- Pick the right pup. You want a pup with high prey and hunt drives, such as a retriever (Labrador, golden) or a working breed (German shepherd, Malinois). But not every dog will do. Test a pup out by tossing some short retrieves (do not use a shed at this stage). Look for unbridled enthusiasm. You’ll also need to ensure the dog has enough drive. Throw the ball into thick cover and observe how long he’ll search and whether he’s using his nose.
- Imprint the scent. To get your dog excited about shed hunting, you need to get him excited about the scent of sheds. Take a tennis ball and rub it on a shed—the fresher the antler, the better. Or store the ball and the shed together. Then work with the dog on short retrieves. Eventually work your way up to tossing the ball into thick cover. Give a reward after good sessions.
- Hide the shed. Once the dog is accustomed to the scent of sheds, it’s time to break out the antlers for what Bowling calls odor recognition. The biggest mistake people make, says Bowling, is that they don’t think about the wind while training. At first, try some easy finds, and reward good effort. Then move to tougher tests. But always work the dog into the wind. Let him learn to use his nose.
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Deer have always been prey species. They use all of their senses to avoid being killed by predators like coyotes, wolves, bears, hunters, and automobiles. Their most refined defense is their nose. Whitetail deer are believed to have noses one hundred times more sensitive than a dog’s. Uneducated deer are usually not exceedingly wary of human scent. But if you want to get close to a mature buck you’re going to have to control your scent. Here are five great tips for controlling human odor while deer hunting.
Scent Control Clothing The first step is scent control clothing. Some clothing utilizes activated carbon, others use silver to eliminate odor. Just about everything from base layers, socks, gloves, pants, jackets, hats, and facemasks are made to control odor. Of course, rubber boots are also an important addition. It doesn’t matter what you wear if you don’t take care of your clothing. If you’re wearing your scent free clothing in the truck or during breakfast you might as well wrap yourself in bacon. Don’t put on your hunting clothing until you’re in the field and have everything else ready to go.
Don’t wash your scent free clothing in normal detergent. Use scent free, phosphate free, UV brightener-free detergent. In fact, wash a load of your normal clothes in this detergent before doing a load of your hunting clothes just to get any residual detergent out of the machine. Once clean, clothing should be stored in a sealed, scent-free container.
De-Scenting Shower Your body is constantly creating odor. Bacteria is the chief cause of human odor and most scent killing soap is designed to kill bacteria. Lather your entire body and leave the soap on for about a minute before rinsing off. Letting the soap sit on your body will allow it to kill more bacteria. Be sure to wash a supply of towels with your scent free laundry detergent too. Before dressing, apply scent free antiperspirant.
Dirty Mouth One of the most bacteria rich environments on your body is your mouth. As you exhale, much of the scent from your mouth is dispersed into the air. Brush your teeth with unscented baking soda toothpaste at home and just before going into the field. Plaque is a chief producer of scent. Regular visits to the dentist can help control plaque and in turn, control scent. Chewing gum flavored with vanilla, apple, or mint can mask your scent.
Scent-Eliminating Sprays Just about everybody sprays down before hunting these days. But are you doing a good enough job? Buy your spray in bulk at the beginning of the season and don’t be shy about using it. Spray down at the truck and again in the stand. Spray down everything including yourself, your equipment, decoys, calls, and anything else you may have with you.
Using Scents There are two basic types of scents; cover scent and lures. I have seen deer lure scents work but personally avoid them. Using a deer lure scent is essentially asking deer to use their nose at a heightened level. Think about walking into your house when something really good is on the stove. You try to figure out what it is that you are smelling and are very aware of the scents in your home. If you come home before dinner is on the stove your house just smells like it always does and you’re probably not thinking about scent at all. The same principle applies for deer in my opinion. I do like cover scents but I don’t buy commercially produced scents. I prefer using scents from my hunting area. For example, we have junipers, apple trees, and various pines scattered throughout the property. I’ll use branches and apples to mask my scent. I’ve also been known to walk through cow pies on the way into my stand.
You’re never going to completely eliminate your scent. But if you can control it well, you can make a buck and possibly even a bear think your 200 yards away when you’re really just 20 yards away.
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If you’ve had any trouble in the past “keeping it together” when shooting at game,
right now is the time to find a cure.
Countless of hunters who practice shooting regularly, months before the season opens, and they still have trouble closing the deal when Mr. Big shows himself. Getting excited is fine — excitement is a big part of why we hunt — but there is a big difference between getting excited and falling apart. We owe it to ourselves to perform under pressure. Even more, we owe it to the game we hunt to stay calm enough to make good shots and clean kills.
Below are six steps that have helped hunters stay cool at the moment of truth.
- Practice, Practice, Practice Nearly all bow hunters practice their shooting, but many fail to practice properly. To many average bow hunters, practice means flinging 20 to 30 arrows once or twice a week. This is not considered practice. When preparing for a hunt, practice every possible shot sequence, just as if you were actually hunting. That means shoot a 3D target from every possible angle while wearing camouflage, and shoot from any position that might become a possibility during the hunt. You want to be prepared for all contingencies.
Also practice at distances considerably farther than you will shoot on animals. A typical whitetail shot is closer than 30 yards, but practice regularly to shoot out to 80 and even 100 yards. That kind of practice will leave you very confident for any shots closer than 40 yards.
Lack of confidence is the biggest reason some people get shaken at the shot. They just keep thinking they may not make that shot. There are two things to offer those who lack confidence. One, restrict shots to your comfortable shooting range. Two, practice enough different scenarios that when an animal steps into your shooting lane, you’ll have no doubts about making the shot because you’ve already done it dozens of times in practice.
- Run & Shoot Now that sounds kind of dangerous, but it’s not meant in a literal sense. During practice sessions, sprint anywhere from 60 to 100 yards, then pick up your bow and try to put a kill shot on a 3D target. This simulates the adrenaline rush you get when shooting at game. Some people may think it sounds crazy, but, it builds confidence like no other drill. You don’t have to do this every time you practice, but do it often enough to build confidence in your ability to shoot accurately when your heart is racing — whether from running or from watching a buck walk within range.
- Flex Those Muscles! When you see a big buck coming down the trail and your heart rate skyrockets, tense every muscle in your body while holding your breath. Then, after five or six seconds, let your muscles relax, and exhale. Do this several times as needed.
This is especially helpful during frigid hunts, when your muscles are stiff and your circulation is poor. It helps improve blood flow, regulate body temperature, settle your heart rate, and relax your muscles, all of which will calm you down to make a good shot. This muscle-tensing tactic has will help keep your cool on numerous animals.
- Focus On The Sweet Spot Once you decide to shoot an animal, you have no need to look anywhere other than the hair, scale, or feather you want to hit. Keying in on that certain spot keeps you calm and focused. Some people miss when they focus on the headgear because they are looking with their mind’s eye at a beautiful shoulder mount gracing the wall above the fireplace. Don’t worry about the headgear while the critter is alive. You will have years to stare at it — if you focus on the vitals before and during the shot.
You tend to aim where you are looking. Look at those wide antlers coming your way, and you might put an arrow right through the center of them. Instead, concentrate on the vitals, and that’s where you’ll put your arrow.
- Close Your Eyes This isn’t always an option, but when it is, it works. The longer some people look at an animal they want to shoot, the more stage fright they develop. If that’s you, closing your eyes or looking up at the sky will allow you to clear your mind and reorganize your thoughts.
Some people can perform on a moment’s notice, but, others prefer to have some time to evaluate the situation and to analyze every move before actually making it. If too much time transpires and the nerves start taking over, close your eyes to regain focus before the animal gets within bow range.
- The Inner Voices Although you might not have demons and angels on your shoulders taunting you one way or the other, you certainly have inner voices that control your mind when you’re face to face with your prey. Listen to the positive voices and let them build you up. Feeding your mind with positive thoughts will weed out the negative ones that flow through the minds of so many bow hunters. Doubt is where many archers fail at crunch-time. To eliminate doubt, talk to yourself — positively.
Ruffed Grouse normally have a short life span. From a brood of 10 or 12 hatched in late May or early June, usually 5 or 6 will have died by mid-August. Among those living to disperse during the fall shuffle, about 45% will have been lost by late fall and early winter. Another 10% die over winter and during early spring, so that only about 45% of the young grouse alive in mid-September live to their first breeding season. In subsequent years a given cohort (a season’s crop of young birds ) continues to shrink by about 55 to 60% per year. So from 1000 chicks hatched in late spring, about 400 normally survive to early autumn, 180 survive to the following nesting season, 80 are alive a year later, 36 live to breed a 3rd time, 16 may breed a 4th time. One out of 2200 chicks hatched may live as long as 8 years.
Most Ruffed Grouse die a violent death to provide a meal for one of a number of meat-eating predators, for in the natural scheme of things, Ruffed Grouse are one of the first links in a complex food chain. Some also die from disease and parasites, or from exposure to severe weather, or accidentally by hitting trees or branches while in a panic flight after being frightened.
Across the major portion of the Ruffed Grouse range, the winged predators or raptors are most efficient at taking these birds. Although the goshawk is certainly the most efficient of all grouse predators, the horned owl probably kills more grouse annually than any other predator. This is due to the cosmopolitan distribution of these owls and the likelihood that any woodland capable of supporting grouse will have resident horned owls, or at least be regularly visited by them. Yet, where cover is adequate, grouse can find security and maintain their abundance even when goshawks and horned owls live and nest nearby.
Conditions are seldom static in the world of the Ruffed Grouse and their numbers fluctuate from year to year, and from decade to decade. Across most of their range in the northern states, Canada and Alaska, Ruffed Grouse numbers have risen and fallen in a somewhat predictable pattern for most of this century, in what is often called a “10-year cycle”. In the Lake States, for example, periods of abundance usually coincide with years ending in 0, 1 or 2, and the bottom of the depression in years ending with 5 or 6. This is not invariable, but a general, regional trend. These “cycles” sweep across the continent more or less as a wave, beginning in the far Northwest and Northeast, and progressing southward and southeastward.
The factors responsible for these periodic fluctuations remain poorly understood, and appear to involve a number of different factors interacting with one another in different ways at different times. The one factor which does not appear to be important is hunting during the period of fall dispersal.
The primary causes for the short-term fluctuations in Ruffed Grouse abundance appear to be related to weather trends and variations in the quantity and quality of food resources. These are interrelated to a large degree. Superimposed upon these two basic factors is that of predation – as predators take advantage of grouse placed in jeopardy by unfavorable weather conditions or inadequate food resources. A favorable combination of weather factors and food resources may allow these grouse to survive the winter nearly immune to predation. These combinations of factors also affect annual production. If grouse spend the winter feeding on poor quality foodstuffs, or have to use an excessive amount of energy to keep warm, hens may not have sufficient reserves to produce a clutch of viable eggs, or vigorous, healthy chicks in the spring. Across most of their range, the most productive and most abundant Ruffed Grouse populations are those living where they spend most of the winter burrowed into 10 inches or more of soft, powdery snow, and emerge for only a few minutes once or twice a day to take a meal of the male flower buds of the aspens. Our Ruffed Grouse can be considered snow lovers or “Chionophiles.” Ruffed Grouse tend to be less numerous and less productive if they live in regions where they cannot burrow in snow and feed on aspen (poplar).
Longer term changes in Ruffed Grouse abundance reflect how we have treated our woodlands and forests. There is also reason to suspect that much of the severity of the “10-year cycle” is largely a result of how we have treated forested lands. These birds depend upon the food and cover resources produced by a group of short-lived trees and shrubs growing in full sunlight which develop following the severe disturbance of forests. In earlier times, fire and windstorm were the ecological agents periodically renewing forests and creating satisfactory habitat for Ruffed Grouse and many other species of forest wildlife. Ruffed Grouse should be considered a “fire-dependent” species in the natural scheme of things.
Our current reluctance to cut forests, even under strict management plans and the suppression of fire to protect growing forests, have upset this natural sequence of events. In the early part of this century, farm abandonment and the recovery of forests from unregulated logging and fires produced habitats which probably resulted in the greatest abundance of grouse in recent times in most of Canada & northern United States. But as forests mature under protection from fire and cutting, they lose the habitat qualities Ruffed Grouse require. In many regions, Ruffed Grouse numbers have declined as forests have become more extensive and older.
Ruffed Grouse abundance can often be readily restored by proper harvest management of forested lands, or through the judicious use of prescribed fire that is ongoing in northwestern Ontario.
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GROUSE HUNTING at Wawang Lake
Scent can be your biggest ally or your worst enemy
Black Bear are attracted to the aroma of a free meal, but if they catch a whiff of you, you can often kiss them good-bye for a day or two. Keep your clothing and footwear as scent-free as possible. Be alert at all times while hunting your bait. You will most often see bear before you hear them. With padded feet they move with calculated precision. Remember, when they come into a bait station they know the treats were left by humans.
Regardless of your choice of weapon, whether it is a gun or bow, learning when and where to shoot can mean the difference between an expedited kill, or, the outcome of tracking a wounded animal. We advise our hunters to wait until the bear is preoccupied with the bait and is facing away while standing broadside or quartering away. Bears are extremely tough, so a double lung or heart shot are always your best option therefore taking your time will be important.
When archery hunting, bows must meet the following specifications.
Crossbows: Draw length must be at least (11.8 in.);
- Draw weight must be at least (119 lbs.);
- Bolt head must be at least (0.9 in.) at the widest point; and,
- there must be at least two cutting edges of straight, sharp, un-serrated, barbless steel.
Re-curve Bow: Draw weight must be at least (48.5 lbs.) at draw length of (27.6 in.) or less;
- Arrow length must be at least (23.6 in.);
- Broad head must be at least (0.9 in. at the widest point; and,
- There must be at least two cutting edges of straight, sharp, un-serrated, barbless steel.
For bow hunting Black Bear we recommend a compound bow with a draw weight of no less than 50 pounds and a 100 grain broad head
Recommended Knowledge base
For rifle hunting black bear we recommend using nothing less than a .270 caliber.
Other recommended calibers: 7mm magnum; .308; .30-06. NO 30-30’s
Firearm Information www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/index.htm
The bottom line – baiting is a proven strategy for attracting a wary game animal with a voracious appetite. It involves much more than just tossing out a few tasty morsels. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it and our experienced guides take pride in their skills and knowledge. Keen attention to detail and listening to the guide is the key to your success.
In order to ensure the highest possible success to our hunters we take only an average 14 hunters a year. Should we have an increase in bear sighting throughout the spring and summer we may take a few more hunters but our first obligation is to ascertain a healthy black bear population together with satisfied hunters for years to come.
Most importantly, remember baiting is a ton of work and takes weeks on our part for each hunter. From collecting legal paper work to buying and picking up the ingredients, materials along with travelling for miles and then finally establishing and maintaining each site daily prior to your hunt. It requires foresight and commitment on our part and we do this because of our passion for the outdoors and careful management of our Black Bear.
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Whether we are at the range shooting targets, or in the field hunting, breathing is important. We want our sight, scope or pin to be on its mark when we pull the trigger.
Education, shooting positions and firearms are all very important to shooters. Breathing is a very important factor as well. We all breathe. From the day we were born we have unconsciously learned to breathe in and out. That natural motion can help or hinder during shooting.
Controlled breathing is a necessity in shooting accuracy. When you breathe in and out your chest rises and falls. This movement can cause your gun barrel or arrow sight to float on its target. Your breathing may cause you to move at the exact moment you pull the trigger to fire.
Sometimes when you are hunting, you get excited and/or the terrain and conditions cause your heart rate to accelerate. Your breathing becomes more rapid and harder to control. If you hold your breath, you may become light headed and your shot may be off target. It is important to practice your breathing techniques as you practice shooting positions at the range.
There are multiple methods of breathing during a shot. The best thing to do is practice them and determine which works best for you. Once you’ve determined your breathing technique, practice it so it becomes instinctive when you are under pressure.
Exhale & Pause – When you are in shooting position, put your cheek against the stock of the gun. Take in a deep breath. Exhale just a portion of that breath, pause briefly and pull the trigger. The pause should allow you to hold your gun barrel and sights in perfect alignment on the target at the very moment the gun fires.
Inhale & Pause – Relax and practice steady breathing. Double check your shooting position. In your rythm of relaxed breathing, inhale. When your lungs are about half full, pause and pull the trigger. The inhale and pause is similar to the exhale and pause method. Your gun barrel and sights should be in perfect alignment on the target at the exact moment the gun fires.
Full exhale – Make sure you are in proper shooting position. Breathe slowly to relax. Focus on your target. As you breathe naturally, and you are at complete exhale, pause when your lungs are empty and squeeze the trigger.
Breathe Naturally – Breathing naturally takes the focus completely off of breathing technique. You do not pause at all. Focus on your form and your target as you breathe naturally and squeeze the trigger. Sometimes being consciously focused on breathing can increase heart rate and breathing patterns. The natural breathing technique takes the focus off and you begin to unconsciously form a habit of correct shot timing.
When you are pausing, remember just that. It is a pause, not a hold. When a shooter holds their breath, their muscles tighten and their heart rate can change. This will dramatically change the accuracy of a shot.
While you are practicing, if you become short of breath, stop. Re-group and practice your natural, relaxed breathing. It is important to steady your breath to decrease the amount of movement your body is making. If you are able, step back. Take a deep breath in. Then exhale and then reacquire your target.
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