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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Balancing Your Back Pack

In hurry and trying to hastily pack out a deer from the backcountry in one trip, a hunter carried a heavy, irregular pack too low and in the process damaged a spinal disc, pinched nerves in his hip, and lost feeling in his ham hocks for quite some time.

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Here are a few tips to help you shoulder a heavy load comfortably and safely—and avoid the physical therapy and chiropractic sessions the hunter had to go through.

From the bottom up
Stuff your sleeping bag, pad, and tent in the bottom of the pack.

Heavy load
Place the heavy freight—like a meat quarter—above the light cargo and against your back. It should sit above your hips and between your shoulder blades.

Cram Session
Surround the heavy stuff with lighter gear, such as clothing and food, followed by cooking gear, water filter, and the like. Pack the lightest gear like a hat and gloves in any remaining space at the top.

At the ready
Stash gear like a GPS, flashlight, or other items you might need to access quickly in the pack’s lid.

It’s a cinch
Now that it’s packed right, here’s how to carry your pack:

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The Bear Facts – What You Should Know

Despite divided opinion about the political correctness of bear hunting, it is something every hunter should try at least once. But a word of caution, if you want to make the most of your outings, there are a few key things you should know. The more knowledgeable you are, the better your chances of tagging a trophy.

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Black Bear can be found roaming the woods in every northern state, all provinces and many eastern and western states. The smallest member of the bear family in North America, black bears are the most populated. Thriving in almost every jurisdiction, populations are on the rise across the continent.

Black bear can be hunted only in the fall at Wawang Lake. Each state and province has specific regulations dictating when and how bears can be hunted. If you want to spend more time in the woods, black bears make the perfect prey during the fall. With thick coats in prime condition, fall is the preferred choice of bear hunters that are looking for that trophy bear. If you’re fortunate enough to connect with a trophy-sized black bear chances are you’ll end up with a beautiful specimen, well worth making into a rug or head mount.

Over-the-counter tags are only available in certain states and provinces. Some states issue tags only through a limited entry draw/lottery process.

In many ways black bears are misrepresented and misunderstood. Ironic but true, bruins are gentle by nature. This stands in contrast to their stereotypically vicious reputation.

Found in a variety of color phases, pelage can range from white through yellow, with black, brown and cinnamon being the most common. Their ominous looking dark shiny coat is the obvious contributor to their malignant image; it may also be the black bear’s slow, methodical and calculated gestures. Whatever the reason, these quiet, yet dominant nomads of our coniferous and mixed forests, are worthy of both admiration and respect.

A sow will typically accompany her cubs for 16 or 17 months. At the end of this period she will sever ties, forcing the youngsters to go off on their own.

Females will reach their maximum size at six years, and boars continue to grow to a maximum size at 12 years of age. On average, most bears taken by hunters weigh somewhere between 175 and 300 pounds. Any black bear topping the 300-pound mark is considered large.

Aside from body weight, black bears are judged by the size of their skull, with a Boone & Crockett minimum eligibility score of 21 inches and a Pope & Young score of 18 inches.

We often hear of bears being territorial and, in a sense, this is true. While there exists a distinct hierarchy within the ranks of bear world, it is not uncommon to find many individuals residing in a given geographic area. Home ranges can span from two to 10 miles and resident populations will often hold a variety of boars, sows and cubs.

Heavily timbered forests near logging areas often sustain good bear densities.  With blueberry areas, black bear favor the accessibility and abundance of such forage and often reside in proximity.

As forest dwellers, black bear are omnivorous. Predominantly feeding on a variety of plants and berries throughout the summer, springtime offers a feast of dandelion and fresh grasses. Opportunists extraordinaire, black bear  will also feed on carrion. Consistent with this and the fact that bears favor beavers as a staple food source in some regions, areas with spruce and poplar mixed forest and cascading beaver dams can be dynamite locations for the hunter to focus his/her attention.dam2

As with ungulate species, black bears undergo an annual rut cycle. Beginning in late May and continuing on through most of June, boars go in search of breeding partners. It is during this approximate six to eight week period that most large bears are taken by savvy hunters. Just as with members of the deer family, the larger, educated and otherwise reclusive boars become more visible as they readily cross roadways, clear-cuts and feed in open areas as they look for sows in estrus.

Black bears den up in late October and drift into a state of torpor. This is not a true state of hibernation, but rather of slowed metabolism, during the cold winter months. In this suspended state, they cease to defecate, urinate or eat for the next 5-6 months. They do however periodically awaken from this sleep to stretch and walk around. Usually only a brief interlude, black bears soon return to the den to wait out the long winter. Sows will deliver and nurse their cubs in the den and as the snow begins to melt and spring arrives, they’ll leave the den to begin their search for food.

Bear meat brings mixed reviews. Some savor every morsel, and others grimace at the very mention of it. Its greasy, coarse texture and sweet flavor requires a certain kind of palate. A word of caution however, bear meat should be thoroughly cooked as it can carry a parasitic infection known as trichinella, a potentially dangerous disease to humans.

Black bear have relatively poor eyesight, but an outstanding sense of smell and an uncanny hearing ability.

When hunting black bear, consider food source. Focus on areas with a sufficient forage base. There should be water nearby along with good cover. With the aid of topographic maps, look for spots with streams, rivers and ample low ground to provide damp, dark and cool cover. In boreal forest regions, this will be dense moss-laden areas bordering swamps and isolated marshy wetlands. In mountainous regions, this will often be found in drainages along creeks and other waterways.

Once a general area is identified, begin your search by looking at trees. Claw marks on deciduous trees are the most obvious indicators. In mixed forest areas mature poplars wear the battle scars revealing claw marks of days gone by. While rarely do you stumble upon fresh markings, these lasting scars unveil a historical presence.

Bear leave tracks. A great place to look for these is in the wet sand and soil along shorelines of rivers, streams and lakes. Most often at least one or two old or new tracks are found, keeping in mind that bears frequently use these movement corridors. A 5″ or better pad/track can suggest a good bear is in the area.DDW-Bear-Hunt-086

Nomadic creatures, bears commonly travel traditional trails along ridges, in valleys, and along drainages. Finding fresh scat can instill further confidence in your pursuit and help you identify the size of a particular bear.

A variety of strategies and techniques are proven effective in pursuing spring black bears. Whether floating down a river, walking cut-lines, spot and stalk hunting, baiting or calling, black bears are very huntable. Each strategy has its own merits.

A good set of binoculars is a must when spot and stalk bear hunting. Once spotted, the stalk begins. The regular rules apply – keep the wind in your face; remember bears rely heavily on their sense of smell. The best time to spot and stalk black bears is the five to 10 day window just prior to, or just as the deciduous trees begin to bud. With little food available in the woods, they can frequently be seen browsing on cut-lines and south-facing slopes where the first green grasses begin to sprout.bin

Baiting is far from easy, and holds no guarantees! From time to time you get lucky and have one move in cautiously to inspect the provisions, but this is frequently more the exception than the rule. Perhaps the biggest advantage I see in baiting is that, if and when a bear finally does come to the bait, it can allow the hunter time to assess size and stature. This is advantageous for the trophy hunter, allowing the option to pass up smaller bears, thus diminishing the odds of falling victim to ground shrink.

Predator calling bears has come into its own in recent years. A myriad of videos and how-to articles are available to hunters looking for an alternative approach to hunting bears. I sometimes carry a Lohman wounded rabbit call for scenarios where calling might come in handy. While patience is required in this game of calling, it can take some time before a big old bruin responds favorably. But when they do, be ready, because they’re coming in for dinner!wawanglakebear

As a rule, black bears want no more to do with you than Superman does with kryptonite. The fact is, it’s important to treat them with due respect, be aware they possess immense strength and are able to cause considerable damage. To get an accurate picture on the nature of bears, I highly recommend a book entitled, Bear Attacks – Their Causes and Avoidance written by Dr. Stephen Herrero. Having heard him speak at a conference, the clear message I gleaned was that if, and when, black bears show aggression, most often they’ll bluff charge … stop 10 yards away and bounce on their front legs. Periodically they’ll stand up, but this is usually to help them get a better look at what is going on. This is intimidating, but most often harmless.

The only thing predictable about black bears is that they are unpredictable. Although many will avoid humans at all cost, there are some that have no fear at all. Caution and respect should always be exercised.

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Geared Up: Cleaning your gun

Most know that cleaning a firearm is a necessity for ownership.  This not only helps prevent malfunction and missfire but can also help bullet path and accuracy.  What most don’t know is that the average gun owner does not clean their firearm correctly which can lead to major headaches down the road 🙂

Here are a few great tips to set you straight

Step 1: Clean barrel and metal parts
Step 1: Clean barrel and metal parts with good commercial solvent.
Step 2: Bore should be cleaned through breech end
Step 2: Bore should be cleaned through breech end where possible.
Step 3: Clean bore until dry patch comes through as clean
Step 3: Clean bore until dry patch comes through as clean as possible.
Step 4: Run oily patch through barrel
Step 4: Run oily patch through barrel.
Step 5: All metal parts should get light coat of oil
Step 5: All metal parts should get light coat of oil.
Step 6: Store in horizontal position
Step 6: Store in horizontal position, or with muzzle pointing down.
Step 7: After storage, run a clean patch through bore
Step 7: After storage, run a clean patch through bore before firing.
Step 8: Remove all excess grease and oil
Step 8: Remove all excess grease and oil.
Click to view pdf of this diagram
With clean gun in hand, enjoy the hunt!

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Posted by on March 29, 2015 in firearm, gun hunting, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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How To Make Hits At 1,000 Yards

If you have a gun that shoots 1 MOA and a scope with enough elevation, making a first-round hit at 1,000 yards isn’t all that hard. But you need to have the variables—especially the wind—in your favor.

Gear
There are plenty of off-the-shelf rifles you can use. Bolt guns from Remington, Savage, and others can all easily meet the 1 MOA standard. You can pick just about any caliber, but a .308 shooting a match load with a 168- or 175-grain bullet is pretty much the benchmark. There’s no need to get fancy.

For the scope, you need a 30mm model with target turrets and a reticle with marks for elevation and windage.

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Wind
The wind is way more of a factor than anything else. You need to be able to read what it is doing at your location, down by the target, and in between. A wind meter will tell you what’s going on at your location. And this is the most important reading, because the deflection in the first part of the bullet’s path will have the most effect downrange.

To read the wind downrange, look at the telltale signs. A breeze that is moving the grass is about 5 mph. Rustling leaves is about 8 mph. Swaying branches indicates a 10 to 15 mph wind.

A good spotting scope will help you read mirage. Focus on the target and then back it off so the scope is focused on the wind. The wavier the lines, the less wind there is. Tighter lines mean more wind. You just have to practice to develop a feel for mirage.

Technique
The most common mistake here is a bad position. You’ve got to get straight behind the rifle and set up a solid rest. Not only will a bad position throw your first shot off, but if you aren’t right behind the rifle, you won’t be able to see where your shot goes so you can make a correction. At this point, you’re just guessing. You will get good at making first-round hits by watching your misses.

Take extra time to set up a shot. Use a quality bipod and rear bag to support the stock. If you’re not stable, the hit probability is low. Taking a few extra seconds to get solid, whether hunting or at a match, is worth it for any long shot. There’s no advantage in rushing.

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How To Call Your Shots

Calling a shot simply means the marksman can tell where his bullet hit. This can be done by observing the bullet’s flight and impact or by knowing where the sights were the instant the firearm was triggered. There are two separate, but complementary, ways to call a shot.

shot

When shooting from non-prone positions, witnessing the impact of the bullet is difficult. The trick is to focus intently on the position of the sights and take a mental snapshot of where they were in relation to the target when the bullet was fired.

The best way to develop this skill is through dry-fire practice, coupled with live-fire practice shots at the range. When dry-firing, use a small target that is a challenge to keep the crosshairs on. Don’t fight the wobble of the sight, just smoothly break the shot as it covers the target. Remember where the crosshairs were when the trigger clicked. At the range, do this with every shot.

To actually see your bullet’s impact, you must pair this level of focus with excellent form. If you are square behind the rifle and not putting any pressure on the stock that will cause it to jump to the side under recoil, you’ll be able to watch the bullet and see where it hits.

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Pattern Birds for a Better Hunt

But you can save steps, increase your flush count, get more shots, and bag more birds if you use some common sense and follow the program below. Ruffed grouse utilize different parts of their habitat at different times of day. Here’s where to hunt and when.

Early Morning: Timber Seams
Don’t believe sleepyhead late-risers who rationalize that grouse hunting is better at midmorning. Hit the woods at sunrise, when the birds have just flown down and are moving out and laying down some scent for your dog. Even if you hunt without a canine, grouse are on the move and more vulnerable now.

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Hunt seams and transitions between big, mature timber (where birds like to roost), open areas, and the thick brush where grouse spend the bulk of their day. Another good zone is the seam between conifers, such as pines or spruce, and hardwoods.

cranMidmorning: Feeding Zones
By the time the sun has been up for an hour, most grouse have arrived at their feeding area and are foraging hard. Know what the birds are eating: If you shoot a grouse, open up its crop and check inside. Then hunt that kind of feed.

Grouse love high bush cranberries, plus most any other juicy or freeze-dried fruit, such as crab apples. Abandoned orchards are grouse heaven. If there are oaks around, grouse will look for small acorns and pieces. Work the edges of open areas like hay meadows and abandoned fields, where grouse will hunt insects and pick up seeds. Logging roads and tote trails with clover are also prime.

Afternoon: Thick Stuff
After feeding, ruffs work their way into the thick stuff, where they will loaf and spend the day under cover. As a general rule, think “low” and/or “damp” now—along brooks, creeks, marshes, bogs, and seeps.

Head for stands of young aspen—trunks from buggy-whip-thick to fencepost diameter are about right. Grouse love tag alder thickets, especially where that cover butts up to timber or wetlands. Brushy tangles of witch hazel, raspberry canes, and multiflora rose hold birds. So do deadfalls. On windy days, kick around in the grassy edges of some of the thickest cover.

Late Afternoon: Feeding/Gritting Areas
By late afternoon, grouse are out feeding again, as well as pecking for grit.
Hit the kinds of feeding areas discussed above. Also work sandy lanes, dirt roads, and the edges of other open areas where birds pick up grit.

Evening: Transition Corridors
You can hunt grouse right up to sunset, and this is a great time to be out, when the birds are back on the move toward roosting areas. Research indicates that grouse prefer to roost in and under deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs, in brush piles, and in leaf litter. When cold weather hits, grouse will snow roost unless conditions are unsuitable. Conifers are then the roost cover of choice. Try hunting the transitions between stands of young timber and thick brush, or young timber and mature trees. If the evening is windy, stick to lower ground where birds find protection and quiet.

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Make A Vault From PVC

Whether you’re storing beans, bullets, or bars of gold, you’ll need a secure place to keep these potential survival currencies. For a quick solution, you could purchase some expensive olive-drab burial vaults, but does it really matter what color they are if they’re buried in the ground? Follow these easy steps, and you can put together a PVC pipe vault for $15 or less.

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Materials
First, you’ll need a length of PVC drain pipe. Many stores sell pre-cut two-foot sections, but, if you’re planning to make several of these, it’s cheaper to buy an eight footer and cut it down. For each vault you’ll also need an end cap, a female threaded coupling, and a plug, plus some primer and PVC cement. Four-inch pipe and fittings give you a lot more interior room than three-inch line, but the cost of four-inch fittings is roughly double that of three-inch material.

Construction

Apply your purple primer around each end of the pipe, inside the cap, and inside the female fitting (but not on the threads!). The primer dries very quickly. Once dry, wipe the cement around one end of the pipe and inside the end cap. Do this quickly, it sets up fast! Slide the cap on and press it onto the ground to force the cap on tightly. If you don’t apply pressure for 10 to 15 seconds, the reaction from the cement, primer, and plastic will actually push the fitting apart. Repeat this process with the female fitting, but push on it with the threaded section facing upward (solid cap on the ground again). This keeps cement from running down into the threads.

pcv2

Let the fumes clear out for a day before storing any food in the vault. Otherwise, wait a few hours for the cement to dry. Once you have filled your vault, screw the plug in place tightly. If you’re burying it in a damp area, use a little Teflon tape around the threads. Use pipe dope compound on the threads if you are burying it in a wet location. Use a permanently glued cap on each end if you are submerging the vault in water.

Burial
After you fill your prepper-style treasure chest with loot, bury it in a smart, secure, and memorable location. Fake pet graves, flower beds, and under a mean dog’s doghouse are a few of my top recommendations. You can either bury it horizontally or, if you have a post hole digger, drive a hole straight down and drop it in. The vertical option means minimal surface disturbance and a smaller profile if someone comes along with a metal detector. Just make sure you can find it!

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