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Bird Hunting

  • February 14, 2012

    Clay Target Guys Can't Hit Feathers...Or Can They?

    by Phil Bourjaily

    I have heard a lot of hunters say “Take those clay target guys hunting and they can’t hit a thing.” I’ll disagree. Most good clay shots are good field shots, too. The best display of field shooting I have ever seen was put on by Sporting Clays champion Andy Duffy over the course of the two days we hunted grouse together in Minnesota a few years ago.

    But, there are adjustments to make when you switch from clay to feathers. After a summer of practice at skeet and sporting clays, I shoot too far in front of real birds at first. Why it happens I don’t know. Maybe it’s the optical illusion presented by clay targets moving faster than they appear to be. Whatever the case, clay targets often require more lead than you think they should, while real birds often need less.

    I’m not the only one with that problem. My predecessor Bob Brister--a great shot--used to write about shooting too far in front of birds at the beginning of the season. I saw a perfect example on the last day of goose season last month. I took my friend Peter, who graduated high school five years ago with my older son. Peter had a terrific Sporting Clays season last year, making a spot on Iowa’s All-State team, but he didn't have time to hunt much this fall, so he was still in clay mode when we put out the goose spread. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 10, 2012

    Cast Iron Contest: Our Dutch Oven Winner & A New Skillet Up For Grabs

    By Colin Kearns

    We had a bunch of terrific entries for the Dutch oven contest. As I read them today, I kept getting hungrier and hungrier. If nothing else, you all proved that the best-tasting and most memorable meals are often enjoyed outdoors.

    But, there was one meal that I wanted try more than any other. And it came from Beekeeper:

    About 10 years ago on a coastal feral hog hunt, I used my old Dutch oven to make one of the best gumbos I've ever made. A half hour at low tide with a castnet provided fresh white shrimp and five or six blue crabs. I also picked up and shucked out oysters from a small shell bar. Back at camp a simple broth was made from the shrimp heads and shells while I was making a nice dark roux. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 10, 2012

    Bear Attack Leads Florida Woman to Stolen Champion Hound

    By Chad Love

    A Florida woman whose champion Plott hound was stolen and sold to an unwitting bear hunter now has her dog back, thanks to that hunter's honesty and a bad encounter with an angry bear.

    From this story on

    The frightening picture gave Joi Hosker both hope and despair. Hope because it meant her champion show dog had been found. Despair because it showed him hooked up to IVs and near death after being attacked by a bear. For eight fruitless months, she had searched for George, her Plott hunting dog whose registered name is “Hosker’s Georgie Boy.” It’s a lost-and-found story with a tall “tail” of an ending.

    "...In late 2009, Hosker boarded George with a hunter/trainer in Columbia County while she traveled to Lake Charles, La., to visit her seriously ill mother and her husband was out of town on a job. When she returned home after her mother’s death, Gary Hosker broke the news that he feared George might be dead. The kennel owner had told him George had escaped. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 9, 2012

    Can You Put a Price Tag on Hunting With Your Gun Dog?


    By Chad Love

    There was an interesting article last month in a Texas A&M University publication called Agrilife Today, which sought to put a monetary value on the bobwhite quail. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 9, 2012

    Research: Parasites Possible Cause for Declining TX Quail Pops


    By Chad Love

    Where did the quail go? That is the question that everyone in quail country, especially Texas, is asking. Even with the recent drought, many Texas quail hunters reported seeing quail early in the year, especially in 2010, when weather was favorable--only to then discover those quail were gone come fall. As in completely gone. Roanoke Island gone.
    But now researchers with the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch (RPQRR) in Texas may have discovered a potential (and partial) explanation for the bobwhite's troubling disappearance. It's gross, but fascinating. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 9, 2012

    Animal Rights Activists Will Use Drones in SC to Film the "Horrors" of a Pigeon Shoot

    By Chad Love

    Apparently, drones aren't just for taking out terrorists and spying on citizens any more. An animal rights group says it will launch a remotely-piloted helicopter to videotape the unspeakable horrors of a South Carolina pigeon shoot.

    From this story in the (Orangeburg, SC) Times and Democrat:

    Live pigeon shoots scheduled this week at a private plantation near Ehrhardt are ruffling the feathers of two animal rights groups. Press releases put out by SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness) and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) say the Broxton Bridge Plantation event, scheduled for Feb. 9-12, should be halted. They have called upon Gov. Nikki Haley and both the Colleton and Bamberg County sheriff's departments to intervene to stop it. Steve Hindi, president of SHARK, said investigators from his agency will be videotaping what he called the "cruel and inhumane live pigeon shoot."  [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 8, 2012

    Recipe: Dutch Oven Stuffed French Toast


    By Colin Kearns

    If you haven’t had breakfast yet, you might consider this delicious morning meal, courtesy of new Lodge Cast Iron Cooking cookbook. And, if you haven’t shared your favorite Dutch oven meal, get on it! The Wild Chef reader with the best-sounding dish will win a brand new Lodge Dutch oven.

    Stuffed French Toast


    - 1 French bread loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes
    - 1 dozen large eggs
    - 2 cups milk
    - 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    - 1⁄3 cup maple syrup
    - 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes and softened [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 8, 2012

    Valentine's Day Soup Recipe + Contest Winner Announced


    By David Draper

    Last week’s Super Bowl Snack contest garnered many great recipes, both here on the Wild Chef blog and on the Field & Stream Facebook page. As good as some of them sounded, I did have to disqualify a few for not following the rules. Though beer-can chicken is always good, that entry, as well as a few others, didn’t include wild game. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 7, 2012

    Fewer Snow Geese In Texas, Fewer Hunters


    By Chad Love

    Hunter participation in Texas' post-season conservation order snow goose hunts has plummeted, as the number of birds wintering in Texas has declined dramatically.

    From this story in the Houston Chronicle:

    During the 2000 snow goose conservation season, almost 28,000 waterfowlers went afield in Texas. They took, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department surveys, a little more than 102,000 geese. The next two years, participation fell a bit, to about 18,400 in 2001 and 21,700. Then things changed, drastically. In the early 2000s, the number of snow geese coming to the Texas coast nose-dived as the birds began a major shift in wintering grounds. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 6, 2012

    Dog is Only Cure for 13-Year-Old with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome


    By Chad Love

    Anyone who's ever owned or been around them knows that dogs are a Swiss army knife for the soul. No matter what's troubling you, no matter how bad things are, or how bad they may get, the presence of a dog just seems to make things better. How do they do it?

    Who knows, but if Big Pharma could somehow extract, replicate and synthesize into pill form, the effect of a dog's love on the human soul, it would immediately render all other forms of therapy and treatment obsolete.

    But they haven't, thankfully, which is why we still have stories like this one from the New York Times Magazine about a young boy suffering from the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome and the dog that helped him when nothing else could. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 6, 2012

    3,500 Acres In Utah May Go To Coal Mine, Threatening Sage Grouse


    By Chad Love

    Three different federal agencies are among those opposed to a BLM plan to lease 3,500 acres of public land for a coal mine near Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park. Federal biologists say the proposed mine could wipe out the nation's southernmost population of sage grouse, a gamebird facing survival challenges in other parts of its range as well.

    From this story on

    Federal biologists say a strip mine at the backdoor to Utah's storybook Bryce Canyon National Park will wipe out the southernmost population of sage grouse, even as their agency resists a broader effort to protect the bird across the West. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is among three federal agencies that have registered opposition to the lease of 3,500 acres of public range land sought by a coal mine that got its start on 440 acres of private land. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 3, 2012

    Food Fight Friday: Venison Lasagna vs. Fried Catfish & Frog Legs

    By Colin Kearns & Michael R. Shea

    We’re hungry, so let’s just get right to the fight. What’ll it be: Mike’s lasagna, or Colin’s fried fish and frogs?

    No-Fuss Venison Lasagna

    We’ve been cooking a lot of venison hamburger lately at the Shea-Nunez house. Earlier this week my girlfriend, Rocio, made this super-easy venison lasagna. And it was delicious. Here’s how she did it: [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 3, 2012

    Turkey Hunting: How Danger Helps Keep You Safe

    By Phil Bourjaily

    My post about the Haint gobble call made me think about turkey hunting safety. When I started turkey hunting back in the 80s it had the reputation for being very dangerous since it is an activity where you hide in the woods and make sounds like a turkey while others are doing the same. While you would think the use of gobble calls and strutter decoys might increase the danger, I’m not sure they do. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, turkey hunting keeps getting safer. Accidents occurred at a rate of 8.1 per 100,000 participants in 1992 and had fallen to 2.95 per 100,000 by 2005.

    I think turkey hunting is safe precisely because we know it’s dangerous and act accordingly. Hunters tend to be on their guard and most follow the rules of turkey hunting safety that have been drilled into our heads: don’t wear red, white and blue, be sure of your target, sit against a tree wider than your shoulders, and so on. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 2, 2012

    Learn How Traps Work: It Could Save Your Dog's Life

    By Chad Love

    There are any number of things that can go wrong, sometimes horribly, when we take our dogs into the field. They can run through a fence and get torn up, run through a cattle guard or hole and break a leg, run into a porcupine or skunk, inhale dangerous seeds, get bitten by a snake, trampled by a cow, run over by a car, get overheated, dehydrated or completely lost, the list is pretty much endless in terms of potential dangers.

    All you can do is take it on faith that those things won't happen while hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. That's why most of us do things like carry first-aid kits on all our hunting trips and plugging the phone numbers of local vets into our cell phones.

    But here's one more thing that every one of us should familiarize ourselves with: what to do if one of our dogs gets caught in a body-gripping trap. Here's an absolutely heartbreaking story from last week's Minneapolis Star-Tribune about a rash of dogs dying in traps.

    From the story:

    Doug Snyder won't forget the day he loaded a .22 rifle and shot his dog at point-blank range. He and his two teenage sons were walking along a forest road near their cabin east of Hinckley in late December when Polka Dot, their 9-year-old setter-Lab mix, suddenly howled in distress. Bolting headlong into the woods, Snyder found his dog 60 yards away with its head and neck caught in a deadly body-gripping trap. "She was standing there, bleeding from the snout," he said. Frantically, Snyder and his 16-year-old son struggled to free their pet before it suffocated. But two powerful springs held the trap's jaws tightly closed. "We fought like hell to get it off, and we couldn't," he said. "She was melting away."
    [ Read Full Post ]