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Archery Hunting Tactics for both Public and Private Lands
Bowhunting combines unique appeal and unique challenges. On one hand, it honors a timeless tradition that requires a tremendous amount of skill. On the other, the physical demands of drawing a bow, the practice and the shorter shooting distances for hunting big game with a bow can create more barriers to entry. In anticipation of the upcoming archery season, here are a few pro tips to better prepare, practice and persevere – whether you’re hunting on public or private lands this season.
Spend Time on Pre-season Preparation
Choosing the right bow, correct draw length and draw weight is an important place to start – archery is definitely not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. If you’re new to it, head to your local sporting goods store to be properly fitted by an experienced bow tech. Beginners often benefit from learning with a compound bow – one that uses a cam system to make holding & aiming easier – versus a traditional recurve or longbow that doesn’t offer relief at full draw.
Given the risk of wounding an animal, practice is paramount when it comes to bowhunting. Buying a foam block or compressing enough bails of hay for target practice works well. Or you can take it to a more sophisticated level by setting up 3D Big Game Targets in real life scenarios across acres of your land or hike a 3D course on public land to practice.
Have the Right Equipment
Help ensure success by dressing the part and heading out with the proper equipment. Here are some key items for every bowhunter:
Trail or game cameras can be helpful in learning how deer and elk are moving through your property and the public lands you want to hunt. (Note: if installing game cams on public land, make sure to check your state’s regulations on when, how, where and if they can be used – these regulations vary from state to state.) Cams can help identify where game might bed or feed, giving you a better idea of where their location or general habits come opening day.
Pro Tip: Speaking of opening day, it’s best to keep human interaction minimal in the week or two leading up to it. During this time, leave the area alone to help foster an environment in which big game feel safe to bed and eat freely.
Scout – Both Digitally and In-person
It’s a good idea to begin with researching the area in which you’ll be hunting. For public lands, digital resources such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and apps such as Caltopo and onXmaps can be incredibly valuable. Invest time in understanding the greater region, neighboring properties, geological features, and areas of private land that might help you glean insight into the animals’ behavior.
Then take to the meadows, mountains, hills or basins to look for signs of big game or the animals themselves. Learn what to look for when you’re glassing, such as small sections of hide or antler, the twitchy movements of a tail or ear, and moving brush.
Mind the Wind
Even the most extensive preparation doesn’t matter if you’re battling unfavorable wind or weather conditions, so learn seasonal wind, daily thermals, and weather patterns for your public or private hunting land. Always having the wind in your favor is key to bowhunting success. Wind patterns help determine where you should stage to ensure breezes and gusts don’t blow your cover.
ProTip: It’s best to always have a wind checker to help confirm wind behavior in the field. In a pinch, tie on a short piece of yarn or thread to the bottom of your bow!
Know Where You Stand with a GPS with Hunting Map Layers
When hunting on private land, GPS mapping is less critical, however this can be a helpful tool for sharing info with your hunting party. For those venturing into public land, it’s a vital tool that helps inform your hunt from beginning to end. GPS mapping allows you to map the area and mark waypoints in the field – everything from the trailhead, to fresh sign, game trails, or where your shot was taken. Additionally, apps such as onX show private land boundaries and detailed owner information that can be critical information accessible right from your phone when needed.
Master the Art of Stealth
Being able to move through the field without creating dramatic disturbances helps ensure your bowhunting success. Learn how to be still, observant, and patient, moving low when needed, to lessen disturbances that might cause a ripple effect that pushes the herd out of the area. While this skill is not easily mastered, each time you venture into the woods – try to make it a goal to make as little disturbance as possible. Since, you cannot always guarantee that other hunters won’t disturb the game you are seeking on public lands – consider looking into the small steps you can make today to purchase the hunting property of your dreams!
Colorado’s Historic Year of Forest Fires
2020 was a historic year of wildland fires in our state. According to an article in 5280 Magazine, over 625,000 acres burned and three of the largest fires ever occurred last year (Carodine 2020). Total firefighting costs exceeded $266 million (gacc.nifc.gov). One of the blazes, the East Troublesome Creek (ETC) fire, scorched over 150,000 acres in only 1 day. That fire started and spread through forests comprised mostly of standing dead lodgepole pine trees from the bark beetle epidemic from earlier this century.
From a real estate perspective, 366 homes and 214 additional structures were damaged or a total loss in the ETC fire (cpr.org). According to a Larimer County Assessors Report, 243 buildings (of which 184 were homes) were damaged or lost in the Cameron Peak fire, affecting 469 privately owned properties (larimer.org). Total market value losses are approximately $6.4 million. The combined homeowner and auto insurance claims filed for both fires exceed $614 million, making 2020 the most expensive wildfire year ever recorded (rmiia.org).
Mountain and Rural Property Owner Resources
Wildfires across the western United States are becoming larger and more destructive and unfortunately, it may be the norm moving into the future (denverpost.com). Given the destructive nature of these large fires, it may seem that mountain and rural landowners cannot do anything to protect their investments. However, there are many steps that can be taken to improve safety while maintaining property values. These include doing mitigation work around homes and outbuildings to enrolling in a federal or state program that can help offset the cost of bringing in a contractor to do work on a property. There are a myriad of websites and articles on the internet available to landowners to help guide the decision-making process. Included here are a curated selection that may be valuable to readers of this article (Hayden Outdoors Real Estate does not endorse any specific organization or program, these are for information purposes only)
East Troublesome Creek and Cameron Peak Fires: A Photo Tour
In March 2021, Dr. Christopher Licata, a Forest Ecologist who recently joined the Hayden Outdoors team, did a driving tour of the area impacted by these two wildfires. His wife, Segrid, documented the damage to the forest and several of her photos are included here. Visit Dr. Licata’s Profile page to contact him for more info on this topic.
Hayden Outdoors National Sponsor Of Pheasants Forever
In an effort to support the preservation and growth of upland bird habitat on both private and public lands, Hayden Outdoors Real Estate has launched their National Sponsorship of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. Hayden Outdoors will market farm, ranch and recreational properties for sale to PF and QF members while making a significant gift commitment to upland wildlife.
Access to upland habitat for hunting with family and friends is a goal that Hayden Outdoors hopes to help sustain in the future. “As a real estate brokerage specializing in farmland and recreational property, Hayden Outdoors understands the importance of land stewardship and the value of quality wildlife habitat. When we decided that we wanted to do more for upland wildlife habitat, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever was a natural partner,” stated Dax Hayden, Hayden Outdoors managing partner and Life Member of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever. “Our family and passionate real estate agents recognize ‘The Habitat Organization’ as an effective and efficient conservation partner. When we learned more about PF’s vision for the future, it became clear that we needed to provide additional support to ensure an upland legacy for future generations.”
Just in the past year, Leo Hayden has helped with the “Build a Wildlife Area” program in coordinating Pheasants Forever’s acquisition of 1,080 acres of land in Sherman County, KS that was recently transferred to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism. The property, now called Veteran’s Wildlife Area, is now open to public hunting and being managed for sustained wildlife habitat.
In addition, Hayden Outdoors will work to bring together private landowners and PF wildlife biologists to help them create and conserve upland habitat by way of the “Private Lands Wildlife Habitat Assistance” program. Efforts to help maximize unused potential wildlife habitat, grow incremental income for private landowners from unused land, and enrolling more lands into existing management programs, such as Corners for Wildlife, are examples of Hayden Outdoors’ efforts to help landowners and the future of upland bird hunting.
“To create a high-level partnership with one of the premier land brokerage companies in the county is a giant step forward for the future of upland wildlife conservation and our hunting heritage,” said Chris Kalis, director of corporate partnerships for Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever. “Not only have they committed financially for increased wildlife habitat and public access, but the opportunities to assist private landowners with landscape-level habitat upgrades has major implications for private lands conservation.
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 740 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $867 million on 540,000 habitat projects benefiting 18 million acres nationwide.
About Hayden Outdoors
Hayden Outdoors, LLC is a family-owned and operated real estate brokerage started in 1976 that is based in Windsor, Colorado. With over 100 licensed brokers, agents and staff, Hayden Outdoors is recognized as one of the largest land brokerage in the central United States and “Best Brokerages” every year since 2011 by The Land Report Magazine.
Collecting Rainwater: Water Supplementation by Harvesting Precipitation
Collecting runoff from the roof of a home or outbuilding, for instance – is a common-sense, self-sufficient strategy that can reduce a property owner’s reliance on well water or a municipal water supply.
In one of the most straightforward rainwater-collection systems, water runs off an angled roof and into a rain gutter, which drains into a storage container; that container might be as simple as a barrel, or as elaborate as a cistern. Water is then available for garden irrigation or even household use, or as a reserve supply for emergencies.
Benefits of Harvesting Precipitation
The advantages of rainwater collection are numerous: rainwater is free and generally clean, and can create a water supply over which a landowner has complete control. Redirecting and collecting rainwater can also mitigate stormwater drainage issues that might otherwise exist.
How to Start Collecting Rainwater
Collecting rainwater, though, isn’t always as simple a matter as one might expect. A handful of states restrict rainwater collection, to varying degrees; restrictions are generally based on the premise that precipitation supplies water to streams and creeks, and that curtailing that supply has a negative effect for subsequent users with rights to use that water.
Some states, though, actively encourage rainwater collection, motivated in part by studies showing that such harvesting efforts have a positive environmental impact, reducing demand for municipal water and reliance on wells. Landowners interested in collecting rainwater should first research applicable state regulations.
Where Legally Allowed, Rain-collection Systems Include:
A gutter downspout simply empties into a barrel, which might be a barrel specifically marketed for this purpose, or a recycled barrel repurposed from another use. This simple strategy requires next to no engineering, but on the downside, even a 100-gallon barrel can fill quickly, resulting in overflowing and wasted water.
In what is essentially an expanded version of the basic rain-barrel approach, a property owner can install a much larger tank – one holding hundreds of gallons – next to a home or building, with the collection pipe feeding water directly into the top of the tank. This is still a simple system, no more complicated than using a rain barrel, but it does require the installation of a large tank right next to a structure – probably acceptable for a barn or shop, but perhaps a drawback for a home.
In this more elaborate system, multiple downspouts (perhaps from multiple buildings) feed into underground pipes that supply water to a sizable tank, which can be located away from any buildings. With this system, more rainwater can be collected from more surfaces, but installing underground pipelines creates a significant expense. There are some minor engineering needs: pipe connections obviously need to be watertight, and the tank inlet must be below the height of the lowest gutter on a building that’s part of the system.
What to Know Before Building a Rainwater-collection System
Most rainwater-collection systems require next to no maintenance; even a relatively elaborate system with underground pipes carrying water from multiple rooftops is essentially just a pipe carrying water into a container. Any collection system, though, has significant potential benefits; a roof area of 1,000 square feet, in a region getting just 10 inches of rain a year, can result in more than 6,000 gallons of useable rainwater.
Wind Energy: On-grid Power with a Wind Turbine
Supplement Power with a Small-scale Turbine on Your Property
Most of us might envision wind energy as an industrial effort, defined by arrays of massive turbines generating enough power for entire municipalities. But wind energy has been harvested by individual property owners for centuries; think of that low-tech windmill, out on an open plain, pumping water from the ground and into a stock tank.
Steps to Leverage Wind Energy on Your Property
Rural landowners can also utilize single-property windmills in generating power for their homes and barns. Wind energy can offer a green, self-sufficient option for supplementing on-grid power from a utility company, and can lower utility bills by as much as 50 to 90 percent. Pursuing a small-scale wind-power option, though, requires some research.
First, a landowner should check zoning regulations and property covenants for any regulatory barriers to installing a wind system. A building permit might be required. And, the height of a wind turbine – the hub might be 80 feet off the ground – can prompt objections from neighbors due to views being blocked. (Noise generation from wind turbines generally isn’t an issue, as they don’t produce much sound.)
Next, determine if wind is common enough in your location to make a power-generating windmill feasible. A small wind turbine might require a minimum average annual wind speed of nine miles per hour. A nearby airport can provide data for a rough estimate as to wind speeds in a particular region, but property owners would likely be better served by investing in a wind-measuring system to get accurate reads, specific to the property, on wind frequency and average speeds. (If a property simply doesn’t get enough wind for a turbine system, it’s best to know that up front.) According to the US Department of Energy, the cost of an adequate measuring system might run $600 to $1,200.
Optimal Turbine Placement for Power Production
Select a site location in which a turbine will catch enough wind; a hilltop would be an obvious top candidate. Keep in mind the prevailing wind direction, and site the turbine upwind of any potential barriers, including tall trees and other structures. The DOE recommends that small turbines be 30 feet above anything within 300 feet. Remember that ground space will be needed to raise and lower a wind tower, not just during construction, but also for maintenance. And, ground space will be needed for guy wires to secure the tower.
Wind Turbine Preparation & Installation
Installation will likely include pouring a concrete foundation, erecting the tower, and wiring the system. It’s a process best left to professionals. Turbine dealers should be able to handle both construction and installation, or recommend contractors.
Wind Energy Statistics
According to DOE stats, the typical US home uses 11,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. A turbine rated for 5 to 15 kilowatts is needed to “contribute to” this demand; that wording is important, as a wind turbine might not meet a home’s full electricity need, meaning a connection to a conventional utility will still be needed.
And, wind systems aren’t cheap, averaging close to $6,000 per rated kilowatt.
Wind Turbine Maintenance
As for maintenance, a tower owner will need to plan on keeping bolts and connections tight, checking for corrosion, and maintaining guy wire tension. Turbine blades may need replacement as often as every 10 years, but a well-maintained system can last a good two decades.
Rotational Grazing: A Strategy to Prevent Pasture Overgrazing
Reasons to Consider Adopting Rotational Grazing into Your Ranch Management Plan
No matter how lush your property’s pastures might be, it takes careful management to prevent overgrazing. Rotational grazing is one of the easiest and most effective strategies to protect pastures.
What is Rotational Grazing?
Simply defined, rotational grazing involves dividing a large grazing area into smaller areas, then rotating a herd among those smaller areas, in turn. While animals graze just one pasture, the remaining pastures are left untouched to continue growing or to recover from just having been grazed.
How to Implement Rotational Grazing
Once a pasture is grazed down (and before it’s overgrazed), the herd is moved to the next pasture; the length of time on each pasture will vary depending on the number of animals grazing, the acreage in question, and the grazing environment.
By the time the herd works its way through all of the pastures, that first grazing area should recover, and the cycle can begin again.
The Benefits of Rotational Grazing
By allowing grasses plenty of recovery time, rotational grazing can increase the amount of natural forage on offer; having more forage on the ground also helps with drought resistance, mitigating water runoff and helping ensure rainfall soaks into the ground. The approach also ensures manure – natural fertilizer – is spread throughout an entire grazing area, rather than concentrated in locations where animals might naturally congregate without a rotational approach. And, since animals are confined to a particular area, they’re more likely to graze down less desirable plants that would otherwise go untouched in a larger pasture.
Rotational grazing also allows stockmen to create more elaborate grazing strategies: grazing specific pastures at certain times of the year, dedicating particular pastures to a certain group of animals, or limiting grazing of selected areas during a drought.
And, concentrating animals in smaller areas brings additional advantages: stock stay within closer reach, making them easier to control, and day-to-day management needs are limited to the area(s) being grazed.
Tips for a Successful Rotational Grazing Strategy
A rotational grazing strategy is not without its downsides. Crossfencing will be required to separate a single, large pasture into smaller pastures. (Many rotational grazing proponents rely on electric fencing when working with a small herd on a limited acreage; this allows a property owner to vary the size of a grazing area, if conditions dictate.) And, of course, each grazing area will need its own water source.
Study the premise of rotational grazing, and you’ll encounter numerous approaches, each with its advocates and critics.
Slow rotational grazing: the basic premise outlined above; a large pasture is divided into two or more pastures, and animals are moved to allow a grazed pasture to recover.
Planned rotational grazing: a large pasture is divided into three or more, and animals are moved more frequently than with the above “slow” approach.
Management-intensive grazing: animals are moved when the next pasture has reached a target height, and removed when that pasture is grazed down to a specific height.
Mob grazing: animals are grazed in high densities, and might be moved multiple times per day.
A rotational-grazing strategy will need to be tailored to a given property, based on its conditions and terrain.