Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Off for the UP and grouse hunting

I'm on the road, grouse hunting for 10 days in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We have two young dogs and 3 old guys so it should be quite a romp in the woods!
I'll check in when I get back.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good Hunters and New Partners

Usually I hunt with the same partners every year. But this year I've partnered up with some new folks with great results.
The first opportunity was on a farm that had been closed to hunters for years. After a year of talking to the owners they agreed to let me hunt for resident geese that were causing problems for a neighboring farm. A few weeks before the opener I got a call from a guy I knew was an avid waterfowler. He told me he had just talked to the owners and they told him I was in charge of who hunts on the farm. That was news to me! I could have said sorry - this is mine, but having been on the other side of the fence I offered to meet with him and talk it over. He turned out to be a great guy (he also had lots of decoys) So on the opening day he and his partners and my partner and I hunted the farm with great results. I got several offers for duck and bird hunting with good dogs that I intend to cash in soon.
The next opportunity came at 0500 on the opener of duck season. I had scouted out a wet area in a corn field that the woodies and mallards were using. But when I arrived in the dark a fellow and his son where already setting up. I introduced myself, apologized and offered to hunt the other end of the field. But the hunter said he had heard about me and if I wanted to he'd be glad to have me hunt with him and his son. So I added my decoys to his and we had a great hunt along with some interesting hunting talk. It turned out he had a scrape with the Wardens a few years ago, but had been treated fairly and was showing his son the right way to hunt.
Lastly, the store keeper near where my partner and I set up squirrel camp every year, invited us to hunt on some farm land that he does conservation work on and oversees hunting for the owners. Turned out to be a wonderful squirrel and grouse area. We haven't hunted together yet, but we intend to as he is an avid waterfowler and deer hunter.
It is easy to get paranoid about who you hunt with, but with some checking, clearly articulating expectations and safety issues, you can make some new friends and open up new opportunitites. I highly suggest it!
While your at it invite a new hunter to go with you. We all had someone help us, it is lot's of fun to see a newbie get all excited...
Happy Hunting!

One Shot Sight In

Well not exactly one shot - I'm not that good a shooter! But you can zero in pretty well in about 6-8 shots every time. Here is how:
Assuming your rifle is hitting on paper at 100 yards,
1) using a rest fire a three shot group
2) use a gun clamp or a lead sled if you have one, or cut out slots in the top of a cardboard box for the stock and forearm of your rifle.
3)with the gun supported by the box or clamp move it untill the cross hairs are on the center of the target. Make sure it is steady and the gun won't move when you change the scope settings. It helps if using the box method that you have someone help hold the gun steady.
3) keeping the rifle steady, use the dial on the scope to move the cross hairs so they are centered on your three shot group. (reminder - the gun doesn't move during this process, only the cross hairs in the scope)
4) Refire a 3 shot group holding center- if you did this correctly you should be dead on. You may have to put a click or two on to fine tune and then shoot a few confirming shots.
Now with some dry fire practice at home and some time on the gong range using hunting positions you should be ready for that clean, one shot kill!
Good luck!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pine Beetle, Whitebark Pine and Grizzly Bears

From the new report on National Parks in Peril

Global Warming, Bark Beetles, Whitebark Pine, and Grizzly Bears
By Dr. Jesse A. Logan, contributing author to National Parks In Peril

I consider the large-scale bark beetle mortality occurring in lodgepole pine forests across the West
interesting and unusual-- but I have no doubt that lodgepole forests will remain on the landscape for
generations. The current mortality in whitebark pines, though, breaks my heart. We are witnessing the
catastrophic collapse of high mountain ecosystems as a result of human-caused climate change, and
grizzly bears could pay the price.
The grizzly bear is the most emblematic symbol of America’s remaining wildlands. Unfortunately, in
one of its last strongholds, the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, its very existence is in peril. The most
challenging of its many threats there is a loss of critical food resources. Most important in the grizzly
diet are the large and nutrient-rich seeds of whitebark pine, as the bears depend on them in the fall to
prepare for hibernation. Nutritionally stressed bears in years with poor whitebark nut supplies have a
lowered over-winter survival rate, and, more importantly, lower cub birth rates as embryos will be
reabsorbed if pregnant females lack sufficient fat entering hibernation. Without enough whitebark pine
nuts, grizzly bears are also more likely to get into human conflicts as they search for other foods.
In recent years, a new threat has erupted to this critical element in the grizzly diet: the expansion into
high-elevation forests of a small, native bark beetle in response to a warming climate.
The mountain pine beetle is a native insect that has co-evolved with some pine forests. Trees killed by
the beetles (and fire) open up the forests to new growth; otherwise, some types of trees, especially
lodgepole pine, would be replaced by shade-tolerant spruce and fir. But whitebark pines are different
from lodgepoles. Whitebarks live for centuries, not decades, and are restricted to high elevations (with
one of their adaptations being their large, highly nutritious seeds). Whitebark pines do not depend on
catastrophic forest disturbances to survive; instead, they are threatened by them. One hypothesized
reason for the restriction of whitebark pines to high elevations is that they are poorly defended against
the insect pests and pathogens of lower elevations. Mountain pine beetles have not before been a
major threat to whitebark pine survival; their defense has been the high-elevation climate, historically
too cold for long-term survival of large beetle populations.
Unfortunately, things have dramatically changed in response to climate warming since the mid 1970s.
Computer simulations had predicted mountain pine beetle outbreaks into high-elevation systems, but
even the modelers were surprised by how quickly and how far beetles have now spread into whitebark
pines. Significant mortality is occurring across the entire American distribution of whitebark pine, with
no sign of it diminishing. When added to another stress—from a pathogen, white pine blister rust—the
spread of bark beetles into higher elevations puts in question the continued existence of these
ecosystems and of Yellowstone’s grizzly bears.
Given the likelihood of continued warming, what, if anything can be done to protect whitebark pines
and the grizzlies that depend on them? First, we need to better understand mountain pine beetle
infestations of whitebark pine, which differ from the host/insect interactions of other pine species.
Understanding the unique aspects of mountain pine beetle in whitebark pines may let us tip the scale to
favor the host. Second, we need better tools to evaluate the extent of mortality. Whitebark pine habitats
are in the most remote and wild places (often designated wilderness areas) in the Rocky Mountains,
where mortality goes almost undetected. Advanced technology, such as satellite imagery combined
with traditional aerial photography and ground surveying, is needed. Third, management tools (e.g.,
pheromone strategies) need to be fine-tuned for high-elevation environments. All of these approaches
need to be integrated across large, remote, and inhospitable landscapes.
Dr. Logan, an entomologist, retired in 2006 from the U.S. Forest Service.

Lead Free Bullets

From The Outdoor News Service:

Non-Lead Special:

Lead ammo ban affects seven deer zones

Map of lead-free area

Legal bullets & ammunition

December 24 News Update:

Hornady introduces new
line of California-legal
big game ammunition

Hornady Manufacturing has announced a new line of “expanding solid” bullets and loaded ammunition that will meet California’s non-lead requirements in the range of the California condor for hunting ammunition.
The new bullet is made from solid gilding metal, a copper-based alloy that has no lead in its construction, similar to the three other non-lead products currently on the market, the Barnes X-line of bullets, the Nosler E-Tip line, and Lapua Naturalis bullet. The new Hornady GMX bullets will be available in .270, 7mm, .308, and .338 diameters for 2009. Hunters will be able to buy bullets for reloading or loaded ammunition in popular cartridges for those three calibers, and the first loaded ammunition should be available on dealer’s shelves soon after the first of the year.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

You Local Wildlife Needs Your Help

You Local Wildlife Needs Your Help
A new bill – Teaming With Wildlife Act of 2009 (S. 655) - introduced in the U.S. Senate hopes to change that. Senators Tim Johnson (S.D.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) introduced the “Teaming with Wildlife Act,” which would provide states with the money they need to fully implement their wildlife action plans, conserving both game and non-game species and natural areas for future generations.

The legislation would provide $350 million annually over five years to help states carry out comprehensive wildlife restoration programs consistent with a state wildlife action plan. Since 2001, every state has adopted a state wildlife action plan to effectively recover fish and wildlife species. The Teaming With Wildlife Act would create a reliable funding source for the program through a portion of the royalties collected from mineral development on federal lands. The act is named after the Teaming with Wildlife coalition, which the TRCP serves as member of its steering committee.
The Teaming With Wildlife Act need additional Senate sponsors. Send the following letter to your Senator urging his or her co-sponsorship of this critically important bill.
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