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Decoys help determine the shot placement so that you can be ready.

Decoys help determine the shot placement so that you can be ready at the opportune moment.

A hen or gobbler decoy can be a tremendous attractant to a mating spring gobbler. More importantly, the decoy allows you to anticipate the location of a shot, can help you judge distance by marking a reference point, and helps distract the approaching tom from your exact location. I once watched a new hunter squirm and change position several times as a gobbler approached, yet the tom was so locked on the decoy, that the hunter’s motion went unnoticed.

This video from Mossy Oak will help you with the key elements of how to use them effectively.

Photo (top) and video: Mossy Oak

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Whitetail deer are such an amazing species that you can hunt and study them for a lifetime and still get fooled. Luckily, several organizations, such as the Quality Deer Management Association, promote research so that “deer behavior” is based on science rather than opinion. Check your deer knowledge and see how much you really know, courtesy of Whitetail Journal.

Deer 06 101According to the Quality Deer Management Association: 7.8 percent to 9.4 percent is the amount of increase in average crude protein levels in natural forage species from 2011, a drought year, to the following year when rainfall was normal. University of Georgia researcher Levi Horrell found, at one site, that protein in American beautyberry jumped from 9 to 14 percent corresponding to increased rainfall. This illustrates how drought can reduce carrying capacity and deer health factors, like fawn recruitment and antler growth.

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I used to really enjoy a show that pro-bass angler Mike Iaconelli used to have called City Limits Fishing. In the show, Ike would travel around to various urban locations, hook up with a local angler, and go fishing in local waters next to urban areas. He even did it here in Southern California, where he fished the kelp line below the palatial homes of Palos Verdes. I enjoy urban fishing, too. Me and the kids used to love shocking the beachgoers in Santa Monica as we’d pull leopard sharks out of the surf… the same surf they’d just been frolicking in.

Urban fishing is a great way to get in a quick session when you don’t have time to get away, and it’s catching on in London. In this article from VICE, learn what they are catching in the rivers and canals criss-crossing this grand old city.

IMG_0344Throughout the waterways of inner-city London, a small group of urban fishermen cast their lines into the hazy waters of the Thames. Jake Selby and Buster Britton are the pioneers of Urban Fishing London Docks and have been pulling all kinds of monsters up from the river’s brown water for the last five years. Their motivation? Quiet fishing spots offering big catches, without having to leave Zone 2.

The two set up at spots throughout Canada Water and Shadwell Basin and camp overnight, enduring the cold and fending off visits from boozy strangers. The fishing is primarily catch and release—done for sport. And although catching to eat isn’t uncommon, it’s not encouraged.

“It’s not something we do, and it’s generally frowned upon. There’s a pub in Bermondsey that will cook your catch,” says Britton. For $8 an eel, the all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ pub will clean, cook, and serve your eels and “whatever else you can pull from the water,” says Selby.

Photos: VICE (top); SoCal Salty (above)

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The Vegas Shoot recently offered the world’s largest indoor purse, with a 2015-projected payout of over $275,000 in cash and prizes. The top Championship Male Freestyle, Alex Wifler, walked away with a record $30,000 check! All Championship archers that shot a score of 900 were guaranteed a prize of $1,000.

The Vegas Shoot introduced a new Young Adult Championship division (Freestyle and Limited Recurve). These new divisions allowed young archers (ages 15–17) to compete for cash prizes on the same Arena floor as the best archers in the World. This brief video and portfolio of pictures from Mathews is like The Hunger Games on steroids.

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For two months, bottomfishing has been closed to boat based anglers here in Southern California. The primary species of bottomfish here are rockfish  January and February are their primary spawning period for this popular family of fish. The closure is designed to allow them to breed unmolested in order to help ensure the long term viability of the species. I’m all for it. This weekend was supposed to be the opener. Only problem is that storms bringing wind, rain, and heavy swells have put a damper on the occasion. In response, I thought I’d spend a bit of time fishing from the shore… off the sand, jetties, or the pier.

Pier fishing isn’t just for the newly initiated. It can be fun even for seasoned anglers like myself. In this article from the Outdoors Guy, you’ll find great tips for pier success in South Florida.

pier-fishing-246x300If you’ve never fished off a pier, I suppose you don’t really know what you’re missing, so I’m here to tell you. Whether you choose to pier fish during the day under the hot Florida sun, or take advantage of a warm night on a pier in the north Atlantic, you never know what you may catch, which is part of the attraction.  Unlike surf fishing, or casting your rod from the deck of a chartered boat, pier fishing allows you and possibly your family (kids love it) to spend time at your ‘camp’, dropping your lines (you’ll want to drop them, rather than cast when out on a pier since the fish prefer to stick close by), having some lunch, reading a book, enjoying your iPod, and reveling in what the other anglers around you are reeling in.

Most piers, or rather those intended/expected for fishing, have a small ledge for you to cut your bait on, the piers are usually equipped with a few benches scattered here and there (depending on the region you are in) and there is typically a wash station nearby as well.   Because not all piers have benches, or if they do, chances are they will be full, plan on bringing a chair in addition to a cooler for your catch.  Be prepared with plenty to drink; the last thing you want is to ruin a nice day of pier fishing with dehydration and you certainly don’t want to lose your spot along the rail to go off in search of a cold bottle of water or a snack.  Chances are you’re going to be there a while, so plan for it.   Even with the best intentions of only stepping out on the pier for a ‘few casts’ , once you start to see someone nearby bring up a snapper or a skate, you’re going to want to stick around to see what else is down there waiting to bite!

Photots: Hal Scott Photography (top); Outdoors Guy (above)

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You only really hear about an invasive species when it becomes too successful in the ecosystem it is invading. Asian carp reproduce so effectively that it’s almost impossible to rein them in. Snakehead have few, if any, predators. Both are overtaking the freshwater environments into which they’ve been introduced. On the saltwater front, lionfish have been multiplying like crazy in the reef environments of the Western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean.

Lionfish are extremely effective breeders. Compounding the problem is that it is thought that they don’t have any predators, due to the poisonous spines that surround them. That was, until a diver recently captured the amazing footage found in this article from Grind TV.

lionfishThe continuing infestation of lionfish throughout the Caribbean and parts of the Atlantic is cause for alarm, because these prickly, venomous critters have no known natural enemies and their proliferation is going largely unchecked.

However, it seems that at least one large grouper has developed a taste for lionfish, poisonous spines and all, although eating them requires great care and proper timing.

The accompanying Lionfish University video, showing a Nassau grouper stalking and ultimately devouring a lionfish in the Caribbean, is believed to be the first footage showing this type of event without the interference of humans (people killing lionfish and attempting to feed them to groupers).

The Nassau grouper seems to herd the lionfish from its reef into open water, where it can investigate and poke from various angles, before lunging for the kill.

Photos: Lionfish University (top); National Aquarium (above)