Gearing Up for Spring Fishing

Posted on March 20, 2015 / By Kurt Schirado of Ultimate Outdoor Adventures TV
Scheels_Bags-JasonWrightFor years I’ve taken advantage of the bitter days “Old Man Winter” delivers to prepare for the busy spring fishing and hunting months that lie ahead, and even though we may not have had a blustery winter, gearing up for the spring fishing season is in full swing. This past weekend I took inventory of all my fishing gear, and with a new Triton 186 Fishunter, I made note of all my storage options and then raced off to the local Scheels store to meet my best friend and fishing partner, Jason Wright.

We first met for a hot cup of coffee at Gramma Ginna’s Fudge and Coffee Shop where our morning conversation centered on the outlook of the up and coming open water season as well as storage options found within our new walleye rigs. Still deep in conversation, we purposely stumbled toward the fishing department. Our first stop was to admire the new line-up of fishing rods by Fenwick. These newly designed rods feature Carbon Bound Spiral Blanks, Fuji Reel Seats, Titanium Guides and a new sculpted TAC and EVA blended handle. After testing several of these new beauties, without hesitation, we both decided the 6’9″ Medium light, fast action spinning rod would suffice our spring walleye needs…a great rod for casting jigs and or rigging. Perfect!

Our next move would find us in the “tackle bag” aisle. To most, this sounds like an easy decision but after nearly an hour and a half of inspecting all the options, we both decided the new Scheels Outfitters soft sided bags should cover all our fishing needs. First, we needed a compact but roomy bag just to handle our jigs so we both agreed on the small size Scheels Outfitters Deluxe Tackle Bag which includes 4 Plano® 3650 totes. For our tackle tamers, slip sinkers, rigging tackle and bottom bounces we chose the large size Scheels Outfitters Mega Tackle Bag which includes 4 Plano® 3700 totes. Both bags embrace multiple pockets on each side and back to keep all your tackle organized and secure. Convenient tool holders are incorporated to keep your tools handy and safe. The Scheels Mega Tackle Bag is also equipped with a nifty sunglass case attached to the side for safe and easy accessibility.

With most of our tackle already contained in the two soft sided bags mentioned above, we still needed a simple but large storage bag for all our crankbaits. After a continued search for the ultimate set up, we stumbled across the Scheels Outfitters Dry Bag. This waterproof storage bag is great for camping, hunting, or even during those days when fishing with a friend and moving from boat to boat. I carefully chose the medium, olive green bag and found it perfect to handle up to 8 of the large Plano® boxes and 4 of the small Plano® boxes. This would suit me perfect for all my crankbait storage and travel needs as well as fit nicely in my front storage compartments.

With most of my fishing gear already sorted and neatly stowed, I think my next task at hand will be to strip all the line off my spinning reels and re-spool them with some new 6# hi-vis monofilament. Once that is accomplished the Missouri River will become my playground for the next month allowing me to do what I like best…casts jigs for spring time walleyes.


Selecting Your First Rifle

Posted on March 5th, 2015 / By Tom Anderson of Wildlife Pursuit

0F3A1387Once you have made the decision to go hunting and have a place to hunt, you’ll have to pick out an appropriate weapon. Unless you plan to hunt one species in the same type of ecosystem, versatility will be important in addition to the considerations below. I will explore several factors which will hopefully help you determine a good choice for your first rifle. If “everyone” in your hunting group uses a certain “pet” caliber, you plan on hunting very large or dangerous game or you are interested in ultra-long range hunting, your choices are beyond the scope of this article. I also will not deal extensively with predator hunting except to note that the most common cartridges are .223 and .22-250 in a heavy-barreled bolt action or single-shot rifle with a high-magnification scope. However, some of the big game cartridges discussed below can be purchased (or hand-loaded, of course) in light, low recoil offerings
which are also suitable for predators.

Before selecting your rifle, you will have to choose the cartridge that will best match the terrain, game and hunting style you plan on enjoying.

If the state or locale where you plan on hunting does not allow hunting with center fire rifles, your choices for hunting deer will essentially be between a muzzle-loading rifle or a shotgun of either 12 gauge or 20 gauge with a low magnification sight.

Wide open pastures, farm fields or western expanses call for a flatshooting bullet that retains sufficient energy at ranges that commonly exceed 200 yards. While almost any cartridge/rifle/scope combination can shoot accurately at these extended ranges with enough practice, a cartridge that allows the same point of aim out to 300 yards reduces the necessity of accurate range determination.

1016573_751826178207507_5249745348800689112_nFor deer or antelope, a bolt action rifle in .243, .25-06, .270, .280, or .30-06, with a scope up to 10x would be a great choice in these conditions. For elk, caribou or moose, .270 caliber would be considered a minimum by most. More robust and commonly utilized choices would be .300, 7mm, or .338 magnum calibers.

Remember that the price you pay for launching a heavy bullet at high speed from a magnum rifle is a heavier rifle due to longer actions, heavier bullets to carry around, and substantially increased kick. I do not remember the noise or kick from any shot taken at game, but bruised shoulders from numerous practice shots of magnum rounds have haunted me for days afterward. The last thing you want is to fear pulling the trigger when Mr. Big is in your sights.

In the tight quarters of dark forests, steep canyons or swamps, shots are commonly under 100 yards. Under those conditions, a shorter weapon that allows you to easily get on target will be the most useful. While a scope provides target magnification and gathers more light than the naked eye, open sights, peep sights, or a “red-dot” type sight usually make it easier to quickly find your target in low light or tight quarters.

Typical cartridges used in these conditions are .30-.30, .44 magnum, .308, or a shotgun loaded with slugs.

So, what is the “perfect” first rifle? I know that there are other factors such as availability of ammunition and budget (don’t forget the cost of the ammunition), and that opinions abound on this question. However, since you asked, I will give mine: a bolt action rifle from a domestic manufacturer in .270 or .30-06 with a moderately-powered, clear scope.

This combination will be suitable for many common hunting condition, is readily available, has moderately-priced ammunition, and is extremely versatile through a myriad of loadings. And, if you can afford another rifle, buy a .22 caliber rifle, and practice with it relentlessly in order to perfect your form and trigger control.


Principles of Hunting as a Female

Posted on February 27, 2015 / By Ruth Jaeger of Wildlife Pursuit

IMG_6825Having hunted all my adult life, writing about the principles of hunting as a female should be easy, right? I just need to discuss the principles that result in an all-around successful hunt from the female perspective.

The first, single most important aspect of hunting (and of most every other undertaking) is preparedness. I would define hunting preparedness as being physically and mentally ready to undertake the pursuit of some type of wildlife and to ensure a successful hunt.

For me, being physically prepared means being able to endure the various climate conditions, the varying types of terrain, and the changes in my daily routine and diet.

Weather and climate uncertainties can be a huge factor, and your preparedness is essential. Every aspect of your clothing, shoes, hand and face gear comes into play and needs to be considered and addressed. Among other items, my Tenzing pack includes hand and foot warmers, a face gator, extra gloves and an extra layer of clothes, as I have found layering is my key to comfort. My Tenzing also has a waterproof cover so the contents can stay dry in rain and snow conditions.

Physical preparedness and hunting are synonymous to me. If the goal is a successful hunt, it is highly likely you will be walking or hiking at least part of the day, and more likely most of the day you will be carrying your pack and your weapon. Your physical readiness is not only a key component to your success but also in your enjoyment of the hunt. In addition to trying to stay fit for health reasons, I exercise and try to maintain physical fitness because I know I’ll be ready for the next hunting or hiking adventure.

Being in the outdoors all day is a change in my daily routine and requires adjustments—especially in my diet. A day of hiking means more food, and it also means I may have to carry that food in my pack. I pay special attention to eating food higher in both protein and energy, try to avoid wasting my calories on empty carbohydrates, and am conscious to avoid bulky foods that take up space in my pack. I like to avoid coffee/caffeine and just drink a lot of water. Being prepared means starting out your adventure with an ample supply of food and water.

IMG_6810I believe the remaining issue of preparedness, but not the least important, is safety. Safety is really the sum of all of the above, plus the awareness required when hunting in new and possibly remote areas. Being safe includes having both sufficient food and water, being healthy, being physically prepared to undertake the physical aspect of hunting and being ready for what could be dramatic climate changes. Safety readiness also applies to you and your knowledge of and comfort with your weapon. Hunter education, survival training, and possibly emergency medical training are also very important aspects to hunting. It is my experience that trying to substitute technology i.e., carrying your smart phone in exchange for taking the time to be prepared is an error. And, most times I find that my phone doesn’t have cellular capabilities in the remote areas.

Chances are, if you are physically ready for your hunt, you are mentally prepared as well. You have considered the various logistics of your hunt: travel, licenses, etc. You have considered temperature, altitude and decided on appropriate clothing, footwear, etc. You have planned for success by spending time at the range and you have figured out how you will ultimately retrieve your game.

So the reality is, the principles for your success are no different from those of male hunters, youth hunters, etc. Hunters of all ages and all genders must be prepared to ensure success and enjoyment.

Congratulations, and enjoy your hunt!

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Hunting Out West for the First Time

Tom Anderson, Wildlife Pursuit


Many hunters who live in the mid-west dream of traveling to a western state to hunt mule deer, pronghorn, or elk and experiencing all the West has to offer.

The choices and tag acquisition process can be daunting. There are over-the-counter and leftover tag options in some states, but most states issue the majority of their tags through a drawing with either a “Bonus Point” or a “Preference Point” system. Bonus points and preference points are accumulated from unsuccessful applications, or can be purchased from the state without applying. Their value differs in that “bonus points” just add to your odds of drawing by giving you an additional entry into the random drawings for each point, while applicants with the highest number of “preference points” awarded the tags before someone with lesser points. Maximum points does not guarantee a tag, however, because there may not be enough tags to grant to everyone who applies for a particular hunt with maximum points.

Some states allocate tags for those who hunt with an outfitter. Nevada actually squares the number the bonus points, and adds that number to the current application, and gives you that number of “entries in their tag drawing. That rapidly increases your odds of drawing if you keep applying year after year.

Some states use a strict Preference Point system (Colorado and Arizona); some utilize a Bonus Point system (Utah, Nevada, Montana and Oregon). Just to add to the confusion, some allocate the majority of their tags to those with the most preference points, and the rest through a random drawing of the other “first – choice” applicants (Wyoming).

New Mexico has no preference or bonus points, so everyone has the same chance to draw tags that
they allocate for non-residents, but you must choose either the guided or unguided category.

The application processes are admittedly confusing and varied. To get started, I recommend getting the hunting regulations from each state you may ever want to hunt in and become familiar with their processes. They are available on-line as well as having the wildlife departments mail copies to you. Carefully read each one and decide where you can hunt the desired species with over-the-counter tags, and go for it.

Another option is to consult publications such as “Eastman’s Hunting/Bowhunting Journal” or “The Huntin’ Fool” which publish drawing odds, guide you through the confusing application processes and summarize pros and cons of many state hunting units.

If you want a chance at the “Trophy” animals that are much more abundant in areas managed for them, and naturally much harder to get tags for, start applying and/or purchase bonus/preference points for your dream hunt. If you want a finite (though small) chance of drawing without points, then apply in Wyoming where they award a small number of highly desired tags to applicants with zero points each year. As I said, the drawings in New Mexico are random each year with no preference given to those who have applied in the past: you have the same chance as anyone else! I encourage you to get out here and enjoy the West, and accumulate bonus or preference points for a future “hunt-of-a-lifetime” for.

Wyoming - Elk


Wildlife Pursuit: Venison Burrito Bowl

Ashley Kurtenbach, Wildlife Pursuit

Let’s face it, as hunters we like venison; we like the taste, the organic protein source and of course it’s part of our hunting adventure that we get to take home to our families. However, not everyone is a fan of having some fine venison grub. This recipe is quick, easy, and sure to please both family and friends.



Serving Size: 1 large portion

Venison Elk (5 oz – aftercooked) (I used elk but a number of other venison works great)
Options: antelope, deer, etc
½ avocado
1/3 c. black beans (drained and rinsed)
½ c. brown rice
3 TBSP Salsa
½ TBSP Olive Oil
1 tsp minced garlic
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

1. Cut meat into 1” cubes.
2. Steam or cook rice as directed, sprinkle and stir in sea salt as desired.
3. Preheat skillet to med/med-high heat.
4. Heat olive oil and minced garlic in skillet.
5. Add meat to skillet season with sea salt and black pepper, sauté (stirring frequently) until desired doneness.
6. Place rice in a bowl, top with cooked venison, add avocado and mix.
7. Add black beans and top with salsa.
8. Enjoy

When thawing wild game it is best to do via refrigerator, by slowing thawing it aides in reducing the “wild game” taste to the venison when cooked.

*Nutrition information below is estimated of several sources.
Calories: 599
Protein: 43.3 g
Carbs: 60.7 g
Fat: 20.7 g
Adjust serving size based on your nutritional needs/goals.

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Lessons learned during my first fall filming for TV

Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

As I reflect on my first fall hunting season filming for television, many thoughts run rapidly through my head. First of all, I am excited about the opportunity to take on filming and all the challenges it brings to hunting. Equally, I am fortunate to pursue this adventure with my brother who shares a similar passion as mine of enjoying the outdoors. I believe many people dream of opportunities like these, yet only a few realize the effort it takes to see it through. The following are just a few lessons I have recognized during this journey.


The right equipment. When you add in the element of filming for TV, there is a certain expectation to deliver quality content and ultimately good stories. Over this past year, I have come to utilize some products that are new to me and found them to be invaluable to my success. Whether it’s my Dead Down Wind for scent control, my Covert trail cameras, my Elite bow or my Scent-Lok camo, they all serve a important part in my hunt. When I enter the woods, I now feel fully armed and ready for whatever challenge I encounter. I feel ready to make it happen.

Two is really more than double. I have spent my entire life hunting primarily alone. I’ve always taken the proper precautions with scent control, access strategies to my hunting locations and being very still while on stand. Now that I always have a cameraman with me, it’s been a quick learning process that everything is slightly more difficult with two versus one. Having two people to hide in a tree, additional scent to control, movements to hide and generally twice as much stuff to coordinate on hunts adds one more challenge to what we do when we create stories for TV. It’s a great challenge.

Making the commitment. Until this fall, I rarely used a video camera to capture my hunts. This was honestly a completely new experience and learning curve that I knew would take some considerable time to find comfort with and master. In one instance, on an early September archery hunt, I had an encounter with a massive 12 point buck. As I watched him coming through the woods I looked to my cameraman to make sure he was ready. Everything was perfect, the deer was on the right trail, the camera was in good position, I was calm and possibly about to harvest a monster. However, my enthusiasm quickly vanished as my cameraman whispered that the camera battery had died. Even though I was at full draw on the biggest buck of my life, I never took the 40 yard shot, because I had made the commitment to film for TV.

Self-filming. During the season, my cameraman was unable to join me in the great outdoors on a couple different occasions. Self-filming is extremely difficult, especially when trying to capture every element of the hunt. Moving forward, I will always have a cameraman by myside in the outdoors or I will simply not attempt to hunt if my cameraman is unavailable.


Don’t stop shooting. You can never take enough video and pictures prior to the hunt, during the hunt and after the hunt. This certainly means multiple video angels throughout the process and clear audio when filming. I learned very quickly that when putting together a story, the more I was able to capture of the experience, the more likely a viewer would feel connected to the hunt.

Be creative. I learned the importance of being unique and capturing creative moments. If I was going to take a picture of a moment, I challenged myself to think about how to make the picture unique. Anyone can take a picture of a sunset, so how would mine be any different? This year, instead of taking a picture of a sunset from my twisted timber stand I ventured to the middle of the corn field and snapped a picture through the corn stalks. This would only be the beginning of thinking critically about images. Thank you Jeremy Elbert for providing great insight as I continue to expand my professional and creative lens.

Balance. Finding a balance during this fall season was absolutely critical. I had to find time to video hunts, spend valuable time with my family, work, focus attention on my doctoral studies, workout at the gym, invest in my spiritual wellbeing and just enjoy life. This was certainly a challenge at times, but overall I found some helpful ways to balance life’s journey throughout the process.

Overall, my experience this fall has been extremely rewarding. My brother and I truly learned a lot about what it takes to film for TV. I am excited about the future and the many adventures ahead. The work never stops and I will continue to rely on great family, friends, and my WP crew as I continue to grow.



Jeremy M. Elbert, Wildlife Pursuit TV

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When you walk into the woods, across the CRP Field, take your boat out on the water or drive the back roads, what are you truly expecting to see and experience? What do you hope the time in the Outdoors will deliver to you and honestly what will it take to make those moments memorable? Are your expectations such that the simplest things Mother Nature can offer will not enamor you,or have you been able to find that place where you fully appreciate every step, every mile and every moment?

I believe it takes time to get to that level of appreciation for God’s creations, the wonderful Earth we live on and all things afforded to us. For the context of this blog, it’s important to know that deep down I am a hunter and as such I have a quest for the hunt and the kill. Thankfully I’ve found a direct correlation between my time outdoors and having perspective on everything I see, experience and capture in my memory.

As I go on my hunts, I’ve now found my quest to also include shooting with my Canon DSLR, creating a new challenge to capture those moments, with a simple click of the shutter. The challenge in photography alone is as consuming as a weapon and it’s broadened my perspective to view the outdoors as if I’m seeing many of the sights for the first time. Things are all new. So while the sight of araccoon climbing a tree, a fawn bedded, a buck feeding or a squirrel prepping for winter are all common sights; they now impress me on a whole new level and have ultimately given me a wonderful expanded perspective.

As you find yourself outdoors the next time, I hope the sights and sounds give you a fresh perspective on all things we’ve all maybe forgot to appreciate fully.


Preparing Wild Game

Jason Wright, Ultimate Outdoor Adventures TV

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The appreciation of preparing wild game, serving it and sharing hunting stories go hand in hand every weekend throughout the big game season. Whether we are spending the weekend at the Arman Ranch or grilling thick sliced venison steaks wrapped in bacon beside our wall tent in Wyoming, the camaraderie and atmosphere provided by the unmistakable sounds and aroma of wild game cooking on the grill unleashes past outdoor memories.

During a recent shopping excursion at Scheels in Bismarck, a gentleman tapped me on the shoulder at the checkout counter and asked me why I choose to eat meat – more specifically why do I eat wild game. I detected sincere curiosity and noted he most likely wasn’t from the area and/or hadn’t grown up in a family with a strong hunting heritage and wasn’t necessarily a big fan of eating meat.

I answered (slightly sarcastically with a bit of humor) by explaining that I like to give my food a fighting chance. “I consider it unethical to eat anything that can’t run for its life,” I said. “Think about all those poor salads just lying around until someone comes along and eats them. How fair is that? At least my food has the opportunity to outwit, outsmart or outrun me, and it usually accomplishes all of the above.”

In return he gave me an open mouth blank stare, but then quickly realized I was just having fun with him and he loosened up and became quite intrigued with my hunting background and the various ways to prepare wild game. We ended up talking for quite some time about how hunting, preparing and eating wild game has been passed down in my family from generation to generation. By the time I left the store my mouth was watering terribly after sharing many wild game recipes so I drove straight home, reached into the freezer and grabbed a package of backstrap. The evening meal was mouthwatering and my girls kept us entertained as they asked many questions about the hunt that provided the meal.

Thinking back to that conversation which took place in Scheels, I suppose I could have pointed out that a number of recent medical studies have proven that red meat, in particular lean red meat from wild game, reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, a local physician verified these findings after a friend of mine had blood drawn for routine blood tests which would obviously cause them to be 100% accurate; right?

When this friend of mine received his results the physician said that his cholesterol count was a little high and that at his young age he needed to get this under control. His obvious response was, “What do you recommend that I do?” The doc then replied, “Get your bow, head west where you can get away from your stress, walk the hills and shoot a big buck. And, don’t forget to bring me a backstrap.”

As a big game hunter, who am I to argue with the common sense of a physician that understands the importance of exercise and healthy eating habits. I admit it; I truly enjoy planning for the weekend meal, preparing and eating all wild game especially in camp when the stories seem to rekindle like the hot embers of a bonfire with a slight breeze as the meat goes from the grill to the plate. I like meat. I like the flavor, aroma and the feeling of accomplishment taking the game from the field to the dinner plate. I like the sound of a perfectly seasoned steak or marinated mallard breast as it sizzles on a hot grill. I like to slice into a thick slab of perfectly seasoned venison seared on the outside but still red and juicy in the center. I even like the anticipation when I go to the refrigerator to sneak a quick peak at the steaks that I have marinating in a homemade concoction of oil, vinegar, soy sauce and fresh garlic sprinkled generously with a variety of herbs and spices. It must be the curiosity of every hunting enthusiast to check the steaks frequently turning them to be sure they are thoroughly seasoned. But if you’re not the daring type, my favorite wild game marinade is Don Diego South American Sauce which can be purchased locally at most grocery stores. I guarantee you cannot go wrong with the special sauce when you combine it with your favorite wild game.

Many of the animals I have had the opportunity to harvest aren’t necessarily the largest, but the tale I can tell will most likely be entertaining throughout the meal.

Perhaps most of all, I take pleasure in the simple knowledge that the food on my plate is there because I either: spot and stalked it, lay in wait for it or tracked it down. It’s possible that speaks to the generations of hunters before me and the importance of what my dad passed down to me. Or maybe I’ve just discovered I have more fun picking up my bow or rifle and walking a trail to my stand than I do pushing a shopping cart along a grocery aisle. Whatever the case, I have found that the hunt and created memories enhance the overall culinary experience.

I have also found I enjoy introducing others to the savory delights of correctly prepared wild game. Not long ago I had the opportunity to share an assortment of wild game prepared in a variety of ways with a group of people who have been confined to non-wild game meat. Everyone knew what to expect and that my deck would host the succulent dinner which would include everything from Ontario bear, North Dakota whitetail to Wyoming antelope.

For me, nothing beats the taste of a good venison steak. I do eat vegetables, as long as they are served at their rightful place – on the side with the wild game taking center stage.

It was a great success all around and a number of our guests hadn’t eaten anything from the grill that wasn’t domestically raised, but they all left the table with a new appreciation for correctly prepared wild game. Although in truth, they were a bit apprehensive at first, it wasn’t long before most were going back for more venison steaks, bacon wrapped backstrap and marinated duck breasts as they were coming off the grill.

As the evening proceeded, the topic changed from preparing and cooking wild game to the actual hunting of big game. I was a bit taken back by their interest but in the same token extremely excited to share some of my most memorable hunting adventures and why it’s so much more than the hunt itself. Not knowing what they were in for, I gave them the long detailed version of some of my most memorable hunts. For the next hour, I pointed to various animals on my wall and reminisced as I told the story of each hunt, from the preparation to the conclusion, leaving them with the possible impression that my hunting skills could possibly border on legendary and/or my ability to tell a great story is right up there with the best of them.

Now it is possible that to the untrained ear it may have sounded as though I was bragging, and perhaps even overdoing some of the details as I told my stories. But to everyone else it was obvious. Of course I was bragging! Isn’t it the rite of all sportsmen? All kidding aside, I wasn’t bragging about the fact that I think I am this great hunter, but rather I am thankful for the fact that my dad had passed down to me his hunting beliefs/traditions and that I have had such wonderful opportunities in the outdoors.

The evening couldn’t have turned out better even if we weren’t at the ranch amongst the stars while preparing the evening meal. Our guests left with their appetites satisfied and the knowledge that not only am I able to prepare wild game with culinary skills, but that I could take my story telling on the road. As they were leaving they mentioned how great the food was and how thankful they were to have had the opportunity to try a variety of wild game.

I call this a successful introduction to the benefits of cooking wild game.

And just to set the record straight, I really enjoy eating vegetables especially since they are “good” for me. But until cauliflower develops the keen senses of a whitetail buck and brussel sprouts learn to keep up with an antelope buck crossing the horizon, they will most likely not be served as a main course on my table. And until a head of lettuce grows a body, some legs, and maybe a set of antlers, it will remain a simple side dish.

Anything else just wouldn’t be right.


The Passion of a Big Game Hunter

Kurt Schirado, Ultimate Outdoor Adventures

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Although I wrote the following article with the big game archer in mind, the same holds true for the big game rifle hunter. We may use different weapons, but the philosophy and preparedness holds true whether you’re taking aim with a rifle or a bow. The anticipation of the North Dakota rifle season will provide great opportunities for both rifle hunters and archers; therefore, I hope you are able to use my words of passion to determine who you are as a big game hunter.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do I bowhunt?” Is it because you like to kill stuff or do you enjoy the chess game and getting close to animals. Maybe you like to bow hunt just to relax and get away? Or is the real question we should be asking ourselves, “Do I just LIKE to bowhunt or do you have a true passion for the sport?

Passion: “something that is desired intensely.”

I feel strongly that having a passion for bowhunting means you have a desire for the whole package, not just the killing. My definition of the word passion when used to describe how I feel about hunting big game would include the following: The sweat and hard work, the hours of practice, scouting, sitting on stand or in a blind for hours, the gear and clothing preparation, tuning your bow to perfection, taking quality success pictures, anticipating Mother Nature’s next move, seeing the animals up close, the successful and failed attempts, the anticipation and the redemption. I’m not suggesting that all hunters have such a passion to take part in the great sport of bowhunting, but we owe it to our creator and to ourselves to be a responsible and ethical archer. Once your arrow is released, there is no turning back. Whether you shoot a giant buck for the wall or a doe to fill the freezer, you owe it to the animal to take full responsibility once the decision has been made to take the shot.

Do you like to hunt or do you love to hunt? I meet a lot of outdoors people that enjoy talking about hunting more than they like to participate. Participating takes a lot of work and dedication and I’m not sure that most so called bowhunters are ready for that.

How many of you would truly enjoy sitting in an antelope blind for 13 hours in 90 degree temperatures without seeing or killing anything or maybe climbing to the top of a mountain dripping with sweat and sore muscles to return without an animal? Do you enjoy waking up at 4:00 a.m. to go sit in the stand at 10 degrees below zero? All the success stories sound good in the huddle, but do you truly enjoy all the hard work with only a few moments of glory or do you just want the easy success story with trophy pictures on your mobile device?

An archer must practice and then practice some more to be efficient at any range. We owe it to the animals we are pursuing to be as prepared as possible and not just show up on opening day ready to take just any shot. I would assume most all of us agree that wounding an animal is a bowhunter’s worst nightmare. Repetitive practice does not ensure success, but it might give you the peace of mind and a little self-satisfaction if you happen to miss or the shot placement wasn’t exact. We’ve all grown up knowing that trying your best and having fun is important in any game you may play in life so why not apply that to the great sport of bowhunting. “Trying your best” means practice and hard work and if you’re not having fun while in the field, get out and try something else.

Does practice and hard work guaranty success? No, but we all know it’s the right thing to do. Do we all do it? No… I know too many people that pick their bow up the day before season and think they’re ready to hunt. In my opinion, it takes more than just a hunter, it takes passion for the sport to drive us to become a bow hunter. Bowhunting is something you just don’t show up the day of the game ready to play but rather it takes time, dedication and hard work.

Is it ethical to take 60 – 80 or even 100 yard shots? With today’s equipment it’s happening quite often. Is it right or wrong? I’m not to judge anyone’s shooting ability but I do know the majority of most bowhunters would call 40-50 yards their effective long range. It’s fun and extremely beneficial to practice at long range but a lot can happen in the short time it takes an arrow to reach its mark. With the “speed of sound” being nearly four times the speed of most bows, big game animals can drop up to 12 inches or possibly take one full step forward in the time it takes your arrow to find its mark. The sound of your bow as it’s released or the sound of an arrow in flight can spook or startle any game animal. So, the next time you decide to fling an arrow at any animal outside your comfort range, think of the consequences that come with it.

We all hunt to find success, but how we earn that success is what really matters. “It’s not what we do but how we do it.” I know a few bowhunters that kill their fair share of giant animals but I also know that they wound a too many along the way. Nowadays, archers are taking longer shots to achieve their success, but we must remember to look at each situation before letting that arrow fly. Bowhunting is a game of getting close, so to me, taking those long range shots is more about the killing and not the hunting.

There are multiple factors that can play a part in any hunting situation. You are the one who will make the final decision to shoot or not to shoot during that split second. YOU will have to live with the consequences that follow… Important factors to consider prior to the shot are wind speed/direction, shot angle, animal posture, distance, and/or the single branch between you and your game. Worst case scenario, you wound and lose an animal. Can you live with the decision(s) you chose prior to the shot? Were you prepared? Did you take the time to practice? Best case scenario, your arrow finds its mark perfectly and you watch the animal fall to the ground. As a bowhunter, there is nothing better than winning that chess game followed by a well-placed arrow and then seeing your game expire knowing you were prepared.

Do you cheat, lie or bend the law to find easy success in the outdoor world? Personally, I find that most satisfaction comes from hunting experiences that require the hardest work and when your arrow finds its mark and you see the animal expire. These are the most memorable and rewarding times in the field. “It’s not always about the size of the animal but rather the journey getting there.” Some of my most memorable hunting experiences have been while behind the camera filming a friend. The journey leading up to the climax of the hunt can provide some of the best memories a hunter can experience. The actual shot takes only seconds, in which most times you barely remember, while the journey getting there can take hours, days or even years to unfold.

A well-placed arrow can down any big game animal in seconds, but a marginal placed arrow can spell disaster. Knowing where to place that arrow, what to do or when to follow up on a wounded animal is our responsibility to know as a bowhunter. Recognizing and understanding animal posture or body language can also dictate when to shoot or if the shot should take place. There is always a risk of failure once that arrow is released, but being both physically and mentally prepared can provide self-satisfaction whether it’s an attempted failure or a successful kill shot.

Knowing, testing and trusting your equipment is a must. Whether you choose a fixed blade broadhead like the true and trusted “NAP Thunderhead” or a mechanical broadhead such as the “NAP Killzone,” you must practice and test the flight of your arrow/broadhead combination to ensure good arrow flight. Practicing with your actual bowhunting equipment will make you more proficient at this great sport we call bowhunting and it may possibly ensure you that well deserved, hard earned, trophy experience.

Passion for the hunt is determined by some through the photos found on their iPhone while others truly believe that success starts weeks or months prior to pulling the trigger or releasing an arrow. It isn’t up to me to judge how each person defines their passion for hunting big game, but I do know that when you put the time, effort and commitment into your hunt the satisfaction is much more than a posted picture shared on social media site.


Asking for Permission

Matt Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

It’s that time of year again, and all you can think about is hunting. Every year, thousands of hunters across the country venture into the woods to chase wild game. What if you do not own land? What if you love to hunt and you moved to a new area that is miles from your own private property? Don’t worry, because somewhere tucked in that neighboring shelterbelt, river edge, or wooded plot lies a possibility. I’ve hunted for 20 years and I have always found a place to hunt. This article will provide multiple techniques to use when asking permission to hunt on that forbidden no trespassing area.

The following techniques can be used when connecting with landowners regarding land access and places to hunt:

1. Always connect with the landowner months before the season.

Do not just show up a day or a few weeks before the season. This tells the landowner that you are not just expecting, but instead you are asking.

2. Follow-up with the landowner multiple times during the year.

Always offer your services on the ranch, farm, or homestead. Over the years, I’ve cut fire wood, mended fences, assisted with chores, moved furniture, and made myself available to serve the landowners needs. This gesture shows that you are not in it just for yourself.

3. Don’t push too hard.

Remember that these individuals own the land, bought the land, and pay the taxes on the land. They do not need to give you access. If the answer is no, say thank you and move on to the next location.

4. Don’t give up or get discouraged.

My family owns plenty of acres in Wisconsin, but I can’t always make it there for bow season, so I tried the alternative. I asked plenty of individuals in Iowa and North Dakota to hunt before I received permission. I went door to door until finally I received permission to hunt in both Iowa and North Dakota. I did not give up.

5. Provide gifts.

If the landowner gives you permission make sure you always provide a thank-you note to show them you appreciate their willingness to let you hunt. For years, I’ve sent a farmer Christmas cards with an attached gift card to show my gratitude towards him. I’ve also provided venison jerky baskets and care packages to signify that I am grateful for the opportunity.

6. Always remember to appreciate and understand the world of the landowner that you encounter.

You have to understand that this is probably not the first time they have been asked. Put yourself in their shoes. What would you do? Think like a landowner and I can guarantee that you will start seeing positive results.

Over the years, I have hunted many locations that were privately owned. The landowners and I have become great friends and I truly appreciate their willingness to allow me to hunt on their property. I am convinced that if a hunter follows these suggestions, they will have better luck trying to find a place to hunt this upcoming season.

Good luck, and I wish you the best on your journey and remember it is certainly a journey of gratitude.