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How To/Pro-Tips

Fishing North By Northwest

Those first warm but still pre-spring days before winter finally lets go for good can be a fishing bonanza. Fish, dormant all winter long, "wake up" when the waters begin to warm, and they wake up hungry. Early spring fishing reverses the summertime advice to fish in the shade. Seek the sun for best fishing results. Because the sun is still traversing the sky at a rather low angle in the southern sky, look to south-facing coves and other productive structure on the north and northwest sides of reservoirs to warm up first. Banks of natural rock or of rock rip-rap are particularly good because the rocks efficiently absorb and hold the sun's heat, helping warm the adjacent water. Fish will suspend along these rock banks looking for both favorable temperatures and food. Virtually all species of game fish are affected by this early warm-up and some of the spring's best fishing can occur before spring actually gets here.

Simple Survival

If you get lost, keeping your wits is better than any survival kit sold. Of course, a good survival kit is both comforting and useful if you get lost or injured while hunting or fishing, but staying calm is you first challenge and best course. Most people are found within 24 hours, so you don't have to survive for a long time. Resist the urge to blindly strike out, and never run. Don't even walk at night or in a fog. Doing these things usually makes a bad situation worse and greatly increases your chance of injury. Stay where you are unless you are in real and imminent danger (flood, lightning strike, etc.). Go no farther than necessary to be safe. Use your energy to make a shelter and fire. A good survival kit should include items that assist with both. Of utmost importance, always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.

Stay Ahead Of The Game

The most important elements of wingshooting are the same as in golf. Keep your head down and follow through. This means keeping your head down on the stock and continuing your swing after pulling the trigger. However, lead is also critical to hitting moving targets. That is how far in front of the target you must "aim" to cause the shot column to intersect with the target's flight path. "Sustained lead" means establishing a specific amount of forward allowance and maintaining that distance through firing and follow through. Skeet shooters use this rather precise method because target speed and angle are known. "Swing through" lets the target set the lead. Beginning behind the target, the shooter swings through it and fires as the muzzle passes to the front. "Snap shooting" means simply pointing at the spot you think the target will be when the pattern gets there and firing. This is the least precise method and works well only at very short range.

Take Note

After the season, as you put your gear in order, consider catching up on what many consider a very important piece of hunting equipment - your hunting journal. Throughout the season, good hunters keep notes on what they see while hunting. They jot down what deer are browsing on and when; what trails and terrain sees the most use and when; what the weather was like when they observed unusually high activity. He or she also note or map spots where they frequently jump or encounter deer. Almost all journal entries note the time of day, day of month, weather and wind conditions and moon phase. At season's end they "clean up" these rather random notes and they become their "Hunting Journal". After a few seasons, it becomes a great database of information on deer movement

Food Plot Fertilization

More and more people are starting to plant wildlife food plots to make an area more attractive to deer, wild turkey and other wildlife species. Basic farming principles can make these plots more productive and efficient. Have the soil tested. This can be arranged through a local county agent or representative of the state agriculture department. Many forest soils are acidic and need lime for best plant growth. You can waste a lot of time, seed and fertilizer when an application of lime was what was really needed. The soil test also can clue you in to what specific fertilizer blend is right for your area. It is well established that deer prefer and selectively feed on well fertilized plants. Also consider what you plant. Warm- or cool-season plants and shade-tolerant species for small forest openings are available. Consult with state wildlife agency biologists as to which plant species local wildlife utilize and are compatible with in your region, climate and soil type.

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