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With all the anti-hunters patrolling social media recently, it’s important to note that there is so much more to hunting than the “kill” itself. To most hunters, the kill is the least thrilling part of the experience. The most exciting part is the work leading up to the hunt. Training and preparing, and spending time outdoors in the process, is what it’s really all about. For some, that means running and hiking. For others, shooting their bows and going to the rifle range. And for me personally, training my dogs.
I have been hunting since I was a little girl. To be honest, I don’t have a good story about “how” I got into hunting. I’ve been doing it since before I can remember. Growing up, I was mostly into “big game” hunting. I didn’t like shotguns or bird hunting. Every time I went duck hunting with my Dad, I would get frustrated because I couldn’t hit anything. It wasn’t until college when I met my boyfriend that I got into wing shooting. He is borderline obsessed with duck hunting and I knew I should probably give it a try if we were going to work out. I was terrible at first. I rarely took a shot, and when I did I would miss. Over the next few hunts, I became more comfortable with the situation and began to enjoy myself. I went to my Dad’s duck club a few times that season and really started to warm up to the sport.
What I really enjoyed about wing shooting was being with the dogs. They were a huge part of the hunt and I loved that. Around the time I started duck hunting, my Dad bought a new retriever puppy. The puppy’s name was Nitro. Good ole goofy Nitro. After Nitro came back from his first 8 months of training, he didn’t seem to know a thing, so my Dad decided to give him away. I offered to take him and see what I could do to make him a better retriever. Well, that was a disaster. I knew nothing about retriever training. Poor Nitro was so confused. So, my Dad offered to send him to a different professional trainer of my choice. I sent him off and he came back a new dog. The trainer taught me some basic drills I could do in the off-season to keep him fresh. I would take him to the park and work him almost every day. We had a blast.
Once I graduated and moved to Beaumont, I looked into the retriever clubs in my area. I knew nothing about hunt tests or field trials, nor did I care to run in them. I just needed a pond to train my dog in that wasn’t overrun by gators. Once I joined, the other members encouraged me to at least try it once. I entered him in a senior test and failed, then came back the next day and passed. I was hooked from that point forward. I told myself I would just get his senior title and then be done with it, yet here we are two years later. We are currently working towards his Master title AND I have another puppy.
I say these things, because now more than ever, my true passions center around the off-season and what I do to prepare. I can confidently say that I hunt waterfowl more for my dogs than anything else. I am sure anyone who knows me would agree. Hunters prepare for their harvest like a runner prepares for a marathon. When a runner wins a marathon they feel rewarded, and so do we. We are proud of our accomplishments and we have the right to show it. Google any athlete and you will find photos of them proudly holding their trophies. Google any hunter and you will find the same. There is no difference. Those trophies are the result of countless days spent training and preparing. As a hunter, I will forever choose to take pride in my accomplishments and celebrate them just as anyone else would.
A great deal can be said for relying on traditional approaches when dealing with gobblers. Minimalism is the essence of old-fashioned hunting. Hunters walked into the woods with only a few items, a snack, and passion. Nothing techy lined their pockets and despite their gear, what truly defines the traditionalist is not equipment but how he or she hunts.
Here are some key aspects of traditional turkey lore, which deserve to be part of every modern hunter’s approach to the sport.
#prois #hunting #NWTF #JimCasada #turkeyhunting
Most turkey hunters spend an incredible amount of time and brain matter trying to outsmart their turkey counterparts. But the big question here is this…do turkeys learn from our mistakes or success?
John Higley of NWTF has the following advice…
An old tom gobbled at the hunter’s every yelp, but instead of sauntering into shotgun range, he stayed just out of sight and eventually drifted away. “Darn,” the hunter thought. “That old boy was toying with me just like he did the other day. That’s one smart turkey!”
Maybe so, and maybe no. Spring after spring, hunters encounter frustrating gobblers; birds that seem ripe for calling but don’t cooperate. Some of them rattle a few times on the roost, fly down and clam up for the rest of the day, leaving hunters to wonder if they did something wrong. It’s even worse when a tom continues to gobble at your pleading yelps but then hangs up and refuses to take another step.
Because they’re fickle, some hunters give turkeys almost Einstein-like qualities when it comes to intelligence.
The ladies of Prois went on another great adventure in Texas last week… This time at 700 Springs Ranch near Junction.
Prois staffer, Amber Brandly, got her second turkey of the season… Congrats, Amber!
Prois Customer, Ashley Worrell, is helping to control the Texas hog population…
Julia Smith, with Arden Hunters Guild, bagged her first turkey ever…
Amy Coyne took this Texas Dahl Sheep at 200 yards…
And then she took this hog with a shotgun and turkey shot at 50 yards…
Prois CEO, Kirstie Pike, bagged a Corsican Ram…
And this turkey…
And this one…
Did we mention she is the definition of a “Bad-Ass”? Just look it up and you will see.
A Prois Women’s hunt wouldn’t be the same without a good photo bomb… So here you have it.
A good selfie is also a must… Nicely done Kirstie and Amber.
The Prois Women’s hunts continue to provide lots of fun, laughter, and success time after time. Thank you so much to the awesome people at 700 Springs Ranch for a great trip!
No, I’m not talking about the past elections.
How do you measure a successful hunt? Is it a monster buck or bull? Is it a successful harvest? Or is it time out hunting, with your family, friends or by yourself? Do you measure your success of a hunt by the equipment you use and the gear you have? Or simply time spent in nature soaking up God’s great creations? Me? I measure success of a hunt by my experiences…. Time with family, time with God and simply the God given ability to get out and do what I love. Oh, and then there is the success of being able to hunt without desperately gasping for air and bending to cling to my knees after climbing a hill. I’m talking about being in shape. Both mentally and physically, they go hand in hand. There is nothing more rewarding to me then to gracefully, quietly and easily make my way to the top of a mountain without feeling like I just went through military boot camp. Sure, it’s an ego boost as well when I look around and see all the guys sweating and huffing like draft horses pulling a 3000 pound sled.
All too often hunters get prepared for the upcoming hunting season by making sure they have their bow sighted in, have enough arrows and new broad heads along with checking equipment to make sure all gear is up to par. However, rarely do hunters take into consideration the physical preparation needed for the hunt. Being physically fit can be the difference of having an enjoyable hunt or a hunt that kicks your butt. We all know getting up early is part of the hunt. That alone is a hard task for some. But when you wake up the next day and your body is screaming for more rest because you are sore from the previous days hunt… What’s the fun in that? When you are in shape physically, the mental portion follows suit. It has been proven time over that physical activity (working out) improves mental clarity and relieves stress. You have enough on your mind when hunting such as spotting and stalking, calling, and concentrating on making that once in a life time shot. You shouldn’t be thinking about whether or not you can make it up the mountain without needing CPR!
So, with that being said I would like to offer some tips.
1) Set goals; start off small and work your way up. You will need to set both cardio and strength goals. A good goal to start for cardio is walking 2-3 times per week, walk up and down your driveway to get started. Slowly increase the distance by a couple miles at a time, pickup your pace and change terrain. In addition to walking, add biking to the mix. Make your routines fun, go for a hike in new territory, discover new places, or take up mountain biking. Whatever you decide to do, make it fun, make it your own, make it challenging (repelling anyone?)
2) You will need to be physically strong to not only carry all your gear around, but also to carry out your harvest. Hit the weights at least 3 times per week. Remember the smaller the starting goal, the longer the time needed to increase so don’t wait a month before the season to start getting active. You don’t have to be a gym rat to accomplish these goals; there are a lot of things around the house that you can use as weights. Get creative; fill a bucket up with sand! If you are up for the challenge, hire a personal trainer with specific needs in mind (hunting with a bow is exercise specific). Exercises to focus on for bow hunting specifically include: shoulders (front to side arm raises, arm circles, shrugs and lateral raises) upper and lower back (back extensions, seated lat row, reverse fly’s and reverse grip lat pull down) biceps (curls and pull ups) and core (oblique twists, reverse curls and good ‘ol fashion crunches). You of course want to balance out your muscles so don’t forget to throw in some chest presses and triceps pushups just for fun! In relation to the actual hunt and climbing mountains, your lower body needs to be just as strong if not more. Your tail end is one of the biggest muscles you got… work it! Lunges, squats (they don’t have to be in deep range of motion) and hamstring curls will all target the gluteus maximus, aka your tail end. Once you get started in your exercise regimen, you will need (and want!) to maintain your progress. It’s much easier to consistently exercise throughout the year then to be a one-month warrior. Schedule time in your day to workout. You may even have to book an appointment with yourself. Most importantly, be forgiving. If you miss a day or two or even a week, don’t be hard on yourself or ride the guilt train. Just pick up where you left off. Being strong enough to draw your bow back is an essential part to hunting, not only does it make it more enjoyable for you, but it isn’t fair to the game we have the privilege to hunt if the shot we make isn’t steady.
3) Of course getting physically fit involves proper nutrition (sorry, facts of life!) During the hunt (pack in/out intensity) you of course need higher caloric foods to sustain you. However, with day to day eating, your choices should be a little more carefully planned out. There is nothing new here and no magic pill. Fruits and veggies, balance your proteins and fats and include carbs into your foods. Now, when I say fats and carbs, I am not talking about ice cream, cookies, pizza, fast food joints and Ho Ho’s (although in moderation *gasp* it’s okay). Our bodies need fats and carbs to function, but it is the good kind. (Real butter, avocado, legumes, nuts, occasional red meats, cheeses etc). And of course water. Food has an amazing ability to heal the body; we just have to give it a chance. I challenge you to try it… even if it’s not hunting season for you. Make a commitment for at least one month. Cut out boxed, prepackaged and canned meals. Try to eat what grows naturally. When was the last time you saw a box of Hamburger Helper® growing off a tree? You don’t have to get crazy and go all organic, but I would suggest you stop eating foods that are processed and full of preservatives. Our bodies were not built to digest the chemicals in these foods. You give this challenge a try and you will be amazed at the changes your body makes.
On a side note to physical fitness and proper nutrition, I want to mention the importance of having mental strength and clarity. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities, now that you have exercised and gotten fit, you can do anything… right? Confidence comes with knowing you can tackle the hunt, climb the hill and haul out your kill. Be patient, positive and prepared (do I hear a triple “P” cheer?). Patients, well… you’re a bow hunter it’s a given that is an essential tool. Positivity will get you a long way my friends, whether you are by yourself or with a hunting party. Have you ever been around “that” person that see’s the down side to everything or is constantly putting themselves down? I have and it’s not fun… Keep your attitude up; after all there are worse things you could be doing instead of getting out to do what you love. And finally, prepared. Being prepared is such an important mental factor. Having the right clothes for the weather, terrain and clothes that fit you properly (ladies – stop buying men’s camo clothes!) makes you feel, well, good. Being prepared to gut, wrap and pack your harvest with all the necessary tools leaves you without worry of how to get the job done. Being prepared with extra food and water helps with the long process involved after taking that fatal shot. To achieve all this, you have to be mentally strong. To be mentally strong you have to be healthy. To be healthy you have to be physically fit. Yes it’s tough to get started, but all things worth working for have great rewards.
Here’s to measured success!
Just because we are bow hunters doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have big guns!
You don’t have to be able to lift a car to draw back a bow… but you should be prepared!
Building up your strength for bow season doesn’t have to be hard. Lifting weights 2-3 times a week, with a day of rest in between should do the trick. You will want to do 3 or 4 sets of 16 reps and choose a weight that will allow you to have good form, but will challenge you to get out the last 5-6 reps. Lift the weights in slow controlled motions and avoid swinging your body for momentum to lift the weight. You will want to make sure you work both sides equally rather than focusing just on your draw arm… imbalances will cause compensation issues leading to muscle injury. No pain no gain is not always the case, listen to your body and learn the difference between muscle fatigue and muscle injury. Muscle soreness is normal when you get started on a lifting routine. Drink lots of water, stretch after your workouts and if the soreness is extreme, take the recommended dosage of Tylenol®. However do not let a little bit of soreness keep you from working out it will get easier as you get stronger. Then it will be time to increase your weights. To avoid plateaus, change up the types of exercises you do about every 4-5 weeks. If you can, find a workout partner, not only will they motivate you but they can keep you safe and spot you as you start to increase the amount of weight you lift.
So, here’s to big gun bow hunters everywhere!
Sign Language Scouting as Described by Steve Hickhoff from the NWTF
Hunters use the term “sign” to speak of evidence left behind by the quarry they’re hunting.
Tracks – Track size can indicate the sex and age of an autumn and winter flock’s turkeys. Mixed sets of new and old tracks say flocks regularly use the area. Note them on field edges, muddy access roads, and wherever groups favor a food source.
Droppings – Damp droppings say wild turkeys were there recently. Typically we assign j-shaped leavings to gobblers, and bloblike ones to hens, but sometimes that can vary. Dry, decomposing sign says turkeys were once there, but may have moved on, likely to another food source.
Feathers – Concentrated feathers can reveal a roost site when slightly dispersed in likely cover below big-branched trees, or a predator kill when tightly compacted in a single small area. Biology tells us turkeys molt according to age and sex. Poults lose and replace feathers as they grow toward fall. Juvenile turkeys stop molting come winter, then start again in spring. Adult turkeys shed feathers into summer when molting peaks. Breeding gobblers do so after their mating activity passes, and hens molt after broods are hatched, or nesting is unsuccessful.
Scratchings – Raked areas in the woods, along field edges, or in food plots, often indicate autumn and winter turkey feeding zones. These scratchings can show the number of birds in a flock. Tracks, droppings, and feathers may also be found among this feeding sign. Old sign of any kind may indicate turkeys have left the area for other food sources.
Dusting Areas – Early autumn, pre-freeze dusting bowls are fresh if the soil is loose, and other sign in them or nearby is new. Seasonally, wild turkeys around the country dust spring, summer, and fall.
More or Less – Abundant sign indicates bigger flocks, while spare evidence reflects fewer numbers.
— Steve Hickoff
It was a great weekend of turkey hunting for Prois staff and customers everywhere, take a look at all these trophies!
Host of His & Hers Outdoors TV and Prois staffer, Stacy Sissney, doubled up on gobblers alongside her husband…
Prois Customer, Sarah Fromenthal, enjoyed the thrill of her first turkey harvest…
Prois customer, Mitzi Weiss, dodged the Texas rattlers to score her bird…
Prois staffer, Becky Lou Lacock, guided for the Tennessee Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt and helped 12 year old, Chloe Webb, take this big thunder chicken weighing in at 22.2 pounds…
As always, the Prois Posse makes us proud… Keep up the great work ladies!