Outwit or Outwait those spring turkeys!

By Steve Sorensen

Four lessons in patience that will help you
get a gobbler this year!

The author had to wait over four hours to catch this spring turkey

Though I didn’t weigh this gobbler, he was probably my biggest, and was hard-earned. He didn’t come because my calling was special, or because my set-up was perfect. I didn’t outwit him. I outwaited him — for almost four hours. (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

How many gobblers have you tried to call in, but failed? If you’re a dedicated turkey hunter, it’s a lot — and it will be a lot more. That’s a fact and a frustration of spring gobbler hunting.

Why is spring turkey hunting so frustrating? We know when there’s a chance of calling a gobbler in because they announce their presence to us. And I’m sure we call in more gobblers than we know we call in — a fact which has made me think about how we can kill more turkeys. More than calling ability, more than strategies, more than a long-range shotgun, what we need is more patience. Frustration comes when we lack patience.

Here are four lessons in patience —
Learn them here and you don’t have to
learn them the hard way.

Patience Lesson #1: Don’t think a gobbler isn’t responding just because he’s not vocal.

The gobblers I’ve called in that were silent make me wonder how many more silent birds I’ve called in that just didn’t show up before I decided to leave. That probably happens more in the late season after green-up occurs than in the early season when the woods are bare, but I’ve had it happen even on opening day. So stay put. When you must move, move at a snail’s pace. And keep your eyes peeled.

This spring gobbler had patience, which the turkey hunter didn't have enough of

I had been calling most of the morning, wondering where the gobbler was. He wasn’t far away. I left and spotted him along a road, headed for the calling set-up I had just left. My weakness: patience. The gobbler’s strength: an abundance of patience. (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

Patience Lesson #2: If you have time, give him time, and then give him more time.

He may not be as anxious for a girlfriend as you are anxious to kill him. In some cases when turkeys have gobbled only occasionally, I finally decided the game was over before the clock really ran out. The gobbler was still playing, and he wasn’t far away. In more than one of these cases, I’ve flushed gobblers when I stood up to leave.

Patience Lesson #3: Gobblers can be patient, too.

This lesson took two or three experiences to penetrate my thick skull. I called a gobbler partway to the shotgun, but he was coming in slowly and I had to leave while he was still active. My schedule was irrelevant to the gobbler, and he came in after I left. The next morning he was right there where I had been calling from. My mistake? I didn’t expect him to be there, and I don’t know how long it took him to get there, but he apparently decided to wait around until that “hen” came back the next morning. If you must leave a gobbler, get to that same spot the next morning before daylight. He might just be patient enough to hang around and wait for you to get back.

Patience Lesson #4: Don’t shoot at a gobbler when you THINK you can make the kill.

Pull the trigger when you KNOW he will die. Sometimes a bird will stay just out of range, making me wonder what I could do to get him to walk those last 10 yards. In some of those cases the gobbler was killable at 40 yards, but my policy is not to shoot unless they’re at 35 or even 30. That adds a forgiveness factor to my range estimation so I don’t miss or injure them. I’ve heard many hunters say they’ve shot gobblers at 60 yards. That’s great, but most hunters won’t tell you if they missed or crippled birds at that range. A lot can go wrong between the shotgun and the turkey. If you’re patient, you’re far less likely to miss or wound them.

A lucky shot got this spring turkey in tow

This turkey was only 35 yards away, but I nearly missed. I didn’t see a sapling between him and me. I splattered it with a shot, and the wad from my shell chiseled a notch into the tree. Fortunately enough shot got by the tree to put him down. More patience (and closer attention) would have eliminated the risk. (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

Once you’ve patterned the shotgun, practiced estimating range, looked for turkey sign in your favorite places, checked out some new places and gained permission to hunt good property, make sure you do one more thing — practice patience. (You have lots of opportunities to practice patience with those turkeys you live with and work with every day.)

And keep in mind — not every guy gets the girl, not every gobbler gets the hen and not every turkey hunter gets to tie his tag to the leg of a gobbler. But more hunters will if they’re patient.

When you have a gobbler coming, what might be most important is not your calling, or your set-up. You may not have to outwit him. You might only have to outwait him. Only one thing guarantees more gobblers will get a free ride home with you. It’s not a certain call. It’s not a custom shotgun. It’s not a special choke tube. It’s not a specific camo. It’s something you can’t buy. It’s patience.


About Steve Sorensen:

hunter outdoor writer steve sorensenSteve Sorensen is the author of “Growing Up With Guns” and “The Everyday Hunter Handbook Series.” He writes an award-winning newspaper column called “The Everyday Hunter®” and edits content in the Havalon Post. He has published articles in top magazines across the USA, and won the 2015 “Pinnacle” Award for magazine writing. Invite Steve to speak at your next sportsman’s event, and follow him at www.EverydayHunter.com.


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How to Stay Warm

How to Stay Warm

Staying warm on a winter hunt depends on what you wear and what you do.
Steve Sorensen

My brother and I once got stuck on top of an Alaskan mountainside. We stashed most of our gear and fought our way up through the alders to find a black bear we spotted above the tree line in the Resurrection River valley. The snow was melting on the hillsides, but melting snow doesn’t mean the air was warm. It wasn’t. The cold air and the wind bit through us and we shivered uncontrollably through the night.

We were prepared, or so we thought. We had space blankets, those shiny foil-like sheets that are advertised to save lives in emergencies. Maybe they’re effective if you’re lying in the front yard where the grass is soft and the ground is level, but there were no flat spots up there and spruce needles covered the ground. Those needles shredded our space blankets and in minutes they were useless. It would be seven long hours until the sun rose. I was as close as I ever want to be to hypothermia and I actually wondered if I might freeze to death. Believe me when I say I don’t want to trust a space blanket again.

Sorensen Alaska Mountain

Spending the night up on that Alaskan mountainside was an adventure, but it was no fun at all. A space blanket did nothing to keep us warm. (Steve Sorensen photo)

I’ve battled the cold on other occasions. Most hunters have never hunted with the temperature at 26 degrees below zero. I have. I was far from Alaska this time — only 75 miles from my home in Pennsylvania and I was hunting deer. Despite the deep negative reading on the thermometer I stayed warm, and unlike the Alaska bear hunt, this hunt was successful.

You might think if I can do that I would never get cold, but you’d be wrong. On the opening day of the 2019 New York firearms season I wasn’t prepared. The temperature was a brisk 25 — on the positive side of zero — and I sat in a treestand with the wind (at only 13 mph) cutting through my clothing.

My clothing would have been enough insulation if I had also been wearing a light rain jacket to block the wind. I also could have put the hood up to keep the cold off the back of my neck. Instead, the old North wind blew through my clothing, robbed me of my precious heat, and made it a lousy day.

These experiences and others have taught me a lot about staying warm, and the key is not those hyped-up advertisements that tell us this jacket or that coat will keep us warm. Any old-timer will tell you the real secret is layered clothing, but you need the right layers.

What You Wear:
Clothing is only the starting point to keeping warm, and without the right clothing you can’t possibly beat the cold. Consider carefully what you will wear because conditions don’t always call for the same clothing.

Sorenesen - Built to Survive

Deer are built to survive winter, and do amazingly well in frigid temps. You aren’t built for winter, so the better you can adapt to it, the better your chances of bringing home the venison. (Steve Sorensen photo)

1. Undergarments. Underwear is your foundation, and a foundation is always critically important. Proper underwear will immediately trap warm air your body generates. Make sure your underwear is close-fitting (not too tight and not too loose) so when you move the fabric moves against your skin. It causes a little friction, and friction produces heat. Here, a warning is in order. Do not wear cotton. Cotton traps moisture and once it’s wet won’t dry out. I learned that the hard way. On another Alaskan mountainside my boxers were sweat-soaked, and the only way for me to stop shivering was to cut them off. Modern polyester fabrics transport moisture from your skin to outer layers where it can evaporate.

2. Layers. Your layers should be porous to trap air heated by your body. Air pockets in the fabric and between two, three or four layers of fabric slows the transfer and loss of heat. It’s better to layer loose, light garments than thick, heavy ones. Glove liners work on the same principle. One or two thin layers under a thicker outer glove will help keep your hands warm. Do not layer-up like the Pillsbury doughboy or your movement will be inhibited, you’ll get tired, and being tired will make you cold. I prefer button-front shirts and zip necks. Use them like thermostats — open the neck to let excess heat escape. Close to keep heat from escaping.

3. Windbreaker. Your layers might be enough if the wind isn’t blowing, especially when you’re moving. But if the air is cold even a mild wind may nullify your layering effort. So wear a rain jacket when it’s windy. They’re not just for rain; high quality, breathable raingear makes an effective windbreaker. Without a wind barrier the wind will blow your heat away.

Sorenesen - Insoles

If any of your Christmas gifts came wrapped in sheets of closed-cell foam, save it. Remove your boot insoles and use them as patterns to cut extra insoles for your boots. Your boot insoles are shaped and designed to be next to your feet, so put the homemade insoles under your boot insoles to add extra insulation between you and the cold, cruel ground. (Steve Sorensen photo)

What You Do:
While clothing is the starting point, it can’t do the whole job of keeping you warm. You also need to produce heat. Everyone knows walking generates heat, but what if you’re on a stand, and not walking? Here are some limited activities that can produce heat for you.

1. Standing — Many deer hunters hunt from treestands. They have a harder time staying warm than the guys on the ground. They’re up where the wind blows, they can’t use the protection of ground contours and terrain features, and moving to produce heat is difficult. Modern treestands encourage you to sit, but you produce less heat energy while sitting. And with your knees bent the path your blood follows to and from your lower legs and feet is not as direct. If you’re sitting in a treestand, stand up every fifteen to twenty minutes so your blood circulates through your legs unconstricted.

2. Increasing your heart rate — An uptick to your heartbeat will help keep you warm. Caffeine will help so if you’re a coffee drinker, carry a small thermos. Chocolate also has caffeine. Resistance exercises will also increase your heart rate. Do push-pull isometric exercises with your hands. Shrug your shoulders. Stretch your legs. Twist at the waist. Stand on your tip toes. Muscle movement from resistance exercises helps keep your blood flowing and creates friction.

3. Generating fiction — You can discover many ways to create friction with barely any movement. Rub your hands together. Put them between your knees and rub them. Wiggle your toes. Shake your boots to rub your feet against your socks. Rub your arms, your legs, your backside. Friction releases energy and more friction releases more energy.

4. Eating — Eating generates heat by putting your stomach to work. Nibbling on snacks when it’s very cold can help keep your stomach active. Nuts, jerky, raisins, granola bars — These complex carbohydrates give your stomach more work to do than refined sugars. Anything that keeps your mouth going will help — even chewing gum because the act of chewing also generates heat. Drinking hot liquids helps warm your body core. Water is important in cold weather because you can become dehydrated without realizing it. You’ll feel tired if you become dehydrated, and your body will work against itself by becoming less active in order to conserve water.

5. Breathing — Your nose is built to warm the air you breathe. Your mouth lets heat escape. When we’re overheated we often pant from our mouths in order to cool our bodies. Even if you don’t have a big yapper, that oral cavity is cavernous compared to nasal passages and you lose a lot of heat from it, so breathe through your nose, not your mouth. Keeping your mouth closed while chewing also forces you to breathe through your nose.

6. Conserving — Cover exposed skin. Button the top button of your shirt or jacket, or use a neck gaiter. Cover your ears, your nose, your lips. Exposed wrists will cool the blood heading for your fingers, so cover them. Your fingers will help keep each other warm if you curl them into fists. Insulated insoles are underused, and their cold-weather benefit is unadvertised. You don’t have to pay a lot. Just cut thin sheets of closed-cell foam (as thick as your boots allow) into foot-sized insoles. Felt works even better. That extra layer between the soles of your feet and the cold, merciless ground will conserve warmth. (You can also purchase high quality insulated insoles at a reasonable price.) Finally, those air-activated hand and foot warmers will help. Some of them have a sticky side so you can position them at strategic places. When it comes to staying in the deer woods all day, knowledge is warmth.

Your body is working hard to produce heat, so conserve it any way you can. Whether you’re stranded on an Alaskan mountaintop, or deep in an eastern forest, whether you’re hunting during an unusually cold November or a frigid January muzzleloader hunt, you’re not playing a home game. You’re on the deer’s turf, and you’ll enjoy it much more and be able to keep at it longer if you learn how to stay warm.
***

 


3-StillnessAndSolitude

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.

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Aiming for the Whitetail Record Book

Aiming for the Whitetail Record Book

What to do and what to expect after shooting a big deer.

by Steve Sorensen

Countless hunters dream of taking a record buck. Few actually do it. If you’re fortunate enough to get a “book” qualifier on the ground, your quest isn’t over. Harvesting the buck of a lifetime doesn’t mean the deer hunting world will parade you around on their shoulders. Some people might show up to discredit you. So what you do after the hunt is as important as all the scouting, setting treestands, and everything that puts you in position to pull the trigger or release the arrow.

The deer hunting world has several record books, each with different standards. The Boone and Crockett Club is the granddaddy. It keeps records of all species of North American big game animals. Only a small percentage of hunters ever kill a B & C whitetail. Odds are I’ll never have one in my sights, but other record books aren’t beyond my reach. Nor yours. So if you ever get a record book buck on the ground, here are some things you need to know.

1-OfficialScoring

Bog D’Angelo is an official Boone and Crockett measurer, and scores many bucks for Boone and Crockett as well as the Pennsylvania state record book. Here he’s measuring the first circumference on a buck’s left antler. (Photo by Joe Kosack, courtesy of Pennsylvania Game Commission.)

Record Book Basics
1. Plan for an official score
Before you get an official score it’s a good idea to get an approximation, so have someone familiar with the scoring system measure your antlers for a rough score. If you think you’re in the ballpark, contact the one of organizations. They’ll direct you to an official measurer who knows the rules and procedures. He is a volunteer, so arrange your session at his convenience.

2. Drying period
Most organizations require a drying period from the date of the kill. Every bone has moisture in it, so the measurements that will be taken — the tines, the main beams, and the circumferences — all shrink as they dry. The spread also shrinks because the skull plate from a freshly killed deer is made up of about 20% water. When the skull plate dries the space between the antlers is likely to contract. Most shrinkage happens during the first 60 days, and the inside spread can easily shrink an inch or more. A drying period puts all bucks on somewhat equal ground; otherwise if you and your buddy kill twin trophies, and his buck is measured the day after it was killed but yours is scored months later after it shrunk, they wouldn’t be twins.

3. Document it
You’ll probably be asked to write up an account of the hunt, covering the main factors involved. The best time to do that is within a day or two after the harvest. When did you shoot it? With what weapon? Where (county and state)? What noteworthy details go with the story? (More about this later.) If the score qualifies your buck for a record book, you’ll probably need to submit a photo along with these notes on the hunt, and sign a fair chase affidavit attesting to the fact that your account is true and that you used legal means to harvest the buck in the state where you were hunting. At this point, the rest is up to the scoring organization. They may come back with a few questions, but the decision is up to them.

Some Do’s and Don’ts
Record book basics are the easy part. It would be nice if that’s all there was to it, but it’s a good idea to think about some other things, even before you drag your buck out of the woods. Why? Because sometimes, even if the issues are unambiguous, big bucks get the attention of armchair deer detectives, people who love to debate, and the ones who raise questions about everything. In a day when virtually everything appears on social media, inaccuracies creep into the stories, and people draw conclusions while leaving out important details. How do you cope with that?

The bottom line is there’s little you can do about what others say, but you can do a series of things that will help establish the truth about your kill, avoid controversy, and get ahead of any stories that may stray from the facts.

2-Chart-ScoringOrganizations

1. Don’t keep secrets.
This is first in importance. If you keep secrets, people will assume you’re hiding something. So, tell someone about your kill — a person with credibility who has no relation to you and nothing to gain. A game warden, a taxidermist, maybe a policeman you know — a trustworthy person who will get the story straight.

In telling your story, stick to the basics. You don’t need to tell everyone where your treestand is, but don’t withhold the essentials. A laundry list of facts isn’t necessary — just make sure the facts you tell are all consistent with each other. Here’s an example. A hunter followed a blood trail until it disappeared. He tells one person he found the buck about 200 yards from the end of the blood trail. He tells another person he found the buck about 400 yards from where he shot it. Which is it? Both. Although these are different facts, and they are consistent with each other, it’s best to tell the same facts the same way.

2. Do get good photos.
Magazine editors have an inside joke that there’s an unwritten rule about deer photos — the bigger the buck the worst the photos, and the fewer of them. Do your best to break that rule. Your buck deserves good photos. The secret to good photos is to take lots of them. Use different backgrounds, different angles, different lighting. Don’t settle for one or two quick cell phone shots. Unless darkness falls quickly, start with a good field photo right where your buck died before you field dress it. Photos detailing the recovery of the deer will also be good to have. Include someone else in the photos if possible. A hunt is always better when shared, it helps document your hunt, and involving another person gives more credibility.

3-SullivanBuck

Nathan Sullivan took this Pennsylvania whopper on public property. It scored 174 4/8 inches, plenty to enter it into the Pope and Young archery record book. (Steve Sorensen photo.)

When the story is told, photos help people to know you are proud of the buck and that you have nothing to hide. You can’t control photos other people take of the deer, but share just one or two of yours. Don’t pass out photos you may want to publish with the story later. Circulate too many photos and someone will end up saying things like, “Hey, wait a minute—these two photos don’t look like the same deer!” Or, “This photo was taken at night—maybe this deer was poached!” It happens. Protect your photos. They will be an important tool in telling your story.

3. Do write it down.
Soon after you get your buck, write your story. You’re not composing a literary masterpiece, so forget about flashbacks, foreshadowing, metaphors, and the like. Simply document the hunt from beginning to end and keep it to a page or two. Make it simple, and mention anything that’s relevant. Be factual and chronological. Include a little about scouting, trail camera work, a description of the area, how the buck presented himself, any other deer you saw and how you handled the shot and the recovery. Be clear about date, time of day, weather, and temperature. When you finish, look it over and eliminate anything that’s not relevant. Don’t let anyone see it for a day or two. The passage of time will help you be more objective, and you’ll notice some things you need to make clearer. Above all, aim for clarity.

Your written account (along with your affidavit) helps authenticate your buck with the record keepers. It will also be a helpful tool for any writer who may cover your story for a magazine or website. But don’t make your notes widely available. If you do, the chances increase that someone will nitpick until they find something to question. Even an imagined inconsistency can create doubt. We see this often in politics, so it’s not just a deer hunting thing. It’s human nature.

4. Don’t debate.
Avoid dialogues with the doubters. You’ve taken steps to make your story clear. You have nothing to hide, and in time the doubters will disappear. The more you respond to their questions (or accusations and denunciations), the more you will sound defensive. That gives them fuel. Don’t engage with every social media post. Some of them will aim to get you to say something to which they can respond, “Aha! You aren’t telling the truth!” You’ve already told the truth. Stand by it. Nothing more needs to be said.

In this 22-minute video Brian Kightlinger reviews the scoring method used by the Northeast Big Buck Club. The NBBC used the standard Boone and Crockett method but does not deduct for lack of symmetry in the rack. (Video courtesy of Brian Kightlinger)

I’ve written enough big buck stories to know people sometimes think it’s their job to generate doubt. It happens even with ordinary deer. Many years ago I shot a 120-class buck just before dark. The landowner held the flashlight as I field-dressed it. A few days later the grapevine talk was that I shot it after legal hours. It happens.

Until jealously, insecurity, and other negative traits are eliminated from human nature, someone will doubt you. Deer stories are great stories, whether they’re about the buck of a lifetime or something ordinary and special only to you. Tell your story well, be honest, and keep your head up, because the people who are important to you will be happy for you.
***

3-StillnessAndSolitude

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He’s writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.

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Why Do YOU Hunt?

Why Do You Hunt?

Steve Sorensen

It sounds like a simple question, but it’s not. Ask ten hunters. You’ll probably get ten answers, and all of them will be right. “Why do you hunt?” has more answers than “Why do you watch football?” or “Why do you like cars?” So here’s a starter list. No doubt you probably have your own personal answers (plural), because every hunter has more than one!

1. Meat Is Good!
For lots of people MEAT is the foremost reason to hunt. It even becomes a way to justify hunting (which we don’t really need to do). “It’s OK that I hunt because my family eats the meat.” Well, yes, venison is nutritious. And delicious (despite the fact that some people say they don’t like it). Correctly handled and properly prepared, venison is a delicacy. And if you do want to justify hunting, let it be known that deer hunters actually do better than wild predators at eating what we kill. No coyote does that! Here’s a factoid about eating everything you kill: The only predators that really do eat everything they kill are those that swallow their prey whole. You can’t swallow a deer whole, so savor it one forkful at a time because meat is good!

1-MeatIsGood
Here’s a meal second to none: a venison loin grilled whole and sliced, with some fried squash, fresh tomatoes, and potatoes from the garden. (Steve Sorensen photo)

2. Being a Locavore
“Locavore” is a made-up word that entered the dictionary in 2007, and it refers to locally produced and locally eaten food. You can’t eat fresher food than the food that comes from your back yard, so gardeners have a rightful sense of pride. That being true, hunters should be the poster child, even the archetype, for locavores because the word is new but the idea isn’t. Wild game is the original organic food, and many benefits of eating home-grown tomatoes are the same as the benefits of eating venison. No antibiotics, no growth hormones, no color additives, no fossil fuels used to transport it long distances. In fact, think of any marketing term that implies healthy eating — organic, cage free, non-GMO, free-range — and it applies to venison. Get some, and eat healthy!

3. Hunting Keeps You Fit
What could be better way to stay in shape than deer hunting? I’m not talking about sitting in a blind or a treestand all day. I’m talking about going one-on-one with the deer, on his turf. Still-hunting, tracking, stalking. When you’re on the move your legs are getting a workout, you’re increasing your heart rate, and you’re stimulating your aerobic fitness — all good. Just be sure you work up to it. Hunting is not a way to sweat off 50 pounds. It doesn’t work that way.

4. Connecting With Nature
Few people realize that the hunter actually participates in nature. Man is never so much a part of nature as when he is climbing a hill or crossing a stream in search of a meal. When he sees some feathers or fur, he becomes a nature detective. What happened here? How did this animal die? A little contemplation about anything you see in nature will give you insights that enrich your life. That’s because you’re not getting your education about the natural world from National Geographic or the Disney Channel (heaven forbid!) No, you’re deeply involved in an age-old drama that sustained your entire line of ancestors — bodies, souls and spirits. We live in a day when being divorced from nature is a real threat to our well-being. In reality, what isolates us from nature are comfy bedsheets, brick buildings, and the beehive of modern industry. Kids especially need to connect to nature, and hunting is a great way to do it.

2-OwlWing
An owl’s wing hanging on a popular snag stimulated the nature detective in the author. The owl was killed by a predator and scavenged by crows. (Steve Sorensen photo)

5. Speaking of Ancestors
You do realize, don’t you, that you would not be here if your ancestors were not hunters? That’s true even of the most urban, pink-haired, far-Left political demonstrators, whatever their issue. When you hunt, you’re reenacting history — connecting to it in a way that’s true to your forebears. You don’t need some genealogical website to discover who you are. You’re linked with those who engaged in the life-giving connection to the earth that sustained all people from age-old times, whether they were European, African, Asian, or any other genetic lineage.

6. Bring a Buddy
Camaraderie is a great benefit to hunters. We learn from each other, we rag on each other, we even love each other in ways we don’t experience in the competitive world of Monday through Friday work. The storytelling, the projects around camp, the advice we give and get (about hunting and about life) — it all enriches us. Hunting creates intimacy and fellowship that goes a long way to making men. And speaking of making men, hunting can elevate your kids to peer-level collaboration with you. It’s called respect, love, bonding. Hunting does things for you, your family and your friends that no regular job will ever do.

7. Stillness and Solitude
While hunting can be a social experience, it often means time alone too. That’s when you do your thinking. Opportunities to be alone with your thoughts and process them without interruption is rare these days. Alone-time allows you to sense your place in the bigger picture, to rejuvenate in a way you never do in a crowd. Every hunter benefits from the solitary experience that comes with hunting. It’s not just important; it’s indispensable to your health.

3-StillnessAndSolitude

You can do a lot of thinking in the stillness and solitude of the hunt. (Steve Sorensen photo)

8. Relieve the Stress
Modern life can be a grind. That crowded freeway commute, the desk you feel handcuffed to, the pressure to produce, those difficult coworkers. (Don’t look now but sometimes you’re one of them!) Your negative stress level drops when you’re trying to outwit a whitetail. Some people relax by listening to nature sounds — ocean waves, babbling brooks. What’s better? The nature sounds you hunt to — songbirds, squirrel chatter, rustling leaves, and those tic-tic-tic steps of a whitetail deer making his way down a trail. Even if you head home with an unpunched tag, getting away from it all is its own bonus. You’ll come home tired but relaxed in a way your Laz-E-Boy® can’t do for you.

9. Suddenly, You’re Self-Sufficient
“Big Buck Down!” You’ve started converting flesh to food. Up until the shot, you can’t know how the hunt will go. You get the deer early. Or late. You follow a blood trail. The unexpected happens. Then, once your task becomes getting that deer out of the woods to your home or to a processor, it’s all predictable. It’s work, but work that brings a sense of satisfaction. The results you see are both immediate and long-term as you anticipate sausage, jerky, tenderloins, burgers on the grill. It’s not only mouth-watering. Sharing your harvest with your friends makes you a provider. Some may turn their noses up, but they can’t avoid respecting you for doing something that sets you apart from others they know.

10. Accept the Challenge
We have plenty of whitetails across this great land, but if you think hunting them is easy you need to think that through again. Hunting is a challenge. We don’t bring home the bacon, er, the venison, at the end of every hunt. That’s because deer hunting pits our skills, our senses, our patience, our persistence, against the craftiest critter in the woods. Hunting requires us to use our brains, the most valuable weapon in our arsenal. Sometimes we make the right call, sometimes we don’t. He beats you more often than you beat him. No sense dwelling on failure though because if you don’t give up you’ll win. What a great lesson in life!

Why do YOU hunt? We’ve only tapped the surface. Is hunting spiritual? Is hunting a craft? Is hunting a way to engage with biological science? Is it a memory-maker? Is hunting a way to participate in conservation? (That’s a big one!) Does hunting draw on your analytical, a puzzle-solving nature? Is hunting a calling, a way of life? The reasons are never ending, and no quick, easy answer covers it. So when someone asks, “Why do you hunt?” maybe you should answer their question with another question: “How much time do you have?”
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1-SmarterBucks

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.

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Avoiding Trout Fishing Mistakes

Trout Fishing: Seven Mistakes to Avoid
By Mike Bleech

There is a line of thinking that tells anglers to be patient, to wait for the fish to start hitting. That’s a load of baloney.

Countless articles have told you the things you should do while fishing for trout. Now look at this from another perspective. Here are seven things you should not do while fishing for trout.

1. Don’t wear bright, colorful clothing. Anything that stands out just serves to make you more visible to the trout. Especially avoid red, orange, yellow, purple, blue and any fluorescent colors.

avoid-bright-colors-blend-in

Don’t wear bright colors along a trout stream.
Especially avoid loud colored hats.

Most important, never, ever wear those bright colors on your head or upper torso. Those are the parts of your body that trout can see first. Forget about looking good. Never try to stand out. Quite the opposite, blend in with your surroundings just like a bowhunter might do.

2. Don’t use over-size hooks. Never use hooks that can’t be at least partially hidden by the bait. Fine wire hooks usually are just right for trout fishing. Overly large hooks will kill your bait. Even if you are not using live bait, big hooks will tear any bait apart.

3. Don’t forget your hook hone. Bring it, or a file, or whatever you prefer for sharpening hooks. During fishing seminars I usually begin by guaranteeing that I can double the number of fish everyone will catch. Then I explain how to sharpen hooks. For small hooks that are usually used for trout fishing, make the point needle sharp. Larger hooks may need knife-like edges.

mike-used-stick-bait-for-brown-trout

Mike used a stick bait that dives a little deeper than most to tempt this nice brown trout.

4. Don’t stand in one place if you are fishing in a lake, unless you are catching fish with a good deal of regularity. Trout move. Trout tend to be scattered. Only rarely do trout hold in one place for long periods of time. Even if something is holding trout in a specific location, all the trout in a lake will not be there, and soon either all of the trout in that location will be caught, or more likely, at some point the trout that remain will stop hitting for one reason or another.

Of course you stay in one position as long as trout are hitting there. Move along after a few unproductive casts.

5. Don’t focus only on likely looking spots. If your tactic is casting artificial lures, fan-cast. This means casting one direction, say to the left, then cast farther to the right in small increments. Do this until you have covered all of the water you can reach from that position. Then move along the shoreline to another position that is just far enough so that you are casting to fresh water, and repeat the process.

6. Don’t be patient. Patience wastes time. There is a line of thinking that tells anglers to be patient, to wait for the fish to start hitting. That’s a load of baloney, unless you know with absolute certainty that there are trout within casting distance, and even then only if you are very limited in how far you can move, or if you are afraid of losing a good position to other anglers.

jeri-bleech-used-red-worms-for-brown-trout

A flopping brown trout rewarded Jeri Bleech for carrying red worms along the trout stream.

7. Don’t travel light. No extra weight. No extra bulk. Right? All you really need is your favorite spinner. Just the essentials. Right? No. That could not be more wrong.

Trout are famous for being finicky. One of the surest ways to enjoy consistent success is to carry a well-stocked fishing vest. In fact, the more you can carry, the better.

In the artificial lure department, carry spoons, spinners and small stick baits. You should have a variety of colors of each type. Have some that run at different depths. This is most important if you fish lakes. Carry as many baits as you can manage. You should have at least three different types of salmon eggs, a few types of artificial baits like Powerbait, which is available in several colors. A couple kinds of grubs and some red worms will make you a complete angler, almost. To round it out, carry either live or salted minnows.

So really, the things you should not do are merely the flip side of what you should do – and a perspective that will help you to remember better.

***

About Mike Bleech:

mike-bleech-head-shotMike Bleech has been a full-time freelance writer/photographer since 1980 with more than 5,000 articles published in more than 100 publications. He is the outdoors columnist for the Erie Times-News and the Warren Times Observer. His home waters for trout fishing are hundreds of miles of wild and stocked streams on the Allegheny National Forest.

For more articles by Mike Bleech, click here.
And for the best fillet knife, click here.

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