s ability to do just that.”

The House CSC leadership is also currently working on a similar legislative sportsmen’s package that they are likely to introduce in the upcoming weeks.
From The Outdoor Wire

NWF applauds bipartisan sportsmen’s legislation introduction

Senate package expands access to public lands, boosts conservation funding

By Bentley Johnson

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) welcomes the introduction of a bipartisan legislative package in the Senate that would expand and enhance hunting, angling and other outdoor recreation on our public lands and help secure conservation funding for years to come.

The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 introduced February 5 by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, includes many positive wildlife conservation and public access elements. Hunters and anglers know that access and opportunity are as crucial to the future of hunting and fishing as committed funding programs for fish and wildlife.

“We thank Sens. Murkowski and Heinrich for their bipartisan commitment to fish and wildlife conservation and the outdoor traditions we will pass on to future generations. This is a strong start, and we encourage Senate and House colleagues to work together to strengthen its conservation provisions and advance the bill to the President’s desk,” said Collin O’Mara, NWF’s president and CEO.

O’Mara noted that sportsmen and women spend about $90 billion a year on hunting and fishing. The total for all outdoor recreation is about $646 billion.  A significant portion is committed by law to wildlife restoration and habitat enhancement activities.

“Investing in conservation is a win for wildlife, hunters, anglers, and the economy,” O’Mara said.

He said NWF acknowledges the following provisions in particular:

Reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act, which, among other things, allows public agencies to work with willing landowners to acquire private land surrounded by public land while creating jobs, revenue and enhanced wildlife habitat.

Reauthorization of North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, both of which leverage public and private funding for fish and wildlife habitat, wetlands, migratory birds and conservation projects. NAWCA has helped protect or restore 25.6 million acres of wetlands during the last two decades while NFWF has leveraged nearly $576 million in federal funds into $2 billion worth of conservation projects.

Provisions to identify and provide hunting and fishing access and opportunities to inaccessible public lands.

KWF Editor’s note: There are some aspects of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 that includes many items that are not in the sportsmen’s best interest. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) has reintroduced his “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act” (HR 528). As with his bill from the last Congress (which did not pass), this legislation would gut protections for every Wilderness in the nation. Unfortunately, this is probably just the beginning of Congressional attacks on Wilderness.

USFWS investigates Bald Eagle shooting

Reward for Information

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, are investigating the shooting of a bald eagle in Marion County, Kansas, near the Marion Reservoir Dam.

The bald eagle was found dead on Thursday, February 4th, below the base of the dam, on the east side of the outlet.  Examination of the eagle found evidence of a gunshot wound.

Bald eagles are protected by state and federal law including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.  The shooting of any eagle is considered a violation of those acts, and is a serious offense.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting of this eagle is asked to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement at (785) 232-5149. The Service will pay for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.  Anyone contributing that information to authorities can remain anonymous. Information can also be reported to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-877-426-3843.

About 50,000 pairs of bald eagles occupied the lower 48 states in pre-colonial times, but that number was reduced to 400 pairs by the 1960s. Biologists blamed a loss of habitat, shooting, trapping and the heavy use of pesticides such as DDT. After DDT was outlawed, bald eagles began making a comeback in the late 1980s and in June of 2007, it was removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened species.  This majestic bird, our national symbol, continues to need our help to survive, and your assistance is appreciated.

For more information on the bald eagle, please visit www.fws.gov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov, or connect with us through any of these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube.

Powder Creek Shooting Park in Lenexa Announces Kevin Danciak to Take Reins as General Manager

Kevin Danciak has been named General Manager of Powder Creek Shooting Park in Lenexa, Kansas, while Jason Spengel was promoted to Assistant Manager. Danciak is a National Sporting Clays Association certified instructor and has led operations of other shooting venues. Kevin is also a decorated Navy Veteran with a law enforcement background. His immediate plans are to increase the number of corporate hospitality events, leveraging Powder Creek’s unique facilities such as the Tri-Star Pavilion and C-Z USA sponsored 5-Stand range. He will seek to increase community participation in the trap, skeet and sporting clay leagues and especially boost youth involvement via the nationally popular Scholastic Clay Target Program.

In 2015, Powder Creek will host the Kansas Skeet Championship and 15 NSCA certified events. The Hodgden Powder Company sponsored Powder Creek Cowboys will hold the Kansas State Single Action Shooting Society’s match, “Prince of the Pistoleers”.

About Powder Creek:

Powder Creek was founded in 1949 as the Kansas Field and Gun Dog Association and was then known as “a place to run the dogs and shoot some guns.” Since those early days, Powder Creek has grown in membership and is the most complete shotgun shooting facility in the Kansas City Metropolitan area. See: www.powdercreek.com

Outdoor group says President’s budget invests in conservation

In a $3.99 trillion budget released February 3rd by the White House, sportsmen’s priorities are singled out for robust funding, drawing praise from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and many of its partners.

Overall, the president’s budget for fiscal year 2016 commits strong funding levels to core sportsmen’s programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program. It also includes revenue from the passage of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, a TRCP legislative priority that was recently reintroduced in the 114th Congress.

The president’s budget also would end the mandatory, sweeping spending caps harmful to a range of programs, including those crucial to conservation. When the existing budget expires at the end of FY 2015, these sequester cuts will return to the entire suite of conservation priorities unless Congress can reach agreement on a deal – by no means a foregone conclusion.

“In recent decades, sportsmen have criticized the gradual erosion of federal support in conservation, particularly to programs critical to hunting and angling,” said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh. “We are heartened by this administration’s recognition of the importance of these key measures by its release of a budget that, while not perfect, represents a positive investment in the business plan for outdoor recreation.”

While Congress is ultimately responsible, albeit with the president’s consent, for making spending decisions for the coming fiscal year, the White House budget establishes important benchmarks that will be used by members of the House and Senate in the deliberations to come. Line-item highlights of the White House budget follow:

North American Wetlands Conservation Act: Funding for NAWCA remains level at $34 million.

State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program: This key program is funded at $70 million.

Land and Water Conservation Fund: The LWCF is fully funded at $900 million and includes the “Making Public Lands Public” public access provision.

WaterSMART: The Bureau of Reclamation program receives $58.05 million, $7.5 million above FY15 levels.

U.S. Forest Service: More than $30 million is earmarked to address the maintenance backlog on trails and roads in the national forest system.

The budget also earmarks $78 million for conservation and restoration of Western sage steppe landscapes, which support a vibrant outdoors-based economy as well as hundreds of species important to sportsmen.

“We are pleased that the administration has strongly invested in sage steppe landscape conservation,” said Miles Moretti, president and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation. “This investment will benefit this critically important ecosystem, protecting more than 350 species of plants and animals and ensuring a strong outdoor recreation-based economy in the West.”

The administration’s inclusion of provisions related to the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which would revise the funding of wildfire management and suppression, likewise drew praise.

The Nature Conservancy strongly agrees with the need to find a budget fix that meets America’s growing need to fight wildfire disasters in a way that does not come at the expense of other critical programs,” said Kameran Onley, director of U.S. government relations for the Conservancy. “The frequent practice of ‘fire borrowing’ seriously impairs the ability of federal agencies to carry out some of the very programs that would reduce wildfire risk in the first place, among many other conservation programs. That practice needs to stop, so we greatly appreciate the support we’ve seen from the administration and bipartisan champions in Congress.”

Sportsmen also voiced support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a popular conservation program that sustains fish and wildlife habitat and expands public access

“Once again the Obama administration and Interior Department have demonstrated their enduring commitment to the LWCF with another strong budget proposal for FY 16,” said Steve Moyer, vice president of Trout Unlimited. “Trout Unlimited supports this proposal because the LWCF continues to be one of the nation’s very best tools for protecting and restoring trout and salmon habitats.”

Finally, sportsmen commended the budget’s funding of federal land management agencies.

“One of the justifications underpinning state-based efforts to sell or transfer ownership of federal lands is the supposed inability of the federal government to manage the lands it already owns,” said Land Tawney, executive director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “In part, this logic is erroneously derived from the fact that inadequate funds are currently allocated to key land management programs. The response to this problem, then, isn’t to sell off federal lands and close off millions of acres to public access and sportsmen but to properly commit to their management – a resolution that the president’s budget offers.”

From The Outdoor Wire

Boaters urged to support new legislation to “fix” Renewable Fuel Standard

New bipartisan legislation introduced today would help ensure recreational boaters don’t put unsafe fuel in their boats, according to Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), with 30 co-sponsors introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act of 2015. BoatUS is urging all boaters to contact their US Representative to support the bill. “The new bill would recognize the failure of the current Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its out of date ethanol-mandate, and make the necessary changes so there is a safe fuel for all gasoline powered engines,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Program Manager Nicole Palya Wood.

According to Wood, BoatUS supports the bill because, “The RFS Reform Act acknowledges the reality of America’s declining fuel consumption, allows for the investment in other more compatible biofuels, and erases the twisted math that forces more ethanol onto a marketplace that neither demands it, nor can physically absorb it at safe levels.”

Currently, there are no marine engines in the US warrantied to run on any gasoline blend greater than 10% ethanol (E10). According to AAA, only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved to use E15 gasoline, based on a survey conducted by AAA of auto manufacturers. Any damage from the use of higher ethanol fuels (E15 or greater) in cars and trucks will void many manufacturers’ warranties.

When the RFS was written in 2005, it assumed that Americans’ gasoline use would continue to rise and mandated escalating amounts of biofuels to be blended with our fuel. However, since 2005, gasoline usage has actually dropped steadily. The unintended affect is now the law that forces more ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply, and to maintain adherence with the RFS rules, in 2010 the EPA permitted fuel containing up to 15% ethanol (E15) into the marketplace – a fuel many gasoline engines cannot use.

It is illegal to use E15 in boat engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, small engines such as lawnmowers and leaf blowers as well as any vehicle made before 2001. However, this fuel can now be found at over 100 gas stations in 16 states at the same pumps as E10 and ethanol-free gasoline.

The potential for misfueling is significant. In the US, nine out of every ten boaters own a trailerable boat that is most often filled up at a roadside gas station. Additionally, these higher blend ethanol fuels are often the cheapest fuels at the pump.

The new bill would cap the ethanol requirements at E10 (10 percent ethanol), would effectively prohibit the use of corn-based ethanol in the RFS, require more advanced biofuels and take into account actual, real-world production of biofuels when setting requirements.

Boaters can ask their Congressman to support and co-sponsor the bill by going to: http://goo.gl/2H8vI9.

From The Outdoor Wire

Can A Groundhog Really Predict The End Of Winter?

February 2 was Groundhog Day and groundhogs are receiving A LOT of media attention. And Punxsutawney Phil delivered that morning — seeing his shadow and predicting six more weeks of winter

We’ve received a number of inquiries about this furry, kind-of-cute rodent from readers.

Groundhogs clearly aren’t related to pigs or hogs—so what exactly are they?

The groundhog (also known as a woodchuck or Eastern Marmot) is actually a large, ground-dwelling rodent and is part of family of ground squirrels known as marmots.

Groundhogs are lowland creatures and are common in the northeastern and central United States, found as far north as eastern Alaska and south as the northern half of Alabama. (see range map to right).

If you live in the western U.S., particularly in rocky and mountainous areas, you’re probably familiar with the groundhog’s cousins such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots.

Can They Really Chuck Wood?

The name that many use for the animal, “woodchuck”, is derived from the Native American Algonquian tribe’s name for the animal, “wuchak”.

So despite the tongue-twister we’ve all heard (as well as that GEICO ad a year or two back!), it’s name has nothing to do with throwing around pieces of wood, even though it’s a great image….

Digging Life

These busy rodents are great diggers and hikers can often find their dens by looking for disturbed earth.  Their short, powerful limbs and curved, thick claws are ideally suited for digging the extensive excavations they are known to create.

Groundhogs have two coats of fur—a dense grey undercoat that is then covered by a longer coat of banded guard hairs, which provide its distinctive “frosted” appearance.

They are good swimmers and excellent tree climbers and can do both while escaping predators. When threatened, groundhogs generally retreat to their burrows but the animal can tenaciously defend itself or its burrow using its two large incisors and front claws. That said, groundhogs are pretty easy prey for predators such as coyotes, foxes, bears and even large raptors. Young groundhogs are also preyed upon by snakes.

What Do Groundhogs Eat?

Groundhogs are mostly herbivorous, consuming wild grasses and other vegetation such as berries and agricultural crops.  On occasion, they’ll also eat grubs, insects, snails and similar small animals. Groundhogs don’t need open water to drink and can hydrate themselves by consuming leafy vegetation.

Individuals often “stand alert” in an erect posture on their hind legs when not actively feeding. This is a commonly seen behavior and easily observed.

So How Can They Predict The End Of Winter?

Unlike many rodents, groundhogs are true hibernators and are rarely, if ever, active or seen during the winter. They often build a separate “winter burrow”, which extends below the frost line and stays at a steady temperature year round, allowing the animal to avoid freezing during the winter’s cold months.

It’s this trait of sleeping through the winter that led to the folklore that a groundhog’s behavior can predict when winter will end.

Since a groundhog sleeps through the entire winter, the reasoning is that the winter must be ending if he’s willing to stay out and about once he or she has been awakened on February 2nd.

It’s a pretty shaky premise and the poor creature is probably so dazed from being rudely awakened that he has no idea what the temperature is.

How Accurate Are A Groundhog’s Predictions?

Groundhogs are among our longest hibernators, often settling down as early as October and remaining in their burrow until March or April.

So no matter what our furry prognosticators may appear to tell us on Groundhog Day, it’s a pretty safe bet that just want to go back to sleep, regardless of the weather!

By eNature