Tough Times Breed Good Duck Hunts in Mid-Michigan

November 30, 2012

Gabe Graham calls ducks from the standing corn at Shiawassee River State Game Area.

The flock of mallards swung wide of our position in the standing corn at Shiawassee River State Game Area and when they zoomed in out front with no indication of any interest in our decoys, John Bakos said “take ’em.”

We dropped two drakes out of the flock. Brandon Bakos, John’s 14-year-old son, waded out to fetch them. He brought back one gorgeous greenhead and one very odd duck. The bird had a mostly brown head–though there was a lot of green in it–and a gray, pintail-like bill. The speculum on its wings said pintail, but its feet weren’t gray–they were a muted orange, almost yellow. Its hind end lacked the distinctive sprig of a bull pintail and was shaped more like a mallard’s.

It must have been a hybrid, one that would have made an impressive mount had it not taken as much shot as it did.

A drake mallard shares a lanyard rig with a mallard/pintail hybrid.

While Bakos and his ofttimes hunting partner Gabe Graham studied the bird, a discussion ensued: how do we count it against the bag–was it a mallard or a pintail? I figured if we killed 15 more mallards it was a pintail. Otherwise, what did it matter?

The odds of us killing a four-man limit of mallards were probably pretty small, given how hunting has been at Shiawassee this year. Hunting has been fairly tough, despite good numbers of birds using the refuge on the area. It probably has to do with the weather, which has been about as mild as any fall in recent memory.

But we did have one thing going for us: wind. It was blowing hard out of the north and had been for the last 24 hours. It was the kind of wind that brings fresh birds, which are much more easily fooled than those who have been around the area for awhile.

We’d drawn well–fifth or sixth overall of the 40-some parties who signed up for the afternoon hunt–and gotten the field we’d wanted: all the way upwind, where the birds had been working the evening before.

“There’s enough wind to push those birds all the way to the back,” said Bakos, who has about 40 years experience hunting at Shiawassee. “You don’t want to take that field unless there’s a real strong wind.”

Problem was, it was in our faces, not at our backs. We’d put four dozen duck decoys–and about a dozen Canada goose floaters–out in front of us and strung them out near the far end of our waterhole.

“It’s not good to use that many decoys unless you’ve got a lot of birds,” Bakos said. “But anytime you get a strong wind like this, you know you’re going to get new birds.

“If we didn’t have this wind, we’d have put out one dozen.”

We were hoping they’d try to drop in in front of us, but it was no such luck. There just wasn’t enough open water for the birds to work the dekes in that high wind. What saved us was the sheer volume of mallards in the air. There were ducks all over the place.

Brandon Bakos retrieves a hen mallard he shot.

Despite the fact that they wouldn’t finish, they did look. And when they came within shotgun range–we had to make a fair number of 40-yard shots–we took them. We generally faced away from the decoys and took birds that were flying into the wind, despite the fact they never stuck their legs out to land.

A single widgeon came zooming across the decoys and Graham took it. A handful of teal skirted the set and Bakos scratched one down. Otherwise it was all about mallards–which, generally speaking, is what Shiawassee is all about.

They came by as singles, as pairs, in small flocks and, occasionally, in good numbers. Whenever they got a little too close for their own good, we’d pick out the greenheads and shoot them (though Bakos told his son to go ahead and take a hen if he wanted).

There were birds in the air a fair portion of the time (I think we had one one-hour lull) but only a fraction of them came in for close enough look to offer shooting. Still, with 10 minutes of shooting time remaining, we had 15 mallards along with the widgeon, teal and now pintail.

A pair of mallards swung wide. I knocked down the drake and we figured we were done. Bakos went for the boat, Brandon and I started wrapping up decoys while Graham went to retrieve the limit mallard. Turns out, it sailed beyond the ditch – which we couldn’t cross until we were in the boat – and we never found it in the growing darkness.

Still, 18 ducks? Not so bad, especially this year when the hunting has been uncharacteristically tough at Shiawassee.

For more information on Michigan hunting go to

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Dog Wireless Adds Wireless Dog Fence Training Video to its Website

November 30, 2012

Dog Wireless Adds Wireless Dog Fence Training Video to its Website

The learning curve for customers interested in Wireless Dog Fence varies depending on the individual. Understanding the technology of wireless dog products can be somewhat challenging to some customers. Video provides the perfect solution to helping all customers understand how products work as well as how to set up and use products.

The Wireless Dog Fence Training Video added teaches how to train a dog to understand its containment area. Providing this video will help customers understand what they will need to do if they purchase a wireless dog fence system. By having this video available before a purchase is made the decision of choosing which system to buy is made easier.

These systems provide great convenience and flexibility. With a wireless system there are no wires to bury and installation is easy. Once locating the optimal location for the transmitter it’s powered up, the boundary flags are placed along the perimeter and the training can begin.

Once trained the pet can roam freely and safely in the pet area and the owner can relax knowing their pet is safe. The wireless system is also portable. When a move to a new home occurs there may be no need to train as much as originally needed because the pet is already familiar with the tone created by the collar.

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Blood Trail Leads Police to California Poachers

November 30, 2012

Nai Saechao on left and Scott Lee on right. Image courtesy of El Dorado Sheriff's Department.

If it weren’t for the large amount of blood coming from their Toyota SUV, two men from California likely would not have gotten caught poaching a deer in El Dorado County. The men, Scott Lee, 46, and Nai Saechao, 32, both from Sacramento, reportedly shot a spike male deer off of a road with a shotgun. The two loaded it into the SUV and drove off, but during the drive, the deer, apparently not dead, regained consciousness and began struggling in the vehicle.

One or both of the men took out an edged weapon to stab the deer until it finally died, according to a press release from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. The blood was so excessive that it was coming out of the back of the vehicle. Police caught up with the man because of the multiple 911 calls reporting the blood trail from the botched poaching.

“The two occupants of the Toyota were trying to hide their faces as the driver was speeding away,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Multiple officers were sent out to catch up with the poachers. They were stopped speeding traveling westbound on Highway 50 nearing the county line. The officers did not know what to expect when approaching the vehicle, so they conducted a felony stop. Inside, they found the carcass of a freshly-killed deer. The men and the car were covered in blood.

Both Lee and Saechao were booked into the El Dorado county jail and posted bail later that night. They were charged with poaching, animal cruelty, and other offenses.

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African Nation of Botswana Declares Countrywide Ban on Hunting

November 30, 2012

Elephants in Botswana, Chobe National Park.

The Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism in Botswana announced on Thursday it will enforce a ban on all hunting in the country effective January 1, 2014 saying that wildlife populations are declining.

Botswana, a land-locked country in southern Africa, boasts roughly one-third of the world’s elephant population, or about 130,000 of the large herbivores. Its large national parks and the Kalahari Desert are home to lions, giraffes, wild dogs, antelopes, buffalo, wildebeests and more. The country is a premier destination for safaris.

At 12 percent of the annual GDP, tourism is the country’s second biggest industry after diamond mining, but tourism doesn’t outweigh its interpretation of conservation, according to the ministry.

The ministry claimed that hunting had only contributed a minimal amount to the tourism sector, according to the BBC. The country is grappling with a sharp population drop of some of its wildlife species.

“If left unchecked this decline poses a genuine threat to both the conservation of our natural heritage and the long term health of the local tourist industry which currently ranks second to diamonds in terms of its revenue earnings,” the ministry said.

Botswana’s president Ian Khama had mentioned implementing such a bill in his state of the nation address last month, according to the AFP. The ministry said the ban will still allow for individual licenses for specific game to be hunting in specific circumstances, such as “for traditional hunting by some local communities within designated wildlife management areas.”

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Flextone Game Calls Receives Magazine’s ‘Gear of the Year’ Award

November 30, 2012

Flextone Game Calls Receives Magazine’s ‘Gear of the Year’ Award

Flextone Game Calls, an industry leader in natural game sounds is pleased to announce the Flextone Buck Collector has won the Bowhunt America magazine 2013 Gear of the Year Gold award for Calls. The Bowhunt America readers have chosen the Buck Collector to be the go-to call in the field. This award represents an outstanding accomplishment with archery consumers nationwide applauding the Flextone line of game calls.

Bowhunt America recently surveyed archery consumers all across the country and asked them to answer the question, “What archery products proved to perform the best?” They responded to that question in 25 different archery product categories, awarding honors to candidates as follows: Gear of the Year Gold Winners received the most votes, Gear of the Year Silver Winners received the second most votes and Gear of the Year Bronze Winners received a significant number of votes.

Matt Busbice, President of Marketing at Flextone comments, “I am speechless! This is a great honor for Flextone. A lot of time and effort goes into the development of our game calls. To have our consumers choose us out of all the other great call companies humbles me. We want to thank all of our loyal users for their support. Flextone will continue to make calls that are nature designed and Flextone engineered”.

Flextone teamed up with Michael Waddell and the whole Bone Collector brotherhood to create the most innovative deer call to enter the woods. To put it easily, Flextone put the whole herd in one call. The Buck Collector produces all known vocalizations as well as wheeze sounds through one killer deer call. No matter what deer vocalization you need to produce, the Buck Collector will do it simply by squeezing the labeled buttons while you blow. The call even has an integrated snort wheeze that amplifies the sound as it travels through the exhaust chamber. For more information on the Buck Collector call, please visit

A formal announcement of all 2013 Gear of the Year winners was made in a feature article in the Bowhunt America 2012 Whitetail Guide. For more information on the 2013 Gear of the Year awards or to view the list of winners, visit

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Sportsman Channel’s Hunt.Fish.Feed. Program Wraps Another Successful Year of Feeding the Needy

November 30, 2012

Sportsman Channel’s Hunt.Fish.Feed. Program Wraps Another Successful Year of Feeding the Needy

Since Inception, Program Has Fed More than 17,000 and Donated 6,000 Pounds of Venison

The end-of-year stats are in and Sportsman Channel’s Hunt.Fish.Feed. program has fed more than 3,500 of those less fortunate this past year, making the program’s total numbers more than 17,000 fed and more than 6,000 pounds of venison and fish donated. This is all possible in large part to its partners like Mule Deer Foundation, Outdoor Heritage Education Center and various cable operators. Hunt.Fish.Feed., which started in 2007, is a unique outreach program that taps an underutilized food source—game meat and fish donated by sportsmen—to feed those struggling with hunger across America.

“We couldn’t have done all this without the help from our partners at Mule Deer Foundation, Outdoor Heritage Education Center and our cable partners like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications,” said Todd Hansen, COO of Sportsman Channel. “Together we are able to not only feed many in need but drive awareness around the resource of donated game and fish meat, which is a high-protein, low-fat organic option available to shelters across the U.S.”

In 2012, Sportsman Channel stopped in six cities, feeding 3,500 needy and donating 3,000 pounds of venison. The largest event was in Salt Lake City in February where Mule Deer Foundation volunteers fed nearly 2,000 folks at the shelter venison tacos – a Hunt.Fish.Feed. specialty.

“Mule Deer Foundation is proud to be a part of Hunt.Fish.Feed. Our members know immediately what they are going to do with their meat when they harvest their deer. It’s a great feeling to give – and especially to give something that is so needed in these hard times,” said Miles Moretti, president of Mule Deer Foundation.

Since its inception, Sportsman Channel has worked with nearly 1,000 volunteers and 38 shelters across America. Volunteers, led by Executive Chef Scott Leysath of HuntFishCook and Dead Meat, help prepare venison tacos and fish meat with all the extras.

Plans are already underway for Hunt.Fish.Feed. 2013 and the network will announce more details in the coming months.

“Hunt.Fish.Feed. will keep going strong into 2013 and beyond. As long as there is need, and we have the resources, we will be helping those in need stay healthy and positive,” said Hansen.

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Washington’s Outdoor Adventures Inspire Some Great Holiday Gift Ideas

November 30, 2012

Washington’s Outdoor Adventures Inspire Some Great Holiday Gift Ideas

Despite the winter chill, Washingtonians have plenty of reasons to head outdoors during the holiday season. Steelhead are surging up coastal rivers, waterfowl hunting is in full swing and birders are gearing up around the state for the 113th annual Christmas Bird Count.

Those planning to do some holiday shopping between their outdoor adventures can share their appreciation for Washington’s renowned recreational opportunities with the gift of a fishing license, hunting license or a Discover Pass.

Although the new licensing year doesn’t begin until April 1, a lot of people like to have their license in hand a few months early, said Bill Joplin, licensing manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“It’s always great to be prepared when the new season arrives,” Joplin said. “Besides, hunting and fishing licenses make great holiday gifts.”

Starting Dec. 1, state fishing and hunting licenses are available for the 2013 season by phone (866-246-9453), online ( ), and from licensing dealers around the state ( ). A Vehicle Access Pass to lands owned by WDFW is free with most types of fishing and hunting licenses.

For even broader access to state lands, a state Discover Pass also makes a fine holiday gift. At $35, an annual pass provides access to nearly seven million acres of state-managed recreation lands, including state parks, water-access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads.

New this year is the option to choose the activation date for an annual Discover Pass purchased online or from an authorized WILD licensing dealer.

“Those who buy an annual Discover Pass through the WILD system can now activate the pass immediately or anytime within one year of the purchase date,” Joplin said.  “On-line gift buyers can select a future start date so long as they allow 10 days to receive their Discover Pass by mail.”

For details on purchasing a Discover Pass, see .

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Arizona Game and Fish Corrects Inaccurate News Story Affecting Elk Hunters

November 30, 2012

Arizona Game and Fish Corrects Inaccurate News Story Affecting Elk Hunters

Bull elk rifle hunt permits will not be extended under any circumstances

An Associated Press article released today with a Flagstaff dateline incorrectly stated that bull elk hunters “…who come up empty-handed after a week will have their hunts extended.”

That statement is inaccurate. The season for bull elk rifle hunts begins this week, and contrary to incorrect information issued by news and other media outlets today, no extensions of any hunt permits will be available under any circumstances.

Television, radio, newspaper and online news outlets in Flagstaff, Phoenix and elsewhere in Arizona picked up the incorrect information regarding the bull elk hunts and included it in online postings and news reports. News outlets statewide are, or already have, removed the incorrect information, but the Arizona Game and Fish Department is issuing this clarification to be sure that misinformation is corrected and is not passed along.

To reiterate, hunters are advised that NO EXTENSIONS will be available under any circumstances for elk hunt permits, regardless of whether or not their hunts are successful.

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Iowa Bobcat Season Closes Friday

November 30, 2012

Iowa Bobcat Season Closes Friday

The bobcat season is closed as of 11 a.m., Friday, when the quota of 450 bobcats was reached. There is a grace period for trappers to report any animals to a conservation officer and receive their proper tags. The grace period officially ends at 11:59 p.m., Dec.  1.

The grace period only applies to trappers to allow time to move their traps from areas likely frequented by bobcats. Hunters are not allowed a grace period.

Bobcats trapped after the grace period must be turned over to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

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Kowa Optics for Christmas

November 30, 2012

Kowa Optics for Christmas

This Christmas, make the hunter in your life feel extra special with a gift from Kowa under the tree. Kowa’s line of binoculars, spotting scopes and telephoto lenses offer high-quality optic technology that is sure to please every hunter on your list this holiday season.

Kowa’s Prominar optic lenses are in a class all of their own. Color brilliance is enhanced to a whole new level for a remarkable viewing experience thanks to the reduction of chromatic aberration.

With such powerful optics on Kowa products, a well-made, protective body is a must. Magnesium alloy is used to create a rugged structure for Kowa sporting optics, but it also decreases weight, making all of the products easy to carry and use.

For the average hunter on your Christmas list, Kowa offers a full-range of binoculars to choose from, including compact to full size, and in a variety of lens diameters ranging from 25mm up to 82mm. The Genesis series binoculars pairs Kowa’s High Refractive Index Prism, which offers near total reflectance, with the C3 Coating, creating an ultimate viewing experience.

Shopping with a young hunter in mind this Christmas? Try the YF series binoculars, which are compact and ultra-lightweight, but still provide superior optical performance.
For the hunter who requires a more advanced viewing experience out in the field, Kowa also offers a full line of spotting scopes. You can’t go wrong with Kowa’s flagship spotting scope, the TSN-883. It sports an extremely large 88mm Prominar lens, in a lightweight body.

And for the hunter who has everything, the new TSN-IP4S iPhone Adapter now offers a way to turn an iPhone 4 or 4S into a digiscope. The lightweight adapter fits most Kowa spotting scopes and binoculars, and is made of an epoxy resin material that won’t harm the finish on an iPhone. This makes for a great stocking stuffer too.

Don’t get stressed looking for the perfect Christmas gift this holiday season, Kowa has you covered. With advanced optical technology and a trusted lifetime warranty, any Kowa product is sure to be a hit on Christmas morning.

For more information on KOWA Optics visit them online at

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