Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grouse Hunting Secret Tidbits that Make for Success

By Naomi K. Shapiro

I know. We're ALL expert ruffed grouse hunters. Right? Well, after many fruitless hunts, I can tell you that I've long since been humbled, and instead of the "I can't miss this season" arrogance, I started listening to the little tidbits that far more experienced grouse hunters have provided me—and which have all helped. And yes, I'll admit somewhat ruefully that I still get skunked -- but not QUITE as often!

First and foremost (no "duhhs" please!), if you're going to go into the woods, find an area that has a good grouse population. Many hunters don't do this. The weather is beautiful. The woods are beautiful. Grouse SHOULD be in those woods- -but often are not. Population cycles, forage, weather, predators - -they can all have a negative impact on whether a hunter will be successful in any given area.

What you should do is check out a hunting area you're interested in LOCALLY. Go to a sports shop, talk to people (most times you'll be in "small town America' and lots of folks will be hunters and willing to help- - so maybe a cup of joe at a local cafĂ© will give you some much needed info), and then scout an area. Check with your state department of natural resources (DNR), or like agency, and find out about an area's grouse population – which can and will vary by year! If there, for instance was a fabulous grouse hunting season the past year, you can pretty well figure that the coming year, may be good, but not quite as good as it was last year- -or could be even far less than "good." One just doesn't know with grouse, so it's essential that you do all the checking you can before you hunt a particular area.

I've found that when you turkey hunt or deer hunt, or even set a trap line, you can get some "feel" for the grouse population in that area by listening for "drumming," or hearing a grouse move, or see them flying around. If you notice a lot of grouse, you can pretty-well be sure that it's a good "woods" to hunt. By the way, if you don't already know this, recognize that you're not able to "lure" a grouse "in" as you would for instance with a wild turkey. With grouse you have to go out and pursue.

A cardinal "no-no" and one of the biggest mistakes that wannabe successful grouse hunters make, is that when they walk in the woods, they walk down a path or an open area. You won't catch "flies with honey" doing that. Grouse may not be rocket scientists, but they're not THAT stupid. You need to get off the main trail, and get "down and dirty." It's that simple. And no, it's not as easy as walking a trail - -and if you spot someone on a trail because they don't want to "dirty" their custom tailored hunting outfit, and sporting a shiny new gold-etched shotgun, you just KNOW that the only grouse they're going to see is one on a dinner plate that they ordered in a fancy overpriced restaurant. There are brambles, and brush, and thickets, and insects, and ticks –but if you're dressed properly, and have the right footwear those things are easily dealt with. Get 10 maybe 15 yards off the trail and you'll see many times more birds than the "trail hugger" ever hoped for. Trust me on that one!

Once in the woods, don't start charging through the woods waiting for a bird to flush. Slow down, and sashay through the brush and obstacles. Every so often, STOP, and just stand there for a minute or two, and then if you've been standing for a bit, stomp your foot. Here's why that's successful. When a grouse is hidden in the brush (and they do have fabulous camouflage - -some of the best in nature), they'll just stay hidden as you walk by, and they'll watch you walk right past them. But, if you every-so-often stop, that'll make them very nervous. The longer you stand there, the more anxious they become, and then if you make a sudden movement and do a "stomp", they'll flush immediately, as they just can't stand it anymore.

When you flush a bird like that, and then shoot and get it, don't forget there'll probably be more than one in that immediate spot. Stop after your initial shot. The other grouse (there may be five or six more right there) who've been sitting there will get nervous and flush as well.

Then there's a tried-and-true "trick" that many grouse hunters never think of. Most hunters don't realize that grouse are NOT "upland game birds" in the true sense of that phrase. You're going to find lots of grouse in areas like around swamps and beaver ponds. Maybe they'll feel secure from predators on a dry knoll, with tufts of grass sticking up in a tag alder swamp. Don't think that grouse will always be up "high and dry." Far from it. Look at "high and dry" of course, but don't forget "low and wet." Grouse will appear far more protected from predators and hunters in what they feel are difficult areas to get around in - -like swamps and ponds. A good friend of mine, and super grouse hunting guide has told me any number of times that the most successful grouse hunters often find their quarry in swamp and pond areas rather than in the hardwoods.

So, I hope you'll "chew on these tidbits" for awhile and adopt them in your grouse hunting scenarios. I really do believe that if you "chew" on what I've suggested, you'll also soon be "chewing" on ruffed grouse at your dinner table.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lending a Paw- Some Well Trained Dogs

A few short video clips from a friend of the site that I though you might all enjoy:

Lending A Paw- Video of a dog that opens doors for his master:

Go On Release-  These dogs are trained to go on the release words "Play" or "OK".  Watch as their trainer tests their hearing.  Incredible video that demonstrates what a dog with good training can do:

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Crate Training A Puppy

As many of us have probably learned, house training a new puppy can be a challenging and stressful time. What you have to realize is that learning these new lessons is sometimes hard for them as well. They instinctively want to learn and please their owner. I would like to share some tips on potty training/crate training.

First and foremost we have to understand that they are still very young and being left in a crate for 10 hours at a time is impossible for them. Their body is not capable of such a long period of time until they are 4-5 months old at least. So if you lock up your puppy and go to work thinking it will be fine until you get home, your more than likely going to have a nice messy surprise when you arrive back. Try to find a friend or family member who can go take the puppy outside at some point (more than once is ideal) or try to make it home on your lunch break at least. A 6-8 week old puppy should be taken out every 1-3 hours!

The training that comes during the 2-4 month age is very important for them to continue accident free. We have crate trained numerous puppies for ourselves and for customers and one of the biggest things I can stress is CONSISTENCY and POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT!!! Using the same commands and the same "potty" area every time you take the puppy out will also help them to understand quicker. When they take care of their business don't be shy about praising them!! That is a huge part of them learning that they did a good job.

Each time they are in the process of eliminating repeat numerous times a specific command like "potty" or a command of your choice. By doing this, when they get older you will say the "potty" command they will begin the process. Again, be sure to praise the puppy when he finishes!

Setting up a routine schedule for feeding times is just as important. Feeding times need to be just as consistent as any other part of training. 2-3 feedings per day for a limited time, which means giving them their food and allowing just 20 minutes to eat. They will eventually learn that when the food is given they need to eat now or it won't be there for them later. The puppy will need to be taken outside shortly after eating, usually half an hour to an hour later. DO NOT feed your puppy then put them in the crate and leave without being available to let them outside. You will have accidents to come back to when you return.

Make the crate a sanctuary for your puppy like his own private space. If you use the crate for punishing behavior they will shy away from entering it willingly. Associate favorable things with the crate, like the pups favorite chew toy or even throwing treats in for him to chase and come back out to you. Leave a surprise in the crate for them to find on their own like a different chew toy or treat.

Some pups can have what they call nervous wetting, which is they squat and urinate during the excitement of greeting you. This is not something you should punish them for!! This just means that they are a little sensitive and punishment will only make it worse. Most young puppies will grow out of this behavior.

Try to direct them away from problem areas! If they do have an accident somewhere in the house clean it thoroughly with a commercial product that will eliminate the odor. Then keep the pup away from those spots for at least a month if possible.

Please be patient with your new family member as they are learning. Harsh punishments will sometimes delay training and all that is needed for potty training is a startling reaction. You do not want your puppy to be afraid of you or learn that he cannot do his business in front of you. If the pup begins to eliminate inside a loud "NO" or stomp your foot on the floor will usually stop them and then you can immediately take them outside to finish the job.

There is always going to be mistakes in training but hopefully these tips can help you on the road to success in potty training/crate training. Expect a puppy to have accidents because as we all know no one is perfect and it takes time to learn.


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