Welcome to 2015

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

The fall of 2014 was the quietest one I have had in quite some time.  For the past ten years or so I have been busy guiding deer hunters.  Through the mid-late 2000’s, Northwest Ontario’s Sunset Country Region, where I live, had some of the best whitetail deer hunting in North America.  My clients took a bunch of big bucks over the years but some tough winters and a big increase in the wolf population has taken its toll on the deer numbers.  After a devastating winter last year (deep snow and cold) I decided to take a break from the deer hunting this year.  There were still decent numbers of deer around but it was the mature bucks that really got it the worst.  Nearly all of the bucks I saw this year were small, young animals.  The genetics are there so hopefully they’ll come back in the next few years.  We’re having a great winter so far this year so I’m optimistic.

I did spend some time hunting this fall.  We probably had the best grouse hunting ever this past fall.  My wife and my friends and I had some great days hunting these plentiful birds.  They are probably our favourite thing on the planet to eat!  We also had some good days duck hunting and had a successful moose trip in December.  We head up the Red Lake area (about three hours north of Kenora) to moose hunt.  It’s great hunting.  For a listing of outfitters that offer moose hunts in the region check out www.ontariossunsetcountry.net

Dave Bennett and Dennis Favreau with a young bull from our moose hunt

Dave Bennett and Dennis Favreau with a young bull from our moose hunt

Over the Holidays we had some really mild weather so I got out fishing a few times to catch some walleyes for dinner.  After going without eating fish for a couple months it was nice to catch some fresh fish!  Lake trout fishing has been pretty good as well!

Sunset Country Lake Trout Ice Fishing

Sunset Country Lake Trout Ice Fishing

A magnum perch I caught while we were walleye fishing

A magnum perch I caught while we were walleye fishing

Since the start of the new year I have been busy guiding wolf hunters and it’s been going really good.  Conditions are top notch this year for wolf hunting because of a couple of things.  With the tough weather last winter and we lost a lot of our deer so they have less deer to hunt.  We also don’t have a lot of snow so far this winter so the wolves are not lighting up the deer as much as they normally would – so long story short, it seems like they’re hungry.  They have been hitting my baits pretty good and my hunters have been successful.

Pack of wolves hammers one of my baits

Pack of wolves hammers one of my baits

Bret Amundson and his nice male wolf

Bret Amundson and his nice male wolf

I’m running my wolf hunts through the rest of January then I’ll be switching gears to get ready for the upcoming FLW Tour season.  Our first tournament is down at Lake Toho in Florida, the first week of March.  I’m planning to head south around mid-February to get back into fishing mode and break in my new boat and motor.  I’m very excited to get this new season started!  The next blog from me will be coming from Florida!

Tips for your Retrievers First Hunt

Pro-staff Contributor:  Zach Raulie

I picked up my pup Finn up north of Atlanta, Georgia as a 7 week old black lab pup on soggy and cold January en route to a Kansas duck hunt.  What have I done since to prepare him for hunting this season, is he ready?

A young Finn

A young Finn

Fast forward 10 months, the migration has started and fall is well upon us.  Many states upland and waterfowl seasons have already begun.  Hopefully you have spent time this summer with your new retriever pup working on the basics, socializing in many environments and transitioning from yard work to field work.

Zach putting in the preparation with Finn

Zach putting in the preparation with Finn

Proper Preparation: My buddies that know me well know I am a big believer in the 5P’s.

PROPER PLANNING PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE

Silly as it may seem, this college acronym is one of the few that stuck with me.  I like a retriever who’s prepared.  I hope to have Finn going into his first duck hunt thinking “been there, done that”.  Like an athlete who understands their role and at game time puts forth a solid effort and gets the job done.  I don’t expect that player to do this without countless hours conditioning, practice and watching film.

Don’t let “game day” be the day your pup experiences everything for the first time.  So here are 4 Keys to making your retrievers first hunt a success:

  1. Introduce your retriever to birds early.
    1. Start with a duck wing & live pigeons in your back yard.  Graduate up to using live mallards or pheasants in field-work to simulate a real hunting situation, so when that first greenhead hits the water he isn’t just nosing it and licking it.
  2. Train how you hunt.
    1. If you hunt out of a boat or ground blind make sure your pup is familiar with these and the dog stand/blind they may hunt from.
    2. Introduce your dog to all types of decoys that they’ll be running or swimming through.
    3. If you use duck/goose calls, use them in and around your pup while training
  3. Gun shots
    1. Familiarize your retriever with the tools you’ll be using; you don’t want to create a gun shy dog on its first hunt.
  4. Set realistic expectations of your hunt
    1. Don’t expect a young retriever to do a seasoned retriever’s work.
    2. If you haven’t mastered a blind retrieve in training don’t try it in the field.
Important to work with real birds before the first hunt!

Important to work with real birds before the first hunt!

One of the best ways to prepare your retriever for hunting situations is by joining a local retriever club.  Participate in their monthly or weekly training days and their semi-annual hunt tests.  A great way to learn training tips, experience real hunting situations and see what finished retrievers can do.

Training days will simulate almost all situations presented to a retriever while hunting; allowing you to train, practice and teach your pup invaluable lessons.  All the sights, sounds and smells associated with a real hunt are present at these events, including your own excitement.

Finn equally comfortable in both the field and water

Finn equally comfortable in both the field and water

Hunts tests are sanctioned by UKC or AKC organizations and designed to challenge your retriever against a minimum standard for grading.  These are also fun competitive events, and much can be learned by simply attending and observing; or for those with a competitive heart they tend to be very addictive and truly rewarding as you watch your retriever handle tough conditions and excel during challenging hunts.

I mention all of this as a way to prepare our retrievers for “game day”, the big hunt or season opener.  When you show up with pup on their first hunt, hopefully the sounds, smells and excitement are nothing new to them.  One of the best suggestions I was ever given about a retriever’s first hunt is for the handler of the dog to put his or her gun away that day or at least to the side at first.  Focus on your retriever.  Make sure they are steady to gun, obedient and controlled.  Taking this time to focus on the dog will be more rewarding here on out as they are less likely to form bad habits.

DSC_0026

Finn is ready for his first hunt, but prior to that he will be participating in his first UKC hunt test in November.  I think we are more than prepared but I’m sure he will exploit an area or two that we will need to work on before opening day here in Florida.

Zach Raulie is an avid hunter and amateur retriever trainer living outside of Jacksonville, Florida.   He is a multi-year qualifier for the World’s Duck Calling Contest and is highly competitive in AKC and UKC sanctioned hunt tests.  You’ll see Zach representing krugerfarms.com and Lodge Creek Calls in all of his endeavors each year.  You can contact Zach at zraulie@gmail.com and find him on Facebook

My First Season: Beaver Trapping

Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson

I began trapping my senior year of high school with one of my favorite hunting partners. We were in the same outdoor connections class and our teacher used to trap in Alaska so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn something new.  We only trapped a few weeks that first winter but were able to get two grey fox and learned a ton before our mentor moved back to Alaska. I go to college in St. Paul and there are not many places to trap near by so I took a year off. Last year I decided to try trapping something new after talking to my grandpa. He wanted to hire a trapper to trap the beavers that according to him were “devastating“ the forest at our farm. Because I had never trapped beavers before I did some research online to try to learn as many different tactics as possible before I actually tried my hand at trapping a beaver. YouTube helped a lot because there are plenty of videos that go through how and where to place different sets.

53lb Trapped Beaver

53lb Trapped Beaver

At our farm it was pretty obvious where the beavers were feeding so from there I started looking for slides and trails. Slides are where the beaver actually slides down the bank on his stomach back into the water. You can tell if they are fresh or recently used if they are muddy. I had a dozen snares from when we trapped foxes so I decided I would try to us them first. I was able to find five slides near where they were feeding and that is where I decided to place my first sets.

            When making my sets I started by cutting 2 sticks from a surrounding tree to use to keep the snare in place. These sticks can’t be flimsy they need to hold up to being pushed into the ground and the weight of the snare.  You want to place these sticks in the water one on each side of the slide and about an inch or two in front of where the slide meets the water. I took a small diameter wire and ran it through a rubber ring on the snare, which I used to hold the snare in between the two sticks I placed in the water. I had my snares partially in the water so it hid a portion of the snare. The bottom of the snare should be at least 2 to 3 inches off the ground if the beaver is going to be walking through your set. The loop on the snare should have a diameter of about 7 to 10 inches. With a snare you want to catch the animal by the neck so the trap will work effectively if you have your trap to low or with too big of a loop you may catch the animal by the stomach or miss them all together.

            You have to tie your trap to something that can with stand the fight of the animal you are trapping. This was the part I was most concerned about because there were not a ton of big trees in the area I was setting my traps. When I could not tie to a tree I used a big rebar steak and drove it as far as I could into the ground and tied the trap to that. The lead on the snares I was using was about 3 feet after setting the loop of the snare. This was nice because I was able to hide the snare wire better than the cord I used to tie the trap to. I used a thick wire cable that is coated in rubber so it is easy to tie but hard to cut.

Once you have your trap set and anchored you want to block off any other possible paths. We used broken tree limbs and sticks you don’t need to make it impossible to go through. Animals will try to go through the clearest path so adding obstacles on the nearest alterative paths increases your odds of the animal going through your trap. Beavers make caster mounds, which are clumps of mud that the beaver will secrete caster onto to mark their territory. You can order beaver caster online so I used that to make my own caster mounds in hope of causing the local beavers to come and investigate the new smell. I was not sure if this would actually work but I did notice all the mounds I built were destroyed with-in a week. I also added some fresh shaved birch sticks, which from my research I found out is a favorite snack of beavers, in the slide to try to attract a hungry beaver. 

            My grandpa came out with me and helped me set traps the first day. We set 9 total snares because some of the slides split as the entered the water. He definitely had his doubts as we were setting the snares; he kept asking me if I knew what I was doing or just making stuff up on the go. But after an hour our two we had all the sets ready to go. Unfortunately I had to go back home that night to get back for class in the morning so I had my grandpa check the traps for me the next morning. In Minnesota you need to check your traps every 24 hours but you can give someone written permission to check traps on your behalf if you cannot. That first morning I was so excited to hear from my grandpa that I could hardly pay attention in class. I knew from my previous experience with the foxes that the first night normally gives you a good idea if there are animals interested in your bait or using your trails. The first night is also when most misses happen because you are not sure what to expect or exactly how to place the trap. My grandpa finally called and he had good news, we had trapped our first beaver! It wasn’t any average beaver either it was a 53 pound beaver! This thing was massive it measured into the biggest class of beavers which is a double blanket. We also trapped three of the pups before the pond iced over.

2012-11-11_11-12-10_402

Michaela showing result after skinning beaver

            The hardest part was skinning and fleshing this massive beaver. I was really nervous because I did not want to ruin the hide and I had never skinned a beaver before so I was going off of YouTube videos. After it was all said and done I think I did a good job there were no massive holes just a couple small cuts. The pelt is at the tannery now and I am looking forward to getting it back to see how it turned out.

2012-11-11_11-13-47_760

Three Pup Pelts

Michaela Anderson is a professional angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing krugerfarms.com, Trigger X
and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter
(@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (facebook.com/MichaelaAndersonFishing).

michaela-trees-jersey11

Deer hunting tips and tricks

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Now that deer season is upon us, it’s important to do things right if you want to find success in connecting with that big whitetail hanging around your favorite hunting spot.

Years of guiding for whitetails in Ontario’s Sunset Country Region has taught me a few tricks along to the way that helps to make the experience better for my guests.

Trail Cameras
Trail cameras are the hunters’ best friend for scouting and determining where the biggest bucks are living.  I’m a big believer in putting in long hours in the stand, hunting from dark to dark, just like a day of prefishing for a bass tournament.  If you know there is a big buck living in a specific area, it makes it much easier to sit all day because you have something motivating you.

Trailcam Motivation

Trail cam Motivation

When you set your camera up there are few things to keep in mind.  Always aim your camera away from the sun if possible.  Facing it in the direction of north will keep it from aiming directly into the sun during daylight hours and all of your daytime pictures will turn out great.  If you take photos into the direction of the sun, you risk washing out the photos because of the harsh bright light.

Always keep the batteries fresh in your cameras to get the best possible photos.  Once you start to see the low battery warning on your camera, you must change them because a couple of things will happen that will have a negative influence on your photos.  The flash will not work properly so your night images will not be lit properly, the shutter will slow down so your clarity will deteriorate and eventually they will just shut down.  There is probably no greater let down in hunting than when you go to check your trail camera that’s been sitting in the woods for a week and there are no pictures to check on it because the batteries were too weak.

Another quality buck on Gussy;s Trail Camera

Another quality buck on Gussy’s Trail Camera

Setting up your spots
Whether you like to use tree stands or ground blinds there are few things to keep in mind when you’re setting up your stuff.

In Northwestern Ontario where I live we are on part of the Canadian Shield, so there is a lot of rock in our landscape.  These rocks produce many hills, which help with the use of ground blinds because we can set them up in an elevated position of the area that we want to watch.  This is beneficial because being elevated gives us a better vantage point from which to watch and it helps keep our scent above the deer.

When you set up your stuff, think about the predominant winds in the areas that you hunt.  For us, north and northwest winds are the most common during the fall so I keep that in mind when setting up the majority of my hunting locations.  It’s important to not cheat the wind too much when you’re planning to sit all day like we do in Canada.  You will not fool the nose of a mature whitetail.  You also want to make sure that you have at least a few spots set up for different wind directions because over the course of the season you’ll see some south and east wind that can wreak havoc on your plans.  On some of my best spots I have stands set up to hunt them from two different wind directions.

Payoff for the hard work before the hunt!

Payoff for the hard work before the hunt!

A little planning and preparation goes a long way in helping you find success during the deer season.  Hope you have some success this year and post those photos of your experiences on the KrugerFarms.com FaceBook page for everybody to see.

Plus, you still have time to participate in the KrugerFarms.com FB Page Trail Cam contest, click here.

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing krugerfarms.com and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (facebook.com/gussyoutdoors).

Making the Transition

It’s that time of year that really gets every waterfowler excited to be afield.  Early season is coming to a close and the time to chase ducks is almost here.  So what changes do you have to make to have success when heading to your favorite little honey holes?

Finding where the ducks want to be is the first step in being successful.  A lot of waterfowl hunters have the same blind or the same little bay they like to hunt when opening day finally rolls around.  In a way I like that sort of traditional aspect when it comes to duck hunting. Going out there with your close friends and family and having a good time.  You may not always be heading back to the truck with limits but you can always create memories that you can share for the rest of your life.  Now if this isn’t the case for you and finding the “X” is priority one, then you better be ready to put some miles on your vehicle.  Scouting is the name of the game and if you aren’t where the ducks are coming to, your success rate is going to decrease.  Finding those duck magnets and gaining permission will help put more ducks in your freezer.

As for my areas that I frequent the main target is field hunting Canada Geese.  Again scouting is on the top of our list. Splitting up your crew of guys and covering more ground is always a good idea if you can because you just never know what the geese are going to do from day-to-day unless you are there watching their every moves.  Gaining permission from the landowner can be tricky at times. There are certain areas where farmers will give out permission to anyone who comes to their door and asks and then the flip side landowners that don’t allow hunting at all.  If you get fortunate enough to get the go ahead and hunt be sure to thank them and assure them that you will clean up your set up when the hunt is over.  Making the landowner happy will give you that edge for future returns year after year. If you are unsuccessful in gaining permission then you need to just find a way to adapt.  Try to get on an adjacent field and put out more decoys than usual aka. “Run Traffic.” This is because you are not exactly where the birds want to be and therefore you need to show them a reason to come give your spread a look.

NoDak2012Next step is to disappear in the field in which you intend to hunt.  I suggest deciding on what blind to use by the amount of cover or debris left after the field is harvested.  On short cut fields the Avery Power Hunter is my go to blind. It is low profile and easy to stubble up and make you invisible.  And on the flip side if you are able to find a field with a lot of left over cover in it then my favorite blind is the Avery Ground Force.  This blind is a little higher profile than the power hunter and is also fully framed.  It allows for a little more comfort and is very easy to hide as well.  Don’t be afraid to try new decoy spreads as well.  Experiment and see what might work and what doesn’t.  My friends and I have tried all sorts of patterns and have fine-tuned what we think is the most effective when it comes to getting geese feet down.  Setting your blinds outside of your decoys to help keep the incoming bird’s eyes from finding your hide is a great technique and we have used it for the past two years now.  Also shying away from the traditional “U” shaped spread and opening things up more is a good method to try.

Successful Youth Hunt

Successful Youth Hunt

To make your fall hunting experiences the best be sure to share them with friends and family. Take youth out every chance you can as well. They are the future of this sport and we want it to continue for generations to come.  And most importantly, just have fun. Getting your limit is fun but making memories will last forever.

Brian Cote is a website administrator at krugerfarms.com and a devoted outdoorsman.  He’s eager to take up any opportunity to hunt waterfowl, deer and turkeys in the Midwest region. You can follow him on Twitter @BrianJr22 and find him on Facebook facebook.com/brian.cote.148.

First Harvest of a Minnesota Bear

Mark with his first bear.

Mark with his first bear.

Pro-staff Contributor: Mark Hackbarth

From the day I drew a Minnesota bear tag, I had been anticipating this hunt.  It not only marked the start of my 2013 fall season but also allowed me a chance to improve on my last unsuccessful bear hunt.  This hunt was a challenge and an opportunity for me to critique my skills and learn from what I had done the year before.

I decided from the beginning I wanted to take my first bear with a bow.  Because I hadn’t even seen an animal the year before, I knew this wasn’t going to be as easy as I once thought it would be.  It was going to take a lot of strategic planning, practice and time to put it all together.

What seemed like endless preparation was completed in a matter of a few short weeks.  I needed to determine what I would use for bait, where I could get it from, how often I needed to bait, trail camera and stand placement, and many details all the way down to shot placement.  As my mind continued to race, the time was running out to get everything in order.  Before I knew it Chris, a friend of mine who also drew a tag, and I were taking our first trip up north to set our bait sites.

One of the trail cam photos Mark caught before the hunt.

One of the trail cam photos Mark caught before the hunt.

August 16th marked the day to begin baiting and we felt prepared.  We equipped ourselves with a good mixture of sweet and savory goodies for our sites.  From peanut butter and gumdrops to dog food and fryer grease—we had an abundance to work with.  We eagerly anticipated what might come to our concoction of sweets in one 50 gallon drum and greasy dog food in another while we set our trail camera and then let it be.

On our way back up the following weekend the excitement built every mile.  With a full day of baiting ahead of us, we reloaded our truck with necessities and headed out the following morning.  Approaching the site, we immediately knew it had been hit.  The trail camera showed multiple pictures of bears in the daytime—we had not expected them to hit the site only four hours after we set the bait the week prior!   There was consistent bear activity from that point forward and I was optimistic about what the Labor Day weekend opener might bring.

After one last check and refreshment of the bait on Saturday, August 31st the camera was still showing good bear activity.  A long awaited opener was on the verge and I anxiously awaited taking the stand come the noon hour September 1st.  Little did I know what I was actually in for.

The view from the stand.

The view from the stand.

A few practice shots at the cabin in the morning and it was off to the stand.  Chris dropped me off at my location and I was getting settled in at 11:47AM.  A cold front had moved in and I was worried about the wind direction which, as I expected, was completely wrong for my hunt.  I grabbed my phone to text Chris about my concern and as soon as I hit send and looked back at the bait site I could see the head and front shoulders of a good bear. I didn’t know how to react because I had spent such a short time in the stand.

I quickly put my phone down and reached for my bow.  A shot presented itself and I drew back, but as soon as I did, the bear continued to make its way to the barrels.  As it made one last move towards the barrels, I focused on finding my spot, waited for the front leg to go forward, and released.  The placement was right where I wanted it and I watched as the bear took off and crashed only twenty yards from the place of the shot.

A trail cam photo taken just before the shot.

A trail cam photo taken just before the shot.

I couldn’t believe it!! 12:00PM was the time of the shot.  It seemed to be almost too good to believe and almost too quick.  I had filled my tag in thirteen minutes, but it was one of the most exhilarating hunts I have been on.  After getting the bear out, taking a few pictures, and receiving many congratulations from friends and family, my first bear was in the books and a lot of hard work had paid off.  I couldn’t think of a better way to start the season!

Mark Hackbarth is from the west metro area of Minnesota.  Mark is an avid outdoorsman and big game hunter as well as a freelance photographer; he is constantly striving to find new and exciting ways to bring these passions together. You can follow his work on Instagram (@markhackbarth) and find him on Facebook (facebook.com/mark.hackbarth).

Bear Hunting in MN

Fearless Spotlight: Lauren’s First California Blacktail Buck at Age 13

 

Lauren with her first California Blacktail buck.

Lauren with her first California Blacktail buck.

Pro-staff Contributor: Stuart McCullough

Friday afternoon was a day that was long awaited at the McCullough house—it was the first time this season that my 13-year-old daughter, Lauren, was able to make it to the hills with her brother, Zachary, and me.  Even though it was warm and a bit humid she was excited, tapping her foot and ready to go.

On the way up, we made a plan for how and what areas we were going to cover that evening.  However, the first stop was in the flat to take a few shots with the Savage .243 to ensure that things were still on.  After a few shots from 100 to 250 yards, we traveled up the canyon to the camp—the hunt was on.

Even with the heat, the deer were on their feet early, taking advantage of all of the acorns that had fallen recently.  Lauren saw several does and fawns before catching sight of her buck feeding with five other deer at 300 yards.  She made her way into position with her brother and me right behind her.  The distance was closed to just over 160 yards once she was in position.  It took just a few moments for the buck to present a broad side shot.  At that time, just like an old pro, she quietly said “Okay, here we go”.  She squeezed off the round, sending it right on the mark behind the shoulder and putting him down where he stood.  “I think I got him,” she commented with a look of excitement and relief.

As we walked out to retrieve the buck there were many smiles and small comments on the shot.  Once up to the buck, I gave her the green light saying, “You’re good. Put your hands on him.”  As she knelt down besides the buck and held his antlers, she said thank you to the buck for being there for her and ensured him that he was respected and would be cared for properly.  When the photos were finished and everything was loaded up, we made our way back to the valley to get the deer in the cooler and to share the tale of how Lauren harvested her first California Blacktail buck.

We’d love to hear from you–send tales of your Fearless hunt to erin@krugerfarms.com.

Getting Ready for Fall with White Rock Decoys

Brian and crew

Pro-staff Contributor: Brian Cote

It is no secret. We wait all summer long counting down the days until opening day.  We watch movies, clean out trailers and do other activities that help calm the itch of the off-season.  Then, we finally get to this time of year and the time comes to get everything lined up for the coming fall.  So we start by figuring out what has to be replaced or maybe some simple upgrades we can make to our rig.

Stay Hidden

When it comes to waterfowl hunting, there are many factors that are crucial to having a successful hunt.   I am primarily a field hunter so I believe the two most important factors are scouting and concealment.  When I first started out waterfowl hunting, I could only go to a few places and knew nothing about scouting.  My success rate was quite low to say the least.  Then my crew and I started getting more dedicated and we all put some miles on our vehicles to find that elusive “X”.  Taking the extra time to find the perfect location increased our harvest numbers dramatically—but an important step in finding the right location was checking for a the “hide.” I would ask myself, “What kind of cover are we able to use to stay out of sight and get the birds close?”  There are many ways to disappear from the birds’ keen sight, but when you’re faced with situations where it is tough to hide you have to adapt and find new solutions to the problem.

New to the Game

I got very excited when I learned about the Blind Door Decoys from White Rock Decoys. They now have a full lineup of Blind Door Decoys that include Canada Goose and Mallard models.  These decoys can help solve many issues when it comes to trying to hide a blind.  Their ability to break up an outline, something that can easily stand out in a spread of decoys, is a large advantage.  During the last year or two, the guys I hunt with have played with many different types of set ups sometimes the blinds would be outside of the spread or other times we’d try radical spread formations to help draw the birds’ attention elsewhere.  With these new decoys you can now place yourself just about anywhere in the spread and be well hidden.  They will also help cut down on the time spent brushing in blinds–which is especially great for me because this is my usual job in the field and I am very picky about making sure every blind is invisible.  If you have ever tried to hide 5+ guys in a field, you know this can get rather difficult.  These blind door decoys remove the empty holes from your setup that look unnatural.

I’m also excited about White Rock’s new field Canada Goose and Mallard decoys.  Having the ability to set up, maneuver, and take down a spread is a huge bonus when it comes to field hunting and these decoys give you all three of those things.  We hunted a field last year at least 12 times within a couple weeks only because we had a system down:  set up, shoot our birds, pick up, and get out as soon as we could to let the late arrival birds get to the field and have it all to themselves.  These field decoys are the little difference that will make the season better.

If you want to check out these decoys in-person, come join us at the Game Fair August 15-17th!  Or, as always you can find these awesome decoys on our site!

Brian Cote is a website administrator at krugerfarms.com and a devoted outdoorsman.  He’s eager to take up any opportunity to hunt waterfowl, deer and turkeys in the Midwest region. You can follow him on Twitter @BrianJr22 and find him on Facebook facebook.com/brian.cote.148.

Blind Door Decoys

Five Truths about Alligator Hunting in Florida

Pro-staff Contributor: Zach Raulie

2012 Gator Hunt – Snatch N Cross from Zach Raulie on Vimeo.

Interest in alligators and alligator hunting has increased during the last couple of years. I think this is most likely due to the success of hit TV shows about swamp adventures. But with all of the publicity comes a lot of misinformation. For instance, many people do not know that each state that offers hunting has its own set of rules and some states only have commercial trapping, not recreational hunting.

In Florida, there are 5,700 recreational alligator hunting permits available by lottery drawing each June. The hunting season opens August 15th for four short, one-week seasons. The season reopens from mid-September through November 1st to those who have unfilled tags. Legal hunting times are from 5 pm to 10 am and each permit holder has two gator tags. If you’d like to learn more about hunting regulations in Florida, this link is a great resource.

Here are five “must know” truths about alligator hunting in Florida:

1. It is illegal to use a firearm in Florida.

You must “attach” a line to the gator rather than shooting it without having a way to bring it in. There are a few options for doing this. Typically we use our Stryker crossbow. But in certain areas it is tough to get close enough for a crossbow shot, so we’ll use a weighted snatch hook to “snag” the alligator that has submersed itself. Then we’ll use a harpoon, bow or crossbow shot to attach a line to the gator–enabling us to work the gator to the boat. A bangstick—a four- or five-foot pole that has a power head at the end of it to safely shoot the gator under water–is the best legal way to quickly kill the gator.Jen Stryker

2. It is illegal to use any type of baited hook.

Using a baited hook can put the alligator at risk, because it could swallow the hook and injure itself even if it gets away.  However, baiting is still useful and can legally be accomplished with a wire leader and a 2″ wooden peg. The alligator will swallow the bait and peg which will become lodged inside the gator allowing the hunter to pull the gator boat-side.  Also, if the gator escapes, the wooden peg will not injure the gator like a hook would. Just remember, the end of this line must be attached to a fishing rod or hand held. It cannot be unattended.

3. Each permit is assigned to a designated management unit, body of water or county.

In June, each applicant will submit to enter the lottery for tags in five locations. If the applicant is selected, he or she will be awarded two permits for one location. There is no guarantee that you will get drawn. However, if you’re not successful in the first lottery drawing, any leftover tags will be made available after the first phase drawing on a first come, first served basis. Also, if your buddy gets drawn and you don’t, you can always hunt off of his permit by purchasing an agent tag.

Scenes while scouting for gators

4. Gator hunting requires specialized gear.

Not everyone has an arsenal of snatch hooks, bangsticks and harpoons at their disposal. Do your homework and go with a buddy that has some experience. Maybe consider hiring a guide as your best solution if this is you first gator hunt. I’m a geek for lights and my favorite is the Minimus Headlamp made by Surefire. Most times a high power spotlight will alert a big gator, but a high-quality headlamp with a dimmer can allow you to sneak in inconspicuously for a shot.

5. Safety is priority #1…and common sense never hurts.

A lot can go wrong in a cypress stump laden Florida swamp at night while you’re chasing a predator that could potentially be 13-feet-long with a mouth full of nasty teeth. Cell phone service is not guaranteed and you could be many miles from the nearest boat ramp. So remember to be cautious and pack these things: PFD’s, required by law, go without question. Also, reliable lights and lighting systems will guide you safely in the dark. Finally, a GPS is a great tool when the morning fog or sudden rain storm hinders your sight. Always be prepared for the worst. Hopefully it will be completely unnecessary, but it’s better to be over prepared than caught off-guard.

Be sure to stay tuned as the 2013 gator season is almost upon us! I’ll be writing updates about our gator hunts this year on this blog.

Zach Raulie is an avid hunter and amateur retriever trainer living outside of Jacksonville, Florida. He is a multi-year qualifier for the World’s Duck Calling Contest and is highly competitive in AKC and UKC sanctioned hunt tests. You’ll see Zach representing krugerfarms.com and Lodge Creek Calls in all of his endeavors each year. You can contact Zach at zraulie@gmail.com and find him on Facebook (facebook.com/zraulie).

Gator Hunting in Florida

Minnesota DNR Announces First-ever August Canada Goose Season

Canada goose decoysIf you’re anything like us, you’ve been counting down the days until fall arrives and the hunting seasons open. Well, the Minnesota DNR just announced that we won’t have to wait as long as expected! In an effort to control Canada goose populations, the DNR is opening up the first August Canada goose season from Saturday, Aug. 10 to Sunday, Aug. 25.

Steve Cordts, the DNR’s waterfowl specialist, said “the state’s Canada goose population is very high and exceeds our statewide goal…We have continued agricultural depredation concerns in the western portion of the state with large numbers of Canada geese. This is one more option for us to try and increase our harvest of Canada geese.” (DNR News Release)

“Hunting will be restricted to an intensive harvest zone in west-central Minnesota. The daily bag limit will be 10 Canada geese with no possession limit.  Shooting hours will be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. A small game hunting license, special goose permit and state waterfowl stamp are required.” (DNR News Release)

We’re going to make sure we’ve got our Avery/GHG decoys ready for this new season! Check out our Avery/GHG decoys online, or if you’re in Starbuck come to our Pro Shop Fall Primer August 2nd and 3rd! We host a Fall Primer once a year to offer you the hottest prices on hunting gear. This year, we’ll also have “try it before you buy it” firearms and we’ll be sure to have our Canada goose decoys available just before the season opens. We’re pumped that the season is now less than month away!
Compressed Map