The Shotem' and Caughtem' Blog is the place to find the latest reviews and commentary on gear, destinations, conditions, events, and general knowledge to inform our readers and give our opinions to anyone listening.

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Tuesday, 04 November 2014 21:56

Duck Hunting Gear Tips

Thinking about going on your first duck hunt?

So we at Shotem and Caughtem went on our very first duck hunt.  Let us first say it was a blast.  Think of it kind of like dove hunting only a lot colder and requiring a way more stealthy and gear heavy approach.  As such we felt like the best place to start talking about the experience would be discussing the gear needed for a successful duck hunt.

Duck Hunting Gun, Choke and Ammo Tips

Of course the best place to start would be the proper gun, ammo and choke.  We realize that the only place we could agree to disagree would be the choke.  Between 10 guys in the blind only two of us were using the same gun.  Many were shooting steel shot number 2, however, we had received a choke from www.kicks-ind.com  to try out so we thought we would do a review based on how the choke did firing 3, 4 and 5 as well.  As many hunters know the lighter the load the cheaper the cost per shell.  So if you can successfully strike your target with a lighter load due to choke performance than you are saving money.  We were shooting 3in shells and found that our Kick's choke at the tip of our remington 870 allowed us to pretty much shoot any appropriate size duck load with success.  Though the heavier loads allowed us to reach out further with greater success, at 30 yards and closer our performance did not change.  The choke held a magnificent pattern at 35 yards and the four birds we knew we shot dropped right away (ten guys firing at once kind of distorts performance overall).  As a matter of fact out of the 10 guns 7 were using Kick's Chokes.  

Proper Hunting Waders for Waterfowl

Next top gear need for duck hunting would be waders.  These can make or break a successful duck hunt.  If you don't have a dog, your waders will be one of the few ways you will be able to retrieve your birds and not freeze.  We suggest purchasing these on sale if possible.  We got ours during dove season in the bargain cave of Cabelas and got last years waders for 60% off regular price.

Hunting from a Duck Blind 

A good duck blind can be your best asset.  Whether you spend the big money and purchase a blind our blind was made with what we like to call midwest ranch scraps.  You would be amazed what you can build with some hedge limbs, cedar trees and old rotten hay.  All this appropriately stripped together provided great cover, and a four foot wide lane to perfectly hold 10 guys with a dog at each end to retrieve.  

Duck calls.  Every hunter in the stand had at least 8 different calls on their lanyards and they all require practice.  We will hit this topic again later since there is definitely an art to that science.

Duck Hunting Decoys for First time Hunters

Last but not least would be decoys.  Here is the expensive side of things.  Lucky for us we were able to go on our first hunt with guys that have been doing this for a long time and had acquired a lot of money in decoys over time.  I think we had no less than a couple thousand dollars in the water.  I think this is why duck hunters love to hunt in packs.  I think it is to share the burden in costs for decoys.

Let us know your tips on the best gear for your duck adventures in the comment section below.  As always share your adventures and experiences to the Shotem wall.

 

Thursday, 15 May 2014 22:48

Pole Tap Smart Rod now in Academy Sports

We at Shotem and Caughtem were one of the first to get our hands on this cool new fishing technology the Poletap Smart rod http://shotemandcaughtem.com/the-blog/item/17-pole-tap-smartrod.html.  We are pleased and excited to announce the rod is now available to the general public in most Academy Sports locations and on the web.  We would like to congratulate Tackobox on this great achievement and love that we were one of the first to get the opportunity.

We at Shotem and Caughtem ventured out into the darkness equip with an Elusive Wildlife XLR250 Long Range Tactical Rifle System Light.  We were first introduced to the light a year ago when we ventured to Oklahoma for a night Hog hunting adventure.  We were cautious about ordering a tactical light as the reviews we read about many of the lights available were mixed.  However, after the luck our fellow hunters had during our adventure we felt like we could not go wrong with at least buying one and trying it for ourselves.

We still had questions.  Is a light the best solution?  Would night vision or thermal be better?  Is red light better or green?  Will it perform at long distance?  What is the best way to mount the light?  Will my daylight made scope even work?  So we have done a little testing and these are our thoughts.  

We are not regular night hunters, since it is not allowed in our state.  As such, our opportunities to hunt at night only happen a half dozen times a year at most. So for us after researching night vision and thermal scopes and the costs associated with them they did not make sense for the number of times we would use a device that comes with a cost of thousands of dollars for the right equipment.  We needed to find a more economical, multi purposed solution.  One we could use for not just night hunting, but night traveling as well.  Many of our adventures to and from our stands and hunting locations are during the twilight hours.  During these times certain movements can make one feel a bit uneasy and we do not want to spoke animals so a little light would help.   

After our Elusive Wildlife purchase we finally got to test the light for ourselves.  We could not be happier for the money.  These guys have done their research and are providing a well built, well equip product for the money.  The kit comes with everything you need to use, mount and create a rifle that will no doubt perform in the dark of night.  It also comes with a variety of mounts which allows us to carry the light on multiple rifle platforms.  Whether mounted to a tactical rail, the top of a scope, on a barrel, or in your hand, the light can provide you with an array of uses without going back to the store or your wallet.  

Our experience with night hunting activities is that the red light offers a better color than green.  It did not seem to spook any of the animals we shined the light on as we traveled to, from or covering the landscape.  Our luck with the green light was mixed at best.  Whether a rabbit, coyote or cow the red light seemed to have no effect on the animals other than making them easier to see.  It also caused their eyes to shine bright red as well allowing us to acquire animals more easily.  We had the light mounted to the front rail of our ar15 equip with a low light Nikon scope and had great vision at 100+ yards through the scope.  Our only limitation was not having a lighted cross hair function on our scope which would have made things a little easier.  However, we were still able to make out our black cross hairs just fine with the light the flashlight provided even at distance.  We feel for 150.00 it is the best product out there and a viable piece to any hunters backpack for either mounting to a rifle or traveling to your favorite hunting spot without spooking your animals.  

It is one of the few lights we researched that had great reviews across the board for its use at long distance and we were not disappointed.  We were able to properly illuminate animals at 25-150+ yards and felt that acquiring targets at that distance was relatively easy.  Past a 150 yards our hope would be a stationary target to make shot placement a little more accurate but we were still able to make out what we were seeing even at that distance.  150 yards seemed to be the start of the fallout point for the light especially for darker targets, however, that still provides plenty of territory to cover in no light situations.  

Let us know your thoughts or questions in the comment section below and keep posting your photos to the galleries and tell us your story.

 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 19:28

Hunting and Fishing Survival

With the recent rescue of 5 fisherman in the Bering Sea it has reminded us at Shotem and Caughtem that many of us might take things for granted when heading out to the field or water.  With the weather changing into fall here in the U.S and many of us heading out to hunt or fish we felt it was a good time to remind ourselves about good things to throw in our tackle boxes, backpacks or vehicles for the OS factor.

Many of the worst stories come from those who do not prepare for the worst case situation.  When close to civilization many of us take for granted that help is always close.  Sometimes things happen that can cause things to go south fast.  

Some of the most important things to make sure one has in their possession or close by in any situation are fairly inexpensive and easy to have around.  First like Bear Grylls taught us a good knife is a necessity.  Second is water.  Third would be a lighter and if you want to add a little insurance a medicine bottle with vasoline soaked cotton balls.  Four would be a pack of your favorite protein/carbohydrate filled snack.  These are mere basics but should increase your chance of making it out of most tough situations that might only last a day or two.  We feel they should be close by at all times.  

From these four basics and your length of time to potentially be out for longer periods you can begin to add other essentials.  Coat and Gloves, basic medical pack, proper side arm, bite kits, cordage, plastic tarp etc.

Let us know your basic pack in the comment section below and remember to be safe.  Fall is here and that means the weather and Mother Nature will be changing their tunes.  Most of all be safe and share your stories to the photo galleries!

We at Shotem and Caughtem love finding good deals when it comes to hunting and fishing gear.  Lucky for us we recently became aware of a site dedicated to our wants and needs and thought we would share our good fortune.  Buck Stone Creek is a website dedicated to flash sales of a host of hunting and fishing products.  Though you never know what the sales might include, they do work with an impressive amount of hunting and fishing gear providers.  They last for 3-4 days and after watching several sales can offer you anywhere between 10-40% off most comparable offers we were able to find on the world wide web.  As with many products it seems that the higher the retail value of the product the more they are able to save their members.  This is the catch with getting access to deals that they offer.  Membership is free for a limited time but you must provide your email address they can notify you of when sales become available.

Buck Stone Creek like us is fairly new to the scene but is dedicated to helping their members get great pricing and customer service.  They have worked with companies such as Bushnell, Pulsar, Wildgame Innovations, Carbon Express, Coyote Eye wear and Gorilla Gear to name just a few.  Their next flash sale will begin on Monday so we recommend you head over and become a member so that you can take advantage of the sale.  There is only a limited number of products available to sell at this price so if you see something you need take advantage quickly.  

We have given some helpful tips to Buck Stone Creek to share in their newsletter so let us know how you like them should you become a member.  Let us know if you have purchased something from Buck Stone Creek in the comment section below and post photos of your favorite gear in the gallery and tell us your story.      

 

We at Shotem and Caughtem, like many, are getting to the tail end of our ability to Turkey hunt.  With spring hunting season coming to an end the Shotem and Caughtem life will begin to shift focus from the Shotem side of the brain to the Caughtem side.  Luckily for us this weekend marks the start of the spring hatching season for caddis and mayflies.  What does that mean for us?  It means that the predator fish are going to come to the surface to gorge themselves on the little bugs.  This means it is fishing season.  So dust off the fly rods and the fishing gear cause the trout will be in full attack mode.  So take advantage of not only the hatch but the fact that nothing says happy mothers day better than some quality time in the great outdoors.  Here are some fly tricks and tips to aid in your adventure.  As always leave your comments in the section below and post your catches in the Caughtem Gallery or start one of your own to share with others.

What is the secret? Efficiency. The principle is simple; the actual attainment of it is not. Many anglers flail randomly, their fly occasionally crossing those areas where vulnerable insects concentrate, catching fish only when their fly is in a prime area. The expert, however, changes his tactics as the prime areas change, and keeps his fly for as long as possible in the productive zone.

The key to anticipating, or “ambushing,” a caddis fly hatch requires breaking the common notion of what it is. Too many fishermen only recognize the peak of the action, the frantic surface feeding coinciding with the heaviest concentration of insects on or under the surface film, but these fishermen miss out on fishing before or after the peak — fishing that is sometimes even better.

The first time an angler encounters heavy insect activity, he cannot anticipate it. It is a blind situation — he is unprepared for the ensuing feeding spree. He fumbles in his fly box for some kind of a matching fly and casts to the rising trout with various techniques. If he fails to find the right combination with his hasty attempts, he probably ends up frustrated and fishless.

Even a regular on a stream, lacking an understanding of entomology, cannot fully master such a situation. He might have enough experience with a particular insect to use proper flies and tactics during the main hatch, his methods worked out by past trial and error, but he can still only take advantage of the activity he sees, the hour or so of actual surface feeding. He cannot take advantage of the subsurface activity he does not see.

The fly fisherman who understands the typical life cycle of stream caddisflies, however, knows the vulnerable subsurface stages. He discovers where, when, and how the concentrations occur during an emergence, which allows him to anticipate and prepare for the appearance of the insect. This knowledge also allows him to take full advantage of the predictable daily feeding schedule of the trout. Such an angler is not a member of a scientific cult, but simply a fly fisherman who is prepared to match his tactics and flies to the changing concentrations of insects. There are three areas in which caddisflies concentrate during a hatch.

1.  Usually, hours before the main hatch, some caddisflies begin popping out. The first of these random emergers often reaches the surface safely because trout are not conditioned to the occurrence, but soon fish take notice of the hatch. Even when they do start feeding, however, the trout seldom rise to grab a natural from the surface.

2.  Once out of the silk-lined, stone or vegetable cocoon, drifting freely in the stream, the swimming caddisfly emergent begins inflating its surrounding skin with gas bubbles and beating with hair-fringed legs, both of these actions lifting the insect up through the water. At the surface the adult hesitates, pushing against the underside of the meniscus (surface film) and struggling to shed the pupal skin.

3.  When the peak hatch is over and the surface of the river is blank, most anglers quit fishing, or at least stop trying to match caddisflies but there is still an hour of so of very exciting action left. There is one more concentration of insects that pulls fish, often the largest, into specific areas of the stream.

 
Thursday, 02 May 2013 13:52

Some Basic Fishing Tips and Tricks

We at Shotem and Caughtem, as is probably the case around much of the United States, have been frustrated with the recent weather.  Hot, cold, hot then cold.  This has not only wreaked havoc on our Turkey Hunting Season but has also caused a delay in our fishing.  Hence the reason we have not been flooding the galleries with new photos of our adventures.  So we decided that getting as much information to help us start the season right was the best way to calm our need to be outdoors.  With this in mind we thought we would offer some tips on getting ready to cast that first line in the water.  Let us know some of the tactics you use to catch that monster fish in the comment section below or post your photos to the gallery and tell  us your story.  Don't worry the season will be here before you know it.

• Use the right gear: No matter how you slice it, there’s no one rod, reel, bait, or lure that will get the job done in every situation with as much success as gear tailored to specific fishing tasks. Choosing the right tackle means thinking about more than what kind of fish you plan to catch. Your surroundings, weight of baits and lures, distance you need to cast, and fighting ability of the species, are just a few factors that must be considered when gear shopping.

• Farm your own bait: Worms can attract more fish than any other bait, but they’re often difficult to find just when you need them most. Consider propagating your own steady supply of wigglers with a worm farm.

• Perfect your techniques: In many cases, subtle nuances that change the presentation of bait or lure in a minor way can produce major results. The more techniques you have in your repertoire, the better prepared you’ll be to catch fish under any conditions.

• Listen to Mother Nature: Believe it or not, there are other methods of figuring out when the fishing’s hot besides looking up Internet reports. For example, if it’s fall and you want giant walleyes, wait until the same time leaves start falling. The air temperature will likely be cold enough to lower local water temperatures to a range that kicks on the walleyes’ instinct to pack on the pounds before winter.

• Find your secret fishing spot: Those little ponds in manicured neighborhoods and tucked behind strip malls can surprise you with bass, pickerel, crappies, and bluegills that are bigger and less pressured than those in the closest reservoir. Use Google Maps, to find those small bodies of water, searching a mile or two at a time in all directions. For hidden gems, focus on housing developments, shopping centers, and office complexes.

• Sneak Up on Fish: Fish are extremely sensitive to vibrations and instantly become wary when they sense an intruder. After wading into a new area, stand perfectly still for two minutes. It will feel like an hour, but you’ll get more strikes. In a boat, approach the area you plan to fish at a low speed and wait two minutes after shutting off your motor before casting.

Monday, 25 March 2013 21:55

Preparing your Fishing Gear

With much of the Midwest and Upper North East covered in what we hope will be the last snow fall of the year forcing us to stay a little closer to home.  We at Shotem and Caughtem thought we might break out our fishing gear and get it ready for what we hope will be warmer weather in the near future.  Many of us have neglected our equipment over the winter months and need to make sure our gear is ready to catch the big one.  Here is what we try and do at the start of every season.  Let us know what your tips and tricks are to prep your gear in the comment section below or post a photo of your must have gear in the gallery and start a dialogue.  Then be ready to post your photos to the Caughtem Gallery and brag about em!

Spring is nearly here, and it is time to look over you fishing gear and update, repair, and maintain it. Every year at this time there are a few tasks that you should do to get your fishing equipment ready for another season out on the water.

Tackle needs to be cared for at the end of each fishing season, to prepare it for a long winter in storage, unless you enjoy ice fishing. As you open your tackle box to prepare it for the upcoming months, check to make sure that your hooks, sinkers, and other tackle are not rusted. Hooks, snaps, and sinkers are all inexpensive and should be replaced when needed.  We know that a little WD 40 or gun cleaner and some light grit sandpaper can do a lot when it comes to rust and removing grooves should you want to spend the time instead of replacing.  Make sure you remove any left over residue with paint thinner and let it dry as the left grit and WD 40 might cause your line to break easily if it is left on the metal.  

Give your rod a good once over. Is it scratched, dented, or otherwise damaged? Small nicks are not an area of concern, but larger grooves in the rod could be reason to replace the pole with a new one. If the wear on your pole is moderate but still significant, take it to your local fishing shop, which offers repairs on poles and other equipment.

Rod tips should be replaced every spring, as the line can dig into the tip. This can lead to your line breaking, causing you to lose your catch. In addition, a worn rod tip can also increase the friction between itself and the line passing over it, reducing casting speed and distance.

Also check the guides. Any that are broken or bent should either be repaired or replaced. Rod tips used in fly fishing are especially prone to wear, as a typical cast of this type can reach line speeds of between 50-60 MPH.

Check your reels as well. Is the action still smooth and easy? Reels can tend stick if they were not cared for properly before winter storage. Once your reel is working, you should change the line, particularly if you do a lot of fishing on salt water, which is worse on both line and gear. If you do your own maintenance to your reels, it is important that you oil the equipment, but do not overdo it. Too much oil can be just as bad for a reel as not enough.

Line should either be replaced, or you should at least turn it around on the reel. This can be done outside in a large field, tying one end of the line to a tree or post, unwinding it, turning it around, and winding it back on.

This is also a great time to organize your tackle boxes, keeping similar items together and within easy reach. Saltwater and fresh water gear should be kept in separate boxes whenever possible, as this will help keep your freshwater gear safe from the corroding effects of salt. Don’t forget to give the box itself a once over as well, making sure that it closes properly and does not have holes.  Should you have left something in the box that has left an odor in your tackle box a 20%bleach 80% water mixture can eleviate smells once washed and allowed to dry.