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The August Hunter’s Guide: Prime Game to Target this Month

Herd of wild hogs rooting in the forest for food

The month of August might feel like an in-between period for most hunting enthusiasts, as it sits precariously between the relaxed days of summer and the much-anticipated big game season of fall. But for those in the know, this month provides ample hunting opportunities if you know where to look. Here’s your guide to making the most of August’s hunting season.

Squirrels: Nature’s Nimble Foragers

Small Squirrel Game Hunting.

August sees the beginning of squirrel season in several states. As they prepare for the upcoming fall, both gray and fox squirrels become increasingly active, making them perfect targets. Whether you’re silently stalking them amidst hardwood forests or observing their antics near feeding grounds, they offer a rewarding experience.

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Prairie Dogs: The Sharpshooter’s Delight

prairie dog in northern Arizona

Venture out to the vast landscapes of the West, and you’ll find prairie dog towns bustling with life. These agile critters, with their keen senses, are a challenge even for the seasoned hunter. Armed with a .22 LR or a specialized varmint-caliber centerfire rifle, this hunt doubles up as a valuable lesson in precision shooting.

Feral Hogs: The Boar’s Bounty

Wild boar in forest

In places like Texas, where I cut my hunting teeth, feral hogs are more than just game – they’re a menace. The upside? They can be hunted year-round, and August is as good a month as any. With rapid reproduction rates and notorious for their destructive behavior, hunters are often welcomed by grateful landowners looking to curb the hog menace.

Coyotes: Moonlit Predators

A camouflaged hunter kneels beside his tracking dogs while hunting coyote

August nights witness heightened coyote activity. Whether it’s the demands of feeding their young or the simple rhythms of nature, this is the month when the coyote truly comes alive. While they offer a thrilling chase, remember to always check your local regulations, especially if you’re hunting them during the night.

Groundhogs: The Eastern Challenge

Groundhog near a tree

For hunters based in the East and Midwest, groundhogs present a fantastic opportunity. Active throughout August, they feast on the abundant soybeans, alfalfa, and other fresh produce, often causing considerable damage to crops. For those with a penchant for long-range shooting, this is your game.

Early Goose Seasons: A Bird Watcher’s Delight

successful goose hunting

Certain northern terrains open their goose seasons in the latter part of August. These initial seasons are primarily focused on the local Canada geese populations, providing a warm-up of sorts before the significant migrations kick in.

August might not have the allure of the big game seasons, but for the discerning hunter, it’s a goldmine. Whether it’s the playful squirrels, the elusive coyotes, or the majestic geese, there’s an adventure waiting at every corner. So gear up, check those local regulations, and embark on a hunting journey this August. As always, hunt responsibly, respect the animals, and the land. Here’s to great hunting stories and even better memories!

 

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Tips for Turkey Hunting with Kids: Ensuring a Successful and Enjoyable Experience

father-son-hunting

Over the past few seasons, families have been taking their children turkey hunting, creating many memorable experiences. While some hunts have led to successful outcomes, such as multiple toms and jakes being harvested, others have provided valuable lessons on how to improve the overall experience for young hunters. Here are some key insights and tips for making turkey hunting with kids a positive and educational adventure.

Taking youngsters turkey hunting can be either a thrilling adventure or a frustrating experience, largely depending on the approach taken by the adult hunters. Success in hunting often relies on prime hunting grounds and cooperative birds, but even this may not guarantee a smooth outing. The key to a successful hunt often lies in aligning the goals of the adult hunters with the desires and comfort of the young participants.

One common challenge is managing the pressure to succeed. Adults may feel a strong urge to ensure a successful hunt, which can inadvertently transfer stress to the children. This pressure can be counterproductive, leading to heightened anxiety and mistakes. It’s important for adults to remain calm and patient, focusing on making the experience enjoyable rather than solely aiming for a successful kill.

Ensuring Firearms Comfort

Dad showing boy mechanism of a shotgun rifle.

One crucial aspect of a positive hunting experience is ensuring that young hunters are comfortable with their firearms. For instance, using a small bore such as a .410 might seem appropriate, but upgrading to a 20- or 12-gauge can be more effective if the child can handle it. Comfort and confidence with the firearm are paramount.

Adults, especially those with extensive hunting experience, must remember that handling a shotgun may not come naturally to children. Providing plenty of practice opportunities and ensuring that the firearm is manageable in terms of recoil and weight can significantly boost a child’s confidence and performance. Tools like a heavy Bog Pod can help stabilize the gun and reduce recoil, making the experience more comfortable for young hunters.

Involving Kids in the Process

Father teaching his son about gun safety and proper use on hunting in nature

To foster a deeper appreciation and love for hunting, it is beneficial to involve children in the entire process, not just the hunt itself. This includes scouting, setting up blinds, and understanding animal behavior. Trail cameras, for example, can add an element of excitement and engagement in the lead-up to the season.

Taking children out before the season to listen for gobbles, look for tracks, and brush in blinds helps them understand the importance of preparation. This involvement makes the hunt more meaningful and educational. It also helps children understand the reasons behind certain decisions, such as why specific locations are chosen or why certain decoys are used.

Managing Expectations and Enjoying the Experience

Listening to the children’s needs and concerns during the hunt is crucial. If they are tired or need a break, it’s important to be understanding and flexible. The goal is to make the experience enjoyable and educational, rather than turning it into a rigorous and demanding activity.

Encouraging children to participate in calling, using binoculars, and making decisions during the hunt can increase their engagement and enjoyment. It’s also essential to explain the importance of patience and the reality that hunting involves periods of waiting and quiet observation.

Even if there are complaints about early mornings or a lack of action, these moments can be forgotten when the excitement of seeing a full strutter or hearing a gobble fills the air. By creating a positive and supportive environment, adults can ensure that children develop a lasting interest in hunting.

Turkey hunting with kids can be a rewarding experience for both the adults and the young hunters. By focusing on comfort, involvement, and managing expectations, adults can create memorable and educational hunting trips that foster a love for the outdoors and wildlife. The key is to make the hunt enjoyable, educational, and stress-free, ensuring that children have a positive introduction to the world of hunting.

Any tips for parents who want to go turkey hunting with their kids? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Ohio’s Gobblers Facing Harder Times

eastern-wild-turkey-gobbling-field-midwest

Spring turkey season results suggest that Ohio’s gobbler hunters might be facing tougher times. While the situation isn’t dire yet, any hopes for a quick rebound to the bountiful days of the past remain unfulfilled.

The 2024 spring turkey season concluded last Sunday in 83 South Zone counties, including central Ohio. The Ohio Division of Wildlife reported a total harvest of 15,426 turkeys, which is a slight decrease from last year’s total of 15,550. This year’s total includes birds taken during the statewide youth season in April, 30 days of hunting in the South Zone, and the first 23 days of hunting in the Northeast Zone. Hunting in the five Northeast Zone counties (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull) ends at sunset this Sunday.

Although the 2024 numbers are an improvement over the alarming results of 2021 (14,546) and 2022 (11,872), they still fall short of the more prolific years. For instance, the 2018 spring take was 22,612, and the 2017 take was 21,096. From 2000 to 2010, the spring harvest exceeded 20,000 birds eight times, peaking at 26,156 in 2001.

In 1993, the Ohio Division of Wildlife introduced a two-bird limit in the 42 open counties, although the second permit initially cost double the price of the first. This premium was dropped by 2003. The two-bird limit remained until 2022 when the declining turkey population led to a reduction in the spring limit to a single bird for the first time in almost 30 years.

Some have suggested eliminating the fall turkey season or imposing restrictions on targeting hens to help the population recover. However, the wildlife division has maintained a short fall season and continues to allow the harvest of a single turkey of either sex.

An ongoing research project in Ohio aims to track changes in wild turkey habits and examine the potential effects of environmental conditions. The goal is to identify measures that could enhance survival rates. Falling turkey populations are a common worry among both gobbler advocacy groups and state and local wildlife agencies nationwide.

Of the 83 counties where the turkey hunting season has ended, Belmont led with 451 birds checked, followed closely by Monroe and Tuscarawas, each with 447. Among central Ohio counties, Licking finished top with 255 birds, followed by Fairfield (91), Delaware (78), Union (44), Franklin (17), Pickaway (14), and Madison (4).

Leave your thoughts about the situation in Ohio in the comments below. 

 

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Five Years After Supreme Court Decision, Tribal Hunting Rights Still Murky

indian-red-wearing-traditional-dress-bird

Nearly five years have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision recognizing the treaty-based hunting rights of Native American tribes. Despite this, many legal and policy questions regarding where, when, and if certain Native Americans are bound by state hunting regulations remain unresolved. Two months ago, a lower federal court issued an order related to tribal elk hunting in the Bighorns, but the clarity hunters and tribal members hoped for remains elusive.

Observers expected that lingering legal questions would be resolved through various court cases. However, Wyoming’s decision to drop charges in the partially remanded Herrera v. Wyoming case has left many issues unresolved. This decision has unexpectedly elevated the importance of another case dating back to 1989, involving Thomas Ten Bear, a member of the Crow Tribe, who was convicted of elk poaching in the Bighorns. Like the Herrera case, Ten Bear’s situation revolves around the prosecution of Crow Tribal members for killing elk in a national forest in Wyoming without a state-issued permit.

Ten Bear’s Case and the Supreme Court Precedent

Years before the Supreme Court’s Herrera ruling, Ten Bear sought to have his nearly 35-year-old poaching conviction overturned. With the new precedent in place, U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson issued a 27-page order in late March, partially granting Ten Bear and the Crow Tribe’s requests for relief. Johnson’s decision clarified some key legal questions, establishing that statehood admission does not abrogate treaty rights and that the creation of a national forest does not render the land “occupied,” thus not nullifying the Crow Tribe’s treaty hunting rights.

Despite these clarifications, significant questions remain about off-reservation hunting. There are ambiguities about when portions of a national forest—or any land—can be considered “occupied” and thus off-limits to treaty-based tribal hunting. Additionally, questions about “conservation necessity”—the conditions under which the state could regulate or prevent tribal hunting outside of reservation boundaries—are still unanswered.

Judge Johnson’s ruling was specific to Ten Bear’s case and did not provide broad answers to these complex issues. The limits of what a court can definitively resolve were evident in his narrow approach, which left many aspects of off-reservation hunting rights open to interpretation and further negotiation.

A Call for Agreement

Cheyenne attorney David Willms believes that Wyoming and tribal residents with treaty hunting rights still lack a clear blueprint for resolving off-reservation tribal hunting. Judge Johnson’s ruling suggested that the state and tribes should work together to strike a balance between treaty-based rights and state sovereignty over natural resources. The Supreme Court’s Herrera v. Wyoming ruling also implied that these two aspects are “necessarily compatible.”

In the five years since the Herrera decision, there has been one significant legislative effort in Wyoming to make off-reservation hunting compatible with state regulations. During the Wyoming Legislature’s 2023 general session, a tribal agreement bill was introduced, granting the governor the authority to negotiate state-tribal pacts for off-reservation hunting and angling seasons outside of Game and Fish Department regulations.

However, the bill faced opposition from tribes like the Shoshone-Bannock, who argued that they were excluded from the drafting process and that the bill was too prescriptive, violating their sovereignty. The legislation ultimately died, leaving tribal hunting rights unresolved and further complicating state-tribal relations.

Since the legislative effort failed, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has maintained that tribal members without standard permits can be cited for off-reservation hunting violations. Meanwhile, Montana has taken a different approach, instructing its wardens not to cite Crow Tribe members who violate state hunting laws, reflecting a more lenient stance on treaty rights.

Despite the legal and legislative deadlock, Wyoming officials remain hopeful for a negotiated agreement. Governor Mark Gordon emphasized the need for government-to-government negotiations with the tribes to mutually agree on off-reservation hunting, considering it a more positive and productive approach than litigation.

Towards a Resolution

Resolving these issues outside of the courtroom appears to be the best path forward. Both sides need to find common ground and address the concerns that have previously derailed efforts. Lessons from past negotiations, particularly the importance of inclusive and respectful dialogue, are crucial for future success.

The hope is that, with time, both the state and the tribes will be ready to re-engage in discussions and develop a framework that honors treaty rights while ensuring sustainable wildlife conservation. As the dust settles, there is cautious optimism that an agreement can be reached, benefiting both tribal members and the broader community.

What do you think of the legal issues surrounding tribal hunting? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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