Turkey Opener

Hmmmm. Let’s see if I have this right.


The time is adjusted for Brooksville, KY. You Pendleton County boys might have to add a minute.


Down and Out– Sick for 2 weeks.

Dang. It’s been two weeks. I wish I could say I’ve been up to something, but I really haven’t. Mostly, I’ve been in a daze. Angus brought home a bug from high school. KYHillChick and I have had it. It’s one of those nasty viruses that kind of come and go.

I had a bit of a start when I went to the Turkey and Turkey Hunting Forum. It was all but dead. I knew it was in a bad way when they did not even finish off last year’s gobbler contest, but wow! That used to be a hopping place. It still could be. They stopped publishing the magazine over a year ago, but the forum had been going pretty well despite it. I’ll invite y’all to sign up and give me a howdy. Here’s the link:


This goes along with Quaker Boy removing their forum last year.  That used to be a nice place. Oh well (sigh).

That being said, I would like to introduce y’all to another turkey forum that is considerably more active.


This is a really good forum, especially if you are into custom calls. I’ve already ordered one from one of the craftsmen– more on that after it arrives. If you make calls or want a really nice one made for you, I would recommend this place. They also have a variety of folks on there– rookies to master turkey hunters.

The Shaman Goes Concealed

KYHillChick and I bought each other a Conceal Carry class for Christmas, and we are scheduled to take it in early February. To be honest, there is not all that much need for it in our lives yet. However, it was one of those things that needed to be done before it became an issue. ‘HillChick retired from her desk job after 23 years and is working as a massage therapist now. She is getting out more. Me? I have had no qualms about carrying in the open when the rare need arose, but I realized a few things:

1) As I age, I’m probably starting to look less threatening to people. Eventually being old farts are going to make both of us targets.
2) Although where we live during the week is cool, the places we shop are going downhill.
3) Conceal Carry certification removes a lot of haziness out of carrying firearms in a vehicle.
4) The ongoing coyote problem at the farm has got us carrying more than we ever have.

Bottom line: I don’t want to slip up sometime, grab the family and drive to Falmouth for a milkshake and commit a firearms violation, because I forgot to leave the piece back at the house. I nearly did that this year when I went to town to get a new battery for the lawnmower.

Lately, I’ve been listening to these guys:


They have a Sunday night show on 55KRC here in Cincinnati. I never get to listen to the show live, but I found the podcasts fascinating.

Rather than pull the trigger on new firearms, I figured we would see if KYHillChick and I can get by with what we have until we get settled into it. I bought her a stainless GP-100 in 357 Mag 8 years ago. She bought me a Ruger P90 in 45 Auto about the same time. Everyone poo-poos shoulder holsters, but I have one of these odd bodies that seem to go with shoulder holsters. You can get away with a lot if you are a walking landform. Sure enough, the P90 with an extended mag just disappears under my normal casual attire. I could probably hide a 12 GA Pump in there too, and still have room for 3 day’s provisions. Sometimes being big is good.


PODCAST: Wake-up Call

It’s in the Teen’s outside. We picked up a couple inches of snow overnight. It’s going to be below-zero tomorrow night. So why am I thinking about turkey hunting? That is a long story.

It started right around New Year’s. For 15 years or more, I have had the TV in the bedroom fixed so that it works as my alarm clock. It turns on at 0600 every day and turns of around 0830.  All that came to an end the other day. Time Warner sent an update to the cable box and now I can no longer leave the cable on all night. The first morning, I was nearly late for work.  Then I got to work finding an alternative.

I have all this technology at hand– smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc.  So I figured I would use an app to wake me up. That worked fine, but the dang alarm tones were insipid to say the least.  I finally decided to make my own.

I still had gobs of material left over from my 2014 turkey hunts.  After Angus got his gob, things got weird.  I had numerous close calls, but never closed the deal.  Sound-wise, however, it was a banner year.  I was just so wrung-out at the end of season I did not take any material and make a podcast.

Better late than never, here is the best of about 40 hours of recording. This is not like my other podcasts, because it is just raw turkey sounds with no commentary, and no banjo music.  The original recordings were from mid-April on a morning where all heck broke loose at the Honey Hole.  I had  several gobblers come in on me, but I could never get the cross-hairs on them. I selected the source tracks, because they were particularly clean and mixed it so it would be perfect wake-up music.

Let me know what you think:

PODCAST: Wake-up Call

There are about a half-dozen gobblers, two flocks of hens, and a lone hens and a gob that come in close. If you listen closely there are some fly-down cackles and a bit of flogging.

The Crew from Hootin' Holler


More on Shotgun vs. Rifle

Some of my deer friends over the line in Indiana are taking me to task for my support of the new centerfire rifle rules.  In particular, they would question the issue of safety. To them, I offer this:

Study: Shotguns not safer for deer hunting
Ballistics tests, prompted by accidental shooting of Valley woman, give surprise results.
March 29, 2007|By Christian Berg Of The Morning Call

FOR THE RECORD – (Published Friday, March 30, 2007) A 12-gauge sabot slug fired level 3 feet off the ground can travel 8 percent farther (including ricochets) than a .30-06 rifle bullet fired in the same manner, according to a state-sponsored safety study.

It is an interesting article. It seems that back in 2004 a woman was accidentally shot with a stray round from a 30-30. The locals tried to get rifles banned from the area by extending an existing shotgun-only zone. However, the a state sponsored study commissioned to examine the realities of the situation found that shotguns travel further.


Call me a Dipper

When I got into reloading in 2000, I started with a RCBS kit that has served me remarkably well over the years. It came with a Uniflow powder measure. Up until this past fall, I really could not have complained about its function. Then I tried loading H4831SC, and all that changed. The problem was that I could not get a reliable charge. I’d set the measure for 50 grains. What I got was anywhere from 2 to 70. You just never knew what was coming out of the spout.

I asked my friends on 24HourCampfire.com and got a few good suggestions:

  • Clean the Uniflow measure completely.
  • Change to a larger drop tube
  • Rub a dryer sheet on all the interior surfaces .

I tried everything, but I could not get the bridging to go away.  It finally hit me: why not try a dipper?

Normally I use a lot of H4895 out of the same Uniflow measure, and normally everything goes well. I use the Uniflow for everything– all told about a dozen different rifle and pistol chamberings. This matter with the H4831SC was just plain odd.

The reason I mentioned H4895, even though I’m not having trouble with it, is that I could now make a custom dipper for a few of my H4895 loads and a good deal of my yearly loading tasks would be taken care of.

It does not take a whole lot to make a custom dipper out of a case, and afterwards there is no calibration needed again ever. I’m wondering why folks don’t do it more often. I had my 50 grains of H4831SC sorted out in no time. The only tools I needed were a tubing cutter, a case reamer, and a pair of electrical pliers to attach the brass wire. It beat spending $12 on a set of plastic dippers let alone $120 on a new measure.

I guess the bottom line in all this is after 15 years of throwing, I have become a near-instant convert to dipping. I’ll still use the Uniflow for load development, and I still will throw all my pistol cartridges with it. However, I’ve moved to the dipper camp.

Will I spring for a set of Lee Dippers? I don’t know. I think what made this project so quick and easy was the new-in-the-box tubing cutter I found as I was going through Dad’s tools. He probably bought it for cutting stems when we started replacing toilets in a big way at the apartments back around 1974, and it got lost. I found it in the back of a drawer in the garage. Dad used to get on me for always wanting to go to the hardware store for parts. He was old school, and always tried to make it work with what we had.


Life with O.P.

Of course you know about my buddy O.T., the old turkey hunter that runs the mower shop and his brother O.D. the expert deer hunter that holds court at the store in Browningsville. The brother I met first,however, was O.P. , the baby of the bunch. O.P. has a trailer up the road on the way to Brownsville. KYHillChick and I hadn’t even closed on the property back in 2001 when O.P. showed up to introduce himself. O.P. was quite nice. We shook hands and all and then O.P. launched into his pitch.

1) O.P. wanted to know if we were related to the new owners, because he wanted to ask permission to hunt.

2) O.P. had been asking everyone he saw come by since 1982 when the house went vacant for permission to hunt, but had been turned down at every instance. The owners had been telling him to piss off.

3) O.P. had been actively hunting the property all his life and knew where all the good hunting places were. In fact, he had taken a nice 8 pointer over on my ridge over Thanksgiving last year.

4) O.P. wanted permission for not only himself, but for his family and a Country Western band from Lexington whose members he was trying to impress. The were famous, but I had not heard of them.

I was a bit naive I guess. I wrote out a letter of permission for O.P. for a small 5 acre plot that I did not expect to be hunting in the near future. O.P. thanked me profusely, and promised I would not be sorry. Frankly, I wanted to see what was going to happen.

I found out later that O.P. seldom ever asked permission. I guess we were a special case. When the Conservation Officer showed up in 2004 to service my poaching complaints from 2001 he asked about O.P. in particular. O.P was already a 2-time offender and was going away for hard time if he was caught poaching again. I also asked the previous owner about O.P. O.R. said that they had been putting up with O.P. since he was a kid, but that he was mostly harmless and a lousy shot and nobody paid attention to him– except the time he shot somebody’s gobbler decoy. That was when he’d finally achieved dubious stardom in our end of the county

I never did see O.P. or the C&W band that year, but I got a call from the plumber, who was trying to get the line from the cistern running again, so we could flush the toilet. He called me at work rather breathless.

“This is Dave, your plumber.””Yes, Dave.””Sorry to bother you, but I saw something you probably need to be aware of.””Yes, what is it?”

“Well, I started hearing shooting outside and I went out and there was your neighbor up the road. He was in his bathrobe and his underwear and he was out on his deck firing at a herd of deer that were on your property. There was about seven of ‘em.”

“Yes, he’s prone to that.”

“Well, Sir, he ran out of bullets in his 30-30 and went back inside. The deer didn’t pay him no mind. A little later he came back out and started firing at the deer again.”

“Did he hit anything?”

“I don’t think so. The deer didn’t seem to care, but he did finally manage to make them run off. He ran through a box or more.”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s O.P., and I probably need to talk to him about it, but he never seems to hit anything. Thanks for letting me know.”

Actually, I kind of let that one ride. It was not the plot I had specified in the letter, but his trailer was so far from my place, I doubted he could hurt anything lobbing 30-30 at the field. The real turning point was the next Spring Gobbler Season. He fired his shotgun in our direction when I was out with little Mooseboy from the middle of our property. I ran into him on the way out that day and let him know that he was not to pester my birds again. For years, folks told me O.P. was hiding from me, thinking I was going to kill him.

Shotgun Vs. Rifle

I have been getting a lot of flak over my recent article on Indiana moving to centerfire rifle for deer in 2015. Fewer, but still a few, folks have been complaining to me about Ohio’s move to Pistol Caliber Rifles (PCR). I would like to set the record straight.

1) If you really have a problem with either decision, I am not the one to be telling. Write your state representative. The truth is, Indiana and Ohio are on there way to the same point, allowing all centerfire rifles in their modern weapons seasons. It has been in the works for as long as I have been hunting deer (early 1980’s) The outcome was not in question. It was just a matter of timing.

2) There never was a good reason for shotgun-only proscriptions. It was a knee-jerk reaction to problems encountered at the dawn of the new modern seasons. The real cure was mandatory Hunter Orange and Hunter Education. Now that we’ve had a generation of hunters properly educated in gun safety, we can take the training wheels off and allow big-boy rifles.

3) After two generations’ worth of data, there is simply no difference between shotgun-only and anything-goes states. A couple of hunters get shot every year, but it is still close-range mistaken-for-game incidents. Almost no one ever dies in Kentucky, Indiana, or Ohio because a bullet carried too far– shotgun or rifle.  The standard model for a deer hunting accident is Fred hears a noise, throws his gun up and shoot his buddy, Dave at 25 yards.  Dave was not wearing Orange.  It matters not what Fred had in his hands, Dave is dead.+

So why is it that shotgun-only rules ever got on the books in the first place?  Back at a time when all you had was “Punkin’ Ball” loads for shotguns, and the effective range on them were 50 yards or less, it might have made sense.  In my recollection, it was New York that thought up the bright idea.  The problem was that, when modern deer seasons were first instituted, there was appalling carnage. However, you have a bunch of things coming together:

a) Deer hunting had been banned for two generations prior, so nobody who could get in the woods really knew how to hunt deer effectively, let alone safely.

b) Populations had grown.  Hunter densities had grown.  Things that might have been safe 100 years ago when the woods were empty were now a big problem.

Something needed to be done, and so they put a limit on what you could use to shoot a deer– simple, handy, easy to enforce.  It brought down the numbers of dead hunters a little. Everyone called it a success.

The real underlying problems were harder to solve.  The real solutions are two-fold.  First off, mandatory Hunter Orange.  I will not go into that topic here, but you can read my thoughts on it:

The Clown Suit Revealed

The other was Hunter Education.  Like Hunter Orange, I did my best to skirt it. I was grandfathered, so I did not have to take it.  I finally did attend when I took it with Mooseboy and I liked it so much I went back and took it with Angus.  I learned something every time I went.  If you go to Hunter Ed, and take what they say to heart, you stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution– regardless of the firearm you use. The bottom line is that safe gun handling cures the problem, and improper gun handling is deadly, no matter what you are carrying.

But are shotguns inherently safer?  Check out this article:


The nut here is a bit counter-intuitive.  However, the thing most people miss is that whether you’re talking about a shotgun or rifle, the bullet is going to probably bounce off something before it hits an unintentional target.  Rifle bullets generally fragment.  Shotgun slugs will bounce. With that realization, two generations of wrong-headed thinking goes out the window.

So what is left? I have heard all sorts of theories put forward defending shotguns. I can sort of see the idea of tradition. That is until, the next breath, when the same shotgun defender says he can hit a deer at 200 yards with his shotgun. Then I have to wince.   We have come a long way from Punkin’ Balls. The wildest theory is that Ohio and Indiana and Iowa are all big buck destinations, and they all have had proscriptions on centerfire rifle.  The idea is that shotgun-only rules somehow promote larger bucks.  Then you have to look at Kentucky, that has been voted the top trophy buck destination in the country.  You can lob anything you want at the deer in Kentucky– 25 ACP, 45 Auto, 223 REM.  Considering that Zone 1 in KY has an unlimited bag limit on antlerless deer right now, I don’t think liberal firearm restrictions are hurting things.

Look guys, I made my choices 15 years ago, when I bought property in Kentucky.  I am a life-long resident of Ohio, but I could not stand the shotgun-only proscription, and the Sunday hunting proscription.  Indiana was similarly goofy at that point. I was always happy to pay the out of state fees to hunt Kentucky.  I do not regret the choice, even though Indiana and Ohio have slowly dragged themselves to where Kentucky was 30 years ago.  I doubt I will be coming back.

To those of you who still think centerfire rifle is a bad thing, try thinking of it in these terms. A 50 cal muzzle loader or a 12 GA shotgun take a lot of time and money to work into a 200 yard weapon. I can buy a bolt-action 30-06 and have that capability in one afternoon of practice. Furthermore, a 12 GA shooting a full-house deer load can have about the same recoil as a .416 Rigby elephant gun. I can give a 30-30 or a 44 Mag rifle to a nine-year-old, and he can shoot it comfortably. The ammunition?  I reload a dozen different rifle chamberings. In fact I have not shot a factory round out of my deer rifles in 15 years.  How many of you are doing that with your shotguns? The cost?  I load 20 rounds of 30-06 for less than what you pay for a box of 12 GA Remmie Sluggers .

One last thing, and this is for the guys who stuff it in front-ways.  I get it. I get how you like muzzleloading.  I have a .54 Hawken caplock and I get a gas shooting it.  The thing is, this is not about just you.  There are plenty of deer in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.  The herd is growing. At the same time participation in our sport is going to wane. We have generally lost out to computer games and Facebook. Now is not the time to make things more restrictive.  I have heard y’all caterwauling from across the Ohio River for years, and just as you guys think you are losing out to the rifle hunters, I’ve got to contend with rapid bowhunters and rabid squirrel hunters saying that Kentucky’s Modern Weapon’s season screws them up.    The truth is that about half the deer harvest in Kentucky comes from those two weeks, and if we did not have that kind of harvest every year, we would have deer coming out our collective wazoo.  I do not exactly know what that means, but I am assured the condition is very painful.

My overall suggestion to you guys in Indiana and Ohio who do not like centerfire rifle coming into your state?  Try it.  You will like it.  I spent my formative years in Ohio, shooting a Remington 1100 smoothbore.  When I switched to a Remington 742 to hunt Kentucky, it was much better.  I never regretted either move.