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NEO Sportsman Show speakers pass on tips and tricks

By ART HOLDEN Outdoor Editor Published: January 28, 2017 5:00 AM
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MOUNT HOPE -- If you missed this past weekend's Northeast Ohio Sportsman Show, or attended, but didn't get to hear every seminar, I've compiled a list of tips and tricks from the many speakers who took center stage at the event.

PUT A LITTLE 'STING' IN YOUR BAIT -- Are you missing short-biting fish in cold conditions? Fishing guide Doug Stewart and Lake Erie charter boat captain Dale Grimm say attaching stinger hooks to your presentations will make all the difference.

"When the water's cold, saugeye will nip at the bait," said Stewart, an inland lake guide who lives on Buckeye Lake in central Ohio. "Once the water warms up, you can take the stinger off because they're hungry and they'll swallow the bait."

Grimm says it's the same situation for the early Lake Erie walleye jigging bite, when you're trying to catch males on the beds.

"Always fish a stinger hook in March and April," said Grimm. "Ninety percent of the fish aren't feeding, they're protecting their beds.The walleye will pin it to the bottom, and when you feel that weight, set the hook. Most of the time you'll catch them on that stinger hook."

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THE JIG'S UP --- Grimm says if you're only buying one jig, buy a craft fur jig (as opposed to rubber or deer-hair skirts). The craft fur produces the most bubbles and sways and moves with the slightest twitch.

FISH OF A LIFETIME -- The charter boat captains at this past weekend's show were a bit sad, because the warm weather was perfect to get on Lake Erie. In fact, the bite was hot this past weekend, as 10 and 12-pounders were being caught.

"If you want a fish of a lifetime," said Grimm, "fish in April and May, or November, December and January."

CRAPPIE BITE -- Stewart said you can't beat a Berkley Gulp minnow (smelt color) for panfish.

Buckeye Lake is a hot spot for crappie and Stewart uses a Gulp minnow on a 1/32nd-ounce or 1/16th-ounce chartrouse or orange jig. In deeper water, he'll add a slip bobber on 4-pound test line and vertical jig it.

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"Bluegill, perch, crappie, you'll catch everything on that," said Stewart.

RUBS TELL THE STORY -- Wisconsin author and deer hunter Bob Mercier, who has no shortage of confidence in his hunting system, says analyzing a deer rub correctly will put you on the "king" of the herd.

"The dominant buck beds on the shredded side of the rub," said Mercier. "He owns that land. He'll be bedded between two doe bedding areas."

Mercier says that when you understand his tactics and trust the wind, you can find the alpha male.

"All you have to be is scent free and in camo. Buy a squeeze bottle (a hunter without powder isn't a deer hunter) and a compass," he said. "It's easy to see once you understand what you're looking for."

DOE OR BUCK TRAIL -- There are lots of deer trails in the woods, but Mercier says the trail of a dominant buck is different. If you get down on your knees and look, you'll see an imaginary box 20 inches off the ground, 33 inches wide, and 5-feet off the ground. In fact, he often walks with a 33-inch stick stuck in his belt.

That's the trail you want to take.

COYOTE HUNTING- -- Smokey McNicholas grew up using piano wire and guitar strings to snare animals, and now is one of the top coyote trappers in his home state of West Virginia. Like Mercier, he knows the importance of the correct measurements.

For coyote snaring, he says you need a 12-inch loop, with the top of the loop 24 inches off the ground and a 24-inch stake.

If your method is to call coyotes in, McNicholas has tips for that, too.

"Get back in the brush, don't put your back against a tree like you would in turkey hunting," he said. "Get broke up and as scent free as you can.

"Then," he added, "use a rabbit with movement and scent it to take the focus off you."

LICKING BRANCH -- When McNicholas isn't trapping, he's busy with his deer lure business, and his list of scents and lures is vast and extensive, including lures for bears and coons. But, one of his best concoctions is a preorbital lure that is taken from glands in the eyes of deer. It's the scent left when deer rub their heads on branches, and other deer lick to see who is in the area.

Hunter Jim Riggle has used the preorbital lure to kill some big bucks, making "licking branches" to see exactly what he has on his hunting grounds.

"With a licking branch and a good trail camera, you can locate your inventory and find out the pecking order," said Riggle. "All you're doing is what the deer do naturally."

The curiosity of not knowing who the deer is that left that scent keeps the bucks coming back.

All you need is a pliable branch 4-5-feet off the ground, break it and mash it to make it fiberous and then apply a few drops of the preorbital scent and watch the show begin.

"Only check your trail camera once or twice a month at mid-day," Riggle suggested. "Then in hunting season, use the wind and set up a stand by the licking branch."

CALLING IN THAT GOBBLER -- Getting turkey to within 100 yards of your setup is the easy part. Getting them into shooting range is another thing.

Turkey guide Greg Abbas says calling softer is the key in this situation.

"If they hang up, you're calling too loud," said Abbas, of Michigan. "Remember, a turkey's hearing is four times better than that of humans. So it's like screaming at them."

Abbas suggests a push button call for pulling the bird in the last 75 yards.

"It's not a beginner's toy," said Abbas of the push button call. "Use it because it has too many advantages."

The call does a good purr, allows you to be directional with your call, and easily changes volume.

"Then," said Abbas, "make (the gobbler) believe he has another 75 yards to go ... then shoot him when he's closing the distance."


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