Hunting

After Deer Season Is Over

January comes around and deer season is over. Well, not exactly. This is a great time to scout your woods for next year.

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I like to get in the woods right after season. I look for trails that the deer have recently been traveling. If you wait a few more months when the weather warms, the deers travel pattern may change some. Scouting now gives you real time data that can be used again next year. One thing that I have learned over the years of hunting and scouting is, deer will change their travel patterns often.

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Also, I like to keep an eye out for scrapes and rubs. You can usually find an area of the woods that has been worked over harder by bucks than other areas. Finding these could be key to having success next fall. You may find a big bucks home area where he spends the majority of his time during season.

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Just because you can’t go hunting for deer January, doesn’t mean you can’t get into the woods. Go scouting and you may be surprised by what you find. You may even find an early shed antler. I am sure it will make you a more successful hunter next season.

Recipes

Buttery Oven Baked Fish

On these cold winter days, it is nice to have an excuse to start the oven to help warm the house. I baked fish yesterday and it turned out very tasty! This recipe is full of flavor and very quick to make.

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I started out spraying cooking spray in a 9 x 13 baking dish. I sprinkled some St. Elmo seasoning on the fillets.

Next, in a separate bowl I melted 4 tablespoons of butter.  To the melted butter I added more St. Elmo seasoning, Kosher salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon and lime juice.

I drizzled the seasoned butter over the fish fillets. If you like a little crunch, you can add Panko bread crumbs to the top of the fillets. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  That is it! This was a great dinner with virtually no clean up afterwards. That is my kind of baking.

Ingredients

3-4 whitefish fillets [Any whitefish will work]

A sprinkle St. Elmo seasoning over the fillet

4 tbs of melted butter

1/2 tsp of St. Elmo seasoning

1/4 tsp of Kosher salt

1/4 tsp of paprika

1/4 tsp of onion powder

1/4 tsp of garlic powder

1/2 tsp of lemon juice

1/4 tsp of lime juice

Tips

Winter Bass Scouting

Winter is a great time to get out and look for some great fishing spots. Many lakes are lowered in the winter. There are two things I really like about lakes being lowered in the winter. They concentrate the fish in a much smaller area. Secondly, you can see some great structure that is usually covered by feet of water.

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Winter fishing can be difficult, but also very rewarding. You need to have the mindset that you may only get a couple of bites during the trip, but they may be from the biggest fish that live in the lake. Fish will be concentrated in very specific spots. I call these high percentage spots, because there is a high percentage a fish is living there and you will likely catch one there. I look for bluff banks that drop off quickly. This allows fish to go deep to shallow without using much energy. This also allows your lure to be in the strike zone for a long period of time. You may only have to move your lure a few feet but the depth may change drastically. I also like to fish isolated cover such as boulders or stumps. Again, this kind of structure concentrates fish and allows you to have your bait in the strike zone for a long time. You may have to make multiple casts in the same location to get a fish to bite in cold water. This is another reason why I like to fish high percentage spots.

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Winter is also a great time to take pictures of a lowered lake. Take pictures of rock piles, logs, stumps, drop offs, anything that a fish will call home in the spring and summer. Use these pictures later in the year along with your depth finder to find those spots many anglers will miss. Make sure to take some notes so you know exactly where to go back to once the lake is back to its normal level.

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Next time we get a nice warm day this winter, use this time to scout out some new fishing spots on your favorite lake. The time invested now, will pay off by putting more fish in the boat later.

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Tips

Christmas Lure Options

Buying fishing gear for another angler can be difficult. When it comes to buying lures, the task becomes even more challenging.  All fisherman have specific lures they like and some they do not. The selection of lures is endless and can be overwhelming for someone that is not a fisherman. Here are some lure options that every bass fisherman will enjoy.

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Topwater lures are favorites for most fisherman. There is something exciting about seeing a big bass exploding on topwater. Most topwater lures cost between $5-$15. The buzzbait is a lure that can catch fish almost anywhere. It is a great lure for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Frogs are another great topwater option. These lures work well in lakes, ponds, and rivers. Check out my previous post about topwater lures here.

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Crankbaits are another lure that you can’t go wrong with. Most crankbaits cost between $5-$10. I suggest buying medium diving crankbaits. Bass spend a lot of time in water depths from 2-6 feet. These lures work great in this water depth.  Bass fisherman can never have enough crankbaits!

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Soft plastic lures are a staple for most bass fisherman. A bag of soft plastic lures should cost about $3-$7. One soft plastic that we all own and love to use is a Senko style bait. These baits are very soft and tear easily, so you can never have too many Senkos.  A second soft plastic option is a Beaver style bait. These baits are great for punching heavy cover and skipping boat docks. Pick up a pack or two of natural looking colors and you will be good to go.

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This holiday season show the angler in your family that you can buy some great lures for them. These are lures that they will truly use and not forget about in the bottom of their tackle box.

 

Tips

Rainy Day Tackle Organization

Tackle organization is a great thing to do when the conditions are not right to go fishing. I actually really enjoy going through and organizing all my tackle.

Being able to find that exact lure needed quickly during a fishing trip can be the difference in catching fish and not. I have had times when I really wanted to use a certain lure and couldn’t find it. Taking time to organize your tackle is something that you should do throughout the season.

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I like to divide my tackle into lure specific trays. I divide crankbaits up by depth and then color. I have multiple trays just for crankbaits. I have trays for jerkbaits, topwater, spinnerbaits, jigs, hooks, and sinkers, too.

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It doesn’t matter if you have thousands of lures or you have one box full.  Keeping your tackle neat and organized will save you time. When you are on the water, spend your time fishing and not hunting for a lure.

 

Hunting

Indiana Firearm Season

I love this time of year. Not only is the fishing good, but it is also the perfect time to sit in a tree! There is one day that stands out the most though, opening day of Indiana firearm season for deer hunting. Opening day is a special day for our family.

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Our family gets together days in advance for opening weekend. Once Saturday morning arrives, we surround a couple different pieces of property waiting for a monster buck to show up. The anticipation of what may walk out at any given moment is what keeps us coming back every year.

We have been extremely fortunate to harvest some great deer over the years. With any luck this year will be no difference and we can keep the tradition alive. Nevertheless, harvesting a deer or not, I enjoy being outdoors and enjoying this weekend.

Hunting

Archery Buying Tips

The sights, sounds, and smells of the fall, make it my favorite time of the year. It just so happens to be deer season too.  I enjoy hunting deer with archery equipment as well as with a muzzleloader. The fact that I only have one shot makes this style of hunting more challenging. The right equipment is critical to having a successful hunt. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing archery equipment.

There are a number of great bows on the market. I believe you have to find one that you are confident with and stick with it. Confidence is a huge factor in bow hunting. You must believe you can make the shot. Practice is very important and the more shots you take at different distances, the better you will be.

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The size and shape of the bow is unique to each person. It must fit you correctly to get the most accuracy out of it. Most bows can be adjusted a few inches shorter of longer to make sure the draw length is correct for you.  Make sure to purchase a bow from a dealer or retail store that can set it up properly. If the bow doesn’t fit you, you will never get the full accuracy potential out of the bow.

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Thank you Kevin Harvey for this great photo!

I use a Diamond Outlaw bow. This bow has a let off of 80%. “Let off” is simply the weight you are holding back at full draw. For example, if you are pulling 70 pounds, then you are only holding back 14 pounds at full draw. This makes for much better shots, because you are not shaking and straining to hold the bow back. You can also hold the bow back at full draw for much longer.

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Arrows are very important to the success of your hunt. Carbon arrows are more durable and last longer then the traditional aluminum arrows. When selecting arrows, make sure to follow the guide on back of the package. You want to make sure you get the correct stiffness for your bow setup.

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Broadheads are the last piece of the puzzle, but arguably the most important. There are two main differences in broadheads; fixed blades, versus expendables. Every archery hunter has an opinion on which one is better, but the main factor to consider is accuracy. If you plan on shooting long shots with your bow, than I suggest expandable broadheads. If you mainly shoot under 40 yards, than either style will work.  With my bow set up, the accuracy is the same with both styles of broadheads, under 40 yards. Pick one that you are confident with and stick with it.

There are two main accessories that you must have. The first accessory to have is a good stabilizer.  Stabilizers help balance the bow and help takes some of the vibration out of the shot. I like a shorter stabilizer than most hunters. I don’t want a long stabilizer getting in the way while I hunt.  The second accessory is the release. The release allows for more accurate shots, because you are not holding the string with your fingers. You have to decide if you want a hand held, or wrist release. I have always used a wrist style. I like the wrist style, because once I put it on, I won’t lose it. Handhelds, can be put down and easily lost. Also, handhelds make the bow harder to pull back. I can pull much more weight with my wrist release. There are countless other accessories that can make your bow more accurate, quite, and smooth, but I covered the must haves.

There are lots of things that go into purchasing a bow. I recommend getting help from an experienced archer, before you make your purchase. Good luck and shoot straight.