Fish, Bears and Birds


Spring is a smorgasbord when it comes to available game to chase. Get after it!

By Jace Bauserman

If you’re a hunting enthusiast, spring means one thing: Options! The woods are alive with life and the water is bubbling with pre-spawn rough fish. The question for the die-hard outdoorsman often becomes: What do I chase? Our recommendation … all of them!

Below are tried-and-true tips you can trust to help you boat more fish, blast more longbeards and BBQ more bears. Let’s dive in.

Hailing from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Tony Peterson is no stranger to the water. Side of having a serious smallmouth addiction, Peterson loves to spend days on the water shish kabobbing rough fish.

“It’s all about finding the right water temperature,” Peterson said. “We could talk about gear, about how it’s important to shoot under fish, but most serious bowfishermen have the right gear and know all about shooting under fish.

“Start checking the water temperature regularly on the bodies of water you bowfish. Carp are spawning in mid-60-degree and up to 70-degree water temperatures. When the water hits these temps, you see the big movement into the shallows. A lot of times, because of the air temperature, we get fooled about how warm the water actually is. Ninety-degree days aren’t uncommon in late May, but that doesn’t mean the water is super warm. Some bodies of water are going to warm faster than others. A shallow backwater river system will warm faster than a big, deep bowl of a lake like Mille Lacs. Pay attention to what the water temperature is holding at in shallow bays.

“The type of bottom and water clarity also effect temperature. Clear water warms slower than murky water. When it comes to bottom composition, just know that a mud bottom will warm faster than a rocky bottom. All of these factors play a role on how and when spawning fish move into shallow water.”

I call him the Bear Man, and for good reason. Jim Brennan has spent countless springs both hunting and guiding bear hunters. Currently, Brennan is in Saskatchewan. The lakes and the like are still frozen, but he’s up setting baits where he can, and in a couple of weeks, will have pilots drop him in remote locations where he will camp, setup baits and get things in order for clients.

“I look for high areas,” Brennan said. “I like to place baits on a ridge. This way, when you get wind currents and thermals going in different directions, scent will carry. I also look for waterways. Just like whitetails, bears love waterways. They will wander along creeks and streams looking for beavers, skunk cabbage and rotted logs they can tear up. Waterways just funnel great bear movement.

“I also really like to focus on areas where thicker cover meets more open areas. I like to place my baits right on the edges of these areas. Bigger boars feel safer and more concealed near thicker cover. They don’t have to cross big openings to access the bait. They can hit the bait and be right back in thick cover quickly.

“You’ll also want to pay really close attention to the tree you pick,” Brennan continued. “I don’t think a lot of guys and gals put enough emphasis on this. I want a tree that faces north or south. I don’t want to be facing into the sun all afternoon. Also, I like to get lower in a tree. You don’t need to be 18-feet up like you do for a whitetail. You can get lower, and this also helps you achieve a good shot angle.”

When it comes to those late-season longbeards, yours truly is going to offer his two cents. Just know that the turkey rut has progressed, throngs of hens have been bred and if you’re hunting open-to-anyone dirt, the birds have been pressured.

Hens are sitting on nests and though a tom or two will still be on-the-hunt for a willing girl, many boy birds will start running together again. As these boy-bands reassemble, they get a bit bullyish. Often, a group of Alpha’s running together isn’t thrilled to see a newcomer in the area, which makes decoying an effective late-season tactic. My advice: Just let the decoys work and leave the calls in the vest. Like a school-yard gang, two or more birds traveling together know they have strength in numbers, and I’ve had excellent luck with both jake and full-strut tom decoys.

Another top late-season tactic includes run-and-gun with a bow-mounted decoy or running a fan and going on a reaping mission with a shotgun. If you go this route, find the birds and go right at them.

Whatever you decide to do, have a blast and make it a wonderful spring!

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