Staying hydrated in the winter.

photo courtesy of wallpaperswide.com

photo courtesy of wallpaperswide.com

 

Are you staying hydrated this winter or are you compromising your health so your bladder doesn’t interrupt your hunting?

Did you know that staying hydrated in the winter is just as important as in warm weather? As a hunter you spend more time outdoors than the majority of people.

That fog escaping from your lips or steaming up your face mask only to freeze later is water vapor escaping your lungs, slowly dehydrating you. Hot showers can strip your skin of natural oils and allow moisture to escape causing dry and itchy skin.

Cold weather studies at the University of New Hampshire * show that winter has an increased risk of dehydration, especially when spending long periods outdoors. Your body simply doesn’t feel thirsty because its focusing on core temperature. Even when you sweat in the winter you don’t feel as thirsty because blood flow is restricted to your extremities and the brain doesn’t trigger the hormones that make us conserve fluid and thirst sensation can be reduced up to 40 percent…40 percent!

The same study indicates that dogs experience the same decrease in thirst so please monitor your hunting dogs water intake and encourage them to drink more as well.

Staying hydrated not only keeps us alert for when that deer steps out but it also allows our body to regulate heat better. You will stay warmer if you stay hydrated. If you don’t stay hydrated it could accelerate hypothermia, a real problem for a hunter that sits all day during the late rut.

Listen to the signals your body is giving you. Use a scent free lotion when you get out of the shower, drink more water, even in the stand. Bring a thermos full of warm water to sip on, this gives you double the benefits, warmth and hydration.

Bring some electrolyte chews with you to supplement the water and charge your body when you finally get to drag that deer out of the woods. I recommend Sqwincher Chews or Clif Shot Bloks (both avalible on Amazon and select stores). If you must conserve bladder space, drink plenty of water when you aren’t hunting, choose water over soda or alcohol the night before hunting. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, bring a bottle of water with you, preferably not a cheap noisy plastic one.

Staying hydrated can allow you to hunt harder, longer even if that means you have to take a pee break.

 

* http://www.unh.edu/news/news_releases/2005/january/sk_050128cold.html

 

 

 

 

 

Baiting for black bear – be educated not just opinionated.

Once upon a time I had a very uneducated view on bear baiting and baiting in general, its very easy to sit back and make assumptions when you have no facts. However, after hunting bears over bait myself and helping set up bait sites, my view has changed drastically.

Read about my first and second  bear hunts at Pleasant River Guide by clicking the links. I just spent a week in Maine at Pleasant River Guide Service helping to set up for the 2014 season. Trying new baits and new method to keep the bears out in the daytime. The amount of work, food, fuel, barrels, stands and accessories it takes is enormous and no small feat.

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I was able to take my first bear after watching her come into the bait and reviewing video and game camera pictures with the outfitter. Without baiting I wouldn’t have been able to make an educated choice.

Baiting for bear is no different than hunting deer over a food plot, it takes hard work and knowledge to be successful. In many ways it is more difficult. Food plots can feed and attract many deer at once. Rain and sunshine will not benefit bait sites, baiting sites are a constant monitoring and refilling effort that takes a huge amount of food and time. Bear also don’t travel in herds and prefer to keep their food sources to themselves. There are no donut seeds. Successfully baiting  for even a small lodge that wants to accommodate several hunters over the season takes thousands of acres, hundreds of man hours and a huge supply of bait that doesn’t come cheap.

Hunting over bait is not a “canned hunt” or a guarantee, the success rate in Maine for hunting over bait is only 30% . The bear population in Maine has grown by 30% in the last 10 years to an estimated 30,000+ bears  because NOT ENOUGH bears are being taken. If baiting was truly easy then there would be a very small amount of bears and there would have to be a lottery like Maine’s moose which are declining in estimated population despite lowering tag numbers.

Baiting successfully is not easy or cheap. Bears eat massive amounts of food and if they only show up at night they will never be shot. Baiting is a huge gamble, you might bring in a giant or you might be turning money into bear poo with an empty freezer. Just because you put a barrel of donuts in the woods doesn’t mean you will get a bear, even a successful site may dry up for any number of reasons.

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Massive amounts of carbs are needed for fall bear baiting. Popcorn with sweet ingredients makes an excellent belly filler.

There are two seasons for bear baiting and the differences between spring and fall are drastic as far as bear behavior goes.

In the spring bears are trying to fill their bellies after loosing weight after hibernation, which is harder on the females that give birth and nurse during hibernation. Spring is also when bears start to rut so there is lots of activity and competition for food and mating. During the spring bears are looking to replace the muscle mass loss and are seeking proteins as food sources.

In the fall, bears are looking to fatten up to survive the winter. Carbs help them pack on the pounds. Bears tend to come to the bait solo unless it is a mother with cubs. Competition for these food sources is high as well.

Baiting is an essential tool in knowing what bears are in the area, in states like Maine baiting is the most effective way to hunt bear that live in such thick forests with dense growth where spot and stalk is very difficult if not impossible. According to Maine IF&W “About 2% of hunters are successful still-hunting/stalking black bears in Maine.” In an annual bear harvest, baiting takes up about 73% of all bear taken making it the most effective method by a massive percentage with hunting with hounds falling behind at 11%. Yet only about 30% of hunters that hunt with baits or hounds take a bear.

The majority of hunting shows that feature bears over bait are filmed in Canada where there are a massive amount of bears and the outfitters do an amazing job of keeping the hunting pressure to a minimum so the bears will come out during legal shooting hours. Most outfitters also impose a size restriction so that only the largest bears are taken, so that the younger bears get a chance to grow to their potential.

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Young orphaned bear likely attacked by large territorial bear.

In Maine, bears are also hunted with dogs so they tend to be more weary and watchful. It doesn’t take much for a bear in Maine to feel pressured and turn nocturnal. Black bear are very intelligent with a sense of smell that is nearly impossible to fool. They move silently though the woods but bears easily detect the presence of other bears. Fooling a pressured bear is a super human feat just sitting still, stalking one would be nearly impossible.

Being able to bait and see what bears are nearby gives you a chance to hunt more mature animals and gauge the health of the animals in the area. It isn’t always law but most if not all hunters refrain from taking a sow with cubs. First year cubs will not survive being orphaned, but second year cubs have more of a chance and having bait to eat can increase the odds of survival. Baiting also allows you to have a better chance at a lethal shot. With a calm bear you have more time to calm yourself down and make a lethal, ethical shot.

In 2013 a very young orphaned bear had been attacked by an older bear and its hind leg was ripped off by the larger bear. It was likely that the young bear wouldn’t have made it due to infection, not being able to pack on enough pounds for winter or by not being able to escape another territorial bear.

oung orphaned bear that was taken by Gary Scheel who used his tag to keep this bear from suffering or dying a slow death.

Young orphaned bear that was taken by Gary Scheel who used his tag to keep this bear from suffering or dying a slow death.

Gary Scheel, an avid hunter who travels all the way from Texas to Maine just to hunt black bear,  gladly used his tag for this small bear after seeing it on a trail camera, putting an end its misery and save it from further pain and suffering. Bears are very tough but not invincible. If it wasn’t for a regular bait site with trail cameras this bear could have suffered a slow painful death. The weight of the bear was estimated 80 pounds and would most likely been with the mother for one more hibernation.

The future of bear baiting, hunting with dogs and trapping is being threatened in Maine. This November the people of Maine will hopefully vote NO to this ridiculous referendum that threatens the livelihood of guides, will drastically effect the local economies and condemn the bears to a death of starvation or death after they become nuisances when they have to seek food from trash cans and dumpsters. The welfare of other animal populations would suffer as well, bears do eat fawns and moose calves and the attacks on these animals would increase.

For more information on the vote visit: http://savemainesbearhunt.com/

All methods of hunting is needed to keep the bear population in check, even if you will never hunt with bait, hounds or trapping you should support the right of hunters to take animals legally. Conservation isn’t about feelings, its about the balance of nature and taking responsibility for the land and animals we hunt.

For more information on hunting in Maine visit http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/

Also visit http://pleasantriverguides.com/

How to choose the perfect women’s bow in one easy step*

*not really

I wish it was that easy. I wish I could give you a formula or a list, but I can’t. Women have been shooting bows throughout history, in battle and even the Olympics in 1904. Women have been competing and hunting successfully with bows that were basically a stick and a string.

Olympic Archery

Women compete in the National Round Archery event of the 1908 London Olympics, which was won by Sybil (Queenie) Newall of Great Britain. Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

As time progressed and the first compounds were developed bows became more complicated and more specific to individual shooters needs. However, this meant that bows designed by men were made to fit the average man. While many companies first reaction to the recent influx of women archers was to make a mini men’s version and splash on pink, more and more companies are listening to feed back that women want what fits and what works and we won’t settle for anything less.

Fortunately, companies have stepped up to meet these demands of an ever increasing influx of new archers that require more options than your average bow on the rack. The sheer variety of needs that challenge these bow manufacturers include being able to have a bow that can accommodate women of varying heights and strength. Height has little to no influence on an archer’s draw weight ability. Strength comes from muscles, not from height.

Unfortunately, I think that marketing has lead women new to the sport to believe that their only option is the pink accented bows with feminine names. The buying experience for women in an average bow shop is totally different from a man’s experience. Women will herded to the “ladies” bows verses being sized and shown all the options in that range. A bow doesn’t have a gender, don’t limit yourself.

One of the biggest mistakes a new archer (female or male) can make is thinking that they have to pick the perfect first bow. Ask most archers and they aren’t shooting the first bow they owned. The more you learn, the stronger you get and the more skills you acquire will usually require an upgrade or change. After shooting a beginner bow you will become more educated on what features of a bow will suit your needs.

The second biggest mistake is limiting yourself to brand name or gender specific bow names. Although bows with shorter draw are rarer, they are out there, there is no reason to settle for a bow that doesn’t fit you perfectly. You will often hear seasoned archers say that the perfect bow picks you. The right bow becomes part of you, you shouldn’t have to fight it to shoot accurately and comfortably.

Don’t forget there are aftermarket options if there are features that make a bow a little less than perfect. Grips can be changed, colors can be changed, and accessories can create endless choices as well.

Ladies, don’t sell yourself short. Once you know what you need out of a bow, do some research and find the bows that fit those needs and shoot them all. Visit several shops and don’t be pressured to buy a bow just because you took a “test drive”. Visit online archery forums and seek the advice of women that have been shooting for many years.

Everyone has to begin somewhere, my first bow was a used youth bow that fit okay and I could shoot decently. It had wheels not cams and wasn’t quite my draw length. I still have it and use it for a back up bowfishing bow. Today, there are so many choices and bows that can adjust to fit anyone, those bows make excellent first bows.

Consider your first bow as an investment, no matter what the price tag says, the lessons you will learn are priceless. Once you find that first bow, don’t get stuck on a brand name. Every year that goes by the technology in bows grows and you should shoot everything you can get your hands on.

In the end, only you can choose which bow is right for you. Women are just as serious about archers as men are and don’t buy a bow from someone that doesn’t treat you that way.

Beginning Bowfishing Tips From A Beginner

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 There are many great websites out there with great tips on bowfishing, you can never learn too much so make sure you check them out as well but there is no better teacher than experiencing it yourself

 This is what I have learned so far from my experiences as a beginner.

The bow
You need a light bow that you can pull many many times. The lighter the draw weight the shorter your shots can be and still be effective. I pull about 35 pounds on my bowfishing bow and try to keep my shots within 10-20 feet. It doesn’t have to be a bow made just for bowfishing. I re-purposed my first hunting bow and it works great.
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A first bow can make a great bowfishing bow when you grow out of it.

 I recommend the AMS Retriever Pro for the reel, it’s a very simple system that works very well. The arrows and arrowheads all depend on what fish you are going after. The tougher skinned and bigger fish can call for sturdier gear. Read the manuals that come with your equipment, there are very important operating and safety tips you need to be aware of, such as making sure your line is not hooked on anything because the arrow can come back if the line gets caught.

Most people don’t use a release but I do because for me it is easier and faster to shoot with a release but it’s a personal choice. Some bowfishing bows don’t come with a loop for a release and you may have to add one.

I do not have a sight on my bowfishing bow, most people don’t use them. Using a sight can block your vision and adds to the complexity and most shots will have to be done within seconds and you may not have time to line up a pin. I have painted marks on the bow that approximate surface, high and low areas. I marked these spots using a bottle as a target and it has worked well for me. See picture A

If you do use marks on your bow you MUST remember that the marks are only a horizontal reference, the actual point of impact is in line with the arrow. The marks are not the same as pins on a sight. See picture B as example. Every bow is different but the principle remains the same.
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Making your mark
Not everyone can get out on the water to practice and it can be very discouraging to miss every shot on your first day out. All you need is an empty soda bottle (plastic of course!) it is strong enough to take hits without damaging the arrow. Take the tip off the arrow for these practice sessions, you don’t want to damage the tip if you hit a rock or root.
Set the bottle out where you think your average shot will be. You can stand on a platform if your boat or the boat you will be using is high above the water, but it is not necessary for this exercise.
Using the bottle to represent a surface shot target, take your time and line up where you think you should shoot. The good thing about the reel is you don’t have to walk out and grab the arrow! Take many shots until you have determined how you want to aim and what part of the bow you want to use as a reference point. If you are comfortable with where you are shooting, mark the bow with a marker so you know where to paint later.
Next take the bottle and toss it around the yard and see if you can hit it with most of your shots with your new mark. Another great method for back yard practice is filling up several water balloons (start with 5 and work up from there) this will help you practice shooting, shot estimation and reeling. The more you shoot at the water balloons the more aware you will be of what muscles you will be using and you can work on strengthening those muscles. Remember, you will be reeling every single time you shoot!
 If the lines you have drawn seem to be working you can paint the lines in a bright color of your choice. I painted the surface line and then a line above and a line below. Just like bow hunting the top line is for closer and deeper shots and the bottom line is for longer distance shots. These lines are reference points but every water shot is different, you will learn with every shot you make.
If you feel like you need more practice you can take a bottle and submerge it in some clear, still water near the shore, you don’t need a boat you can shoot from the bank. For these shots I would recommend a sports drink bottle with a wide bright lid. Shoot with the tip on for this exercise so the arrow runs through the water correctly. Shoot at the bottle at varying depths so you can see just how deceiving the water can be. The tip you will hear from all bowfishers is aim lower than you think you need to aim.
Going after real fish
Always check the regulations for the area you will be fishing and don’t shoot a fish unless you know that is legal to shoot. There can be large fines for shooting game fish in some states.
You will notice that predator fish such as gar and bowfin will be easier to shoot as they are ambush predators and will sit still most of the time. Carp are prey fish so they get spooked easily during the day.
Research the fish you will be going after to see what they eat and this will help you find where they are likely to be.
When a fish is on the move, shoot where the fish is going, not where it is. If it is swimming left aim more to the left on the fish. A side shot is easiest but if the fish is swimming towards you aim for the head. Aiming for the biggest part of the fish will give you the best chance of hitting it.
After the shot
When you do connect with a fish, especially a large fish, let it run and don’t fight it too hard you might pull the arrow out and lose the fish. The barbs on the arrow head should keep the fish on the arrow so you can take your time reeling it back in. Some fish you can just pick the arrow up out of the water with them on it but the larger fish you may need a gaff or a net so that they don’t break the arrow or fall off.
Bowfishing during the day
You don’t need a decked out bowfishing boat to bowfish during the day, just a boat capable of going into shallow waters with either a trolling motor or someone willing to use a push stick to guide the boat around. A push stick can get you into more shallow waters than a trolling motor and is much quieter; however it does take a little practice.
If you are shooting during the day don’t forget your polarized lens sunglasses to see through the water better. I have found that in my cloudy river the best time to hunt during the day is a couple hours after sunrise, there isn’t much glare and the fish haven’t retreated to cooler water yet.
Be aware of your shadow when you are getting ready to shoot, it can spook the fish. During the day the best shots are in shallow water and at the surface.
Gloves are essential because the fish can be slimy and some fish have sharp teeth.

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All gar, like this spotted gar, have very sharp teeth. Gloves will help prevent painful punctures.

These fish are extremely strong and can jump around without warning, keep the mouth away from your face. I use my gloves to pick them up after I get them in the boat and for photo taking.

Stay safe on the water, be aware of the edge of the boat so you don’t step off lining up for a shot. Keep where you are fishing free from tripping hazards.

Aim low and have fun!

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27 pound grass carp shot 20 feet from the boat launch in full sun. This fish was so strong that it pulled our boat around in the water for several minutes.

This post was originally published on http://www.ladiesincamo.com