The Hunt Has Just Begun. [A Reflection of Bear Camp]

The Hunt Has Just Begun.

[A Reflection of Bear Camp]

By Ryan McKinney

EvoOutdoors, ProStaff

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Bear Lane Guide Service is located in Wesley, Maine and has been family owned and operated business for over twenty years. Frank Perkowsky, a registered Maine Master Guide is at the helm of this outfitter. Along with two other registered guides, Frank tirelessly devotes his time to bringing clients the best guide service that Maine has to offer. That being said, I’m quite bias. Bear Lane happens to be my family business, and I’am fortunate to be a part of it. I don’t write this article to promote Bear Lane, but to reflect on my time there.

I won’t speak of other outfitters, rather explain how our guide service operates. In Maine, bear season lasts four weeks, in the fall, opening the last Monday in August. Furthermore, Bear Lane legally hunts two ways, over bait and with hounds. When clients book with Bear Lane, they get a package that includes food, lodging for five days and guide service. So what exactly is guide service? If you are not familiar, becoming a guide is no easy feat in Maine. You can research the guidelines here. In short, the guides responsibility is the client. Period. Frank and his team are an established outfit, with countless bait sites and thousands of acres of hunting land. They work to maintain bait sites, maintain a continuous rotation of trail cameras, transporting clients, tracking and processing harvests and most importantly, ensure the safety and success of their clients. While the guides do everything they can to ensure you’re successful, you’re left with the responsibility to eat like a king, sleep and hunt. Moving forward, let me clear that Bear Lane and it’s staff have an impressive track record and are a very successful outfitter, this article is under no circumstances is a reflection of them.

bear 1I have been fortunate enough to be able to hunt bear in Maine for a couple of years. At this point, I have yet to harvest a bear, and that has been the best experience I could ask for. The woods in Maine are a relentless place, thicker than I’ve ever experienced. So imagine that you’re in your tree stand, and all you can see is the shooting alley that you have to the bait site. You’re lucky if you can see anything else, or any further. That being said, bear are very sensitive to movement, so that means, you need to sit painfully still. This is where I struggled the most.

When I hunt whitetail, I can basically do jumping jacks in my tree stand and still be successful. It’s very difficult to stay engaged when bear hunting; you end up staring at the same site, for hours, without moving, at all, for five days.

Process that for a second. Most people can’t sit still for 10 minutes, let alone several hours. If I were to be totally honest here, I would say I contemplated quitting several times and I didn’t want to bear hunt anymore. I found myself going through a whirlwind of emotion, starting excited, engaged, focused, and as the hours passed, you couldn’t get me out of the woods fast enough. I was frustrated. And it’s for this reason that I wrote this article. As the week passed, the desire to quit grew. I hunted hard for five days, I was mentally exhausted. Any avid hunter will tell you, sitting for several hours, and remaining hyper alert, is taxing. I was done.

Another year passed without a bear harvest. This year was especially difficult because I felt the pressure to perform from various avenues. Even on a less formal level, my friends and family eagerly awaited my call or a photo on social media boasting my success. I received an overwhelming amount of support, and for that, I am grateful. However, It didn’t happen. I couldn’t get over this overwhelming feeling of failure and disappointment. Oddly enough, this is where my greatest success seemed to be. I was better for it. The lessons I learned from NOT being successful is where I grew the most. If I were immediately successful, then I’m not sure I would have gotten much out of it, other than a mount on the wall and some classic harvest photos. I really feel strongly that this is where the hunting industry falls short. Up-and-coming hunters see nothing but Boone and Crockett bucks, Pope and Young black bears, and various giant animals harvested on TV. Of course no one wants to see a hunter sit in a tree stand for hours on TV and not see a thing, but I don’t think the industry is doing anyone any favors here – But that’s another article. I vividly remember watching Bill Dance catch giant bass after giant bass on TV when I was a kid. It was fun to watch, but it made my expectations unrealistic when I was fishing with my dad.Bear 4

 

As I sit in my comfy chair a week after my hunt, I am able to think a bit more clearly and really look back on this hunt. Im a better hunter and outdoorsman than I was two weeks ago. Hopefully, I’m a better example to my family, friends, and outdoor community from these experiences. I will hunt black bear again.

This article is my mount on the wall.

I want people to see the other side of hunting. You’re not always going to harvest an animal, but you can always be successful. I continue to grow, learn patience, perseverance, and gain experience. When I began this journey in the outdoor industry, it was immediately important to me to teach my boys, and anyone else who wanted to learn, the things that were taught to me by my mentors. This is a chapter in that book.

“A hunt based only on trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.”~Fred Bear

Ryan McKinney

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MORE THAN JUST BEARS

MORE THAN JUST BEARS

By Erin Merrill, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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Kryptek Camo from EvoOutdoors

Seven miles down a narrow dirt road, into the back woods of Maine, away from towns, pavement, electricity and cell service, five Maine outdoors women of varying ages and backgrounds are at camp for the same reasons:

We love the outdoors and we want to hunt black bears.

For some of us, we want to keep pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone and become better outdoors women.

Estimates put Maine’s bear population at around 30,000 and with successful hunters taking an average of 2800 bears over the 16-week season. The Maine Black Bear is thriving if not over-populating species in the dense woods. However, these animals are incredibly smart and keenly aware of their surroundings which makes successfully hunting one a great accomplishment.

Robin and I have each shot a bear before; her’s over bait and mine using hounds. Tammy is a professional photographer and has been bear hunting for a handful of years now. Taylor is an incredible biologist by trade and while she was at camp, the bear she wanted is at a different bait site closer to her house.  Sue is a trauma nurse and active leaders in the outdoor women’s movement in Maine.  Robin enjoyed silencing critics who questioned if, as women, we could handle bears by ourselves in the woods alone by pointing out,

“We are five women who have and know how to use high powered rifles.  No person or animal is going to mess with us.”

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Since it was early in the season, we were sitting over baited sites waiting for the bears to hit hyperphagia and begin to come into the sites before dark.  Each morning Robin would get the bait together and with a truck and 4-wheelers, we would check the sites to see if they had been hit and add more bait and smells to lure the bears in.  It is no easy task to get the bears to steadily come to the sites when there is so much natural food around.

‘I’m terrified of them,”

Sue said when I asked if she enjoyed her week in camp so far even though she had not yet seen a bear, “I came here to conquer my fear and if I haven’t done it, I’ve come close.” For Sue, conquering her fear meant sitting on a metal chair placed behind a piece of camo fabric tied between two trees and looking between the trees towards the bait site.  For a beginner with a healthy fear of bears, sitting on the ground and waiting for one to come in is about as bad ass as you can get. Bears are silent in the woods which is how they earned their nickname the black ghost. It tests your mental and physical limits as you sit, listen and watch – without moving and giving your location away.  As night sets in and new sounds emerge, you need to be on your game and ready for a bear to stroll in.  Every sound you hear may be a bear or it could be a moose, deer or coyote or fisher.  Hunters know how many other animals are roaming the woods with us.IMG_6501

Hunting and her relationship with Robin helped Tammy become more independent and grow her confidence in her outdoor skills.  She sat in a treestand as the winds from an incoming storm steadily increased and decided to build herself a ground blind when the swaying of the tree got to be too much. Using fallen branches, leaves and a piece of canvas, she created a small blind that she sat behind until dark.  Just a few years ago, she would not have had enough confidence to get down alone from her stand, let alone build one on the ground.

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Taylor and I

I am not nearly as courageous as Sue or Tammy when it comes to conquering the mental piece of hunting.  I sat in a treestand with Robin and tried to become familiar with the sounds of the Canada Jays, ducks in the bog and tree frogs.  I watched a Northern Flicker land on a branch 15 feet from us and preen for a few minutes, totally unaware that we were in the tree.  A Snowshoe Hare came in and out of the site a couple of times before disappearing into the thick underbrush.

During the entire week, we saw signs that bears had been around and were eating grubs from tree stumps and fallen logs but none of us saw a bear.  We spent time hiking, foraging for mushrooms, exploring the fields, talking about our favorite guns and scopes and drank lots of coffee and wine as we shared stories and our love of the Maine woods.

Bear camp is about more than just the bears.

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Erin is actively involved with local organizations that promote women in the outdoors and has taught classes on writing, campfire cooking and white-tail deer basics. You can find Erin’s writing about the challenges facing women hunters, life in the Maine woods and her hunting and outdoor adventures on her blog www.andastrongcupofcoffee.com as well as in her monthly magazine column “Women in the Wood” featured in the Northwoods Sporting Journal.

Broken in the Backcountry: Preparing for Emergencies

Broken in the Backcountry:

Preparing for Emergencies

By Lisa Halseth

EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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It was the weekend before the 2014 archery opener, my dad, Dan and I had just finished setting up our hunting camp.  It’s our home away from home in the fall, tucked in the endless mountains of Montana. Since the hard work was done we decided to head out on the horses to do some evening scouting for bulls. It was a beautiful evening, the weather couldn’t have been better. After a six mile ride, as we crested the highest ridge we spotted a couple bulls down below us in a lush meadow. We tied up the horses, and sat down to get a better look.  We stared in awe, as we witnessed eighteen bulls grazing, sparing and raking the ground. It was an amazing August evening that I was lucky to share with two of the best men in my life.

An evening I would never forget.

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As we rode back towards camp that evening, I had a serious case of elk fever. We anxiously discussed our game plan for the following Saturday, which would be opening morning of the archery season. While daydreaming of those big bulls, I completely lost focus on my horse and the horse I was ponying behind me. As I looked over my shoulder to check on Kimber who was following behind me, my horse decided to snag a quick bite of grass. As she reached down my right rein slipped from my hand and fell to the ground. I turned back and realized what had happened. This was not a big deal, I was just going to reach forward and grab the rein which was hanging to the ground from her bridle.  As I stood in my stirrups and leaned forward toward her head to grab it, she simultaneously stepped on the rein and jerked her head to release the tension that had pulled her head down. As her head jerked back, it met my face hard.

All I remember is hearing a loud crunching noise and seeing stars.

The next thing I knew I was on the ground on all fours holding my face and completely out of it. The blood immediately started to flow. Once my dad and Dan realized I was on the ground they came running.  There was so much blood gushing from my face that they weren’t sure of the extent of my injuries. My dad threw me his handkerchief as he said, “I hope you didn’t break your nose!” At that moment I brought my fingers to my face and then I knew my nose was not in the right place. It was pushed to the right side of my face. Luckily, I had enough adrenaline going through my system that it numbed my face and I wasn’t able to feel where my nasal bone had pushed through the skin on the bridge of my nose. The guys were on their knees trying to get control of the bleeding as the blood began to pool up below me. They were trying to play it cool and not let on how bad the damage really was in order to keep me calm. Luckily, my dad was prepared and had a first aid kit in his saddle bags. Granted, it had been in there for years and he wasn’t sure how stocked it was. It was more than Dan and I could say. We hadn’t even thought to pack something as simple and important as a first aid kit on the ride. We managed to find enough gauze to pile on my face hoping it would stop the bleeding or at least slow it down. They helped me to my feet.  I was very light headed and every foot step felt like another sharp blow to the face. The pressure of every little movement I made was felt in the fragile fractured bones of my face.

image7We were still a few miles from camp and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the rough ride out on horseback.  My only choice was to start hiking.  The guys grabbed the horses and we began our slow trek back to camp.  I had so much gauze piled on face, I could only see my feet and the trail directly below me.  We eventually made it to camp and left the horses with my dad. Dan unhooked the horse trailer, got me in the truck and we made our way to the nearest hospital. Three hours after smashing my face, we finally pulled up at the ER.  After a six hour visit in the emergency room, my face was x-rayed and finally stitched up after 8 hours of heavy bleeding.  I was a few drops short of a blood transfusion. I had a concussion, three loose front teeth, compound fractured nose, broken cheek bone and eye socket. Five days later, once the swelling had gone down, I laid there, looking up at my doctor used his thumbs, with as much force as he could, to push my shattered nasal bone back into its proper position. It was the most painful experience of my life but thankfully it wasn’t on the right side of my face anymore. I was devastated to miss that opening weekend, but thankfully I was able to make it out the rest of the season and it was a memorable one. After six months of healing, the bones had finally healed and the pain was gone. My nose and face will never quite be the same but I’m thankful that I healed up as well as I did. Considering how many breaks there were in the left side of my face, the doctor said I’m very lucky that the whole left side didn’t shatter. Taking that hard of blow directly to the face from my 1,200 lb. horse and considering we were miles from civilization, this incident could have been so much worse. God was watching out for me that day.

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This whole experience made me realize how caught up I was on getting to hunting camp and chasing the elk that I never took the time to really think about the things that could go wrong out there and the preparations I should have taken. I knew the terrain well and had two others with me to help get me out of there but not having something in my pack as basic as a first aid kit was an eye opener.  I realized that one can get so excited and distracted by the excitement of big game, that we can lose focus and get sloppy. That is the moment accidents can happen and unless we are prepared, those moments can be disastrous.  Growing up in the saddle and being an experienced rider, I have had my fair share of accidents but never something so severe and never in the backcountry. After spending so many years riding I have become very relaxed in the saddle and maybe a little too relaxed at times. I was guilty of this that night and should have paid more attention, instead I was daydreaming of those big bulls and opening morning which was fast approaching. It’s crazy how fast accidents can happen.  Thank goodness I had my dad and Dan there to take care of me and get me out of the mountains safely. As traumatic as my accident was, I wouldn’t change a thing. I will continue my adventures in the backcountry but from now on I will be more prepared for accidents that could occur.

I will be sure to do the following and I hope all of my fellow hunters and outdoorsman will take these things into consideration.

  • If possible, hunt with at least one other companion or leave a detailed plan of your excursion with a loved so they have a general idea of your location and when to expect your return.
  • Familiarize yourself with the area you are hunting, know the terrain, and weather forecast.
  • Carry a map, a compass, and/or GPS system with extra batteries.
  • Educate yourself on basic first aid and always carry a first aid kit with you.
  • Pack a flash light, fire starter, food, water, or water filtration system, space blanket, knife, flares, or mirror
  • Dress in layers and wear clothes that are weather appropriate and be prepared for a change in the weather.
  • Carry a cell phone in case you have service, or two way radio if you split up from your partner.

Venturing in the great outdoors has provided me with some of the best and most memorable experiences of my life. In nature is where I truly belong but I will always be sure to use caution for it can be unpredictable and things can change in an instant. Tagging the big one or just filling the freezer will do no good if we end up injured, lost or worse.  With the fall hunting seasons beginning, I wish all of my fellow hunters a great season.

May your hunting season be fun, successful, memorable and most importantly safe.

-Lisa Halseth

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Lisa continues to spend every archery and rifle hunting season at their family hunting camp, tucked away in the endless mountains of Montana. When not in the saddle or at hunting camp, you will find her driving her Percheron draft horse team, spending time with her family, exploring the great outdoors, and photographing her adventures along the way.

Sporting Clays: How to get started

I shoulder my shotgun and yell “pull”!

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I take my aim and miss the first two clays. I’m at my very first sporting clay competition and to say that I’m nervous is an understatement. I hear encouraging words from the other competitors behind me as I shoulder my gun again and prepare for the next two clays. Again, I yell “pull”, but this time I bust both clays! The other competitors in my group start cheering for me and giving me high fives, easing my nerves as we walk to the second station.

I recently shot at the 16th Annual Women’s Charity Shotgun Event hosted by the Ozark Shooters Sports Complex in Branson, MO. The proceeds from this shoot went to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children, a hospital that provides high quality care to children in need, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

Before now my only experience in this area was shooting trap in my backyard a few times, as well as hunting doves, pheasants and crows. One thing that I truly believe is that you learn the most by forcing yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Going into this sporting clay competition by myself, not knowing what to expect was definitely a little uncomfortable for me, but I am so glad that I did it!

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The women competing in this event were not only very friendly and encouraging, they were excellent shooters and I was happy that they were willing to give me some pointers. One tip was to lift my right elbow up just a little higher & keep it parallel to the ground. This creates a “pocket” in your shoulder that the shotgun fits into better which helps with recoil, especially after shooting 50 shells. I learned that other shooters really want to help you and want to see you succeed. Sure, it’s a competition, but it’s all in good fun and for a great cause.

For those like me that are new to sporting clay shooting, here’s a basic run down on what to expect:

How It Works

AndiEvo4_copyOut of all the shotgun sports, sporting clays is the closest thing to actual field hunting. With skeet and trap you have clays thrown at generalized distances and angles each time. Sporting clays are designed to simulate actual wing shooting of ducks, pheasants and other upland birds. The clays can be thrown from any direction, at any speed and any angle. Some clays even vary in size, giving you the next best thing to real world hunting conditions.

Sporting clays are usually shot in squads of 2-6 people and is played over a course of about 10 different shooting stations throughout fields and the natural features of the land. Being from the Ozark Mountains, our stations overlooked some beautiful scenery and was naturally, very hilly. Each person in a squad shoots a determined number of clays, usually around 4-6, before moving on to the next station.

Safety

Like all shooting sports, safety comes first in sporting clays. As soon as you remove your gun from the vehicle, make sure the breech is open and the gun is not loaded. If you shoot an over/under shotgun, make sure you break it open and the barrel is pointed down or up towards the sky. Even if you know the shotgun is not loaded, always treat it as if it is.

Ear and eye protection are also a must any time you are on a sporting clay course.DSC_0071_copy3

Shooting a Round

Once each squad is at their designated first station, hand the score cards to the referee. Before anyone shoots, the referee will show you the targets so you can see how they are being thrown.

Step up to the station when it’s your turn to shoot and load your shotgun. Point it safely towards the firing area and yell “pull” once you are ready. The target is considered a “dead bird” if any part of it is broken. When you are done shooting, make sure the breech is open and exit the station. Remain behind the station until everyone in your squad has finished shooting and is ready to move on.

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Shooting sporting clays is a great way to sharpen your shooting skills and “extend” your hunting season. If you feel sporting clays is something you would like to get involved in, here are a few ways to get started!

Join a Local Club. Check out the National Sporting Clay Association (NSCA) website to search for clubs in your area.

Link: http://www.nssa-nsca.org/index.php/nsca-sporting-clays-shooting/clubs-associations/club-search/

Once a member, you can use your clubs facility on a regular basis and meet other shooters. Like I mentioned above, my experience with meeting other shooters was a positive one. They were very helpful, encouraging, and these ladies could shoot very well!

Join the NSCA. The NSCA is the ultimate resource for all things sporting clays. They are dedicated to getting more people involved in shotgun sports, no matter what level they are at, and promoting healthy competition within its membership.

Shoot In a Competition. I think one of the best ways to improve your shooting skills is to actually shoot in a competition, like I did. You can watch other great shooters and learn from them. Don’t worry about “not being good enough”. You only compete within your own class, so you’re only competing against others that are at the same level as you.

Keep Practicing! Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more! Experience really is the best teacher. Also, if any upland seasons are open, get yourself a tag. I ended up getting 1st place in my class and I feel that my experience with hunting live birds prepared me the most for sporting clays.

-Andrea Haas, Huntress View

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Dedication, Passion & Understanding: Passing on the outdoor tradition

11164156_10204022900597409_752139943_nOne of the greatest feelings in the world is to give back. To teach someone something that puts a smile on their face. Throughout my life I’ve been lucky enough to have a dad who has spent every waking second with me trying to better me not only in the woods but as an all around person.  That is why I am where I am today. With all the knowledge my dad has given me I have been able to give back to many people.

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Ryan and his father

11121269_10204022899957393_536069988_nGrowing up I was given my first bow at age 4. Since then a bow has never left my hand- day in and day out I shoot. It’s part of who I am. Many joke around saying I came out of the womb with one. Through my years with a bow I have been able to meet some of the best coaches around and they spent a lot of time with me.  These coaches took me to tournaments to see how far I could go. I took the opportunity and ran with it. First starting off in paper tournaments and winning them, then stepping it up to 3D competitions. I even won my division.

At age 14 I was able to hunt for the first time. My dad would put up a stand for me and one for him 50 yards away so he could watch me and make sure everything was ok. My first year hunting I shot my first buck. I was on cloud 9. Three years later I asked my dad why he had not shot a deer since I started hunting. He told me he enjoyed sitting in the stand and watching me, teaching me things as I grew up in the woods. From that moment I realized it’s better to give back in the outdoors rather than to keep all the knowledge you have to yourself.

Since then I have been a coach for the Junior Olympic Archery Development league through the West Falls Conservation Society, coaching kids from age 6-18 every Tuesday. At the league we have a wide variety of youth- from kids who have never seen a bow before to kids who are getting invitations from the Junior Olympic Dream team. Every single kid leaves that night with a smile, and that’s what keeps me coming back every Tuesday. Getting kids involved not only in hunting but in shooting is important. Just because you shoot doesn’t mean you have to kill something.  The trick with teaching anyone, in particular children, is to be patient and to remember each kid is different- attention span, drive and discipline. You can’t force a kid to shoot. If he/she doesn’t want to, don’t make them. Let the child choose how much they want to shoot and when they want to shoot. Tuesday nights are one of my favorite nights because it feels great to give back and install the lessons my dad taught in me.

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When it comes to hunting this is where my passion really stands out. Any chance I can to introduce someone into the outdoors and hunting I do. I am prideful that everyone calls to ask if I can take them or a child out and introduce them into the outdoors. I feel I have a way with understanding people and being able to introduce them into what I love doing. I have been lucky over the years to be able to be very successful on hunts for someone’s first time deer, turkey or waterfowl.  One of the main reasons I have been successful is because I spend every second I can to scout. I want to make sure that we at least see something during the hunt. To get others involved in hunting, you have to make the hunt exciting in order to keep their attention span focused. My main goal is to keep them interested in wanting to go back into the outdoors. The reactions are priceless and that is what makes the sleepless nights and the long hours scouting all worth it.

When you get a chance to introduce someone into hunting, fishing or shooting make sure you do it no matter the gender or age. They are going to be the reason these traditions live on.

-Ryan Van Lew, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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The Quest for the Ultimate Jerky – By Ryan Degethoff

If most hunters are anything like me, they are constantly on the look out for the ultimate jerky, or jerky recipes. I have been a huge jerky fan from a very early age and over the years have tried my hand at making a few batches but have always went back to buying the pre made or store bought jerky.
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^A finished batch of homemade Jerky
For Christmas this year I received an incredible gift: the gift of being able to make my own jerky. My sister in law bought me a dehydrator, so for the last three month I have been searching the internet and trying to master the ultimate jerky recipe. Now, I know everyone’s tastes are different, but this one is a winner and I thought I would share it with the readers. By no means did I think this recipe up all on my own, but I have blended a few I have found online to make what I think is really good, well rounded jerky.
I have used this recipe on beef, deer and elk and have had great success. For best results, slice the selected meat into large thin slices.
Ingredients:
  • 2-3 lbs of desired meat sliced (deer,Elk Moose,Beef)
  • mix following ingredients in a large bowl
  • 1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of Honey (sweeter 1/3 cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-2 Tablespoons red pepper flake (To desired heat)
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of jerky dust (Not Needed) But Awesome
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Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well until all ingredients are well blended. Place the sliced meat in the bowl and mix to ensure all meat has been thoroughly coated with jerky mix and then cover. Place the bowl in the fridge and let stand over night or 10 -12 hours.
Take the sliced meat out of the fridge and place meat flat, in a single layer, on the dehydrator racks. Once the meat has all been laid out, turn the dehydrator to 170 degree F. Let the meat dehydrate for 8-10 hours Check frequently for desired dryness, as the thinner pieces will finish first. Once the jerky is to your desired dryness remove from the rack and enjoy.
What is your favourite jerky recipe? We would love for you to share it with us! Post it in the comments or send it to us via email.

Find Your Shed: The benefits of shed hunting

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Shed hunting is one of those scarce American hobbies that many have never heard about. It can be a challenging and rewarding pastime, and it seems like one of deer hunting’s mysteries. There is value in shed hunting other than actually finding antlers. First and foremost it can be a family occasion. Second, shed hunting also aids in late season scouting, which is my favorite part about shed hunting. Its also a great way to keep tabs on which deer made it through the season on your hunting grounds and the surrounding grounds when you find their sheds. Lastly shed hunting will ultimately help you understand your land better and help you to become a better deer hunter. Highly successful shed hunters find more bone because they spend more time in the woods, they cover more ground, and they have developed a routine of places to look. I can’t help you with the walking, but here are some tips and tricks that will help you find sheds and ultimately get you into shed hunting.

 

10368398_621902124591345_8595388280039438603_nValue of Shed Hunting:

Walking with friends or family for an entire day can provide a better perception of your hunting land and it can be a day of adventure. Its always fun watching family and friend’s faces light up with a smile when they find an antler. It’s also a great way to grow our sport and pass the tradition on by getting a youngster involved in the outdoors. Shed hunting provides an opportunity to teach kids about hunting, wildlife, the land and it’s FUN! Sheds are also worth money and sell for about seven to nine dollars a pound depending on the condition of the shed. Finding a shed is always priceless for me!

 

Aids in Late Season Scouting:

Late season scouting could be a whole other topic for an article with it being so vast. But since you will be deliberately and systematically covering ground shed hunting you can look for rubs, scrapes, trails, etc. to get a better understanding of what the deer are doing on your hunting grounds. I like to carry a GPS with me and mark every rub, bed, and new deer trail I find. When I get back home I mark it on my map. This will help you remember where the sign was late when you start to scout early before deer season.

 

 

10343484_10203605997895102_8890751720329402274_nScout for Antlers:

Scout for antlers just like you do deer before deer season. Some bucks live in the same territory from fall through early spring however, many other deer travel to wintering areas with good thermal cover, warm south-facing slopes, food sources, and heavily used trails. That’s where those bucks are going to drop their antlers. Hike, drive, and glass for these spots and I promise you, you will find sheds. Once you’ve figured out where some bucks are spending the winter, set up trail cameras near feeding areas, well-used trails, or even a mock scrape. Use a map before season and pick out spots you want to walk.

 

Utilize Trail Cameras:

Trail cameras are huge when it comes to finding bone! Utilize your trail cameras like you do before and during hunting season. It’s a great way to know where the deer are on the land you hunt and when they start to shed their antlers. Deer will most likely shed their antlers where they feel most secure. Look near cover that provides the deer with safety and where they don’t have to travel very far to find food. Usually when it is cold deer like to stay within 100 yards of a food source they are attending too regularly. I like to focus my searching on the edges of food plots and other food sources.11016729_10152713864612253_188277947490349076_n

 

Tabs on Deer:

Shed hunting provides you with evidence on which bucks made it through the hunting season and gives you an insight on new bucks that in your area. This and scouting, will help you formulate a plan or strategy for next years hunting season. It also helps you tell the health of the buck or herd on your hunting land by knowing when he dropped his antlers, and by the color of them. If he dropped his antlers considerably early or late then he may have had his health compromised in some way. If a shed is considerably lighter than others or all your sheds have been getting lighter over the years then it tells you that the deer are not getting the proper nutrition that they need.11018578_10152703995637253_5531271716939876153_n

 

Where to Look:

During the late season deer are never far from food. So the best place to start looking is around the food source that your hunting lands produce. Deer usually stay within 100 yards of their food source when it’s cold. In addition, check heavily used deer trails headed to those food sources. Check the thermal cover areas that those trails are coming from. Lastly, check the south facing slopes. Here is an example of where I would look on the land that I hunt. First I would walk to the southern edges right along a food plot. I would do this first because the deer have quick access to a prime food source and they can soak up direct sunlight at the same time. Next, I would walk the north side of the food plots because of the good cover, allowing the deer to bed in that cover. I would then check in my “secret spots,” the spots that are obvious areas that deer love, areas that have a dozen or more rubs, etc. I always check the southern areas of these secret spots because the deer bed along the thicket for the sun exposure and the thicket provides them cover. Thickets offer a good chance for a buck to snag up an antler and drop it there. After that I check every creek and fence crossing. I check these because of the deer usually jump to cross and that jumping sometimes jars antlers loose. You have to be a smart shed hunter and pick apart the cover, searching the best-looking places effectively and efficiently.

 

Shed hunting can be a fun and rewarding time in the woods with friends and family. It can also allow you to get insight on how to hunt a particular deer for the upcoming season. So get out there and find some BONE!

-Cass Via Jr.

EvoOutdoors Prostaff

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Archery Practice and Setup Tips for the Amateur Bowhunter – By Stephen Casey

Growing up in Alaska, I was surrounded by rifle and shotgun hunters. We lived an almost completely subsistence lifestyle, fishing the rivers and ocean, and harvesting big game every season. My passion for big game hunting started to become more of an obsession in my teen years, but it wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I borrowed an old Martin Phantom compound from a good friend and began to practice. I started out shooting in my backyard, losing a few arrows in the process (they are definitely be in someone else’s backyard!) with a goal of harvesting a Northern California Columbia Blacktail with a bow. Four years later, I now shoot a 2014 Hoyt Faktor Turbo and would confidently shoot just about any big game I can get in range of with my bow, rather than a rifle! I wanted to take a moment to share a few tips I’ve learned or discovered that have helped me to hone my craft and skills along the way. I hope these benefit you, and please feel free to reach out to me on any @CaseyWildAdventures social media with any questions you might have!

 

  1. Practice MORE than you think you need to!

 

I have friends or acquaintances who may or may not even shoot one arrow before heading out during hunting season. Some get away with it. Most don’t! If you want to be successful, confident, know your limits, know what you can hit, and what you can’t….you must practice. As a riflehunter, I took a lot of big game animals without too much practice and with single-shot kills. I knew I could shoot and I knew my gun, so I’d check that it was sighted-in, and then go hunting. Bowhunting is different. Every factor that goes into a clean and ethical harvest or successful shot on the range is amplified by at least 10 when you pick up a bow. It is because of this amplification that I encourage you to practice more than you think you need to, and personally, I honestly find it to be such an enjoyable recreation and decompressor! “Practice” makes it sound like a chore, but really it’s such an enjoyable pasttime, and will really prepare you for that big moment!

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  1. Practice at varying angles and shooting positions!

 

I always find it shocking how much can change out on the 3D range when shooting 40 yards downhill as apposed to horizontal. You’re standing with your feet planted firmly about shoulder width apart, stance slightly open. Your dream trophy elk is paused just off your front shoulder – perfect. You bring your bow to face the target, not “drawing up or down” and settle your pin…. You and I both know that there is about a 1 percent chance that you’ll get a shot like that in the field! This is bowhunting, NOT target archery! Like  most backcountry bowhunters, I like to practice with the target at varying inclines and declines, at uneven yardages, and from a kneeling, sitting, or other position. A great 3D range with a course that enables this kind of shooting is a great place to become a member. I’ll also add here that I like to consistently push myself to be accurate and consistent at farther distances, so that 40 or 50 yards feels like a breeze.

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  1. Get a release with an adjustable trigger.

 

Just like a rifle or handgun, the last thing you need is a sticky trigger. This will dramatically affect your accuracy, especially at farther distances. You should be able to find your aiming sequence, find your target, and squeeze off that almost imperceptible “applied pressure” rather than “pulling” the trigger. Go to a bow shop with your bow and try multiple releases to find this. Personally, I like an “open jaw” hook and light, adjustable trigger with zero travel, and have landed for now on the Spot-Hogg Wiseguy.

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  1. Go to a bow pro shop (like The Bow Rack or other) and get a 30 minute lesson or two.

The best way to break bad shooting habits or form is never to have them in the first place! It’s way easier to learn good form before you trying to figure it out on your own. A good instructor will move your body around, make adjustments to your form, and build your draw/release cycle. Your body and muscles will feel all of the right form and motions, and you’ll develop from there. I’ll also say here that a great way to work on form is to take photos and videos of yourself as you shoot to review later. I like to watch shooters who are at the best in the business, and then compare and make adjustments to my own form. You can’t do this if you can’t watch yourself. I like video because you can actually watch your pre-draw setup, your draw cycle, your release, and your drop-away. These are all crucial parts to consistent shooting and success at the moment of truth on that $5,000.00 hunt!

 

  1. I’m going to combine two tips here on the last one, just to keep it at five 🙂

 

Number one: Every once in awhile, go to the sight-in range where there’s a big target and backdrop. Close your eyes and come to full draw, settling in as if you’re going to release. Now open your eyes and check your form. Most importantly, are you lined up with your peep and sight? This is a huge indicator if something is off and you just always adjust to it because your eyes are open! Did you find your anchor point? You can actually practice releasing a few arrows with your eyes closed, and I recommend it! Just PLEASE be sure you’re in a completely safe environment, at 10-20 yards from a large target with an even larger backdrop!

 

Number two: I discovered that the biggest thing I really needed to work on as I developed with my bow was eliminating hand torque. Hand torque comes from an improper hand positioning or grip and results in two things: the string being off the centerline of the cam and the sight being “off-center”. The result is erratic and inconsistent patterns. You need to be sure your hand is relaxed on the grip and that your hand is positioned so as not to torque your bow one direction or the other. The easiest place to start with this is to “make a stop sign” with your hand.

Picture a police officer directing traffic putting his hand out to say “Stop!” Do this with your hand! Your thumb should be at 1 or 2 o’clock and your fingers should be between 10 and 11 o’clock. I used to do this all the time as my muscles and brain developed ‘memory’. I still occasionally throw my hand out in a stop sign, or picture it in my head as I set up to draw. This is a great place to start with proper bow-hand form.

Secondly, I occasionally glance up at my upper cam to see if my string is tracking on center, or leaning to either side. If you are torqueing your bow to either side, your string will be off-center. This is a great way to do a check while you’re at full draw. If you look closely, you can see in the photo below that my eyes are glancing up at my upper cam 🙂

 

Even though only a small number of the many factors in successful backcountry bowhunting, I hope you’ve enjoyed these few tips! As I mentioned before, you’re welcome to hit me with any questions regarding gear or shooting on Facebook or Instagram – @CaseyWildAdventures.

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Here is a short youtube video to get you pumped: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1lbkXc4Vh0&feature=youtu.be

#PracticeWithPurpose – Stephen

Cold Weather Layering

A women’s hunting apparel guide for when the temps start to plummet! All of the apparel listed here is what works for me when I’m sitting in my deer stand for long hours at a time and what I recommend for long, non-active hunts during the winter months. -Andrea Haas

1.) Prois Sherpa Beanie

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* I love the fit of this beanie. It’s long enough to cover my ears perfectly and doesn’t allow cold air/wind in.

* Available at www.EvoOutdoors.com and www.ProisHunting.com

2.) Prois Sherpa Fleece Neck Gaitor

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* This is great for extra warmth or added camo coverage. I carry this piece into my spring turkey hunting season as well for the added camo coverage.

* Available at www.ProisHunting.com

3.) Base Layers

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* The key to staying warm in cold temps starts with your base layers. You want your base layers to help wick moisture, that way if you sweat while walking to your stand, you won’t freeze later on when it starts to evaporate. Merino Wool is great for wicking moisture and isn’t itchy.

* I recommend The Women’s Expedition Crew top and Bottoms by Minus33, available at www.EvoOutdoors.com

4.) Mid Layers

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* The Turas Long Sleeve Shirt by Prois is one of my favorite shirts to keep in my hunting gear bag year round. I add this top over my base layer for some extra warmth that’s not bulky at all and is extremely easy to move in. It’s available at www.ProisHunting.com

* In extremely cold temps, I like to add a fleece mid-layer as well and have found this is a really great way to add some extra warmth; and if you find the right layers, you won’t add bulkiness along with it.

* Polartec fleece is my favorite, available at www.cabelas.com

5.) Prois Extreme Pants and Jacket

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* I absolutely love the Prois Etreme Pants and Jacket for cold weather hunting. The wind stops here, ladies! They do an excellent job at stopping the wind and also helps to keep you dry while hunting in rain, snow, sleet and drizzle. Plus, the jacket has an added “duck tail” feature to extend the length and help keep you even dryer.

* Available at www.EvoOutdoors and www.ProisHunting.com

6.) Gloves

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* For bow hunting my personal favorite are the Women’s Bow Ranger by Manzella. They are fleece with a 4-way stretch fabric for a great fit, which also makes them easy to get on and off. They also have a bow-release collar, making them a great choice for bow hunting.

* Available at www.EvoOutdoors.com

7.) Socks

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* A good pair of moisture wicking socks is imperative in order to keep your feet dry and warm. When walking to the stand my feet often start to sweat, which is a bad thing once the sweat starts to evaporate. Merino Wool is known for its moisture-wicking abilities and helps keep my feet dry and warm.

* The Day Hiker Sock by Minus33 are my favorite. Available at www.EvoOutdoors.com

8.) ThermaCELL Heated Insoles

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* If my feet do start to get cold in the stand, I love these rechargable heated insoles by ThermaCELL. Just replace the insole to your boots with these (you can also cut these to make them fit better). You can adjust the temperature to high or medium with a small remote that easily fits in your pocket.

* Available at www.BassPro.com

9.) Women’s Muck Woody Max Boots

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* These have a 100% waterproof rubber outsole, and are fleece lined on the inside. These fit close to your fit to keep cold air from getting in.

* Available at www.cabelas.com

Pheasant Hunting Gear List for Women

A head-to-toe pheasant hunting gear list written by EvoOutdoors ProStaff Team member Andrea Haas.

Prois Reversible Sherpa Fleece Vest and Blaze Orange Cap

For the ladies! All of the gear listed here are my personal favorites for pheasant hunting and would be a good option for most upland hunts.

1) Blaze Orange Hat

  • I prefer to wear a blaze orange ball cap but it’s a good idea to bring along a blaze beanie as well, depending on the wind and the temperature!
  • This Blaze Orange Cap with Waxed Bill from Prois is a great option, available for $26.99

Prois Blaze Orange Hat with Waxed Bill

2) Blaze Orange Vest / Upland Vest

  • The Prois Reversible Sherpa Fleece Vest is one of my hunting staples because I can use it year round and for multiple hunts. One side is blaze orange fleece, perfect for rifle season or upland hunting. The other side is camoflauge, making it great for hunting, deer, elk and other game. It also has scapular pockets designed to hold activated hand warmers! It is available at EvoOutdoors for $170.10

Prois Reversible Sherpa Fleece Vest

  • Another great vest option is the Badlands Upland Vest Pack. It’s lightweight, has multiple pockets perfect for holding shotgun shells and other loose items. It is available at Prois for $179.99

Badlands Upland Vest Pack

3) Long Sleeve Shirt

  • If the weather is warmer I recommend a lightweight top that wicks moisture. My favorite is the Prois Ultra Long Sleeve Shirt available at EvoOutdoors for $50.40. You can pick from Realtree AP, Realtree Max-1 or Black.

Prois Ultra Long Sleeve Shirt

4) Jacket

  • If the weather turns cool, keep the above top on as a layering piece & add a jacket. Last season on the cooler/windier days I paired the above top with the Prois Pro-Edition Jacket and that was perfect. You can find the Prois Pro-Edition Jacket at EvoOutdoors for $215.10

Prois Pro-Edition Jacket

5) Brush Pants

  • The Prois High Plains Brush Pants are a comfortable, yet durable option for the female upland hunter! They have Cordura facings, pleated knees, boot zippers, multiple pockets, and the waist rests at the natural waistline. These are available in Khaki at EvoOutdoors, or at Prois in Olive, $161.10 to $179.99

Prois High Plains Brush Pants

6) Gloves

  • I found on my first pheasant hunt that despite warmer temperatures, the wind can still cut like a knife! For days like this fleece gloves are perfect. The Women’s Ranger Glove by Manzella are fleece with a 4-way stretch fabric for a great fit. You can find these in size S/M or M/L at EvoOutdoors for $22.00

Women’s Ranger Glove by Manzella

7) Socks

  • A good pair of moisture-wicking socks are imperative for a long, active hunt like pheasant hunting. Whether it’s warm or cold you want your feet to stay dry! The Day Hiker Sock by Minus33 is made of merino wool which is known for keeping your feet dry and comfortable in any weather condition. You can get these socks from EvoOutdoors for only $13.00

Day Hiker Sock by Minus33

8) Boots

  • A good pair of waterproof boots are a must for pheasant hunting. My personal favorite for pheasant hunting in the flat, Kansas plains are these SHE Outdoor Avilla 16″ Waterproof Rubber Boots. They are fully lined with 5mm Neoprene and are easy to pull on & off. I like that they are taller, making it a good option for hunting in deep snow. I walked the pheasant fields for miles at a time & had no problem with them rubbing my feet or creating blisters. They are available at Bass Pro Shop for $99.99

SHE Outdoor Avilla Boot

9) Shotgun Case

  • You definitely need a shotgun case to protect your shotgun while transporting it from your home to the field. The Tenzing TZ SS54 Shotgun Case has a soft water-resistant outer shell and a fully surrounding 1″ foam interior padding. You can find this case at EvoOutdoors for $99

SHE Outdoor Avilla Boot

10) Pets

  • Don’t forget about your pet! If you hunt with dogs keep them protected from the elements in the Pointer Dog Vest by Rivers West. It’s made with micro fleece, very insulated and waterproof. One great feature is the top zipper has an inside fleece fly to keep your dog’s hair from getting caught in the zipper! It is available at EvoOutdoors for $49.00

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I hope you find this gear list helpful when planning your next upland hunt!

-Andrea Haas

Be sure to check out Andrea and other women hunters like her on the Huntress View blog.