May 9, 2008
You’ve called that strutting gobbler into range, aimed at his fist-sized noggin’, and fired. Problem is, that bird flopped then got up like a boxer in the ring with some fight left in him, and is flying off. It’s your move, now or never. That knockout punch you threw failed to deliver.
Most of the time, it’s best to call a wild turkey into range, and squeeze off a shot aimed at the standing bird’s head and neck. You’ve tried that. You’ve failed. Though it’s not the best way to anchor a spring gobbler, there are situations when taking a turkey on the wing is the only option, especially after missed chances, or worse yet, when that bird is wounded. Shooting flying turkeys is almost always a Plan B option. Still there are ways to do it right.
Speed Rules: When a gobbler flushes, you’ve got just seconds to deliver the payload. Shoulder the shotgun smoothly but swiftly, stock to cheek. Keep your head down. Track that big bird, find the neck and head in your sight picture—better yet, its wild black eye—and hit that intended target with a steady action.
Point It Out: Right-handed wingshooters often hold their left index finger along... [ Read Full Post ]
I was talking on the phone with my taxidermist the other day and he was telling me about a monster 14 point he had mounted earlier in the year. It’s the kind of buck that would make you call in sick for work all deer season. This giant Kentucky deer was taken on a small farm in Wayne County by longtime hunter Larry Marcum. He had really put his time in hunting this particular buck and was determined to hang his tag on this deer. Over a three-year period, Marcum had collected a number of trail-cam pictures of the deer and had spent countless hours in the field scouting this amazing whitetail. Two years ago he had a close encounter with the buck during an evening bowhunt that ended with a heartbreaking miss after misjudging the yardage. The miss made him even more determined.
Last season, he knew the buck’s daily patterns and was so close he could almost... [ Read Full Post ]
Connecticut is just emerging from winter’s freeze and the fish are hungry. Grady Allen at Upcountry Sportfishing (www.farmingtonriver.com) reported that the high water on the Farmington River is starting to recede from last weekend’s deluge and resulting snow melt further north. Even though trout season doesn’t open until late April, the catch-and-release action for browns and rainbows is fantastic. “No one takes the fish home so they are plentiful,” Allen says. Flyfishermen are fooling these trout with small nymphs and wooly-buggers while spincasters are having luck with yellow coach dog Roostertails. By the end of March, he expects the dry fly action to heat up. “When the water drops, anglers will switch to dry flies,” he explained, recommending bluewing olives or quill Gordons to produce the best.
In southern Delaware, anglers are emerging from their houses and fish are emerging from the ice. Carol Taylor at Taylored Tackle (302-629-9017) in Seaford says they’ve already seen some big fish brought [ Read Full Post ]
Here’s a quick look at some of the offbeat tales the Outdoor Newshound as been tracking this week.
In Knoxville, Tenn., the winningest coach in NCAA women’s basketball history is recovering from a dislocated shoulder after she had a late-night run-in with a rascally raccoon.
Tennessee Lady Volunteers head basketball coach Pat Summitt said she went to her home’s backyard deck one night last week to see why her yellow Lab was barking. There she found a fat raccoon raised on its hind legs, ready to do battle with her dog, Sally.
Summitt said she used her forearm to smack the big ‘coon off the deck, with such force that she injured herself.
“I was in dire pain,” she said. “I looked down, and there was an indent. I knew (my shoulder) was out.”
Also in Tennessee this week, authorities in Church Hill are continuing to investigate who was responsible for placing an odorous substance in an air-conditioning unit that sickened a roomful of students at Volunteer High School.
Police Chief Mark Johnson said he ‘s pretty certain what caused the big stink, which makes him believe a... [ Read Full Post ]
Rick DeMilt is a man on a mission. As senior vice president of sales and marketing at FNH USA, he wants to raise the profile of this firearms manufacturer.
“Who is FN?” he asked, in a commanding voice at a recent FNH seminar. “Too many people have no clue what we are! The fact is, we supply seventy percent of the U. S. military’s small arms, including the M240, M249 SAW, and M16; we have a manufacturing facility on U.S. soil in Columbia, South Carolina; and Browning and Winchester are part of the FN Herstal group.”
Soon, everyone will know what FNH USA has to offer, if this industry veteran has his way. As DeMilt notes, for more than 100 years Belgium-based FN Herstal has made acclaimed high-performance firearms for a worldwide market. The U.S. arm, FNH USA, opened its doors here in 1998. “Since then, we’ve offered a wide spectrum of innovative, versatile, value-packed, high-quality firearms.”
“We know our customers love our product,” he says, “but we haven’t done enough to really get the FN name out there.” He intends to fix that with a new ad campaign... [ Read Full Post ]
Historic legislation is headed to the governor’s desk that will make West Virginia the first state in the U.S. to offer a hunting and firearms safety education course as public school curriculum for students in grades 6 through 12.
Supporters of the bill said they hoped the measure would help stem the decline in the growth of hunting in The Mountain State by making the classes more accessible to potential hunters. In the past decade, West Virginia has seen a marked drop in the number of deer-hunting licenses, and, like many similar states, is looking for ways to reverse the loss of license revenue.
In addition, you may remember a report we blogged here last October, in which data from the State Farm Insurance Co. cited West Virginia as having the most deer/vehicular accidents per capita of any state in the country. In a state where a motorist’s chances of engaging a whitetail with a car bumper are one in 57, you can bet that folks would prefer to see the deer population reduced by hunters.
While the legislation passed last week stopped short of mandating the... [ Read Full Post ]
When I was a kid, the most eagerly awaited catalog in my house was the Sears Christmas toy catalog. I would drool over the toy soldier and train sets…as well as The Great Garloo. These days, the drooling begins with the arrival of the Brownell’s catalog. The one on my desk right now weighs in at 500 pages, and it’s chock full tools, accessories and “must-have” doo-dads for die-hard shooters.
Over the years, I’ve gotten to know the Brownell family. Like so many other folks in the shooting sports industry, they constantly look for a ways to give back to the industry and their community.
Given that so much of the catalog space is devoted to gunsmithing tools and accessories, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Brownells wonder where the next generation of gunsmiths will come from. We know this: they won’t just materialize out of thin air, and most public schools don’t exactly encourage this line of work. [ Read Full Post ]
The grainy photos came across my modem like some sort of espionage footage, but it was the screaming tag line “40 INCHER” that caught my attention.
The photo looked like either an elk or a deer caught out in a fuzz storm, but there was something stuck to its head. Was that the crossbar to a clothesline? Or maybe an old-fashioned television aerial?
The email was from my friend Bret Maffenbeier, a hardcore coyote hunter who lives just across the border from me in southern Saskatchewan. I met Bret through mutual friends who described him as the only amateur predator hunter—meaning he doesn’t get a dime from sponsors or any revenue besides what he can fetch for his furs—they know who kills more than 100 coyotes every winter.
Turns out, Bret hunts a lot more than just coyotes. The message that accompanied the photo revealed both the identity of the animal and the origin of the surveillance photo.
“Been hunting a 220-class muley, putting in every second I can to get him,” Bret wrote in his breathless style. “Had two close calls so far, hopefully I will connect!! Hope to talk... [ Read Full Post ]
Georgia: Turkey hunters across the state are dusting off their calls in preparation for another exciting turkey season. Opening day is Saturday, Mar. 22 and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) anticipates another enjoyable season. Overall, the state’s turkey population is good but in need of a few years of better reproduction and more of an emphasis on good brooding and nesting habitat across the landscape—TheCitizen.com
Indiana: “If you put corn or sunflower seeds out for turkeys, you’ve set the table for a potential nuisance problem,” explained Indiana research biologist Steve Backs. “Your good intentions can create major problems for you and your neighbors.”
Once turkeys are comfortable with the environment, they will roost on cars and lawn furniture, leaving behind messy droppings. If that’s not enough, their spurs are sharp and their feet carry grit, capable of causing significant damage to car roofs and hoods.
“To them, that car is nothing more than a colored rock,” Backs said.—SouthBendTribune.com
Tennessee: A bird with a brain the size of a walnut makes a fool out of my buddies and me every spring.We love it.
The very fact that idiots like us can pursue the wild turkey in the first place... [ Read Full Post ]
I just returned from our annual Outdoor Life gun test last week. As usual, we gathered at Jim Carmichel’s where, for nearly a week, our team of experts tested all of the latest rifles and shotguns. We have a very dedicated team of shooters, whose credentials, be they riflemen or shotgunners, are truly impressive. Everyone there really knows his stuff, which is why I feel our gun test is the most comprehensive (and honest) out there. (But I’m not biased.)
Two things struck me about this year’s test. First, just how cold it can get in Tennessee. Conditions our first day on the range was cool and breezy, but at least the sun was out. By day 2, however, heavy rains had set in and temperatures plummeted. By day 3 we were dealing with near-blizzard conditions as winds whipped up snow squalls. Looking through a riflescope reminded me of gazing into one of those snow globes you shake up and watch as the flakes swirl around inside.
Despite the conditions, we managed to get some very good groups shot over the course of several days. What struck me was just how good factory guns (even the less expensive ones) have become and just... [ Read Full Post ]
Two questions…two answers…two minutes to get to the point. Each Tuesday, we plan on asking the best turkey hunters in the country for their answers to some of turkey hunting’s toughest questions.
This week, the Strut Zone welcomes Chris Kirby, President of Quaker Boy Game Calls and one of only two people to accomplish a career grand slam on the turkey calling stage.
STRUT ZONE: Is there such a thing as an “uncallable” turkey?
CHRIS KIRBY: Yes, one that just took a load of 6s to his brain. All kidding aside, there is no such thing as an uncallable turkey. There is however, such thing as an uncallable turkey on a particular day. The seasons are generally 25 to 30 days long. I believe that eventually, on one of the days, every gobbler is callable. A gobbler that hosts 1 to 6 hens at daybreak, is the least callable turkey. Unless you take a wicked aggressive approach of busting the flock up before daybreak, then calling them back together the first hour or so. By changing the dynamics of the situation—getting the hens away from a gobbler—you have given yourself a fighting chance. He is uncallable, if his day goes by with... [ Read Full Post ]
The two things every deer hunter can remember are taking that first whitetail deer and their biggest buck. As a dad, another memory that will stick with you throughout the rest of your life is experiencing your child’s first deer and sharing this special moment together. Your child’s first deer brings those memories back and you realize the tradition of hunting has come full circle.
One thing is for sure, 9-year old Mason Hancock and his father Justin will never forget the December 29, 2007 Kentucky free youth hunt season. Mason and his father were hunting their small family farm in Union County. Young Mason was hoping to have better luck than he had experienced during Kentucky’s early youth season in October when he received his first hard knock of hunting by missing a doe. Like all good hunters, Mason learned a lot from a painful mistake and was ready to try again. On this late-season trip, a buck that would test the nerves of even the most experienced hunter was about to walk out of a dream and into a cleared shooting lane.
Mason’s father spotted... [ Read Full Post ]
A Grand Slammer from way back, Matt Morrett, has hunted all four U.S. turkey subspecies successfully, scouting for them as early as possible. Strut Zoners should too.
For Eastern gobblers, the Hunter’s Specialties national pro-staffer looks for what he calls “greened-up” areas. Mountain bottoms. Farmland rolling into hills—especially south or east slopes, places that green up first. Hens will nest near fields, gobblers will follow, and you can locate them according to the sign you find: droppings, scratchings and feathers.
“Tracks in late snow help you identify birds as well,” Morrett says. “You’ll see winter farmland turkeys feeding on waste corn in spread manure. You can follow this activity right up until the season begins as days warm—even during the hunt.”
As Rio Grande turkeys go, find water holes on scouting trips. “Turkeys move there from their roosts every day,” says Morrett. Finding water near roosting areas, either natural or manmade, is his key to scouting Rios.
Osceolas live with varying water conditions. As a result, turkey ground sign in Florida swamps can be tough to find. To meet this challenge, Morrett suggests using binoculars to glass open areas near pine woods,... [ Read Full Post ]
A complex investigation that included river stake-outs, videotaping, undercover work and the implanting of microscopic ID tags into the tails of hatchery trout all contributed to the arrest and conviction of a N. California restaurateur for a string of fishing violations.
Larry Baker, Sr. pled guilty in January to charges of unlawful take of trout, unlawful sale of trout, illegal fish in an eating establishment and littering, all violations of the California Fish and Game Code. He was ordered to pay $5,323 in restitution, sentenced to 30 days in jail, placed on probation and banned from fishing in California for three years.
During a four-month surveillance and undercover operation by the California Fish and Game Department in 2007, Baker was observed exceeding the daily limit of trout from the Sacramento River and then selling them at his restaurant—The River Café--in downtown Dunsmuir.
Joe Powell, the Mount Shasta area game warden who led the investigation into Baker’s illegal fishing activities, worked with a fisheries biologist to implant coded wire tags into the tails of about 300 hatchery trout. The micro-wire detectors contain data and are normally used to track... [ Read Full Post ]
“Every kid should have an old man. I don’t mean just a father. Fathers are all right and I’m not knocking them, since I’m one myself, but from a kid’s point of view they spend entirely too much time at a thing called the office or some other equally boring place of work. If you’re a kid, what you need is someone who can take you out hunting or fishing or just poking around in the woods anytime you feel the urge. That’s an old man. Doing things like that is what old men were designed for.”
“The Theory and Application of Old Men”
A Fine and Pleasant Misery, 1981 [ Read Full Post ]