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Gary Howey

” IN 2017

The Edge When it comes to Hunting By Gary Howey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

September 4, 2015

I have hunted for as long as I can remember, cherishing every trip and the memories they created!

My first hunting trips were with my Dad, Cal near Watertown, South Dakota where the pheasant population was +unbelievable. It was more of a long walk than a hunt for us kids, because Dad had only one shotgun, his old Model 97.

When we were young, Dad would take us along hunting which we loved, as we would always stop at Tinker Town west of town for an early lunch That was where we got our first store bought hamburger and a pop. We were not really hunting, just sharing the experience, as my brother and I were Dad’s bird dogs, flushing, running down and retrieving the birds.

Even though I never had the opportunity to shoot a bird, I could not wait until opening day to spend some quality time with my Dad in the outdoors.

Back then, I noticed certain areas always held more birds, so if I wanted to be where the action was, I needed to be with the group of hunters walking through those areas. At times, there would not be a whole lot of difference from one spot or another, but these subtle changes seemed attract and hold the birds.

As I grew older and started to hunt more, I would always hunt these types of areas as something drew both the birds and me to these spots.

These areas were not always the best habitat in the field, with the most cover, sometimes they would be the worst cover in the fields, but they held birds.

I noticed the same thing when I did a lot of depredation trapping; some areas just had more sign than others did, so the furbearers were relating to these areas just as the pheasants had.

What I am referring to is an edge, a change or something that stands out in a field.

It does not have to be a drastic change, just a change, as wildlife, just as I was attracted to the change or something that is different.

It can be a location where the pasture comes up against a shelterbelt or a slough or as simple as a big cottonwood standing alone in the middle of a pasture. It creates an edge or a change, these areas attract the animal’s eye just as it attracts ours, they are curious, and they have to go over to see what is there.

I call it the edge effect, as all wildlife will relate to these edges.

It is a fact; a section of pastureland will hold less wildlife than a field with several edgesPic- The Edge

Anytime I am hunting and have an option as to which area I want to hunt or walk through, you can bet that my dog Mojo and I will take the area with some type of land or terrain change or an edge. I have found these areas will always hold more birds, deer and other species of wildlife.

So if the edge or a change in terrain or crop holds attracts birds, it just makes sense, that if you are developing some type of land for habitat to attract and hold wildlife an edge effect should be figured into the plan!

Instead of planting one solid field of grass, why not mix in a strip of legumes, shelterbelts, food plot or some other type of planting, creating edges in the field.

If you are lucky enough to have a slough in the same field, you will have all the edge you need and what wildlife needs to survive and flourish.

Not only will wildlife use the area to loaf or nest in; they will have several food sources and shelter when the weather gets bad. Which means, your pheasants and deer, the critters you are trying to attract and hold on your land will not need to go to the neighbor’s land for food, water etc? They will have everything they need on your land. Because you have what the critters need and your neighbor won’t shoot those birds or that buck you’ve been watching all year, as, they won’t see as many birds or that buck you’ve been watching all year, as they will take up residence in the excellent habitat on your land?

You have created several different areas or changes in your field, edges the wildlife will relate to and use.

What you have also created is an ideal hunting scenario, because you know t the critters will be moving along the edge of these areas and by hunting them properly, you will become a much more successful hunter.

At the same time you will get satisfaction from knowing this was something you developed, creating not only an area where good numbers of birds hatch and live, the deer breed, raise their young and bed, so you have created an area where through proper management, excellent bird populations and trophy bucks will be found.

It is simple, the edge attracts wildlife and by developing, more edges or changes

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