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Less than a week to go! Don’t want to wish time to go any faster than it does already, but for the last few weeks, I have been looking forward to April 18th, attempting to be patient, but at times acting as if I have a bad case of cabin fever.
About four weeks ago I opened up my case containing my inventory of turkey calls so I could start brushing up on my turkey calling. Box calls, pot calls, and mouth calls all received equal time. I sure do enjoy practicing with my turkey calls. What a thrill it is to be able to talk the turkey language and bring a mature gobbler in close for a shot.
I’ve debated with myself over the last several years whether I have come to prefer turkey hunting more than deer hunting. Since I’ve never been able to determine a clear winner, I consider it a tie. Because any time I can get out to hunt, then that type of hunting is my favorite.
Last year I didn’t get to turkey hunt as much as I would have liked to. When I did get out, job responsibilities limited me to only an hour or so of hunting each morning during the week. I did shoot a nice mature gobbler on Thursday of opening week…22 ½ pounds, 9 inch beard and 1 ¼ inch spurs. This spring though, no time restraints!
I’ve added a new box call to my arsenal and looking forward to using it on opening day. It is a Ragin’ Hot Box Call with a Cherry lid and Butternut sides and bottom from Bradley Custom Calls. The box call has great tone and pitch for clucking, yelping and cackling. It was hand tuned by the owner, Rick “Hoot” Bradley. When I called the company to place my order, the customer service provided by Rick was excellent. I would highly recommend checking out their calls and if you have any questions, give them a call.
As I have done in the past in preparation of opening morning, I have chosen my turkey calls that will be loaded in my turkey vest on opening day
Bradley Customer Calls “Ragin’ Hot Box Call”
David Halloran “Checkered Box Call” (Purple Heart Lid and Cedar Sides and Bottom)
David Halloran “Total Knockout” and “She Devil” Mouth Calls
David Halloran “Crystal Mistress” Pot Call
Primos “Jackpot Slate Turkey Call”
Wishing success for all those that head out to pursue the stately turkey this spring.
Hello everyone. What an extremely busy year 2014 was. With our daughter and our three grandchildren living with us for the past two years, and starting a new business venture in June, I haven’t carved out any time to do any writing.
With Spring and turkey season looming in the not too far future, I would like to relate a story about myself that happened during spring turkey season in 2014. I was fortunate to kill two birds in two days of hunting in Ohio which I wrote about in “Same Set-up Twice – Same Result Twice“. Since I had such good fortune early on, I decided to turkey hunt in West Virginia. Living near the banks of the Ohio River, in 10 minutes I can be in West Virginia. My story I’m about to relate isn’t about a successful turkey hunt in West Virginia, but one I consider is a safety concern.
I woke up on a Sunday morning in May around 3:00, with pain in my right knee. My knee was also red and warm to the touch. I could barely stand to have a sheet laying on it. I got up and went to the living room, turned the television on and laid on the couch. I’m thinking to myself the pain is going to go away shortly. Well, I was wrong. By 6:00, the pain was worse; my knee was redder; it was very warm to the touch; and it was beginning to swell. I woke my wife up and said you better take me to the hospital…something is wrong with my knee.
We arrived at the hospital around 7:00. When I got out of the car and stood up, my knee began to throb. With help from my wife, I hobbled through the doors to the Emergency Room. Soon I was in an examination room and a doctor was examining me and asking me questions. I’m telling him I think something may have bit me, maybe a spider. The day before while sitting up against a tree turkey hunting, there must have been over a hundred small spiders crawling near me. I also told him I had a tick embedded in me that I had removed a couple of weeks ago.
After his examination, he diagnosed it as bursitis. He explained bursitis can occur just from a bad bump to your knee. I couldn’t remember any recent occurrences where I banged my knee into anything. But being an active individual, maybe it was an accumulation of wear and tear over the years. The hospital took x-rays; gave me some pain medication and an antibiotic; and placed me in a room for observation.
A couple of hours later, the condition of my knee was worse. The redness was starting to spread above and below my knee. I was going to have to stay in the hospital. I was moved to another room where I was started on an intravenous drip of antibiotics.
The original diagnosis of bursitis was changed to cellulitis: a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. Cellulitis appears as a swollen, red area of skin that feels hot and tender, and it may spread rapidly.Cellulitis occurs when one or more types of bacteria enter through a crack or break in your skin. The bacteria in my leg probably entered through a crack in my skin when I crossed a creek. The crack in my skin was between two of my toes due to a mild case of athlete’s foot. The water level where I normally crossed the creek was way up due to rain. This was the narrowest spot and I wanted to hunt an area on the other side. As I set out crossing the creek, the water level went above my boot and my feet got soaked. Who knows what kind of bacteria was in the water.
At one point of my stay in the hospital, the redness and swelling was from my ankle to my groin and I couldn’t be in a standing position because the throbbing in my knee and leg was almost unbearable. After five days in the hospital, the thought went through my head that I might lose my leg. To complicate matters, I had a reaction to one of the antibiotics that seemed to be helping. So I was put on two different antibiotics. Because of the potency of these two antibiotics, my vein where the IV was inserted would begin to burn after about three doses, so the nurses had to change the location of my IV several times.
Finally, after 9 days and surgery on my knee, I started to show some improvement and on the 12th day I was released. I remained on oral antibiotics for another 7 days after my release. A trip to the doctor’s office after I completed my oral antibiotics revealed all signs of infection were gone. I was very thankful for the doctors and nurses that treated me and grateful to have both of my legs.
So when out hunting this spring for turkeys, sheds and morels, be careful when you have to travel through water; especially if you have any cuts or broken skin on or near your feet. Be sure to wear a good pair of water proof boots. Also, pay special attention to the depth of the water you traverse, especially if you have any breaks in your skin on or around your feet. Seek medical treatment immediately if you develop any signs of a skin infection, such as warmth, redness, swelling, or pain.
Easter Sunday, my wife and I went to her parent’s home to visit and have dinner. My brother-in-law, who is an avid West Virginia turkey hunter, asked me if I was ready for Ohio’s opening day. His opening day isn’t until April 28th. I told him I was ready. Actually I was ready for a couple of weeks…although I did do some gear checks on Saturday to be sure I had everything organized in my turkey vest.
When I went to bed Sunday evening I set my alarm for 4:00 am Monday morning but got up at 3:40 am. Nothing like the excitement of opening morning. I was like the little kid on the Disney commercial that says “I’m too excited to sleep.” I drank a cup of coffee, ate a bowl of cereal, and read the news headlines. Finally it was time to get my hunting clothes on. Dressed, truck loaded and ready to go! It’s about a 30 minute drive to the 80 acres of private property I hunt. When I arrived, the temperature was in the low 40’s, the sky was clear, and the wind was calm. I put my coat on, then my turkey vest, grabbed my decoy bag and gun and started towards my favorite turkey hunting spot.
My favorite spot is a small field, about two acres, in the front portion of the property. The rest of the property is wooded, except for a small clearing in the back of the property. There is a large clump of autumn olive perhaps 30 feet by 30 feet that I sit in. It provides excellent camouflage. I was excited to use a new decoy I recently purchased, a Hunter Specialties Woody Jake Decoy. It was on sale at Cabela’s. It appears the decoy is being discontinued perhaps because it is a hard polycarbonate body decoy making it harder to carry than your collapsible type decoys. If I was going to be on the move to hunt turkeys, I would not use this decoy. The Woody decoy is in a submissive posture. It looks very realistic and has taxidermy quality eyes. The beard could be better. It looks like it is made of a handful of rubber bands. To complement the Woody Jake, I coupled it with a Primos She-Mobile staked as a contented hen.
As I was setting up my decoys, I heard three turkeys gobble. It was the area I had hoped they would be. They were roosted about 150 to 200 yards away. I sat down on my H.S. Strut Turkey Seat and set out the calls I was going to use. I chose a Rohm Brothers Cedar Box Call and a Quaker Boy Old Boss Hen mouth call. As I was getting my calls out, I heard a total of 8 different birds gobbling. I started calling at 6:10 with the box call and immediately got a response from the three gobblers I heard while setting up decoys. I also got a response from some hens. One hen in particular was being very vocal. They were between me and the gobblers. About 6:30 or so, the three gobblers got quite and I figured they followed the vocal hen. I waited about 10 minutes, then used my mouth call and got a response. The gobblers were closer. I called again and they answered again. A few minutes later my call got answered and they had closed the gap. The next time I heard them gobble, I knew they were in the field but couldn’t yet see them. Then to my left they came into view…two mature birds. They strutted then started moving quickly to my decoys. The second bird looked a little bigger so I focused on him. The first bird went right up to my decoy and the second bird stopped about 5 yards behind. I pulled the trigger of my Mossberg 835 and the 3 ½ inch Federal Magnum dropped the bird at 20 yards.
After filling out my tag, I loaded up my gear and walked back to my truck. When I got home I checked the weight, beard length and spur length. The long beard weighed 20 pounds, had a 10 inch beard, and 1” spurs.
I didn’t get to hunt on Tuesday, but prepared to go back out on Wednesday. I decided to hunt the same spot. This time I started calling with a Knight and Hale Bloodwood Cutter box call and had a Primos True Triple mouth call ready. I didn’t hear a gobble until almost 6:20 am. During the next 50 minutes I called from time to time using both the box call and mouth call. Sometimes I got an answer and sometimes I did not. I heard a lot of hen talk and felt the gobbler was paying more attention to them than to my calling. The hens seemed to be moving through the woods about 100 yards in front of me. At around 7:10 I was startled when to the left of me I saw birds in the field. They had made no sound and were approaching my decoys. There were three hens and a jake. I watched as they milled around for a while and then headed off in a westerly direction, the direction they came from. My vision was limited because of the autumn olive. I wasn’t sure if they went behind me or continued westward.
I waited for about 15 minutes before I called again. This time I used a M.A.D. Cherry Bomb box call. I got an immediate response from a gobbler. He was in the woods somewhere out in front of me to my left. I waited a couple of minutes, did another yelp and got another immediate response. This time the gobbler was closer. He was definitely closing the gap. After another couple of minutes I saw him. He was in a depression in the field and all I could see was the top of his tail feathers. He was strutting. Then I heard hens talking. They were the three hens I saw earlier. They were to my left about 60 to 70 yards away, still in the field. The jake was still with them. At this point I wasn’t able to identify the gobbler I called in as a long beard or a jake. As the unknown gobbler approached the jake, I saw that he was a long beard. There was no fighting between the two, but the long beard was making it known that he was the boss. I hit the box call and he immediately gobbled. I did some yelping on the mouth call but he was too interested in the three hens and the jake.
So instead of trying to get him to come to me, I thought I would try to get the hens to come to me. With my mouth call, I started purring and doing some soft yelps. It worked! The hens started to come back down towards my decoys. The jake and the long beard followed. As they got near my set-up, the long beard, who was bringing up the rear, started to move past the jake and the hens to get to my Woody Jake decoy. He moved past the jake and two of the hens and settled in behind the lead hen. When the lead hen moved forward, he hesitated and it gave me an opening to shoot. The bird was down at 7:40 am.
Carrying this bird back to the truck, I knew he was heavier than the 20 pound bird I shot on Monday. When I got him home, he tipped the scales at 24 pounds, had a nine inch beard, and 1 1/8 inch spurs.
Two days hunting, same hunting location, the same exact decoy set-up, 2 mature long beards and a total time spent hunting of 2 hours and 39 minutes. It was a great turkey season but because it ended so early, now I have to wait longer for next year’s season to begin.
View attachment 34
Second Turkey: 24 pounds, 9 inch beard, 1 1/8 inch spurs
It was 16 degrees when we left my truck on Sunday morning to pursue the whitetail during Ohio’s Muzzleloader Season. Even though it was cold, it was warmer than the previous morning when we entered the woods and it was only 4 degrees. I was equipped with a Traditions Pursuit Ambush .50-caliber muzzleloader topped with a 3-9 variable scope and loaded with 2 – 50 grain Triple Seven Pellets, a .50 caliber Hornady SST bullet, and a CCI 209 primer. I had purchased the gun two years ago and this was the first muzzleloader season I was using it to hunt with.
I like to still hunt but since I was hunting with the landowner and his son on their 80 acres, I decided to hunt from a treestand. The previous morning I was in the same stand and saw one doe. She was about 125 yards away across a ravine. Out of range for me plus there was a lot of limbs and undergrowth. Even if she was within my comfort range of 100 yards or less, I don’t think I would have been able to get a clean shot.
We all walked together until we reached the point where we headed off in separate directions. I walked an old logging road until I reached the point where I headed up a hill towards my treestand. I unloaded my backpack, put on my outer layers of clothing, climbed up the Ameristep Rapid Rails and got settled in on the Millennium Treestand around 7:30. It was a cloudy morning unlike the previous morning when the sun was shining. Around 8:30 I heard noise down below me towards the old logging road I used to approach my treestand. The logging road is about 70 to 80 yards below me. It was a coyote. Then I saw another…then another…then another. In all there were five coyotes traveling together. They ended up going around the hill and came up the ravine in front of me where they went past me at around 40 yards. I have seen two coyotes together before but this was the first time I saw more than two coyotes traveling together.
Excited to see the coyotes but also disappointed they moved through my hunting area, I settled back in and waited. The wait was over around 11:00. I was scanning the area below me when I saw a deer about 50 to 60 yards away. I was unable to get a shot. The deer moved around the hill out of sight. I felt the deer would come up on either side of the ravine directly in front of me or come straight up the hill towards me off to my left. After a couple of minutes, I saw the deer approaching me coming up the hill. Being right handed I was in perfect position for a shot. I settled in with my gun shouldered and waited for the deer to turn broadside. At about 20 yards, the deer slightly quartered to the left, stopped, and looked up at me. I made a quick decision to take a neck shot. I have only taken a neck shot once. I remember it because it was the first buck I ever killed back in 1986. It was my first and only neck shot until now. I settled the cross hairs on the base of its neck and fired. The deer dropped and died almost immediately.
I climbed down out of my treestand, packed up my backpack and walked to the fallen deer. When I started my usual practice of paying homage to the deer, I discovered the deer was a buck. It had already lost its antlers. The deer was a year and a half old deer and I think it may have been the spike buck I saw during archery season.
I was grateful to the land owner because he unloaded his Polaris Ranger and transported the deer back to my truck. I had a deer cart in the bed of my truck, but I know he enjoys using his Ranger so I was not going to say no to his offer.
After getting home, I checked the deer in online then skinned it. The next day I butchered it and the deer season came to a close for me. More memories added to the treasure trove of memories made during previous deer seasons. Those memories are in large part the direct result of my wife Jamie because she is so supportive of my hunting.
Deer season is over for me but I hope to get out at least once more and squirrel hunt. In the meanwhile, the itch has begun to get out the box calls, mouth calls, and slate calls.
Have a GREAT New Year everyone!
How technology has changed hunting. Do you remember when scouting was actually done by walking through the woods instead of sitting in front of a computer and watching digital videos and pictures taken by trail cameras; getting to the area you wanted to hunt was accomplished by actually walking…not riding a 4-wheeler or utility vehicle; hunting a natural food source instead of cultivating one to draw deer close enough for a shot. With today’s onslaught of trail cameras, utility vehicles, tree stands, attractants, cover scents, deer calls, high fencing, and outfitters…about the only detail one has to master is shooting.
Would you like to experience deer hunting the way it could have been for our forefathers, the pioneers and mountain men that helped settle our country? Do you want to try something different? No tree stands, no ground blinds, no one else to help drive deer towards you, just you walking into the woods to begin a still hunt to locate and kill a deer. A great way to have that experience is to hunt a wilderness area. No preseason scouting except looking at a topographic map.
Back in 2001, I made the decision to hunt the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. Scouting such a vast area on foot is nearly impossible, unless you live close enough to do so and have the time to do a lot of hiking. For me, there was the need for topographic maps. After taking an early fall camping trip to the area and reviewing several topographic maps, the Tea Creek Wildlife Management Area consisting of almost 68,000 acres was chosen to hunt.
Let me tell you, I was overwhelmed. These were mountains I was staring at, not the foothills of Jefferson County, Ohio I was used to hunting. I hunted for three days. Only bucks were legal to shoot. I saw some deer, all of them were does. It was difficult hunting, but in those three days, I never saw another hunter. I only heard a couple of shots off in the distance. My biggest concern was when I shot a buck, how in the heck was I going to drag it out. I left West Virginia without a deer, but I had gained a new sense of what I felt hunting was really about.
In 2003 my hunting partner and my nephew Todd, joined me to hunt the first three days of the West Virginia gun season. We rented a cabin at Watoga State Park and made the drive there on Sunday, the day before the opening day of gun season. We discussed our strategy. We decided to hunt close together. Todd and I hunt alike and we both are very quiet in the woods. I know how overwhelming the area can be and I felt Todd would be more comfortable hunting together. At first light, we saw seven does traveling through a pine thicket. We were stoked. We continued our still hunt with anticipation. Later in the morning, we got a glimpse of horns. It was our first sighting of a buck. He was about 100 yards away, in a thick stand of pine trees and was traveling away from us. We decided to let it go. We pushed on. It began to drizzle some. You couldn’t ask for better still hunting conditions. We were moving through the woods like a pair of ghosts. Shortly after 11:00, Todd motioned to me he saw a deer moving out ahead of us. We both froze and were scanning the area out ahead of us. In front of us was an embankment dropping to a creek. Across the creek was a small knoll. As we were scanning the area, I caught movement off to my right. I turned my head slowly and saw a buck moving from my right to my left. I didn’t motion to Todd for fear that the buck would see me. Soon he was going to be directly in front of me, about thirty yards away. I couldn’t signal Todd without the buck seeing me. I decided to take the shot. I shouldered my Remington Model Seven .308 and put the crosshairs on the buck. When I flipped the safety, I did not ease it off like I normally do. The woods seemed to echo the “CLICK” of the safety. The deer stopped moving and looked directly towards me. I pulled the trigger and the deer went 15 yards and dropped. The Hornady SST 150 grain bullet did the job. I was stoked but now I knew the fun was over and the work was about to begin. Todd was also excited. It’s great to be hunting buddies and be excited for each other. After I shot the buck, Todd told me the direction the buck went that he saw. We discussed a strategy, and Todd went after it. I remained behind and went through my ritual of paying tribute to the deer I had just killed. After field dressing the deer, I hung out until Todd returned. Our strategy for him to intercept the buck did not pan out. It was now about 1:00 in the afternoon and Todd and I started the long drag back to the truck. It took us almost three hours. We were both spent. We checked the deer in, went back to our cabin, ate a delicious supper, went to bed early, and were back in the woods the next morning before daylight.
Since I had shot a buck, and one buck was the limit, I played the role as guide for the next two days. We put in two long days of hunting, but the results were in favor of the deer. Todd did not kill a buck on this trip, but he too was hooked on hunting in the Monongahela National Forest. We have returned to the Monongahela National Forest several times since, and have enjoyed each trip tremendously. We have not brought a deer home each time, but each year we have been there has made for some great memories. In 2012, we introduced my brother-in-law to the Monongahela National Forest and guess what? That’s right…he went back with us again this year.
If you decide to hunt a wilderness area such as the Monongahela National Forest, I can’t guarantee you will shoot a deer, but the experience will provide you with great memories.
On Wednesday, November 13th, I took to the woods in pursuit of a whitetail with my crossbow. This year has not been a productive year so far for seeing deer. I've been out several times previously and have only seen one spike buck and five does. Only the spike was in shooting distance. He had followed a scent trail I made and came within 12 yards.
I decided on this Wednesday morning to change tactics and backpacked my hanging treestand to a different area of the property I am hunting. I decided to leave the house so I would arrive at daylight. I knew the area I was going to hunt but wasn't sure what tree I was going to climb. I parked my truck around 6:45 and by the time I was set up and ready to hunt it was right around 8:00.
I hunted till noon and didn't see any deer. But it was one of the best days I've had in the woods. It all happened around 9:00. As I was scanning the area for deer, I heard the familiar crunch of leaves behind me. It didn't sound like a deer though. The crunching wasn't loud enough. And it was too steady of a pace to be a squirrel. I thought maybe a coyote. The sound got closer until it was almost underneath my treestand. I waited with anticipation to see what the critter was and was shocked when it eventually appeared in front of me. It was a bobcat! I was ecstatic. I tell people, you will not kill a game animal every time you go hunting, but you can always come home with a game bag full of gratitude and wonderful gifts and I surely received one last Wednesday.
On September 29th, I celebrated my 56th birthday as I have celebrated so many before…by going squirrel hunting. It’s been a tradition of mine for a long time now. This day was little extra special because of the previous day’s events. The day before my birthday, my wife Jamie and I went to Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village Museum located near Avella, PA to attend the American Indian Heritage Weekend. This National Historic Landmark has been hosting the annual American Indian Heritage Weekend for the past five years. It is a special place because Meadowcroft Rockshelter is the oldest site of human inhabitation in North America. The event held is a living history of the everyday lives of 17th century American Indians. The event featured living historians that demonstrated the skills used by the American Indians, including hunting, skinning, fur-trading, cooking, weaving, decorative porcupine quill work, hide-tanning, gardening, tool-making and a creek-side demonstration of native fishing techniques. It was an awe inspiring feeling to be standing on the same ground where 16,000 years ago American Indians spent every day going about their daily tasks just to survive. Living in Mingo Junction, OH, I have always felt an appreciation of the rich history of the area. I have read several books accounting the lives of Pioneers and Indians that once roamed this area; Simon Kenton, Lewis Wetzel, Daniel Boone, Chief Logan, Bluejacket and many more. As I was celebrating my birthday out in the woods, I thought about the American Indians that inhabited this area and how the land provided them food, shelter, water, and the materials used to make tools to survive. For me, hunting is part of who I am and the way I live. I have never considered hunting a sport. I enjoy hunting and feel privileged to be able to hunt and fish in an area once inhabited by the American Indian. If you want to learn more about Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org and click on the Meadowcroft tab or call (724) 587-3412.
I decided to celebrate the arrival of Autumn 2013 by going squirrel hunting on September 22nd. It would be my first time out this year hunting for squirrels. I got up at 5:15 AM. I like to get up early, relax and take my time before heading out to the woods. I drank a cup of coffee, ate a bowl of cereal, checked the news headlines and weather forecast, and then headed downstairs to my hunting room to get dressed. I left the house at 6:45 and almost immediately saw three does feeding in a grassy area just off the road; drove about a quarter mile more and saw another doe. I thought to myself, I’ve had a great morning already!
When I arrived at the spot I was going to park my truck, it was 52 degrees, overcast, and a bit of fog here and there. As I was walking the trail to where I wanted to hunt, water on the leaves of the trees from the previousday’s rain was dripping onto the ground. I could hear various species of birds chirping in the background. With a splash of yellow on some leaves, the trees had already welcomed the arrival of Autumn.
As I was nearing the spot where I was going to move off of the trail and into the woods, the familiar sound of a barking squirrel tickled my ears. I snuck into the woods and began my stalk. I was on a steep incline when I saw the squirrel moving down the tree; too much foliage to get a good shot. The squirrel hit the ground and started moving from my left to my right…about 20 – 25 yards away. When the squirrel reached an area devoid of foliage, I could not shoot because I could not get my body repositioned due to the steep and slippery incline. Oh well. Not the first squirrel I didn’t get a shot at and certainly won’t be the last.
I continued my trek until I reached an area filled with mature oaks intermixed with a few hickories. I slowly still hunted the area. No squirrels but I did have a pair of wrens serenade me and I did see a mature doe.
After a couple of hours I headed back up the hill towards the trail. I wanted to get home to do some chores. I got about two thirds of the way up and stopped for a drink of water. I took my water bottle out of my backpack and took a drink. With the mature trees well below me and surrounded by mostly scrub brush and green briar, I figured this would be a good time to blow my nose. For the past week I have been fighting with my sinuses. I leaned my head down a little and cleaned out the nasal passages. When I lifted myhead, there was a squirrel not 10 yards away. I had to chuckle to myself. Maybe I just created a new squirrel call. I raised my Winchester Model 12 20-gauge and fired; my first squirrel of the season.
As I was walking back to my truck, I realized hunting was like riding my motorcycle… both very Zen-like. When I am riding, my mind is crystal clear,thinking of nothing but being in control of my bike. Hunting is very similar. My mind is clear, with my eyes concentrating and searching for any slight movement; and my ears on high alert for any sound that would indicate a nearby squirrel. Both provide the opportunity to forget about any problems, concerns or worries.
I had a wonderful morning celebrating the arrival of Autumn.
I have been gun hunting for deer since 1984 and began bow hunting in 1986. In the 25 years I bow hunted, I have owned three compound bows…two Browning’s and a Mathews.
In 2011 I was in the market for a new compound to replace my 15 year old Mathews Feather Light. But a commercial I saw sparked my interest in crossbows. If you would have asked me 25 years ago if I would ever opt to hunt with a crossbow, my answer would have been an emphatic NO. Even 5 years ago I would have said no. But in the last 2 or 3 years I have given some thought to hunting with a crossbow. The advantage I saw to owning a crossbow was practice time would be less and it would suit my style of hunting…still hunting. So I began to do a lot of research on the various crossbow companies in addition to the numerous models offered. I decided to limit the crossbow models to the price range I was going to spend on a new compound.
After considerable deliberation, I decided to purchase a crossbow. I had narrowed my choices to the Excalibur Phoenix and the Parker Hornet Extreme. Both crossbows fit me well and both shot very accurately. I liked the simplicity of the Excalibur and I liked the compactness of the Parker. Most of my hunting is done by still hunting. I spend very little time in a tree stand. Based on my style of hunting, I chose the Parker because it’s axle to axle width was narrower. There were two other reasons I chose Parker. I have read and heard nothing but good comments about Parker’s customer service. Having worked previously for 23 years in a locally owned community bank, customer service was our number one priority. For me, that is what separates one company from its competition. And lastly, a local archery shop, Bowcase Archery, located in Follansbee, WV, where I have transacted business, is a Parker Dealer. I could have purchased the crossbow from a major retailer and saved with a 10% off coupon, but I am a major believer in helping out your local merchants. The money I would have spent on gas and probably something to eat would have almost equaled what I would have saved. If I have any problems with the crossbow, the shop is only 15 minutes away.
The next day after I took my dog Saint for a walk, I set up my Block Target with the back of the garage as a backstop, moved back 20 yards to a bench rest I fashioned out of milk crates and a seat cushion and prepared to take my first shot. I cocked the bow using the cocking rope, set the bow on the bench rest, kneeled down on the ground, flipped the safety off, placed the 20 yard cross hair line in the middle bulls-eye on the target and pulled the trigger. Whoa! Much to my amazement the arrow just missed the Block Target. I was assuming from videos I watched that I would at least be on the target. When I walked up to the target, which was sitting on a wooden bench that was made for my wife’s flower garden, I saw a hole in the 1” x 3” that trims the seat portion of the bench. The Redhot Carbon Arrow had gone through the wood and then 3 inches into Masonite siding of the garage. The shot was 12 inches below where I was aiming. I pulled the arrow out of the garage and the Redhot Carbon Arrow was still intact except for a vane that had been ripped off. I made adjustments to the Redhot scope to get on target and by the 6th shot I was hitting the 2” bullseye. After a couple more of minor scope adjustments, by the 10th shot, I was hitting the center of the bullseye. I was impressed. After a few days of practicing with field points, it was time to shoot an arrow tipped with a Parker Crosspro 100 FX broadhead. The broadhead hit almost dead center of the 2” bullseye.
The opening day of the 2011 archery season began a new chapter of hunting memories with a crossbow. I didn’t see any deer, but of course I came home with a game bag full of sights, sounds, and gratitude. This is why I consider hunting a way of life…a passion. For me, pulling the trigger or releasing the arrow is the finality of hunting…it is not necessarily the most important part of hunting. It is everything that is associated with hunting that makes it such a great way life. You will not kill a game animal every time you go hunting, but you can always come home with a game bag full of gratitude and wonderful gifts. Enjoy the journey to that moment when you have the opportunity to release an arrow or pull the trigger.
As I’ve done for more years than I can remember, to celebrate my birthday on September 29th, I donned my hunting garb, loaded up my backpack, grabbed my Winchester Model 12 - 20 gauge shotgun, placed all my gear in my Ford truck and went squirrel hunting. The morning was cool, about 43 degrees, and there was a slight fog in the air when I parked the truck at round 7:00. After a 30 minute hike to my favorite spot, I decided to sit a spell. I sat for an hour and only saw one squirrel so I decided to move on to another spot.
It was 9:00 as I was sneaking through the new area I was hunting when I spotted a deer about 60 yards away. Looking through my binoculars, I discovered it was a mature doe. As I was squatting, I eased my video camera out of my pocket. Too much movement…she saw me. But as does do from time to time, her curiosity got the best of her, and she started moving towards me to discover what this creature she saw was. She closed the distance to about 40 yards when she decided to let out a couple of snorts. Little did I know her snorts would alert the local squirrels. I heard four different squirrels barking while I continued to film the doe. Finally after several more snorts, I decided to slowly stand up. This was all she needed to bolt.
Now I turned my attention to the squirrels. I was able to visually locate three of the four squirrels I heard barking. I set my sights on the closest one and began my sneak to get closer. I got to within 20 yards, took aim and one was down. The second squirrel was moving through the trees and when he decided to come down, he was around 20 yards away when I shot him. I had to put on a sneak to get close to the third squirrel. He eventually saw me and I decided to take a shot. He lived to tell the story to his friends on how I missed him.
All in all, another great day in the woods! As I was walking back to my truck, I reflected back to when I began squirrel hunting at the age of 11. I’m now beginning my 45th year to hunt squirrels. In case anyone is calculating how old I am, I will save you the trouble...lol. I celebrated my 55th birthday. Then I tried to remember the last time I saw a young boy or girl squirrel hunting. The sad fact was, I couldn’t. It’s been years since I have seen anyone squirrel hunting! And most of my squirrel hunting is done on public hunting areas.
I don’t have any statistics, so it’s just my personal opinion, but if we want to get more young people involved in hunting, take them squirrel hunting. It doesn’t require a large investment. They don’t have to wear camouflage clothing…a pair of blue jeans with a dark long sleeve shirt and ball cap will do just fine; a decent pair of hiking shoes to keep feet comfortable and dry; a lightweight jacket; and a shotgun. I’ve seen used single shot .410 shotguns for around $100. Most states have liberal squirrel seasons starting in August or September, so the weather is still mild. Kids don’t have to sit for long periods of time. And while they are squirrel hunting, you have the opportunity to provide them with knowledge about the woods and deer hunting. And by the way, nothing tastes better than an autumn dinner of squirrel stew with homemade biscuits!
Living in a suburban area, I don’t get out to my hunting locations as often as I would like to. Although I would like to get out more prior to the start of hunting season, I don’t find it a detriment to my hunting since the majority of my hunting is done on the ground still hunting.
I primarily hunt in Ohio. I also hunt in West Virginia and over the past 6 years have also enjoyed hunting in Indiana with my nephew. The terrain I hunt varies from hilly to mountainous. Hunting is a physical activity. Depending on the type of hunting you do, at times it can be physically demanding. There will be times you’ll be hiking with a backpack, toting a rifle or bow, moving tree stands, and/or dragging deer. Someday you may find yourself hiking up and down the Rocky Mountains in search of elk. You need to be in good physical condition. So to keep in shape for the type of hunting I do, I walk at a fast pace 2 miles a day and ramp it up to 4 miles a day beginning in August. I enjoy walking, but having a dog, Saint, provides me with the extra incentive to get out every day. If I have one of those days I don’t really feel up to walking, all I have to do is look at Saint and that’s all the motivation I need. My favorite hunting spot in Ohio is about 2 miles from where I park my truck. So walking is a big plus to keep me in hunting condition.
Not only does walking help with my physical conditioning, but by walking in the neighborhood early in the mornings, it also provides me the extra benefit of keeping my eyes and ears keen. I live in the Hillsboro edition of Mingo Junction and most of the streets I walk are next to woods. During my walks over the years, I have encountered deer, rabbits, squirrels, possums, raccoons, turkey and coyotes. And just like when I am hunting, when I walk I am trying to see the wildlife first, before it sees me. Doing this while walking definitely helps me prepare for when I get into the woods and still hunt.
I will be turning 54 this September and I am blessed to be in good health. I’ve noticed though the strength in my legs is not what it used to be, even with all the walking I do. I used to work out regularly using a resistance machine but quit using it two years ago. So in June of this year, I began training with a kettle bell. What a difference it has made. There is a vast majority of instructional DVD’s on the market to choose from. I personally purchased the KettleWorx DVD’s and am completely satisfied. The program focuses on Cardio, Core and Strength. I like the fact it only takes twenty minutes a day, three days a week. After 10 weeks of kettlebell workouts, I have felt a considerable difference not only in the strength of my legs, but especially in my core area. Kettlebells require an individual to use muscles that mimic real life situations. Due to the momentum and inertia created during use, a kettlebell will work multiple muscles. An entire body workout can be done in a short amount of time and can help strengthen your core and improve flexibility.
The reason I pay attention to my physical condition is the fact I enjoy hunting and the outdoors so much. I want to be able to enjoy both for as long as I am alive. I never let the thought of becoming too old to hunt or enjoy the outdoors enter my mind. Staying in shape will definitely give me the advantage to continue what I love to do for years to come. And I don’t have to explain the benefits of staying in shape go far beyond hunting.
For a good read about hunters and heart attacks and to determine your maximum heart rate, check out the following article from Field and Stream: http://is.gd/Ibn7gv .
Recently, my wife Jamie and I decided to take the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Course so we could obtain a concealed carry permit in the State of Ohio. We have both enjoyed shooting for years. On our way to the first day of class, Jamie asked me why I wanted to get a permit to carry a handgun. I thought about it for a moment and stated my reasons were to protect my family, for personal protection, and for property protection.
After replying to her question, she said that throughout the years, she has heard comments from a number of individuals that people own guns “out of fear.” I said that I had never considered carrying a handgun out of fear and she agreed stating that was also true for her.
She continued the conversation stating however an argument could be made that all the reasons I gave to carry a concealed handgun could be based on fear. She kept after me, asking if I carry primarily for protection and it is not based in fear, then what? Finally, I gave the answer she was looking for…her reason to own and/or carry a gun. I stated the reason I own and want to carry a gun is to protect my family because I LOVE them. And that is exactly the conclusion she had come to. It is NOT fear that motivates us to carry a handgun, but it is LOVE! And since I also love myself, it would stand to reason I would also want to protect myself.
I have heard a lot or reasons why one carry’s a gun:
§ because it is a right based on the second amendment
§ because it is my duty
§ because I choose to take responsibility
§ because I live in the real world
§ because it’s empowering
I believe the best reason to carry a handgun is out of love. I’m confident our forefathers were not living in a fear based mindset when they wrote the constitution. They were strong, independent, courageous visionaries. And they knew what one loves, one needs to be able to fight for and protect. If I ever have to make a point for carrying a concealed handgun to someone that does not believe it should be allowed, what better point to make than Love. I’m sure it will not change the view of those who believe guns should be outlawed, but I’m sure most would be stunned when they hear my reason.
P.S. We both passed the course and are licensed to carry.
Twas the morning of Turkey Season, when all through the house
The only sounds made were clucks and yelps;
I packed my calls and the rest of my gear,
In hopes that this morning a gobbler would near;
The turkeys were nestled all snug in their trees,
While visions of gobblers was all I could see;
I was dressed in my camo from head to toe,
I was full of excitement and ready to go.
When I parked my truck I heard such a gobble,
I sprang from my truck and felt my legs wobble.
Away to the woods I flew like a bat,
I Set up my decoys and then I sat.
The sky was clear, the air was cool,
This year I wouldn’t be made a fool
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
Three mature toms walking towards my lair.
My heart began to pound and race
Little beads of sweat ran down my face
My Mossberg was ready
But my nerves were unsteady
And when I attempted to make a purr
My mouth felt full of cotton and fur.
So dry was my mouth the only made call
Sounded like a cat hacking up a gigantic fur ball.
The toms immediately took to flight
It really wasn’t a pretty site
I’d been busted again to my chagrin
Mr. Tom Turkey had another win.
Every day, Monday through Friday, I walk our two dogs, Saint and Bullet. Due to Saint not liking Bullet, I need to walk them separately, but that is another story. We usually walk the same route, about 2 miles, through the neighborhood where I live, that being in the village of Mingo Junction, Ohio, population approximately 3,300. There is a section of the route, approximately two tenths of a mile long that is filled with litter. It is quite the eyesore. And what is ironic, there is a sign posted by the village years ago on this stretch of road that says NO LITTERING $500 FINE.
When I was a kid a few years ago, okay maybe a few decades ago, we were taught not to litter. I have never forgotten the public service advertisement on television back in the early 70’s by the Keep America Beautiful Organization with the slogan “People Start Pollution People Can Stop It.” It depicted a Native American canoeing waterways filled with litter and surrounded by industrial pollution. The advertisement ends with a motorist throwing a bag of trash out the car window and it lands at the feet of the Native American who turns to the camera and has a tear in his eye. If you have never seen the advertisement click here: [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7OHG7tHrNM"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7OHG7tHrNM[/ame].
For months now, probably since last summer, every day I walk this stretch of road, I am appalled by the amount of litter I see strewn on the side of the road. So finally, I decided to do something about the litter. Last Wednesday, I took a box of 30 Gallon Hefty Large Trash bags with me and started to pick up the litter. When I was done, I had filled three garbage bags. That’s three garbage bags in only two tenths of a mile. And when I walked through that area the next day, less than 24 hours after I had cleaned it up, I saw a pop can, a plastic bottle, a plastic bag, a pop-tart wrapper, and an empty cigarette package. Disgusting!
Sometimes it is hard to take that first step to do something that doesn’t directly benefit you when you feel your days are already overwhelmingly filled with tasks to accomplish. But once you take that first step, the feeling of personal accomplishment is wonderful. I was raised in Mingo and have lived here almost my entire life. The community has provided me with an education, the opportunity to participate in recreational activities, excellent public services, the friendly atmosphere of small town USA, just to name a few. I am glad to be able to give a little back to my community.
Whether it’s your community or somewhere in the great outdoors, consider setting some time aside each month to clean up litter. We all need to pitch-in to pitch litter in its right place. To find out more about litter prevention, visit Keep America Beautiful at:
With less than 5 weeks to go until Ohio Turkey Season opens up on April 18th, today I opened up the cabinet where I keep my turkey calls. It’s time for me to start practicing. I work from home, so I can practice calling just about any time of the day I want to. My wife works outside the home and doesn’t get home till about 6:30 in the evenings, but she never objects if I decide to practice in the evening. She likes to hear the yelps, clucks, and purrs. She has always been very supportive of me hunting and spending time in the outdoors. Now our two dogs, Bullet and Saint…they tend to get somewhat animated when they hear yelps, clucks, and purrs coming out of my mouth, so outside they go. They don’t need to be barking in my face as I’m practicing.
I began to hunt turkeys seriously in the spring of 2008. I had gone turkey hunting several times in previous years, but didn’t put much effort into it. I didn’t call very good because I didn’t practice; didn’t realize how good turkeys could see; was too fidgety; didn’t know anything about decoy placement; and etc. No wonder I never shot a turkey.
In January of 2008, I made the commitment to read up on turkey hunting; watched some videos; practiced my calling; learned strategies for placing decoys and it all paid off. My nephew Todd had just purchased some land the previous year in Indiana, so we decided to hunt his property. We also had permission to hunt part of his neighbor’s farm. After that first morning, I knew I was hooked and would be hunting turkeys until the day I was no longer physically able to do so. My only tiny regret was that I didn’t start hunting turkeys seriously years ago.
On opening day of the 2008 Indiana Turkey Season I was doing the calling and Todd was the shooter. We had a mature tom come in to about 30 yards on an old logging road when he decided to circle around us. Todd never got a shot, but we chased after that bird for two hours; each time getting his attention but never able to get him close enough for a shot. But each time we heard the sounds of gobbles, it certainly provided a steady stream of adrenaline.
We continued to hunt for the next few days with me doing the calling. I called in two more toms during that time, but the birds were never in the right place for Todd to get a shot. On about the 5th day, we headed out in the afternoon to set up on the edge of Todd’s neighbor’s field where we had found a “dust bowl.” We set out our decoys, two hens and a jake, on a knoll and set up just inside the woods. I was set up on Todd’s left about 15 yards away and would be doing the calling. After about a half hour, I had a gobbler responding to my calls. He was slowly working his way towards us from our right. Finally, I saw him. He was about 10 – 15 yards from the edge of the woods and was going to walk right in front of Todd. I watched as the bird crossed in front of Todd and waited for the shot. No shot. I kept waiting and waiting, but no shot. Because of the amount of cover surrounding Todd, I couldn’t tell why he hadn’t shot. But I could see the bird was getting nervous. Finally, Todd’s gun goes off and I see the bird running back in the direction he had come from. I couldn’t believe it...so close. I saw the bird enter a small patch of woods and go into the next field.
I crawled over to Todd to talk to him. Here is where the story gets interesting. Todd was using an old single shot H & R 20 gauge shot gun. The gun originally belonged to my dad, then my brother, then me, and now Todd. He had placed a camo wrap on the gun. As the bird was almost within range, he eased the hammer back. When the bird was in front of him at about 15 yards, he squeezed the trigger but the gun did not fire. He eased the hammer back again; pulled the trigger and again the gun did not fire. The bird by this time was past him to his left near the decoys and acting nervous. Todd discovered why the gun had not fired either time. The camo material had gotten wedged down between the hammer and the firing pin. Todd was able to get the material out, pulled the hammer back for a 3rd time but hurried the shot and missed.
I told Todd the bird was about 150 yards off on the other side of the strip of woods to our right. I suggested he stay put and I would attempt to call the bird back. For an hour I worked on calling the bird. He gradually moved back through the strip of woods into the field where we had our decoys set up. He hung up though, about 70 yards away. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I started calling aggressively. After about 5 minutes of aggressive calling, he started to move away from us but appeared to be circling towards the decoys. I was hoping he was going to come over the backside of the knoll. After another 5 minutes or so, sure enough, there he was. I could see his head and he was moving towards the decoys. The turkey was directly in front of me about 20 yards away and off to the left of Todd. Then BAM! I heard Todd’s gun go off and saw the turkey drop. What an incredible hunt! We had spent just over 2 hours working on this bird; had shot at it and missed it the first time; and was able to call it back for a second shot. What a first bird for Todd. The spurs were 1 1/8 inches; the bird weighed in at 23 pounds; and had a double beard…one ten inches and the other 6 inches.
Neither Todd nor I have matched the weight of that bird, or got another double bearded tom, but every year now we both look forward to the anticipation of hearing a tom respond to our calls and then seeing him up close.