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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Bear Facts to Success

imagesS12UAEG6Simple Fact: The more effort you put into masking your scent, the bigger the Black Bears coming into your target zone will be.

All experienced Black Bear Outfitters have their little tricks to make their bear hunters hunt more enjoyable and also help with their success. If you are new to bear hunting you should know what you are up against. Every hunter wants a big trophy bear and this article should bring you a little closer to that goal, but remember, to thoroughly follow the advice of your outfitter, if you’ve chosen one, and, above all else:  DO NOT DEVIATE from the routine they have already established.

Black Bear hunting to the outfitter is about luring bears to a target zone for their hunting guests by baiting with food the bears like such as high-carbohydrate foods. Bread, pasta and other high starch content foods are rare in nature but it’s what the bears want most so they can quickly store fat for the winter. It’s also about setting up stands at strategic spots where big bears have been scouted. Black Bear hunting for the hunter is all about stealth, with the two biggest factors being sound and most of all, smell.

Black Bear’s Sense of Smell: Olfactory Receptors

imagesN9DAOG1VThe Black Bear has the best sense on smell of any land walking mammal on Earth. It’s really hard for a human to comprehend how well a bear can smell as we basically have to stick our nose in the pot to smell the sauce. Comparing the amount of Olfactory Receptors between a human and a Black Bear is mind boggling.

Olfactory Receptors are microscopic bulbs on the end of nerves in a mammal’s nose. The more you have the better your sense of smell is.

  • Humans:
    6,000,000 Olfactory Receptors (6 million)
  • Blood Hounds:
    1,800,000,000 Olfactory Receptors (1.8 billion)
  • Black Bear:
    12,600,000,000,000 Olfactory Receptors (12.6 Trillion)

A Black Bear can smell 2100 times better than a human. In addition the Jacobson’s organ in their mouth can taste the air, adding to their brains perception. A mature Black Bear can smell your breakfast from 20 miles away if the wind is right. Big mature bears can smell better than smaller younger bears as their noses are larger and more developed. Bears also know what unnatural smells are and associate them with a human presence. This can explain why Black Bear hunters that are not fanatical about the way they smell rarely see big trophy bears. There are procedures you can do to minimize unnatural smells to keep the bears concentrating on the bait that the outfitter has put out for them.  It is wise to check with your outfitter before applying anything new to the bait station that they normally don’t use.

1) Before your bear hunting trip; pick a couple of sets of clothes that you will only wear at the tree stand while hunting. Wash your clothes with scent-free detergent and when done, run them though the wash twice again with no detergent so they are well rinsed. This will ensure your clothes are scent free. If you live in the city and have chlorinated city water then go to a pet store and buy a small bottle of Aquarium Water Conditioner and add ½ oz. to the last rinse cycle you do with your clothes. The water conditioner will neutralize the chlorine in the water and keep the chlorine smell out of your clothes. Remember, they can smell 2100 times better than you so don’t feel silly getting fanatical. Then pack the clothes in a plastic bag to keep them scent free. If you consistently use fabric softener in your clothes dryer it’s best to hang your clothes up to dry because residual clothes softener might go on your clothes. If you are a smoker, do not smoke while wearing your hunting clothes.

Before we go to the next points you should be aware that Black Bears love the smell of mint. If you go on a camping trip in any of Ontario’s provincial parks the wardens will tell you not to keep mint toothpaste or mint gum in your tent because the bears will smell it and go after it. The bears craving for mint can be used to your advantage.

2) Think Mint: Go to one of those hippy tree-hugger heath stores and buy mint soap. The morning before the hunt take a shower using the mint soap. Brush your teeth with mint toothpaste. Chew mint gum while in the tree stand and if you really want to go all the way, have a glass of mint tea before the hunt and even keep a few bags of mint tea in your pockets. This will help cover up any scent.

3) Smoking: If you are a smoker and you smoke in the tree stand you are basically wasting your time if you expect a big trophy bear to come within sight. Wind direction can give you a little luck but it’s not something you should count on. It’s best to wear a nicotine patch while in the tree stand and if you need to; chew mint gum to keep your mind off smoking. Remember to brush your teeth and wash your hands and stop smoking before you put your scent free hunting clothes on.   This would also apply to cigars and chewing tobacco as well.

Black Bear Hearing:

The shape of Black Bear’s ears is mainly responsible for their great hearing. When detecting sound based on volume a bear’s hearing is about four times that of a human. However, a bear can hear a much broader frequency range; both higher and lower frequencies. Rubbing of cloth or twisting of your tree stand can produce sounds that the bear can hear and the hunter cannot. Big old male bears develop a crowned head and their ears move out to the sides giving them stereoscopic hearing, which allows them to pinpoint the origin of the sounds they hear. This is another reason why big old bears are harder to get.

With this in mind try to stay absolutely still. If you have to move; move very slowly. Take some nose drops before the hunt and if you have a cold or allergies. If your throat is dry and itchy bring some mint flavored lozenges with you. You can also oil the joints of your tree stand to make them a little quieter.

Black Bear Sight:

During the day a Black Bear basically has the same site as a human but older bears tend to be near sighted. As a result they cannot focus on things from a long distance. When one of an animal’s senses becomes diminished their brain rewires itself to compensate by making other senses more acute. This is known as neural placidity. As a bear gets older they become near sighted so the brain compensates by being more sensitive to color differentiation. If the bear sees colors it thinks are unnatural and he sees those colors move the game is up. Bears cannot see the same range of colors as a human. Hunter orange looks gray to them. But they can see dull reds and yellows as well into the blue/green cool color spectrum. This is why there are many different forms of camouflage clothing.

Picking the right Camouflage:

You need to talk to the outfitter when you book your hunt and ask what kind of plants will be at the tree stands. If the hunt is taking place in the southern range of Ontario’s bear hunting country during the fall you may have a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees, thus you will need a camouflage that represents pine needles, pine bark and colored fall foliage. If you are father north in an area with only pine trees you will need a camouflage that represents pine bark and pine needles, which means dark brown and green. You need to blend into the scenery so their bear cannot see any unnatural color pattern.

Black Bears are nocturnal. They have a reflective layer in the back of the eye called the tarpetum lucidum. Just because you can’t see them does not mean they cannot see you. Since dusk is the hottest bear hunting time it’s also when you should concentrate the most on being quiet and motionless.

Bear Size:

In most cases, big ears mean a smaller bear. A small ear is usually a bigger bear. Once a bear reaches three years old (approx. 100 lbs.), the bear starts to grow into its ears. The ears and eyes don’t grow as much as they do in the first three years. Sometimes if a bear has a hard year with food, the ears will look bigger because the bear is thinner. Read our article:  How to Size a Black Bear

Cubs:

When a sow is with cubs, 90% of the time the cubs are in the lead. The cubs will make more noise than a single bear. Most of the time, adult bears make little or no noise.

Sow:

You can’t shoot a sow with cubs in the Ontario spring hunt, and in the fall we continue this policy on our BMA – DO NOT SHOOT SOWS with cubs.. So make 100% sure you know what you are shooting at. Take a really good look around to make sure there are no cubs. A sow’s ears are usually closer together, as a male bear’s cranium grows wider on top and the ears look farther apart. They also look smaller, which is really an illusion.

These tips and techniques are just a guide line for some things to consider and think about. Ultimately the outfitter is the person you need to discuss the different factors with. Bear hunting can be quite different in different regions.

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How to Judge Your Shooting Distance

 A great article by Kevin Wilson

Accurately judging distance is the first step toward proper shot placement. Instinctive or calculated, bowhunters rely on it for close range shooting. Gun hunters count on their ability to estimate longer distances. Over time we all learn our own tricks for calculating distance but with the advent of laser rangefinders many of us won’t leave home without them. Regardless of how you go about it, determining yardage can make or break your hunt.

I will remember one hunt as long as I live. The outcome was downright depressing all because I misjudged the distance. It happened 16 years ago. I was a neophyte bowhunter at the time. I’d set up a treestand in a small block of trees that I knew held several bucks and does. The previous winter I’d picked up some huge sheds that taped out at 183 Boone & Crockett inches. Knowing that the gigantic buck had survived the winter, my hopes ran high and I knew there was always a chance he’d show up in the timber I was hunting. As luck would have it 45 minutes after climbing into my stand I heard leaves crunching underfoot. Straining to look through the trees, sure enough a smaller basket rack buck was making his way toward my stand. Always an impressive sight I enjoyed the view as he walked 10 yards from me. Then I heard more rustling in the leaves and looked over to see him. He was nothing short of magnificent! Based on his sheds, it looked like he’d grown at least another 15 inches putting him well into the high 190’s – a buck of a lifetime in anyone’s books! He walked 12 yards from my stand but I couldn’t get to full draw with him in plain view. As soon as he turned I capitalized. At full-draw, I locked my 20 yard pin on his body as he continued to amble forward. Walking straight away there was no shot opportunity at all! By the time he stopped, I estimated he was standing at 30 yards. With all the concentration I could muster, I focused and released. The arrow flew where I’d aimed, in perfect alignment with his chest, but literally inches high splitting the hair on his back! Completely awestruck and in total disbelief, that gut-wrenching feeling overcame me as I watched my world-class archery whitetail bound away never to be seen again… and all because I’d misjudged the distance!

Since that day I have made it my lifelong mission to learn how to accurately judge distance. From capitalizing on today’s technologically advanced laser range finding devices to using topographic characteristics to assist in calculating distance, and understanding the influences of terrain, it is an ongoing practice in my world. Regardless of whether you’re an archer or a rifleman, here are a few considerations that might help you as you learn to accurately judge distances.

The Technological Solution
Today’s technology is a saving grace for hunters. Many of us won’t leave home without our laser rangefinder. Portable and easy to use, we simply identify our target, adjust the setting, point, hit the button and, voila! … distance is displayed on the screen. With yardage confirmed, all that remains is the shot itself.

When I began bowhunting nearly two decades ago rangefinders had a simple dial that brought the target image into focus when the dial was turned. Wherever the dial ended up, that was your yardage. Today, thanks to innovation, laser rangefinders are readily available and relatively affordable. In fact today there is really no reason not to use a rangefinder. Many manufacturers have their own versions, but in my opinion, one of the latest and greatest inventions is Bushnell’s Laser Arc. I’ve got the Elite 1500 model. The ARC stands for Angle Range Compensation. While traditional rangefinders are precision optical instruments designed to be used on a level plain (line of sight), the ARC rangefinder compensates for angles from a treestand for instance, or up or down a mountain slope. I have owned and used several different kinds of rangefinders over the years. The Laser ARC is my absolute favorite. Using digital technology, it has a built-in inclinometer that displays the exact slope angle from +/- 60º of elevation with +/- 1.0 degree accuracy. Hunters have always struggled with extreme uphill and downhill angles. These severe angles alter true horizontal distance to the target. The ARC solves this problem. It has three primary settings: bow mode, rifle mode, and a regular mode (for line of sight distance calculation only).

It has a bow mode that displays line of site distance, degree of elevation, and true horizontal distance from 5-99 yards (or meters). For longer range shooters, it also has a rifle mode that calculates and displays the amount of bullet drop, at the target in inches (or centimeters). In the rifle mode, the amount of bullet drop is determined by the line of sight distance to the target, degree of elevation, along with the specific ballistic characteristics of the caliber and ammunition. As the hunter ranges the target, the line of sight, degree of elevation, and bullet-drop/holdover in inches or centimeters is displayed from 100-800 yards (or meters). Here’s where the technology shines ballistically. In the start-up menu, one of eight ballistic groups can be selected by the user, with each formula representing a given combination of caliber and loads.

Laser rangefinding technology, and the ARC system in particular, is invaluable but what if we don’t have one? Then it comes down to a matter of practice and estimation to determine our downrange distances.

Practice
For most of us, learning to judge distance takes considerable practice. Only by doing it a lot, and under variable conditions, can we become competent at it. Shooting is a lot like golf. Understanding how your bow or gun works (i.e., trajectory and ballistics) and interpreting the size of the target animal relative to the terrain can only be learned through firsthand repetitive experience. So how do we get all this supposed experience when we can only take a finite number of animals each year? The answer lies in visiting the gun or archery range.

For bowhunters, nothing beats practice on the 3D course. Today’s 3D targets, like those made by MacKenzie, are very lifelike and offer as realistic practice as you’re likely to get anywhere. Most are made to scale and can be strategically placed in any range situation to simulate realistic hunting scenarios. On my local 3D course, our club uses everything from coyote targets to whitetailed deer, mountain goat, elk, moose, wild hog, turkey and more. Some are set at long distances over 60 yards through wide open clearings while others are placed in the trees, often with very small shooting windows at closer distances like 20 or 30 yards. Most 3D ranges have a good assortment of field scenarios to allow practicing archers to hone their skills.

Likewise, rifle and muzzleloader hunters should visit the range regularly to hone shooting skills. Unfortunately due to the expansive nature of bullets today’s 3D targets aren’t an option. Alternatively silhouettes are. Most rifle ranges offer variable range distances from 100 to 400 yards. At my club our furthest distance is 600 yards. Unless you’re really into the long range thing 400 yards is a stretch for most big game hunters. By shooting repeatedly at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards, we grow accustomed to what those distances look and feel like. By taking note of the size of target in our scope at specified magnifications we can also learn to estimate distances. For example, at 10x zoom on my Leupold scope, I know that a deer will fill a certain percentage of the field of view. By acknowledging how much of the animal is in the field of view, I can guess the approximate yardage with relative accuracy. Likewise, at 200 and 300 yards, that deer will appear smaller respectively.

Break Distances into Increments
Whether we’re hunting remote regions or in farmland things like trees, rocks, fence posts, and power poles can be used to aid in judging distances. As an archer I’ve learned to make a mental note of things like trees, shrubs, rocks or other physical land-based objects at 10 yard increments out to a distance of 50 yards from where I’m sitting. By burning those objects into my memory I’m better able to make quick decisions when an animal steps into a shooting lane. I’m guessing it may be the same throughout North America but where I do much of my hunting I’ve learned that power poles are set at a standard distance of 100 yards apart. Any time I’m hunting a wide open power line or in farm country I can use those power poles as markers to estimate yardage. As a rule, regardless of what kind of weapon you’re hunting with, breaking distances down into increments simplifies things. Remember, if you’re sitting in a stationary stand or ground blind there is always the option of setting out yardage markers at desirable increments, e.g., every 10 yards.

Consider Where and What You’re Shooting
Judging distances on the open prairies is a very different game than judging distance in the dense forest. Likewise, estimating the distance of a large target like a moose can be tricky if you’re more accustomed to looking at antelope. Dense cover and the size of the animal can play tricks on your mind.

As an archer, I spend most of my time hunting heavy mixed forest areas comprised of aspens and evergreens. Rarely do I see deer, moose or elk at distances further than 80 yards unless its down a long open cutline or across a clear cut. So, whenever I head out to different states or provinces to hunt smaller species like pronghorn antelope, it usually takes some time to acclimatize and recalibrate my brain to accurately judge distances. In my experience, smaller big game species in open terrain tend to appear further away while larger species under heavy cover often look closer than they really are. Unfortunately there are no set rules here; you just need to figure out what works best for you under variable conditions.

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Proper Field Care for Moose

IMG_6042

One of the most common questions of a first time moose hunter is “The moose is down, now what?”

First-time moose hunters need to know that handling the animal once it is killed will not be easy. But, with the appropriate equipment and a bit of knowledge, the job can go smoothly. If you are planning to have your moose butchered by a professional, it would be wise to check with him in advance about his preferences for handling moose.

Whatever you choose to do will depend a great deal on your means of getting the moose out of the woods and how you plan to transport it to camp or home. The “game taste” people often speak of is usually the result of poor handling more than anything else. With proper care, moose meat can be outstanding table fare.

The main cause of moose meat spoilage is heat. You can avoid this danger by field dressing your moose immediately. Allow the meat to cool rapidly by providing good air circulation. You should also take every precaution to keep your moose free of dirt, debris, blood and hair.

Cheesecloth or commercial game bags offer the best protection from dirt and flies and still allow necessary air circulation. A liberal application of black pepper will also help to discourage flies.

Field dressing should take place as soon after the kill as possible. Once the animal is dead, bacterial action can spoil the meat quickly. The chance of spoilage increases the longer you wait and the warmer the temperature. Bleeding your moose is unnecessary in most cases. Normally, the animal will bleed internally, and immediate field dressing will ensure adequate bleeding.

Field Dressing Your Moose
To begin field dressing, position the moose on its back with the head slightly uphill. It is helpful to tie the legs to nearby trees. Make an incision at the base of the breastbone with the tip of a sharp knife. Be careful not to cut the intestines or other internal organs. The contents can taint the meat. Continue the incision down the length of the belly to the anus. Cut through the skin and thin wall of the body cavity only. Face the blade of the knife upward, and away from the internal organs to avoid cutting them. Use the fingers of your free hand as a guide, but be careful not to cut yourself.

 

 mooseprep1

If the head is not to be mounted, you can continue this cut in the opposite direction to the base of the jaw, exposing the windpipe and esophagus. The windpipe and esophagus should now be severed as close to the head as possible. (Before doing so, tie a string tightly around the esophagus to prevent the stomach’s contents from spilling.) Using your bone saw, split the chest bone down the middle, exposing the contents of the chest cavity.

If you have shot a cow moose, the reproductive tract (ovaries and uterus) can now be removed; you also have the option of waiting until the bowel has been tied. Carefully roll the internal organs to the side until you see the point where two tubes (the rectum and the vagina) exit through the pelvic bone (see illustration). The vagina is the tube nearest the belly. Grasp this and follow it carefully forward until it forks into two tubes, which are the left and right horns of the uterus.

Once you have located the uterus, insert your fingers under it and work your hand in until the organ lays in the palm of your hand. You will notice a thin, almost transparent membrane which connects this organ to the animal’s back. All that now remains is to carefully follow the horns of the uterus to the ovaries. These are bean-shaped organs one to two inches in length. They may be covered with fat so keep looking! When you find them, cut the membranes holding them in place, remove ovaries, and place them in a plastic bag. The uterus can be removed by cutting through the vagina. The ovaries and the uterus should be kept as cool as possible.

Next, circle the anus with your knife, cutting deeply to free the lower bowel. Tie this off with a string to prevent droppings from coming in contact with the meat. Now cut through the flesh of the hams down to the pelvic bone and cut through the pelvic bone with the bone saw.

The internal organs can now be removed. Grasp the tied-off esophagus and trachea and pull them gently but firmly up and back towards the body of the moose. As you do so, have your sub-permitee cut these tissues away from the carcass. Continue this process into the chest cavity, pulling the heart and lungs up and back while cutting any attachments. Once the heart and lungs are freed, cut the diaphragm away from the body on all sides. Then continue firmly pulling on the esophagus and trachea and gently roll the stomach and intestines out of the body cavity, freeing them from all attaching tissues as you go. Once all the viscera is freed of the body, it is best to pull it away from your work space.

Warning!!
Because particularly high cadmium levels have been seen in some moose liver and kidney, it is recommended that you do not consume these organ meats at all.

mooseprep2

Quartering
Quartering is recommended for moose to make handling easier and to allow rapid cooling of the carcass. The hide may be left on each quarter to offer some protection from dirt and flies. If temperatures are above 50 degrees F, you should skin the carcass in the field.

To quarter the animal, you will need a sharp knife and a bone saw. A saw is best to avoid bone splinters and damaged meat.

Begin by removing the head. To do this, cut through the flesh of the neck with your knife. Saw through the vertebrae, and use your knife again to remove the head. Make your cut as close to the head as possible to avoid wasting many pounds of valuable meat.

The next step will be to halve the animal. This is done by placing the back of your knife against the backbone between the second and third rib. Push the blade outward, completely through the flesh and hide. Cut upward using the ribs as a guide and do the same on the opposite side. You can now separate the halves by sawing through the backbone.

Quartering is accomplished by sawing straight down the backbone of each half. Underlying flesh or hide can be separated with your knife. The task of halving and quartering will be easier if the animal can be elevated on logs or sticks. Trim away any shot-damaged meat that could lead to premature spoilage.

Be sure to attach your tags before removing quarters from the place of kill. If the quarters can not be removed before darkness, try to hang them in a nearby tree or elevate them on logs to aid cooling. Cover them with boughs or meat socks and hang a marker nearby.

mooseprep3

Getting Your Moose Out Of the Woods
Getting the moose from the kill site to your vehicle or camp will probably be the toughest task you will face. If you’re fortunate, you may be able to drive close to the kill site, but many of the roads through moose hunting zones are private and may not be open to public use.

Another possibility is to locate someone with a skidder or work horses. The majority of hunters will end up packing their moose out of the woods instead of using a vehicle. To do this, you can tie the quarters to a pack frame or pack board or even suspend them from a long pole so the load can be shared. Try not to overexert yourself; the pieces will be heavy, and the going could be rough. It is a good idea to flag each quarter with a piece of blaze orange material to prevent accidents.

If the quarters are still too much to carry, the carcass can be cut into more pieces, but remember, the law requires the field-dressed carcass be delivered to a checking station for examination. Each individual piece must also be labeled with the name, address and hunting license number of the person who shot it.
It is important to get the quarters hung in a cool, shady place, preferably a meat cooler as soon as possible.

Transportation and Cooling
Always protect the carcass from dirt, heat and moisture. Transport the quarters out in the open if possible. The open back of a pickup works well. Elevate the quarters to keep cool and protect from dirt. If conditions are dusty or rainy, cover them loosely with a porous canvas tarp. Do not stack the quarters, allow them to touch or cover them with plastic. Plastic retains body heat and prevents cooling. If you transport in a covered truck or trailer, you should open windows and vents for proper air circulation.

Once back at camp or your home, hang each quarter from a cross pole of some type in a shady area with good air circulation. If you will have a long trip home, it is best to allow the meat to cool overnight before heading home. If this is not possible, consider traveling at night when temperatures are cooler.

If you are transporting your animal directly home, be cautious about hanging the meat in a garage or shed. Often these areas are not cool enough to allow proper cooling and aging of the carcass.

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Skinning
The quarters should be skinned immediately. If daytime temperatures are above 50 degrees and nighttime temperatures are above 40 degrees, you should remove the hide and over with cheesecloth. If the temperature is between 50 and 30 degrees, you can wait a few hours before skinning.

In skinning, work the hide away with the fingers, and peel it off while the quarters are hanging. Use a sharp knife to slice between the flesh and skin of the animal as it is pulled away. Be careful not to cut either one.

Whether you skin the quarters or not, you should cover each one with cheesecloth or a meat sock.

Aging and Butchering
Aging is intended to make the meat tender. This is best accomplished at a constant temperature of about 40 degrees. The temperature during aging must never exceed 50 degrees. For this reason, you will probably want the services of a professional butcher.

If you age your meat outdoors, three to five days is sufficient, but the period varies with temperature and size of the animal. Meat can be aged for as long as 21 days in a cooler.

If you will be handling the meat yourself, remove as much fat as possible before freezing. Removal of bones will save freezer space. Double-wrap and tightly seal all cuts of meat to prevent freezer burn. Meat should be frozen at zero degrees. Don’t try to freeze too much at once. Label and date all packages for future reference. If you don’t have the knowledge or time to process your own moose, then don’t risk ruining it; have it processed at a commercial facility.

Care Of Big Game Trophies
Proper field care of trophies is extremely important for good results in the final mount. If you intend to have the head of your moose mounted, you must take special precautions when skinning it out.

If the weather is warm, and you plan to have a head mount or a “fur on” rug made from the hide, you must remove the skin, salt flesh inside thoroughly, and roll it up flesh side in. Keep it in a cool place (never in a plastic bag) and get it to your taxidermist as soon as possible. Delay may cause “slipping” a condition in which the hair falls off the hide after the tanning process and ruins the hide for its intended use.

The taxidermist will need as much hide or “cape” to work with as possible. When field dressing, don’t cut any further up the underside than between the front legs. The diagram shows where the cuts should be made to skin the neck. Once the neck is skinned out, the head can be disjointed at the base of the skull and removed with the cape attached. Let the taxidermist skin out the head. He will want the measurements, and the skinning is included in the mounting charge. Remove as much flesh as you can, and salt the cape and all exposed flesh. The head and cape should be kept cool and delivered to the taxidermist as soon as possible.

If you keep only the antlers for mounting, be sure to leave a good portion of the skull attached. The best procedure is to check with your taxidermist in advance of your hunt for specific advice.

To care for the hide, remove all flesh and fat, then salt flesh side well. Moose hides spoil very rapidly in warm weather. You should deliver the hide to a taxidermist within 24 hours after the animal is skinned.

Fine table salt is best for use on hides. Capes will take about 30 pounds of salt. Flat skins will take 50 to 80 pounds. As a guide, figure on using half the weight of the skin in salt. About 24 hours after application, the salt will be wet and will have lost its efficiency — shake it off and re-salt.

Transport the hide rolled up, flesh side in.

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The dangers of dry firing your bow

Dry-firing your bow is something you will want to avoid at all costs. To help minimize your chances of dry-firing a bow you should always draw a bow with an arrow in it, and aim it at a target. This way if you do accidentally release the string there is an arrow in it and you have a target to stop the arrow. Also if you are just trying out a bow be sure to draw with an anti-dry-fire release. When in a group of people it is very easy to become side tracked and forget to load your bow with an arrow. It’s always good to double check before you draw your bow

 

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Dry firing a bow is the act of shooting a bow without an arrow. While this may seem harmless to some of us who are just starting out I assure you that this can be one of the most costly mistakes you can make.

The fact of the matter is that it can happen to anyone beginner or expert for many different reasons. Whether it be from ignorance, distractions, or accidental misfire of a release it happens all the time. So the question is what do you do if you accidentally dry-fire your bow.

There are a few outcomes that could happen when a bow is dry-fired, the first is that is that it will appear that nothing has happened to any of your bow. The second scenario is that your string breaks however everything else stays intact. The third possibility is your bowstring, and cables could snap resulting in your limbs breaking and potential debris flying all over the place. This is basically the worst case scenario and can at times be irreparable.

No matter what scenario your bow falls into after being dry-fired, the first thing you will need to do is to get a magnifying glass and a bright light and look over the limbs especially near the cams for any cracking, or splintering. If you find that one of both limbs have cracks or splinters in them then you will have to replace the limbs before you are able to shoot again. Failing to do so will likely cause will render the bow unusable and/or injury.

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In any of the other cases where the string breaks and/or the bow limbs shatter, you will first go get medical attention if you need it and then you will need to bring your bow in to a bow repair shop and you will have to replace the limbs,string, and any other broken parts(axles,cams,wheels etc.).

After checking for cracks and splinters in the limbs, take a look at the cams/wheels to make sure that they have not been bent or cracked, again if they are you will need to replace them as soon as possible before you are able to shoot. Next if you were lucky enough to have your string still intact, you will need to check the whole thing for badly frayed portions, cut strands, and badly damaged areas, especially near the axles.
If everything checks out and you were unable to find anything wrong with your bow then you are lucky, and you have 2 options, your first option is to draw the bow(with an arrow) and shoot it. Make note of any weird noises, or vibrations. If you aren’t the risky type then you can bring it into a bow repair shop and they will have the tools and resources to be able to better inspect it for damages.

In closing, dry firing a bow may seem innocent, but in turn can be detrimental and even dangerous. Take your time to ensure longevity of your equipment for years to come and better success rates!

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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in archery, bow, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Ontario’s Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed GrouseAlthough sometimes regarded as “wilderness” birds, Ruffed Grouse have no aversion to living in close proximity to humans if the cover gives them adequate security. In some areas of Ontario, Canada –  Ruffed Grouse are more abundant in remote wilderness forests. They thrive best where forests are kept young and vigorous by occasional clear-cut logging, or fire, and gradually diminish in numbers as forests mature and their critical food and cover resources deteriorate in the shade of a climax forest.

Ruffed Grouse response to man varies greatly across their range, depending upon their experiences. In southern Ontario generally they are usually quite elusive and difficult to approach. Yet they can still be killed with a canoe paddle or thrown stones in NW Ontario wilderness forests.

When the ground is bare of snow, Ruffed Grouse feed on a wide variety of green leaves and fruits, and some insects. They have also been known to eat snakes, frogs as well. But when snow covers the ground as it does for most of the winter across the major portion of their natural range, Ruffed Grouse are almost exclusively “flower-eaters,” living on the dormant flower buds or catkins of trees such as birches and pin cherry bush’s.

Known as solitary in their social behavior they do not develop a pair-bond between males and females, although there is usually at least one hen in the woods for every male. Young birds, especially, collect in temporary, loose flocks in the fall and winter, but this is not equivalent to the covey organization of the quails and partridges.

Male Ruffed Grouse are aggressively territorial throughout their adult lives, defending for their almost exclusive use a piece of woodland that is 6-10 acres in extent. Usually this is shared with one or two hens. The male grouse proclaims his property rights by engaging in a “drumming” display. This sound is made by beating his wings against the air to create a vacuum, as lightning does when it makes thunder. The drummer usually stands on a log, stone or mound of dirt when drumming, and this object is called a “drumming log.” He does not strike the log to make the noise, he only uses the “drumming log” as a stage for his display.

The drumming stage selected by a male is most likely to be about 10-12 inches above the ground, in moderately dense brush, (usually 70 to 160 stems within a 10 ft. radius) where he can maintain unrestricted surveillance over the terrain for a radius of about 60 ft. Across much of the Ruffed Grouse range there are usually mature male within sight in the forest canopy overhead.

Drumming occurs throughout the year, so long as his “log” is not too deeply buried under snow. In the spring, drumming becomes more frequent and prolonged as the cock grouse advertises his location to hens seeking a mate. Listen to an example at the top of this page.

Courtship is brief, lasting but a few minutes, then the hen wanders away in search of a nest site, and there is no further association between the male grouse and his mate – or the brood of chicks she produces. A hen may make her nest more than 1/2 mile from the log of her mate.

Nests are hollowed-out depressions in the leaf litter, usually at the base of a tree, stump or in a clump of brush. The nest is usually in a position which allows the hen to maintain a watch for approaching predators. Sometimes hens will nest under logs or in brush piles, but this is less common, and a dangerous location.

A clutch usually contains 8 to 14 buff colored eggs when complete. Eggs are laid at a rate of about one each day and a half, so it may take 2 weeks for a clutch to be completed. Then incubation, which usually commences when the last egg is laid, takes another 24 to 26 days before the eggs hatch. A nest has to be placed so that it will not be discovered by a predator during a period of at least 5 weeks.

The chicks are prosocial, which means that as soon as they have dried following hatching they are ready to leave the nest and start feeding themselves. Grouse chicks are not much larger than a man’s thumb when they leave the nest. They are surprisingly mobile and may be moving farther than 1/4 mile a day by the time they are 3 or 4 days old. They begin flying when about 5 days old, and resemble giant bumble bees in flight. The hen may lead her brood as far as 4 miles from the nest to a summer brood range during its first 10 days of life.

Although grouse broods occasionally appear on roadsides, field edges or in forest openings, these are hazardous places for young grouse to be, and broods survive best if they can remain secure in fairly uniform, moderately dense brush or sapling cover.

wawanggrouse1The growing chicks need a great deal of animal protein for muscle and feather development early in life. They feed heavily on insects and other small animals for the first few weeks, gradually shifting to a diet of green plant materials and fruits as they become larger. Chicks grow rapidly, increasing from about 1/2 ounce midgets when hatched to 17-20 oz. fully grown young birds 16 weeks later. That is a 38 to 46 fold increase in weight. At 17 weeks of age, a Ruffed Grouse is almost as large and heavy as it will ever be.

Biologists and others who want to age Ruffed Grouse rely upon certain peculiarities of the molt of the primary flight feathers. The booklet A Grouse in the Hand explains this aging procedure. And following the first complete molt by a 14 to 15 month old adult grouse, there are no known physical characteristics which reliably identify the age.

When about 16 to 18 weeks old, the young grouse passes out of its period of adolescence and breaks away to find a home range of its own. This is the second and last time that Ruffed Grouse are highly mobile. The young males are the first to depart, when they range out seeking a vacant drumming territory, or activity center, where they can claim a drumming log. Most young males find a suitable site within 1.8 mi. of the brood range where they grew up, although some may go as far as 4.5 mi. seeking a vacant territory. Many young cocks claim a drumming log by the time they are 20 weeks old; and once they have done so, most will spend the remainder of their lives within a 200 to 300 yard radius of that log.

Young females begin leaving the brood one or two weeks later than their brothers, and they normally disperse about three times as far. Some young hens move at least 15 miles looking for the place where they’ll spend the rest of their lives.

Occasionally a hen and her brood will remain together as late as mid-January, but this is unusual, and most groups of grouse encountered in the fall and winter are composed of unrelated individuals who gather together temporarily to share a choice food resource or piece of secure cover.

In fall and winter some inexperienced young grouse frightened by a predator or something else, crash into buildings, trees or through windows in a so-called “crazy-flight.” Sometimes they are evidently simply trying to take a short-cut when they can see through two large windows on the corner of a house. After all, young grouse in their first fall have never been confronted by something that can be seen through but not flown through, such as glass!

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