Tex Strikes a Beautiful Red Fox

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Love it when a plan comes together! I have always wanted to kill a fox at my cabin, on my own property and tonight I was blessed with that opportunity. I had originally planned on watching the Daytona 500 this afternoon/evening but due to rain, the race was postponed and I headed out for one set before dark.

This has been a really crazy winter with extreme amounts of snowfall, making it challenging for predator calling and limiting the movement of predators. We got a typical Michigan thaw last week to firm up the snow and allow the predators to move about much easier. I have been starting to see more sign in the last couple days and I had to take advantage of this beautiful evening. I decided to take my 17HMR out today since I was targeting a fox and I didn’t want to destroy a pelt with the 22-250 if I could avoid it.

I walked out to the back of my property to overlook the hardwoods and swamp down to the lake. I set my Fox Pro CS24 out under a bush in front of me about 20 yards. There was a neighbor out shredding it up on a snowmobile so I just sat still for about 15 minutes until he was finished and the woods had calmed down. I was in no rush and planned to sit until dark. I fired up the Fox Pro at the 20 minute mark, playing some Rodent Squeaks at various volumes for 15 minutes on and off. I then got on my Red F for a couple sequences with some short pauses in between for about 5 minutes. Still not seeing any movement around me so I played a couple short red fox distress sounds. I then switched back to rodent distress, periodically playing a few short bursts of fox in distress. Out of the corner of my eye at 2 o’clock I catch movement and its a fox trotting in at 40 yards and closing. I have my rifle on my sticks pointed at 11 o’clock and they are buried in snow so I just froze as it moved in. My only hope at this point is that the fox moves in between me and the caller and I can get a shot off without having to move my gun. The fox trotted right in to about 15 feet, still focused on the caller with no clue I was there until it turned with a flash and looked right at me. She spun around and I pulled my gun off my sticks as she retreated. I lip squeaked one time, she stopped and turned back for another look at about 25 yards. I got on my rifle offhand as the fox stood facing straight at me and let the 17 HMR rip with one shot to the chest/lower neck area. The fox went down in a pile and never flinched a muscle. It all happened in about 30 seconds and I was left sitting there amazed at what had just taken place! Sometimes it sure does pay off to be patient, let a set speak to you and give it the appropriate time needed.

I am a blessed man to be able to enjoy the outdoors and participate in such a fun and rewarding sport. I would really like to thank all the guys in my life that have taught me the true art of predator calling in its purest form! Thanks to Yotehead Ed, Opie and Bob Patrick at Rare Earth Predator Calls.

Shoot Straight!

Tex

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Season One with FLG – Bubba’s Perspective

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Well here it is, early February and duck season is long gone; however, this season was very different for me than any of the other duck season I have ever had the pleasure to hunt. The season started as usual, hunting with my good buddy Rooney. But during the second split I got a phone call from Rooney asking if I would be interested in becoming more involved in FLG and be a part of the staff. I was honored, to say the least. I have been hunting with Rooney for the last 3 years and this was far unexpected, so of course I told him I was in!!! So, here we are at opening day of second season and it started off with a bang! We scouted all day on Friday and found a field with about 500 mallards on it so we decided that was the spot for the morning. We woke up at an unpleasant hour to beat the crowd, since we were on public land. We got set up and had ducks flying before shooting light which is always a good thing! We waited for what seemed like an hour and finally Rooney said “It’s time!” so we started whackin’ em and in fifteen minutes we were limited out! Towards the last few minutes of the hunt I dropped a bird way out in the tall grass and Rooney told his dog to go retrieve it. He came back and asked if I was the one that dropped that HEN in the weeds, I reluctantly said yes and when he threw her to me in my layout blind there it was, shining like a diamond, my FIRST band!!! What a great way to open the season! We didn’t slow down much; if I wasn’t working I was spending time with the family and scouting or hunting ducks. We were covered up on ducks this year; this couldn’t be a better season to be my first season with FLG! Not only did I get my first band but I also killed my unicorn, a fully mature pintail drake!!! Rooney and I were hosting the good folks at Fowled Reality and The Management Advantage when I picked that pintail out of a group of 80 mallards! But overall this was an awesome season! I met some awesome people and learned a lot about what being a part of a group like FLG is all about! I do not consider myself a professional, just a good ole Oklahoma boy that loves being outdoors! We are all here for the same reasons. We all love being outdoors. I enjoy all hunting but duck hunting is my true passion!

There are always certain things that stick in your head more than others from previous seasons and my first year with FLG was very memorable. The teamwork with these guys is awesome. It means a lot to have great people around me! Not only are we a team, but I consider each and every member of FLG Down Patrol a friend which means a lot! It’s pretty awesome how they have taken me in as one of their own immediately, we can all go on a duck hunt that morning and that night we sit around a fire and tell lies like we are a family! That’s not easy to come by and something I am very thankful for! Also the people I met this year are unforgettable!!! I learned that these people that I have watched and looked up to are just the same as me. We are dedicated water fowlers that love this sport! I got to rub shoulders with some of the top duck hunters in the nation and I learned very quickly that we are all humble and love what we do. I grew up here in Oklahoma and Oklahoma is the only place I have ever hunted ducks so I am one dimensional but this season changed that. Hunting with these guys that have hunted big numbers of birds all over the country sure taught me a lot! And what’s really great is the guys from FLG are not afraid to teach me and help me learn about other ways to hunt waterfowl. I went from hunting pot holes with a dozen and a half decoys to hunting big water and fields with 6 to 8 dozen decoys so that was a bit of a culture shock, but these guys all helped me learn. I can now get out there with the confidence and set a big spread the way it needs to be and get those big numbers of birds in. All in all it was an awesome season and I am very thankful for the lessons learned and the opportunities given to me from the guys at FLG. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to share the blind with! Y’all take care now and thanks for reading!

Be safe and have fun out there!!

​​Bubba

Find Bubba on Twitter: @FLGBubba

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Can optics help you be a better waterfowl hunter?

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It seems the optics industry is all wrapped up with big game hunters, professional shooters and even archery now with the popularity of the crossbow, but there is definitely a place in the optics world for the “little ole duck hunter.” The “weekend warrior” waterfowl hunter probably does not use optics often, but someone that chases them every day like a diehard hunter or guide service relies heavily on optics to get on the birds day in and day out.

With the rise in waterfowl related TV shows and social media channels, the competition has become pretty stiff out on public and private land. Farmers are seeing increased requests to hunt their land. Federal and state programs are buying up land and making it public. More and more hunters are able to obtain the larger boats needed to get on the bigger waters where the ducks and geese like to “hide out”. With this kind of competition out there, the serious waterfowl hunter needs to rely on optics more than ever before.
Let me give you an example, when the weather is cold, the ducks and geese need to feed on crops like soybeans and corn for the extra carbohydrates to keep warm and survive. This is when I would be scouting for birds in the morning and evening in the fields. As I am driving around, my goal is to find large concentrations of birds flying off the nearest body of water to go feed in a field. When I find this with the naked eye, I would use my Hawke Nature-Trek 10×50 binoculars to identify the birds in the air. All birds fly differently. They have different flock patterns. Their wing beat speed is different. I mostly concentrate on mallards and Canada geese in the dry fields, so those are what I would be looking for during these scouting trips. A good pair of binoculars will give you the edge on bird identification and make your scouting trips more successful.

After I have located the flights of the birds I want to concentrate on, the next step is to figure out what field they are using. This is where having a good spotting scope (yes, I said spotting scope) comes into play. I do not want to drive right up on the field I am scouting. If there is someone else scouting the area and they see that, they now have used me to locate birds and I now have competition on that field. I will find a high road somewhere within the field of view of where the birds are feeding. Using my Hawke Nature 24-74×70 Spotting Scope, I will pinpoint what part of the field they are using and get a good estimate on the number of birds using that particular field. Numbers are key when hunting in a field. I will not hunt a field that is only getting used by a handful of birds because at any moment, half of the birds could move on to a different field. I like to see a couple thousand birds using a field before I take the time to do a labor intensive field hunt.

The same goes for scouting from the boat. I always carry my binoculars in the boat if I am going scouting. I do not want the other guy seeing me motor right up on a concentration of birds and I also do not want to spook those birds off that daytime resting spot. If I can count and identify those birds from afar, my chances of hunting that spot the next morning with success has increased tremendously.

So if you want to be more successful hunting waterfowl and make your scouting trips count, get yourself some good optics with clear glass like Hawke has to offer. Bird numbers and identification are just as important when you are scouting as when you are actually hunting.

Good luck!

Josh “Rooney” Dickerson
First Light Gear

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We Go Way Back – Rooney and the bobcat

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As you all know, I’m a duck hunter. The FLG Down Patrol gang kills their fair share of birds which means we clean a lot of birds here at the house. Since I’m on a creek bottom, I figured I would feed those leftover carcasses to the local creek bottom predator population. When the “pile” became popular I put a trail cam on it just to see what was feasting there in the middle of the night. I’ve had everything from hogs to hawks taking part. The one predator that caught my attention was a bobcat and the journey begins.

For the past 2 years I’ve had encounters with this bobcat while deer hunting. At this point, I figured the best way to get this cat was to start trapping. Only made sense to set a couple traps around the bait pile as much as it was visiting it. It was a learning experience for me. Between de-scenting my traps to funneling the animal into the trap set, I finally got that cat at the “pile” this past December. I was so excited since I wasn’t really a “trapper” in the traditional way. After prepping the cat for the tannery, I checked my trail cam pics and to my amazement, there was a second cat! The first one was a female so this one must be her mate. I reset the trap and just a couple days ago, I got her mate. He’s an old tom with scarred up ears. A fighter for sure. Both cats will go to the tannery and hang on the wall together.

Kill ‘em!

Rooney

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Old Alpha Male Coyote

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Opie and I headed up to the north country of Michigan for a long weekend of predator calling! The weather has been absolutely spectacular with bone chilling temperatures and light snow periodically throughout both days we’ve been up here so far. We set out this morning into the frozen tundra on snowshoes ready to hone our calling skills and challenge ourselves physically with the demanding terrain ahead of us.

We didn’t have any takers on our first set and it wasn’t long before we located another calling location several hundred yards away. Opie and I settled into our calling sequence, taking turns playing our Rare Earth Red-F (Bird Distress) calls. Opie hopped on his HSB at about the 8 minute mark playing some light cottontail distress and that’s when I noticed a coyote working towards us at about 100 yards. I got on my rifle just in time to see the coyote stop to take another look in our direction. I passed on the first shot opportunity as I wanted to see him work in closer to our location. There was a slight hill in front of us and when the coyote closed inside of 60 yards we were not able to see him until he crested the hill at 30 feet. My heart was beating like crazy when I lost sight of him and I still wasn’t sure if Opie had seen him closing in on us. I quickly got back on my rifle and waited in the location I thought he might show in. The coyote stopped at the top of the rise and gave a look right at Opie, allowing me to make my final adjustments and let the 22-250 bark.

This is a beautiful large male coyote with scads of battle wounds and a busted up face from fighting. One of my largest coyotes to date and one heck of a trophy from the north woods. We still have a couple days of hunting left, tons of predator sign and we are going to get back after em!

Tex

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Crunch Time Coyotes

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Well I was hoping to sneak out of work early to go deer hunting tonight. We have a huge storm sitting on us right now and the deer should be moving.

Unfortunately It was 5:15 before I could leave work which left me exactly 25 minutes until the end of shooting light. Not enough time for deer hunting but just enough to get into my favorite predator spot for a quick call.

I settled in behind my rifle and let out a series of cottontail distress aimed at the swamp in from of me. I called on and off for 5 minutes before I saw a coyote heading away from me 40 yards away in the thick swamp brush. It was the big dog I’ve been after for a while and damned if he didn’t beat me again.

I continued my calling sequence and after 5 more minutes a second coyote showed itself and came trotting out of the swamp 30 yards to my left stopping behind a big maple tree.

Some patience and gentle coaxing lured the coyote to 20 yards where she presented a clean head shot. I settled the crosshairs between her eyes and I watched as she dropped like a bag of rocks.

Less than 20 minutes on stand and I had 2 coyotes show up within 50 yards and had one over my shoulder on my way to the car. Goes to show that keeping your gear in your car and taking advantage of every calling opportunity can sure pay off.

Looking forward to really getting into the swing of predators soon.

Shoot straight.

Opie

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