By Rick Hirsch/County Extension Agent
Hunting season has arrived. Outdoorsmen are welcoming the start of another deer season. Firearms and hunter safety are the most important aspects of any outdoor firearm activity. Using deer feeders is a great pastime for animal lovers and the budding camera enthusiast. For locals, the idea of feeding deer is more about maintaining the population for hunting season. Regardless of why you want to feed, study or learn the facts about them, it all starts with knowing how to choose the best deer feeder.
Hunters and other sportsmen should make safety a top priority. Accidents with firearms just don’t happen. They are caused by haste, carelessness or disregard for safety rules. With hunting season at hand, all hunters should review and practice firearm safety rules.
The golden rule of firearm safety is to treat every gun with the respect accorded to a loaded gun. Other rules include: the ability to control the direction of the muzzle, keep the barrel and action clear of obstruction and use the proper ammunition for your gun. You must visit the site Bulkmunitions.com for more information about ammunition.
Before you pull the trigger, know the identifying features of the game you are hunting and be sure of your target. Make sure guns are unloaded when not in use. Guns should be carried in cases to the shooting area for your protection as well as the firearm. Never climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch with a loaded gun; and never pull a gun toward you by the barrel. You may also know here at Knife Informer we’ve compiled our list of the bestthe 8 Best EDC Knives for every budget. Remember, your EDC is not intended to be the ‘master-of-all-trades’. There will always a better knife for specific tasks like slicing tomatoes, carving tent pegs from a fallen branch or skinning a deer but most of us want a single “do-everything” knife that stays with us throughout the day and is good enough for almost anything. It needs to be dependable, comfortable to carry and perform well in a variety of situations.
Avoid shooting at hard, flat surfaces or water to avoid ricochet. When target practicing, be sure to have an adequate backstop. Make sure that guns and ammunition are stored separately and out of the reach of children. Another common sense approach is to refrain from the use of alcohol.
Lastly, never point a gun a anything you do not want to shoot.
As winter approaches, pond owners’ thoughts turn away from feeding their catfish. While it’s true that catfish don’t eat much feed in winter, pond owners serious about their ponds should not totally stop feeding. The lack of a winter feeding program in the winter months can negatively impact the fish’s growth the next growing season. Fingerling sized catfish are particularly susceptible to nutritional deficiencies caused by poor winter nutrition, including emaciation and increased susceptibility of disease and parasite problems.
Food-size catfish can lose up to 10 percent of their pre-winter body weight without a winter feeding program. Pond owners should continue to feed a floating ration containing at least 28 percent crude protein during the winter months. Sinking rations should be avoided because of the difficulty in determining whether the feed is actually consumed.
Landowners can feed up to 1 percent of the total fish weight present on warm afternoons. Catfish will respond best on days when water temperatures are 54 degrees Fahrenheit or above at the time of feeding. If the fish don’t respond to the initial feeding, landowners should discontinue feeding until water temperatures increase. Overfeeding may lead to water quality problems next spring.
Although weather conditions will dictate the actual frequency of feeding, every other day feeding has resulted in as much as 18 percent weight gain as a result of winter feeding programs.
The adoption of a winter feeding program is not for everyone. However, those pond owners intensively managing their ponds for catfish should consider winter feeding to increase fish performance during the next growing season.