Hunting dogs make hunting better. They find more game, they get you better shots, and they recover downed birds that would otherwise be lost. And, it’s just fun to watch dogs work. You may own a dog of your own someday, but you’ll probably hunt over other people’s dogs first. If you’re invited on a hunt with dogs, there are adjustments you’ll have to make. The dog’s safety is everyone’s concern. A dog isn’t of any use if it stays behind the firing line, so you’ll have to learn some new gun handling habits. There’s etiquette to learn, too, and expectations to adjust. Not every hunt with dogs is a joy. Some are terribly frustrating. Learn to take it in stride. It may be your dog running wild someday. Basically there are four types of hunting dogs you may encounter.
Pointing dogs (English setters, German shorthaired pointers, Brittanys and may others) freeze when they get close to upland birds. Commercial lodges like pointing dogs because they create a controlled situation, allowing hunters to get into position before the bird flushes. Most pointing dogs retrieve, too.
Retrievers (Labs, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, etc) are used primarily for waterfowl hunting. They wait in the blind with the hunters until birds fall, then fetch them.
Flushers (spaniels, mostly, as well as retriever breeds like Labs and golden retrievers) roust upland birds out of cover instead of stopping to point them.
Hounds (beagles are the most popular) chase four-footed game big and small, usually baying as they go. You may hunt deer, hogs, mountain lions or raccoons with hounds, although it’s most likely you’ll hunt rabbits with beagles.
Here’s what you need to know to have a safe, successful, enjoyable hunt with dogs.
See safety and etiquette rules at Range365.com.
In this video, Professional dog trainer Bev Millheim offers some sage advice for dog owners that are getting their young dog ready for its first hunting season. Tough the tips are focused on retrievers the substance can be applied to any breed. If Fido will see it on opening day he should see it first in training. Good luck on your first hunt!
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Turkey Ingredients1 pair of wild turkey legs and thighs 1 quart chicken stock 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon Chicken base 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning 1 teaspoon dried chives Salt and black pepper to taste
Dumpling Ingredients2 cups all-purpose flour ½-teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons cold shortening or lard ¾-cup buttermilk or water
DirectionsStart by adding 2 quarts of chicken stock along with the poultry seasoning to the Instant Pot. Add the turkey legs and thighs and set the pot to pressure cook for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to natural release after cooking, about 30 more minutes. Remove the turkey, leaving the stock in the pot. Shred the turkey meat from the bone and set aside. Make the dumplings by mixing the flour, baking soda, salt and lard. Cut the lard into the dumplings with a fork until well blended. Add the buttermilk or water and mix well. Roll the dough onto a floured surface about ¼-inch thick. Cut into strips with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Set the Instant Pot to the sauté setting. Add the remaining two cups of stock, the chicken base and the dried chives. Bring the mixture to a boil and drop in the dumplings a few at a time. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the dumplings are cooked through and the stock starts to thicken. Return the turkey to the pot and continue cooking until everything is heated through. Top with cracked black pepper and salt to taste before serving and garnish with diced fresh chives, if desired.
Try Out More Recipes with NSSF’s Game Meat Cooking Series
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF4EE32869227CCE5Where hunter and classically trained chef Georgia Pellegrini shares recipes from her book, "Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time."
Wisconsin Turns to Adults for New HuntersWisconsin is one of those states actively seeking new hunters. Since 1990, it has lost over 100,000 licensed deer hunters, one-seventh of its deer-hunting population. Emily Lehl is the Wisconsin DNR’s R3 Coordinator. R3 stands for “recruitment, retain, and reactivate” and is a national initiative followed by many state agencies. “In 1996, our department implemented the ‘Learn to Hunt Program.’ Back then, our first inclination was to target young people for introduction to hunting. We set up ‘Learn to Hunt’ as a way to get kids from non-hunting families involved in hunting. We were able to get special seasons and relaxed limits implemented,” said Lehl. After several years of “Learn to Hunt,” the DNR discovered a few things. One, most of the kids involved in the program were from hunting families—not really the target audience the agency needed to attract new hunters. Second, the participating kids who were from non-hunting families had no support network to continue hunting. With that knowledge, starting in 2011, Wisconsin DNR officials shifted its R3 efforts from kids to young adults. “We noticed an increase in interest from young adults who were looking at hunting as a means to procure organic protein for themselves and their families,” said Lehl. Since most of these young adults had neither hunting experience nor a network of hunters to turn to for advice, the department implemented a series of “Hunt for Food” classes designed to provide information, mentorship and hands-on experience the new hunters would need to continue participating in this American pastime. The classes meet once a week for four weeks. The first class is held in a classroom setting where participants get to know one another and get a basic overview of hunting methods, general safety and equipment needs. The second week is spent in the field covering actual hunting situations and methods. Week three moves to the shooting range to introduce the new hunters to either firearms or crossbows. All of this training culminates in the actual hunt weekend. Participants are paired with volunteer mentors and then put their training to use. After the hunt, everyone reconvenes for a hands-on butchering class to process game from any successful hunts, and the final part of the class has participants and their families attending a wild-game dinner. Not only does the meal introduce properly prepared wild game, it gives the attendees a chance to socialize and form bonds that should help form a lasting support group for future hunts. The program has been so successful that the Wisconsin DNR is now encouraging hunting and conservation clubs across the state to adopt the framework and hold classes of their own. “We traditionally see these clubs focusing on youth, but with the success we are seeing from the ‘Hunt for Food’-style programs, we are encouraging these clubs to shift that focus to young adults,” said Lehl.
Kansas Takes a Multi-Pronged ApproachAnother agency seeking to stem the decrease in their state’s hunter numbers is the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism (KDWPT). From 2011 to 2016, hunter numbers in the state dropped 16 percent. Tanna Fanshier, R3 Coordinator for the Department, is working to reverse that trend. One of five states awarded a monetary grant from the Association of State Fish and Wildlife Agencies for programs to expand hunter numbers, the KDWPT is attacking the problem on multiple fronts. In addition to re-engaging hunters who have stopped participating in the tradition, Fanshier says the KDWPT is reaching out to non-traditional hunting audiences, including women, college students and Millennials. “Our Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) classes are proving to be extremely popular,” said Fanshier. The classes are held at multiple locations throughout the year with experienced volunteers covering a variety of topics, including basic hunting, species-specific hunting, camping, firearm or archery gear training, bird and wildlife ID and fishing, in hands-on training. “One of the things I’m really excited about is that we have recently scheduled our first BOW class with an all-female instructor group,” Tanna said. “We think having women as instructors for the class will remove some of the apprehension participants might have when signing up for the class.” Like the Wisconsin DNR, the KDWPT is also seeing great return on investment from programs centered on young adults and their desire to learn to hunt as a means of procuring organic protein. “We have seen great success in tapping into the locavore movement among young, sometimes urban populations. We are using both fish and game dishes as a way to introduce a non-traditional segment of the population to hunting and fishing,” said Fanshier. Unfortunately, one of the biggest hurdles for new hunters is finding a spot to hunt. With approximately 98 percent of the land in Kansas being privately owned, this is particularly true for new hunters in the state. To combat this issue, KDWPT began a Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) pilot program in 1995. The program paid private landowners to open their land to walk-in hunters. By 2004, WIHA had grown to over a million acres; during the 2018-’19 season, WIHA provided over 1.2 million acres of ground to hunters pursuing a wide variety of game species. To ease liability concerns, Kansas state law has provided landowners who lease their land to the state for recreational purposes immunity from damages or injuries that result from ordinary negligence.
Kentucky Gets Creative with Firearms Seasons and Mentored HuntsThe Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife (KDFWR) is also on a constant search for ways to stop falling hunter numbers. Brent McCarty, R3 Manager for the department, says the state of Kentucky has long been at the forefront of new-hunter recruitment. “Our department has a large R3 staff for agency size, an indication of just how important it is to us,” says McCarty. “We were the first to introduce the ‘Field to Fork’ program that has been adopted by so many other agencies and organizations. And we are still the most active with more than 40 ‘Field to Fork’ programs last year, alone.” Brent said. “One of the biggest impediments to new hunters in the state is access to a place to hunt. We have a lot of experienced hunters who would like to mentor new hunters, and landowners who offer their farms to host hunts. Trouble is, the most effective tool for new hunters is a firearm, and both the mentors and the landowners tend to be either hunting themselves or hosting friends and family hunting their property during the relatively short firearms season. To combat this, we’ve recently gotten legislation passed that allows us to host firearm mentor hunts on private land outside the regular season. This gives us the opportunity to pair up experienced mentors with new hunters in the NSSF +ONESM Movement-style on farms that don’t have other active hunters on them at the time,” said McCarty. KDFWR is also in the process of switching the required Hunter Safety Certification from an either partial or complete in-person class to a completely online course. “Not only is this going to make it easier for new hunters, it will free up the four regional hunter ed coordinators and nearly 400 volunteers we have across the state to move away from hunter ed and more toward R3 initiatives,” said McCarty. While efforts like these from various state game agencies might not entirely reverse the decline in hunter numbers, they can turn the tide. Introducing a new, non-traditional demographic to hunting is helping to spread the word to a much wider audience, good news for the long-range well-being of the tradition we love. Curious about what your state’s natural resources agency has to offer you, from public hunting lands to game seasons and apprentice hunting license programs? NSSF’s Where to Hunt is your one-stop resource for state-by-state information, and it’s just one of the resources for both new and experienced hunters at LetsGoHunting.org. Give it a visit and see all it has to offer—and then head to the field for a great day of hunting. You may also be interested in: https://www.letsgohunting.org/articles/fish-wildlife-agencies-use-mentored-dove-hunts-to-introduce-people-to-hunting/
Magnification RangeYou will need to assess your specific glassing needs in order to make a proper decision when it comes to the magnification range of your binocular. Many people believe that more magnification is better, but that’s not always the case. For instance, field of view, the width of the image seen through the binocular, can in fact be too narrow when using higher magnification binoculars. I personally prefer a high-quality design of lower magnification than the reverse. The finest brands will give a bright, crisp image at 8X magnification, where the poorly made models (some with very attractive price tags) will struggle to compete at any magnification level. [caption id="attachment_3239" align="aligncenter" width="650"] The Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD, one of the author’s favorite binoculars. It represents an excellent value, giving premium performance at a very attractive price.[/caption] Higher magnification levels do have their place, especially for glassing across canyons or open plains or tundra. Still, you’ll have to balance their benefit there against their generally larger, heavier bodies and more expensive price tags. Binoculars are labeled with the magnification level first, the diameter of the objective lens (in millimeters) second. Thus, a 10x32 binocular has 10X magnification and 32mm lenses. General-purpose binoculars usually have 7X, 8X or 10X magnification and 32 to 40mm lenses. I have owned smaller models—I had a Zeiss 8x20 “shirt-pocket” model that worked well for deer hunting in thicker woods—but the smaller objective lenses don’t offer the light transmission the larger models do. Contrarily, the larger models are heavier and can be more difficult to hold steady for viewing, so you can see where the tradeoffs need to be made. [caption id="attachment_3240" align="aligncenter" width="650"] The Swarovski 8x32 EL—what may be the Holy Grail of binoculars to many hunters and shooters. It isn’t cheap, but it’s worth the investment.[/caption]
The Prism QuestionModern binoculars are broken into two groups: roof-prism and Porro-prism models. Without getting deep into the physics, the Porro-prism design uses a pair of offset prisms, which usually results in a greater distance between the ocular lenses. These binoculars have a short, stout, squat look. The roof-prism binocular uses a pair of back-to-back prisms, and the straight-line design allows for a more compact design. With a hinge in the center, the unit looks much like a capital “H.” [caption id="attachment_3241" align="aligncenter" width="650"] The author’s Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD binocular, shown here in Australia, has been on many different hunts and has always been reliable.[/caption] I tend to lean toward roof-prism designs, as I most often carry my binocular on a strap, hanging under my left arm, and that shape works best for that kind of transport. Several friends prefer to carry their binocular in a harness, with the binocular sitting on the middle of the chest. This allows for a fast, two-handed grip that quickly raises the unit to the eyes, something well-suited to the Porro prism.
Lenses, Coatings and Price RangeYou’ll find a wide price range, when it comes to binoculars. Tags ranges from about $100 for an entry-level model up to and over $4,000 for a fine European binocular loaded with features. To find what is going to work best for you will require a shopping trip in order to compare makes and models. [caption id="attachment_3242" align="aligncenter" width="650"] This 8x42 Bushnell Forge binocular gives the user a lot of features— coated lenses, EXO Barrier protection to protect the glass from the elements, etc.— for the investment. The author has taken it on safari to Africa, as well as numerous hunts across North America.[/caption] My choices generally lie in the middle to lower end of that price range, though I understand why a professional hunter or registered guide—those whose livings depend on seeing game animals—would invest a healthy sum of money in the best binocular they could afford. If you hunt with enough guides, you’ll invariably see a well-worn Swarovski, Zeiss, or Leica binocular on the dashboard of the truck. Bird watchers, too, are devotees of fine glass and target shooters, especially those working at long range, appreciate glass that lets them see mirage and waving grasses far away. There are few rivals the lens quality of those renowned glass makers, though some of our American manufacturers come close. [caption id="attachment_3243" align="aligncenter" width="650"] An entry-level binocular like this Bushnell Legend 10x42 can serve a hunter well. Such optics on the lower end of the price spectrum have come a long way in recent years.[/caption] Some binoculars give more than just magnified vision. A number of models, for instance, have built-in rangefinders, while others offer thermal imaging. Such additional options certainly raise the price of the unit, as well as add to the weight. If these options appeal to you, so be it, just realize they change the game a bit. As an outdoor writer, I use more than one brand throughout the year, and I can say that a number of lower-priced binocular brands have greatly improved in quality over the decades. I’ve used several Bushnell binoculars, which represent a great value, and I can say the same for Vortex and Nikon. [caption id="attachment_3244" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Some of the lesser-known companies such as Riton Optics produce a useable and reliable binocular, but you’ll have to spend some time shopping around for them.[/caption] Still, not all binoculars are created equal, and that said, lens quality and coatings are of utmost importance when deciding between models and prices. Cheap lenses cause eye strain. Cheap construction won’t stand up to rigorous use in the field; I like adjustable eye cups that stay where I put them, just as I do the focal knobs. I also want a crisp, clear image with plenty of contrast, and lens coatings that help shift the color spectrum so I can pick game animals out of the brush in low-light conditions. Among the models I’ve used over the years that have excellent lenses and coatings, I’ve most enjoyed Leupold’s 10x42 BX-5 Santium HD, Swarovski’s 8x32 EL and Leica’s Ultravid 8x32HD as great all-around-use choices. They have worked well for me across four continents and in a number of different conditions and environments from sub-zero weather in Canada to hotter-than-hell-itself in Zimbabwe. [caption id="attachment_3245" align="aligncenter" width="650"] The author (left) and safari partner Dave deMoulpied. Note Dave’s Steiner Porro prism-design binocular on a chest harness.[/caption] Different brands and models provide these features to varying degrees, so when you’re shopping, do your best to sample them outdoors. Looking through a binocular under the fluorescent lighting of a sporting goods store will not give an accurate representation of light transmission or image color. Beyond that, read the reviews, try your buddy’s binocular, ask questions and look at as many different brands and models as possible. With that work, you’ll soon find a model that suits your situation makes your investment in this optic worthwhile. About the Author Philip Massaro is a freelance writer whose passions include big-game hunting and ballistics. He has appeared on numerous outdoor television programs and has authored books on both hunting and ballistics.
https://youtu.be/Y8o1r_USeIIIn this video, Former Army Ranger sniper team leader Ryan Cleckner demonstrates how to properly set up your binoculars.