Griffin's Guide to Hunting and Fishing Your source for daily hunting, fishing and outdoors content Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:20:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Understand the Whitetail Rut for Better Hunting Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:20:22 +0000 The top three questions in any deer camp center around the best broadhead, rifle caliber, and the rut.

Although the first two topics will never be scientifically settled, the third is a matter of record. Scientists have studied the onset of the rut extensively, with many results garnered from road-killed deer. When a doe is discovered, biologists recover a fetus and backdate the time of conception, giving a precise indication of when the doe was bred. This summary from QDMA lays out the facts.

Bass Mossy Oak Scent Blocker 238Whitetails are rutting somewhere in their range from August through February. Amazingly, they breed over this seven-month period just in the state of Florida! Let’s look at the factors that lead to widely varying breeding dates, and you’ll also see how practicing Quality Deer Management can make the rut more obvious and more exciting where you hunt. (This article is a short sample from QDMA’s “Quality Whitetails” magazine. 

Photoperiod is the Trigger

Photoperiod is the interval in a 24-hour period during which a plant or animal is exposed to light. Photoperiod is directly tied to growth, development, and seasonal behaviors in plants and animals. With respect to whitetails, photoperiod regulates some hormonal production that is directly tied to antler growth and the breeding season. A diminishing ratio of daylight to darkness triggers behavioral and physiological changes that lead to breeding. First, antlers mineralize and bucks shed their velvet. Next, bucks begin sparring, rubbing trees, and making scrapes. This transitions to some fighting to establish dominance and breeding rites and eventually to breeding.

]]> 0
Check Out Duck Commander’s New Line of Hunting Blinds Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:14:31 +0000 When Ameristep introduced a series of new blinds inspired by Duck Commander, it was easy to get excited about the “foolability” of these products, yet the one that captured my imagination the most is the Duck Commander Kid’s 1st Blind. What a terrific idea.

Every child loves to build forts in the living room with blankets or pretend they’re camping in the wilds. This inexpensive blind allows their imaginations to run wild and they can pretend to be camping, hunting, or exploring the great outdoors.

It’s small enough to use in the house or backyard, and will be an effective concealment device when that youngster is ready for the real thing.

Here’s a quick summary of the kid’s blind and others that are ideal for waterfowl, whitetail deer, and wild turkeys. Check out the one that best suites your needs.

Duck Commander Kid’s 1st Blind

Looking for the perfect gift for the future waterfowl hunter in the house? The Duck Commander Kid’s 1st Blind will entertain the youngsters in the playroom and yard, and it will conceal them in duck swamp. The blind has a 36-inch footprint and is 36 inches tall. A spring steel design allows for easy set up and take down. The blind comes standard in Realtree Max-4 Camo.

1R41C032DFR DC_Rapid_Opening_Chair_Blind copy

Duck Commander Rapid Shooter Chair Blind

This blind and chair combination is perfect when cover is sparse and a single hunter needs full concealment. The blinds features a rip-cord release for rapid opening when the birds are in range, and it has a very quick magnetic closure system to get hidden again when the shooting is over.

Duck Commander Landing Strip Blind

This lay-out style blind is great for a variety of waterfowl hunting situations, from an open field with no cover to the edge of a marsh-or even a pothole where the ducks are wary. Features of this quality blind include Realtree Max-4 Camo designed for waterfowl habitats, tough 600D polyester fabric, a full-length padded seat and headrest, and a heavy-duty aluminum frame with steel reinforced joints. The frame can be adjusted for a total of six profile settings.

Duck Commander Run Way Blind

Hunters not needing quite all the features of the top-of-the-line layout blind, but who still want comfort and concealment at a great price should check out the Run Way Blind. This quality blind includes Realtree Max-4 Camo, 600D polyester fabric, a full-length padded seat and headrest and a heavy-duty aluminum frame.

Hay bale style blinds are ideal for waterfowl or whitetail deer.

Hay bale-style blinds are ideal for waterfowl or whitetail deer.

Duck Commander Bail Out Hay Bale Blind

Ever watched ducks or geese work an open field and wonder how in the world you could stay hidden enough behind a hay bale to hunt them? Try hunting from inside a hay bale! The Duck Commander Bail Out Hay Bale Blind includes a backpack carrying case to make it easy to transport to the field. It also features a rip-cord release for rapid opening of the top third of the blind. Integral brush pockets allow for the addition of natural cover for even better concealment. And this blind isn’t just for waterfowlers-side and rear windows are perfect for deer and turkey hunting.

For more information on the line of Duck Commander Waterfowl Blinds from Ameristep, or to find a retailer near you, visit

]]> 0
This Year’s Fall Turkey Forecast [VIDEO] Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:03:37 +0000 SD Turkey 2013 432Fall turkey hunting plays second fiddle to the number of spring turkey advocates, yet more and more hunters are hearing the music of the lost turkey call.

Hunting turkeys in the fall requires lots of leg work and is the perfect means of scouting for the upcoming deer and bear seasons.

This video, about the Pennsylvania fall turkey forecast, is ideal for Keystone state hunters and a good primer for anyone else thinking of tackling the fall bird challenge.

The foliage is spectacular, the weather is still relatively mild, and you don’t have to sit in one spot and shiver.

Check out this cool sporting adventure and don’t forget to bring a young friend.

Photo (top): Skunk in the Woodpile

]]> 0
Make It a Deer/Bear Combo Hunt Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:03:53 +0000 IMG_20101110_113157One of the most exciting combination hunts of fall includes whitetail deer and black bears.

Many sportsmen associate black bears with spring hunting, yet numerous states offer a fall season in conjunction with archery deer.

West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest is one prime example of public land with an ample bear population and whitetail deer.

In October and early November, bears can be hunted in the same habitat as deer, since acorns are prime feeding targets of each animal — the bruins to build fat for hibernation and the deer to build fat for the winter.

This GrowingDeer.TV video shows an exciting hunt from Arkansas and explains the process involved in bagging a monster black bear. Check your state game regulations carefully before you take this combo challenge. It’s surely one you won’t forget.

Photo (top): Grizzly Bear Lodge and Safari

]]> 0
Hunting Early Season Canada Geese Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:23:35 +0000 It’s time for early-season Canada goose. In this premiere episode of “The X,” Realtree’s new all-waterfowl hunting show, the guys from Fowled Reality head over to New York. The Empire State offers some of the best goose-hunting opportunities around, with a 15-goose-per-man daily limit. Check out the action as the team finds a plethora of opportunities abounding in the fields, in this first episode of “The X.”

]]> 0
Daddy/Daughter Outing Leads to New Discovery Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:43:28 +0000 My son just entered high school, and all of a sudden “hanging out” has become more important than going fishing with dad. As a result, I’ve been spending more time with just my daughter on the water. It’s been a bit of a transition for both of us, but we’ve had fun discovering new ways to have fun on the water without her big brother.

Greg Workman has spent 29 years working for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Despite all that time on the water, Greg discovered something new on a recent daddy/daughter fishing trip. Read about what they learned in this installment from the FWCC’s Gone Coastal blog.

It started off as your typical “let’s go fishing” kind of week for my 13-year-old daughter, Hannah, the youngest of my four children. I’ve been working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for 29 years, and my family has spent time on the water and in the woods. Our experiences are golden to me, and each one is unique.

As Friday came around, the night-before checklist was completed: batteries charged, poles, tackle and PFDs loaded in the boat, fuel and oil topped off, and the trailer hooked to the truck.

I woke up extra early to double-check the weather, which looked to be perfect. We loaded up and headed to the boat ramp before the morning rush and started our journey toward our desired fishing spot, which happens to be several miles out from the ramp in the Gulf of Mexico. Manatee and other marine life sightings heightened the excitement.

Photos: Greg Workman for FWCC

]]> 0
Where to Find Fish in the Fall Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:39:00 +0000 I know a few anglers who put away their gear when the weather starts to turn. For some of them, the fall and winter months mean hunting season. That’s cool, I’m still fishing and I end up trading some my catch for wild game for a nice change of pace.

Of course, other anglers are just fair-weather types. They just hibernate from the sport and are probably inside somewhere nursing a beer and watching sports on TV.

But for those of us who are hardcore anglers, a change of seasons just signals a change in the type of fish for which we’re casting out our lines.

For saltwater anglers like myself, it means transitioning from offshore fishing to fall/winter rockfishing. For freshwater anglers, it signals a change in target species or in where you find them. For an eye-opening look at your many fall-fishing choices, check out this great article from Field & Stream.

fall_outdoorCA1. Crappies

Crappies follow baitfish schools into bays as summer turns to fall. Look for these fish to feed here until the water temp dips below 50.

Best Fall Tactic: Skip standard tube jigs and work small stickbaits and rattle baits. Crappies are aggressive now, and bigger lures equal bigger fish.

2. Largemouths

As the temps fall, shad seek the remaining warm water in the backs of creeks. Bass are hot on their trail.

Best Fall Tactic: If the shad are holding shallow, don’t hesitate to throw a Spook-style topwater bait at them. Even in cooler water temperatures, bass will crush it.

Photos: Shore Fishermen’s Corner (top); Outdoor Canada (above)

]]> 0
Tenkara Catching On in Maryland Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:32:18 +0000 Tenkara fishing is an ancient Japanese form of fly fishing that doesn’t utilize a reel. It uses a long rod (typically telescoping) and just the line and fly to catch fish.

This style of fishing has only recently been introduced in the United States, finding popularity after having first hit our rivers in 2009. Some of the early adopters were steelhead fishermen in the Northwest, where the heavily wooded rivers and streams offered little room to backcast; the new method yielded opportunities in previously unfishable areas. The simplicity of the sport has found a willing audience among flyfishing purists.

A new area where tenkara is gaining popularity is in Maryland. Read about how tenkara is taking hold in this Baltimore Sun article.

tenkara_anglersRob Lepczyk hadn’t been in the Gunpowder River for more than five minutes on a late September morning before he felt a tug on his line. The 26-year-old Sparks resident yanked at the long rod before gently guiding the small green-and-white trout with brown spots, now flopping on the end of his line, to the water’s surface. After examining his catch, he tossed it back into the river.

Lepczyk, a guide at Great Feathers fly shop in Sparks, didn’t need a high-tech reeled fishing rod to make the catch. He instead prefers to fish tenkara, an ancient Japanese style of fly-fishing that uses a telescopic rod, typically about 12 feet long, with no reel. Attached to the end of the rod is a Kevlar line that is just as long and usually tapered — thicker near the top and thinner by the hook.

It’s essentially a more modern, more advanced form of a stick with a string tied to the end.

One morning, Lepczyk and his fishing companion, Val “Coach” Pinhey, 60, of Baltimore, had brought two of their friends to this same secluded spot on the Gunpowder to fish. Lepczyk and Pinhey fished with these simple tenkara rods while their friends fished with “Western” fly rods, with reels used for the type of fly-fishing typically practiced in the United States.

Photos: Tenkara USA (top); The Baltimore Sun (above)

]]> 0
Mandatory Harvest on Hatchery Steelhead? Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:24:44 +0000 Steelhead are the seagoing cousins of the rainbow trout. They are an extremely popular gamefish in the Pacific Northwest, so hatchery programs are popular amongst recreational anglers. Because they are a popular recreational gamefish and sportfishing licenses fund a large percentage of the budgets for state departments of fish and game (or wildlife), hatchery programs remain open despite misgivings that fisheries biologists may have about hatchery fish. They worry about hatchery fish spawning with wild fish and the resulting hybrid fish being less adapted to surviving in the wild.

These misgivings have led the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation to consider what some may believe to be counterintuitive measures. Learn about the new rules they’re considering in this article from The Billings Gazette.

steelhead_hatchery_WDFWSteelhead anglers in southeastern Washington could be required to keep all hatchery steelhead they catch if a proposed rule is adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting public comment on the rule that is part of a package of proposed rule changes dealing with recreational fishing. The retention requirement is designed to reduce the number of hatchery fish that would otherwise escape harvest and possibly spawn with wild steelhead.

Biologists fear hatchery fish allowed to spawn with threatened wild steelhead will dilute the genetic traits of the wild fish and make them less able to survive.

The rule, which would eliminate catch-and-release fishing for hatchery steelhead, is being proposed for all hatchery steelhead fisheries in southeastern Washington, including the Grande Ronde, Snake and Walla Walla rivers. Anglers are already required to keep any hatchery steelhead they catch from the Tucannon River and from the Methow River in north-central Washington.

Photos: The Billings Gazette (top); WDFW (above)

]]> 0
Tagged Bass Reveal Secrets Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:17:22 +0000 I’ve been happy to have participated in various fish-tagging efforts over the years. You would think that in this day and age, everything that there is to be known about the most popular fish we catch has been learned. However, tagging programs have revealed a ton of new information on various species in recent years.

While tagging operations have been famously done on certain ocean species like tuna and sharks (remember Nat Geo’s show Shark Men?), I wasn’t aware of any tagging operations on any freshwater species.

Turns out there have been some. Read what one tagging operation on largemouth bass, conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, revealed about this most popular freshwater gamefish in this Bassmaster article.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven when we’re not competing, professional anglers are often on the water working with sponsors and media on things like catalog shoots and media junkets. It’s a big part of what we do, and sometimes these efforts bring unexpected results.

During a recent photo session for Hildebrandt, I caught a bass weighing approximately 7 pounds. Although the fish was impressive, what really grabbed our attention was the small yellow tag protruding from its back.

At first, I couldn’t read it. But once the slimy coating was removed, I noticed the word “reward.” I could also see that it was a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation (FWC) tag with an 800 number and web address for reporting the catch.

Boating trophy-size fish during a photo shoot is always rewarding, but to catch one with a tag gave added meaning to the term. This fish was worth $200!

Photos: Bassmaster

]]> 0