Plotting the Return to Turkey Camp

It’s coming up on 10 weeks to the start of Kentucky’s Spring Gobbler Season. What am I doing to get ready?

About a month ago, right around New Years, I went down and checked my supply of turkey ammo. I shoot Federal 3-inch #4 lead. It is not the rarest ammo out there, but nobody local carries it anymore. About this time of year, it shows up in decent quantities on the websites. The last time I needed some, I ordered from Hibberd’s, my LGS would also order it for me. I try to do a minimal amount of experimentation with my ammo. I know a lot of folks turn sighting-in into a whole season unto itself, but in the end, I know I’ll be taking most of my birds inside 20 yards anyway. I have not changed loads since 1996.

January is when I also start to get my calls in order. I bring them up out of storage and give them all a good workout. Normally there are no great surprises. I know some of the y’all call all year ’round, but usually I do not start to practice my calling until after the Super Bowl. If I were making calls, I would have placed an order with for the materials clear back in December. However, I am well-stocked on everything right now– calls and their fixing’s both.

I mentioned in the previous post that I noticed that my turkey bag was starting to show wear. I have kept the new Rothco Messenger bag close at hand since its purchase. Without getting too far into it, I have been working through how I am going to stock it. It is considerably roomier than my previous bag, but it is not significantly heavier. The trick will be not loading myself down with extra gear. The whole point of switching from a vest to a messenger bag was to lighten the load. Angus bought me a couple of waterproof bags for my birthday back in August. I will use one as a liner for the musette bag I keep on the other side on the days I expect rain.

There are really no surprises with the turkey guns either. Ours are dedicated to turkeys, so once we put them away, they stay there until the next season. I’ve had mine out, shucked it a few times and put it back. It is ready to go. Now is about the last day I’d waste before getting one out to the gunsmith for work.

Every year, I scour the Internet for a good deal on mouth calls. It used to be had the best deals on their closeouts. Nowadays, I usually find the best on An $8 call is sort of lost on me. I use boxes and pot calls that I make myself for most of the heavy lifting. Mouth calls are reserved for rainy days and that last minute bit of clucking I do after I’ve taken the safety off. This year, I scored 14 calls for under $20 getting a 3-pack and a 4-pack made by HS Strut and Quaker Boy. I’m splitting them with Angus.

Starting in about 2 weeks, I will start watching the weather. I set the following parameters for a return to turkey camp.

1) The high temperature on Saturday must be 50F or above
2) There can be no rain predicted for all-day Saturday or Sunday morning.
3) I must have a 3 hour window of good weather on Friday night and Sunday for travel

Our earliest return has been the second weekend in February. Our latest has been 4th weekend in March. Coming back after 2-3 months away from turkey camp holds all sorts of unknowns. We’ve shown up with no power– sometimes it can be off for 6 weeks at a time in the Winter. Truth is, I just don’t know what I’m going to find when I get there. Therefore, I leave myself as much leeway as I can. In order to make it an effective trip, we need good weather on Saturday and at least part of Sunday. Even with those limits imposed, the first trip down can be rugged. With the woodstove and all the heaters going it usually takes from 7 PM Friday until 0600 Saturday for the bedrooms to get above 50F. It may be that on the outside, but it may be close to freezing on the inside. This is the dark side of having a well-insulated cabin. The first hour of our stay is usually spent running the attic fan to bring the inside temperature up to the ambient outside temperature.

Right now, I’m collecting things like the water jugs, the long underwear, and the clothes I brought back for mending. We want everything in place for a quick decision to go. On our first trip back, everything from coffee to dog food gets carried down. We keep stuff down there, but we don’t know what’s intact.


This Video Grabbed Me

It was over 10 years ago that I started noticing that video commercials were getting totally uninteresting to me. It made sense. I’d fallen out of a main demographic group after passing 45 years of age. Nobody wanted to sell me anything anymore, so they weren’t trying.

Here I am, 58 and change, and it has taken until now to finally find a video commercial that plucks at a heartstring. I was just browsing Youtube the other day with nothing better to do, and I found the ads for Steyr Mannlicher. Here’s a sample:

Here’s the channel:
Steyr Mannlicher on Youtube
There are several on there that I liked.

See what you think. Me? I’ll probably never buy a Steyr rifle. I may never get to Europe to hunt, but I found these commercials mesmerizing.


Angus Gets His Gun

I’m feeling proud this morning about #3 son, Angus.

Saturday morning, I ran into Angus and #2, Moose, in the basement. Moose had spent the night. They had decided to get up and go early to the gun show that was being held on our side of town. I have taken them many times when they were younger. They were meeting friends.

Before Noon, I had reason to get hold of them to discuss plans for later in the weekend. It was then I found out. Angus had purchased a NIB Highpoint 9mm carbine and 300 rounds of 9mm ammo at a good price. He and Moose were on their way to the farm to shoot.

They came in late. Angus showed me the piece. It was not really my taste, but it was sturdy and did what it needed to do. I heard the alarm in the Shamanic Secret Underground Reloading Facility reset about 11 PM. He had gotten in to clean the rifle and put it up on the rack. Despite being tired, he had stuck to my advice: don’t go to bed with a dirty gun.

So why am I so proud? First off, this was a calculated decision. It appears to be something other than mere impulse buying. Angus and Moose went to the show to find a rifle that would be cheap to shoot. Angus has been plinking with the M44 Mosin I bought him 10 years ago, but he got tired of feeding it. The house is already filled with semi-auto .22 LR and .223 Rem rifles. This would be neatly nestled between the two in cost and performance. The Hi-Point is heavy and butt-ugly, so I know he did not pick it for any romantic reason. He went researched what would be the system with the lowest cost to operate and went for it. He did it all with money he’s been saving from his job.

I’m also rather happy he didn’t bring me in on it. He did not worry what I would think until it was over. Both Moose and Angus have now stepped deliberately out of my shadow.

I’m pleased that they decided to go to the farm to shoot rather than head to the nearest range. Sure, it’s a 60-some mile drive to get there, but it shows my sons appreciate the place as much as I do.

Overall, it was a perfect, well-timed operation. They hit the gun show as it was opening up, got what they needed. Made the farm just as the temperature was hitting an unseasonably high peak in the 60’s, shot their ammo and made their way home with a nice sunset and the windows open. I call that sucking the last bit of life out of a day.


Woke up this morning (and bought myself a gun)

It’s raining graupel this morning. It’s above freezing; the little ice balls are hitting the roof and making such a racket that it woke me up. This is not the sort of day for thinking about turkey hunting, but there it is. The switch inside my head has but two settings. One setting is for deer. The other is where it is now.

I have already been to the basement once this morning to check on supplies of ammunition. I have enough 3-inch #4’s to last for a few more seasons. My calls are still all packed up. However, I’ll probably bring up the box and start working them later today.

Looking out towards Gobbler’s Knob

Normally, it is  one of those deeply cold bright January days that knocks the switch. This year I think I know what did it. I was playing around with a graphics program the other day and took a photo of the view from the Thoughtful Spot, looking out towards Gobbler’s Knob and used it to test the oil painting effect. The result must have stuck in my head.

As I was putting away the turkey gear last May, I noticed that my turkey bag was starting to see signs of its age. If memory serves, I started carrying it about 15 seasons ago. I picked it up from a couple from Wisconsin that had a booth at the Cincinnati Outdoor Show. That was a big thing for Mooseboy and I, going to that show every year. He shot a BB gun for the first time at that show. We always visited that couple’s booth. They had good luggage cheap.

While I was at Hibberd Armory with Big Bob the other day, I spied my turkey bag’s replacement. It is a Rothco Advanced Tactical Bag. You can call it whatever you like, but I recognized it immediately as a turkey purse. Its only drawback is that it is not camo, but I really do not see that as a drawback. There is a camo version you can get on Amazon, but I was taken with the green. I am keeping it by my desk, helping me visualize the coming season. What I like about this one is that it has more room without adding much extra weight.

Both the old and the new bag are what’s called a messenger bag.  I prefer this over a vest for a bunch of reasons.  First off, a shoulder bag comes off with one buckle. I find this much easier when I am in a jam.  Second, I found I weighed myself down with too much kit when I wore a vest. This holds me to the essentials.    This bag has a lot of advantages over the old one.  For instance, that beverage holder looks more like a box call holster to me.  It also closes up for rain a lot better than the old one.

The other thing that followed me home from Hibberd’s was a Ruger SR9. My reasons for buying were rather odd. In fact, the whole trip was a bit unusual. I don’t usually wake up in the morning with the intent of buying a new pistol, but the impulse was unmistakable. Bob laughed when I told him about the impending trip. He has had urges like that too in the past. Sometimes you really do need to wake up one morning and buy yourself a gun. In retrospect, it was something that had been rolling around in my head since summer.


It started when I decided that I wanted to make some reloads for my Walther P1-P38. I’ve had the pistol now for over a decade, and I have seldom ever shot it. Instead, it rode with me in the back of the truck back and forth to the farm with the intent that it could take care of something in the middle of the night. The P1 is a great pistol within its limitations. It was built to fire moderate full metal jacketed loads, and it does so with the precision of a sewing machine. It was built for the West German Police to fire their particular German Police cartridges and nothing else. Once I found a load that duplicated their cartridges, that was fine. However, for a fellow that likes to reload, that was a rather limiting challenge. I was determined over the summer to find a way to get the P1 working with cheap cast lead. That turned out to be not so easy. I was looking for a cheap plinker. Instead, what I got was a black hole of a project. The cast lead had the odd habit of submarining, head-first, into the magazine. I tried several fixes, but finally realized I was spending a lot of money on a project that was meant to save money overall. I finally put the P1 away and vowed to wait until I had the scratch for a 9mm pistol that had a more omnivorous appetite. The SR9 has that reputation.

My first loads for it are mixed brass with my cast lead Lee 358-125-FN’s sized to .358 and lubed with 45-45-10. I also loaded 124 grain Hornady XTP’s and Berry Hollow Base Round Noses.

I was hesitant about a striker-fired, manual safety pistol for self-defense and CCW purposes, but the whole world seems to be going that way these days.

That’s what I’ve been up to for the past month.


Possible new Ohio Record Buck

The forest telegraph just came across with this:

BIG BUCK ALERT! New Potential Ohio State Record Typical Buck