BPV Outdoors - Hunting, Conservation, And Other Outdoor Pursuits

Prescribed Burns

by Brad 0 Comments

A common question I am asked is why should a prairie be burned, or, doesn’t fire cause damage to the land? Here is your answer in a nutshell. Fire is and always has been part of many natural systems. Much of Wisconsin was historically prairie that was maintained through burning before the area was settled.

The grassland habitat and associated wildlife was not destroyed by regular burning but in fact depended on it. Fire rejuvenates grasslands and recycles nutrients back into the soil, and encroaching brush is set back. These factors result in high quality grassland habitat for several wildlife species including pheasants.

In addition to being a great habitat management tool prescribed burning, which is mostly conducted in the spring is a great way to get outside and enjoy God’s creation! Look and see if any local conservation groups are looking for volunteers to assist with prescribed burns. I am fortunate my local Pheasants Forever Chapter has a burn crew.

Recommended Reading: American Buffalo

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Steven Rinella is one of my favorite outdoor communicators. He does TV shows, books, podcast, and magazine articles. What makes him different is his work does not revolve around big antlers and trophy animals as we commonly see today in outdoor media. Instead he looks at hunting from a philosophical point of view and captures the true beauty of hunting and outdoor experiences. The fact he is a vocal conservationist and public land advocate doesn’t hurt matters when I consider him one of my favorite people in outdoor media.

I just finished one of Steven’s several books American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon. When I started reading this book I was immediately captivated. The format of the book switches back and forth between two main topics. The story covers his preparations, and hunt in the Alaskan wilderness for free ranging buffalo. Secondly, the book does an outstanding job of presenting a historical perspective on how Native Americans and settlers interacted and depended on buffalo.

Steven does a good job in this book on changing between his hunt and the historical perspective of the buffalo. If I would I have sat down and read the historical portion of the book all at once I would have become bored. However, with the format switching from the two topics I never became bored.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of the buffalo my favorite part of this book was his adventure in the Alaskan Bush. He spent ten days in the wilderness, most of it alone. Steven experiences several mishaps during the trip, which, will keep your interest peeked.

I highly recommend reading this book. If you have an interest in hunting or outdoor adventures I don’t think you could go wrong with this read. Check out the attached video of the author himself telling you about his book.

Button Buck: No Regrets

by Brad 0 Comments

 

Last week I had a great deer hunt, which will probably be my last deer hunt of the year before I transition over to chasing squirrels in the treetops and an occasional coyote hunt. For me the hunt was successful in every sense of the word. I thoroughly enjoyed the stillness in the woods while the 15-degree weather nipped at my fingertips and nose. The sky was extra clear as it often is in the winter. Yes, this was one of those special hunts you can only enjoy on a clear winter day, and I got a deer.

After I shot the deer with my muzzleloader it ran 75 yards and dropped in view of my stand. It was only 3:45pm giving me about another hour of light. I decided to kick back enjoy the sunset and see if I could fill another tag.

I was not blessed with another deer, but eagerly approached my downed deer immediately after legal shooting hours had passed. When I reached the deer I confirmed my suspicions when I had made the decision to shoot it. ………. I had shot an antlerless fawn buck. As I reflected for a few moments before field dressing as I always do I was not feeling shame, embarrassment, or inferior as some might expect. Instead I was thankful, excited for the meat, and I could not wait until I got home to show my son who just turned 3 Daddy’s deer.

As a member of the QDMA I am aware of the ramifications of shooting too many young bucks. I believe in the mission of the QDMA and advocate passing younger deer. As a matter of fact as admired my deer I wondered if this fawn back is the same one I passed on the opening weekend of the Wisconsin gun deer season about 3 weeks earlier.

Let me take you back to my hunt and the thoughts going through my mind at the time, so you can understand how I came to my decision and why I was so excited to take that particular deer.

When I noticed the deer I was immediately excited. I experienced the type of excitement where you feel your heart is going to jump out of your chest from pumping to hard. Ever since the farmer chisel plowed the property I hunt in early November deer activity had been minimal. The first opportunity the deer presented me I passed. I struggled with the fact it was still early in the evening and the deer was small. I hoped a bigger deer would come in before dark. Even as the deer stood broadside 20 yards in front of me I passed on the shot.

As the young deer started circling toward my food plot my mind was flooded with different thoughts. I remembered I had not seen this deer with any other ones on my trail camera, maybe I won’t see another deer tonight I thought to myself. In the back of mind I thought about the last 2 years where I had not harvested a deer. As the deer entered my food plot I was painfully aware with a 6 and 3 year old at home this might be my last deer hunt of year. I thought about my freezer, which only has a few pounds of ground venison left in it. I thought about the fact during the time since my last deer I have developed a strong desire to try venison heart, but haven’t had the opportunity. After all of those thoughts raced through my mind I made the decision to shoot the fawn buck. A decision I do not regret.

I know the majority of QDMA members and deer hunters in general are happy for me and understand my thought process, even experiencing similar feelings while hunting.

However, there are a few hunters out there right now who believe what I did was a horrible thing. I ask those people to patient and try and see the situation through a different lens. As I become a better hunter with more success it will be easier for me to pass on deer. It is important to remember we are all hunters who want the best for the future of deer and deer hunting.

Currently as I sit at my kitchen table watching the fat snowflakes fall my memory drifts to my hunt just 8 days ago. My mind is filled with positive memories and excitement. I will always treasure this hunt and remember 3-year-old Jack smiling as he excitedly examined the deer in the back of my truck when I got home, and I am happy to report the venison heart was delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stoeger M3500

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m3500-shotgun

After using the Stoeger M3500 Semi auto shotgun for over 2 years I have tested it enough I can give it a full recommendation. With two younger kids I am at a point in my life where I appreciate value and reliability. I would love to spend $1,500 plus on a shotgun, but right now it is not in the cards. Enter, the Stoeger. I purchased my Black M3500 after months of research for $600.

Research the M3500 on the forums and you will find quite of few negative comments. However, I noticed one important fact. Almost all of the negative comments started with “I heard” or other statements indicating the negative reviewer did not even own one. At the same time other people would say “I basically paid $600 for a Benelli”, which is also not true You paid $600 for a Stoeger, a good shotgun in it’s own right but certainly not a Cadillac level shotgun.

I purchased this gun as my do everything shotgun and have not been disappointed. This gun will handle coyotes, pheasants, turkeys, and waterfowl.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the Stoeger M3500 directly from Stoeger’s Website:

  • 3-1/2-inch, 12-gauge, Inertia Driven®semi-automatic
  • Handles loads from 2-3/4 inch to 3-1/2 inch magnum without adjustment
  • Operating system is lightning fast and reliable, with only 3 moving parts in the bolt
  • 3 barrel lengths: 24, 26, or 28 inches
  • Barrels are fitted with a ventilated, stepped rib and fiber-optic front sight for quick target acquisition
  • Available in 3 finishes

My first impression of the M3500 was overall positive. It looked like a nice gun and felt good while shouldering it. My only complaint about the gun was the hollow composite stock. It wasn’t concerning to me about durability, but it did feel a tad cheap or flimsy.

When I took it to the range I put 25 goose loads through it and it cycled perfectly. Next, I shot target loads with the lowest recommend loads and it did have some problems cycling. However, I was expecting this based on my research. Towards the end of the 25 target loads the gun was starting to operate better. If you do experience a problem with lighter loads go back to heavier loads for a box or two until the gun is broken in.

After breaking the gun in I have used it on numerous hunts and it has performed flawlessly. The action is very smooth and fast. I personally cannot tell a difference in the action from higher end guns. If you are looking for value minded reliable workhorse that can perform a wide variety of tasks look no further than the Stoeger M3500. I don’t think you will be disappointed!

 

New Dummy Launcher

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I finally gave into temptation today and bought a D.T. Systems Pro Dummy Launcher. I have been on the fence of buying one of these for months. Although after a single outing I am not willing to provide a detailed review, my first experience was pleasant. There was no setup involved and it took about 1 minute to figure out its use. I took my dog out to a field with high grass and let err rip.

As I have stated in the past my dog is not a phenom, but he is getting better. The speed of the dummy confused him and it seemed he had a hard time visually tracking the dummy. However, he was still able to find the dummy every time. I am sure it helped him I had slathered pheasant sent on the dummy. The Launcher worked flawlessly during its inaugural use. My dog got a great workout being I was able to effortlessly launch the dummies much father than I could dream of throwing them. I certainly appreciated the fact I did not have any shoulder pain as I sometimes do while throwing a dummy. Not willing to officially endorse the dummy yet, but all in all I am impressed so far.

Why I Oppose Transferring Federal Public Lands

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I enjoyed a public land elk hunt on National Forest in 2012

I enjoyed a public land elk hunt on National Forest in 2012

I am dedicated to habitat for all wildlife and the future of our hunting heritage. As such I cannot support the transfer of national public lands to the states. The issue is a complicated one, with lots of misinformation.

The issue of land transfer was pushed into the national spotlight during the Malheur wildlife refuge standoff in Oregon. However, this is a battle, which has been going on for decades. At times the debates intensify and the threat of land transfers becomes more of a threat, now is one of those times.

Currently there is a small but vocal group of elected officials at the local, state, and national levels calling for the transfer of lands. One of the most out spoken land transfer advocates in the United States Senate is former Republican Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz

Advocates for the transfer of national public lands will point out the federal government does a poor job of managing public lands, and ads bureaucratic layers to management decisions. They tout how the states and local governments would be more responsive to the needs of the citizens than policy makers hundreds or thousands of mile away. Without any additional research this seems to be a reasonable belief.

However, start scratching beneath the surface and you will soon realize transferring public lands to the states could have dire consequences. Right off the bat there is a major difference between how land is managed by the federal government and states. Federal lands are managed for multiple uses. What this means is before a management decision is made policy makers need to consider how the decision will affect ranchers, loggers, energy and mineral extraction, and recreational use including hunting. In contrast several states have laws requiring management decisions be made in order to maximize profit from the land while not taking other factors into consideration.

Another concern to consider is historically when the federal government has transferred large amounts of land to state or local control the land is often either sold to private interest or closed to public access. The last concern I will point out is the states simply do not have the financial resources to manage large tracts of federal lands. Imagine how a state’s budget would be affected by paying for wildfire suppression during a particularly bad fire season.

Often the lawmakers in Washington who are proponents of transferring federal lands on the notion the US Forest Service and BLM cannot adequately manage the lands are the same politicians who vote to not properly fund these agencies. Consider that for a moment. If I want the public to support the idea of transferring land I have to show a reason why it is a good idea. I want to sell the public on the idea federal agencies are doing poor job managing the lands. How do I accomplish this? By financially starving the very agencies tasked with managing those lands making it impossible for them to properly manage the land.

The other thing to consider is where is the money coming from. The majority if not all of the politicians at the federal level who advocate transferring lands receive large donations from energy lobbyist and companies. For example Senator Cruz shows Wapiti Energy donated $43,150 to his campaign fund.* Wapiti Energy is an onshore drilling company concentrating its efforts in the Rocky Mountain Region, an area with huge amounts of public land.

One last thing I would like to point out is lobbyist have been spending money to harm the reputation of several well known conservation organizations in an attempt to paint them as far left liberal organizations. If you come across this type of information I ask you to critically examine the information and do your own research. The organizations targeted are the most vocal organizations against a federal land transfer. If you follow the money from one website that attacks these conservation organizations it will lead you back to a Washington lobbyist who represents the energy industry. Also look at the history of the conservation organization being attacked and ask yourself, do they have a record of standing up for sportsmen and habitat?

In closing I am not advocating Federal Land Management is prefect. It certainly can be improved and we should consider many different ideas on how to solve those problems. However, transferring federal lands to state and local control as proposed is not the answer. Also I am not saying politicians who support land transfer are inherently bad. I dislike their stance on the issue; I do not dislike the person. Disagreeing on issues and working together to solve issues is what makes America great.

I would urge you to contact your elected officials and let them know you oppose the transfer of public lands and demand they adequately funds the agencies with the responsibility of managing our federal public lands.

I enjoyed a public land elk hunt on National Forest in 2012

I enjoyed a public land elk hunt on National Forest in 2012

I enjoyed a public land elk hunt on National Forest in 2012

I enjoyed a public land elk hunt on National Forest in 2012

 

* The organizations themselves did not donaterather the money came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

15 Fun Outdoor Winter Activities For Kids

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I recently read a statistic about the fact American kids spend an average of 10 minutes playing outside a day. What a sad fact for our society. I remember being a child playing outside until all my skin was numb. With all of the indoor entrainment options available to us I find myself having to make a conscious effort to make sure my kids get outside in particular during the winter. I have complied a quick list of fun things to do outdoors this weekend with your kids. Most of them are quick and easy and cost little to nothing.

  • Build a snow fort
  • Make a snow man (then knock it down according to my 5 year old)
  • Go to a play ground (no they don’t close in the winter)
  • Go to a nature preserve and snowshoe (pull the really young ones in a sled)
  • Go to a sledding hill
  • Go downhill skiing
  • Go ice-skating on an outdoor rink
  • Ice fishing
  • Go to a woods and look for animal tracks
  • Have a campfire with smores and hot chocolate
  • Cross country skiing
  • Go Camping
  • Go hunting for small game (assuming the season is still open)
  • Geocaching
  • Shovel the driveway with your kids (it can actually be fun and as a bonus it is productive)

There you go! Now you have a list of 15 things to do outside this winter weekend with your kids. Pick one of them and get outside.

 

Take Action Contact Your Senator To Support the 2016 Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act

by Brad 0 Comments
NTA ALERT
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES BIPARTISIAN SPORTSMEN’S ACT
 
The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2016 has passed out of committee and now it is up to us to do everything we can to see that it gets passed.
 
The Bills that make up The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act include the most critical items for the hunting and conservation community. This includes a key provision sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R- Montana) directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List. Despite greatly exceeding population targets for delisting, anti-hunting groups have, for years, successfully used the Federal Courts to keep wolves protected.
 
The Act revises a variety of existing programs to expand access opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. The bill would require land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management or the Forest Service must by default, be open for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting unless the managing agency finds cause to close the land. The language will protect hunting and increase hunting access on millions of acres of public land. Perhaps most importantly, trapping would be included under the definition of “hunting” for the first time in Federal Law.
 
The attempt by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to include a ban on trapping on the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System failed after committee members received a deluge of emails and letters from trappers, the fur industry and state wildlife agencies
 
The committee also rejected an attempt by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) to remove language preventing the EPA from regulating lead in ammunition.
 
Sen. Boxer is a regular opponent of pro-hunting measures. She has committed to publicly fight the
Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act on the floor, and is seeking to organize a filibuster.
 
Sportsmen calls are needed immediately.
 
Please contact both your Senators and encourage them to support the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2016. You can find the contact information for your Senators at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm