Posts Tagged ‘archery’

Choosing Your First Trail Camera

July 16th, 2017 by BTC Editor

 

 

Trail camera technology has really improved over the years and there are more features than ever, allowing you to customize your trail camera experience to your liking. For someone who is new to hunting or the trail camera world, picking out your first game camera can be somewhat overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what features you need or what the features even do. After someone recently asked me for advice on what they need to look for when purchasing their first camera, I decided to share a few things that I feel are “must-haves”, as well as some bonus features and accessories that may be an asset to you.

Features

I really feel a lot of features on trail cameras are user specific and depend on user preference. I’ll briefly explain the features that I feel are the most important when considering which camera to buy.

Flash Type

The flash types are: White flash, Black flash (Invisible, or No-Glow), and Standard IR (InfraRed / Low-Glow). Tom Rainey of Browning Trail Cameras wrote a really great article for this blog explaining each flash type and their effect on trail camera picture quality: http://browningtrailcameras.com/nighttime-trail-camera-images-putting-light-on-the-subject/

Basically, the highest quality nighttime photos will be from White Flash cameras, then IR cameras, and then Black Flash cameras, but that’s not to say that the quality of the nighttime images from Black Flash cameras are bad. You just may notice a little more motion blur on them.

So, a few things to consider when choosing the flash type:

Where will you be putting your cameras?

If you are going to be putting them on public land or in an area that is known to have a lot of trespassers, you will probably want to go with a Black Flash camera. Otherwise, one of the previous two flash options may be what you would prefer.

Do you feel a White Flash or Standard IR camera will spook the game you are hoping to get pictures of?

If so, a camera with Black Flash may be best for you. My personal experience with Standard IR and White Flash cameras is I feel the animals get used to them. I haven’t noticed them spooking deer in the years that I have been running trail cameras. Everyone has their own opinion on this and each location may be different, so again, go with your own personal preference here.

 

Detection Range

The location where you plan on putting your game cameras will help you decide which camera may be best for you in regards to detection range. If you are running trail cameras primarily in the woods or have it set up over pinch points and travel corridors, the detection range can be quite a bit lower. But, if you are watching over larger areas, such as fields, the detection range needs to be a little higher, especially if you aren’t quite sure where the wildlife are traveling.

For example, the Browning Command Ops has a detection range of 55 feet with a 60-foot flash range, which is great. But the Browning Recon Force Extreme has a detection range of 80 feet with a 120-foot flash range, which is quite a bit more. So, you can see how the higher detection range could be quite a bit more beneficial in certain situations.

Trail Camera Accessories

Obviously, SD Cards and batteries are must-have accessories for your trail cameras. But there are a couple other accessories that you may want to look into purchasing for your first trail camera, depending on the location the camera will be in and how often you plan on checking it.

Security Box

As I mentioned above, the location really is a key factor to consider when purchasing your trail camera. The same goes for deciding whether or not you need a trail camera Security Box. A couple things to keep in mind here: Do you expect there to be trespassers, or will the camera be on public land? Also, what types of animals are in your area? Do you have a high bear population? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, I recommend getting a Security Box. Browning makes one that fits all of their camera models (excluding the Defender 850). It can also be locked using a standard padlock or a Master Lock Python Cable so your camera stays safe and stays put.

 

Trail Camera Power Pack

The Trail Camera Power Pack will extend the battery life of your Browning Trail Camera in the field. This is a great option if you don’t plan on checking your trail cameras very often. It holds holds 8 AA batteries in the same easy to use battery tray used in the trail cameras. Other features include a built-in battery tester and a twist lock plug to lock the power adapter to your Browning Trail Camera.

 

Bonus Trail Camera Features

Here are a few “bonus” features that you may also want to take into consideration when choosing your first trail camera. I personally don’t feel that these are features that you absolutely have to have, but I do feel they will enhance your trail camera experience. Personal preference comes into play here as well. Here are a few of my favorite features on the Browning Trail Cameras:

 

Viewing Screen

This is an internal viewing screen on some of the Browning Trail Camera models. It’s great for viewing trail camera photos in the field, and it really comes in handy when positioning the camera while you are setting it up.

 

Timelapse Mode

The Timelapse function allows you to set up your camera in the field, and program it to take pictures automatically at fixed intervals. This feature is helpful when you set a camera up in a new location such as a large field or food plot where you are not sure where the wildlife are entering the field. The camera will take images of the entire field, so you will end up capturing game at 200 + yards away, where a conventional game camera would not normally trigger a picture. All Browning Trail Camera models come with this feature, as well as the Timelapse Viewer Plus Software, so you can playback a whole day’s worth of activity in just a few minutes, much like watching a video.

 

Multi Shot / Rapid Fire Mode

In certain situations, the 8-Shot Rapidfire mode is one of my favorites to use on my Browning Trail Cameras. It takes 8 shots in 2 seconds! I prefer to use this when I have a specific animal that I am targeting that I know will not be in the frame for long. For example, I wanted a Bobcat on this log setup, but I knew it would likely not use this log repeatedly and not stay on it for long, so I put it on Rapid-Fire mode to get as many photos of it as possible and pick my favorites to share. Rapidfire Mode is also great in deer season when you are watching a smaller area, such as pinchpoints and travel corridors, so you don’t miss any deer activity.

 

 

 

Video Mode

This is a really fun trail camera feature. It’s almost like watching the wildlife in person when playing the trail camera videos back! With 1920 X 1080P Full HD, the audio and the clarity in the Browning Trail Camera videos is really amazing. Additional new features for the 2017 model includes Smart IR video, which continues to record video footage while game is moving in front of the camera and SD card management options which allow you to overwrite older images on the SD card if the memory is full.

 

I hope this article helped you know where to start in shopping for your first trail camera! If you have any other questions that were not listed in this article please feel free to leave a comment below.

 

By Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys hunting deer, turkeys, and upland birds. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters

Intro to 3D Archery

June 4th, 2017 by BTC Editor

Off season blues? No problem! 3D Archery is a great way to keep you occupied while waiting for your next hunting season. If you’ve never shot a 3D archery range then keep reading, this post is for beginners and what they will need to know before starting 3D archery.

I started competing in 3D tournaments this year to challenge myself, to continue shooting my bow during the off season, and to keep myself active outside. Not only do these tournaments help with my consistency but they have also helped improve my ability to judge yardage. Depending on your location, you could probably look online to find a local archery organization. If you can’t seem to find one online usually your bow shop can help you out by referring you to a few.

Once you find an archery association/organization you can then ask them for a copy of their tournament schedule if it’s not listed online. You will also need to know that specific organization’s available shooting classes, rules for shooting and what scoring system they will use.

I want to mention all the necessities you may need to start shooting competitively.

Essentials:

  • Bow (obviously)
  • Release aid
  • Quiver or archery stool that can hold arrows, keys and accessories
  • Binoculars (I love my Vortex Viper HD’s in 8x42mm –Has plenty of magnification and lets in tons of light in order to see targets efficiently)
  • A bow kick stand that stands bow upright so you don’t have to lay it down on the ground
  • At least 5 arrows, possibly more if you believe you will miss targets or damage a few on other shooters’ arrows
  • Pencil (if one’s not provided)
  • Rubber boots as a backup in case your range is muddy
  • Tick/Mosquito spray (We like to spray Scentblocker’s Tick spray on our shoes the day before and it usually last a few weeks)
  • Sports drink to keep you hydrated (I prefer Mtn Ops Yeti or Enduro)
  • Snacks are usually available at a small cost but it’s probably a good idea to bring either a granola bar or PB cracker type snack
  • Water (This is usually provided for free throughout our range but sometimes they’re all gone by the time we go through the course)

Before you shoot in a tournament it may not be a bad idea to find someone that actually shoots them first and just do a walk through with them while they shoot. I did this to make myself more comfortable in knowing how things ran and how the targets are scored. I was less intimidated when I actually shot in my first since I knew how everything worked. If you can’t find someone to walk through with, no biggie, shooters at 3D tournaments are usually very nice and encouraging. I can honestly say I have not ran into a single person that wasn’t willing to help a beginner. It was very calming to be able to get advice from people that not only shot in them regularly but seemed to not be bothered at all by a newbie trying to figure out how the tournaments worked. Again, this is part of the reason I have fallen in love with archery. The archery community is so supportive and educational.

Most 3D tournaments have a variety of classes to shoot in based on your level of skill and your bow setup. For example, the tournaments I have been shooting in have:

  • PeeWee
  • Cubs
  • Longbow
  • Traditional
  • Youth
  • Women’s Youth
  • Women’s Bowhunter
  • Women’s Open
  • Novice
  • Bowhunter
  • Bowhunter Outlaw
  • Senior Open
  • Open Class
  • KNOWN 45
  • Pro Class

Each class will have general rules for being able to shoot in it and will also have different colored stakes to shoot from at the archery range.

Some rules to keep in mind: (Rules may vary slightly depending on the archery club)

  • Each club will have a max arrow speed and also have the right to chronograph any shooter at any time
  • Rangefinders are prohibited unless shooting in the KNOWN class. All other classes require distances to be judged by the naked eye.
  • Binoculars/spotting scopes may be used determining shot placement
  • Bowhunter class is restricted to a 12” or less stabilizer, screw in or glued in tips, and may shoot a movable sight (but it must be a HUNTING sight with NO magnification)
  • Bowhunter Outlaw class is restricted to bowhunter equipment ONLY with hunting sights and NO magnifications. This is the only class with no max speed limits
  • Exchanging yardage information is strictly prohibited
  • Each shooter must be touching the appropriate shooting stake for their class with some part of their body
  • A “controlled letdown” must be verbally announced
  • Once your sights are set and bow has been drawn you cannot reset your sights after a controlled letdown

 

Here are a few tips I would recommend doing before tournament day:

  • Make sure your sight pins are sighted in to ranges that vary for your shooting class
    • For example, I shoot in Women’s Bowhunter and the ranges will vary but usually the farthest distance is 25-30 yards at our specific archery club
    • There are also moveable hunting sights that are great for 3D tournaments so you can easily adjust the distance per target.
  • I practiced at home shooting the distances my pins were set at and really looking at the animal to help myself with judgement of distances. Sometimes I would walk at a random distance, look at the target and guess in my head and then use my rangefinder to see how close I am to guessing correctly. I continue to do this until I am comfortable with my guesses
  • Make sure gear is all together and ready to go
  • Make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before
  • Make sure to eat a healthy breakfast before

Upon arrival:

  • I usually sign in/register and get my score card
  • I then head to the practice bags and shoot at each one that I have a pin set up for to make sure they’re all sighted in. I double check my arrows, release and bow to make sure everything is in good shape
  • We usually shoot in a group with friends and “draw cards” for our shooting order. We will mix them up (faced down) and get one person to draw one card at a time and we will use that as our shooting order. This helps keep it fair because some targets are harder to see where to aim and being the first one to shoot those types of targets can be a little tough. Some shooters will have bright colored fletchings so that makes it easier for the next person to use as a guide on aiming.
    • Side note: Our group sizes vary from 3-5 but I personally believe a group size of 3 is the best. Groups of 5 tend to take longer shooting each target and going through the whole course in general

When shooting at a target I usually go through a series of steps to help myself make a good shot. I like to going by these steps in order to be consistent. These steps may be a little different for each person but once you start doing things in a way that works keep doing them the same way EVERY TIME. I promise they make a difference.

When shooting at a target:

  1. I find the appropriate shooting stake and place a foot on one of the sides of it. It doesn’t matter where as long as some form of your body is touching it.
  2. I usually go ahead and nock an arrow and prepare my arrow rest.
    1. I then look at the target through my binoculars and try to find where I need to aim. The best way to do this for me is to look for specific things like: the shape of the target, which way it’s facing, if it’s leaning backward or forward, if there are any distinctive parts on it such as areas that are shot up or if it has spots you can use to help as a guiding tool. Aim small, miss small is a very accurate statement in this case.
  3. I make sure my feet are shoulder width apart and as flat as possible.
  4. Draw bow.
  5. Find aiming location in peep and match it with appropriate pin.
  6. I make sure my peep sight meets up perfectly with my sight housing. If I’m shooting uphill/downhill and will have to lean some way I make sure to lean with my waist and not just with the bow as this would affect how my peep sight and sight housing meet up.
  7. Relax bow hand and rest pointer finger on my trigger.
  8. Continue to breath, relax muscles and release.

 

When scoring targets, it’s important to know which scoring system the archery club/organization is using. There are two primary organizations that have their own scoring systems: Archery Shooters Association (ASA) and International Bowhunting Organization (IBO). The tournaments we shoot in only use ASA scoring system and the “Upper 12” can only be called or used if the targets specifically shows it can. Here are a few pictures that show the difference in the two.

 

 

If you’re a beginner or not shooting in a Pro class, it’s important to remember these tournaments are for fun and to help you improve. Bad shots will definitely come and you’ll more than likely miss a few targets. Don’t stress too much about those because they have happened to everyone at some point and they help you learn from your mistakes. So good luck to all you beginners and remember to have fun!

Note: If you plan to consistently shoot year after year I suggest investing in an “archery stool” of some sort. I currently use the Browning Steady Ready Stool with PVC pipe attached to the leg. We taped the pipe with black electrical tape and glued a cap on the bottom so that it can be used as an arrow holder. The stool has a mesh zipper pocket on one side and an insulated cooler pocket on the other. You can put ice and drinks in the cooler but we didn’t want to make the stool too heavy to carry so it’s used to hold our extra accessories (keys, binoculars case, back up release, snacks, etc.).

 

 

Courtney is an avid hunter from Louisiana. She has a passion all things outdoors and is an avid hunter. She is also a team member of Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

5 Tips For Bowhunting Turkeys

March 12th, 2017 by BTC Editor

Planning on using your bow to harvest a turkey this spring? If you’ve ever hunted turkeys before then you know it will be no easy task. Hunting turkeys with a shotgun is often enough to drive a hunter crazy, let alone adding the challenge of a stick and string. Successfully harvesting a turkey with your bow is perhaps one of the hardest, yet most rewarding hunts you will ever be a part of.

Browning Trail Cameras Pro Staff members Don and Dan Pickell have been bowhunting for years and make bagging a gobbler with a bow look like a piece of cake.

 

 

Here are a few of their tips for bowhunting turkeys this spring:

1) Scouting

Spend some time in the woods before season starts so you can be as prepared as possible before opening day. Look for roosting sites, turkey feathers & droppings, feeding areas and travel routes. Once you’ve found some turkey sign or what looks like some good locations, it’s time to hang your trail cameras.

2) Trail Cameras

Get your Browning Trail Cameras out now and keep them out throughout turkey season. Trail cameras will help pinpoint the time of day the turkeys are in certain locations so you know when you should target these specific areas while hunting.

When setting up your cameras, keep the location in mind and set them accordingly. For example, you may want to set your camera on Time Lapse mode while watching large fields or new locations where you aren’t sure where the turkeys are entering or leaving. The camera will take images of the entire field, so you will end up capturing game at 200 + yards away, where a conventional game camera would not normally trigger a picture.

 

3) Setup

Pattern the birds with your trail cameras and set up your ground blinds accordingly. If they aren’t coming into your call it’s usually best to just sit and wait them out; Remember, you’re hunting with a bow, not a shotgun, so run and gun is a lot more difficult. More often than not, your trail cameras will tell you where you need to be. Remember what you learned about their behavior while studying your trail camera photos and stick with that.

4) Decoys

A decoy will often help bring the birds within bow range while keeping their eyes off of you, but we have also had toms skirt our decoys at times. When this happens we usually pull the decoys and set up in a proven spot where we have them patterned with our Browning Trail Cameras and ambush them. It just depends on the bird’s moods.

5) Shot Placement & Recovery

With a shotgun we aim at the bottom of the neck to allow for the pattern to cover both his head and neck. With a bow, we prefer a broadside shot through the wings if possible so an injured bird can’t fly off, making it harder to recover. Whether we use a bow or a shotgun, as soon as a shot is made we go after the bird and get a foot on its head, just in case.

Going into turkey season, it’s best to have a positive outlook and lots of patience! Turkeys are fickle creatures and even having the “perfect setup” is often not enough to harvest a tom. Make sure you’re as prepared as possible ahead of time by scouting with your trail cameras and keeping the above tips in mind. Harvesting a big longbeard with your bow is worth all of the hassle. Stay safe and have fun this turkey season!

 

By Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys hunting deer, turkeys, and upland birds. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

 

Venison Meatball Recipe

February 26th, 2017 by BTC Editor

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb ground venison

¼ cup half and half

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 medium white onion – finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 large eggs

1/4 cup dried parsley flakes

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

This recipe is by far the best wild game recipe I’ve ever tasted!  I must preface this by saying that up until a few of years ago, I was actually a vegetarian.   Not because I was trying to save the animals.  I did it because I just didn’t care for meat.  However, what I realized when I met my husband, who is a hunter and ultimately the one whom got me into hunting as well, is that what actually bothered me about meat is that I didn’t always know where the meat from the grocery store had come from.  I was growing a few veggies in my backyard, and purchasing the rest through a farmers market or local CSA.  So I have always been aware of where my food came from; but the meat remained a mystery.  Then along comes hunting.  The first time my husband brought a whitetail deer home for us to process I started asking questions.  I began cooking it for my family and realized my kids could never tell the difference between ground venison and ground beef.  Thus began my journey in creating wild game friendly recipes.

Now I am extremely picky with how my food tastes.  I do not like having a gamey taste to it at all.  This meatball recipe is so perfect.  Every time I make it, it gets better and better as I modify ingredients.

Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees and coating the bottom of your 9×12 baking dish with olive oil.  Next, place 1 pound of ground venison in a large mixing bowl.  Add ¼ cup half and half (regular milk works as well, however I have not tried this recipe with dairy substitutes) and then set this bowl aside.

 

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1 diced onion and 3 tablespoons of chopped garlic to the skillet.  Be sure to dice your onion into very small pieces.  Saute until the onion is clear.  I tend to like a lot of onion, so this may look like more than 1 medium onion. Never enough onion or garlic in my house!

 

 

Then, add the onion mixture to the ground venison bowl.  Add 2 eggs, ¼ cup dried parsley flakes, ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and 1 teaspoon oregano to this same mixture.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You are now ready to mix with a wood spoon or your hands. I typically use my hands, but am careful for the hot onion/garlic mixture.  Don’t burn your fingers!

 

 

Using the same medium skillet as you cooked the onions (as you can see in the photo I do not clean out the skillet), add 2 tablespoons olive oil and turn on heat to medium.  Roll meat mixture into 1” diameter meatballs.  Don’t look to close at mine.  They are never perfectly round because my kids are always starving.  Place meatballs into heated skillet; browning on at least 2 sides.  You are not cooking them all the way through, just browning the edges.  This makes the outside of the meatballs yummy and slightly crispy.  Once you have browned the meatballs on 2 sides, place meatballs into your greased baking dish.  Bake 20 minutes, turning once after 10 minutes.

 

 

My husband and I tend to eat them plain (that’s how good they are) or dipped in barbecue sauce.  My kids like to put them on Hawaiian rolls with cheese and barbecue sauce.  Either way, I think you will love them! Enjoy!

 

By Tammy Bashore

 

Tammy Bashore is an outdoor enthusiast from South Dakota. She is a professional photographer, the wife of a professional walleye angler and the mother of 2 kids, plus one fur baby, a GSP named Bentley (pictured above). Tammy is also a member of the Huntress View team, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

What’s In Your Hunting Pack?

October 30th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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In two days, a couple buddies and I are heading to Pike County for a four-day bowhunting trip… No, not THAT Pike County, but it’s close. In fact, it’s right across the river from it. Both my pals are fairly novice bowhunters, and this is the first full season for one of them. Seeing as how I’ve been on several 10-day, DIY excursions to Colorado chasing my beloved wapiti, they’re leaning on me heavily to provide guidance as to what to bring. It’s actually not that uncommon a question from even veteran bowyers, as I see the “What’s In Your Bag?” query on the bowhunting forums quite often.

After well over a couple decades’ worth of bowhunting, with most of that time consisting of over 100 stand sits annually, I’ve definitely settled on a list of “must-haves” as well as items that have found their way into and out of my fanny pack. I’ll break down below exactly what I carry with me, and the use for each item.

  • A small Ziploc bag (for weather protection) holding a good amount of toilet paper, plus hunting licenses. Also included in this bag are small zip ties for affixing the licenses to the deer’s back legs, a tube of chapstick (seems my lips are prone to drying out on windy days while on stand), and a handful of cherry cough drops (nothing worse than getting that tickle in your throat when you’re set up within 100 yards of that big buck’s bedding area!). I also put a nice lensatic compass in the bag, to keep the glass lens from getting scratched all up by the other items in my pack.dsc_0015-copy

I’ll give you a tip about the toilet paper before moving on… I carry quite a bit of it with me, and obviously you probably realize one of its primary purposes. But I also lean on it just as heavily when tracking a deer at night by propane lantern. I tear off little half-squares and place every couple feet along the blood trail I’m unwinding… it’s remarkable how you can hold up your lantern and see those white squares trailing off into the blackness, and they’ll really help you get a “line” on the direction the deer’s traveling and where to look for next blood if you’re having difficulties. An added bonus is that when you’re done, you don’t have to go back and retrieve all of them — just let the next rain dissolve all of them for you.

  • A mini-mag flashlight… the triple-battery version. I often end up in hairy places after dark I’ve never been through before, and I like to see what I’m trying to wade through – be it thorn bushes or a small creek. The version I like to carry just fits into my fanny pack from end to end, and utilizes three “AA” batteries.

 

  • A headlamp. Sometimes, I’ll opt to turn my cap around backwards and slap on the headlamp. It’s especially helpful when I’m assembling my stand at the bottom of my tree after I get down in the pitch black, or when I’m gutting a deer after dark.

 

  • A Leatherman multipurpose tool, the small kind. It contains a three-inch knife blade that I’ve used to gut over 50 deer, antelope and elk with. And on the off chance I need a pair of pliers, they’re included too.

 

  • Limb saw… to trim shooting lanes with, and more importantly to cut off small branches on the tree I’m going up with my climber.

 

  • My pull-up rope. I bought a commercial one with the plastic swiveling ends and hooks on it, cut those off and attached those to 30’ of parachute cord. Packs much tighter than the commercial one I bought.

 

  • Rattle bag. I’ve got a very nice set of real rattling antlers that sound awesome, but they’re a pain to carry all the time. My rattle bag fits nicely inside my pack and is always there from the third week of October until December.

 

  • Bleat can. I can’t attribute any single deer to coming in to the can call, but I’ll mix it into my rattling sequences any way; the hope is it’ll sound like the estrus doe that the two bucks are fighting over.

 

  • True Talker grunt tube. This has accounted for more deer riding home with me than any other single piece of equipment.

 

  • Ninety percent of the time, my shot opportunities are limited by heavy undergrowth and are 30 yards or less. Every once in a while though, I’ll sit a field edge where the rangefinder comes in handy.

 

  • Diaphragm turkey call in a clear case. Archery deer tags come with two turkey tags included, and I won’t pass up an opportunity to call to a passing flock. I’ve got a wall-full of turkey fans above my desk that were all taken with my bow in deer season.

 

  • Extra release. In case I leave my main one at the truck or it falls out of the tree for some reason.

 

  • Four bow hooks. My bow goes on one above my left shoulder, and my fanny pack hangs from one around seat height on the same side of the tree. The other two are spares.

 

  • A Kwikee Quiver caddy with my Octane quiver holder attached. I screw this into the left side of the tree, and affix my quiver upside-down so if I shoot and need to reload quickly, I simply reach behind me without looking and pull another arrow out.

 

  • A hand-held Magellan GPS. This is a recently new addition to my pack, and one that I’ve come to value. I shoot a lot of deer just before dark as evening hunts comprise 98% of my trips afield (I’m just not a morning person). Usually, by the time I recover the deer and head back to my vehicle to get my game cart, it’s pitch black once I return to the scene of the crime. Having marked where my deer is laying via the GPS sure does make it a whole lot easier once everything looks completely different in the dark – and a whole lot easier to get out of the woods.

You could ask me any day of the year, and that’s what I’ll have in my fanny pack. It’s the main component of a system that I’ve fine-tuned for over 20 years of bowhunting, and it’s what enables me to grab my gear extremely quickly when I get home and be on my way to the woods in just a few minutes. I’m never scrambling around looking for this item or that; I simply know exactly where everything I need is.

Now, if it was only that easy to know where that big buck was…

 

Greg Staggs is the former back-page columnist for Inside Archery, and his writing regularly appears in such magazines as Outdoor Life and Petersen’s Bowhunting. Staggs loves introducing his two boys to all things outdoors, including fishing, trapping, canoeing and camping, and has been chasing turkeys and big game exclusively with archery equipment for over 20 years.

Archery Tips with Levi Morgan

September 18th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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BTC: What steps do you go through mentally when you draw back on an animal to ensure your form is right and to help calm your nerves?

Levi: You know it’s funny, I don’t think. I think it’s all in practice when you do that because everybody, including myself, when you get out there in the woods and that buck of a lifetime steps out, no matter how hard I try or how much I tell myself, “Hey, I’m going to really slow down next time and I’m going to think about what I’m doing”, I look back and go “Man, that was a blur. You know, I don’t even remember that.” I don’t remember what I did, I don’t remember why I did it, so I think It’s so important to not just get your bow and go out and shoot just once every couple of weeks or get it & take it out 3 weeks before season, because you have to create that muscle memory and teach yourself to slow down and practice.

One thing I do is hunt with a caliper release. When a big deer would come out, I would draw back and get in such a hurry that when my pin got there I would just press the release off. I wasn’t really freaking out or anything, but I was rushing the shot every time. I was afraid the deer was going to run or it was going to see me, I was just nervous. So when I need to slow myself down, I started hunting with what’s called a back-tension release, or a hinge release, which forces you to slow down. You can’t shoot it fast or it’s an epic fail, so it forced me to slow down.

I really feel like it’s easy to say, I’m going to think about all these different steps when a big buck comes out. But the truth of the matter is, I really feel like people are going to do what comes naturally to them, which is why I think it’s so important beforehand to be prepared and have your equipment fit you perfect. Really get to know it and shoot it all the time because when you get nervous and everything goes blank, you’re going to revert back to what you do naturally with that bow and the way you practice with it. I really think that’s the best way to be prepared for the moment of truth.

Also, when I’m sitting in the stand or when I’m out hunting sheep, I imagine opportunities happening. For instance, if a buck comes down that trail, where am I going to shoot him at? Where am I going to stop him at? How is he going to be angled if he’s on that trail or if he walks out into the food plot? I try to imagine every scenario that could happen to me while I’m sitting there or while I’m hiking so when it does happen I’ve already kind of played it out in my mind that I’m going to stop him here and he’s going to be perfectly broadside or a little quartered away.

Obviously in hunting, you never know what’s going to happen, but that has helped me before. Nothing is as important as just being really prepared.

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BTC: A lot of archers and bow hunters struggle with target panic. What advice do you have on how to overcome this?

Levi: Target panic is probably the most common thing in archery. I think almost everybody has been through it at one time or another if they’ve shot a bow long enough. There are so many causes of it and because of that there are a lot of cures. I think some of the main causes of target panic are too heavy poundage, too long of a draw length, or not having equipment that fits you. Also things like your peep being too small and things in your sights that are making you too uncomfortable, for example your pins being too small to see, the target being blurry…All of those things can cause it.

Another major cause is holding your breath when you shoot. I’ve talked to professional fighters and doctors about that. When you hold your breath the first muscle that starts to break down is your eyes. That’s a huge cause of target panic so that’s why it’s so important to keep breathing. I’ve seen people pull back, hold their breath and aim too long and just feeling like they HAVE to shoot now. That’s really all that target panic is, no matter what the cause, is when the pin hits the target they feel like they have to shoot now.

I think the best cure for target panic is to stand in your yard, pull back and aim at the target with your arrow loaded and finger on the release. Put your pin in the middle and leave it there but don’t shoot the arrow. When your pin starts to go, let it down. Take a few seconds to regroup, then pull back and aim at the target and let down again without shooting. Do that over and over for however long you normally practice for about a week or so. All that’s doing is letting your mind know, “It’s ok for my pin to sit there. I’m in control. I don’t have to fire this shot”. Also what it’s going to do, is you’re going to aim at the middle longer and longer, allowing you to build up that confidence and stamina to keep your pin in the middle longer to let you execute that perfect shot.

I think that’s one of the best drills there is. It lets you just focus on aiming, relaxes your mind and lets yourself know that it’s ok to aim at the target and not fire that arrow as soon as the pin gets in the middle.

BTC: What are some of the bad habits you’ve had as an archer and what helped you the most in overcoming them?

Levi: I think my worst habit, as a hunter and shooter, is when I get in a hurry. I go out and practice just to be practicing. Practicing numb is what I call it. I think when you stop trying to get better, you’re going backwards. For me, I think it’s really important to count on myself, even in practice. I don’t go out and shoot at 30 or 40 yards at the same dot every day. I try to challenge myself, whether that’s moving back further distances or trying to hit so many arrows in a row on a certain dot. Whatever games you can play to make it fun for you, that makes you challenge yourself and keep trying to get better every single time you practice and not get complacent. What should be 4 inch groups at 40 yards may be plenty good to go hunting, but it’s not the best that you can do. I think a lot of people say, “Well that’s good enough”. I’ve heard it so many times. It’s easy to do that when you’re shooting good enough but it’s important I think, for me especially, to keep challenging myself and keep trying to shoot better groups at further distances and really keep it fun and interesting during practice.

 

BTC: You’re going to Alaska soon to hunt sheep as part of your quest to complete the Super Slam with your bow. How far are you from completing the Super Slam?

Levi: There’s 29 animals in the Super Slam and I have killed 17 of the 29 with a bow, so I’ve got 12 left.

 

BTC: Which animal has been your favorite to hunt so far?

Levi: Probably my Dall Sheep in the Yukon. It was the hardest. I guess it felt the best when it was over. It was the most satisfying when the hunt was done because of how hard we had to work. We spent 14 days on horseback (The episode just aired the evening we talked on the Sportsmen Channel).

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BTC: Do you have any advice for others who are wanting to complete the Super Slam?

Levi: Yes. Go to their website, www.superslam.org. The first thing I would say to do is to become a member of Super Slam because they give away hunts every month, and these adventure type of hunts are not cheap or easy to go about getting.

 

Also, do a lot of research. These are not your normal types of hunts. I grew up a whitetail guy, hunting whitetail in the Midwest. When I started doing these hunts, going to the Arctic, Mexico, the Yukon and all over the world, it was just a wakeup call on what gear I needed and how little I actually knew about my equipment. I think it really teaches you a lot when you go to those places and you’re riding on a horse for 14 days. You never know when something can go wrong, so get to know your equipment really well, do your research on what you need to take, and don’t cut corners on your gear. The weather is so uncontrollable out there on these adventure hunts.

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Ken Haas of Whitetail Freaks – 9/11 Interview

September 11th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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BTC: Do you recall where were you and what you were doing on 9/11 when you heard about the terrorist attack? What type of impact did those events have on you as you watched them unfold?

KEN: I was sitting in a grocery store in Council Bluffs, Iowa eating breakfast with two other Troopers while the news was on. We all watched in utter disbelief as the second plane hit the tower. All of us there were prior military and we all had the same gut wrenching feeling that we were under attack and felt very helpless watching the entire event unfold. I remember that day being very quiet and the airways going quiet as all air traffic had been grounded. Living equal distance from Offut Air Force Base and Omaha Eply Airfield it was eerily quiet. It was a huge surprise to see a plane I knew well fly by, that being Airforce one descending into Offut Airforce Base, which was no doubt bringing the President to the center of the country for safety.

As our soldiers continue to fight overseas, it is our job as Peace Officers to protect our country’s border to border against foreign and domestic terrorists. Extremist groups are a constant threat and the uniformed officer, sometimes referred to as “The Thin Blue Line”, are without a doubt this country’s greatest assets when preventing, disrupting and deterring future acts of violence and terrorism.

 

Few people know that terrorism is funded in part by the sale of drugs. The exploitation of the United States and its unfortunate appetite for elicit and illegal drugs is problematic when we spend billions of dollars on heroin that has been imported from overseas. I mention heroin first because of the horrible impact it has on our people, but I do not disregard the impact of the other drugs that are imported as well. As you start to see the larger picture of what is happening, you will understand that the facts of our purchasing these illicit drugs is devastating. That same money used from the sale of drugs will then go back into the pockets of terrorist organizations, allowing them to continue to fund their attacks on the United States and the rest of the world.

As with anybody that watched the unfortunate events unfold on September 11th, that day will never be forgotten. The loss of life, the bravery of the firefighters, the police and other EMS personnel, their memories will not be forgotten. It has been my experience that no matter how bad the tragedy, there is always something to be gained from it. In this case, understanding what funds terrorism and that the profit has cost the world thousands of lives lost unnecessarily, has fueled my motivation and the motivation of many others. The world’s worst criminals are the most vulnerable while they are in transit. By intercepting them we are able to make the biggest impact where we can.

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Ken and his significant other, Malissa Driver. She’s a flight nurse and they are a family committed to public service.

There are many other stories like mine and my arrest of the terrorist suspect (see newspaper article below) that never see the light of day for security reasons, but rest assured uniformed and plain clothed officers are out every day doing their best to ensure that these major criminals do not travel freely to commit acts of violence throughout the country. I also take great pride in educating police officers from every type of policing agency across the country in criminal and terrorist apprehension training. I have instructed for more than 10 years in the state of Iowa, educating our officers and working for a private program called Desert Snow. I have traveled to almost all 50 states and shared what I have learned with thousands. I also take great pride in hearing about the success stories from the officers following the training.

A newspaper article about a terrorist suspect Ken arrested

A newspaper article about a terrorist suspect Ken arrested

In 2011 in Glendale, Arizona I was given the distinct honor as being chosen as the United States 2010 and 2011 Bob Thompson Criminal Interdiction Officer of the Year by the United States Department of Transportation, the United States Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Drug Interdiction Assistance Program, the El Paso Intelligence Center, and the former recipients of this prestigious award.  I have very humbly received many awards in my career, but all of them ill in comparison to sharing and continuing to share what I have learned to educate new officers in the same principles for understanding and recognizing when criminal activity is afoot. That impact, no matter how significant, will change the course of someone’s life in a positive way.

Most importantly, I hope people understand that the Peace Officers of this country cannot do the job without the support of its citizens. As I travel and teach officers across the country, the sentiment from those officers and their communities that they serve is the same. The officers are being overwhelmed with gratitude from the good citizens of this country who didn’t understand that this is not just a Peace Officers fight, but this is a fight that includes everyone in our nation. We who serve without a doubt need the support of our communities and the willingness of those people to share information with us when they see things that are not right. I believe it is this cooperation that will continue to keep our country and its people safe. And those that continue to help law enforcement have my unwavering gratitude and appreciation for their continued help and their dedication to the protection of our communities. For those that have gone out of their way, and for everyone that has taken the time and thanked a Peace Officer, fire fighter, or EMS personnel, I thank you!!!! You, are the people that I am talking about.

BTC: What do you feel is the most rewarding about your job as a state trooper?

KEN: The most rewarding part of my job is tough. It has many facets that stretch out in many directions. Being a first responder and saving lives is huge. So is protecting the innocent from crime and the relentless pursuit of major criminals on our nation’s roads. Few people consider the fact that all crime is, at some point, in transit: the people perpetrating the crime, the proceeds of the crime, the tools to facilitate the crime, or evidence of a crime committed.

BTC: What skill sets learned from your job and training have helped you the most as a hunter?

KEN: So you might ask yourself, “What does this have to do with me hunting, and how do I apply what I’ve learned from such a tumultuous career?” It’s simple. It’s the desire to pursue something, in this case a whitetail deer, and becoming a student of the sport. Many people will refer to me as an expert in my field, both as a Peace Officer and as a hunter. Although it is very humbling, I see myself as a student who is always looking for new ways, a better understanding, and never taking for granted the information that is shared.

One instance I’ll share with you happened last year while hunting. As I was sitting in the blind and watching a buck chasing a doe in and out of cover, I watched intently as I always do and enjoyed watching the doe try to elude the buck. Soon as the buck lost sight of the doe and he could no longer see her he employed a tactic that was not only smart, but something that I had never seen happen before, or at least understood its purpose. The whitetail buck started to stomp his foot and blow in the same alarming mode as if he was to have spotted or smelled some type of danger. I immediately suspected that he had caught our wind and could possibly smell us. So I checked the wind direction only to be reassured that it was correct and the chances of that buck smelling us was nonexistent. That buck taught me that he would employ the same tactic that he would use to alarm deer of danger to get the doe to run from heavy cover where she was hiding so he could continue to pursue her. This was the first time I had ever seen this activity and understood what was happening.

At the end of the evening I immediately called Don Kisky to talk to him about what I had seen and ask him what his opinion was and what he thought about the encounter. After a short discussion, Don had told me that he had just seen the same behavior this year. He had never seen it before but had the same concern I did, that the deer actually had smelled or seen something that made the deer alarmed. We both enjoyed a good laugh as I stated to Don, “I might have taught Don Kisky something”. And knowing Don Kisky, that’s next to impossible when it comes to hunting whitetail deer. Really we just shared an observation that we both learned from.

So how does my career pertain to whitetail deer hunting you might ask? Simple. It’s the same perseverance, it’s the same willingness to learn and continue to learn, and a never quit attitude that keeps me going.  It’s also tradition, a strong sense of brotherhood, and it’s something I love to share with my children. My children understand the “circle of life” and the life lessons that we have had the privilege to enjoy together. They understand that hunting isn’t a right, it’s a privilege, one that we enjoy along with many other privileges. All of those privileges came at a very high cost and I feel very humbled and privileged to be able to share with many two of my greatest passions. To quote Lee Greenwood, “And I won’t forget the men who died that gave that right to me”.

One of Ken's 2015 bucks

One of Ken’s 2015 bucks

 

Trooper Kenneth W. Haas #345 Iowa State Patrol 

Ken Haas is a native of Omaha Nebraska and lifelong resident of the region. Upon graduating from Millard South High School in 1990 Ken joined the Army National Guard, honorably serving for six years.  

Ken received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1996. While working on his B.S. degree, Ken worked as an Intern for both the Nebraska State Patrol and Lincoln Police Department, affirming his desire for a career in law enforcement. 

Ken joined the Iowa State Patrol in 1996 and is a 19 year veteran as a State Trooper. Ken served as the Iowa State Patrol Intelligence Officer in 2012, receiving a secret security clearance and was instrumental in implementing the department’s Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) initiative. Ken is the lead Criminal Interdiction Instructor at the Iowa DPS Academy, a Drug Interdiction Assistance Program/El Paso Intelligence Center (DIAP/EPIC) certified Instructor, an Associate Instructor for Desert Snow and instructs the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) Law Enforcement Intelligence Network (LIEN) School. 

Ken has served in many capacities during his career with the State Patrol including Canine Handler, SWAT team member, Sniper, Hazardous Materials Technician, and Field Training Officer. His dedication to professional development includes more than 600 hours of continued education in interdiction and hundreds of hours in a variety of topics including but not limited to defense tactics, firearms and emergency medical services. 

During his career as a Trooper, Ken has been responsible for more than 350 major drug and currency seizures, and involved in more than 600. These seizures include, but are not limited to, more than 23,500 pounds of Marijuana, 10 pounds of heroin, 1,200 pounds of cocaine, 200 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms, 150 pounds of Crystal Methamphetamine and $13M United States currency.  

As a direct result of criminal interdiction enforcement Ken has been involved in murder investigations, bank robberies, fraud, theft, weapons, terrorism and a lethal force situation,. Fifteen of the seizures resulted in a controlled delivery of the contraband to further the investigation.  These controlled deliveries have resulted in the forfeitures of more than 78 vehicles (53+ were outfitted with after-market compartments designed for concealing and transporting contraband).  

Ken is a certified Level III inspector of commercial motor vehicles. His experience with contraband seizures in commercial motor vehicles includes commercial rental trucks, refrigerated trailers with manufactured compartments, dry van trailers with manufactured compartments, car carriers, fifth wheel motor home transporters, Motor coaches, and seizures of contraband co-mingled within legitimate loads. Ken also has many personal use arrests in commercial motor vehicles and one “cloned” AT&T service vehicle.  

Ken has traveled to 43 states to train FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, TSA, state and local officers, task force officers and attorneys in criminal and terrorist interdiction. He also travels internationally to provide training for the US Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) and trains stateside for the US Department of Transportation Drug Interdiction Assistance program.  

With extensive courtroom testimony experience in both State and Federal courts throughout Iowa and the United States, Ken is considered an expert witness in highway criminal interdiction.  

Ken is a proud father of three wonderful children and has served as a State Trooper for 20 years.  He is a Taijutsu Blue Belt and when he is not patrolling or instructing Ken is an avid whitetail hunter.  He is currently in his 8th year with the television series “Realtree Whitetail Freaks” on the Outdoor Channel.

 

Ken’s opinions expressed in this blog entry are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

 

 

A C H I E V E M E N T S   A N D  A W A R D S

 

2014                 Certificate of appreciation from the Department of Defense and the ICITAP program for providing Criminal Interdiction and Terrorist Training to the Kosovo Police in Pristina Kosovo.

 

2011                  Award from The El Paso Intelligence Center in conjunction with the Drug

Enforcement Administration for “The Largest U.S. Criminal Highway Interdiction Of Currency Seized in 2011.” The seizure of 2,569,955.00 in U.S. Currency.

 

2011                  The Bob Thomason Criminal Interdiction Officer of the Year

United States Department of Transportation/ Federal Motor Carrier Administration/ Drug Interdiction Assistance Program (DIAP)

Criminal Interdiction Officer of the Year, nominated  by the former recipients’ of this distinguished award.

 

2011                  Recipient of the 2011 Officer of the year award “Respect For Law 2011”

Optimist Club of Council Bluffs Iowa.

 

2010                 Nominated for the United States Department of Transportation/ Federal Motor Carrier Administration/ Drug Interdiction Assistance Program (DIAP)

Criminal Interdiction Officer of the Year by the former recipients’ of this distinguished award

 

2010                  Recognized by United States Department of Transportation/ Federal Motor Carrier Administration/ DIAP for continued and sustained contributions to highway criminal interdiction.

 

2009                  Recipient of the United States Department of Transportation/ Federal Motor Carrier

Administration/ DIAP “Outstanding Achievement Award”

 

2008                  Golden Dome Award, Iowa State Patrol Interdiction Unit

 

2007                  Colonel’s Commendation for Interdiction

 

2006                  Nominated for Governors Golden Dome Award

 

2005                  Golden Dome Award

 

2004                  United States Attorney’s Office Enrique Camarena Certificate of appreciation

 

2004                  Colonel’s Commendation for apprehension of terrorist subjects.

 

2003                  Nominated Department of Public Safety Employee of the Year Award.

 

2003                  Nominated Governors Golden Dome Award

 

2003                  United States Attorneys Award for excellence in Criminal Interdiction

 

2003                  Drug Enforcement Agency Commendation for Drug Interdiction

 

2002                  Colonels Commendation for criminal interdiction efforts, seizing more than $28.5M in  narcotics and $3.2M in US currency

 

2000                   Jimmy Wilson Jr. Foundation Award, for Officer involved shooting.

 

2000                    Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner’s Commendation Award

 

2000                    Award for Excellence in Criminal Interdiction, Governor of Iowa

 

1998           F.B.I. Accommodation for excellence, for the Apprehension of a bank robber

 

 

 

Bowhunting: Tips For Mental Preparation

August 7th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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Whitetail archery season is right around the corner! Most likely you’ve spent the past few months or more preparing yourself physically by practicing daily and getting into shape. Being physically fit definitely helps, especially for those who spot and stalk hunt. But being prepared mentally is just as important and is commonly overlooked while preparing for bow hunting.

If you’ve been hunting for a while, you probably have a good idea of how you typically react when a buck walks under your stand and how well you’re able to keep your cool.  But if you’re new to hunting altogether, preparing for your first bow hunt can be a little more of a challenge. You’re still working on getting your shooting form down, on top of being nervous about what to expect during your first bow season.

Here are a few things that may help you when preparing yourself mentally for your first bow hunt, your first deer harvest with a bow, or even for those who have had some recent onsets of buck fever and are having trouble getting past that.

Practice

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Keep in mind that shooting at a deer from your tree stand or blind is a totally different ball game than just practicing in your backyard. It’s much easier to make a great shot at a target while you’re not under any kind of pressure than it is at a live animal when your adrenaline is pumping. Plus, mother nature can throw some curve balls at you, making it that much more of a challenge.

I think one of the best ways to prepare yourself for shooting at a live animal is to force yourself to practice in ways that simulate real world hunting scenarios. Try shooting at low light, on a windy day or in an uncomfortable position. While you’re hunting you will very likely experience all 3 of those situations, and there’s a good possibility that’s when the buck of a lifetime will step out.

 

Envision The Shot

Bow hunting is definitely a mental game. If you go into a hunt with a negative attitude or start doubting yourself, you’re probably going to mess up a shot opportunity. Stay positive and visualize yourself making a great shot on a deer. I will often play out different scenarios in my head to better prepare myself. I check my surroundings and make mental notes on when I think I will be able to draw my bow if the deer were to come from my right, my left, or the front, etc. Whitetail have a mind of their own and you can bet that they probably won’t do what you have in mind. It’s good to expect the unexpected.

Just Breathe

When you are preparing to shoot, just take a few breaths to calm your nerves. I know you may not always have the time to do this, as deer can come in pretty fast and often give you just a few seconds to make a shot. But if you’re watching a deer slowly making its way towards you and you feel like your heart is going to beat out of your chest by the time it gets within shooting range, I highly recommend closing your eyes & just breathing for a few seconds. It really does help.

Know Your Limits

If a deer steps out and it’s too dark to make an ethical shot or it’s just a little farther than what you are comfortable with, don’t force it. One of the best ways to break your confidence is to make a bad shot on an animal. If you’ve been hunting long enough you will mess up sometimes, as none of us are perfect. Just make sure you aren’t messing up because you’re pushing yourself past your limits. When in doubt, just pass on the shot.

Hunt Alone If Necessary

This may not seem like an issue, but for me it is. I get more nervous when there’s someone in the stand watching me than if I were to just hunt alone. My first deer with both rifle and bow were during solo hunts and I preferred it that way. I had practiced enough that I was confident in my shooting ability and didn’t want to listen to another person’s voice telling me what to do, on top of trying to listen to the voice in my head as well. For me, that worked and I feel it helped me stay more focused. That may not work for everyone though, so if you feel you need someone there to help guide you through it, that’s ok too.

Experience is the best teacher with bow hunting, but unfortunately when you’re new to it you don’t have that luxury. The best thing you can do is just make sure you’re as prepared as possible, both physically and mentally, for whatever this bow season may throw at you.

Good luck this season!

Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys turkey hunting, deer hunting and bowhunting. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.