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.

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

Year-Round Trail Camera Tactics

Pro-staff Contributor: Brian Cote

The evolution of trail cameras has been an incredible thing to witness over the last decade or so.  I can remember looking through hunting magazines and looking at all the advertisements for the old Cam Trakker trail cameras.  When they first came out, everyone wanted one just to see what might be roaming on their hunting properties.  Because the pictures were produced on 35mm film, you needed to check the cameras on a regular basis and then rush to the store to get them developed.

Trail Cam Tactics

The digital age has helped take our scouting methods to a whole new level.  You can see how much has changed just by looking back at the pictures from the 35mm film and comparing them to the pictures you get today.  Merely having the ability to leave your camera out longer gives you more benefits than the original 35mm models. And the options are abundant—today we have options such as the Moultrie Panoramic 150 Game Camera that can take pictures that span 150 degrees in one burst.  This can help when watching a food plot, or to capture a picture of a buck trailing a doe.

Pre-Season

The placement of your cameras will change throughout the year.  During the long days of summer, when bucks antlers are in their developmental stage, placing your camera near a mineral mix is a great idea.  Using minerals will not only draw deer to your camera but will also help in their antler growth.  Joe Dirt’s Chunky Buck Mix is a great choice that brings the deer in and allows you to get the most pictures possible.  During this time, use your trail cam to discover the home territories of the bucks you plan to put on your hit list.

Early Season

When the season kicks off some of the best places to have cameras are food plots/fields and heavily used trails that travel from bedding to feeding areas.  Deer are very easy to pattern this time of year because the only thing on their mind is sleeping and feeding.  Use your trail cam to learn when deer are getting on their feet to head out and grab some food—this information will help you punch more tags.

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The Rut

Once the temps start to drop and rut activity starts, scrapes can be one of the best places to have a camera.  Finding the correct types of scrapes will help you be more successful.  You want to target  primary scrapes that are on the interior of the woods.  Wood line scrapes, also known as secondary scrapes, are more than likely being used and checked at night which will limit your chances of catching the bucks on camera.  Primary scrapes will see the most traffic throughout the day and will also get many different bucks patrolling the area to see who is coming around their territories.  This is the time of year when you want to try and check your cameras as often as possible to know if a big buck has been cruising your area as soon as possible.

Overall

Trail cameras have come such a long way in the last 10-15 years. They scout for us in places we can only visit once or twice a month.  Having these advancements has truly helped avid hunters put more deer in the back of their trucks.  So get to the woods and get some pictures that will make your buddies jealous! If you catch anything cool on your camera, be sure to submit it to the krugerfarms.com Facebook page Trail Cam Contest—a new winner each month gets a free Wildview TK30!

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).

Trail Cams

Krugerfarms.com Hosts 3rd Annual KF 100 3-D Archery Shoot

Pro-staff Contributor: Brian Cote

Target 2 KF100If you are a serious archery hunter like me, you know that the summer months can be tough.  I’ve spent hours sitting at home watching hunting shows and DVDs, trying to pass the time until the fall rolls around and I can take to the woods in search of game.  When it’s finally opening day, I want to be on my way to the stand knowing that my bow is sighted in and I can make any shot that presents itself.  This is why I jump at the chance to participate in 3-D archery shoots in order to stay accurate and confident for the fall.

Outdoor Shoots

Outdoor 3-D archery shoots are one of the most fun and rewarding activities to pick up for the summer months.   They help drastically improve and fine tune your archery skills and are a great way to meet new people.  My suggestion is to search the web for local shoots, which in some areas happen every weekend.

In order to ensure a good time, get a few of your buddies together and head to these shoots.  A little friendly competition is always fun!  Also, the other members of your group can help watch you while you shoot to see if they notice any slight changes that you could try throughout the course.

Another fun aspect of outdoor shoots is that most have unmarked distances and will not allow the use of rangefinders.  It can be a fun challenge to try to guesstimate the yardage before executing your shot.  It’s also a handy skill to perfect, because you never know when you will only have a split-second to decide to shoot when the animal that you are targeting shows up in range.

Equipment

Kids KF100There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to shooting outdoor 3-D targets.  Some people like to deck out a bow and use it just for 3-D purposes.  These are usually longer axel-to-axel bows and outfitted with stabilizers, scopes and 3-D-specific arrows.  I myself use my hunting set up—including a Bowtech Insanity CPXL, Victory VAP arrows and a Tru-Fire Hardcore release.   I have the mindset that if I can make these shots with my hunting bow, then any shot in the field should be a piece of cake. That is, without adding in the buck fever effect.

KF100

Over the last two years at krugerfarms.com, we have hosted the KF100 3-D Archery Shoot at the farm in Starbuck, MN.  This year will be the 3rd annual installment to this tradition and it is going to be another fun shoot!  Along with providing a way to perfect your archery skills, there will be some fun novelty shoots to gather crowds and test whether participants can perform when prizes are on the line.  Plus, those who come in top of each class will earn great bragging rights. If you’re local—be sure to join us on Saturday!

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).

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Spring Turkey Hunting: Is it Easy to Punch Your Tag?

Pro-staff Contributor: Brian Cote

Whenever I have conversations with others about turkey hunting, they constantly say, “How hard could it be? Turkeys are dumb.” In some cases this holds true, but in reality many pieces of the puzzle have to fall into place to make it seem as though turkeys require little-to-no effort to punch your tag.  I myself don’t believe in a “dumb” turkey. While hunting the Midwest region, I’ve learned that many gobblers will do things you’ve never heard of before.

Two weeks ago, we targeted an area in Wisconsin that had not been hunted for many years—the scouting reports looked great. When getting set up under the cover of darkness, multiple toms broke the morning silence and let us know they were awake. Turkey DashWe were set up no more than 100 yards from their roost and I was optimistic. As the day became brighter and many more critters were making their presence known, the birds continued to gobble and the hens began yelping and clucking. But even though the gobblers were responding quite often to our calls, around an hour after daybreak, it was quiet throughout the woods. We made a game plan to get mobile and try to find them again.

After some searching we heard the birds gobble once more and eased closer. Then to our amazement, we spotted the group of birds walking across a bog, headed towards some thick tamarack swamp area. My good friend and I stood and stared at each other in awe trying to figure out why they were there.  What would cause them to cross a creek and head towards some of the thickest swamp around? We couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t go to open timber or nearby cornfields. As we headed back to the truck we talked about our game plan for the next day.

Day two started off a lot quieter than day one. As we were trying to decide where to set up, I noticed a big black object in the top of a Tamarack tree, out in the middle of the bog. I thought to myself, “Could that be a turkey?” Then the object began to move and a thunderous gobble lit up the swamp. Again, this bird threw us for a loop. Why was this tom all by himself in the middle of a bog? Could it be he knew that most of the predators that prey on him would not be able to reach him there? Did he know that he was being pressured by us? For birds that are rumored to be an easy kill—this flock was putting up a challenge!

DecoyWith this odd behavior, we were unsure of where we should set, so we decided it’d be safe to set up near the place we saw the birds on the previous day.  We set out our Avian X LCD Jake Quarter Strut along with the Avian X LCD Lookout Hen to try to pull a gobbler into shooting range. As the morning went on, the sounds of distant gobblers kept us optimistic. Then I glanced to the left of our set and noticed a bird working our way. It was a tom, and he came in without making a sound. I let my buddy know and he called softly and the bird let out a gobble that shook the woods. I was ready for the shot when the bird started walking out of range. He snuck away to some private property just as quietly as he came!

Unfortunately, we concluded the weekend without success.  But we did take home a few lessons.  I learned that swamp turkeys are very unpredictable and by far the hardest type of birds I have ever tried to bag.  Even when you think you know their roost patterns, they can change overnight.  I also learned to always scan the woods for silent birds that may sneak in under your radar.  No matter what anyone says about turkey hunting I think that every bird has its own personality and will react differently from another. For that reason, I don’t think any turkey is dumb, just unique.

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).

Brian Aiming