News from Camp

I have been taking my usual summer hiatus from the weblog, but that does not mean I have not been busy. Things have been really hopping both down at camp and back at the reloading bench.

The big news came back in the beginning of June. Little Mooselette came down with the rest of Team Moose for a camping trip. I pitched a tent for her on Friday night, and she crawled right in and slept until morning. Saturday night, shortly after 9, she announced she was going to her tent, and she stayed in until Sunday morning. This is phenomenal behavior for a 3-year old.

We also went out spotting turkeys together on that trip. We did not find much, except for box turtle, but she did a great job.

I will tell you there is nothing better in this world than having your 3 year old granddaughter beg to drive over to Grandpa’s house, just so she can throw her arms around your neck and say, “I am a good camper and I want to hunt turkeys.”

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Turkey Season Post-Mortem 2015

Sunday Morning, I decided a little bit earlier than usual to call it quits and come in. I had just had a ball playing with a mess of jakes. I could have all of them, many times over, but held my fire. These were probably the same bunch I had seen all season. Next year I should have a good cohort of 2 year olds to hunt. I had taken the same spot near Midway that I had been seated the day before. They had run down the freshly seeded field. This scenario had played out several times this season. When they left and nothing else showed up, I decided it was time to go.

From that point on it took six hours before I was back in town, taking my place in the recliner. It takes that long to break down Turkey Camp and get home and stash the gear. I still have work to do before the shotguns are put away for the year. However, I can start collecting my thoughts on what worked and what did not. What to do again, and what to stop doing.

What did not work:

I have been pre-positioning blinds using die-cut blind material for about a decade. Every year the wind and the spring thunderstorms tear one or two of them up, leaving me shreds. This year, I hardly used them. I think it is time to face the truth that this is a wasted expense. I can put up a blind in under 10 minutes if I carry the components with me. The tactic worked great when I had young sons in tow, but I some where in the past 15 years I have aged to the point were I can sit still enough for turkeys to peck at my bootlaces.

The new butternut/kwila box call from SS GameCalls for all its beauty and style did nothing for me. I do not blame the call, however. There was a threat of rain most of the days I would have used it, and the few days that I did the chalk got in the way. This is a fine call and it set me back a good bit of money. However, it is going to take some breaking-in, and some getting used to– more of the latter than the former.

I am making an official warning: DevCon 5 minute epoxy will not hold up to the demands of a pot call. I built several pot calls early on using that glue and every one of the calls has since failed. This one lasted the longest, 9 years. The aluminum plate fell off playing with the jakes. The best suggestion I can make is using Liquid Nails construction adhesive. That is what I will use to repair this call.

What Worked:

I took my Toby Benoit Rebel Yell box call out in the worst of it, and managed to bag a nice bird. However, even Toby would tell you his calls are nothing to look at. They just plain work. I was facing 35 mph winds that day, and I knew the Rebel Yell could cut through it. In similar conditions, I have called birds from 600 yards out. The hen that plopped down and came running to do battle this year was at 200-250 yards, and she brought the gobbler with her. Just for grins, I had Angus on the walkie-talkie and tried the Rebel Yell at full volume. Angus heard it from the front porch of Turkey Camp. I was at the Honey Hole, over a half-mile away. He said it sounded like a hen calling from about 200 yards out. I miss Toby and Brian and the rest of the folks at Heirloom Calls. I have not heard from them in a coon’s age.

I picked up a milsurp Goretex rain jacket over the winter, it was in British DPM camo. It worked wonderfully for me in drizzle as well as couple of downpours. I have always liked DPM for a turkey hunting pattern. I really did not have a chance to outwit a gobbler’s eyes with it this year, but I can attest to clothing my sons in DPM in their early years, it seems to hide movement well. DPM stands for Disruptive Pattern Military. It definately disrupts the minds of turkeys.

The one-piece diamondwood striker from CustomSawing.com really worked. It became my go-to striker for my copper and aluminum pot calls. I just checked; they were out of them. Try again next winter. The other strikers that I made over the winter all came from the same place. They all worked, on one call or the other. The trick here is to carry a bunch of strikers that all give different effects. It leverages one or two pot calls and it ends up like you are carrying a dozen.

The B-Mobile Gobbler from Primos is still a good full-sized gobbler decoy. I originally bought it so little Mooselette could see what a real turkey was like. However, I kept it and a few of my old FeatherFlex hens locked in the blind at Midway and used them a couple of times. I still say dekes are a 50-50 thing at best and tie a hunter down too much. However, having what amounted to a padlocked closet in the middle of the turkey woods made it practical. The B-Mobile was on sale in places for under $50 this year. It may be cheaper at the end of the season. Both times I used the B-Mobile, I had turkeys come in.

Put in honorable mentions for the following:

Smartwool socks and sock liners and Hi-Tec Altitude IV hiking boots– I think I have finally found a pair of turkey boots that stay waterproof more than 1 season. I’ve got two seasons on mine now.

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Indiana Deer Rifle Changes Nixed

The word I have is that the Indiana DNR has pulled support for the recommendation that would have liberalized centerfire rifle restrictions in this year’s deer hunt.

Board to vote on use of high-powered rifles for Indiana’s deer hunters

See Indiana Deer Rifle Changes Nixed

“We saw it as a social issue and since it was not societal acceptance for it overwhelmingly or opposed to it we have asked for it to be withdrawn,” said DNR spokesman Phil Bloom.

The DNR says public hearings and community input shows the decision making process at work, but they’ve made it clear where they stand.

“There were very valid points on either side of the issue and our folks reviewed them all and came to the conclusion it’s not something we need at this point,” said Bloom.

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PODCAST: The Midway Gobbler

It has taken quite a while for me to get this podcast together.  The wind was brutal this morning, the first Monday of 2015 Kentucky Spring Gobbler.  This was the day SuperCore and I got matching bookend gobs about a half hour apart.

Mine was roosted with hens over by Lazy Boy, where #3 son Angus likes to deer hunt. I had arrived in between thunderstorms at first light.  I holed up at Midway, my luxury box deer blind, expecting more rain.  I had brought along a Toby Benoit Rebel Yell box call.  It is by far the loudest in my collection and the wind was fierce.  As soon as I got situated, I let out an excited yelp and immediately got a response from the dominant hen. She matched me note for note. Pretty soon, the whole flock flew down and made a beeline for the blind with the hen and I walking on each other. A half-hour later I was staring at a gob and hens emerging from the woods, 60 yards away and closing. You can hear the rest.

Podcast — Yute Season 2015

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

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Report from Turkey Camp — The Action so Far

If there really are “ON” and “OFF” kind of days for turkeys. Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the Opener here in the Trans-Bluegrass were definitely “ON.” Angus had a shot on Saturday as did I, Angus scored on Sunday. SuperCore and I scored on Monday. Ever the rain returned on Monday morning, the gobblers have been turned “OFF” in the extreme sense. However, I am getting ahead of myself. It is best to pick up the story after Angus bagged his jake.

Sunday

On Sunday, after Angus bagged his jake, it got hot and muggy. I drove Angus back to rendezvous with KYHillChick, who met us halfway on the AA Highway. It started raining, and it rained most of the afternoon. However, it let up around Happy Hour. By then I had returned to the farm and SuperCore and I watched a gobbler with two jakes parading around in front of the Jagende Hutte. We took that as a sign that things were beginning to change

Monday

It rained. It rained on and off after sundown Sunday and rained a good part of the night. In the morning, I was fully rigged for it, even swapping out my calls for the ones less affected by moisture. The drizzle let up enough for me to get hoof it out to Midway, crawl in, and get off all my wet stuff. The wind was gusting pretty heavily when I started my calling with an old Toby Benoit box call. A hen down in Left Leg Creek immediately answered me, and started matching me, yelp for yelp. A gobbler chimed in and by 0730 I had a 3 hens and a gobbler making their way straight for my blind. As soon as the gobbler got in the clear, I put the scope to his head and hit him straight on.

I had heard a shot a few minutes earlier. That was SuperCore killing his gobbler, the same one we had seen the night before. He and his acolytes had roosted behind Broken Corners and come out into the pasture at sunrise.

This was a first for the Shamanic Dream Team; we had never had a 2-fer at camp. SuperCore dressed his out on the shooting bench. I set up a card table in the yard. Despite the rain coming and going, we had both gobblers in the freezer by 11. After that, the weather turned and the turkeys crawled in a hole and pulled the lid over the top.

Tuesday.

It was not all that bad at flydown but the turkeys could tell something was coming. By 0830 the wind was starting to gust. Small car warnings were up on the AA. We hunkered down.

Wednesday and Thursday

Rain and Wind and a falling thermometer. We made it out both days, but it was not pleasant.  I did have a couple of jakes show up Thursday.  I counted coup on them from the blind at Midway.  This is the second time this year I could have punched a tag on a jake.  I still might, but frankly I would rather see those little guys grow up. Ask me on the last day of season, and I might give you a different answer.

Friday
Things started to turn around, but it was still cold. The gobblers would toss a few gobbles on the roost and then disappear. I could have been calling in my living room and had as good luck.

Saturday and Sunday
Saturday it was still cold, but the turkeys were starting to cooperate. The cold, close to freezing, is the sort of thing you expect for 1st week of Spring Gobbler here in the Trans-Bluegrass. What was odd though was that as temps and winds moderated, what I found was a large number of very frustrated hens coming around looking for a gobbler. I’d hear them out in the woods being very plaintive. When I would gobble, they would come running. I wish I’d been able to capture some it with my recording gear, but the wind was just too darn strong. These girls were really giving a class. Normally, when you hear a hen like that, you also hear gobbling. The gobblers were almost non-existent, and when they were around, they would toss off a few obligatory gobbles and walk the other way. This was an odd set of circumstances to be sure. One other thing that got me thinking something might be up was during one of the pour-downs, there were 15 hens out in the pasture with zero gobblers in attendance.

Saturday, I had one kicking up a serious fuss back by Campground. On Sunday she came all the way up to the Honey Hole and strode across the field within 20 yards, with only a little bit of gobbling on my part. My audio recorder was completely flummoxed by the wind, otherwise I would have a wickedly good podcast. Gobblers? Both Saturday and Sunday they must have been hiding.

 

Epilog: 

Since we left camp, I’ve received word that Week #2 in Bracken County and the whole NorthEast region has been on fire.  Gobblers are climbing up hunters’ legs.  The carnage has been tremendous. I just hope things hold out for the coming weekend when the Shamanic Dream Team takes to the field again.

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Report from Turkey Camp — Angus Scores

Turkey Season 2015 is under way. Saturday was The Opener. I went to the Honey Hole. Angus went to the rock pile up on top of Gobbler’s Knob. SuperCore went to his usual place at the Jagende Hutte overlooking Dead Skunk Hollow.

Flydown Saturday was somewhat subdued. I had expecte better, being that it was so warm. The turkeys hopped off their perches, crawled in a hole and pulled in the lid. Angus had better luck. He had a gobbler come in close. He worked him for a while and finally got a shot, but it was at an odd angle and he missed.

Supercore got quite a floor show. Deer, turkey, squirrel, but nothing close enough to shoot.

Along about 0830, I heard a sound that was one of the strangest I have heard in the woods.  It sounded like a roar from a rather large animal, or perhaps a piece of farm machinery starting up.  Three times it went off in the woods beyond Midway.  I was trying to make up my mind if it was worth being worried, when it started to resolve into something resembling a turkey gobble.  Whatever it was, it was huge. It sounded like a 10-foot gobbler, and it sounded like it was coming my way.

I moved around the dead tree where I was sitting  and got situated so that I could see out into the pasture. About 20 minutes later, I began to spy turkeys.  The roar kept up. It was behind the ones I was seeing.  When they got within 150 yards, I began to see shaving-brush beards; these were all jakes, seven of them.  Finally about 100 yards out they all let loose at once and I could see what had been making the roar.  Seven jakes, all going off at once, made a terrible noise.

They came down to my end of the field and stayed for a half hour or so.  There was nothing there I wanted to shoot.  Calling just made them get more worked up.  I pulled out my tablet, and grabbed a few minutes of the show.

On Sunday, we knew it was going to be dicey whether we got any hunting in, but the rain stayed south of Cynthiana at least through flydown.  The gobblers were extremely obstinate for me.  Hens were kicking up a fuss, but could not get a gobbler to honor their calls.  Over on Gobbler’s Knob.  Angus had better luck.  A flock of jakes came in and . . .

Note:  The Internet connection at camp went down.  I’m getting caught up.  Expect more  back-dated entries.

 

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The Final Countdown to Turkey Camp, 2015

By the time you read this it will be T-minus 15 hours and counting to the Turkey Opener.

SuperCore called. He’s bringing   breakfast sandwiches, and the Scotch, and a bucket of fried dead chicken from the side of the road.

I hugged Angus this morning and told him I’d sprung for his license and tags, and wished him a happy 17th birthday. I then went downstairs to put a bevel on the ends of a half dozen strikers.

I’ll be leaving work tonight, dropping by the house to pick up shotguns and Angus and Lily the Love Hound and then heading down to camp.

It’s looking dismal for Sunday and Monday, but there is a chance the thunderstorms may hold off during flydown. The forecast for the rest of the week has improved. Yesterday they were talking rain most days. After Monday, it is now looking like clear and moderate weather.

I wish y’all a good season.  May y’all be at least marginally smarter than a 20 lb bird , at least when it counts.

 

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