The Family Farm

Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

2014 - The Family FarmRecently, I took my daughter out to the family farm to experience the livestock, smells, tractors, and much more. When she saw the old H tractor sitting in the yard she immediately wanted to go for a ride. As she sat on the tractor, I thought about all the times I had sat on that old tractor. This was the very first tractor I drove when I was kid! I thought of cutting, hauling, and stacking firewood. I remembered baling hay and stacking the square bales on a wagon and ultimately in the barn. My reflective thoughts were soon interrupted by noises of the hungry cow herd in the distance. I quickly recalled the many moments of chasing runaway cattle and mending fences. I could not help but think about what the farm offered to me as a kid and now what it offers to me as an outdoors man. The focus has shifted and I am finding more and more appreciation for what the land can offer.

The family farm has kept the traditions of livestock, hay, crops, and firewood, but a new element has been growing rapidly. This element has been land development and management for the purpose of hunting. The family farm consists of hundreds of acres and offers an assortment of ridges, ponds, valleys, fields, and wildlife. Throughout the land, multiple food plots of been established providing rich nutrients for the wildlife population. Each food plot ranges in size and offers a variety of mixes serving as unique deer attractants, while deer stands are sprinkled throughout the terrain. The stands have been strategically placed near field edges, saddles, pinch points, food sources, and water sources. Bedding areas have been identified and left alone creating a safe area for deer to come and go freely. A brush hog is utilized to create and maintain access points and roadways intertwining and connecting the forest floor. Trail cameras serve as eyes throughout the year providing valuable information regarding deer movement, development, and activity. Tractors and machinery are used for land development and management during multiple seasons of the year. The farm has morphed into a fully operational hunting sanctuary.

Even though the farm has many different identities the one constant has always been the people. Many family members contribute to the farm and its many functions. These are the same people that hunt together, share stories together, and remember together. This old farm would be nothing without the living and breathing energy and excitement my family brings to it every day. I am excited to teach my little girl about the farm and its magnificent history and beauty. The picture of my little girl on this tractor symbolizes the many more experiences she will encounter on the farm throughout the years.

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No Water No Problem

By Zack Reyburn, Wildlife Pursuit

WP_Oct10In the deer hunting world there are three main things to keep deer on your property: bedding, food, and water. Of these three, water can sometimes seem to be the hardest to provide. Here is a very inexpensive and easy way to get water on your property.

When a land owner has property with no natural water source on it there are a few options to changing this problem. The first option, although expensive if hired done, would be to dig a pond. Digging the pond alone will not suffice, you need a generally “wet” area on your property or significant runoff or rain to maintain it and keep it full.

The way I choose to rectify the problem of no water on the land is to bury a water tank. This is a much cheaper option than digging a pond. You also do not have to worry if it is going to hold water. Most tanks can be purchased relatively inexpensively, keeping your tank cost down to less than a few hundred dollars.

The first step to this project is to identify a good location. With the tank method you can place the tank just about anywhere on the property, so now is your opportunity to consider if it should be near your ambush points and stand locations.

With the second step of burying the tank, the goal is to secure it from being tipped, while also being cognizant of the water height so the animals can use if effectively. Digging the tank into the ground 8 inches to a full foot will suffice. Be careful to not bury the tank to low as deer won’t be able to drink easily. Then set your tank in the hole and backfill the soil around the tank. This will give you enough soil around the tank to make sure it doesn’t tip over.

Lastly, but very important, it’s a good idea to place a stick or piece of wood inside the tank, long enough to reach the edge. The purpose of the stick/wood is for any animals that would unfortunately fall into the water source; they now have the option to climb out. If not they may expire in your tank and then spoil your water.

The tank method is a very inexpensive and effective way of adding a water source to your property. Taking these three easy and simple steps should help your water source be successful. Good luck and happy hunting.

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You Asked For It – Kurt’s Hunting Opinion

Kurt Schirado, Co-Host of Ultimate Outdoor Adventures TV

Throughout the year I have the opportunity to travel to various sport shows and speak at various events with two of my best friends and business partners, Jason Wright and John Arman.  It doesn’t take long for people to gauge our enthusiastic approach in researching, testing and forming an honest opinion on some of the newest hunting/fishing products.  We are always trying to keep tabs on the newest gear to hit the shelves prior to the opening of archery season creating an excuse to head to Scheels most every Sunday afternoon when the weather keeps us from getting outdoors.

It’s usually late summer and early fall when we begin to get both emails and Social Media messages from hunting enthusiasts.  Most are looking for our opinion about certain products and/or anticipating a truthful response to make their next outing more successful as they begin to prepare for the fall and winter hunting season.

I decided to go back through some of the questions we have received and share some of them with our readers.  If my opinion helps a few people then my goal was accomplished, and feel free to contact me any time with either a question or an opinion since I too enjoy listening to others discuss how to be more safe, comfortable and successful during their hunting adventures.

 

You Asked For It… Kurt’s Hunting Opinion

 

QUESTION: I have an upcoming archery elk hunt in Montana this fall and need a pair of really good boots but, I want to be able to use these boots for stalking mule deer in North Dakota as well as antelope hunting in Wyoming this fall.  What would you recommend, keeping versatility in mind?

KURT’S OPINION: This is an easy question and a topic I truly enjoy talking about.  I purchased my first pair of quality hunting boots nearly 30 years ago, and since then I’ve owned numerous brands and styles to accommodate my needs and always seem to wear them out after just a few short years in the field.  It wasn’t until about eight years ago when a close friend talked me into investing a little more money into a higher quality pair of footwear.  I then purchased my first pair of non-insulated Kenetrek “Mountain Extreme” boots and still wear that very same boot today.  These boots are extremely light-weight, comfortable, durable and best of all, dry.  I figure if the “Mountain Extreme” boots are designed for western big game sheep hunters in mountainous terrain, they should definitely work for me being from the Midwest.  I truly recommend the non-insulated or the 400 gram “Mountain Extreme” boot by Kenetrek for your best all-around hunting boot.  They will take you from an early season antelope hunt right into the November whitetail season.  When wearing my “Mountain Extremes”, I can focus on the hunt and not on sore feet.

 

NAP D6 Killzone Broadhead

QUESTION:  On your show, I notice that you are oftentimes using a mechanical broadhead when hunting antelope, and if my memory serves me correct you used a NAP Killzone, why do you use a mechanical broadhead?

KURT’S OPINION:  Antelope usually take up residency in wide open country and sometimes these speedy critters can truly test your shooting skills.  If hunting over a water hole, your shot may be as close as 10 yards, but if you’re using the spot and stalk method, one might have to extend your shooting range out to 40, 60 or even 80 yards.  If you’re not an expert at tuning modern day compound bows, it can be quite challenging to get any or all fixed blade broadheads to fly perfectly straight at longer distances when nearly all mechanical broadheads fly true to your field points.  The two blade NAP Killzone broadheads are available with a 2″ cut diameter and for your low poundage shooters, they offer a 1 3/4″ cut diameter.  The Killzone is available with a cut-on-contact razor tip for extreme cutting and penetration and a trophy tip which offers the bone-crunching toughness many bowhunters demand.

 

QUESTION:  During a big game hunt last fall I really struggled to make a good shot on several opportunities while the animal was standing broadside at approximately 275 yards, and I am not a young pup anymore so I am looking to help steady my shot. What would you recommend for this well experienced hunter?

KURT’S OPINION:  Another great question that I hear quite often.  I’m not sure how long ago, but I do know that I had my very first Harris bipod on my very first hunting rifle…and I still have that same bipod on my hunting rifle today.  For any seasoned veteran or someone just getting starting on their very first big game hunt, I would strongly recommend the Harris HB25S bipod for better accuracy and stability.  It has two adjustable legs that extend from 12″ – 25″ to accommodate both a prone and sitting shooting position.  The “S” series bipod swivels toward the top to help level your rifle on uneven ground… this is a feature I would not go without.  In any hunting situation I always try to shoot in the prone position first but if circumstances call for a change up, in seconds I can extend both legs and settle in for a shot from the sitting position.  Over the past 25 years I’ve harvested about 97% of all of big game animals shooting off my bipod.  I am confident that if you give the Harris bipod a try you too will be appreciative of the benefits during your next hunt.

 

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QUESTION:  I am looking for a new pack and I know that on all your hunting shows you guys are always carrying a backpack.  What would you recommend for most deer hunting situations in the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana?

KURT’S OPINION:   A good backpack is essential on any big game hunt and like boots I’ve tried a lot.  It wasn’t until recently I found the right pack to fit my particular hunting needs.  For me, the Blacks Creek 2000 cubic inch “Answer” back pack is my “answer” to this question.  This pack is perfect for an all-day hunt in the hills or mountains and yet has the ability to transform into the overnighter if needed. The “Grip” frame breaks down from the pack to haul out your meat load after the harvest yet still allows you to reattach the main compartment to carry your gear.  This packs weighs only 7.5 lbs., is equipped with 9 pockets, a separate spotting scope compartment, a bow/rifle carrying boot, and 6 compression straps that help haul out the big loads.  If you’re looking for one pack that can do just about anything then you’re looking for the “Answer”.  You might pay a little more for this pack but if you’re serious about your hunting, the investment is well worth it.

If the “Answer”  is too much for your needs and you’re looking for just a day pack,  I would recommend a pack with a storage range of 1500-2000 cubic inches or an overnight pack with a storage range of 3000-5000 cubic inches.  Examine the pack for quality zippers, ample storage compartments, and extra compression straps and fitted shoulder straps to ensure your comfort.

Kurt_Full-Draw

QUESTION:  I am new to the sport of archery and since I began I have struggled with shooting consistently, and during a recent eye appointment found out that I am left-eye dominant but shooting right handed.  Do you have any advice that might help with my situation?

KURT’S OPINION:   There are a few different answers to this particular question.  First, you can do what I did in this exact situation… after nearly 20 years of shooting my bow right handed I switched to a south paw or left handed archery shooter.  This allowed my left eye to take charge in low light situations and possibly most important allow me the option to shoot with both eyes open.  If you continue to shoot right handed, you can choose to wear a patch over your left eye allowing your right eye to be your dominant force while shooting.  And lastly, you might want to try the new Apex “Covert” single pin bow sight.  A single pin bow sight allows your eye to relax and focus only on one sight pin instead of a cluster of pins giving you that halo effect and more eye fatigue.

 

JW-Schirado_Early-Hunting

QUESTION:  During many of your outdoor seminars you have talked about wearing the right clothing to keep yourself dry and comfortable.  What exactly are you referring to and what type of clothing would you recommend?  Do you prefer a particular brand?

KURT’S OPINION:  When it comes to outdoor clothing, my hunting closet looks almost like my wife’s walk in closet in our bedroom.  If you’re serious about the outdoors, you need to throw away all your cotton clothes and invest in some wool or synthetic outer and underwear.  Merino Wool product such as those from “First Lite” are one of the best choices for socks, hats, base layers and mid layers because of its moister wicking qualities, wide temperature range and its natural resistance to odors.  As a golfer needs multiple clubs to be versatile on the course, an outdoor person must have multiple garments to be effective and stay comfortable in the field.  One must purchase light, middle and heavy weight layering under garments, as well as quality outer wear to protect you from the fringed temperatures and blustery winds…one set of clothing will not work in all outdoor situations.

When purchasing your outdoor clothing, consider the style of hunting or outdoor activity you are buying for and level in which you play the game at.  If you spot and stalk most of your game, you would definitely search for different clothing as opposed to someone who hunts mainly from a stand or blind. These are a few important qualities to watch for when researching for that next purchase:  Wind proof or wind resistant outer wear, quiet, comfortable, well fitting, moisture wicking and breathable.

 

John_Arman_NikonSpotter

QUESTION:  I have decided to upgrade from a very old pair of binoculars and I plan to also purchase my first spotting scope.  My goal is to purchase good optics, but I am not out to impress anyone; therefore, what would you recommend for an all-around average hunter as far as brand and power?  I am looking for quality and possibly a one-time purchase – something that will last.

KURT’S OPINION:   Good hunting optics are essential for any outdoor person and knowing what to buy for your particular hunting style is key. When it comes to sport optics, the old saying stands true…”You get what you pay for”.  So with that being said, let’s try to answer the above question.  For the average hunter or huntress, I would recommend something in the $200 range like the Nikon MONARCH 3 8×42 ATB binoculars.  When purchasing hunting optics, the first number (8) represents the actual power or strength of the binocular and the second number (42) is the size of objective or opening of the lens on the opposite end you look through.  An 8×42 pair of binoculars gives you good lens strength when glassing the prairies for hours yet offers enough light gathering capabilities to decipher antlers from ears at dusk or dawn.

If you want to step it up a notch, I would recommend saving your money and spending the few extra dollars on the Nikon MONARCH 7 8×42 ATB.  By moving up the ladder in the world of optics, you will gain better low light transmission, crisper edges and less eye strain during long periods of glassing.  The Monarch 7 won’t empty your wallet but normally tip the cash register at about $400-$500.

When it comes to choosing a quality spotting scope, I stress saving your money until you can afford a higher end scope.  Most quality spotting scopes cost the buyer anywhere from $900- $2500.  Do you need to spend the entire $2500 to get a good scope…I don’t think so but I wouldn’t stop you from doing it…again, you get what you pay for.  The purpose of a spotting scope is to zoom in on critters at long distances; therefore, doing this in low light conditions demands a higher quality lens to transmit crystal clear images back to the user.

 

The answers to the above questions are my opinion and some of you may not agree, but that’s okay.  If I can make it easier for just one person to purchase there next backpack, pair of boots or binoculars, the time spent writing this article was well worth it.  I don’t claim to know everything or to be perfect, just passionate about the outdoors.  Good luck to all outdoor enthusiasts this fall.

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Scout the Access

Nate Anderson, Wildlife Pursuit

Every year as I plan out hunts for the fall, the time required to accomplish the hunt is a serious consideration. The vacation time from work, the time away from family and the overall effort required to be successful can seem daunting. One area often overlooked is scouting the best access to your hunt area. Through the years of hunting in the western states, one thing I have learned is to put in the time scouting before the season. We all want to spend the most time we can hunting and not scouting, but spending a little time scouting preseason can help pay dividends during the hunt.

Access to your hunt area in the west can make or break a backcountry hunt. Finding access and knowing the possible “exit routes” out of the hunting area are very important to finding success in the mountains. Significant energy can be expended trying to get into an area to hunt, thus it’s in your best interest to be familiar with all roads and/or trails prior to the actual hunt. When scouting a new area, I immediately order printed maps as well as spending time online doing some virtual scouting through aerial photos. After reviewing the printed maps and online maps, it’s now time to hit the ground running.

When I plan a scouting trip I focus on covering the access points and simply driving the roads. Some locations you can simply drive a truck or an ATV to scout points of access, others might be more difficult. Take the necessary vehicles to cover ground quickly and efficiently to see as much of the hunt area as possible. The bottom line is, be prepared and make the most of the scouting trip to maximize your chances of success in the field.

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Expert Advice: Top Five Essentials for Your Upland Hunt

Tony Miller, Scheels Hunting Expert of Sioux City, IA

Taking his passion and knowledge from the field, Tony shares five essentials for a great upland hunt.

UplandApp1) The most important tool to bring on your upland hunt is a Dog. A well-trained dog is not only fun to watch in the field but will also help you find birds. Together, you and your dog will enjoy the hunt and the excitement it brings. Without a dog, most times you will be walking around and the birds will run in front of or around you and you won’t know they are there, so I highly suggest upland hunting with at least one dog. Two dogs are even better because they seem to be more competitive and hunt harder – finding more birds in the end.

2) The next item to have is a training collar. If you have a dog that is very excited while following the scent of a bird, it may walk in danger’s path. All the time spent training and working with your dog could be lost in a matter of seconds if, for instance, it headed towards a highway or dangerous area and you had no way of stopping or guiding it. Remember that an E Collar is like a leash – you can easily round up a dog that is running astray or help a dog that needs guidance. When used properly, an E collar is very effective at keeping your dog in line.

3) Another item I never leave home without is my Garmin Astro Tracking Collar. I hunt with a very High Powered German Short Haired Pointer. It is nothing for him to get out hundreds of yards in a matter of seconds. He also will stand on a bird for a long time. If I can’t see him, I could very easily lose him in the tall grass and brush. Again, I’ve spent many hours training with him and consider him a member of the family. It would be very difficult to lose a dog in the field. With the Garmin I always know where he is at, and if he is running or On Point.

4) Boots are the next important item on the list. If you don’t have a comfortable pair boots you won’t be in the field long. Your best chances to harvest birds now, especially on public ground, comes in the places that most people don’t get to. One of my favorites is the Danner Pronghorn. It is a light weight, waterproof boot that is extremely comfortable. A good pair of boots is a MUST HAVE to enjoy an upland hunt.

5) The last, yet not least important item to have is your Shotgun. Without a shotgun it would be hard to catch the birds. There are many to pick from. I started with a 20 gauge Remington 870 my Grandfather gave me and now shoot either a Benelli M220 gauge or a Beretta Silver Pidgeon 20 gauge. I look for a gun that is lightweight and shoulders well. Pick the gun that fits you and your budget the best and enjoy the Outdoors and what it has to offer.

These 5 items will definitely make your Upland Hunt more enjoyable. You will be able to still Hunt without these items but these are what I recommend to increase your chances at being successful in the field.

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Pheasant Hunt: Wildlife Pursuit Tips

Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

2014 - Pheasant HuntWhat has a white ring around the neck; a body plumage of gold, brown, green, purple, and white and a head with blues, greens, and a distinctive red? If you guessed the North American Rooster Pheasant, you guessed correctly! This magnificent bird tops the scales at two to three pounds and has been known to reach flight speeds over 60 mph. Pheasants can be found all over North America, any many travel miles to enjoy the pheasant hunting experience and to harvest this remarkable bird.

Every fall, I have the wonderful opportunity to hunt this eye-catching, delicious bird at my father-in law’s ranch during pheasant camp. Pheasant camp consists of walking many miles, shooting through dozens of boxes of shells, harvesting countless pheasants and enjoying the presence of family. Hunting this great bird requires a quick draw and the steadiness to execute an accurate shot. On my first pheasant-hunting trip nearly eight years ago, I went through a box of shells and in the end, only had one rooster – it was certainly a learning experience! Over the years, I’ve shot a lot of birds and missed a lot of birds, but the hunting experience is always priceless.

Nevertheless, the next time you want an adventure, try pheasant hunting! Whether an amateur or a seasoned hunter, consider the following suggestions before your big hunt:

  • Utilize the your state’s Hunting and Fishing Department website to find public hunting plots.
  • If you do not have a hunting dog, do not worry about it! I’ve only used a dog a few times when hunting. They are helpful, but not essential.
  • Determine a good group of individuals for the hunt. If the group is to big, it may cause a lack of clarity; if the group is to small, it may limit the amount of ground covered.
  • Wear good boots! You will walk a lot.
  • Practice shooting clays so you can gain experience shooting a pheasant flying up in a flush.
  • Bring plenty of shells!
  • Try different strategies when it comes to preparing and cooking pheasant.
  • Have fun and enjoy the hunt!

Pheasant hunting is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors! The pursuit of this amazing bird is something every hunter should experience! Enjoy, be safe and go get some birds!

 

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SCHEELS Upland Commercial

Trusty dog, good cover and SCHEELS

Make for great upland memories.

Gear up at SCHEELS this season.

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Scheels 2014 Waterfowl Commercial

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Early Goose Tactics

Levi Nesvold, Wildlife Pursuit

WPIt is that time of year again, the farmers are starting the wheat harvest and family groups of Canada geese are starting to fly around in search of a feeding spot. Here are a few tips on how to make your hot, humid, yet always exciting early goose season a great one!

  • Scout, scout and scout some more. Grab your buddies and hit the road!
  • Check everywhere. I have hunted birds in all types of fields, pastures and bodies of water.

Many times in the early season there are only a few wheat fields that are harvested. Be sure to look in drowned out spots in bean and corn fields, empty cattle pastures where there is short green grass or on the sides of sandy river banks.

  • Be prepared. It is most likely going to be warm. Don’t be afraid to wear shorts in your blind and drink plenty of water! Also make sure to keep your dog cool and hydrated, as it can be very hard on them in that early season heat.
  • Mobility. Be ready to move during this time of the year, as the family groups may not come back to the same field day and night, especially after being shot at. If you see them flying from water to water, it’s best to hang tight and wait for them to eat. Don’t get discouraged.
  • Pack it light. 2 dozen decoys can go a long way in the early season. I recommend setting your decoys in the usual “U” shape, while making little family groups of decoys. As an example, place 3 feeders and 1-2 looker decoys in a small group 15ft from the others, creating a more extensive look. No one wants to be picking up 10 dozen decoys in 90 degree heat, so be smart!

Best of luck this year!

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Summer Scouting

By Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

WP Summer Scout FeaturePreparing for the early archery season requires a hunter to rely on Covert scouting cameras and plenty of windshield time. Covert scouting cameras provide wonderful opportunities to track deer movement and document a variety of activity. In addition to utilizing cameras, spending time on the road with good binoculars can provide very useful information.

During the summer months, I spend countless hours traveling roadways and scouting potential hunting areas. I spend a lot of time focusing my attention on food sources and bedding areas as well as the runways connecting both locations. I enjoy traveling throughout the countryside scouting during the summer months for several reasons.

  • Deer movement can be patterned, providing early season opportunities
  • An overall census or deer count can be done with the more visible nature of deer in the summer months
  • Allows the hunter to strategically locate and visually assess hunting terrains before hanging twisted timber stands.
  • Deer visibility creates great anticipation for the upcoming season, as your no longer hunting a ghost
  • Scouting is a great opportunity to be outdoors and share that time with kids and others as you cruise the countryside

We’ve all heard the story of the first-timer who walks into the forest on their first hunt and finds success killing a trophy. The reality of this story is that luck is inconsistent and if you want to increase your odds, spend time scouting during the summer months. Remember, the more you put into the hunt the more you will receive. Good luck and shoot straight!

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