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Heartland Outdoors cover November 2017

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Versatile Hunter

Dakota Cold, Young Hunter Luck, and Outdoors Perspective

Thu, December 14, 2017

The Dakota duck trip did not disappoint although it proved once again just how volatile the weather can be there.  Per usual, ducks died and nicknames were born.  Ice Log, Winnie the Pooh, Gray Beard, and the Old Man once again prevailed against the northern winged mallard hoard.  From 40 degrees to below zero with wind chill while we were there and then less than 2 days after we left back up to 50.  Our group was quickly reminded just how important being prepared for various scenarios is when travel hunting.  75% of the water in the area we were hunting was locked up when we arrived but with ducks, geese, and swans migrating in and out the entire trip and limited water the secret was simply to find open water and the hunting would be good.  Lots of those late season way up north full plumage and corn fed fat mallards feeding hard and then hitting roost water at night was the norm this year.  We hunted water a couple days and then headed to a hot corn field to give the dogs a break from the brutal cold and biting winds.  Some great video was taken in the field with a dozen mallards turning into 500 plus as they tornado’d above us before descending in and around our layouts—just what we came for!  Lessons learned on this trip—be prepared for any hunting scenario and when it comes to hunting dogs in the cold and wet—rotate dogs, use vests, and when the most brutal of temperatures happen—make sure you have backup plans (dry land hunts) if need be.

Sustaining the back injury earlier this summer put me down hard for doing a lot of the physical work I enjoy in the outdoors especially for deer hunting.  Dad and I were forced to hunt our field stands given that we had little intel on deer movement from lack of camera use and lack of maintenance on some of our forested deer stand setups.  We decided to try tent hunting (something I do little of because of my propensity to using elevated stands and belief that tents tend to spook deer if not properly brushed and set out in time for deer to get used to them).  Well, I was reminded that if done properly, tent hunting CAN be a good alternative to a tree.  Where you set them (think about sunlight angles to hide within the tent as well as shooting elevation and ability to see the largest areas from the ground) as well as how you brush them in are vital.  We met those expectations and were rewarded with a visit to our cut corn field by two mature bucks at last light.  This trip was all about the little man as dad and I packed the whole house to make him comfortable.  At 5 years old he sat for almost 4 hours without complaint but with plenty of snacks, binoculars, hot cocoa, and even a little YouTube kids on the phone to keep him interested. His second deer hunt of his life brought along his luck that night in seeing deer, but the old man (that’s me) promptly missed one of the two bucks cleanly.  The review of the shot location proved a clean miss which prompted a barrage of questions from my boy mostly asking why exactly I missed that deer.  A hunt with little expectations given the scenario turned out to be a big opportunity and dad, Brooks, and I will not soon forget it!  I ended the shotgun season with a mature doe for the family’s freezer and although I shot all summer until the injury I did not bow hunt given my condition and lack of preparation on the property.  Once again; however—I’m reminded just how lucky I am to not be in pain and to get out with my dad and son . . .

IRAP applications need to be sent in ASAP—and having guided several young hunters using this program over the last several years I’ll tell you—it’s a darn good opportunity!  Don’t miss out on the fun!  This program rivals some of the better programs I’ve seen in States that do a much better job overall of private land access programs. . . .

One last thought that I pondered with friends while hunting this year—I’m a pretty analytical guy as are many of my friends.  Sometimes, especially in hunting, you just have to trust your instincts in order to fool game and be successful.  Some of the most successful hunters I know just have a knack for taking animals consistently.  Overthinking things can not only take some fun out of it but can also lead to simple mistakes that result in lack of game sightings and missed opportunities. Instincts and gut feelings can often win the day when it comes to hunting. . .

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