September 1, 2015

Hunt Harder and Smarter: 5 Keys to Successful Black Bear Baiting

It’s my experience that consistently killing big black bears over bait takes just as much, and often more work than spot-and-stalk hunting. The belief that baiting black bears is simple and easy is a misconception common to those who have never done it. And, no, I’m not talking about the sort of hunting where you are dropped into a bait site once bears are hitting it. I’m talking about picking a baiting site, developing the baits, and fine-tuning your presentation to attract the biggest bears in a certain area. In many areas, baiting is the only effective way to hunt black bears, and setting yourself up for success is where the work is. Here are five tips to get you pointed in the right direction.
Source: Hunt Harder and Smarter: 5 Keys to Successful Black Bear Baiting | Outdoor Life

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Whitetail-Style Rattling Works on Elk, Too

Press Release from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.- Whitetail hunters for decades have employed rattling as an effective hunt strategy during the rut. Now more and more elk hunters are catching on.

Two notable hunting writers have covered rattling in recent issues of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s member magazine, “Bugle.” Both found success using slightly different methods and gear. Here’s a rundown:
ElkSparring

Ralph Ramos

1. Antler Preference – Ramos uses one large, 320-class, 6×6 shed as a base antler. During the rattling sequence, this antler mostly lays on the ground while the hunter swings a second antler, usually a broken end with at least three points.

2. Rattling Sequence – Bang the antlers abruptly and aggressively 6-7 times to create the thundering sound of two bulls squaring off. Ramos says real bulls often begin a fight with big theatrics that devolve into a pushing match. So after your initial start, continue by rubbing antlers together, clashing points, raking trees and brush and pounding the ground for at least 10-15 minutes. Lots of noise is realistic. During this sequence, bang the antlers together very forcefully a couple times every 2-3 minutes. Then, after a few minutes of silence, start all over again with round two, and then round three.

3. Calling – Ramos blends a variety of elk calls into the rattling session. Bugles, moans, groans and excited cow calls add realism to the sounds of a fight. If possible, let a second hunter focus on the calling while the first hunter focuses on the rattling.

4. Be Sure to Try – Switching off. Ramos says this hunting method takes a physical toll on a hunter’s upper body so it’s good to let two hunters split the rattling and calling duties.

5. Notes – Bulls generally bugle as they approach, but not always. Sometimes they slip in silently, as if trying to steal a hot cow away from the battling bulls. Stay alert! To watch a video of Ramos’ rattling technique, go here

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrhrbNl9KpQ).

Mark Kayser

1. Antler Preference – Kayser prefers a set of raghorn sheds, to save weight. A hunter can lighten his load even more by not using antlers at all. Consider commercial products that mimic rattling sounds, like the Rattlecage (http://rattlecage.com).

2. Rattling Sequence – See No. 2 above.

3. Calling – Use a series of high-intensity bugles with two different tones to imitate two different bulls. For example, make one a growler and the other a chuckler. Be creative in your own style.

4. Be Sure to Try – If you don’t carry actual antlers, you can use a large stick to scrape trees and ground, adding even more realism to the rattling sounds.

5. Notes – Kayser used rattling to draw a bull from a neighboring property. It took only a few minutes for an elk to respond to the sounds, cross a fence and walk within bow range.

“Bugle” magazine is a bi-monthly publication that covers hunting, conservation, elk ecology, predator issues, RMEF membership news and much more, plus memorable hunting stories and outstanding photography. Visit www.rmef.org for details.

Elk Hunting: A Thinking Man’s Game

Press Release from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—It’s possible to wander out in the woods and blunder into elk, but if that’s your principal strategy, then you’re probably not destined for great success as an elk hunter. Consistent luck requires premeditation. Anticipating, planning and preparing. Even visualizing the encounter before it happens.

That’s the boiled-down advice from America’s ultimate pool of elk-hunting buddies.

Now with a record 203,000 members, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a 30-year conservation workforce of hunters, volunteers, donors, outfitters and partners from across the hunting industry. It’s a network that branches high, wide and awesome. Put any two individuals together, and the talk will invariably turn to hunting adventures in far-flung corners of elk country. As a lifelong hunter himself, now seven years on the job as the RMEF president and CEO, David Allen is nothing if not well counseled on elk hunting.

“If you ask me for one takeaway, I’d say successful elk hunting is mostly about being smart,” said Allen. “Elk hunting tests your body, of course, but it’s really a thinking man’s game. More than any other North American game species, hunting elk – especially with a bow – tests your mind. The people I know who consistently kill elk are those whose brains can foresee and manage multiple challenges all at the same time.”

Put another way, “First, you have to be able to think like an elk. Then, second, you have to be able to think several steps ahead of it,” he added.

Allen said it’s a skill learned from experience.

“It starts with knowing where to find elk. It’s not random. They’re usually in a location for a reason. Solving that problem is the first step to a good hunt,” he said. “Once you’ve located elk, then you must consider all the elements that might keep you from getting close. At the top of that list are the elk’s senses: sight, sound, smell. You have to figure out how to approach, how to keep yourself concealed, how to predict wind, how to use terrain and cover, how to get to where the animal is going rather than where it’s been, how to outthink an animal that’s always alert, always aware, all the time.”

Stalks can take hours. A strong mind is required to help a hunter stay focused.

Screw it up, and your next test is figuring out where elk go after they’re blown out. On a large and wild landscape, this can be the biggest mind-game of all. But, Allen said, “The ability to adapt to fluid situations is just another mental hallmark of successful elk hunters, and another part of the challenge that makes elk hunting so fun.”

Welding With Jumper Cables and a Pair of Batteries

VIDEO: Great information for those who spend great deal of time in the bush.

Skinning a Deer With Your Car

You may have seen this before….or at least some version of it. I’m not going to go searching, but I think I recall having posted a video perhaps 6 or more years ago showing a similar event.

Shhhhhhhh! I Think a Bear is About to Kill Me

As funny as this video may appear, there is actually SOME pretty good advice in there that MIGHT save your life. Bear attacks on humans are a very serious event and should never be presented in the media, as is ALWAYS done, as a rare occurrence. It matters not whether an attack is rare or not. If it happens to you, the last thing you are concerned about is whether it is rare or not.

The woman in this video and the producers of it deserve a degree of congratulations to have the intestinal fortitude to attempt a demonstration of what you might want to do should you retain the wherewithal to employ the tactics when you about to have your ass handed to you by an angry, attacking bear.

When Hunting, Look Out for Flesh Eating Deer and Other Ungulates

As a hunter, one’s approach at stalking prey certainly depends upon the characteristics of the sought after prey. For that matter, what a hunter does in the woods and what he or she pays attention to is dependent upon what other large predators might be skulking about seeking whom they may devour.

As an example, if a hunter was stalking grey wolves, there’s always the thought of what could happen if a wolf or a pack of wolves turned on the hunter. Therefore, the methods of the hunt will vary considerably from that of hunting a whitetail deer in forests where few, if any, other large man-eating predators roam.

But what if that whitetail deer, or elk, or moose, we discovered, had turned from being a vegan to a meat eater? Normally hunters sneak quietly through the hardwoods, the swamps and thickets, moving as little as possible and limited in making noise as can possibly be done. This is because the deer is easily spooked and will often be gone before the hunter is even aware they were there from the beginning. Would that tactic change if deer stalked man?

Don’t laugh. First of all, some deer do stalk people. I’ve had it happen to me several times, especially on snow. It isn’t that the deer was stalking me to kill me, or at least that’s what I’ve always thought, I believe it is done more out of curiosity, as well as a clever avoidance tactic; i.e. hey, hunter, turn around and look behind you once in awhile.

Deer are herbivores right? – Meaning they eat only plants. It seems that’s not exactly true.

If deer are interested in eating fresh market beef, how soon before those same deer will be learning how to effectively stalk man, not out of curiosity, but for want of a hot fleshy meal? Not soon I hope.

In the article linked to above, we learn that many herbivores do enjoy an occasional high-protein diet, mostly from leftovers from others kills, but some have been known to do their own killing for the meat.

I suggest looking behind you more than occasionally while stalking about the woods. You never know what hungry beast waits you in the brush.

Dave Miller on Predator Workshop: “First Real Positive Efforts”

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and Gerry LaVigne, sponsor and put on Maine’s first Predator Control Workshop. Below is a summation of that workshop by David Miller, who attended the workshop and was a presenter for the function.

PREDATOR CONTROL WORKSHOP

On Saturday, September 29th, The Sportsman Alliance of Maine sponsored the first workshop addressing the need for and the methods required to control predators, which is one of several key factors causing the decline of the deer herds in the Western Mountains, Aroostook County, and Down East portions of Maine. The loss of these deer herds has resulted in a tremendous impact on the state’s rural economies. Deer hunting has for generations brought in millions of dollars annually to the state’s economy and been a welcomed addition of healthy meat to the family dinner table.

This work shop is one of the first real positive efforts to reverse the situation. The Maine sportsmen have not had much in the way of constructive support in stopping the downward spiral of the deer within the state. This workshop was the first big step in a statewide effort.

This day long work shop was the result of efforts by Dave Trahan of the SAM, Gerry Lavigne and the dedication and professionalism of the guest speakers and demonstrators from a cross section of well known “working outdoorsmen”, not the normal outdoor writers and politicians seen at many events like this. These keynote speakers were the hands on experts in their respective fields which included two MIF&W [Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife] personnel who addressed land owner relations and ethics, a firearms specialist who addressed firearms and ballistics commonly used in predator control work, and experts in their respective fields of predator calling, coyote hounding, coyote baiting/shooting shacks/and night hunting, and coyote trapping.

The SAM facility was packed with over one hundred concerned outdoorsmen who are fully supportive of efforts to reduce the predation of deer to a level where the herds will be able to recover. With the excellent results of this first step it is hopeful that this effort will continue at larger facilities across the state to stimulate the public in participating in these efforts.

Calling in Javalina

Make sure to be prepared should one actually mistake you for another javalina as you’ll see in this video.

To Catch A Wolf – Part V

Links to Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV

If we are ever to consider “catching” a wolf, we need first to understand it. This has become a difficult task, especially here in the United States because most who advocate for wolves, seemingly those with all the money and resources to do so, aren’t at all interested in telling the truth about this animal. Why is it that in efforts to discover the truth about this large and sometimes vicious predator, advocates mount bigger campaigns to counter those truths with lies, information designed to mislead the public?

In the West we love our stories about Nikki: Dog of the North and Jack London’s other creation of Call of the Wild. In our romantic fantasies we want to be friends with canines that are portrayed as our best friends, cute and cuddly. The reality is wolves are none of these and there are many other myths that we have been programmed to believe as true.

Most of us will never see a wolf in the wild. Most of us will never have a desire to “catch” a wolf. Some of us are going to be forced to at some point and hopefully we’ll never reach the degree of problems our ancestors faced all around the globe, the result of which was lack of wildlife management and the taking away of the God-given rights of people to self protection.

In the previous four parts in this series (see links above) we have traveled across parts of North American, Russia, France, Italy and made mention of other countries that historically have faced wolf problems. We now are going to travel to Scandinavia where we will take a look at two aspects of the wolves there – attacks on humans and methods used to kill wolves.

No matter where we traveled, we found out that wolves vary in sizes and color. We know that the characteristics of wolves also vary depending on several factors, including habitat, time of year and the influences of climate, to name a few.

One thing that I have discovered in reading the many accounts of wolves and hunting wolves is that often what and how the writer conveyed their message depended a great deal on their own experiences and perceptions of the events at hand. Let me give an example.

Scandinavian Adventures by Llewelyn Lloyd was written in 1854. It contains numerous accounts of wolf/human encounters and detailed descriptions of wolf habits and of course methods on how the people in Scandinavia captured and/or killed the beast they so much hated.

I chuckled at one point and then read on with my jaw agape, when Lloyd wrote that wolves seldom attack people.

Though wolves are so numerous in Scandinavia, and commit such considerable ravages amongst cattle, they do not often molest man.

I will concur here with Lloyd’s statement that wolves were numerous during this time in Scandinavia, having to this point already read what seems an unending accounting of the savage events involving wolves in this country and the destruction of private property.

After stating that wolves “do not often molest man”, Lloyd fills many pages documenting several of at least 20 accounts of wolves killing humans just during one winter. This doesn’t account for the attacks on humans that didn’t result in death.

I would assume we need to conclude that it is all relative as to what we become accustomed to in our everyday lives. That one man can so boldly state that wolves seldom attack man, yet view the deaths of at least 20 people, mostly children, as somehow insignificant, certainly baffles my mind but I’ve never had to live with wolves on a daily basis. In all of North America we struggle to accept the death of one man in Canada a couple years ago.

As with all the other countries we’ve visited, Lloyd tells us that the wolf is despised in Scandinavia too. He states that from the beginning of time, wolves have been hated and that they were the “plague and torment of the land”.

The Scandinavian wolf is characterized as having a “most ravenous appetite” and at times when food is not available to the wolf, he will actually ingest dirt and mud in order to quell the hunger pains. If all goes well, he will regurgitate the mud once he has killed prey to eat. The author tells us of instances when a wolf howls incessantly from the pain caused by eating and puking up the dirt.

“He can suffer hunger and hardships for a long time, which is common for beasts of prey, according to the Creator’s wise institution; for their provision is uncertain, and comes accidentally, and at irregular intervals. When his hunger becomes too great, he’ll eat clay if it is to be had; and this, as it is not to be digested, remains in his belly till he gets flesh, and that works it off violently; and then he is heard to howl most dismally for pain;

One farmer who killed a wolf, opened the animal’s stomach up to see what it had been eating and found it full of moss and the tops of birch trees.

Lloyd tells us that Scandinavia is “exempt from rabies”. I can’t confirm that to actually be the case but he is quite convinced there were never any cases of rabies recorded at least up until this time in history. Part of the reason for bringing this up is that in his list of wolf encounters, all occurred with what appear to be healthy animals. This dispels the myth that only diseased wolves will attack a human.

Like with all the other accounts we’ve examined, wolves in Scandinavia are most dangerous during the long winter months, when food is scare and the animals run in very large packs. People traveled most often by sleigh or horse and during these times some where allowed to have guns for protection as it was common for packs of wolves to attack and follow the travelers.

The author tells readers that when the wolf is hungry and in packs, they seem not afraid of anything, boldly entering barns and enclosed pastures taking whatever they wanted, sometimes barely reacting to the beating by farmers with clubs, sticks and rocks.

The story here gives us an indication of excess killing. In modern times, at least here in North America, we have coined the term “surplus killing” to characterize the act of wolves killing far more prey than they ever intend to eat.

The wolf is amongst the most voracious of beasts. The slaughter he commits in the fold is at times terrible; and he frequently kills ten times more than he can devour. Hence it would appear, he is impelled rather by a mere love of destroying, than by hunger.

I read recently the account of one wildlife biologist who said that surplus killing did occur with wolves and domestic animals but rarely happened with wild animals, particularly large game animals. Even though I have had the opportunity to read accounts of and view pictures of what seem to show surplus killings of deer and elk by wolves, biologists, for whatever their motives, seem quick to come to the rescue of the wolf and state that it may appear the wolves killed needlessly but will return at a later date and clean up the mess. This brings the discussion to one that now becomes quite subjective. If a pack of wolves during one attack session kills 20 elk and then leaves without eating any of them, one can argue that the wolves will return to clean up later, yet we have no way of knowing that.

I find it a tough pill to swallow that wolves will only “surplus kill” domestic animals and not wild ones. The game manager making the statement backed his theory by saying that most livestock have had all sense of fighting back bred out of them. I have never witnessed alive any attack by wolves on deer and elk, but in most of the video I’ve seen, the deer and elk aren’t fighting back. They may run and stand their ground for a time but are soon outnumbered or worn down to defeat.

I can concur that it would appear much easier, if I were a wolf, to enter an enclosed area housing 100 sheep and killing them all, than to run down and kill 100 elk or deer. This doesn’t however dispel the idea that wolves do not “surplus kill” elk and deer. The task may be more difficult but the voraciousness of the wolf is on display no matter what animal it is attempting to kill. If a pack kills any number of game animals they don’t consume or haul away, we can say there was surplus killing.

The landscape of much of Scandinavia provided excellent habitat for wolves and as a result, there were many to contend with. The habitat also prevented hunting the wolf in what is referred to as a common method – using dogs and people to drive wolves out of the thick forests into openings or fields where the wolves could be shot. There were just too many intermingled, dense forests where wolves could essentially hide forever. This brought extra challenges upon the citizenry to protect themselves and devise other means of killing wolves and killing as many as they could all at once.

The presence of wolves was an extreme burden on the people. It is described in some places as being the most difficult thing in life to deal with. Here in the West we think stories like Little Red Riding Hood were created from some fairy tale dreamed up by a fanciful writer.

Not only do our children’s books relate some of the experiences people had years ago, the angst and outright hatred that grew toward the wolf had people believing the the wolf was an incarnation of Satan himself. As backwards as this may seem to the modern West, we’ve never really had to deal with anything so frightful and controlling, with the dominance of a vicious predator. It was as bad or even worse than any plague.

The people persevered and one way that helped was the creation of devises and methods to catch, trap and kill wolves. In the northern areas of Scandinavia, the Lapps often strapped on their skis, or skidor they were called, armed themselves with a 12-foot long pointed spear and headed into areas thought to have wolves.

The conditions needed to be right so that the snow was such that wolves couldn’t run away and yet the hunters could remain on top of the snow with their skis and navigate to where the wolves were, spearing them to death. A good downhill run seemed a good opportunity.

Sooner or later, however, he is necessitated to quit the ” vantage-ground,” and betake himself once more to the forest or the fjall, as the case may be. Thus the chase may continue for a day or two, until the beast is fairly worn out with hunger and fatigue, when his pursuers are enabled to close with him—generally on the long slope of a hill—and to put an end to his miseries and his life.

Seldom would enough wolves be killed to have any real affect on limiting the wolf kills on the reindeer herds. However, under the right conditions, there is a recorded event of around 70 wolves being killed in one week using this method of skis and spears.

As I mentioned earlier, hunting wolves by foot or horseback in the “traditional” manner was quite ineffective. Lloyd explains it this way.

Little in the shape of wolf-hunting—such at least as accords with our notions of hunting—is practised in Sweden; and that little is, from necessity, always followed on foot. From the difficult nature of the ground, and the peculiar style of fence, it would be quite an impossibility to pursue that beast on horseback.

And thus the most effective means to deal with wolf populations was devised – locate the dens and kill the cubs. Lloyd goes to great lengths offering advice on how best to locate the dens. As a bonus, hunters would set a trap for the she-wolf and kill it when it returned to the den area.

The she-wolf does not, like the fox, litter in deep holes in the ground, where it is difficult to get at the cubs; but under boulders, under the stumps of uprooted trunks, in close thickets, or beneath spruce-pine trees, the branches of which hang to the very ground; and for this reason, when the Lya is found, one can readily take and destroy the cubs.

“One of the number, however, should be retained alive, that by means of its cries the mother may be killed also. The object is best effected by erecting a screen of boughs, near to the lair, where two of the hunting party (the rest retiring to a distance) secrete themselves, and shoot her on her return home. This is hastened by the piteous lament of her offspring, who at some four feet from the ground, is suspended by the hind leg to a neighbouring tree. But the men, at such times, should face in opposite directions, so that one or the other will be sure to see her when she first makes her appearance, as she then comes much nearer to the ambush than afterwards.”

The event of locating wolf lyas (lairs) and destroying the cubs is a community-wide event employing large groups of people. A continued effort each year to do this seemed somewhat effective in keeping wolf populations in check.

Another method used by the Scandinavians, particularly in areas overrun with wolves was called a Skall-platser. Essentially, an area is located in which bait is deposited in great amounts over long periods of time. This often consisted of dead animals.

During the time of year, mostly winter, when the wolves were both hungry and packing together in larger numbers, hunters, numbering as high as 600 hundred would surround the baited area where no wolf could escape. Canine slaughter ensued.

During a period of about 7 years, it is recorded that 35 of these Skalls took place, resulting in the killing of over 200 wolves, including cubs. This may have been the most effective means of killing larger numbers of wolves at one time but I believe the most effective long term was killing the cubs and she-wolves. One of the problems with carrying out the Skalls was the expense and the time commitment in keeping the area baited.

Scandinavia also employed the use of live, squealing pigs on a winter sleigh to lure the wolves out while hunters riding the sleigh shot them. I covered this in more detail in Part I.

In all of the stories covered in this multi-part article, people resorted to the creation and use of traps. Most of them to catch an individual wolf but as we learned earlier, elaborate contraptions were designed to capture many wolves at one time.

While individual traps served the purpose of maybe taking care of one or two problem wolves that were killing livestock, it did virtually nothing to control wolf populations.

What we should have at least learned through all of this is that wolves are most difficult to “catch”. We read here in Scandinavia that the terrain and habitat was such that much of it was impossible to hunt on foot or horseback. In all the stories, the authors made no bones about the fact that wolf population controls had to be done on a consistent basis and the only way to accomplish this was with the use of hunting dogs. There was nothing very scientific about any of it. They knew there were too many wolves and no matter what they did, there were always too many wolves.

I’ve pointed out numerous times that as the United States readies itself for a rapidly expanding population of wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes, I have little confidence that we are prepared to handle the problem or at least take care of it in a timely matter.

Idaho, a state that is eager to get the federal government off its back and out of its state, has written up preliminary rules to govern wolf hunts. None of the rules allow for any of the methods I’ve described or provided for you from history past. I’m not advocating for the employment of these methods but we have to use history to teach us that a hunter alone with a gun is no good.

With a wolf population growing at a rate of near 30% in some places, sending a man and his rifle into the woods to kill a wolf will do nothing to stop or slow the rate of growth. With the proper management of wolves, it should be known whether the state wants to reduce, maintain or grow the wolf population in certain wildlife management areas. This is readily accomplished through the issuance of tags or quotas. When the quota is taken the hunt ends. If this be the case, then why put so many restrictions on the hunter? It really makes little sense?

We have areas now where the deer and elk are being killed by wolves at a rate that some fear is approaching or has surpassed recovery. Presently our hands are tied as wildlife managers are at the mercy of the federal government and having to be in compliance with an Endangered Species Act that has morphed into a political activists’ tool.

If the day comes when each state is granted permission to manage the wolf, we have to be ready, knowledgeable about the wolf and its habits and prepared to implement the necessary tools to accomplish the needed tasks.

I hope that this article and the other four parts can serve as a means of gaining a better, more truthful understanding of the wolf. Learning about the truth shouldn’t be something we fear. It is fought against only by those with hidden agendas.

Tom Remington