Jim's Outdoor Blog

Hunting, RVing and Great Escapes – Everything Outdoors

Bushnell Trophy Cam HD

Bushnell Trophy Cam HD black caseBushnell Trophy Cam HD camo caseBushnell Trophy Cam HD security box
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

If you are still looking for or thinking about a trail camera, I just bought this one.

It was a tossup between this one and DLC Covert Red 40. My most reliable camera has been the DLC Covert II (discontinued model), so it was hard to buy something different. What finally made me choose the Trophy Cam was the reviews and the warranty.

Bushnell Trophy Cam HD

This is the camera I just bought.  I looked online for hours and hours, and this is the best price I could find. They may have the lowest retail price in America – http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-2012-Bushnell-Trophy-Cam-8MP-HD-Video-Scouting-Game-Stealth-Camera-119437C-/200875665540?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ec51f6884

Bushnell has a two year warranty, as compared to one year for the rest. I read some hunting forums and guys ranted and raved about how good Bushnell’s service department is to deal with. No questions asked – they either repaired or replaced for 2 years, without whining.

There are a ton of Bushnell cameras on the market, from various years. It is easy to think you have found a particular model, $50.00 less than another site, but, you may be looking at a less expensive model or a different year. The one I just bought is the 2012 HD model; not to be confused with the HD Black, or simply Bushnell Trophy Cam – without the HD, and … the 2012 is different and improved from the 2011. The one I am talking about takes 3, 5 and 8 megapixel photos and the video records with sound. At $156 with free shipping, it may be my least expensive camera, but, their technology seems to get cheaper every year.

Reviews

http://www.trailcampro.com/staffpicks.aspx

http://www.gamecamerasreviews.com/

Metal Security Box for the Bushnell camera – the box protects the camera from elk and deer horns, bears teeth, thieves and weather – best price I could find online – http://www.ebay.com/itm/SECURITY-BOX-FOR-BUSHNELL-TROPHY-CAM-CAMERA-ALL-YEARS-2012-2011-2010-2009-NEW-/150858282819?pt=US_Camera_Camcorder_Accessory_Bundles&hash=item231fdab743

Master Lock, Python cable lock – this is the type of lock we use in the woods. On private property, you could just use deck screws or lag bolts and attach the metal box to a tree. You can just use bungee cords if you aren’t worried about theft or damage – http://www.walmart.com/ip/Master-Lock-8417D-3-16-in-Adjustable-Cable-Lock/19869873?findingMethod=Recommendation:wm:RecentlyViewedItems

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January 13, 2013 Posted by | Bears, Cats and Claws, Deer, Elk, Antelope, Big Horns and Such, Smile - You're on My Trail Camera, Turkeys, Grouse, Pheasants and other Feathered Critters | Leave a comment

Archery Goose Hunt in North Carolina

Matt Sherwood takes his son Taylor on his first goose hunt

You may have seen photos in an earlier posting; pictures of Matt Sherwood with huge 50+ pound Carolina catfish.  This time Matt shared photos of he and his son on a fall goose hunt.  Utilizing a portable ground blind, the geese were taken at mere feet from the hunters.  Matt said Taylor was having so much fun he struggled to remain quiet while dad waited for a clean bow shot. 

They say fewer and fewer kids are becoming hunters.  By the look of the grin on his face, I would bet that Taylor Sherwood will have a hunting license in his pocket for the next, oh, eighty years or so.  Good Job Matt!  Keep those photos coming.

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Turkeys, Grouse, Pheasants and other Feathered Critters | 2 Comments

There Will Be Birds

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Oregon’s Upland Game Bird Preserves

Some of my fondest childhood memories of time spent with my father are derived from cold winter mornings on the plains of Illinois.  After rising from bed in the pitch black of night and filling up on pancakes and eggs in a small town café, my brother, father and I spent the day trekking through snow-covered rows of corn stubble in search of pheasants.  I shook with anticipation when our English setter, “Bullet”, would lockup on a patch of fallen corn stalks.  My dad maneuvered my brother and I into shooting position, and then released the dog with an excited “get-em boy”.  The dog lunged forward and the brush exploded with action.  Snow burst into the air and the high-pitched cackle of a rooster taking flight would fill my senses.  The smell of gunpowder, the image of ole Bullet running with a pheasant protruding from each side of his muzzle, and the joy of time spent in the field.  Four decades have come and gone, but those memories are as strong as ever.

With over seventy licensed bird-hunting preserves in Oregon, northwest residents can build lasting memories of their own, and take aim on cackling pheasants for up to eight months each year.

Dave Budeau is the Upland Game Bird Coordinator for Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.  He informed me that as of September 2005 there were seventy-seven licensed bird-hunting preserves in Oregon.  Although many, or most preserves open in late September, they can operate from August 1st through March 31st.  Due to a concern for wintering deer herds, there are a handful of operations that close on December 31st, or as necessary. 

Most people are not able to raise game birds for dog training.  Mr. Budeau feels preserves are important as they afford dog owners a chance to train their dogs in the field.  Spending time on privately operated preserves sharpens the skills of both man and dog, making them better prepared for hunting birds in the wild during the general upland game bird seasons.  As any avid pheasant hunter could tell you, finding private ground or a reliable publicly owned piece of turf for hunting is difficult.  Preserve hunting can fill that need.  You know the birds will be there, and preserves enable you to easily schedule the time and date of your next hunt. 

In speaking with the owners of preserves across the state, I have found them to be true lovers of hunting and of the outdoors in general.  Many are hard working farmers or ranchers, who seemed to have naturally drifted into this business.  In August of 2005 I spent some time with Don and Alice Hewes, owners of the Olex Preserve near Arlington, Oregon.

Olex Preserve (http://www.olexbirdhunting.com/) has approximately 640 acres maintained for the hunting of pheasants, chukar partridge and quail.  Pheasants and quail are hunted in and along the edges of irrigated fields, while chukar hunts are primarily located atop high ridges dotted with sage brush and natural grasses.  Don has been training bird dogs for decades and owns a large number of both pointers and retrievers.  While guests are welcome to use their own dog on the preserve, observing a highly trained pointer or retriever in action is truly a thing of beauty.  

Don and Alice cited a number of reasons people utilize the services of an upland bird facility.  In order to tune up their experienced hunting dogs, ardent hunters may visit a preserve prior to the opening of wild bird season.  This preseason outing allows them to expose training issues with their dogs and gives them a warm-up for their shooting skills.  As well, the owners of young dogs can put their student-hunter on a large number of birds in a single day.  This can be a real confidence booster.  Hunting preserves are the ideal location for people who are new to the sport, or for those who have never experienced the exhilaration of a bird blasting into the sky from seemingly under their feet.

As any father could tell you, getting a youngster excited about hunting or fishing can be a real challenge, especially if you aren’t finding game or catching fish.  Since locating birds is a non-issue, preserves can be the perfect setting for a young person’s first field outing.  Many men bring their wives or girlfriends to a preserve, hoping they might ‘catch the hunting bug’.

Most preserves offer trap shooting or sporting clays as a part of their hunt package.  Facility owners or hunting guides will work with clients to improve their shooting skills.  Who among us couldn’t use a little practice at the range, prior to entering the field?  Getting some warm-up shots under your belt can increase your confidence and ability when a fast flying bird bursts from cover and rockets toward the sky.

A preserve hunt can be a wonderful way to treat your friends or business associates to an outdoor experience.  Don and Alice Hewes said much of their patronage comes from business owners who want their special customers to have an exciting day in the field.  Big game hunting and exotic fishing trips can be quite expensive and generally require extended periods of time away from the office.  At upland preserves, you can often schedule half or full day hunts, making them an attractive gift to corporate clients.

Oregon’s upland preserves offer hunting packages to fit nearly any budget or hunting desire.  Some offer half-day hunts, enabling hunters to stop in while traveling through a given area.  At others, hunters can visit for a day or a week.  With minimal effort you can locate a preserve where you may sleep onsite in your own RV, stay in a local motel, or experience true luxury in a magnificent lodge. 

Most preserves will sell you an agreed upon set number of birds, ranging in price from perhaps $10.00 for quail, to $30.00 or more for each pheasant released prior to your hunt.  Many provide a hunt package at a set price, which may include the taking of quail, chukar and pheasants.  You may pay as little as $150.00 for a walk-on, non-guided, two hour hunt.  Or, you could spend as much as $1,250.00 per day for a world-class bird hunt, with professional guides and first class accommodations (http://www.highlandhillsranch.com/).  With over six-dozen preserves in Oregon, finding a facility to meet your needs is easier than flushing a pheasant from a clump of dry grass.

Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife maintains a list of licensed facilities and their contact information.  Tyler Myers is the current Secretary for the Association of Oregon Hunting Preserves.  Mr. Myers maintains a list of their association’s members and he can be reached via email at Badgerme@centurytel.net.  Oregon upland bird facilities can also be found at http://www.gamebirdhunts.com/, or simply type “Oregon Upland Game Bird Preserves” into your favorite Internet search engine.

I have worked as a bird dog guide at one of Oregon’s fine preserves.  Time spent in the field with guests has been extremely rewarding and just plain fun.  I would estimate that 15 to 20% of the clientele have been women or teenagers, and with few exceptions it was their first trip to a bird hunting facility.  As well, adult men visiting a preserve for the first time make up a significant percentage of the guests.  Most of these folks have never fired a shotgun before their arrival at the ranch.  I see a transformation in each of them.  In the beginning they are quiet and reserved, intimidated by this new adventure.  Without exception, by the end of their hunt, they are grinning from ear to ear.

The bulk of the guests I’ve met are longtime repeat customers.  Many are seasoned hunters who come to the preserve for the sheer joy of the experience.  They bring their sons and daughters, their wives, business associates and friends, excited to share this excursion into the outdoors.

If you’re tired of trekking through fields devoid of birds.  If you’ve had your fill of crowded public ground with uncontrollable dogs running amuck.  Try one of Oregon’s fine upland bird hunting facilities.  You’ll meet down to earth hard working people who enjoy the outdoors.  One thing is for certain – there will be birds!

March 28, 2008 Posted by | Turkeys, Grouse, Pheasants and other Feathered Critters | 2 Comments

Cascade Blues in January

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Late Season Western Oregon Grouse

The joys and responsibilities of Christmas are now fifty-one weeks away and you are the only guy in line to purchase a new hunting license.  The facial expression of the nice woman tapping keys on the Fish and Wildlife computer fail to hide her thoughts.  Tired from a long holiday season, she is grateful that her husband isn’t the pathetic man standing at her counter on January 1st, here at 9:01 a.m. buying a hunting license.  Inside your head a little voice is asking, “Is she right?  Is this obsession?”  But thankfully there is a reply, “NO!  She has no idea what fun I’m going to be having while everyone is sleeping off their hangovers.”

Grouse season extends into January on Oregon’s western slopes.  From the crest of the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, licensed hunters can take in their final days of upland bird hunting.  If you are looking for Blue Grouse, try hunting as high in the Cascade Range as the snow pack will allow.   According to the Grouse Wing Study conducted by Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, the best Blue habitat will be found on the western slopes of Douglas, Jackson and Lane counties.

On a particularly sunny Sunday in January of 2006, my friend Mark Stephens, his son Matt, my black lab Babe and I had a great day chasing Blues at 1,000 to 4,000 feet above sea level.  The birds were enjoying the sunshine as much as we were and could be found soaking up some rays throughout the day.  We probably hunted eight hours or so and saw over one-dozen grouse, all big Blues. 

We spied most of the Blues moving in the sunshine ahead of us as we slowly made our way along old skid roads and fire trails, zig-zagging through stands of adult trees Fir trees mixed with re-prod and brush.  Many times the birds would flush into nearby trees, allowing us time to get into position with guns and the working member of our foursome, my dog.  One man was usually the designated shooter, while the others stood by for moral support.  Of course the most critical component was for the dog to see the bird flush, so the dog could pin point the bird’s fall.  If you’ve ever bird hunted in the mountains, you know how hard it can be to recover a fallen prize, which invariably comes to rest many yards off the roadway.   With nearly vertical slopes and often thick brush, a dog can save you valuable time and effort.

Nearly everyone is familiar with Ruffed grouse, but possibly have not seen it’s larger cousin.  Blue grouse can be substantially bigger, the size of a large chicken.  I have taken Blue’s that are as heavy or heavier than a large Ring-neck Pheasant rooster.  Just as with quail, Ruffed grouse and other upland birds, Blue grouse populations can vary widely from year to year.  The highs and lows of their census numbers seem to run in a loose twenty year cycle.   I have seen a large number of Blues over the past three or four years.

For me, the best part of upland hunting has always been the joy of working with my dogs and the camaraderie shared with friends and family in the field or in the timber.  Taking home birds has less and less importance the older I get.  I enjoy every outing, rain or shine, with a full game bag being fairly low on the list of priorities.  My wife has always said that when pricing it by the ounce, the only thing more expensive than illegal drugs – is pheasants.  The same could be said of grouse hunting, especially with fuel prices at an all time high.

Next winter, when you find yourself sitting in your living room, bored beyond belief, get your license and bird validation and head for the mountains with your gun, a friend and preferably with a dog.  For me, grouse hunting can chase away those rainy January … Blues.

March 12, 2008 Posted by | Turkeys, Grouse, Pheasants and other Feathered Critters | Leave a comment

Residents dub Southern Oregon: CAMO-LAND

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Camo-Land  Southern  Oregon’s  Spring  Incursion

It begins each November.  Low banks of clouds amass in the Pacific Ocean, lining up like battalions of Roman soldiers.  Wave after wave, storm after storm, brigades’ of rain clouds overwhelm the land.  The forward assault of this watery onslaught is eventually halted by the towering Cascade Mountains.  Positioned squarely between the high Cascades and the coastal mountains, southern Oregon is a land of perpetual green. 

Infamous Northwest rains begin to slow in March, and on occasion locals glimpse a bright yellow orb in the sky.  Daylight hour’s increase and four months of temperatures in the mid-40’s give way to fifty and sixty degree highs.  Talk of springtime fills conversations, with residents forecasting its eventual arrival.  Finally, a man dressed in camouflage is seen at a restaurant, and another was seen stopping for fuel.  A fast-food clerk said she’d served a woman wearing a camo-shirt and hat.  Quiet rainy days of winter are dissipating and southern Oregon is being transformed.  In the blink of an eye an incursion of camo-clad humans have invaded.  All forecasting is over, for spring has officially arrived.

Along the Interstate-5 corridor, from Eugene to Ashland, Oregon landscape is made up of rolling hills and green pastures.  Several species of Oak trees, along with Madrone, Fir and Cedar dot the ridge tops and canyons.  Innumerable creeks and springs careen down every slope.  If logging is the economic King of this area, ranching is certainly heir to the throne.  Tens of thousands of cattle and sheep graze within the immense greenness of this enormous basin.  Wild turkeys thrive here, and it is without question the Mecca of turkey hunting in Oregon.

To simply say turkeys are plentiful in southern Oregon is a gross understatement of fact.  Drive for thirty minutes in any direction from my home in Douglas County and you will easily see dozens upon dozens of feeding birds.

Wild turkeys were not native to Oregon, but since their introduction here in 1961 they have populated nearly every region of the state.  Merriam’s were brought from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska and Montana.  Their numbers have been stable for several decades, but Merriam’s reside in high rugged mountainous terrain.  Rio Grande turkeys were released in southern Oregon in 1975 and are now well established, with their numbers exceeding all initial estimates.

Turkey hunting is the fastest growing form of hunting in the United States and Oregon is no exception to this phenomenon.  The popularity of turkey hunting has grown ten-fold since Oregon’s first statewide spring hunting season in 1987.  The number of birds harvested that first year was approximately 425.  Although there is no required check station system in place, it’s estimated hunters harvested 3,700 turkeys in Oregon’s 2002 spring hunting season, with a statewide success rate reaching about thirty six-percent.

Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODF&W) divides the state into 57 separate Management Units.  Far and away Oregon’s best spring turkey hunting is found in southern Oregon.  The five most successful units are – Applegate, Dixon, Evans Creek, Melrose and Rogue.  Of the 3,700 gobblers taken in Oregon’s 2002-spring season, 1,585 were harvested in these five management units, well over 1/3 of all birds statewide.  Individual hunter success rates for these units approached nearly fifty-percent.

Oregon allows the taking of one male bird each day with a three-bird total during the spring season.  There is no drawing for spring tags, so they are easily purchased from any licensed agent.  Hunters can pursue birds from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week throughout the season, which runs from Aprils 15th through May 31st.  The use of dogs is not allowed in the spring. 

The State is divided into regions for fall turkey hunting.  For most southwest Oregon counties, tags are provided on a first-come/first-serve basis, with approximately 3,000 tags available to hunters.  This “first-come” season runs from October 15th through November 30th.  One bird of either sex can be taken in the fall. Those who wish to do so can utilize dogs during the fall hunt.  There are also two controlled fall turkey seasons, for which an application must be submitted.  These are in the White River and Pine Valley hunting units, with 50 tags available for each hunt.  These seasons are in October and November, but with a total of only 100 tags available in the drawing, the prize is difficult to attain.

With turkey hunting at it’s apparent peak of popularity, finding a place to hunt can be challenging.  I first began turkey hunting in Oregon, in the spring of 1995.  I live within the Melrose hunting unit and found little trouble in acquiring permission from neighbors and through friends-of-friends.  I worked hard at gaining hunting authorization from a large number of landowners, and faced little opposition.  But, by the year 2001, guides had approached most persons whose property supports large numbers of turkeys.  Some guides offer landowners $100.00 per bird they remove, and often pay an up front fee of $1,000.00 or more.

Additionally, many ranchers were “turned-off” by unethical hunters who trespassed on their land, or perhaps even worse, failed to look for and recover injured birds. 

I’ll never forget one aggravated rancher.  This gentleman told me he had lost a pregnant cow due to an unethical turkey hunter.  He said a hunter stopped on the roadway and shot an arrow at a large tom in his pasture.  The “hunter” missed the bird, and failed to recover his arrow.  One of his cows stepped on the arrow’s broad head and injured her foot.  A single blade was removed from the animal’s hoof, but the cow did not recover from an infection as a result of this injury.  He told me he frequently discovers camo-clad trespassers on his property.  He has no use for turkey hunters. 

For persons living out of state, or out of the area, contacting ODF&W could be of great value.  The state has acquired hundreds of acres, which are available to the public for turkey hunting.  One of these sites is near my home and I frequently see flocks of turkeys feeding along its hillsides.

I would also encourage prospective newcomers to telephone local sporting goods stores, primarily in the cities of Roseburg, Sutherlin, Winston, Grants Pass and Medford.  Due to customers “talking-it-up”, storeowners and staff know where turkeys can be found.  These folks hope to sell you supplies you’ll utilize in the field when chasing the illusive Rio Grande gobblers.  It is in their best interest to help you find a place to hunt.

A guided hunt amongst Oregon’s beautiful river valleys and oh-so-green hills could bring fulfilling memories for a lifetime.  Many quality guides are available throughout the state and specifically in “turkey-alley” in southern Oregon.  The costs of these services will vary widely, but you should expect to pay at least $250.00 per day or per bird.  Check for licensed guides through ODF&W or simply type “Oregon Turkey Hunting” into your favorite Internet search engine.

If you want to “wing-it” and simply come to southern Oregon and ask landowners for permission to hunt, I strongly suggest you put your hunt off until May.  The first two weeks of spring season are extremely busy, thus the local descriptor of camo-land.  I believe a polite handshake and a guarantee of being responsible could bring some success.  But remember, you represent all hunters; each time you enter the field.

Oregon’s Rio Grande gobblers will weigh sixteen to twenty-five pounds, averaging nineteen to twenty each.  The largest I’ve taken had a twelve and one half inch beard, and weighed a whopping twenty-four pounds.  He was the largest of five big toms, which came charging toward me when I imitated a lonely hen with my mouth call.

My personal hunting strategy varies greatly, depending on the lay of the land and how well I know the property.  I’ve had success by merely staking-out travel routes.  Birds often follow specific daily routines and I’ve taken several toms by just sitting above a deep ravine or gully and waiting for birds to approach.

The rolling hills of these pastures are often quite high, with deep swales between them.  When I observe groups of birds moving up or down a swale, I move as quickly as possible to cut them off.  Using the crest of the hill to hide my movements, I kneel, sit or lay down when I reach the cut off point.  The toms usually stop when they reach the end of the swale.  Like submarine periscopes bobbing over the crest of the hill, they peer over the edge before stepping out. 

Calling birds is certainly a challenge once the season is underway.  But, little in the hunting world is more satisfying than a successful session of calling and moving, out smarting this ultimate survivor.

If you choose to pit your wits and skill against those of a long-beard in this area, be extremely careful.  Once you’ve come to Oregon in pursuit of a spring gobbler, your life could change.  You may have trouble sleeping with visions of strutting gobblers dancing through your minds’ eye.  You’ll find yourself “talking-turkey” throughout the year, telling complete strangers in coffee shops about this beautiful part of our country.  Undoubtedly you’ll be watching for sales on hunting gear and clothing, mindfully preparing for your next trip to Oregon’s “Camo-Land”.

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Turkeys, Grouse, Pheasants and other Feathered Critters | 4 Comments