By J. Wayne Fears
My, how spring gobbler hunting is changing! The latest generation of shotshells are making a big difference in downrange performance.
I was on a spring gobbler hunt with the management team of Benelli. We were filming hunts for their TV programs and we had split up into two teams. Joe Coogan, Benelli Brand Marketing Manager, and I were hunting with the 12-gauge Franchi I-12 and Stephen McKelvain, Benelli VP, along with Calli Morris of Hazel Creek Taxidermy were hunting with M-2 Benelli in 20-gauge. Also, Stephen and Calli were using the new 20-gauge Federal 3-inch Heavyweight Turkey Load featuring 1 1/2-ounce of high density #7 shot held in place with the new Flitecontrol wad.
A hot June day spent shooting on a dusty range in Alabama is a good way to test shooting optics. Rifles are shot a lot, usually under hot conditions. Ammunition is tested out to 300 yards or more. And hunting optics, spotting scopes, rifle scopes and binoculars, are subjected to lots of dust and if not dust and grit, then the occasional rainstorm.
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It was the Christmas of Christmas's. Under the red cedar Christmas tree, we had cut behind the barn, brought into the house and decorated with popcorn and colored paper chains, was my very own Daisy Red Ryder Carbine. It was a dream come true. Like Ralph in The Christmas Story, after months of frantic wishing, I had a real Red Ryder BB gun.
I don't remember how old I was when I got the Red Ryder Carbine. Not much over nine years if I had to guess. I am sure it was a financial strain on my parents budget to pay for the gun but thy felt it would help me learn responsibility and to learn the life skill of marksmanship. They were right on both accounts.
By J. Wayne Fears
Deciding whether to use a tractor or ATV to prepare a wildlife food plant is a big decision to make and the decision may have a lot to do with the success or failure of the food plot. When the decision is made to go ahead and use an ATV on a food plot that is not suitable for ATV ground breaking, the results is usually a very poor job of seedbed preparation.
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"We plant food plots, but still don't have big bucks on our property," is a statement wildlife biologists hear often. Far too many property owners, and hunting clubs who lease land, think that just planting food plots is all there is to having big bucks. This is far from the truth! There are many steps that must be taken to have big bucks and one of the first is to start a record keeping system on the deer harvested.
The wildlife professional who guides you down the road to having big bucks needs an annual record of the deer taken, the more years the better, before making long-term management recommendations for your property.
Many of the better hunting properties available today were once farms. Often the area around the old farmstead is grown up, almost a jungle, and the fields and old pastures are in planted pine or CRP grass. Unless the old farm house is good enough for a camp, the farmstead is ignored, sometimes for years, until the landowner wants to spend the money to have the area cleaned up and planted in something that produces cash.
Food plots planted near public roads or near property lines invite poaching and I am hearing from a number of readers who have trespass problems. I have an e-mail from one Global Outfitters reader who has planted turnips in a food plot within sight of a county road. It is not poachers who are coming in on his food plot, it is turnip lovers.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is in regards to using an ATV for planting a food plot is, "Can I use my ATV to plant food plots or should I invest in a tractor?" The condition of the ground to be broken up, the power your ATV has and the equipment you have to break the soil all has to be taken into consideration to answer that question.
By J. Wayne Fears
What you have heard about using deer to remove small stumps is correct in many cases. By making each stump an artificial salt lick, in time, the deer will keep digging until they dig the stump up. The best time to start the process is in the summer.
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My introduction to Egyptian wheat, a tall growing grain sorghum, had nothing to do with squirrels. It was simply a supplemental plant for Quail Haven soybeans to run up. The main crop was the running soybeans as a warm season wildlife food plot. However, by early fall I was watching wild turkey and quail going to great lengths to get to the Egyptian wheat seed heads, and more impressive were the number of squirrels coming out of the nearby woods to feed on the wheat seed.
Want a deer magnet? Find a fruit bearing Common persimmon tree and take a stand.
Most years the female Common persimmon tree bears fruit. Deer love this fruit when it ripens and falls to the ground in the autumn. It is usually available under the tree for a month or more as only a few persimmons fall at a time.
Usually, when you read about a food plot crop you read all the about all the wonderful values of the plant or plant mix. Catch words such as nutritious, high protein, drought hardy, etc. are often used to describe the plant. However, when you mention Japanese honeysuckle the first thing you hear is pest, weed, invasive, snake cover, etc. In the right place, with the correct management, this honeysuckle can be all the good things better known crops planted for wildlife are, and more.
Research done for establishing a long term perennial food plots recommend that Durana clover be considered as the crop to plant due to its shade tolerance, wide adaptability to weather extremes, low maintenance, high protein content (up to 28%) and long life, 7 years or more with proper management.
Tilling the PlotBy J. Wayne Fears
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you had better plan on purchasing a tractor and plow or contracting with a local farmer to break the plot with a strong farm tractor and plow. Trying to use an ATV in most of these situations can be dangerous, hard on the equipment used and frustrating to you resulting in a less than desirable crop. It's simply more than an ATV was designed to do.