The Scent Control Debate

scentlock1By Matt Sayer

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For the past decade the issue of scent containment in the field has been a hot-button issue. With the advent and marketing of “scent blocking/absorbing” technologies, an entire industry has grown around the containment and elimination of scent. Every year more and more products appear on shelves, in catalogs and are promoted on television shows. The products obviously sell yet there is still an intense debate pertaining to their effectiveness. Some even say they are worthless, a complete sham. Recently a lawsuit has even been filed against a major producer of these products, challenging the company’s claims of scent reduction.

Most scent containment clothing relies on activated carbon to absorb scent- human scent being the target. The premise is that carbon fibers absorb and hold various scent molecules, containing the scent before it is released into the air. It is advertised that carbon clothing can be recharged by running it through a high heat cycle in the dryer. The heat allows the carbon fibers to release the absorbed scent molecules, allowing them to absorb more.

Several studies have been done as to the effectiveness of these products and they have come up with different conclusions- essentially allowing the debate to continue.scentlock2

As an avid big game hunter with extensive experience using scent containment products, I feel the truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. When used properly, I feel that scent elimination clothing and other products are a valuable tool, particularly for the bow hunter. They will not make you scent free but are an effective tool in helping reduce in the amount of scent we release into the air. Getting high above the ground, not smoking, chewing or allowing ourselves to break a sweat are other ways we can help contain our scent. Touching as little as possible on the way into a stand also helps.

Many people expect too much from carbon clothing and don’t understand its limitations. The amount of scent a garment can absorb is limited so it is very important to protect clothing from everyday odors such as getting into the cab of your truck, refueling or from breakfast. Storing them in plastic bags and putting them on in the field and taking them off before leaving will help. Recharging often is another way to insure the clothing is as effective as possible. Keeping your body as clean as possible is another way to cut down on scent; hair is notorious for holding scent.

There is no way to be entirely “scent free” and you should always hunt the wind. Unfortunately many factors in the field are out of our control, so reducing the amount of scent we release into the woods may just buy us that extra ten yards or ten seconds that we may need to take an animal.

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pheasanthunting101By B.C. Maximas

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Let’s face it, come November those roosters sure can get smart. No matter how much cover you seem to push, if you happen to be in an area that has been hunted hard throughout the season, a limit of roosters seems to be almost impossible. There are however some things that can make your next upland bird hunting experience a much more successful and enjoyable experience. Listed below are some ideas that have been proven to give you the edge on your next pheasant hunting adventure.

1. No matter how much cover you push, without a well trained dog by your side you can forget about pumping up a rooster, no matter what state you hunt in. A well trained upland dog can be an invaluable tool for the pheasant enthusiast. What does it take to encourage a young pup to be the next pheasant king? Unlike waterfowl hunters, training an upland dog doesn’t take near as extensive of a training program, just the right training. The first thing any hunting dog needs is obedience. You need to be able to call your dog off of a flyer or a runner for that matter. Next is the proper introduction to birds. Most importantly we need to bring out pups natural instincts as young as possible. There is no time too young to introduce your new pup to a wing or dead bird. This will be very important down the road. What comes after that can be learned in many good training books available today. Remember you may be better off starting over right, than trying to fight a lost cause!

2. To follow up with hunting over a quality trained hunting dog. There are several factors that can aid your hunting dog into being more successful, thus making you more successful. First off, as most all avid hunters know, it is very important to hunt your dog into the wind when making a pheasant push giving your dog the edge on the birds scent. Next taking your pup to the local game preserve prior to his first hunt of the year can give your pup a push in the right direction as it may take a few times out before pup actually remembers what his job really is. Also keeping your dog hydrated during the hunt, even on a cool day is vital. A good idea is to carry a bottle of water in your vest or at the very least, pick up a gallon of water at the gas station when filling up; along with a bowl, which can be often forgotten.

3. Not to beat a dead horse but many hunters have heard about the terribly hot South Dakota opener a couple years back where numerous dogs died of heat exhaustion. Although heat exhaustion is a very dangerous situation, that particular incident may not have been from heat exhaustion as first thought, but from an algae bloom in the lakes and ponds. This can occur on very warm days and is lethal to many animals including dogs and livestock. If you are not aware of this problem, maybe it’s time to do a little research. You can detect a lethal algae bloom as the entire lake or pond will turn a hazy blue green especially on the down wind edge. Thus it is very important to keep an eye on what your dog is getting into and to bring an alternate source of water with for them at all times.

4. One thing that tends to get overlooked with inexperienced hunters is to be sure to be as quiet as possible from the time you drive up to the field, until the hunt is complete. Never slam a car door, no matter what time of year you’re hunting. If a member of my group ever slams a door, I refuse to hunt that area as they have just educated ever bird within a 1/2 mile that hunters are coming and be assured every rooster in earshot is running for the hills. To take that a step further, it is also very important to be as quite as possible throughout the hunt. Then old adage of yelling to get the birds moving only seems to work back at the game farm….not in the wild!!!

5. Now let’s get into some new hunting techniques. Many hunters like to hunt alone, just the hunter, his dog, and the birds. This is a very enjoyable way to hunt but can get frustrating if the birds are wary, won’t sit tight and continue to run on you. One way to combat these runners is to pick an area to hunt that gives the hunter the advantage. One way to do this in high water years is to use this water to your advantage. Many times when you start to push the birds into cattail cover, they are nearly impossible to get up if they have their highways already in place. If however, you can push the birds into an area that turns into water they are stuck. As you get within a couple hundred yards of the water cover make a quick sprint for about 50 yards. This will catch the birds off guard and push them right into the trapped area. Then at around 50 to 80 yards out, start to work the area very slowly, zig zag back and forth as these birds are either going to fly or try and double back. This is when you will experience your best success.

6. Now for the group hunters. Obviously larger groups have an advantage in covering larger areas of ground. However even though your hunting in a large group, if you can take advantage of a situation as stated above, your results will increase as well. Especially if you can plan ahead and have one or two hunters who are able to come prepared with hip boots or waders on. This allows the group to get down and dirty with those old school roosters. It is always important to keep safety in mind first, especially when hunting in larger groups, in the thick cover.

7. Another excellent time to hunt roosters is when the weather gets downright nasty. High winds are a pheasant hunter’s best friend as the cover makes more natural noise than the hunter. If you are quiet enough, your sounds will get lost in the wind and the birds get edgy. They do not know where you are or where to go and will end up sitting tighter or fly, thus allowing you to get up on them for a closer shot.

8. If high winds are not enough a full on blizzard is even better yet. Especially the day after. If you get a snowfall of over a foot that is not crusted up, those wiley roosters are unable to run on top of the snow and are forced to sit tight. And be assured they will be in the cattails after a storm like that. A group of hunters can spend all afternoon in an area where there are sure to be birds as they can’t go anywhere but up! Don’t be afraid to hunt a patch of cover full of birds, two or three times and you can never walk slowly enough.

9. The next piece of advice is to try and find out what the birds daily activity routine is. Learn as much about your prey as you can. This will help you decide where you should be hunting during a specific time of day. If at 9:00 am when shooting time starts, you’re in the thick cover and your having better luck scrambling after birds that the other guys are pushing out of the corn fields, guess where you should be hunting tomorrow at 9:00 am. That’s right, you’ll want to be hunting the edges of the corn fields or right in the standing corn instead of in the heavy cover, where you should be hunting right at dusk as the birds move in to roost for the night!

10. The last piece of advice to offer the experienced pheasant hunter is when the going gets really tough…think outside the box! Think about what every other hunter out there is doing and try something different. For instance if you have access to a boat, or your area ices up, try and hunt islands near the lake that you have watched birds sail to year after year when they get pushed from the heavy shoreline cover. Or if there is a specific area that never gets hit because it is just too thick, well guess where the birds are. Even if it is too thick to shoot out of, post a couple guys at the end and draw straws to be the grunt for your buddies. The idea is do what nobody else is doing….not what everybody else is doing!!!!

Well, hopefully these proven tactics will help you be more successful in the field next fall. Especially on those particularly tough days that seem to come around more often that not in the past few years as public hunting areas seem to keep getting overrun with hunters year after year! And just remember one thing, we need to continue to support our sportsman’s groups such as Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited, who are out there adding vital habitat, so that we continue to have places to hunt for the future!

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Wanton Waste Laws – What Do They Mean and Why Do They Exist?

By Dan Wennerlind

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Everybody has heard of one story or another of wild game gone to waste, whether it be a pile of dead snow geese left in a dumpster somewhere or a whitetail deer thrown in the ditch for the coyotes to eat. Is this a punishable crime and what are the consequences? We had a chance to sit down with a local Wisconsin State Conservation Warden in a question and answer type setting and find out exactly what “Wanton Waste” means in Wisconsin and what makes it such a travesty to hunters everywhere.

Question #1: What is the “Wanton Waste” law in the State of Wisconsin?

Answer: As it states in the Wisconsin regulation book- “23.095(1g) General prohibition. No person may damage or attempt to damage any natural resource within the state”. Describing the word Damage. – “Damage” means to commit a physical act that unreasonably destroys, molests, defaces, removes or wastes. This could mean damaging and/or wasting everything from a tree to a black bear as this law is written.

Question #2: What is the penalty in Wisconsin for damaging a natural resource?

Answer: If found guilty of “Damaging” a natural resource in the state of Wisconsin the standard fine is only $186.00. However, if found guilty of an “intentional kill” of a protected form of wildlife such as a Trumpeter Swan the fine can be as high as $5,000 and the revocation of one’s hunting privileges for 3 years.

Question #3 Do the Wanton Waste Laws vary from state to state?

Answer: Yes. Every state interprets the meaning of this law differently and it is up to each individual to know each state’s law. For instance in the state of Montana it is illegal to “breast out” a bird such as a goose and throw the carcass away. Legally all edible parts of the bird must be used. This law is highly enforced in the state of Montana. There are variations of this law in every state and province across North America and it is up the each hunter to abide by the law where he/she is hunting.

Question #4 Is the hunter who takes his game home, cleans it and puts it in the freezer for two years and then throws it away any different than the hunter who takes his game home that morning and tosses it into the garbage whole?

Answer: Ethically I don’t believe there is much difference between the two. Under certain circumstances such as a freezer that breaks down in which case the food goes bad, exceptions are acceptable, but for the hunter who just can’t get enough hunting each fall and stock piles more game than he can or plans to eat, there is not much difference. Each hunter has a moral obligation to make sure that he / she is able to use the game harvested each year himself or to make arrangements for all of the game harvested to be given away or used in some way, to be considered an ethical hunter. Many hunters provide some of their legally harvested game to local food shelves.

Question #5 What are some of the common examples of Wanton Waste that you have recently run across?

Answer: In my area the main sources of wasted game are whitetail deer. Each year we will find full deer carcasses thrown in the ditch after the hunting season. Many of those deer were never butchered but just dumped in the ditch to go to waste. We also get a few calls of deer still hanging in trees well into the spring from the past fall’s hunting season. The deer were gutted but never butchered. From time to time in the spring we also find piles of dead snow geese in the ditches- most likely from hunters returning from a spring snow goose hunting trip out west. We also find remnants from many ice fishermen who carelessly throw small bluegills and crappies on the ice and never take them home. All of which are ethically wrong, even the small pan fish that get wasted are detrimental to our natural resources, as insignificant as it may seem to some.

Question #6 Do you run into situations where the public, including farmers intentionally kill “Nuisance” animals because they are detrimental to them in some way? And what do you recommend in that situation?

Answer: Unfortunately it is not uncommon to hear about the public intentionally killing “Nuisance” animals. There is a Federal funded agency that will investigate and address these nuisance animal issues so people should not have to kill the animal. The right thing to do is contact us and we can work with them on the issue. We do run into situations each year where we will find a targeted nuisance species killed from time to time. One example would be lakeshore owners who will kill the Canada geese that summer on their shorelines. In situations like that we are able to site the guilty parties with a ticket for taking game out of season. That standard fine is $248.60.

Question #7 What about the honest hunter who is walking out of the marsh with a limit of ducks and his dog picks up a cripple bird on the way back to the truck or the turkey hunter who accidentally shoots two birds with one shot because he did not see the second bird? Are these hunters guilty as well?

Answer: There are always going to be honest mistakes made, we are only human. But it’s what we do after a mistake has been made that defines our character. Many hunters are so worried about what will happen if the Conservation Warden catches them doing something wrong that they end up doing many strange things that they would not normally do. The best thing to do in a situation like that is to call your local Conservation Warden and explain the situation. Hunters have a responsibility to identify their targets and what is beyond their targets. If they are not sure they should not pull the trigger. If your dog picks up a dead duck you did not shoot it is probably best to leave it there. If you walk out of the marsh with too many birds because your dog brought you one you did not shoot some questions are going to be asked by the warden. We are people to and will use our best judgment. If an honest mistake has been made we will work with the hunter to do what is right.

Question #8 Are there any blatant laws that are broken regarding the harvesting of game that you are able to enforce and work hard to do so?

Answer: Yes! The most important laws that we try and enforce are the bag limits. Those include daily and possession limits. If we run across a situation where a hunter has blatantly stock piled an over possession limit of birds or fish for example in a freezer we work very hard to catch him in the act and rely on cooperators to help us identify those subjects. In Wisconsin, we find some fishermen who take too many limits of fish in a day or will fish all week on vacation and go home with well over their legal possession limits. During the fall, we find a few archery hunters who shoot numerous bucks and find others to tag them. In Wisconsin, it is only legal to harvest one buck with your bow and arrow. Some unethical hunters and fisherman just get greedy sometimes and we hope the public cares enough to get involved to help us catch those types of violators.

Question #9 When situations such as the ones described above happen and make it to the news what does that do to us as hunters in the public eye?

Answer: It really hurts our sport and tradition. My experience as a Conservation Warden has shown that most hunters and fisherman are very ethical and do the things that are best for the resource. As with anything else, there are always those that don’t follow the rules and make us all look bad. Those are the ones we hope to catch. As Wardens we are hunters and fishermen too. When the public hears about incidents like these it gives all sportsmen a bad name and feeds the fire for those who want to stop hunting and fishing all together. We live in a time when it is more important than ever to get young people involved in the outdoors. Teaching them the right way early on in their lives is very important.

As you can see the Wanton Waste Law in Wisconsin is very broad which makes it tough for a Conservation Warden to enforce the law as it relates to the actual waste of game derived from an activity such as hunting or fishing. It must be proven in a court of law that the intent of an activity was actually to destroy or waste a state natural resource.

Since this law is so broad it does allow the opportunity for hunters in the state of Wisconsin to conceivably enjoy a successful morning of hunting, take their game home, let them sit in the garage for 3 days to spoil and then throw it away without any consequences from the law. But has a law still been broken? In this hunters’ mind- Absolutely! It may not be a law punishable by the state but as hunters and fisherman across the country we have a moral obligation to the natural resources that we enjoy taking from so freely, to utilize and take care of the game we harvest. It goes back to a moral backbone of human nature that one must eat what he kills! Are there exceptions to the rule? Sure there are, under certain circumstances if a legitimate accident should arise where all precautions have been taken but a bird or animal spoils there is not much one can do but those who are just to lazy to clean their game and allow there harvest to go bad or those who had no intention of eating or utilizing the game they harvested in the first place, those people have no business participating in the outdoor traditions many of us have grown to cherish so much. We as hunters and fisherman have a moral obligation to make sure that the game we harvest goes to good use and to make sure that it does not end up in a dumpster somewhere rotting away! This is also a very important tradition that needs to be embedded in the children of today so that they can understand the value of each and every creature that is harvested whether it be a sunfish or a bear… all wildlife need to be treated with the same respect no matter how big or small.

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How To Get Started Bow Hunting

By Dan Johnson

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Is there a simpler way to hunt than using a stick, a string, and an arrow? Most people would agree with this method being one of the oldest and most basic. However, anyone that has ever gone into the woods trying to hunt with a bow and arrow will tell you that there is nothing simple or easy about it. The unmatched excitement, challenge, and reward of archery hunting will take hold of you and never let go.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in southern South Dakota right along the Missouri River where there were always large numbers of pheasants, ducks, deer, and plenty of space to go out for a day, and pursue the game of our choice. We spent most of our time pheasant hunting until I was around fourteen when my dad agreed he would take me to a bow hunting safety course so I could give bow hunting a try. After my first year of archery hunting, I realized I was going to enjoy the outdoors in a completely new way. Along with having had some of the most unique experiences in my life, I was hooked. I have now spent more time walking to my tree stand than I have hunting pheasants.

When you hear people talk about bow hunting, whether they have been doing it for years or are brand new to the sport, the question always comes up, “Where do you start?” Bow hunting is just like any outdoor sport. It has so many options of products that you can spend a lot of money in a hurry…or you can start off using slightly experienced equipment and as your interest and knowledge grow, you can fine tune your needs.

If you are in a region where there is a bow hunting store, this a great resource to use as you are getting started. You will be able to ask many different questions and take a look at the large varieties of bow types and styles, as well as the different sizes they come in to help you find what will fit you the best. Most stores offer the opportunity for you to shoot a few arrows while you are trying to find your correct bow. There are a few measurements and anchor points that an employee will be able to help you find as well. The first measurement is your Draw-Length. This is the distance measured from where you hold your bow in the outstretched arm, to how far you need to pull your arrow back to reach full draw. The store could also give you the correct length of arrows that you need to shoot. The spot that you determine to be a comfortable resting position, while allowing you to take aim, is known as your Anchor Point. Having the correct draw-length and anchor point are crucial for your enjoyment and success in the field.

The next decision to make is whether you want to use an archery release. A release attaches to the bow string at the nocking point (where the arrow connects with the string). They are most commonly used with a compound bow. There are many different styles of archery releases that a hunter can choose from that allow you to find the design that you are most comfortable with. I prefer to use a release that wraps around my hand near the wrist, with a short metal extension that connects to the nocking point and then uses a trigger to set the string loose. This allows me to pull back the bow string using more of the muscles in my arm and not solely relying on my fingers. This definitely helps when you are at full draw, and waiting for a deer to take another step into your shooting lane giving you a clear shot. Another benefit of an archery release is the consistent way it will release the string each time, which can vary slightly from one shot to the next when shooting with your fingers.

However, I have met many people who are extremely accurate shooting their bow without the aid of an archery release and have had a great amount of success. In the end it all comes down to personal preference…what you are comfortable with. Arch2

Now that you have been through the trial and error of finding the correct bow for yourself, the next big question comes down to price. Price ranges for a bow can go from a few hundred dollars to around a thousand. Keep in mind that this does not include the price of arrows, a traveling case, and other equipment you may want. With the large variety of resources that are available to find equipment on the internet such as EBay and Craigslist, this opens up another opportunity for finding the necessary gear for Archery Hunting. Remember, keep in mind the local garage sales coming up in the warmer months.

Once you have found the best price of the bow and all the necessary accessories that you have been looking for, do you know any archery hunting techniques and how to locate the best place to put a stand? If you are new to deer hunting, or just hunting in general, the best advice that I can give you is to go on a guided hunt. Guided hunts with an experienced outfitter can not only be a great way to gain a vast amount of knowledge in a short time, but can also be an unbelievable experience. Many outfitters spend years living on the property or near where the hunt is provided, thus knowing where the best locations and big game spend their time.

Going on a guided hunt with someone with years of experience in archery hunting, gives you the opportunity to ask a number of different questions that you will have during the hunt. More than likely questions that do not come up while in a retail store, but rather in the heat of the moment pursuing wild game. Answers to these questions increase your personal level of knowledge and experience to use in the future and apply while in the outdoors. Another great benefit of starting out archery hunting with a professional outfitter is to ensure that there is a true desire to get into the sport. This may be very important to discover for someone with little hunting experience, such as a young teenager. By going out with a professional, you can introduce archery to the teenager in an exciting and a successfully proven way. Giving him/her a chance to get exposure to the sport and find out if there is enthusiasm to continue. This will save not only hard earned money, but also time doing something that you both enjoy, even though it may not be actual time spent archery hunting. To find your perfect hunt with the best outfitters in the country, visit

There is no doubt that archery hunting is challenging, but it has a few great benefits when compared to hunting with a rifle or a shotgun. Safety being the first and most important benefit. The range that a stray bullet will carry is much farther than that of an arrow. There is also no way for a shot to go off when you are not prepared, because you have to nock an arrow onto the bow sting, take time to pull it back, and then release the arrow. The chances of injuring someone accidentally by being shot with an arrow are much lower than that of a gun. Another great benefit is that the archery season in many states runs from the last days of September until either the last day of the year or a few weeks into January. This season provides over three months to hunt, making it easier to work with a busy schedule in comparison to the rifle or shot gun season that usually lasts no longer than two weeks. The last and biggest reason I continue to bow hunt is the experience that you enjoy while waiting for an animal to come within bow range. Observing how they act in nature with no knowledge of anything being out of the ordinary is hard to describe.

My greatest experience was watching a 170 class whitetail buck only fifty yards away from me slowly moving toward me for over an hour and a half. While getting closer, he chased off smaller bucks who were interested in the does he had with him. He foraged around for food and showed interest in the does every now and then. To sit and watch firsthand how a large mature deer operates was incredible. Something which I never would have been able to see if I had been hunting with a gun at the time. I was eventually able to take a clear shot at this large deer but had misjudged my distance and the deer dropped just below the arrow as it was about to land. Which believe me was extremely frustrating at the time. But a unique experience nonetheless. One that I will remember and have learned a great deal from.

I strongly urge you to take the time to look into archery hunting, even if you have a small bit of interest, you will not be disappointed. Archery hunting can give you some of the greatest hunting memories in just a few short months each fall with a stick, string, and an arrow!

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