Those of us who are involved in the outdoors, especially hunting, are
probably aware of the public battles being fought across North America
pitting hunters against canine predators, the government and animal rights
activists/anti-hunters. Wolves and Coyotes have been the target of scrutiny
among hunters and government factions. Hunters fighting for their ability
to successfully attain allotments, governments trying to control
populations of predators and activists fighting for the lives of wildlife.
Since the beginning of time man has fought and competed with other
predators for quarry. Whether we were running across the savanna in a loin
cloth with a spear thousands of years ago, or you were poised in a tree
stand, silent, with all the latest gear, competition for game has always
Some may argue that our modern age has civilized us, that there is no need
to partake in this age old practice. Activists/Anti's say there is no need
to visit this if we just purchased our food at the store. We as hunters,
have our own opinion of this of course.
The stance of some hunters is that they want their opportunity at game
without being pressured by or competing against wolves and coyotes. In some
areas, wolves were decimated and virtually wiped off the landscape.
Government stepped in and introduced them back to the ecosystem and now the
fight/competition is on. Some hunters have had the experience of hunting
during times of plenty on both sides....lots of game, lots of predators.
However, some hunters have never experienced the ebb and flow of
populations due to high or low numbers on both sides. The wolf and coyote
are easy targets for blame due to the simple fact that they are our direct
and natural competition. Wolf/Coyote hunts, tags, limits and seasons have
been opened, imposed and changed to try and curb populations on the
The opinion of the anti hunters and activists is that they just don't want
us killing wolves and coyotes for any reason. Simple as that.
The government is caught in the middle trying to balance it all. Hunter's
have their right or privilege to hunt depending on how the individual looks
at it. Outfitters have their livelihood to look at. Insurance lobbyists
have their own opinion of it all and then there's the general public,
anti's and activists. Each group feeling slighted if the numbers don't sway
in their direction.
With all the variables involved in this, this argument will not go away
quickly or quietly. Someone will lose out somewhere and feel jaded.
We'll close out this article with a little food for thought. These
predators have vast home ranges, hundreds of square miles/kilometers at
times. One day they are there, the next day they're gone. If you think that
since you've seen a wolf/coyote, that you will never see a deer in that
area again then you are sadly mistaken. They will move on, following their
quarry as we do. I'm not saying that we do not need to control the
populations of these predators, but wiping them from the planet is not the
Personally, I have hunted amongst them both all my life. I've taken
wildlife within eyesight of them, ear shot of them and have blamed them for
not having success. Regardless, I hunt on, push through. Think of it this
way, for thousands of years we've competed with predators for our prey. We
weren't always outnumbering them. Do you honestly think we would be here if
we weren't successful?
The 'Holidays' are over, a new year has begun and old man winter has his grip on our northern hemisphere. You're realizing that the ice is thick and the call of them golden green beauties has begun.
Walleye, or Pickerel as some may call it, have been a prized freezer dweller for many through the years. Some of us have been blessed to spend a lifetime catching these barons of the northern waters. Sometimes, tall tales of catches numbering in the hundreds can be heard from OMP'S around the local watering holes or bait shops.
But one thing I've seldom heard is filling an ice house with them, or buckets over flowing etc etc. Fishing hard water for these critters is entirely different than soft water fishing. The ability to move freely/quickly in itself, hampers a fisherman from doing, going, and fishing how, where and when he wants.
Preparation is key in situations like this. Outside of the regular gear, bait and everything else you need, a plan is most important. There are a bunch of different things you need to take into consideration when creating one; depth of ice, depth of snow on the ice, structure below, weather and time of day to name a few.
I'm not one for writing novels so we'll try and hit the high points. Ice depth from my experience is important for obvious safety reasons. One thing overlooked though is time. Seldom we take this into consideration when heading out. Whether it's complacency or laziness, who knows. Look at a map, check out contours, use way points from the summer. Anything to limit running around turning the ice into swiss cheese will help.
Snow depth, in my opinion matters due to light penetration and weather. Walleye it seems do not like bright light. Most fishermen would agree that their best luck comes in the mornings and evenings when the sun is at its lowest points and even in pitch darkness. Thicker snow depths allow for less light, therefore, longer bite times.
Structure is a must. Now, this can be disputed since some lakes are shaped like bowls and may have absolutely none whatsoever. Walleye in these situations will just school around on flats and even the smallest change in depth or bottom type can mean the difference between success and failure. Structure can include reefs, sandbars, rock piles, brush piles, points, channels and weedlines. Any of these areas which are adjacent to deeper waters can be prime locations for cruising walleye.
Lastly, if you don't have a permanent ice shack or house set up on a 'spot', be as mobile as possible so plan 'B' (whatever that may be, and trust me, you should always have one) can quickly and easily be put into play. After all, you've put in all the time, money, effort and preperation to get out, you might as well make it worth it.
If you're like me, deer hunting is done and the next thing on the list for the freezer is some fresh panfish. At present, the lakes in my area have approximately 4-6 inches of ice, safe for foot travel in my opinion.
Many spots around me suffered a winter kill last year, meaning the low oxygen levels killed off many lakes. The pickings may be slim so scouting and paying attention to outdoor blogs and websites are going to benefit me.
First, a couple phone calls to a few locals that are nuttier then squirrel turds. They have been walking on 2-3" of ice for a few weeks now.
Once I get a report from them that is promising, time to head to the bait shop. After chatting with someone who always says the fish are biting just to sell a product, I feel rather unfulfilled. But hey, I need the bait anyway right?
Since I'm targeting pannies (crappie, sunfish, bluegill and perch) I'll cover my bases and get some waxworms, euro larvae and some small minnows. These types of baits are inexpensive for the most part so I don't mind picking them all up, plus they'll keep for sometime in the fridge by my beer.
Once arriving at the lake, the obvious thing to do is ask people that are there if possible. If no one's around...go for a walk, look for some positive sign like blood on the ice. Barring you weren't here last night 'tossin paws' with some asshole, it's probably fish blood.
Give it a few minutes then move on. If the lake is familiar to you then hell, go where you know, but sometimes even honey holes don't produce so stay mobile. Depending on the lake, I like to find weed lines, rock piles, stumps etc where fish like to hang out.
Remember, these are the smaller types of fish which are usually the bait for bigger predators. They like cover! One of my favorite spots to fish is holes in a deeper weed bed. These are sometimes hard to find under the ice but are well worth it. Your bait is highly visible and the fish don't have to venture too far for their food.
Now, I'm not gonna tell you how long to fish. Most of these species have minute brains....if your not catching fish within an hour or two, either your in the wrong spot or the fish just ain't biting.
Start by fishing in the early morning, right before, during and after sun up. If by 10 a.m. you haven't had a tug, you may want to pack it in. Returning later in the day is sometimes worth while. The lower light conditions sometimes trigger fish to bite, especially species like Crappie.
After all is said and done, this kind of thing is fairly easy to figure out. Use the few tips given and you'll save yourself some time and even save a trip.
Who knows, you'll either come home with a load of fish or you won't bother and you'll sit in the basement and drink your beer while watching the game. Either way, sounds like a good day to me.
Sitting in my stand I contemplate whether or not I've done all I can to
increase my odds of drilling the big boy. Since I'm carrying a Buck's only
tag with me, anything with legal sized antlers is game. However, who
wouldn't want to brag about a huge rack.
This is one of two weekends at
my disposal to bag a deer. I run the details through my head over and over;
wind, scent, location, timing, all seem to be in check. As the hours pass,
I realize that not all is as it seems. The weather has done a complete 180
(my proper location nullified), the temperature has dropped and old ma'
nature decided to drop 9 cm of snow overnight.
So, what do I do, pack my shit and get outta dodge or swallow my disdain
for the meteorologists and sit it out. Well, I'm here, so I might as well
Now this is the part where you need to let go of your so called 'control'
of the situation. Odds are, since almost everything you've done and
prepared for is out the window, priorities now change. The 'Elusive' Big
Buck wish may now just be the 'meat for the table' reality.
After waiting a little while I hear what seems to be the same red squirrel
that's been antagonizing me for the past 6 years or so. I look to my left
and low and behold there walks Mr. 'Meat for the table'. I raise the old
Remington model 742 and drill him at the one and only time he presents a
shot. He trots another 40 yds and gives his life to my family and I. He's a
young one 3 points, maybe 4. The family cares not what adorns yon little
skull but rather the tender mild taste of the flesh. But I digress.
There are many measures of success in the outdoors. Personal opinions and
ideals drive what one bases success upon. Of course it would be nice to get
some head gear to puff my chest about. But, in the grand scheme of things,
quarry for the table determines success in my opinion. The freezer is
looking pretty dam healthy right now, the 'provider' is doing his job.
OLD MAN is a relative term.
We can all agree that in most circles a 70 or 80 year old man is well aged. But what about a 30 or 35 year old man? Amongst the 70 year olds, not so much.
...But put him on a sports team with a group of 20 year olds and he's an old man in their eyes. He is starting to feel the creaks and cracks of his years and if he still keeps up and even out performs the young breed, then he is the OMP of the group. I've been there, and believe me you feel the age difference even more when you go out for drinks to celebrate a team victory and watch the insanity of 20 year old males in a bar!
A few of us at OMP Respect have also lived on the other side of life, where people die young. When you make it through, every birthday feels like a blessing. So you celebrate them with great enthusiasm and pride.
For these reasons we knew not to judge when we came across this man of aproximately 30 years old proudly wearing his hat with "OLD DUDE" boldly written on the front. He was slinging breakfasts at a great greasy spoon we were stopped at. When we asked him about the hat he said his daughter bought it for him.
Wait...He has a daughter who is old enough to go buy him a hat?! Apparently so. And While he may not be as OMP as Big Ernie celebrating his 70th, he's still her OMP and thats all that matters.
Do not fear growing old. Embrace it. It is a priviledge denied to many.