Instead of focusing on one subject in detail, this week we’ll cover a mixed bag of hunting and fishing tips that will help you bag or catch your quarry, whether it’s a whitetail buck, call-shy gobbler, or pot-bellied largemouth bass.
Deer: Hunting on a stand along the edge of a power line is a terrific way to take whitetails. Deer find lots of forbs and browse in these clearings, and you can see for long distances. Use a flat-shooting caliber since you may spot the quarry far away. Also, make sure the stand has a rest for steady aiming.
Walleyes: Catching walleyes doesn’t have to be complicated. Try tipping a 1/8 to 3/8-ounce jig with a minnow or piece of nightcrawler and pumping it across the bottom with a molasses-slow retrieve. From winter through early spring, this tactic will entice heavy-bodied walleyes.
Ducks: Paint your johnboat or canoe with splotches of flat black, gray, brown or drab green in a camouflage pattern. Also, try tying a bit of brush to the boat’s bow to hide your human silhouette. These tricks will allow you to drift closer to wary late season waterfowl on rivers and streams.
Lures: When choosing crankbaits, consider the time of year and water temperature. A slow wobbling bait with a subtle action is best for cold winter weather. As waters warm in spring, a more aggressively-vibrating lure works better on more active fish.
Antelope: If you want to pursue pronghorn antelope on foot, ask game wardens and wildlife biologists about areas that are too rough or craggy for four-wheel drive vehicles. You’ll find unpressured animals there and often the best bucks of all.
Grouse: Stop often as you walk through grouse cover. This pause will frequently unnerve birds that would otherwise let you walk right past them. Just make sure you time this pause so you’re in an open area where you can swing your gun freely when a bird flushes.
Big game: Visit a taxidermist’s shop and study the various game animals on the wall to try to learn what qualities make an exceptional set of antlers. Also, study the Boone and Crockett scoring system so you know what factors are most important in a rack to make a trophy.
Stripers: Tailwater stripers feed most heavily right after water is released from the dam. Call ahead to the powerhouse and be there, ready to cast your lure or bait out as soon as the releases begin. The tailwaters of Kerr Reservoir in southern Virginia are a good spot for this type of fishing.
Deer: If you spook a buck, don’t expect it to run straight away. It will likely circle downwind, trying to get a better look at what’s following it. Drop back and downwind after the deer jumps to intercept the circling buck.
Walleyes: The water below a dam is great for producing walleyes in early spring. Fish swimming upstream are blocked there and concentrate heavily in the well-oxygenated, food-rich pools below them during cold weather. The Staunton River is a good example in Virginia.
Turkeys: Be sure to scout several locations and pinpoint a number of toms before spring gobbler season. That way if one area is too crowded with other hunters or the bird isn’t talking you’ll have other places that you can turn to quickly where you know there are gobblers.
Trolling: When trolling, remember that the lighter the line and the thinner its diameter, the deeper the lure will dive. For most walleye, trout, and bass fishing, 8-14 pound test line is best. If you are going after stripers or saltwater fish, a heavier line is a better choice.
Taxidermy: If you plan to have your deer or antelope trophy mounted, never drag it by the hind legs. This will bend the hair against the grain and may damage it.
Lures: Small spinnerbaits are great lures for mixed-bag fishing on rivers and streams. Choose models with black, orange, or chartreuse bodies. Work the lure back slowly and steadily near the bottom in deep pools and also probe areas close to shore. This technique can take a nice mixed bag of smallmouths, bluegills, redbreasts, rockbass, crappies, and occasionally walleyes.