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.

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Asking for Permission

Matt Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

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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.

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Trail Camera Setup Tips

Nate Anderson, Wildlife Pursuit

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When it comes to scouting and preparing for hunting nothing has changed the game like the trail camera. It seems like every hunter in the woods uses cameras and many people use several all year long. With the massive amount of relatively inexpensive cameras on the market it is easy to overlook some basics for setting up the devices and getting the most out of them in the field. For me, the Covert cameras are irreplaceable. Covert cams are small and lightweight, yet pack many useful, powerful features. With a little practice and a few tips capturing good photos and quality information on game in your hunting area can be both easy and enjoyable.

The first step in trail cam setup is getting the supplies together. Most cameras take an SD card or some similar format and simple batteries to get them up and running. The memory cards can be specific to the camera and also the size limits on the cards is important to watch for. Fresh batteries are an easy thing to overlook when going to setup cameras in the woods, replace them often.

The second step is methodically choosing a location. I try to target an area that I cannot see easily, or have an idea the deer are moving through without knowing for sure. The goal is to gain movement information and also to see what types of animals are in the area. I look for good trails, scrapes, or fence crossings depending on the time of year. Another important part in location selection is to consider your accessibility to review the images. Getting in and out of the area is important to not spook the game you are hunting. Also, keep in mind the sun location and the direction of the lens. If you face the camera directly towards the east, the sunrise in the morning could overpower the images at that time of day, the same is true in the evening with the sunset.

The final step is to let the camera sit and then review the images in the field. Depending on the hunt I am on, I vary how often I check the cams. When we run to the midwest and hunt the whitetail rut, I check them at least once a day. This may seem too often, but the information gained from the cameras could change the hunt quickly. Often times I have just started hunting the area for the first time so any extra info from the field is priceless. There are various ways to view the files after capture. I prefer to view them in the field on my phone or tablet with a simple card reader app and tether, vs swapping cards and looking after the hunt back at the computer. Either way you review the images, take the information gained and adjust accordingly, maybe it will be the difference and bring success this year.

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Tree Stand Basics

Matt Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

Treestand Basics 3Where we position ourselves for the big hunt will make all the difference in the world. A lot of factors come into place when hanging tree stands. You may want to consider the following points when hanging your stand:

1. After you spend some quality time in your hunting area scouting and identifying deer sign, it’s a good idea to begin evaluating a good possible vantage point, where you would hang your stand.

2. After you’ve identified a general vantage area, be aware that you’ve selected the best possible area for your stand where you can cover the highest percentage of shot opportunities while also not being easily detected by the deer.

3. Once you have selected the tree, make sure you will have ample shooting lanes that allow for a clean opportunity to make a successful shot.

4. The height of your stand may depend on your hunting terrain, so find comfort with the stand height, recalling that sometimes higher in the tree may provide more opportunities but also less back cover.

5. Always know the prevailing wind direction. Living in the Midwest, we are often faced with a NNW or NW wind as the prevailing. By continuously checking the wind while your positioning the stand(s), you will be very aware of where you are in jeopardy of getting busted.

6. When you finalize the tree stand, the quieter and more solid you can make it in the tree will give you the advantage during the time you spend there. If you can’t be quiet and move very little, your chance for success goes down exponentially.

7. Without question, wear your tree stand safety harness will hunting and hanging the stand. It could save your life.

These are a few suggestions to consider when hanging your tree stands. I utilize the twisted timber tree stand, because of the solid performance I’ve experienced with the stand. The stand is user-friendly, easy to assemble, lightweight, and easy to hang. Multiple functions allow for great versatility and reliability.

Remember, that all of the work you put into hanging a stand and preparing for the hunt will pay off in a great way when the time comes to harvesting a wonderful buck. My experience has always been that the hard work of preparing for the hunt equals success throughout the year. Finally, remember the tips above and utilize your twist timber stand and you should be ready for the season. Good luck and shoot straight!

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Making the Switch

Ashley Kurtenbach, Wildlife Pursuit

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Why I Choose the Elite Energy 32

We all have our “favorites” of everything whether it’s a choice of pizza or your hunting gear, we tend to favor one brand over another. Once you find what you like, you do what every person does, you stick with what you know, what you like, it becomes a part of you, why change it?

When we find what we like and what we are comfortable with, it is always difficult to grab the competitor’s product and even try it. It gives me a stomach-ache just thinking about it, I feel like I am cheating …

I recently made the switch to Elite as my choice for archery hunting equipment, namely my bow. After being a religious user of another brand, I felt a little part of me die inside when I decided to switch but knew it was for the better. I couldn’t deny the need to change my equipment to achieve the results I was looking for in this upcoming archery season.

As women bow hunters, we have limited amounts of equipment to choose from in the market of archery. However, over the past half-decade, there have been considerable advances made to fit our wants and needs. I have been an owner of everything from youth bows to those geared towards men. Why did I break up with my previous “brand”? After diligently trying other options I found a true comfort with Elite.

I was looking for a stealthy, quiet and quick bow that pulled back as easily as it released… something smooth; and of course it had to look good. To keep up with boys, we women need to be able to crank up the poundage on our bow, and with Elite I find it very easy to pull back an adequate amount of weight in order to make shots at 60 plus yards. The primary reason why I fell in love with Elite was because of the back wall. After going through the motion and pulling the bow back, getting settled into my anchor, I noticed there wasn’t a spongy back wall, no gaps or valleys that made a jump in my draw, just one smooth and quiet transition.

I am currently shooting the Elite Energy 32, which I know is marketed as a “men’s bow” but the weight of the entire bow and accessories isn’t much different than some of the women’s alternatives on the market. My Energy 32 has an effortless draw, it’s ridiculously quiet and I didn’t lose speed on my shot. If anything I may be shooting faster by the end of the season, because I can pull more weight. I am super excited to take this bow on my hunting expeditions this fall, and encourage all female and man bow hunters to venture out and give Elite a try; you never know, you may find a new relationship with your archery equipment.

“Take the Elite Shootability Challenge”

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Staying Fit for Big Game

By Kurt Schirado, Ultimate Outdoor Adventures TV

nOs1ZB3jLNHp8XF-P5c9eAynjCdyMwpEmRcY-nFYNjYThe annually anticipated deer rifle season has finally arrived, and many have spent months preparing for what some outdoor enthusiasts consider to be a 16 ½ day holiday. Preparation oftentimes begins with landowner relations followed by various scouting trips, studying maps, organizing clothing, and keeping marksmanship skills in check. But even after checking off the final item on the “big game” checklist, way too many big hunters are forgetting a very important factor when planning for any hunting adventure…being physically prepared! I know what you may be thinking, “It’s too late to worry about it now,” wrong! Just because the fall hunting season has already started, that doesn’t mean we can sit in the rocking chair every evening or let our backsides melt to the seat of a tree stand. If your physical fitness level is up to par, then keep it that way; otherwise, get off your duff and do something about it. If you’ve drawn that once in a lifetime elk tag or just want to enjoy this year’s hunting season without being winded after climbing every hill, don’t wait until it’s time to go and then assume a few days of jogging will whip you into shape.

Allow us to encourage you to make physical fitness part of your lifestyle, not just something you do because the doctor said it’s time to start exercising, and maybe use the current big game season to help begin your new lifestyle. Performing some type of physical activity should be something you do on a regular basis. There are numerous ways to get into, or stay in shape. Find an activity you like and go for it.

Exercise shouldn’t be a chore or something you dread. Exercise actually increases your energy level, so if you feel sluggish while walking to and from your tree stand, you don’t necessarily need more sleep, but rather, you may need more physical activity. Remember, the idea is to make this part of your lifestyle which will enable you to enjoy the outdoors that much more. Start slow and be careful…You may get hooked!

CHOOSE AN ACTIVITY YOU ENJOY…

Did you catch the word, activity? It means just what it says; be active. But the fact is you need to do something that will increase your heart rate and work your lungs. The general rule to maintain your current level of fitness is to exercise three times a week for at least twenty minutes. Make sure you’re doing something that increases your heart rate and respiratory rate.

Start slow, if you’re not usually active, then it is important to find a variety of activities in order to keep from getting bored. Take a walk through the woods (put your back pack on for more intensity), jog, combine the two, bike (it’s easier on the joints), roller blade. More outdoorsmen/women take to the field during the deer season than any other time of the year; therefore, there is no better time to kick off your new lifestyle.

Thank God for endorphins! These are your body’s natural pain killers that produce what you may have heard some refer to as, “the runner’s high”. When you finish your activity and you feel good, that’s part of the reason. Another reason you’ll feel good is because you have the satisfaction of knowing you did something productive and healthy allowing you to spend more quality time in the field chasing a big whitetail or stalking mule deer in the badlands.

elTd2P_wSOJb7Q0yfbBbcFbrZCdHhltOHTNRmdzWoOURESISTANCE TRAINING…

Resistance training is another way of saying, “lifting weights,” without the idea of having to look like Arnold what’s his name?! This area of training is important because it helps to keep your bones strong.

As we age our bones can become weak, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.

There is proper technique involved with weight training, so if you’re unfamiliar with it, get some
assistance from an expert… Gold’s Gym is an excellent place to start, and their professionals are
trained as well as experienced when it comes to establishing a program that will work for you.

If the only weights you’ve lifted recently are your rifle and fanny pack, take it easy as you get
started. The first time you begin any type of new activity you will use strange muscles and in
different ways; therefore, expect to get a little sore. But, if you end up so stiff that you can’t
move for three days, you better ease up. You can lift weights and combine your cardio workout
at the same time by limiting your time between exercises.

MONITOR WHAT YOU EAT…

I don’t want to use the “D” word (diet) because then I’ll lose you for sure. To me, a diet is something you go on and then go off. It’s a temporary fix. Remember, our goal is to make fitness part of our lifestyle so that we can continue to enjoy our outdoor passion. We’re in this for the long haul, so we’re not going to go on a diet, instead we’re going to monitor what we eat. If your goal is to lose weight, you must expend more calories than you consume. Sorry, that’s nature’s rule, not mine. It doesn’t help that as we age our metabolism slows down causing our body to burn less fat. I would encourage you to eat foods that are low in fat, especially if you want to lose the spare tire. You know the foods; fish and chicken (not always deep fried), turkey, and venison are all very low in fat if you don’t add any when you prepare it. You need to get your share of fruits and veggies which supply your body with essential vitamins. Your body does not produce vitamins on its own so you need to get them from foods or supplements.

Be aware of how much fat you’re eating and don’t gorge yourself at every meal. Eat until your satisfied, not stuffed.

HYDRATION…

Your body needs fluids. It needs water, and more than you think. Your thirst response is actually slow, so by the time your brain tells you you’re thirsty, you’re behind schedule. A good way to monitor your fluid intake is to observe the color of your urine. If it’s a dark yellow or amber color it’s too concentrated and you need to drink more water. The clearer your urine the more hydrated your body. Sports drinks are good because of the additives, especially during or after your workout. Just keep drinking water throughout the day. This will help to decrease your appetite a little bit at meal times, resulting in fewer calories consumed.

When you’re in the field – especially while hunting rugged terrain such as the ND Badlands – use a hydration pack instead of a water bottle while hunting or hiking, it allows easy access to fluids keeping you more hydrated throughout the day.

STRETCH…

This is probably the most overlooked aspect of fitness. Stretching should be done daily to prevent soreness and even reduce tension that builds up in the neck, shoulders and upper back area. It will decrease your chances of tearing muscle tissue and tendons. Think of your muscles as rubber bands. If a rubber band is cold, it won’t stretch very far before breaking, but if it’s warm, it will stretch a lot farther. Same goes for your muscles.

If you’ve never done any stretching get some assistance. Some people are naturally more flexible than others so don’t try to obtain the flexibility of an Olympic Gymnast. Don’t bounce when you’re stretching, instead, breathe easily and try to relax as you slowly try to increase your flexibility. Stretching can be done at the end of your workout, to help you wind down and relax. The same is true when heading into the field, stretch first, and then hunt.

This new “lifestyle” shouldn’t become an obsession or take up all of your time. We can all spare twenty, or thirty minutes a day, three to five times a week, for some type of activity. It’s good preventive medicine. It’ll keep you in the woods longer and enjoying your outdoor adventure.

Don’t go overboard when you start, this will only lead to burn out. Start slow, this is a lifelong commitment, so enjoy the journey.

You can make your own decision. Every choice we make has a consequence. I can almost hear some of you saying, “I’ll live the way I want, it’s my life.”

That’s right…it is your life!

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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.

Kenetrek Boot


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.NAP D6 Killzone Broadhead


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.

Bipod


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.photo (4)


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.


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.


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.Nikon Photo


 

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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