Saturday, February 17, 2018

What Triggers the Spawn Season for Bass

With the memory of deer season fading, my attention begins to shift towards my first love in the outdoors - bass fishing.  It is time to get new line on the reels and organizing my tacklebox so I can grab the exact bait at the right moment.  The thought of large fish just a few feet from the shoreline is enough to make any angler drool.  But, what exactly triggers the bass into their spring ritual of courtship?

A bass will begin to be romantically inclined as the water warms to the magical 60-degrees Fahrenheit.  As the water warms, they go through several phases where they move up from deeper water to a more nearshore location typically off of points or creek channels.  Big cold fronts can cause them to push back towards deeper water.  But, at some point, the 60 degrees is held and continues to warm.

So, the real question is how does water warm up with an ever-changing atmosphere?  Air temperature is in reality only one variable in the warming of a lake.  But, when the warmer spring air begins to rain, the real change begins to take place.

As the season's transition from winter to spring, the cold fronts still produce the rain, but they lack the arctic-style temperature changes of just a month ago.  Wild vacillations in temperature on any given early spring weeks are quite common where the high temperature may range from 50-75 degrees.  Mix in a rain on a 70-degree day and you can change the temperature of a lake quite dramatically.

When this change begins to take place, bass begin to get aggressive.  They must pack on some weight to carry them through the trauma of the spawn.  Females will be at their heaviest weight of the entire year and are far easier to catch.  From fast moving baits to slow crawling, they will inhale them.  Bigger is indeed better at this time of the year.

Start planning your off days now so you can have the time you need to target some of the biggest fish of your life.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Get Out There! 2018

Welcome to 2018!  New Year, new start, a fresh beginning.  It's a genesis which literally means, "In the beginning..."  So what are your goals for 2018?  Where are you going to go and what are you going to do when you get there?

This is a great time of the year to begin to put your dreams on paper and begin taking consistent small steps toward making those dreams a reality.  We have had a dream for years to purchase a house with some land.   We have been searching for three years and in 2017, God helped move that particular item from the dream column to the reality side of our ledger.  We also adopted a baby girl in 2017 and she has been such a delight and wonderful addition to our home.

We are in the process of beginning construction on a pond to fish and enjoy.  I also killed a deer on our property for the first time this hunting season.  It was so rewarding.  Knowing that the work we put in is happening on my own land where I can enjoy the fruit of those labors for years to come.

In 2018, we are planning to begin raising chickens and start a decent sized garden with a wide variety of produce to enjoy for the entire year.  We have a tree full of native bees and are hoping to catch one of their swarms in a bee box to begin doing a little bee-keeping.

We are learning new things every week.  We are staring at the television less and are outside far more minutes than inside.  Our children are involved and are learning to use their hands at a young age.  In short, we love it.  More importantly, we love the fact that we are no longer just dreaming of these things but instead are actively doing them.

The challenges are great being that I am in a wheelchair but that is simply not going to be an excuse.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  To borrow a quote from the great missionary and apostle Paul, "I can do all thing through Christ Jesus who strengthens me." Phil 4:13.

If I can, you can friends.  Get Out There!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Shot Placement for Less Tracking

Handicapped Outdoors
Welcome to bow season America!  Ahh, it's fall again with crisp mornings, clean air and pumpkin spice in every beverage known to mankind.  Today, I want to give some insight on shot placement so that you won't have to track a deer all over the countryside in a wheelchair.  This will be effective whether you are shooting a bow or a gun, so dig in and enjoy.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of
To aid in our understanding of shot placement, it is important to know the anatomical features of the target species which in this article happens to be deer, so please refer to the diagram.  A Whitetail is an amazingly resilient creature.  Trailcam pictures have shown deer who were not shot correctly walking around with the arrow sticking out of them the next year, seemingly unharmed by the hunter's miscue.  As hunters, we have a tremendous responsibility to be as humane as possible.  It is just good conservation to only take a shot when you are as certain as possible about the outcome.  As a handicapped, disabled or elderly hunter, we also have our own limitations to consider when taking the shot.

Some hunters want to show off by hitting only the heart while others try to go for the neck or head.  All of these shots can go horribly wrong in a millisecond and should not be taken.  Try to use the trick shots on species that are not wanted as much like hogs or coyote.

Courtesy of - not cool!
So what is wrong with a heart shot?  Incredibly, deer can run for hundreds of yards even when struck in the heart.  Watch any number of hunting shows and you can see deer run even when hit by a rifle in the heart or neck.  Spine shots take them down quickly but the animal is not dead immediately either.

So what is the answer?  LUNGS!  You can't run without them and neither can a deer.  Just a few days ago, I had a smaller buck come in.  He had a badly deformed left antler and needed to be culled.  I made sure to wait until I could punch both lungs before firing my crossbow.  The shot drove him backwards and although he tried to escape, he didn't get 30 yards before collapsing and expiring quickly.

Courtesy of
I practice double lung shots religiously.  The hump on a deer's back is a dead giveaway for the shot placement.  The lungs are located immediately behind the hump.  I imagine a line going from front to rear side of the animal so I can mentally picture the arrow going through both lungs before I release it.  I rarely have deer run out of sight when I make the correct shot.

The other benefits of a lung shot are there is minimal meat wasted.  You are punching through the rib cage saving all the best meat for consumption.  Lastly, your margin for error is much larger due to the lungs being so large in Whitetails.  If you can hit a six-inch target consistently, you can make a lung shot and be eating venison this winter.