Turkey Decoy Setup Tips

With spring turkey season well underway in many parts of the country, most social media feeds are blowing-up with pictures of big birds, long beards and lengthy spurs.  How do these folks manage to get such magnificent birds?  While there are no magic recipes for bagging a wary old tom, there are some general rules of thumb that make the process a little bit easier. Aside from simply being where the birds are, one of the biggest items to consider is use and placement of decoys.

Strutter CloseupNow—from a distance—almost all decoys are going to look somewhat like a turkey.  However, to pull those wary birds in those last few, precious yards to get them within range, an ultra-realistic decoy pays for itself many times over.  Dave Smith Decoys makes the most realistic decoys money can buy and I can attribute many birds to the surreal, almost too-lifelike decoys they provide.

When setting up your decoys try to keep one thing in mind; visibility.  If they can’t see the decoy, that defeats the purpose of using one in the first place.  Having visibility will often play into what areas you can effectively hunt.  DSD Jake and Breeding HenA large, open field with a food source is ideal; provided the grass is not too tall.  On the other hand, hunting a 200 acre field will take more than just decoy visibility to draw in birds.

Early in the season there is typically a lot of competition between toms around receptive
hens.  This is when a breeding pair such as DSD’s Jake and Submissive Hen can make a deadly combo.  This combination can attract both older, mature toms as well as younger, aggressive gobblers and jakes looking for a fight.  If you are in an area with mature birds, your best bet may be to swap your jake for a Strutter decoy with a jake tail fan.  Territorial gobblers usually will not let a jake set up shop in his back yard.  Keep enough space between your Jake/Strutter decoy and your Submissive Hen that a strutting tom can walk between them, with your male decoy facing the blind at about 8-10 yards for a short bow shot.   Breeding PairI would not recommend placing them any closer to the blind as this can make for a tougher bow shot. With a gun you could stretch that range slightly, but I still like to keep the decoy within 20 yards.

Later in the season the number of receptive hens dwindles and toms will be willing to cover more distance looking for that lone hen.  They probably have been in more than one skirmish with other toms or groups of jakes by this point, so I’ll typically abandon the male decoy and go with one or two hen decoys.  My favorite is DSD’s Leading hen decoy.  Place her about 10-15 yards out from your blind with her facing or quartering towards the front of the blind.  Decoy SpreadThe idea behind this is the tom will cut her off trying to get her attention, putting him within 8-10 yards for an easy shot.

Regardless of which phase of the season it is, you can never go wrong with the Feeding and Upright hen combination.  I like to place the feeding hen within a couple of yards of the blind in order to ease the tom’s concern about the blind.  However, actual location isn’t all that critical as long as she is visible.  You can also add a little motion to the decoy by using a pull-string (fishing line) or one of the Motion Madness Decoys DIY assemblies and you’ll be almost guaranteed to draw the bird that has “seen it all” to your setup.  Upright hens are a great decoy for just about every situation or setup.  Feeding Hen 2Place your upright hen where you want your shot to be and get ready for action!

Keep in mind, there are multiple ways to skin this proverbial cat.  There is no fail-safe method to getting up-close-and-personal with these fickle birds.  If you find birds aren’t responding to your setup (even if it has worked in the past), switch it up!

Calvin Merriams

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Brett Bueltel – 2016 North Carolina Gobbler

It had been a couple of years since I had made the trip back to North Carolina to hunt.  To say I was a little excited when I got the call from my good friend Forrest to come on down and spend the weekend chasing gobblers would be an understatement.  North Carolina wild turkey season was already in full swing, and I was itching to get back to chasing the elusive thunderchicken after a dismal whitetail season last fall.

20160416_NCGobbler4_SFI checked out of work around noon on the 16th and made the 430 mile drive from Cincinnati, Ohio down to western North Carolina.  Minutes after pulling into Forrest’s driveway, I hopped out of the truck, threw on my camo, and we were on the road again to head to a property to scout for the next morning.  Less than 30 minutes after arriving at the property, we were watching a Tom strut 300-350 yards away.  He was going to be in a perfect spot for the next mornings hunt.  As the sun started dipping behind the horizon in the distance, we packed up and started the short trek back to the truck.  Gobbles erupted off to our left 100 yards or so away and immediately smiles hit our faces.

After making it back to the truck, we headed back into town to meet up with SELFILMED’s Brad Blackwelder and our good friend Ben for the evening.  The 20 minute drive back to town gave us time to discuss our plans for the following morning.  After grabbing a bite to eat, we headed back to “The Shed” where we ended up staying up much later than we should have game-planning for the next morning, telling stories, and shooting the bull before finally getting to bed around 1:00 AM.

20160416_NCGobbler2_SFWhen the alarm clocks started going off around 5:00 AM that following morning, the thought of the strutting gobbler from the night before made crawling out from under my warm/comfy sheets just a little bit easier.  I threw on my HECS suit, Sitka Gear, and a couple extra layers to help fight off the unseasonably cool temps before loading up the truck and heading out to the property we were going to be hunting.

Under the cover of darkness, we made our way to a point in the field within approximately 75 yards of where we had watched the strutter the night before.  We setup a couple DSD hen decoys about 20 yards in front of us, and positioned ourselves a few steps inside of the wood-line.  I’m usually a bow hunting strictly kind of guy, but ultimately, we decided to go after that bird with the shotgun based on several factors.  Forrest had actually killed this gobblers friend from a blind less than a week prior, within yards of where we were setup.  Knowing he would be much tougher to call into bow range of a blind, coupled with the short amount of time I would have to hunt before heading back to Ohio, we decided this would be our best option to get a bird on the ground.

20160416_NCGobbler3_SFWe weren’t setup more than 5 minutes before we hear a couple gobbles ringing through the woods behind us.  Then minutes later one sounded off less than 100 yards away in the direction we saw the gobbler work towards the night before.  Several more minutes had now passed and by this time we could tell the birds behind us had now flown down based on the sounds of their gobbles.  All of a sudden movement catches my eye and I turn my head to see a bird pitching down into the field in front of us…then another.  My first thought was it was a couple of hens, but after hitting the ground their heads immediately started changing colors and they hesitantly started in the direction of the DSD hen decoys.  I could hear spitting/drumming off in the distance the gobbler had sounded off from earlier in the morning on the roost, but the field topography kept him hidden from my view.  A couple more minutes passed and I finally catch sight of the gobbler about 75 yards away.

By this time, one of the two jakes and another hen had almost made their way into the decoy setup.  The gobbler was just about into gun range when all of a sudden another jake comes sprinting in from our left.  I hear Forrest say “kill him”…”kill him now”.  I pulled up the gun and settled the fiber optic sight square on his waddles as he turned in full strut to face my direction…BANG!  The birds in the field scattered and headed off in every direction, except for one…  Laying there at 51 yards was bird #1 for 2016.  Less than an hour after sunrise and turkey tag #1 had been filled!

20160422_Benchmade_SFAfter gathering up my bird, a few congratulatory high-fives, and a few pictures we headed into town to get some breakfast to celebrate.  While enjoying a warm stack of pancakes and country ham, we decided we would go and try to fill Forrest’s 2nd turkey tag.  Long story short, after an intense 30 minute encounter with a longbeard at 8 yards, we got it done and he stuck a Grim Reaper whitetail special in the 11 ring.

The following morning ended in an unsuccessful hunt for Forrest, Ben and I.  We saw and heard birds, but nothing in range.  Brad, however, was able to fill his first tag for the year.  I’ll let him fill you all in on the story.

All in all, it was another successful trip down to North Carolina and I was able to spend time with old friends doing something we love to do…turkey hunt.

20160416_NCGobbler_SF

Bird Stats:

  • 19 lbs. (estimated weight)
  • 9 1/8″ beard
  • 1-1/16″ and 1-1/8″ spurs

Brett’s Gear:

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Turkey Hunting Setup Tips and Gear Preparation

As winter gives way to spring, and the emergence of fresh new life dominates the country side, I find it impossible to keep my mind off the upcoming turkey season.  My thoughts are constantly drifting back and forth between successful hunts, and others that, let’s just say, didn’t go so well due to lack of preparation.  Turkey hunting with a bow is a challenge in of itself, but when you add in the extra component of filming…well, things can get interesting quick!  I still remember the first turkey I ever killed with a bow.  I had every intention of the hunt being SELFILMED, but several key factors led to a botched attempt. It was complete luck that I actually managed to arrow a bird after what seemed to be a blown hunt.

2011 Ohio

Since that first attempt at SELFILMing, I have learned that a little extra planning can save a lot of grief in the field.  Carrying so much gear tends to add a lot of time and noise to your setup process, and both have played a part in a few of my hunts.  As a result, I have found that developing and practicing a setup routine helps to mitigate some of the headaches that come along with filming your own hunts.

IMG_7569Before turkey season opens, I like to lay out all of my gear and systematically organize everything into groups that represent a “phase” of my setup.  This allows me to pack everything so that I can unload quickly, stay organized, and setup with as little noise as possible.  We’ll get more into exactly what those phases are in a moment.  Before we do that, let’s think for a minute about exactly what we’ll be taking along with us on our hunts.  My gear list generally consists of the following items: bow, ground blind, blind chair, video camera, tripod, secondary angle camera(s), turkey calls, decoys (2 to 4), and various other accessories.  Your gear list will likely differ from my own, but it is important to keep efficiency in mind when you pack.  Try to pack your gear in a way that allows you to distribute the weight of everything as evenly as possible.  I also recommend you separate your gear between items that stay in the blind with you, and items that do not.  The reason for this I’ll explain in the first phase of my setup.

Phase 1 – Blind Setup:  When I arrive at my hunting location, the first thing I like to do IMG_7571is pop up my blind.  This is typically the noisiest part of setting up, and so I like to get it out of the way before I do anything else.  After I pop my blind up, I also like to throw everything in blind that will remain in the blind with me through out my hunt.  This allows me to keep my gear organized, and I can avoid the need to get in and out multiple times.  It also allows me to keep my gear dry in the event it is raining or heaven forbid, snowing.

Phase 2 – Decoy/Decoy Camera Setup:  The next thing I do after setting up my blind and re-organizing my gear is set up my DSD Decoys and my Decoy Camera.  Decoy setup deoyc_camand Blind setup are the only two phases of your setup that require you to be out in the open, so it is important to complete both before there is enough light to be detected by any nearby birds.  In the upcoming days, we will be releasing an in-depth article going over some decoy setup best practices to help you maximize the effectiveness of your decoy spread.  Make sure you don’t miss out, as decoy setup can often times be more important than anything else, even calling.

Phase 3 – Camera Setup:  Now that we have out decoys ready to go, it’s time to get in the blind and start setting up our camera gear.  It is important to take note of your decoy placement in relation to the window(s) on your blind.  If you don’t set your camera up in a position that allows you to shoot to all of your decoys, you are setting yourself up for failure.  Being right handed, I like to keep my camera set up on my right side, and I usually sit sideways in my blind with the camera tripod positioned so that one of the legs is between my legs.  This allows me to face the camera at all times so I can see the view finder, but I am also sitting in a comfortable position to shoot out the front of my blind.  Last but not least, I typically like to keep my camera slightly further back in the blind than I am, this also allows me to shoot further to the right side of my front window if necessary.  More often than not, if a bird commits to coming all the way to your decoys, they are going to be right in the thick of them providing you an ideal shot opportunity, but you don’t want to leave any stone unturned as nature has a strange way of humbling us if we give it the chance.

Phase 4 – Gear Organization: The last phase of my setup process may seem like a trivial concern, but if you don’t stay organized in the blind, you can sabotage your hunt just as quickly as with anything else.  Mark sure you have quick access to your calls, binos, YOUR BOW!  I cannot stress this enough.  Think through every possible scenario you can imagine.  In the event you miss a bird, do you have a follow up arrow close at hand?  If a bird hangs up at 50 yards, do you have your favorite slate call near by to do a few soft clucks and purrs?  You can certainly get by with a lot more movement and noise inside a ground blind than you could without, but nothing is a given.  You’ll be doing yourself a huge favor by avoiding any extra movement other than what is absolutely necessary.

IMG_7573So now that we’ve taken a 30,000 foot look at my setup process, what’s next?  PRACTICE!  Get out your ground blind and set it up, figure out how long it takes you to set it up, and make sure you become proficient at it.  If you can’t setup your blind quickly and quietly in the comfort of your own back yard during daylight, chances are you won’t have any more luck in the dark when you are in a rush.  Make sure you are comfortable shooting out of your blind in a sitting position.  Setup your camera and practice filming targets while you shoot.  This is the best way to figure out what is going to work for you when you are hunting.

Filming your hunts can add an exciting new challenge to an already difficult task, but failure to adequately prepare yourself can quickly turn you off from an otherwise enjoyable hobby.  If you are considering filming for the first time this year, make sure you carefully think things through.  For many of us, we don’t have many opportunities at a bird with a bow each year, so it is important to capitalize when those opportunities present themselves.

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Dave Smith DSD Decoy Giveaway!

Spring has sprung and it is time for another Dave Smith Decoy giveaway!

Big thanks to Dave Smith Decoys!

Click here to enter!

20160402_DSDGiveaway

 

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Late Winter/Early Spring Whitetail Scouting

Pinch PointAs mother nature slowly but surely loosens its grip on us here in the Midwest, there is no better time to be out scouting for whitetails to help increase your odds of success this coming fall.  I’ve found some of the best times to be out scouting begins immediately after your whitetail season ends for the year. Whitetail Deer TracksMany hunters would rather spend the cold and sometimes snowy parts of February and March watching college basketball or sitting inside the comforts of their own home wishing it was spring turkey season already.  However, die-hard whitetail hunters know their season doesn’t stop after the final bell of the season has rung…there is a lot of work to do after your hunting season closes to prepare for next fall.

Trails in SnowTrails – Towards the end of the fall whitetail season, depending on how long your season lasts in your home state, trails start to appear out of nowhere and can be very prominent on the forest floor.  Take note of these trails now, and begin looking for good treestand locations based on available cover for late season hunting spots.  Trail up CreekbankWhile the trails seem to stick out like a sore thumb right now, come spring/summer the vegetation on the forest floor grows and may hide the trails come September/October.  This makes it much tougher to locate closer to hunting season.

Whitetail Deer Beds in SnowBedding Areas – One of my favorite times of the year to go out and locate bedding areas is usually a couple of days after a heavy snow.  The snow (or lack thereof in spots) makes it impossible to miss the bare three-foot wide semi-circular beds on the ground.  Take note of these areas, and with the help of the new knowledge you have gained of trails leading into and out of these areas, you will be able to better choose where to hang your stands to intercept deer as they move between feeding and bedding areas.

Creek CrossingCreek Crossings – Depending on the width of the creek and how steep the banks are on either side, sometimes the only indication deer are crossing the area are faint tracks at the edge of the creek.  Other times it can look like a deer highway!  Much like the trails mentioned above, these creek crossings can be seen much easier as the ground vegetation dies off or with the remnants of a light snow is on the ground.  These crossings can sometimes be great natural funnels depending on the topography of the surrounding land.

Shed as it laysWhile you are out putting all of these miles on your boots, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for sheds.  Follow trails, walk fence lines, creek crossings, and walk any large late season food sources.  Great FindI have also had luck following faint blood trails in snow on my way to a newly dropped shed.  They sometimes seem to hide in plain sight.

We hope you find these tips beneficial to you, and hopefully they will help you out come this fall.  Make sure you stop by our Facebook page and share your success with the rest of SELFILMED fans.  You may end up on the homepage of the SELFILMED website!

 Want to stay up-to-date on what’s happening on the SELFILMED Blog and be the first to know about future giveaways and promotions?  Enter your email address at top right to follow us and you’ll receive notifications by email the instant new articles are posted!

 

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SELFILMED Struggles: Packing In Your Gear

Let me bring light to probably one of the clearest cut and understandable struggles of WHITETAIL PACK-INselfilming, packing all your gear in!  We as SELFILMers take pride in capturing top-notch footage of each hunt, not just for the fact of producing good Hunt Vids but creating a digital copy of the memories and stories we live while in the great outdoors.

SELFILMED hunters defy the odds and go an extra mile to do what we love and just like everything else, there are pros and cons to filming your own hunts.  For one reason or the other we as SELFILMers have decided that it is just too much trouble or unfair to have a buddy with you at all times to capture hunts, plus the addition of another hunter  doubles the scent, doubles the movement and the two may have totally different hunting styles that causes friction.

So now you have made the call to SELFILM your own hunts. Great! Welcome to our world, but being down to a one person show… doesn’t mean you cut back in gear. Below you will find a short list of gear that I pack-in to my tree or blind.

SELFILMED PACKBrad’s Gear List:

Muddy Tree Base – Muddy Camera Arm – Manfrotto 501 fluid head – Canon XA10 – wireless mic – (2)  back up batteries – (2) GoPro Hero 3 – (2) Joby flex mounts – (3) back up batteries – Nikon D5100 – (2) lens – Bow (any weapon) – Binos – Rangefinder – Calls – bow hangers – Benchmade knife – extra clothing – etc…..

There also a lot of times that we are packing in blinds/stands/sticks, decoys (turkey/deer) to some of the most remote locations in western Colorado or central Ohio. But we never sacrifice on our gear. To capture good footage you must take the gear.SELFILMED PACK IN ELK

Our best advice to becoming more efficient in SELFILMing, practice…practice…practice. Layout all of your gear, get it in your pack and get familiar with where you want stuff to be stored. This makes a huge impact when unloading, setting up and repacking after the hunt in the dark.

Looking for the Kill spot.

Basically just get familiar with you gear and know where everything is stored.  I have found that I like a pack to be between 1200 cubic inches and 3000 cubic inches, nothing smaller and nothing bigger. That may seem like a huge size difference but the 3000 cubic inch pack is my go-to in late season whitetail woods. It gives me the extra room for heavier outerwear without compromising room for filming gear.

If you have any questions or would like SF PACK-IN DECOYanymore tips to SELFILMing, feel free to contact us by Facebook or email.

Good Luck and be SELFILMED SF TURKEY PACK OUT

 

 

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2016 NWTF Convention Highlights

13A 4 1/2 hour drive home to Ohio from Nashville, TN, that turned into a 12+ hour drive thanks to the afternoon snow storm, gave me plenty of time to reflect on my experiences at the 2016 NWTF Convention.  If you’ve read my NWTF Overview articles in the past (2014 or 2015), then you are well aware this is not the first time I have left Nashville daydreaming of spring and the forthcoming turkey season, the convention always seems to have that effect on me.  But the extra jab from mother nature this year in the form of endless snow seemed to amplify those feelings, as did some of the excitement at this years show.

It is really hard to go to the NWTF Convention and experience everything there is to offer in one weekend.  There is simply too much to do and not enough time to do it.  So this year, we decided to shake things up a little bit and make sure we spent a decent amount of our time focusing on things we have neglected in the past.  We typically spend the vast majority of our time wandering through the aisles of new gear, outfitters, etc. inside the actual exhibition hall.  And while there is a lot to see there, it is important to remember the convention is so much more than a shopping opportunity.

2This year, I took the time to appreciate some of the smaller details of the Convention.  In the past years, I always glanced at the taxidermy displays at the entrance of the show, but typically I didn’t take much time to look at them except to snap a picture or two of the mounts that caught my eye.  When I actually took the opportunity to focus in on the fine details and artist’s thought put into those mounts, I was amazed.  One display in particular I thought was really neat was a smoke phased turkey.  By itself, the bird was a beautiful animal, but the artist who did the taxidermy work added more by portraying the bird feeding on a grape-vine.  It is one thing to recreate the animal in a realistic post, but it is another to tie in, and 1recreate a scene that very likely has occurred in its life.  However, even for those taxidermist who do not go so far as to recreate a specific scene, it is amazing the detail that they put into each mount.  Right down to positioning the tongue of a turkey while gobbling, or reproducing veins and muscles in a deer’s face.  It is easy to overlook the fact that a taxidermist is more than just a person who enables you to keep your trophy in your house.  They are artists, artists who bring that animal back to life and help to celebrate its magnificence.  It is clear that like any artist, some are better than others, but a few possess a real gift.  In the future, I will definitely do a little bit more research before casually selecting a taxidermist.

Another area of the convention I generally walk right past is the kids zone.  I have a 6-year-old girl, and a soon to be 4-year-old son, both have shown a decent amount of interest in hunting with Dad. After strolling through the Kids Zone, I have realized I may not be doing all that I can to get them ready when that time comes.  Virtual hunting booth7s allowed kids to fire darts at video sequences of live animals in an attempt to teach kids about shot placement.  Now I don’t have a projector or a pressure sensitive screen at my house, but I can definitely print of some large photos and turn them loose providing real-time feedback.  I also pride myself in making sure I keep my wife and I’s NWTF memberships updated each year, yet I have neglected to take the opportunity to sign either of my kids up for the NWTF’s Jakes program.  What I had always wrote off as a place for kids turned out to be perhaps a greater learning opportunity for Dad than it may have been for my children.  Thanks to the Kid Zone, which I have walked passed a dozen times, I’ll be putting a lot more time into preparing my kids to take over the tradition of hunting in our family.

12Speaking of learning opportunities, the seminars and calling competitions are always a great place to gather knowledge.  Sitting this year and listening to the pro’s as they do their best to “talk turkey”, I was floored by how good their calling was.  More importantly, listening to some of the dialogue between the callers and the judges, I was amazed to hear how much time they practice with their calls.  I mean, we are talking about having a call in your mouth 365 days a year.  We all want to call like the pros, but very few of us actually want to practice like them.  I know I am guilty of waiting until 3 weeks before the season before I even think of practicing, and then I wonder why my purrs sound more like a squeal, or my cutting ends up as one slurred note fading into another.  Just like the taxidermy displays, it was evident that these guys were artists as well, musicians in a way.  Jimmy Hendrix didn’t just pick up a guitar and make great hits his first attempt, it took lots of practice.  I supposed it is silly to hope we could do the same with a mouth call, or slate.  Needless to say, I’ll have a turkey call close at hand from now until turkey season.

All in all, the NWTF Convention this year was much the same, and yet vastly different. As I stated earlier, it is hard to see everything in only a few days.  I have to admit, I really 8enjoyed spending a little more time focusing on some of the things I have missed out on, or ignored in the past.  But the exhibition hall still has a lot to offer.  I always take the opportunity to grab some new calls, and talk one on one with some of the industry experts.  Of course, a couple of us had to stop by the Benchmade booth and get custom laser engraving done on our Benchmade Hunt knives.  I would be remiss if I did not once again touch on how awesome the Gaylord 14Opryland Resort and Hotel was.  We were lucky enough to get an atrium view this year from our room, and it the middle of winter, it is priceless to be able to walk out on your balcony and overlook a tropical paradise in the middle of Tennessee.  I think I also put on a few pounds eating at many of the delicious restaurants available inside the hotel as well.

No matter how many times I go to the NWTF Convention, It never seems to get old.  If you have not taken the time to visit before, I highly recommend you do.  If you enjoy turkey hunting in the slightest, you won’t find yourself in a more appealing atmosphere this time of year.  One word of caution however, if you plan to visit only one day, Sunday is the day to do it as the lines for admission are a tiny bit shorter.  Last but not least, if you are not already a member, go to the NWTF’s website at http://www.ntwf.org and sign up for your membership today.  For $35 a year, you help guarantee the future tradition of hunting in this country will be alive and well for future generations.

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Dave Smith Decoys – Production and 2016 NWTF Update

Dave Smith Decoys are widely regarded as the embodiment of perfection in a hunting decoy.  No other company comes even close to producing decoys that are as realistic, let alone as durable as those bearing the DSD name.  A reputation DSD is proud to have, but also a reputation that brings a huge demand for products.  Over the past few years, that demand has become so great it was nearly impossible for Dave Smith Decoys to keep up with.  As a result, wait times for many DSD products have increased, and availability has been limited.  As a business owner, this may not be the worst of problems, after all nobody should be upset that they make the most sought after product in their respective market.  But the guys at Dave Smith Decoys don’t only pride themselves on the quality of their decoys, they also strive to constantly supply their customers with product, and excellent customer service.

1Not long ago, I had the chance to speak with Brad Cochran, Co-Owner of Dave Smith Decoys to talk about some changes at DSD.  The biggest and most exciting change, DSD recently moved their production efforts into a new facility.  That facility will be more efficient than the last, allowing DSD to better meet the demand of their customers while still  maintaining the supreme quality2 DSD is known for.  When asked what exactly this means for overall productivity, Brad said, “While we don’t anticipate that it will ever be ‘easy’ to get our product, we do anticipate better availability, shorter lead times and better quality in 2016.”

Considering the long lead times on some of their decoys, Brad was ecstatic to share this news.  I can honestly say, I have been fortunate in that I have never had to feel the sting of a long wait to get my shiny new DSD’s.  For others, especially those after goose or deer decoys, they have not been quite so lucky.  “There has been a lot of talk, especially from the goose and deer hunters, about how you have to wait for years to get DSDs”.  As Brad shared this little tidbit of information, you could tell that did not sit well with him.  He explained that Dave Smith Decoys currently has a wait list for their goose decoys that dates back nearly three years.  In fact, the list was closed entirely about a year ago, meaning that no new orders have been taken since that time.  Thankfully, their new facility is going to allow DSD to get caught up much quicker than they ever hoped.

Photo compliments of Earnie Ross

Photo compliments of Earnie Ross

I asked for a specific timeline in regards to goose decoy production this year, Brad went on to say, “We anticipate that we will be through our back orders by the early part of the summer, and should be taking new orders again at that time.”  For those of you who have been patiently waiting for your DSDs to land at your door step, get ready, Christmas will be coming a little early this year.  Similarly, the DSD Posturing Buck decoy has been a hot 9commodity, and one not easily obtained over the years.  The DSD Posturing Buck took the market by storm a few years back, and since that time it has been in a constant state of “Out of Stock”, due to it’s sheer awesomeness and ability to fool even the most cunning whitetail.  But fear not, Brad assured me that their deer decoys  were the first order of business once they wrap up turkey decoy production this spring.

3Aside from the increased availability of DSD products over the next few months, goose hunters will be seeing some great new Goose designs later this summer.  Furthermore, Brad was quick to point out that the decoys produced in 2016 will be “BY FAR” the highest quality decoys DSD has ever manufactured.  When considering the increased competition in the decoy market today, this is more important than ever.  Way back in 1999, DSD started the hyper-realistic decoy movement.  Fast forward to 2016, there are many imitators, but DSD remains the best in4 the business.  A better understanding of the animals they seek to replicate, not to mention superior craftsmanship gives DSD a huge edge that promises continued top-notch decoys for years to come.  Best of all, DSD always has, and will produce their products in the USA.

7Last but not least, for those of you who frequently attend the NWTF Convention, you likely noticed that the DSD booth was absent this past year, and some may have noticed that DSD was not on the Exhibitor’s list for 2016.  As expected, Brad chalked this up to priorities.  As much as they love to participate at the show every year, their customers come first and they feel an obligation to make sure they are taking care of the people who support them.  Brad was happy to share that DSD anticipates a return to the NWTF Convention in 2017 since the new facility is going to allow them to more adequately keep up with consumer demand.

For more information on the product offerings at Dave Smith Decoys, please visit their website at www.davesmithdecoys.com.

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Motion Madness Decoy Install – DSD Feeding Hen

I’m sure it has happened to you a time or two before.  You are walking down the aisle at your favorite store and something just happens to catch your eye.  That is exactly what happened to me as I walked down the aisles of the NWTF Convention in Nashville last spring.  There are turkey decoys galore at the show, but this one was special.  As it sat there on the display booth, sweeping to the side, pecking, coming back upright and sweeping the other direction and then pecking again.  I sat there watching for a couple of seconds before finally going up to the Motion Madness Decoys booth and introducing myself to the owner, Randy Gunn.

What sat on that display booth was a whole lineup of decoys, turkeys, mallards, geese.  What I was most interested in was the one sitting front and center.  A Dave Smith Decoys Feeding Hen, and I knew I had to have one.  After already having the most realistic turkey decoy on the market, the DSDs, only one thing was missing and that was a realistic motion system.  As soon as the new Motion Madness DIY assembly kits were available, I jumped on the opportunity to get one.  This article isn’t meant to be a review on the Motion Madness DIY assembly kit, but it is meant to show you the steps on how to install one in your own DSD Feeding Hen decoy.  Follow along and if you have questions, feel free to shoot me a message and I’ll be glad to help.

First things first, stop by the Motion Madness Decoys website and purchase the DIY assembly kit you need.  For the DSD Feeding Hen, you will need to purchase the Peck and Sweep Feeder DIY Assembly, Turkey Hen.  The kit retails for $72.99 and can be purchased directly here: Peck and Sweep Feeder DIY Assembly

1After receiving your kit, lay it all out to make sure that all parts are there.  You should have Motion Madness assembly, remote receiver (attached to the assembly), a small remote control, and a 14″ chisel point stake.  To complete the kit, you will need a DSD Feeding Hen and also purchase a small 12V SLA type battery and battery charger.  I purchased my 1.3Ah (ampere-hour) battery and charger here: AJC 12V 1.3Ah SLA Battery. This battery should last over 12 hours of continued use before needing to be recharged.

Now that you have all of the parts required to assemble your motion decoy, you’ll need to gather a few tools to install the assembly into your DSD Feeding Hen.

Required Tools:2
– Sharp Knife (Benchmade North Fork Folder)
– Drill with 1/4″ drill bit
– 5/32″ Allen Wrench
– Tape Measure
– Permanent Marker
– Saw (not pictured)


Step 1:

3Using a sharp knife, cut a hole in the bottom of the DSD decoy.  Usually with other hollow body decoys you would need to find the balance point of the decoy and mark approximately where the stake would come out of the bottom to make sure your assembly was situated perfectly in the decoy.  With the DSD decoys, there is already a small PVC tube in the decoy which acts as a guide for the decoy stake.   Use this PVC tube location and the legs as a guide as to where you should cut the hole.  Size of the hole isn’t too important, just make sure it is large enough to fit the assembly inside.  Remember, it is easier to cut more material off later than it is to put it back.  After cutting the hole in the bottom of the decoy, you’ll need to reach inside and cut the PVC tube.  Do not cut the PVC tube too close to the top of the decoys back or you may risk damaging your decoy.  After the hole is cut and PVC tube has been partially removed, test fit the assembly.


Step 2:

4Now flip the decoy over and locate the top center of the decoy.  On most of the DSD decoys you can see a little deformed spot (see circled part in picture).  This is where the PVC tube on the interior of the decoy meets up with the exterior body of the decoy.  5You’ll want to put a mark with your permanent marker 1-1/4″ on both sides of this spot in the directions of the wings.  After you have marked the two spots, measure again between the two spots and confirm there is 2-1/2″ between the spots.


Step 3:

6Next, take your drill with a 1/4″ drill bit and drill a hole through the two spots you marked in Step 2.  Once again, confirm that you have exactly 2-1/2″ between your two mounting holes and then proceed to Step 4.7


Step 4:

10The Motion Madness Decoy assembly has two allen head cap screws with a total of four (4) washers (2 small and 2 large) on top of the arms.  After removing the cap screws, set the larger washers aside for a second.  Put the smaller washer on the cap screw and then push the cap screw into the top of the decoy through the 1/4″ holes you drilled in Step 3.


Step 5:

11Now flip the decoy back over and place the large washers inside the decoy on the cap screws you installed on Step 4.  Next slide the Motion Madness Decoy assembly into the decoy body, making sure the wiring harness/receiver is facing the front (head) of the decoy.  12Align 8the vertical arms with the screws in the top of the decoy and push the screw into the rubber grommet.  After the screws are in place, tighten them with the 5/32″ allen wrench.  Do not over-tighten!


Step 6:

The last thing to do is to remove the tape from the backside of the velcro on the receiver and place the receiver inside the decoy body.  13The spot in front of the Motion Madness Decoy assembly (between the head and the legs of the decoy) is flat and makes the perfect location to stick the receiver.

14After you have finished Step 6, you are now ready to use your decoy.  Start by placing the chisel tip stake into the ground to your desired height.  Then align the hole of the Motion Madness Decoy assembly with the stake and slide the assembly down onto the stake.  Finally, connect your decoy to your 12V SLA battery.  16The red plastic lead goes onto the positive (+) pin on the battery, and the blue colored lead goes onto the negative (-) pin on the battery.  Using your remote control, turn the decoy on and you are ready to hunt!

15If you have any questions with the assembly, you can contact Motion Madness Decoys direct at 636-600-1817 or send them an email at info@motionmadnessdecoys.com.  You can also send us an email through our Contact Us page and we’ll be glad to help you out!

As always, check your state and local game laws before using this or any other electronically operated decoys.

 

 

 

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2016 ATA Show – Favorite New Products

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The 2016 ATA show has come and gone, and once again the SELFILMED crew had a great time checking out some of the new products to hit the market for the upcoming hunting season. Some years, the new releases are more jaw dropping than others, but there is always something neat to see. There are simply too many products to discuss in one article, but here are a few my personal favorites for 2016.

cirrusThe product that I was the most intrigued by this year was the CIRRUS, Vape Wind Indicator. I don’t know many big game hunters that don’t carry some form of a wind indicator, and I also don’t know many big game hunters that are totally satisfied with the products they carry. Whether you use a powder-based indicator or you just crumble up some leaves while in your stand, you know that most of the indicators available to us today simply don’t give you the whole picture. The CIRRUS uses pure vapor as the agent to show you what the wind is doing. The vapor emitted from the CIRRUS hangs in the air and shows you even the slightest wind or thermal currents. Additionally, one huge benefit of the CIRRUS is that you get thousands of puffs, making it last much longer than a bottle of powder. The CIRRUS takes refill cartridges and has an easy to use USB charger so you don’t have to worry about running out in the middle of your hunt.

Another product, or line of products, that really caught my attention was the Celestron celestron_elementsElements. Most of us carry a light, hand warmers, and often times an external charger for our phone and/or other electronic device. Celestron Elements provides and multi-function 3-in-1 solution that can keep your hand warm, provide illumination, and charge your cell phone all at the same time. The ThermoTorch comes in 2 models, the ThermoTorch 10 and ThermoTorch 5. Both models are flash light bodies equipped with 3 mode LED’s rated at 300 lumens. The ThermoTorch 10 and 5 respectively come with a 10,000 mAh and 5,000 mAh battery capacity. Best of all, the ThermoTorch is heated and promises to keep your hands warm when you are blood trailing in the frigid winter months. Celestron also has another offering in the ThermoCharge 10 and ThermoCharge 6 which function as a 2-in-1 device featuring the same style power bang in 10,000 mAh and 6,000 mAh capacities. Last but not least, the FireCel provides a 3-in-1 solution featuring a 4 mode flashlight, 6000 mAh rechargeable battery, and hand warmer. The ability to combine devices in my hunting pack and reduce weight is a huge win, and the Celestron Elements will certainly find a place in my gear back this fall.

ozonics_hr300For those of you who have used Ozonics over the years, you will be excited to know that Ozonics has released a new HR 300 model which comes in a slightly more compact body and ozonics_kinetic_packproduces nearly 50 percent more ozone than the original models, not to mention an increased battery life. The standard battery on the new Ozonics has a run time of 5 hours, with the extended battery keeping you scent free for up to 10 hours. Best of all, the new Ozonics HR 300 is significantly quieter than the original models thanks to upgraded internal components. Ozonics has certainly made good use of the feedback provided by it’s customers and has really created an awesome new product sure to be a huge hit in 2016. Ozonics also released their new Kinetic Pack which is perfect for carrying your Ozonics and whitetail hunting gear. It is a great size to be used as a day pack and is constructed very well.

sitka_fowl_bagI already wrote a review on some of the new products from Sitka Gear which you can find HERE. However, I’m afraid I’m not much of a waterfowl hunter so I did not touch too much on the new waterfowl line. I wanted to take an opportunity to showcase one of the cool new packs available for 2016 and show off a few pictures of the new pattern Waterfowl Timber. The Timber Pack is a smaller pack sitka_fowl_jacketthan the Half Choke and Full Choke Packs previously produced. It is a great pack to carry your essential gear, and also features an integrated loop system to carry out your ducks after a successful hunt. The new Timber pattern is also a great looking pattern that promises you’ll stay hidden from the keen eyes of any fowl species in the flooded timber. The new Timber pattern by Sitka has been met with a lot of excitement and is definitely something you’ll want to check out when it hits the market.

One of the last booths we stopped by, and one I always have to check out, is the YETI booth. Call it an addiction, a bad habit, whatever you want, I find it nearly impossible to yeti_rambler_bottlegrab a new YETI “whatever” anytime it comes out. This year, YETI released a few new items in their Rambler series. The Rambler Bottle is the perfect solution for grabbing your warm or cold beverage of choice that you want, but not quite yet. The Rambler Bottle can be sealed off and has the same insulation power as all of the other drinkware items in the Rambler series and can keep you drinks cold or hot for hours. Earlier in the year, YETI also released the Rambler Lowball. While they aren’t exactly new for the ATA Show, they have been a hot selling item and tough to yeti_1lbget your hands on. I finally got around to purchasing one, and thus far, I am pleasantly pleased with it’s ability to maintain a drinks temperature, be it hot or cold.  YETI also released a smaller version of their yeti Ice in a 1 pound version which is great for some of the smaller YETI model coolers.  The YETI Ice has been a huge hit since it came on the market, and I would be surprised if the smaller version does not find success as well.  Lastly YETI has released a few great new accessories for their different products, including a Straw Lid and a Slider Lid for the Rambler Tumblers.

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As always, I was very excited to experience the ATA show, and sad to have it go by so quick. One thing is for sure, the fire that slowly burns out as the long hours on the stand make deer season sometimes seem a chore are always lit anew when I start thinking of putting so many cool new products to use when fall rolls back around.

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