Author Archives | Dave Hrbacek

About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

What place does hunting have in my life?

September 14, 2015


I have been reflecting quite a bit about my passion for hunting and the place it has in my life. With the archery deer season right around the corner, it’s a good time to take a look and reflect on the sport I have enjoyed since childhood and am getting ready to enjoy yet again.

What I have learned from my reflections is that the practice of taking to the woods in search of a game animal runs deep. I shouldn’t be surprised, given my background and lineage. My grandfather, Lawrence Kramer, prowled the woods and waters of Meeker County west of the Twin Cities and near his hometown of Litchfield. He fished, hunted and trapped, not just for sport, but to put food on the table. He and my grandmother, Ruth Kramer, lost their farm during the Great Depression, and he had to find ways to feed his family of eight children. My mom, Eunice, was the oldest.

When my mom married my dad in the 1950s, Lawrence Kramer took my dad out and taught him the skills needed to be a good hunter and fisherman. Those skills eventually passed down to my brothers and I. We got to fish a few times with Grandpa Kramer before he died in the early 1970s, and I feel proud to continue his legacy today.

Like him, I like to put food on the table, and I have been fortunate to do so many times. I never tire of a meal of venison wild turkey. And, I like to throw in a few meals of pan-fried walleye. In addition to hunting, I also like to go fishing, and I have had many great adventures on the water.

I’ll be honest, as much as I enjoy the sports of hunting and fishing, they wouldn’t hold much meaning without the table fare that comes as a result. That is why I will never consider myself a trophy hunter. Don’t get me wrong, I like a big buck as much as the next guy, and I have mounted two nice ones. But, I experience a deep satisfaction when my family is able to partake in a wild game dinner.

To me, nothing beats the enjoyment of knowing I harvested what our family is going to eat. That is a big reason why hunting is so important to me. Oftentimes, when our family is eating a meal that I prepared, I will stop during the meal and look around the table. When I see my wife and kids enjoying it, I am filled with pride.

I also have served wild game to my friends, and I try to invite my parents over, too. My dad loves it, my mom tolerates it, but she is willing to at least try everything I make.

With my birthday coming up next Tuesday, Sept. 22, my thoughts are turning to the potential outdoor adventures coming up this fall. I won’t be able to get out for the archery opener this year, but I hope to be in one of my stands when the whitetail rut kicks into full gear in late October and early November. That is prime time to be in the woods, and it’s a beautiful time to be up in a tree, even though the leaves will be down by then.

I would do well to appeal to St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters. I ran across a good article on him on a website called The Catholic Gentleman. There is a story about his life, plus prayers hunters can pray.

Asking the intercession of St. Hubert could be as important as tuning your bow or placing a new tree stand.

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Beautiful weather makes putting up deer stands fun

August 6, 2015


Success in bow hunting is all about preparation. One of the key elements is putting up stands well in advance so that the deer get used to them.

It’s also important to place them in such a way that you can hunt in as many different wind directions as possible without spooking deer. That’s the hard part.

I am hunting a new piece of property down near Red Wing, and I had put up two stands earlier in the year. But, I needed at least one more, according to a whitetail bow hunting expert, Jim Hill, who has shot dozens of trophy bucks in his lifetime.

Heeding his advice, I went down on Tuesday with a friend to put up a third stand along a ridge that looks promising for deer movement. We got the job done without a lot of sweat, which is surprising for this time of year. The humidity was low and it was nice and cool, with a northwest breeze making it even more comfortable.

I may be set with my three stands, but I’m contemplating a fourth. Have to think about that. One thing’s for sure: The crops look healthy and robust. I am hunting near the edge of a soybean field, and the plants look green and vibrant. If the September archery opener happens while the leaves are still green, I should have good deer movement into the field. But, the leaves often turn yellow by that time, and the deer shy away from them until after the beans are harvested.

I’ll be sure to check a day or two before the opener to see if the soybean leaves are still green. If so, I’m in business. Otherwise, I’ll probably wait until after they’re harvested. Not a big deal, as the law allows me to tag just one deer in this area, Zone 3. More than likely, I’ll hold out for a buck, which has to have at least four antler points on one side. I’m hoping I will get a shot at one this year.

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Is hunting lions a bad idea?

July 30, 2015


Licensed under the Creative Commons

Licensed under Creative Commons Public License

This is generally a slow time of year when it comes to hunting. Up until yesterday, when a firestorm of emotional reaction accompanied a story about local dentist Dr. Walter Palmer shooting a collared lion in Zimbabwe that ended up being, not only collared for research, but well-known and adored by locals.

I have never understood the trophy hunting mentality that drives someone to pay $50,000 to shoot an animal so that they can display it in their trophy. I am not necessarily against trophy hunting, but for me, there’s much more to it than just getting a cape or a set of horns.

For the most part, I hunt for the experience and the opportunity to harvest an animal that I can use to feed family and friends. I am not nearly as selective as some. When I am in a deer stand, for example, I am more likely than not to take a shot at a deer that walks by, if it is a legal deer.

Yet, I have no problem with a hunter who passes on a smaller buck in order to try for a bigger one. The key for me is fair chase and following the rules and regulations. That’s what makes hunting both legitimate and noble.

Seems like there may have been some rules violations in the case of the lion. If that ends up being the case, then I support due process in investigating the incident and taking appropriate law enforcement action.

But, that’s all. Going crazy on social media, protesting in front of Palmer’s house, and making threats to him and his legitimate dental practice is going way too far. This is my biggest problem with the animal rights movement. They want to go after and villify people who engage in hunting. This incident is their opportunity.

I’m fine with them writing essays, blog posts and letters to the editor of newspapers and magazines. By all means, make your point. But then, please show respect for others and don’t try to harass and persecute someone.

I can’t help but wonder how these animal rights activists feel about what’s going on at Planned Parenthood. I suspect they have no problem with abortion. For me, that’s a huge disconnect.

Years ago, someone from Greenpeace came to my home to talk about the slaughter of whales. When I asked her how she felt about abortion, she said, “Well, that’s a woman’s choice.”

I can’t imagine such a line would satisfy animal rights activists today: “Well, that’s a hunter’s choice.”

So, what’s the difference between a lion and an unborn child? Why is it considered evil to shoot a collared lion for sport, but perfectly fine to kill an unborn child and sell the body parts for profit?

That is the question I wish I could discuss with any animal rights advocate.

My final thought on the matter is this: As a professional photographer, I would much rather shoot a lion with my camera than my gun or bow. In fact, an African photo safari is something I hope to do in my lifetime.

If I am able to put a lion on my wall, I want it to be a beautiful, framed picture.

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Rare and awesome bow hunting advice

July 14, 2015


I first met Jim Hill back in the early 1990s. I was working as a sports editor at the Bloomington Sun-Current chain of weekly newspapers, and a reader suggested I do a story on Hill, who lives in the western suburbs and works in Eden Prairie.

I was told Hill had shot not one giant whitetail buck, but two, in the same season, one in Minnesota and one in a neighboring state. Thought it was worth looking into, so I called Jim and went to pay him a visit.

He showed me photos of the two bruisers he took with his bow, and I published one of them, the Minnesota buck. I also got some valuable hunting lessons that day, plus a Scent-Lok suit from Jim, who was a rep for the company (I think he still is).

I stored those lessons, and have met up with Jim a few times since. He even went scouting with me a while back on a property near Red Wing where I hunt.

I caught up with him last week and told him I had taken up bow hunting five years ago and managed to take three deer with a bow over the last two seasons.

I was itching for more knowledge and asked Jim if we could sit down and talk. He gladly agreed, and we had a very productive conversation at a local Perkins restaurant in Bloomington.

It’s rare to meet a bow hunter of Jim’s caliber, rarer still to sit down and get some tips. Not only that, he agreed to go out with me to a new property I’ll be hunting this fall near Red Wing.

How cool is that? This is a guy who routinely shoots bucks bigger than anything I may ever see. Last fall, for example, he shot a giant buck in Kansas that he says had a gross antler score of 200-plus inches. Wow! He showed me a picture on his phone, and I don’t think he was exaggerating one bit.

I made it clear to him that I am not looking for something like that. Rather, I want to have close encounters with deer and, hopefully, get a nice-sized buck this fall. In the area where I hunt, a buck has to have at least four antler points on one side to be legal. So, I will be passing on the smaller bucks.

But, if any legal buck passes by and offers a good shot, I likely will take it. Jim was not judgmental in the least, and fully supported my goal. After all, I’m still relatively new to archery hunting, and I want to have more practice at taking shots at deer. Thus, I don’t think passing up legal deer is a good idea for me.

I’m hoping Jim can help me have success. I believe he can, especially if he comes down to scout with me. In return, I will try to help him find a place to hunt down there. Because of the antler restriction, I know there are big bucks running around — and lots of them.

Are there the huge bucks Jim goes after? Hard to say. These giants are rare no matter where you hunt, and it takes a hunter with special skill — and patience — to take them.

Jim definitely is that kind of hunter. I am very, very grateful that he has offered to help me. If he can identify the right stand locations, and give me tips on how to set up and hunt, I should have a fun fall!

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Finally. . . let the fishing begin

July 7, 2015


On the first fishing trip of the year in Minnesota, this nice bass provided a fun fight.

On the first fishing trip of the year in Minnesota, this nice bass provided a fun fight.

I usually don’t wait until July to buy my Minnesota fishing license. So, making the purchase on July 3 this year is out of character for me. In fact, I bought a fishing license for Montana before I got one for my home state.

Who would have thought? In a normal year, I would start my fishing season in late May or early June. This year, I just didn’t get around to it. Plus, the weather had some wild mood swings last month, which can throw fish patterns out of whack and make catching them tough.

I decided simply not to mess with these unstable conditions and just wait. As I have learned over the years, timing is everything.

Finally, a good stretch of warm, stable weather settled in last week, so I turned my thoughts to getting out in my boat for the first time this season. Plus, my brother Paul and his two sons Matthew and Michael had the itch pretty bad.

I happily obliged, and we went to the southwest metro to fish a small bass lake called O’Dowd. It’s pretty shallow, which makes it easier to find fish. Simply cruise weed edges and toss plastic worms or a jig-and-pig, and usually you’ll connect with bass at some point.

Unfortunately, a number of pleasure boaters joined us on the lake. That isn’t always a problem, but on a small, shallow lake, it’s definitely more of a challenge.

What’s more, some of these folks think nothing of buzzing past very close at high speeds. I am continually amazed at such rudeness.

I think that was our biggest challenge on this day. Finding quiet water was tough, and boats zipped over some of my favorite spots repeatedly.

In the midst of all that activity, a few bass chose to respond to our offerings. I caught a chunky, feisty fighter that measured 17 1/2 inches. Very respectable. I know the lake holds bigger, as I landed a 19-incher several years ago. Lots of metro lakes contain bass this size, which is good news for avid bass anglers like me.

I hope to get out on the water again soon. For me, mid to late July and August are prime time. That’s when the deep weedline pattern I like so much begins to heat up. So, the best is yet to come!

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Turkey hunt brings unexpected challenges

May 15, 2015


Turkey hunting is hard. That is the beginning and the end of a sport that is more obsession than recreation.

We hunters think we have the birds figured out as we stroll into the woods all pumped up and cocky.

Then, the birds humble us. We sometimes leave the woods thinking we know nothing at all about how to kill a bird with a brain the size of a pea.

That’s how I ended seven days of hunting on Tuesday afternoon. Yes, I did manage to kill one bird— a young tom known as a jake. But, I exited the beautiful rolling hills of Wisconsin feeling like a failure.

Why? I had matched wits with an old, mature gobbler for four days, and lost.

Oh, I came close to giving him a ride out of the woods in my worn, torn turkey vest.

But, this crafty bird managed to stay out of shotgun range, and out of view. I heard his lusty gobbles, but never laid eyes on him.

These are the kinds of birds you think about — and are haunted by — for 12 months before you get another chance at them. Last year ended quite differently. I took three longbeards and did not have much trouble doing so. They gobbled enthusiastically to my calls, then paraded in fast and hard into gun range.

I got spoiled by that experience. The easy birds of last year were nowhere to be found either in Minnesota or Wisconsin. I got blanked in Minnesota, and got only the one jake in Wisconsin. My turkey expert friend, Steve Huettl, blames the very early spring we had for the toms’ lack of interest in early May. In a normal year, hens are nesting in early May, and the gobblers have plenty of zeal left for finding new girlfriends.

Not this year. Some hunters, myself and Steve included, found ourselves on properties that seemed devoid of lovestruck toms. Gobbling was way down on some properties, though still strong on others.

The bird I went after for four days on a farm near Ellsworth, Wisconsin, seemed to have plenty of energy. He would come in gobbling hard after he responded to the first series of calls I sent out, then he would eventually hang up. Sometimes, he was only about 40 or 50 yards away, but through some thick brush so I couldn’t see him. There were several times I was sure he would keep coming and eventually absorb a load of pellets.

But, alas, he stopped short of that every time. In the end, I must pay tribute to this tough old bird. He got the better of me, though he was merely trying to survive and not trying to outwit a hunter determined to put him in the cooler for the trip home.

This year, I made the same mistake many turkey hunters make — thinking it would be easy.

It never is. A hunt can be fast, but it is never easy. With a turkey’s sharp eyesight and hearing, and its wary, skittish nature, bringing down a bird is a great accomplishment, especially a long-spurred old tom.

One of the challenges of hunting in May is that the birds have seen and heard other hunters. And, believe me, they get educated fast. I think that’s what happened with this bird. When I talked to the landowner later, he told me that there was another hunter out on his land before me. Sometimes, it only takes one hunter walking around bumping birds to make them even more wary.

But, I’m not going to make excuses. I had chances at this bird, but I didn’t quite seal the deal. I think it’s like what happened to the NHL’s Washington Capitals in their recent playoff series with the New York Rangers. Up three games to one, the Capitals managed to lose the next three, the last one in overtime, 2-1. They thought they would win the series, but came up against a very resilient opponent that wouldn’t lay down in defeat.

So it was with this bird. He played the game, but got the upper hand in the end. I guess you could say this was a home game for him, and the advantage of being in familiar territory proved beneficial to him and bad for me.

I walk away vowing to be better next year. My friend Steve says these are the kinds of years that can teach you much and make you a better hunter. It remains to be seen if that will happen for me. What I do know is my desire will be fueled next year, and I will take to the woods loaded with new strategies, fresh zeal and an expanded base of turkey hunting knowledge.

I can’t wait!

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Friend’s first spring turkey hunt: three birds, two shots

April 24, 2015


I was excited when I climbed out of bed at 4 a.m. today. The plan was to take my friend Mike out for a wild turkey hunt. We had set up the blind a few days ago, on the first day of Minnesota’s B Season, later in the afternoon. We hunted and did some calling, but Mike had to go after only about half an hour.

This time, we were going there at dawn to try and hear some toms gobbling on the roost. We got there nice and early, just as it was starting to get light. I had set up my blind on the edge of a picked corn field, where turkeys, deer and other wildlife like to hang out and feed.

We heard nary a gobble, but deer started filtering out into the corn field shortly after sunrise. A group of five got to within about 25 yards. Mike used his cell phone to shoot some video, which was fun.

But, no gobbles and no turkeys. Some different birds — geese — landed in the corn field and were making quite a racket with their honking.

That went on for at least an hour or so, with me doing some hen calls about every 15 minutes to try and lure in some gobblers. We were going to stay in the blind until 8, then get out and do some walking around and calling.

Before we reached the deadline, Mike spotted some movement about 100 yards away in some tall grass. Eventually, several turkey heads came into view. Three birds walked out into the field, but I couldn’t tell if they were males (legal in the spring) or females (not legal until fall).

I was kicking myself for not remembering to bring my binoculars. Just in case any of them were toms, I started doing some soft calling to lure them to our decoys.

It worked. The birds slowly started moving in our direction. Eventually, they got close enough to where I knew they were jakes. I could clearly see their red heads, and I saw a small beard on one of them. I pointed it out to Mike, and said he could shoot anytime.

He did, but the bird didn’t go down. He shot again, and the three birds went into the woods. He thought the bird he shot laid down, but we’re not sure. We got out of the blind and went over to check it out, but the birds ran off. We found blood, but the bird was gone.

We looked around for at least a half hour, but never found the bird. I was disappointed, but Mike got over it very quickly. He reminded me of all the wildlife we had seen that morning, and thus he considered the hunt a success.

I simply told him that if he enjoyed the outing and felt it was worthwhile, that was good enough for me.

It’s not always about tagging an animal, I have to remind myself. Mike takes joy in the simple pleasure of being in the outdoors. And, the best part is, he was able to bring his 8-year-old son along.

Little James got to witness some cool things, and I think we have a hunter in the making. After all, he got up at 4 to come with us. Mike said James barely slept that night.

Yes, indeed, I think James has a future in hunting. And, I hope his dad gets another chance at a tom next year!

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My daughter’s first turkey hunt

April 17, 2015


I have always said shooting a turkey is like hitting a knuckleball. A gobbler’s head dances around like the specialty pitch of Major League Baseball’s famous Niekro brothers.

How can a youth hit such a target? That was the question weighing heavily on my mind as I prepared to take my daughter Claire on her first wild turkey hunt. Opening day was Wednesday, and we hit the woods well before dawn on this beautiful spring morning. The hunt came one day after Claire’s 13th birthday.

I had done some scouting, and put up a blind in a good area. It was at the top of a ridge where a picked corn field and cow pasture meet, right on the edge of the woods. Back in the woods were some good trees for roosting.

I was hoping a lonesome tom or two would be there come Wednesday morning. I had taken Claire out to shoot the 20-gauge shotgun she would be using, and she hit the paper turkey target just like she was supposed to.

But, a real bird is a far cry from a stationary one. That was my biggest concern going into the hunt. I had a feeling she might get a shot opportunity. The question was: Would she connect?

I was about to find out. We got there extremely early, like about 5:15 a.m. because I thought birds might roost close by and I wanted to get there in the dark to avoid spooking them.

Turns out I was right on. Two gobblers were roosted no more than 50 yards away, maybe closer. They started gobbling hard, then I made some calls. They flew down pretty quickly and only had to go about 20 yards to be visible. I saw them through the trees to the left of the blind. They were going in and out of strut. I think they were between 25 ad 35 yards away. If I had been hunting, I would have dropped one of them easily.

But, Claire had trouble picking them up through the trees, and she couldn’t get a good sight picture. I thought they would keep coming our way and work toward the decoys we had set up in the corn field in front of us. Instead, they veered off and walked just inside the woods to our left. Claire got a better look, but the birds were now out of range, and they kept going away from us.

Eventually, they crossed the cow pasture and came into the corn field. They started working toward us, and then I heard a hen. She would whistle and then yelp. It was an odd sound. Then we saw more hens. I mimicked this hen, which I think was the boss, and she started coming toward me. Eventually, six more hens appeared and they all came into the decoys, which were only about 10 yards in front of us.

Perfect! The toms hung back, but eventually worked closer. I thought they were about 20-25 yards away, so I got Claire set up for the shot. One of the birds stopped and ran his head up. I asked Claire if she had a good sight picture and she said yes. So, I told her to shoot, and she did.

But, she missed and the birds took off. Later, we got out of the blind and I went to where I thought the birds were standing. I think it was more like 30 yards. That’s makable with the 20-gauge, but not an easy shot. I think the real problem was Claire was nervous and wasn’t holding the gun steady, even with the shooting sticks she was using. She said she felt pressure and was struggling with the shot. I told her it’s no big deal that she missed. At first, she thought I was disappointed with her, but I said I wasn’t at all.

We went over to an adjoining property after that and set up in a spot I thought would be good. Just after we set the decoys up, we heard gobbling close, and hustled to sit down. It went quiet for a while, then I yelped on my box call about 10 a.m. A bird gobbled right away farther away than the first ones.

Then, I heard what I’m pretty sure was a jake (young tom) yelping. It got closer, then we saw two birds step into the field. We had some brush in front of us, so I had trouble identifying them. One was a hen and I think the other was a jake. I also think there may have been more birds in the woods that didn’t come out. These birds milled around for about 20-30 minutes and never came close enough for a shot. Then, they went back into the woods. Claire wanted to be done at that point. She didn’t want to sit any more.

All in all, it was a great morning as far as action goes. I’m hoping I can talk Claire into going out one more time, but as of right now, she doesn’t think she wants to. She wanted to try it, but doesn’t seem to have interest in continuing to go out. We’ll see.

Of course, I wanted Claire to be able to get a bird, but in the end, I know turkey hunting is very hard and it’s common for young hunters to miss their first shot at a bird. I sure hope she’ll try again. I think if she sticks with it, she can hit a bird eventually. The nice thing is Minnesota changed the rules for youth, and now kids under 18 can hunt the entire season across the entire state. They no longer have to pick a five-day season and specific zone to hunt.

That opens up a lot more opportunities. I support this because it’s important to be able to have good opportunities to introduce youth to hunting. Stats suggest fewer kids are doing it, so we need to do what we can to get them out there.

It’s a tougher sell, as hunting competes with things like sports and video games. And, it’s much harder than things like that. My knuckleball theory was proved true once again on Wednesday.

And, that’s what keeps me coming back for more!

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A girl’s first turkey hunt

March 31, 2015


Part of the commitment to going on a hunt is taking concrete steps to prepare. For my 12-year-old daughter Claire, that meant shooting the gun she will hunt with — for the first time.

Pulling out the 20-gauge shotgun on Sunday afternoon and holding it in her hands was a big deal to her. Even more so was putting her finger on the trigger and pulling it.

That’s why I was slow and deliberate about getting her ready for the shot. We talked about recoil, and I explained how to hold the gun to minimize the impact from the shot. She understood, but still was reluctant to ignite the gunpowder with her finger stroke.

The obvious question any child her age would ask is: Is this going to hurt?

Thankfully, the recoil from a 20-gauge is considerably less than a 12, so I was able to tell her truthfully that the recoil is not a big deal.

The good news is, after firing the gun, she agreed with me.

What’s more, she also drilled the turkey target in the head and neck, just like she was supposed to. There’s nothing like success to bring a smile to the face of a youngster. I think I was more pumped about her good shot than she was.

Yet, I fully understand that hitting a target and hitting a live turkey are two very different things. However, confidence plays a huge role in being able to execute a shot at a real bird. Succeeding in practice, especially right away, really helps once they go out into the field.

The truth is, hitting a real turkey can be easy. I say CAN be because it can also be tremendously difficult and nearly impossible at times. I like to say shooting a turkey can be like hitting a knuckleball with a baseball bat. The unpredictable nature of the bird, especially a tom, can really put a lot of stress on a hunter.

But, there is a way to help combat that — use decoys. Another is to hunt from a blind, as turkeys seem oblivious to movement inside a blind.

Finally, the last piece is to hunt unpressured birds. You can do that one of two ways: 1. Hunt property that hasn’t had other hunters on it, or 2. Hunt the very first season, before other hunters can pressure the birds.

I’m opting for No. 2. Fortunately, the DNR has structured the hunt to allow youth hunters to pick any season they wish without having to enter the lottery. Naturally, I chose the first season, which is April 15-19. I got landowner permission for two of my favorite properties, which are near Red Wing. So, we’re good to go.

What I’m hoping for is to draw a bird into the decoys, then have it stick around and display in front of them, as gobblers often will do. Sometimes, they shy away from decoys and don’t come in. But, usually, if they do, they’ll stick around for a while. And, with us being in the blind, Claire will be able to move all she wants inside of it to prepare for the shot. Plus, I’ll be able to whisper to her and help her prepare to shoot.

Once she’s ready, I’ll simply do some excited calls from within the blind, which generally freezes the bird and gets it to lift its head up. Hopefully, she then will do exactly what she did in practice.

One other thing I will do is have her watch some turkey videos on TV and practice aiming the gun at them. Someone suggested this to me years ago. This will give her practice at acquiring the sight picture and picking the right moment to shoot.

This is fun stuff, and I can’t wait to take Claire out. The weather is looking good, and if it stays warm, the birds will break up their winter flocks and spread out more. That is very helpful for hunting. I have hunted early seasons before, and always seem to get more action when it’s a warmer and earlier spring versus a colder and later one.

This one looks a bit warmer and earlier, but probably closer to normal, which we haven’t had in a while. I’m optimistic about the hunt, but hoping we have some nice, warm weather during Claire’s season. If we get that, I think we’re in business.

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Sportshow time!

March 27, 2015


Hopefully, a turkey like this will come into range when it comes time to hunt this spring.

Hopefully, a turkey like this will come into range when it comes time to hunt this spring.

Later today, I will be heading to the Minneapolis Convention Center for the annual Progressive Northwest Sportshow. It’s on my don’t-miss list, and it runs through Sunday.

For hunting and fishing enthusiasts like me, it has a little bit of everything. I always look for booths and products related to my two greatest outdoor passions — bow hunting and turkey hunting. It’s nice to get a nice “fix” of the outdoors as we make the transition from winter to spring. Today being the first official day of spring, it’s the perfect time to go!

There’s lots to cover, and one nice thing is the exercise I get walking from one end of the exhibition hall to the other. Hopefully, that will help get me in shape for the time when I will chase down gobblers this spring. I am hunting in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, plus I will be taking out three other hunters and trying to help them get birds.

One of them is my daughter Claire. We are going to shoot the 20-gauge shotgun she will be using Sunday afternoon, and I am going to buy sights to put on it before we go. She is worried about the recoil, but I hope she won’t be too bothered by it. I’ll be sure to bring some padding for her shoulder. I have taken her three older brothers turkey hunting, and I’m thrilled her time has come. This should be a fun weekend!

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