It’s that time of the year so I am getting gear together to head out to New Mexico for an archery elk hunt. Even though this is my 17th annual trip I still put together a packing list of things I need to bring. Normally I have put a first draft of items to bring and without fail I always find that I have left something off the list that I really need. On this trip I will be staying at a lodge and don’t need things like a sleeping bag or camp gear such as a tent, stove, cooking utensils, food and etc…
That packing list is much more in depth and several pages in length. Even the packing list I put together for this hunt is pretty detailed. From clothes, light weight for warm weather and heavier clothing for colder days. To rain gear which is always at the top of my list. Out west you can count on rain usually every afternoon. There is nothing worse then getting soaked and being a long way from your vehicle or camp, it makes for a miserable hunt. Make sure it is a priority on your list.
I always consider the type of hunting I will be doing and that determines the type of boots I will be using. Light weight for hiking and heavier and warmer for sitting in tree stands. The obvious next items are socks, thick or medium. Medium weight socks for hiking and heavier for sitting. There is nothing worse than getting cold feet and hands setting in a tree stand or in a ground blind. I also take several types of gloves for the very same reasons. I also take a couple different types of long underwear, again light weight for hiking and heavier for sitting or for very cold days when I am spot and stalk hunting. I think you can see where I am going with my packing list, just one type or style is not enough. That goes for your outerwear as well.
The biggest challenge I have is what extra equipment I need to bring for my bow. I always bring a second bow just in case something serious happens to my favorite bow. I do bring enough replacement parts to fix or replace just about anything that would go wrong or break like the peepsite, fletching, nocks and inserts for the arrows. Extra releases, broad heads, D-loop string and oh yes, tools! The list is much longer but I think you get the idea. Without an extensive packing list, I will guarantee you will leave something behind that would be vital to your hunt or equipment.
Make up a packing list and check it several times. I have found that laying everything out and checking it off my list is the very best way not leave home without it!
Give me cooler temperatures and a full moon over hot weather and no moon anytime!
Early season archery elk season is under way and the reports I am getting are that temperatures seem to be having more of an affect on the elk than normal. I don’t think the full moon is helping either. So the long debated question is, would you rather be hunting higher than normal temperatures and the dark of the moon or much cooler temperatures and a full moon?
My personal preference is give me cool mornings and evenings and I will take the full moon. I have always believed that if you have cool damp mornings and evenings, the cow elk start their estrus sooner. I also believe that the bulls testosterone levels begin to elevate, when that happens their rutting activity is more consistent.
Just like us humans, when the temperatures are cooler we are much more active than on 100 degree days. History shows the elk are the same way. They stay out longer in the mornings and get up earlier in the evenings. The one thing I have really noticed over the years are the bulls are much more vocal when cooler temperatures exist. The combination of warm temperatures and a full moon is the recipe for success and lends itself to unproductive days. In many cases the elk won’t even begin their activities until after dark and will be back in their bedding areas before daylight. This is what I call a bad formula for archery elk hunting.
One of the only solutions to hunting in warm temperatures is finding the water holes. Sometimes this can be very difficult to do based on current drought conditions in your hunting area. In my opinion, it is the single best tactic that has greatest potential of success. Find the water!
Sometimes we are dealt with both issues, warm weather and a full moon. What I do know that is you can’t stick one sitting in the den watching TV and it beats the hell out of being at work!
I have always felt September is the best month of the year for several reasons. First, it’s the start of the NFL regular season. College football also kicks off, no pun intended. Second, the early archery seasons open around the country, which means archery elk to me. Next, the start of fantasy football. Even I can say that watching the NFL has become a lot more fun and entertaining because of fantasy football leagues. Our draft is coming up soon and is always the best party of the year.
If you happen to live in a city that has a competitive major league baseball team, then a run at the playoffs is icing on the September cake!
Back to NFL football and the upcoming hunting season. Hopes are high for every team, even the Cleveland Browns. They have some young talented players who have already lived up to or exceeded expectations. As excited as I am for the NFL season to start, I can’t wait to hear the first elk bugle in the woods, it is a adrenaline rush like no other! The anticipation is similar to that of the opening kickoff to a new season, hopes are high.
There are the obvious players everyone will try and draft, Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell if he ever signs his franchise tag contract, which he will. The trick is to find players that earn points who are hidden gems. Tyreek Hill last year would have been one of those players. I think a player who seems to fly under the radar is Golden Tate of the Lions. He may be one of the best number two receivers you can pick up. Another player I would take a close look at is rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp from the LA Rams. He not a number one, but I think will catch a lot of passes, he is a sleeper. Another receiver, who has a new quarterback throwing to him, is Ted Ginn. His new quarterback is Drew Brees.
So what makes September so special? I shoot my bow everyday, get ready for my fantasy league, train for the first hunt of the fall, watch the Royals make a run at the playoffs and prepare for the start of the NFL season. What is it they say? “It just doesn’t get any better than this”.
For several years I have help guided elk hunters in northern New Mexico, around the Chama area. I have found the majority of hunters I guide come from the mid-west or the eastern part of the country. I have discovered many, if not most, of those hunters are not in good enough shape to really enjoy their hunts. It is simply a lack of cardiovascular conditioning.
I have experienced hunters being so out of breath that when the moment of truth came, they could not steady themselves to draw their bow or steady their rifle. In most all of those cases the hunter never got a opportunity to shoot. We have found that once an elk gets withing shooting range, either with a bow or rifle, you have around 11 to 15 seconds to make the shot. Once you get in that range there is very little time to catch your breath, steady your rest or calm yourself down. If you can eliminate a couple of those elements at the critical moment, you will increase your opportunity for success.
Getting yourself in really good shape, referring to your cardiovascular conditioning, you can take care of the heavy breathing interference. If you can control that part then becoming steady to draw your bow, mount or shoulder your rifle becomes a none factor. Calming yourself is a matter of focus. If you are out of shape your focus and attention to details leading up to your shot no longer exists. Everyone gets excited when a shooting scenario presents itself, it’s natural, it is those hunters who are in good physical condition and that can bring their emotions under control quicker, will experience success more often.
The conditioning philosophy is relevant in just about every sport. When professional athletes get fatigued, their performances quickly declines. The same will happen with hunters. I know when quarterbacks throws come up short it is usually because their legs are tired. You have seen it with major league pitchers, when they begin to loose command of their pitches, it is normally their legs that get tired not their arms.
No one seems to have a consistent answer to the question, can a legally licensed hunter hunt in two states on the same day and shoot two legal limits while staying within the possession limit regulations?
Recently I was asked a question regarding waterfowl hunting and the interpretation of a law or regulation involving a duck hunt that may occur on a same day between two states. The question was logical the answer had zero logic. I have an answer, but I told the individual that I would first like to call the local game warden and get his view on the very convoluted law or regulation. Here is the scenario, if an individual owned property in one state and had the opportunity to hunt the same day in the adjacent state, could he in fact hunt both states on the same day and harvest a legal limit of ducks, in both states? Of course all the proper licenses and stamps for both states where in hand and the hunter would have been totally legal. Now to be even more descriptive explaining the event, one hunt took place early morning in one state and the second hunt took place late in the afternoon in another state, on the same day, over 4 hours away.
The answer I got back was no, they couldn’t. There was also some confusion on his part because it is a federal regulation and not a state regulation, but the state game warden must enforce the regulation. His initial response was, this is a very confusing issue. It is referred to as the Aggregate total of birds. I asked him to explain, he did his best but we were both confused at the end of the discussion because he said, it is all based on the flyway you are hunting in. For instance the Mississippi flyway or the Central flyway. I said okay, if that is the case, if I hunted in the Mississippi flyway in the morning than I should be able to hunt in the Central flyway in the afternoon. He didn’t have a answer to that question and was going contact a federal agent for a definitive answer. So, because there are different limits in each state, as he was trying to explain the very confusing regulation, there is an aggregate of the total number of ducks you could take in a day. So I set up another scenario with him, in Missouri you can shoot 6 ducks, four of which can be mallards, and two of those can be hens, plus you get two bonus ducks such as teal, wigeon, gadwall, etc… if I shoot my limit of 6 ducks in Missouri, 4 mallards and two bonus ducks, can I then move over to Kansas and shoot one more mallard because in Kansas you can shoot 5 mallards? Even though I have exceeded the aggregate of 6 ducks! Do I have the right to shoot the 5th mallard? No answer!
I, and many other hunters who hunt in two states, don’t see any logic in this regulation or law. If I have paid for all my licenses and stamps and I am totally legal to hunt in both states, haven’t I paid for the right to hunt in both states and shoot a legal limit in both. I understand there are regulations and laws regarding possession limits, but if I am well within the possession limits then I should, legally, be able to hunt both states on the same day. How about using a little logic here.
Time to tune up your hunting and fishing equipment. Fishing is still good and the early archery seasons are just around the corner. Don’t let equipment malfunctions be the reason for your hunting or fishing trip to go south. Simple maintenance is all it takes.
As I was going through my hunting and fishing gear I realized my hunting and fishing equipment needed tuning up. My urgency was more with my fishing gear because there are still plenty of good fishing opportunities left. With that said, early archery elk season is not that far off either. I have already started my body tune up but as I was looking at my archery equipment, it dawned on me that I had not taken care of some routine maintenance issues on my bows, releases and arrows. It’s a good idea to routinely check your bow strings and cables. If the strings are frayed and dry make sure you wax them. I use a leather glove to apply the wax to the string, that way I can create friction to melt the wax in and on the string. For your cables just check to see if there is any unusual wear and make sure they fit correctly on your wheels or cam’s. Check all the fasteners on your bow, make sure they are secured, including your sites and rests. Don’t forget your D-loop and peep. Just a solid once over will normally work, but don’t take anything for granted. You can live with operator error, it’s the mechanical issues that causes most of hunting heart burn!
For your arrows, check for any irregularities in arrow flight. They could have been nicked or the fletching could be torn or separated from the arrow. Both of these can alter your arrow flight significantly. Make sure your inserts and knocks are secure as well. None of these checks take long, it is just good practice to routinely check all of your equipment. Don’t forget your releases. They will sometimes collect dust or some other foreign object. Both of those will cause release malfunction, trust me I learned that lesson the hard way.
I know I am guilty of not changing my fishing line near often enough. It is a simple task that I ignore way to much. I don’t fish for a living but I have opportunities to fish where there some real quality fish and there is nothing more frustrating than to loose a good fish because of fishing line integrity. So I changed the line on all my reels, Now if I loose a fish more than likely it will operator error and not the age of the line.
I have some of the same neglect issues with my reels, I just expect them to work! Not so fast my friends, they need tuning up just like any other piece of equipment. They collect dust and need to be cleaned and lubricated periodically to work properly. So in addition to new line on my reels, I did a complete oil and lube job on all of them.
My confidence is much higher now that my hunting and fishing equipment has been tuned up. No more neglect!
Not sure about the rest of the country but here in Kansas and Missouri, the turkeys just haven’t acted normal. In past years pre rut, when the gobblers are still bachelor groups, you can call them and they will respond. That part has been fairly normal, but shortly after they started breaking, as well as the hens, they just haven’t been responding like they should. In past years as the hens start going to nest and you see a lot of single hens, gobblers become pretty vocal clear through the mid morning. For some strange reason we have found that once they hit the ground they have pretty much have gone mute. This is very frustrating to the hunters. It has been very difficult to get any responses in the afternoons, which has been, in previous years, some of the best hunting, not this year. I have spoken to many hunters around the Midwest and they are experiencing similar frustrations. This years weather is that much different from previous years so I am ruling that out. In our are there is an abundance of birds, so ruling that out. My calling methods haven’t changed, so ruling that out. Right now it is the Mystery of 2015! There is still time left in our season for them to start acting normal but I am not confident that will happen. No doubt this has been a new experience and we have had to change our tactics. You learn something new all the time. If you are not willing to change, you may find that your freezer will be empty.
So, I keep hearing that we are now back to football. From where I am sitting I am not sure it ever went away. There was more conversation and discussion about the NFL this off season than in any off season in recent history. Something was in the news morning noon and night. The NFL very seldom gets that much attention in a normal year, do you think that maybe that was the plan all along?
First they had the draft and if I am not mistaken they are now playing preseason football games, on schedule, and for the first time since I can remember every first round draft choice was signed and in camp before the preseason games began, pretty damn suspicious.
So who won, I am not sure but I can tell you who lost, the retired players! We are still getting information from the Players Association about our new benefits, of which I still have questions, as do many of my former teammates. The major issue that the retired players wanted addressed was medical benefits, not more retirement money. Many of the former players are not insurable due to preexisting conditions (injuries) directly related to their football careers. Many of the retired players are at or beyond the retirement age of 65, and because of their current physical conditions, are just hanging on.
The reason the NFL is so popular today is because of the great players from the past. Lifetime medical coverage should be made available to those players who are unable to receive any medical insurance now. Don’t get me wrong, more money in our retirement plan would be nice too! I am all for helping out those players who made the game what it is today.
Off my soap box!
September is just around the corner and that means the archery elk season is almost upon us. For me that also means I am getting in shape to take on the mountains in northern New Mexico. It is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything will still be green and the elk are beginning to break up. The herd bulls are establishing their territory and selecting his harem!
Normally I don’t head out west until the second or third week of September right in the middle of the rut (boys chasing girls). This year I want to try and get a heard bull to take on the challenge of another bull violating his area- that would be me! My plan is to sound like the new stud on the block, get one of them fired up to come in withing bow range (60 yards or closer) to defend his status as the Heard Bull!
The spring turkey season is now here, in some states, and the woods are sounding off with the gobble of the toms and the yelp of the hens. It really is one the best times of the year to be in the woods. There is nothing like the thundering sound of an adult gobbler early in the morning. It is also when the tics are attaching themselves to everything they come in contact with. My boyscout motto, be prepared, wear tight fitting clothing under your hunting clothes. Make sure the tight fitting clothes are snug around the ankles, wrist, waist and neck. Better to be a little warm then to be picking tics to all hours of the night. I have found out the hard way that once you are in bed, those little devils will move from you to your wife, that is really a bad thing!! There are some sprays out in the market than you can use to spray on your clothes to help ward off the tics as well. Even if you are not turkey hunt and are just out and about near or around the woods, watch out for those critters, limes disease is not laughing matter. At least check yourself every time you have been around a woody area.
The NFL Draft is just around the corner. This has become such a huge television event that Network Television and the NFL are going to do it during prime time television. I must admit it is entertaining to watch. I will be at Arrowhead Stadium with other former Chiefs Players and current Chiefs Players signing things and watching who the Chiefs will select. It is always a bit of a mystery. We have many needs, offensive linemen, inside linebackers, safety and a burner wide receiver. Then there is always the chance the Chiefs could trade their 5th pick for additional draft picks. This years draft may be the best ever for offensive linemen. There will be some quality linemen taken late in the first round and in the second. I would be interested to hear what you think your favorite teams need are.
Don’t forget to check for tics and the get ready for the NFL draft, Thursday night April 22nd.
Depending on where you live, January is the month when most outdoor activities slow down with a few exceptions, ice fishing, snowmobiling, late season goose and duck hunting, and in a few states, the last few days of deer hunting. For all of you football enthusiast, the NFL Playoffs are in full swing! If your team is still in, congratulations and good for you. Our beloved Chiefs didn’t make it!! Things are looking up, the Chiefs just announce the hiring of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, to former offensive and defensive coordinators for the New England Patriots. Hopefully they will help jump start both the offense and the defense. I personally believe it is a very good move, they both had tremendous successes with the Patriots and bring a wealth of playoff history. When reorganizing a team I feel it is critical to have both coaches and players in place who have had playoff experience. How can you coach about winning in the playoffs if you haven’t been there! Making the playoffs is the first step in winning the Super Bowl and that is every teams objective. Now we have coaches in place who have successfully accomplished both. For the teams still alive in the playoffs, Dallas and their defense look hard to beat. Being from the AFC, I still like the Charges, who I was originally drafted by, and the Colts. You can’t rule out the play of Patton Manning. Back to the outdoors! This is the time to get all of your fall hunting, camping and fishing gear cleaned up. Cleaning your firearms before putting them away is extremely important. The obvious, make sure they are unloaded before working on them and putting them up. This is a good time to take off all that old fishing line and tune up the reels. Make sure all of your camping gear is dry before putting them in storage, mold can develop quickly and cause a lot of damage to your equipment. For you Turkey hunters, this is a great time to work on your calls. Some seasons are just a few months away! Normally I can drive everyone out of the house with some yelps and cackles!