Saturday, March 1, 2014

Game Cameras Bring Spring Turkey Hunting Success!

Spring Turkey Scouting 
Sportsmen typically employ game cameras as a primarily means to track the movements of white-tailed deer, however another less frequent usage quickly gaining in popularity is using these devices to track the movements of other game species such as turkeys. Spring turkeys tend to follow regular patterns that can be easily monopolized on to help hunters be in the right place at the right time. If not currently using game cameras during spring turkey scouting, I strongly suggest giving them a try!

In support of these valuable hunting tools, here are a few hints and suggestions I have amassed through the years.

Where & How to Place Your Game Camera:
1. Place game camera facing north. If faced south into the rising and setting sun, a majority of photos will be washed out.
2. Make sure there is no vegetation in front of camera, for aesthetics and to avoid false triggers.
3. Point cameras at a 45-degree angle to a game trail (NOT perpendicular) as this provides more time for the camera to “trigger”, taking a photos of the entire animal and not simply it’s hind end as it passes by the camera.
4. Set cameras in areas that funnel animals (edges of bodies of water, trails, field edges, etc.) to be where the animals travel, increasing the chance of capturing them on camera.
5. Place camera 15-20 feet from the intended photo area. Most trail cameras can detect motion out to at least 30' but it pays to be conservative.
6. If strapping a camera to a tree, ensuring it's large enough to not blow in the wind.
7. Place camera 20”-25” off the ground, lower than typically set for deer.

Hints & Suggestions for Setting Your Game Camera:
1. Place camera in live mode, wait for the camera to trigger ensuring it works correctly.
2. Turn camera on and confirm all settings, especially date & time.
3. Test batteries and replace as necessary. Buy a battery tester, it will prove invaluable.
4. Check and verify motion detector's range. Test it out at home before deploying the camera in the field.

Care of your Game Camera:
1. The best defense against theft is a well-hidden camera.
2. Place moisture absorbing packs inside camera case if necessary.
3. Make sure the glass in front of the lens is spotless. Small smudges show up big in pictures.

*Maine law requires that game cameras be clearly labeled with the owner’s name. Also, if game cameras are deployed on another persons land, the landowner must grant permission before a camera can legally be placed on their property. 

Spring wild turkey hunting runs from April 28th to May 31st and is now open statewide in Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) 1-29. This season’s change, now allows turkey hunting throughout all of Washington County. Previously untouched prime hunting areas will likely hold trophy gobblers that have never been hunted. For the sportsman this presents a fantastic opportunity to pursue toms that have never heard the sweet clucks of a hunters box call or been fooled by a hen turkey decoy.

When attempting to locate turkeys, it pays to slowly walk or drive Washington Counties thousands of miles of logging roads and snowmobile / ATV paths. This method of “running and gunning” allows turkey hunters to be mobile, locate early morning gobblers and setup quickly for a chance at harvesting one of these impressive and beautiful birds.

For a hunters searching for a Wildlife Management Area to explore in Downeast, I suggest the 649-acre Jonesboro WMA (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 26, C-2). For more specifics on the spring turkey hunt, see the IFW website at:

Early Season Bass 
In the spring of the year, as the water temperatures begin to slowly rise, bass become increasingly active. This creates great fishing in as early as April, with activity remaining steady up to the end of June. While it is certainly no secret that Washington County contains numerous truly epic lakes and ponds, each filled to the brim with small mouth bass, success at catching them is not always an easily accomplished endeavor. A number of factors including time of day, finding good bottom structure and lure selection present a few of the variables that need to be considered. Nothing can compare with first hand knowledge of a lake or pond. Knowing where to find bottom structures that hold fish like sunken beaver lodges, underwater weed beds, sunken logs and stumps, rocks, shoals, ledges, drop offs, islands and other such areas will put you leaps ahead of other fishermen. Polarized sunglasses and the benefit of calm water, greatly facilitate the process of finding areas containing ambush cover for hungry bass. Mark these areas with a GPS and these fishing hotspots will be enjoyed for years to come.

While many of these waters may be fished from shore with success, reaching the best fishing spots requires breaking free from the crowded boat launches and accessing areas that see little fishing pressure. All manner of watercraft can be used, as long as care is taken to respect the anticipated weather conditions. Maine’s lakes are notoriously fickle and a beautiful day on the water can quickly turn life threatening. Always wear a life jacket, as water temps will only allow minutes of survival time before your body will fail to function and drowning occur.

When bass fishing, I prefer to carry two fishing poles, one equipped for working weed filled areas and one for more open waters. By having two poles instantly available, anglers can quickly and easily match the intended fishing area without wasting time cutting and retying lures. My go to weedless lure is the “Zoom Super Fluke” and I would never dream of leaving the dock without having a handful of “Terminator” spinner baits in an assortment of different colors. Wabassas Lake (Map 35, C-3) presents great options for smallmouth bass fishing with, according to recent IFW reports, between 1.8-3.5 caught per hour and an average length of 13.5 inches.

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