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Tips For More Grouse

trees3Learn to Recognize Good Cover
Some hunters seem to have a sixth sense about where the grouse are. This isn’t magic but rather the culmination of years of experience, observation, and a working knowledge of what the birds need. These guys are constantly reading about grouse habitat and lore; they take note of wherever they hear drumming in the spring. They know that good grouse cover holds food and provides protection from predators — if it is near an evergreen stand or gravel so much the better.

Take a page from these hunters. Every time you or your dog move a bird, have a good look around after the smoke has cleared — you’ll see a pattern soon enough. Study grouse biology at home; carry field guides when you hunt; learn to recognize common grouse foods in your area. After a while you’ll develop that sixth sense too.

Keep a Log
Every serious grouse hunter I know keeps a hunting log. Some maintain elaborate leather-bound journals in which they detail particulars of the hunt such as the date, cover, number of flushes, dog work, weather, harvest, and crop contents of the birds. Other keep it simple, by marking covers on their handheld GPS. Either way, the hunter is reminded of the places that produced grouse last season.gps

Do this consistently and it won’t take many seasons before you have a bevy of early, mid, and late season options. The more options you have, the better your chance of having a grouse dinner.

Break Some Clay
Over the course of a season, few of us get enough shots at grouse. So it only stands to reason that a hunter ought to make the most of each opportunity. I do this by honing my shotgunning skills in the off-season. Skeet, trap, or sporting clays keep a hunter sharp so that mounting and swinging his scattergun becomes second nature. You’ll still miss — grouse have a way of humbling everyone — but you’ll also make some shots that you might not have without the off-season practice. It just takes a few of these to turn a mediocre season into a great one.

Don’t Forget the Dog Days
Spring and summer are tailor-made for training your dog. Despite this, few of us take advantage of the opportunity. Instead, we expect our dogs to work flawlessly on opening day and we’re actually surprised when that doesn’t happen.

Does your flushing dog hunt too far ahead and blow cover before you get there? A little “hup training” (teaching your dog to sit on command, no matter how far away) in the off season goes a long way towards remedying this. You might also consider brushing up on retrieving drills or introducing your dog to pigeons or game farm forays prior to the season. Some advanced training, such as steadying to wing and shot (where a dog sits down automatically at each flush) might require the help of a professional dog trainer. If that’s what you want, the off-season is the time to do it.

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Pointing dogs have their own set of training needs, which might include bolstering staunchness, retrieving, hunting range and finding dead birds. Whatever your canine hunting partner’s flaw is, the off-season is the time to address it.

The idea is to learn to handle your dog so that you perform as a well-oiled team during the hunting season. There are plenty of great dog training books and videos — the off-season is when you should benefit from them most.

Follow the Food
Grouse eat hundreds of types of food and each provides a clue as to where the birds are hanging out. That’s why it’s a good idea to check the crop of every bird you shoot. Knowing what grouse are eating helps you understand their habits and tells you where you should focus your hunting efforts. If the last three birds you shot were full of blackberries, for instance, it’s definitely time to hunt any of your covers that hold these shrubs.

Against the Wind
A dog relies on his nose to find birds. So why would you hunt with the wind at its back? We all know that there isn’t any good reason for doing so, but it’s one of the first things excited dog handlers forget when approaching good cover.

If you hunt into the wind, your dog will work closer, scent more game and, hopefully, find more birds. It’s a simple but often overlooked strategy that can make the difference between a full and empty game bag. This is also an important consideration when looking for a lost bird. Take your dog downwind from where you think it fell and let it start hunting from there.

Stop and Start
A good grouse hunting dog provides opportunities that you might not have otherwise had, but that’s not to say that a dog less hunter can’t do well. The key, for a dog less hunter, is to stop and start through likely cover and change direction often. These unpredictable patterns unnerve grouse and invariably pressure them into flushing. Another added bonus is that when you stop you can sometimes hear the put-put-put of a grouse moving just ahead of you. If that’s the case, get the gun up and rush it.

Don’t Hesitate
A good upland shot doesn’t hesitate. He takes the first available shot, even if it’s not a great one.

If you wait for a better chance you’ll rarely get it. Similarly, if you are leading a bird that disappears behind a screen of leaves, follow through, and shoot anyway. You’ll be surprised how often you connect. If not, shells are cheap.

While we’re on the subject of shooting, be ready for the second flush. Often, especially, early in the season when birds are still in their family groups, multiple flushes do occur. If you keep this in mind, they won’t catch you flat-footed — or with an empty gun.

Follow Up
Whenever you flush a bird and don’t fold it, mark where you last saw it. Most times they won’t fly much further than 150 yards. If you marked it well and follow up immediately, you have a good chance of forcing a second flush.

 

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Another advantage of following up on grouse is that they sometimes lead you to new covers. If that’s the case, don’t forget to mark it.

Lastly, never assume that you missed any grouse that you shot at. After the shot, keep quiet and listen. Sometimes you’ll hear a mortally wounded grouse doing its death dance against the ground — that’s the one that you thought you missed.

The Right Tools
A fast-handling 12, 16 or 20 gauge shotgun is ideal for birds. Most gunners like double guns. Some happen to prefer a pump because that’s what they shoot best with.  However, don’t discount the light weight, easy to carry .410 shotgun.  Nice little gun with ever growing in popularity in our neck of the woods.

Whatever, your preference, you can’t go wrong using 2 3/4-inch shells filled with 7.5 shot. Grouse aren’t tough birds and it doesn’t take much to bring them down. Since most shots are within 15 yards, the more open-choked your barrels are, the better.

Other essential grouse hunting tools include a quality blaze orange upland hunting vest with a lined game pouch; brush pants; comfortable, well-supported hunting boots; and a compass and/or GPS. If you are hunting with a dog, a whistle, water bottle, portable dog dish, dog first aid kit, and lead are important too. When working heavy, thorny cover, a pair of shooting glasses that protect your eyes are worth their weight in gold.

Conclusion
No one ever said grouse hunting was complicated. But it does take some planning, know-how and skill. Over the last few years, these strategies have made many a much better grouse hunter. Hopefully, they’ll do the same for you.

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Checklist for Backpacker’s

Checklist for Backpacker’s

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Rhinowire lace review

Here is a very well pointed review written by Tim Collins for Rhinowire 🙂  Enjoy!

Article Written By: Tim Collins

rhinoup

 

rhinowiresThis review is for the RHINOWIRES boot laces. And no, that is not an error in my typing. I used all capital letters for their company because these “boot laces” are the real deal!

As soon as I received them and took them out of the package I realized I had ahold of a pair of serious laces. The RHINOWIRES feel stiff and you wonder how on earth am I going to tie these up?! I can assure you though that they do tie up. I put mine in a double knot and they hold my entire 12-13 hour day. RHINOWIRES also come with optional lace locks so you don’t have to tie them. I would suggest getting them custom sized and go with the lace locks. Mine are too long to do this and the extra RHINOWIRES length would prove to be a trip and entanglement hazard.

Those of you who are blue collar and perform hard labor for a living would benefit greatly from owning a pair of RHINOWIRES. Outdoor guides, farmers, steel workers, loggers, military, law enforcement, of course firefighters and everyone else who needs to wear steel-toe boots on the job need to get a pair of these RHINOWIRES. Even individuals who spend their time in the great outdoors hunting, fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities would be wise to own a pair of RHINOWIRES. They come in a variety of colors and sizes as well as even being reflective. I received a pair of OD green that is reflective. I work as a dry kiln operator at a lumber mill and the reflective laces will actually benefit me since I need to wear a reflective vest in my work environment. Working around 56,650 lbs. forklifts carrying around lumber bundles that weigh from 17,500 lbs. to 35,000 lbs. means that safety is of the up-most importance. That is where having the reflective laces add an additional safety element to my work. Granted, right now I am wearing rubber over-boots for the winter to help with the freezing temperatures and snow, but I am confident that when summer rolls around my RHINOWIRES will not fail me. You will know what I mean as soon as you lay your hands on your very own pair. As you can see from the photo’s below, I took a picture of my Rhinowires without flash and then one with flash to show the degree of reflectiveness they have. Quite impressive if you ask me.

rhinowiresatworkreflectiverhinowires

RHINOWIRES come with a replacement guarantee. That’s right, if they ever break they will replace them no questions asked! If you don’t believe me, just read their RHINOWIRE guarantee.

These RHINOWIRES were invented by 2 fire fighters. They said it best on their website that “$400 boots are only as good as the $3 shoe laces. Once the laces break, your $400 boots are useless!”. They invented a product that we all can benefit from because they understand the need for RHINOWIRES. Right now they are running a kick-starter program to fund their project. I hope that everyone will consider helping them. They have several packages available that will get you a pair of these RHINOWIRES and believe me; they are worth every penny and then some.

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I am proud to participate in this product review for RHINOWIRES and I assure you that I am also going to invest in the project even though I received a pair for review. It is completely worth it and I hope you feel the same way as well. As they say on their website, I am definately going to Rhino up! Thank you for reading my product review for RHINOWIRES and if you have any questions, comments or even critiques please feel free to contact me.

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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in hunting, hunting equipment

 

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Bargain vs. Premium Ammo

You get what you pay for. That’s an adage we generally believe in. But does it hold up with respect to ammunition? We set out to answer that question by testing the accuracy of a variety of value-priced .308 hunting ammo against more costly stuff.

ammo1

Methodology
Using three .308 rifles in the test—one hunting rig and two precision rifles that we knew would be ringers.

We put a number of budget and premium loads through all three rifles over the course of one day, ensuring the results wouldn’t be influenced by different environmental conditions. We also used a standard 5-shot-group protocol, and shot two groups with each load at 100 yards. As a control to establish a baseline level of accuracy for each rifle, we also shot 5-shot groups using Federal’s Gold Medal load with 175-grain Sierra BTHPs.

Using the baseline match load to calculate a ratio for each hunting load by dividing the size of the hunting-load groups into the size of the match-load groups. The closer to 1 that ratio is, the better the hunting load performed. None of the hunting loads outshot the match load, so all these ratios were greater than one.

Results
The outcome was interesting. The best hunting ammo was Hornady’s American Whitetail 150-grain Interlock SP. Compared to the baseline groups with the match ammo, this budget-priced load ($19.29 for a box of 20) shot nearly as well as the match ammo in all three rifles and had an impressive 1.41 average ratio. Federal’s Fusion, another bargain ammo ($21.49 for a box of 20) was second best among the loads, with an average ratio of 2.02.

The only expensive load that delivered consistent performance in all three rifles was Federal’s 165-grain Trophy Bonded Tip ($34.49 per box), The two Winchester loads had nearly identical levels of performance, though again, the less expensive 180-grain BST (2.11 ratio average) outshot the more expensive 150-gr. XP3 (2.81 ratio average).

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It’s worth noting when purchasing premium ammo that the promise of greater accuracy is certainly implied because it uses better quality components, but that much of its benefit is based on the idea that it will perform better on game.

Conclusion
It pays to try different loads in several different bullet weights in your rifles. Investing money to find an accurate load is the cheapest way to get the most from your rig.

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Making Waterproof Matches

When it comes to matches, waterproof ones are best, especially in dire circumstances like a flood. Since they’re much more expensive than their pedestrian cousins, you might want to make your own.

cabdle

Use the Candle Technique
Burn a candle long enough for a pool of wax to form around the wick. Blow it out, then dip the head of your match into the wet wax, about of an inch (3 mm) up the stick. Remove the matchstick and allow the wax to dry, pinching it closed to form a water-tight seal.

Deploy the Nail Polish Ploy
Coat your matches with clear nail polish to waterproof them. Dip the head of the match and a bit of the matchstick itself into the polish, then rest the match on a counter with the head hanging off the edge to dry. Survive any wilderness situation with these critical tips.

Try the Turpentine Trick
The easiest way to waterproof your matches is simply to drop them in turpentine. Allow the matches to soak for five minutes before placing them on newspaper to dry. After twenty minutes or so, you’ll have waterproof matches that will last several months.

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How to Make a Quick CAN Stove

If you suffer sticker shock after shopping for wood-burning camping stoves, you’re not alone. Why pay $60 to $100 for a titanium backpacking wood stove when you can make one out of a bean can for nothing. Sure, you could build a fire without any containment at all, but the low weight, efficiency, and minimal set-up time of a tin-can stove could make you a believer. And as long as there are sticks to burn, your stove will have fuel. Follow these easy steps, and you’ll have a lightweight bug-out-ready survival stove in no time.

1

The Gear List
To create a bean can stove, you’ll certainly need the empty can. You’ll also need a pair of tin snips. If you don’t have a pair in your tool box, borrow a pair. You’ll also need a tape measure, a pencil or marker, a drill with a ½-inch (or similar size) drill bit, and a file to remove sharp edges when you’re done. Gloves are a good idea, too,  since you’ll be working with a lot of sharp metal.

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The Procedure
Remove the can lid completely from a 40-ounce (or similar sized) food can. You could use a smaller can, but the 40-ounce size because one-quart water bottles will nest inside the finished stove. Next, make a mark all the way around the can about 1 ½ inches below the open top. Use your tin snips, spiraling in, to cut this ring off the top of the can, but before you start, determine whether you are using right- or left-hand snips. It will be easier if you cut in the correct direction. You could leave the can full height, but I wouldn’t recommend it. A shortened stove has better balance, and the last thing you need is for your stove to tip over.

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Next, make four equidistant marks around the mouth. Each mark will be the centerline for the four “teeth” on the top of your stove. Mark a line half an inch on either side of each of the four centerlines and draw a line around the can 1 inch down from the mouth. Using the tin snips again cut out the lines,  leaving four 1×1-inch teeth at the top of the can.

Next, drill eight equally-spaced holes around the bottom of the can wall. These will be the air intake vents. File off any sharp or rough edges from your metal work. Finally, before you start cooking food or boiling water over this stove, burn a few twigs for about ten minutes to get rid of the plastic can lining.

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The Effectiveness
Once your stove is complete, set some tinder in the bottom and some broken twigs on the top of that. Place it in a stable, level spot and light the tinder through one of the vent holes. Place your cooking pot over the top of the stove and cook away. You will have to remove the pot every time you need to add fuel, but this is far better than trying to create stove doors for adding fuel. It also forces you to set the dangerously hot pot out of the way when refueling. This stove can burn twigs, paper, cardboard and any other solid fuel that’ll fit inside; and it boils one quart of water in about eight minutes. The finished stove weighs only 2 ½ ounces.

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Stay On Track – Navigation Tricks

Getting lost is one of the primary reasons that people find themselves in a survival situation in the outdoors. It can happen to anyone, anywhere; but it’s much more likely to occur when someone fails to keep track of their location, or when navigation skills are lacking. Getting lost can be a preventable problem, if you take the right precautions.

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To avoid getting lost on your next hunt or hike, put the following tricks into practice:

– Get a map of the area that you are traveling to and study it before going.
– Take the map along, and use it and a compass (or GPS) while you’re there. If you’re printing out maps from your computer, don’t use an inkjet printer. If the map gets wet, the ink will run and turn into a rainbow-smeared mess.
– Imagine what the terrain would look like from a “bird’s eye view” and where you are in that terrain.
– Look behind you frequently, especially if you are returning in that direction.
– Look for and use landmarks, if possible.
– Study and remember the landmarks that you use.
– When traveling off trails, use prominent, distant landmarks and/or a compass bearing to travel in straight lines.
– Account for declination when reading your map and compass. Any good map should tell you how much to add or subtract for True North.
– Watch out for gun barrels and other metal items, which can pull the compass needle off course and distort your bearing.

If you’re heading into the woods this weekend, good luck and stay safe.

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