The Last Yute Hunt — Angus Bags a Bird

If we had given up and gone in at 0900, we would have still counted it a success.   This was the last hunt Angus was going to make as a youth hunter. Around 0830 this morning, a gobbler honored one of my calls way way out.  He was well off the property, so we decided to pick up from the Honey Hole and close the distance a little.

This had been a trying Opener to Kentucky’s Spring Gobbler Season.  Saturday, we had lots of turkeys at flydown, but they all hit the ground and took off for the south east corner of the property without any further action the rest of the day.   This morning, we came back to the Honey Hole– only place on the farm with any action whatsoever, and was greeted by a blank.  The gobblers that were sounding off were way off the property.

Sunrise came and went at 0700.  By 0830, I was contemplating an early exit from camp.  The latest weather report was dim.  High winds would start soon and last until sundown.  Then would come rain, thunderstorms, falling temperatures and eventually an inch or better of snow.  Things would not moderate until Wednesday afternoon. We had heard only a few shots in two days– the lowest I had ever heard over an Opening Weekend.  I had been throwing an exciting yelp here and there just to test what was out there.  Finally a gobbler honored one of the runs, but he sounded far off.

Just for grins, I had Angus mount up and we headed back towards the southern extreme of the property– about a quarter mile from the Honey Hole.  About half of the way there, the gobbler answered us, and it was obvious he was coming.  We set up an ambush along the road to the campground.  Angus was in front.  I moved back up the road a bit with the idea of calling the bird past him.  There was a tense few minutes. Finally I saw Angus’ gloves come off, and he walked back to me.  The bird had come to him by way of the turnout to the campground, instead of the main track.  Angus slewed his barrel and had briefly had the bird in his sights at 30 yards, but had opted for a better shot as the bird came out in the open.  However, his barrel nicked a seedling ash tree, and the resulting movement was enough to send the bird back from where he had come.  I was too far back to see any of this.  My son was happy for the chance, and we adjourned  back to the Honey Hole.

Along about 0930 things were looking for dismal.  The forecasted wind began to gust.  We resolved to leave by 1000 if nothing developed.  I kept up the occasional yelps, now adding cackles and such from my home-brew shamanic slate-over-glass pot call.  After a few tries we got another answer.  This was down the hill from us.  The pasture directly in front of the Honey Hole drops off quickly, about 20 feet in the 60 yards to the treeline. There was a gobbler and a hen out in that treeline, and the gobbler was answering my calls, but not really walking all over them.  The hen was responding, however.  I was getting her cranked up rather sincerely.  Turkeys have come from this treeline before, but usually  circle to the left or right and avoid the steeper part of the ridge directly in front.  Neither Angus or I had on our face nets or gloves– we really were not expecting much.

The broom sedge is tall and thick out in front of the Honey Hole growing to within 10 yards or so of the tree line.  Suddenly this amber wall parted, and a hen turkey emerged like an exotic dancer from behind a bamboo curtain.  She crossed the 10 yards of emerald lawn and stood there, staring at me.  I was transfixed. Indeed we both were, for she had the sun in her eyes and I was in deep shade with my shoulders buried in the breadth of the rotting trunk of an old tree. I whispered to Angus not to move. The hen was behind his head, off the back of his left shoulder.

For a good long time, she hovered about in the green grass looking straight at me, and finally decided to go in search of the hen that had been calling.  She went a few yards up to my left and then came back to the right and crossed in front of Angus.  When her view was completely blocked by the large cedar that shields and protects the Honey Hole, I told Angus to move carefully and get his gloves and net in place. I did the same.

In a few minutes the hen returned and this time entered the treeline, coming in behind a large tree about 10 yards to our south. She could not see Angus, but I was in full view to her. All the while, the gobbler was down the hill having a fit.  I was hoping she would pass through the treeline and out into the field behind us. However, this hen decided that now would be a good time to clean herself.  She pecked away at her feathers, oblivious to the two shotguns pointing her way.

At last the gobble showed himself.  He advanced from the edge of the broom sedge and immediately broke into a strut.  The hen was unimpressed and kept up her preening.  Angus had the best shot and the gobbler going from half to full strut before stepping into an opening in the weeds.

“Roll that sumbitch!”  I hissed, and Angus complied.

The gobbler was a 2 year old with a half-blond beard that went 9 inches.  He sported a left spur of 1″ and the right one was 1 1/8″.  Angus has decided to opted to call for SuperCore when he comes back next weekend.



Yute Hunt 2014

This is the start of Angus’ last Spring Gobbler season as a Yute. He turns 16 in a couple of weeks. I bought him all his youth licenses and tags yesterday— they’re good until the end of the year. However, after next weekend he will be hunting on his own as an adult.

Saturday morning started rough and did not get much better. It had poured rain for three days, before Friday night when it got windy and cold. When we arrived at camp, the dogs ran inside and would not come out. We had barely left the front porch this morning when Angus tripped and fell in the road. The snow plow had left a bit of our front yard piled up at the very end near the gate. Angus stuck the toe of his boot into the biggest part of the pile in mid-stride and went sprawling. He scraped up his 870, his knee and both hands–none of it serious, but he was limping on the way to the blind.

We had just set up at the Honey Hole when a gobbler cut loose in a tree on the road we had just passed. Before long, another and still another gobbler sounded off, the closest about 80 yards. They were with hens, however. They all honored our calls in a cursory fashion and then went off with the hens, never to return. This was all a half-hour before sunrise. We heard a couple close gobbles in the 8 O’Clock hour, but nothing ever showed. We came in at 10. This hunt stands out as the one time in the dozen years I’ve been taking my sons out for Yute Season, and we have not heard a single shot.

There was one incident of note. You may remember that I had resolved to work gobbling back into my calling. This morning I had a chance to try the strategy. The late gobbler this morning had clammed up on his way to see us. I don’t know what it was– best guess was that he was with hens and they turned into the woods opposite our position. After I had lost hope that the gobbler was coming, I pulled out the Primos turkey shaker call , and gave it a try.

Warning: If you purchase Primos’ ‘The Gobbler’ turkey shaker call be aware that the call must be kept in a warm place before use. Exposing the call to temperatures below 40F causes the call to sound less like a sub-dominant gobbler, doing his thing and more like a turkey being slowly suffocated with a garrote. I am sure any turkey in the area thought one the flock had gotten its neck caught in barbed wire. It was a sick, passive sound. The woods fell silent. A short while later a crow came by expecting to find a corpse and an easy meal. It was disappointed when it found us instead and left in disgust. I put the call into my coat, close to my chest and that remedied the problem.

Things were uneventful for the rest of Saturday. We heard no shots. I was taking a nap in the afternoon when the painter showed up. I let him paint the Tobacco Barn. About sunset, I retired to the Thoughtful Spot to contemplate the end of my Yute Hunting days as it will be several years before little granddaughter, Mooselette, starts hunting.

Over on the next ridge, where my neighbor Wally hunts, I heard an astonishing sound. At first I could not figure out what it was, but little by little the noises resolved into a recognizable story. A father had flipped his son a mouth call, and the kid had slowly worked it around and gradually succeeded in getting a sensible hen yelp out of it. I called Angus out to hear the end of the little vignette. I then spotted the pair, father and son, working their way out.

I went in the house and came out with the Primos call. By now it was warmed up, and I got a couple dozen gobbles out of it. I saw the two hunters stop and the son attempted to “work” me for a bit. Sadly, the Primos gobble shaker tore itself up rather quickly– a split developed where the bellows attached to the tube. It’s now toast.

However, the activity did get a barred owl warmed up, and the owl got another going and that got a turkey gobbler going between them, and then another gobbler joined in from the depths of Hootin’ Holler. This serenade lasted until well after dark.

PRIMOS HUNTING - The Gobbler “Shaker Call”

Warning: I take back what I said about Primos’ ‘The Gobbler’ turkey shaker call. It is complete trash. All told, I got less than 3 dozen gobbles out of mine before it tore itself to shreds. I’m going to contact Primos’ customer support, but I doubt I’ll get anywhere.

Sunday? Well, heck! I’d just roosted two hearty gobblers. Sunday seemed like it would be a cakewalk. We got out early to Faulty Towers, the old barn that overlooks Skunk Hollow and the Hundred Acre Wood. That was where I’d heard the gobblers the evening before. Angus and I set up and waited. Nothing. We tried everything we could think– no go. We did hear one shot around 0900, and that was when we decided to come in.


I’ve got a Berry!

Dave Berry is a friend of mine from my days at Broadcasting School. Among other things, Dave paints. Wow, does he paint! He’s also a bit absent-minded. He painted this back in 1998, and has been meaning to bring it up from Florida when he visits Cincinnati. This weekend, he finally got out to see Turkey Camp, and finally got a chance to present me with the picture that he did 16 years ago.

Waiting for Evening

He has a bunch of other wildlife art available. I have a bunch of his pieces hanging around the house. Check him out:

David Berry Art

Thanks Dave!


PODCAST: Gobblers at the Honey Hole

It has been a good year back at Turkey Camp. After such a horrible winter, it was good to have decent weather. We have had 3 good weekends. The only thing that has not been cooperating has the turkeys. Oh, they have been there, all right. They just have not been all that vocal.

Angus and the Umbrella mike at sunrise

Angus and the Umbrella mike at sunrise

This morning was Different. Angus and I started at the Honey Hole, but a gobbler started sounding off back towards the house, so we followed him. After he hopped down from the roost and left, a doe showed up. She was very curious about what we were doing. After she left, we were getting ready to come in. Just then gobblers and hens showed up back at the Honey Hole. We were close enough to record the action.

Let me know what you think

PODCAST: Gobblers at the Honey Hole PT 1

PODCAST: Gobblers at the Honey Hole PT 2

NOTE: You may find that the links load slowly. If so, try right-clicking on them and downloading them to your system before playing


Back to Turkey Camp

It is Sunday of Time-Change Weekend. I came out to the Honey Hole to listen–heard a small flock of hens and one gobbler sounding off just after sunrise. I figured I would take the time to write you all.

Angus and I got in late Friday night and opened up Turkey Camp. It was the first time back in 3 months. Angus has been sleeping in. I have been going out to hear what I can. Overall, I am heartened; I have had years with no turkey and deer sighted until April. With the weather we had, it is a wonder anything lived. The buildings are in fairly good shape as well.

Saturday, I went out to Gobbler’s Knob to scout turkeys. As I was fumbling at the gate, I saw a buck, still with antlers out in the field by Faulty Towers. He looked at me and ran off. On the way back, I ran into a doe standing next to the target backstop.

Both Saturday and Sunday I heard turkeys. They’re rather subdued, but I made out gobbles and fly-down cackles in the distance. There was not enough material to put together a podcast, but I’m sure in a week or two they will warm up enough to give us a show.


A Visit with Bob

I was on my way to the dentist yesterday, and I got a call– the dentist had needed to tend to some emergencies, and could I come a half-hour later? I was only a mile or so away– set to arrive a half-hour early, so I was somewhat committed. I could have diverted and gone over to Bass-Pro for an hour, but by the time I came to where I could turn around, traffic was so bad, I found myself less than a half-mile from my buddy, Bob. Bob is an old retired gunwriter– shooting editor for Gun Dog Magazine several decades ago. Bob is a big Ruger collector. Bob is the last survivor of my original hunting buddies. His legs went and he has not been afield this century.

I had a couple of pistol cases that were banging around in my back seat– belated Christmas gifts, so I decided to drop in and deliver the cases. It was raining and miserable. There was a foot of snow on the ground, but it was turning to slush. As I pulled up, the thunderstorm started.

Bob was appreciative of the gun gases, and pulled a small rug off the top of the pile and produced a Ruger pistol to test fit the case I had given him. The pistol was a Standard in 22 LR with a phosphate coating and a red logo on the grip and a serial number below 200.

“Bet you never saw one like that.” Bob said.

“You’re right,” I said.

“I picked that one up cheap years ago,” said Bob. “One day I had a chance to pull it out for Bill Ruger and showed it to him. He let out a laugh and yelled, ‘Where’d you find THAT?’”

“The story Bill gave was that back in 1949, they were just mailing out the first pistols. Sturm asked for a half-dozen to take on a sales trip up through New England. He planned on touring the national guard armouries and try to sell a few to fellows who wanted a cheap alternative for keeping up their pistol competency. The gunsmith that was doing all their bluing had just read an article on how to do a faux phosphatizing using old bluing salts and some other chemicals. The result was supposed to make these things look more military.

“Sturm sold three on the trip, and they sold the remainder with a letter in the box saying that the special coating would be recoated to a standard blue on request. Ruger remembered one of the three coming back. That left five out there.”

“What you are looking at right there, my friend.” said Bob, “Is probably the oldest Ruger in Ohio.


PCR Comes to Ohio

It is my understanding that Pistol Cartridge Rifles will be allowed this coming year for deer hunting in Ohio

Here was the first mention I saw of it:

ODNR Division of Wildlife announces pistol caliber rifles for deer hunting

This is terrific news for Buckeye Deer Hunters. From what I understand, the allowed cartridges will include everything that has been previously legal in a pistol. 357 Mag, 44 Mag, 45 LC and 45-70 will be allowed. I’ll post more as I find it.

Here is more straight from ODNR:

Ohio Wildlife Council to Consider Proposed Deer Hunting Dates and Bag Limits

A proposal was also offered that would allow the use of pistol cartridge rifles for deer hunting. The proposed rifles are the same caliber and use the same straight-walled cartridges that are currently legal for use in handguns. The proposal is designed to allow additional gun-hunting opportunities for hunters that own these guns or want to hunt with these guns. These rifles have reduced recoil compared to larger shotguns, and the proposed rifles are more accurate than the same caliber handgun.

Proposed hunting rifles are chambered for the following calibers: .357 Magnum, .357 Maximum, .38 Special, .375 Super Magnum, .375 Winchester, .38-55, .41 Long Colt, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .444 Marlin, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .45 Long Colt, .45 Winchester Magnum, .45 Smith & Wesson, .454 Casull, .460 Smith & Wesson, .45-70, .45-90, .45-110, .475 Linebaugh, .50-70, .50-90, .50-100, .50-110 and .500 Smith & Wesson.