Monday, January 26, 2015

Jan 31st Ice Fishing Event CANCELLED

Our Ice fishing Extravaganza scheduled for Jan 31st unfortunately has to be rescheduled due to unsafe ice. We are moving the event to Saturday, Feb 7th and joining up with the Fishing Derby already scheduled for that day.


So here are the new event details: Cost is $50 per two man team for those entering the derby. For those who just want to come hang out and eat lunch on the ice, the cost is a $10 donation to Hooked On Fishing Park.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Upcoming Pond Boss Conference and Expo

I would like to personally invite you to the National Pond Boss Conference and Expo. Every pond, lake, and land owner along with every young buck hoping to learn a thing or two about cutting edge management of fish and wildlife wont want to miss this event February 19-21 2015 at the Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront on Lake Ray Hubbard.

Seriously, this is a superstar collection of the nations top private fishery and wildlife biologists sharing their secrets to success. Not only just sharing their information, but you will also have time to talk to most of them all personally throughout the weekend about your exact situations and experiences.

The information and networking you will gain from this event is life changing and priceless. I stumbled across Pond Boss Magazine about 10 years ago. The things I have learned and the people I have met through the magazine and conferences have shaped my core management techniques.

The magazine is packed with information for property owners who want to push the envelope in attracting wildlife and growing abnormally large fish; and the conference brings it all to life!


You can Register online at Pond Boss Registration or just click the link for more information. Also you can always register over the phone at 800-687-6075

This will be my 6th conference, but the first time I will be speaking at it! I am super excited. Here is a line up of speakers for the event.
Pond Boss VI Speaker Program - Talk Details

Hopefully will see some of you guys down in Dallas! You can always contact me direct for more information as well- nate@hblakemanagement.com

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Upcoming Ice Fishing Events

The ice is getting thicker and we are planning some really fun ice fishing events for the end of this month! Right now its too cold to be out fishing, but once this polar equinox or vertex or cold front moves or whatever you want to call it, once its gone and things warm up a bit the fishing will be on FIRE!


The perfect day of ice fishing involves alot of friends, a big bonfire, hot chocolate, Chef Todd's famous pot of soup, and of course catching lots of fish! Even if you have no ice fishing gear or dont care to fish in general, just getting outside with the family and hanging out with everyone on the lake is a great way to help stave off those winter blues! Not to mention that experiences and adventures like this are life changing for those kiddos.



 We have two big events planned for this winter. The first one is the Giant Goose Ranch family ice fishing extravaganza on Saturday, January 31st. We will be ice fishing from 8-4 pm that day with Chef Todd's famous lunch at Noon.



Bonfire and Hot Chocolate will be available all day, and you can make plans to stay all day or simply come for however long you think your kids can make it outside. We will have a portable outhouse with a cold seat out near the lakes, but also have a heated bathouse up at the goose ranch office as well....


We will have 100's of ice fishing holes drilled and plenty of helpers to help everyone catch some fish! We even have a special kids fishing pond set up for ice fishing that is full of plump rainbow trout, feisty bluegill and bass, and even a handful of big bonus crappie for the kids.




The cost for this event is free for kids 15 and under, $5 per goose ranch member, $5 for women (non-members), and $75 for men (non-members). Just email nate@hblakemanagement.com for questions, directions and details.

The next event we are hosting is on Saturday, Feb 7th! It actually is an ice fishing derby with not only great prizes, but braggin rights on the line. More than the competition though, this ice fishing derby is a fundraiser for the Hooked on Fishing Park in East Peoria.

Each year Hooked on Fishing teaches thousands of kids and takes senior citizens fishing free of charge over at their East Peoria ponds. Its an amazing facility that is picture perfect for introducing children to fishing and taking bus loads of residents from nursing and handicap homes.
There is no shortage of kids and seniors that are on the list to come fishing each summer, but the limiting factor is simply raising the funds and having the volunteers necessary to do so. We could use your help!


If you like to ice fish come on out and enter the derby with a partner. The entry fee is $50 per two man team and 100% of the funds go directly towards 2015 operating costs at the fishing park. The derby runs from 8-12 with a famous Chef Todd lunch and weigh in right at noon. Following the weigh in, the Goose Ranch will also be open for more ice fishing until 4 pm.

Presley's Outdoors in Bartonville is sponsoring and putting on this event so stop on down and sign up there or contact dan@presleysoutdoors.com for more information.



One last event is for any pondmeisters up in Wisconsin!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Meadows Lake Renovation

 Here is a neat video of the Meadows Lake renovation that is just about completed. We've been working nonstop renovating the Goose Ranch out in Canton, IL for the last year. The Giant Goose Ranch is quickly becoming the Midwests' Premier fishing, hunting, camping, and family recreation area!



The meadows lake area is at the north end of the property and was a low, swampy 40 acre jungle. We raised the elevation of the whole field by adding 3-4' of dirt along the east edge of the field and gradually sloped the water to the west. We raised the level of this lake by 2.5' and we pulled the dirt needed for all this from along the edges of the lake.  By doing all this, we more than doubled the size of the lake and created the coolest future camping area ever.

This area is being turned into a new premium camping area. We have 70 new lakefront campsites going in this area. The sites are all 60' wide and apprx 60-100' deep. These campsites lease by the year and along with having your own private lot, you also have access to all of the other lakes and ponds on the property. Over 35 of these sites have already been reserved in advance, and I'm thinking the remainder will be spoken for sometime around Memorial Day.

The Goose Ranch really is the coolest concept ever for outdoor family recreation. You and your family have your own private lakefront lot on an 830 acre intensively managed property with tons of lakes and miles of trails to explore and here's the best part: Herman Brothers does all the work, you guys just come out and have fun! Catch some trout and about 15 other species of fish, hike, cookout, hangout, and top off the evening with a campfire!

Here is a before and after shot of the Meadows Lae area. The main lake and field in the center of the image was the main focus. Oh yeah, we also needed even more dirt so we dug a new lake on all along the south edge of the field and connected it to meadows lake as well.

Meadows lake after a major remodel.

It sounds kinda crazy for a property with 52 existing lakes and ponds to be digging new lakes, but thats the best way for us to get the dirt we need is to simply dig a pond.... When moving dirt, a big key to efficiency is to not move it far. For us at the goose ranch, that means there are going to be quite a few more lakes and ponds all over the place, cause we need alot of dirt all over for various projects!

Also as part of our renovations, you will see lots of islands. To gain depth in many situations where depth is critical, the most efficient way to do it is to make islands. You only need to touch the dirt once with the machine and can quickly turn a shallow area into fish heaven with good depth and contour. Fish tend to congregate around islands, just as much as people do!

Alot of people have asked about the stocking strategy for this lake. My answer is there wont be any additional stocking, and the fishing is gonna be dynamite quic!. You see, when you double the size of a lake whether it be by excavating or flooding, the existing fish typically respond by growing much larger than usual! This lake already had a good population of average sized crappie, bluegill, and bass. By the end of this upcoming summer, this will be one of the better fishing lakes on the property just from these average sized fish getting more room to roam and more food to eat....

You will see in the video, alot of Caterpillar machinery. None of these renovations would be possible without the guys from Altorfer- the local Cat Rental Store. This portion is gonna sound like an endorsement, and it kinda is, but I feel is appropriate because it will help many landowners knowing this information.

Renting bigger machinery or any machinery is a pretty intimidating thing for most guys to do, or they dont even know its possible to begin with. The guys at Altorfer have helped us tremendously, by not only providing equipment, but helping us utilize the exact right equipment for each specific task.

This summer we have used Altorfer's equipment on properties all over the midwest. Skid Steers, Concrete Mixers, Lighted Generators, Mini-Excavators, Big Excavators, Bulldozers, Manlifts, Water Pumps, Vibratory Compactor, and many other items. They drop the equipment off for us at the jobsite and then pick it up for us when we are done.

The reason I mention this, is because MOST landowners do not know how convenient and affordable renting equipment is compared to owning. No maintenance, no trailering, no storing, and no worries. Just rent the right piece of equipment for the specific task at hand and let the rental company take care of the rest.

Fixing roads, spreading rock, clearing food plots, clearing timber, making trails, creek crossings, digging ponds, or anything you can think of at your property is now possible once you start a relationship with your local rental company. Don't be intimidated by any job (big or small) on your property ever again, just rent the right machine and get er done.

Not only have we been doing projects around the area this summer, but weve been tackling projects across the country utilizing rental equipment. We've had crews working down as far as Alabama for a couple weeks at the same time as crews are still working full bore up here. Starting our relationships with equipment rental companies this past year has helped us take on 5 times as many projects as normal, because we dont have to tie up manpower transporting or maintaining equipment, and we dont tie up capital purchasing 20 different high dollar machines.

This project in Alabama we utilized small skid steer type machine along with a transit, a trailer, and a compactor from a local rental company. Here are some befores and afters. You can see tv cameras in some of the pics. Starting in April, we will have a new episode of our show Lake Life out every week all summer long on Great American Country Channel and the DIY Network. The camera crew from New York followed us around for over 4 months putting together the episodes for a whole series this upcoming summer!






So now we are into 2015 and it is flat out cold outside. December was relatively mild and we just got about 4 inches of snow and looks like the temps are gonna be potentially as cold as negative 15 degrees tomorrow night.

Ice isnt safe quite yet for ice fishing, but should be soon with those cold temps predicted. We are planning an ice fishing day on Saturday, Jan 31 and February 7th. Just email nate@hblakemanagement.com for more details.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Shotgun Deer Season Recap

Friday was cold. Deer moved, but my brothers and I didnt shoot anything.
Saturday was warm. Deer didnt move much, and we didnt shoot anything.
Sunday was by far my favorite and most memorable deer hunt to date.

At 4:30 am I woke up my two boys Noah (7) and Drake (4) and got their hunting coveralls on and we were out the door by 4:45. En Route to the hunting farm, we stopped at the gas station and loaded up on donuts and chocolate milk.

When we got to the farm, we had about 3/4 mile walk thru the woods to get to our deer hunting blind. We needed to hunt in the enclosed blind because of the rain in the forecast. I not only carried the backpack with snacks and drinks along with the gun, but had two little hands clinched tighter than you can imagine on that little hike thru the woods in the complete darkness.

We got up to the blind about 5:55 am and it started to rain shortly thereafter. The dark, overcast morning meant that it was gonna be awhile yet before it would be light enough to shoot, so the boys curled up and fell asleep.


About 6:45 am we had 2 does walk into our food plot, but it was still a little dark and I wasnt gonna shoot one till the boys were awake and I wasnt gonna wake the boys till it got a little lighter out.

7 am the boys got up with the sun and we had a couple coyotes come down a trail about 60 yards away. We tried to get one, but they kept moving away too quickly for us to shoot.

Then 15 minutes later a small 8 pointer comes down the same trail.... We talked about letting the boy deer grow up to become a big daddy deer... big daddy is something they can relate to all too well as their father is a pretty large guy.

We saw some deer off in the distance a few different times, ate all our snacks, talked about life and told some hunting stories about coyotes, deer, and of course wolves and bears... That time spent in the blind, none of us would trade for anything in the world, but that warm fuzzy feeling wouldnt be able to last too much longer with such young boys filled with that much sugar, couped up in such a small space....

I knew time was running short and finally about 8:15 am a young doe comes trotting straight to us! Literally not 5 minutes after praying a short silent prayer of please Lord bless us with a deer to harvest... I dont usually pray those prayers when I am hunting by myself, but this day I wanted to harvest a deer more than any other day of hunting. We were able to spot her 200 yards out so that gave us just enough time to get situated, ears covered, and in good shooting/observing position.

She stopped 25 yards from us and she dropped right in her tracks. All three of us immediately looked at each other with a moment of silent amazement and then the excitement couldnt be contained when we all fully realized we had just actually harvested our first deer together... we have been watching a few hunting shows and playing pretend hunting in our living room since these boys were old enough to walk, but now this was the real deal.


Harvesting this first deer together is a moment in time that we will never forget. After 15 minutes of waiting and talking about harvesting an animal, it was time for the boys to go down and find her.


They spent a few minutes alone down by the deer looking at her up close and then I came down and taught them how to drag her and we got her cleaned up and snapped a few photos.


Then it was time to go get the truck and load her up and get her processed when Drake would not let us leave the deer. He didnt want any coyotes or anyone else to come and get her while we went to go get the truck. He had two solutions- either we drag the deer all the way to the truck or he would stay and guard the deer. He was worried, but Noah and I finally convinced him to come with us and that we would be right back.

So we made it back to the deer safe and sound, loaded her up and took her to my parents place just a few miles away to get her skinned and processed... We learned that she was eating alot of corn and alfalfa, we examined her heart and liver and packed up all the meat. We saved the loins and roast for some upcoming venison recipes and froze the rest of the meat for grinding later this winter.

By 1 pm we were on the road for home and some Sunday afternoon naps. The boys learned more today on this day of hunting than they could ever learn in a lifetime of schooling. It was a moment that will forever be etched in their minds and will help shape them into not only responsible hunters, but respectful humans. A special moment like this I dont think you can have by playing sports or video games together, a moment like this is something that goes far beyond quality time together.

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”

Right now, our deer population is indeed lower than it has been in the past few years. This doesnt mean we are gonna throw in the towel and stop hunting and stop teaching and stop managing. What this means is that we are going to work harder and harvest smarter so that we can continue to teach our future hunters and help our deer herds prosper. Being good stewards will be a combination of boots on the ground habitat management along with some necessary legislation changes to ensure hunting opportunities for future generations. My motto is that anything and everything can be improved upon, so lets get to work...

At our farms we are harvesting very few deer (much fewer deer than in the past), controlling predators as much as possible, and we are making sure necessary food, cover, and water are available for our animals all year round. Then next year we will improve upon what weve done and so on so forth until we are old  men sitting back in reclining chairs hearing stories of our boys' boys harvesting their first deer!