Return to Turkey Camp 2018

I was down to open up Turkey Camp this past weekend. It was a no-muss, no-fuss trip. Went down Saturday, came back Sunday. I installed security cameras just before the start of deer season.  I was treated all winter to the deer coming and going. I caught a doe coming to the bedroom window and looking in on me at 0500.  She has been coming close to the house all winter. It will be interesting to see how she reacts when we start coming down more regularly again.

I had captured a sizeable number of mice in the Wheel of Death.  There was one that was still recognizeable. The rest had decayed to the point of being globs of sludge at the bottom of the pail.

The only mishap over the winter was the vegetable sprayer in the kitchen sink had water in the head. The below zero temps in January caused it to explode. Moose brought down a replacement. He and Angus dropped in Saturday afternoon for some shooting. When the left for a hike, I took a nap.

At 1700, I got up and retired to the back of the house for my evening cocktail and nature viewing, my first since well before Christmas. Sons #2 and #3 had taken their new cap and ball revolvers out to the Campground to shoot along with some other armament. This was their first time out since we closed Deer Camp as well.

Promptly at 1800, the deer started coming out. All told there were a dozen out in the field. The shooting did not seem to bother them. Even when Angus let loose a fuisilade with his 9mm carbine, they went on munching. What did seem to honk them off was the chatter. Campground is about 3/4 of a mile back on the extreme southern end of the farm. The deer were transfixed by the occasional laughter and comments. Eventually, they all threw up their tails and ran. This was well before my sons gave up and came in. There was another mass exodus as they came out. Deer and turkeys fled like their tales were on fire as the two walked out.

I watched all this from the Thoughtful Spot with my new Bushnell Sentry spotting scope. bought this for me for Christmas.  I asked for it because I was looking for a better spotter for deer– something that could resolve antler points at longer distances, and something less bulky than the big astronomical binos I keep at the Thoughtful Spot.  The Bushnell Sentry is a 12-36X50mm scope.  I was able to resolve the padlock on the Jagendehutte at 500 yards well after sundown as 12 power.




Scouting Turkeys with Google Earth

I want y’all to understand that I’ve been doing this for 30 years or more.  It was only recently I found Google Earth’s Ruler function. In the past, I would take a topo map and plot this stuff out. I have even done the trigonometry necessary to do it without a map. Google Earth makes it sooooo much easier. All you need is :

1) A lensatic compass.
2) Pencil and paper or something to record your readings.

Back home, all you will need is Google Earth loaded on your PC.

Optional, but not absolutely necessary is Google Earth or a compass APP on your phone so you know exactly where you are taking your readings.

This is a lensatic compass:

How to Use a Lensatic Compass

Here is a link on how to use it:

How to use a Lensatic Compass

Study up on how to shoot a bearing.  That is what you will be doing.  Just make sure you know how to shoot a bearing. If you have not done it before, take you compass outside and practice shooting the bearing of the neighbor’s chimney, the mailbox, whatever.

Lets just say you are out scouting turkey. You hear a gobbler.  Shoot a bearing and record it. I have a compass APP on my Android phone that lets me record current position– Long & Lat– and take a snapshot over a satellite map.  Google Earth for Android lets you set waypoints.  You can just as easily mark something down in a notebook. For the following example, all I am using is a compass and pencil and paper.

Let’s just say I’m driving along Chaney Road with the windows down, and I happen to hear a gobbler on old man Schnotthopper’s property.  I stop the car, walk over to the corner fencepost and wait for the gob to gobble again.  When he does, I shoot a bearing and write it down


Then I roll down the road a ways.  When I get to the farm house, I shoot another bearing


. . . and rolling a bit more, I get to the far corner of the property


When I get home, I fire up Google Earth and click on T)ools  R)uler

The Ruler function on Google Earth lets you plot a line on the map.  I’ve already saved the first two plots.  I’m adding the third one now.




Click on the image if you want to see it bigger.

I simply tell the Ruler to draw a line and drag  the mouse in the general direction of the sound. When the Heading number matches the Bearing I want to plot,  I just click the mouse.

Remember to click on the Save button after plotting each bearing.  Remember too to draw the line long enough so that it runs over where you think that gobbler is roosted.

In this case, I’ve plotted my three bearing on Mr. Schnotthopper’s farm.  The gobbler somewhere around where the three lines intersect.  You can do it with two lines, but each bearing you take, each line you add, will probably reduce the error.   Three bearings is about all you need.

Your accuracy will depend on your ability to shoot the bearings, identify your listening posts and whether or not wind or other things are bending the sound. However, on a quiet morning, I can make this work dead-on at 600 yards and walk right to the roost tree.  It also helps to shoot your bearings as far apart as possible.  In this instance, I was driving along the road. Out walking, I would maybe take 100 paces between shooting bearings.





Cheap Deer Rifles Redux

It was about ten years ago I wrote a series of articles on buying deer rifle for Deer & Deer Hunting. Of them, the one on cheap deer rifles has stayed one of my most popular. It dawned on me the other day that the topic needed to be revisited.

For the original, see: Picking a Deer Rifle On the Cheap

What got me thinking about it was that I spied a $400 Mauser 96 at Hibberds. The 96 Swede is an awesome rifle. The 6.5X55 cartridge is an excellent whitetail deer cartridge. The difference a decade has brought is that I can remember when a surplus Swede would run you less than $100 and there were guys tripping over themselves trying to sell you a plastic aftermarket stock.

A lot of what I wrote ten years ago is still true. The deer have not changed. I still think a 300 Savage is about the optimal cartridge for whitetails. I’m still not suggesting you run out and buy a 300 Savage. My point back then and now is that a 308 WIN or 7mm-08 or some such will get the job done and then some. They all kill deer.  .300 Savage just happens to deliver the right amount of punch within the right amount of distance for the average whitetail hunter, and I have been using it as a reference point in my articles for over 15 years.

What has changed in a decade is the availability of good, new really cheap deer rifles. In 2008, there were oodles of Mausers, Mosin Nagants, and Schmidt-Rubins out there. You could get a usable rifle for $75 bucks. Now? The rifles are still there, but they are running $300 and up.

The big thing that has changed is the advent of popularly priced deer rifles with wickedly good triggers and superior barrels. It used to be that a taking a war-surplus Mauser, and putting it in a sporter stock would give you a cheap rifle with then-acceptable 4 MOA accuracy. A K-Mart Blue-Light Special, maybe a Winchester 670 or Remington 700 ADL might get you about the same accuracy for about twice the money, but still half of what those manufacturers were selling as their primary offerings.

Now? The miltary surplus stuff is reaching boutique pricing. For the same amount of money, however, you can buy a solid new rifle from the same bargain bin and get 1 MOA accuracy and a wickedly good trigger. This is where the top-end rifles were 20 years ago.

You want examples?

Ruger American
Savage Axis
Mossberg Patriot
Howa Hogue
Weatherby Vanguard
Thompson Center Compass

Since 2008, I have purchased both the Ruger American and the Ruger Hawkeye. Both are good rifles. Both have sub-MOA accuracy. The Hawkeye is definately the superior rifle, but it cost over twice the RAR.

At the same time, I gradually and painfully worked through my Mauser from Hell project. Yes, having a K98 Mauser in 8MM with a custom stock is cool. However, I’m well into it $400 and 5 years, and still haven’t seen bottom on it. Remember too that the rifle was basically free to me to begin with. When I’m done with the project, I’ll have a 1-2MOA deer rifle. For the money and time I am putting into this project, I would have been able to buy a pre-64 Winchester Mod 70.

What’s missing from these new bargain rifles? I’m sorry, I never will warm up to Tupperware stocks. However, they don’t warp in the rain, and they generally don’t require a lot of bedding work. They generally don’t have shiny blued finishes either. However, these are hunting rifles. Having a matte finish is not a bad thing.

The big thing that is missing is something you cannot see. The big thing that makes these El Cheapo rifles sing is the fact that computer controlled machining has removed a lot of the hand fitting that needed to be done to these rifles. That removes labor costs, and the gun makers can turn out a better product for lower cost.

Think of the everyone’s epitome– the Pre-64 Winchester Model 70. Back in 1963, that rifle in a common chambering would run you $175 and if you were lucky, you’d get 1-2 MOA accuracy out of it. You can still get a similar rifle now. Montana Rifle Company sells custom rifles built on an action that is as close as you can get to the original Model 70. The cost is going to be about $1400. That’s roughly what the Mod 70 would be going for if you extrapolate the 1963 price to today. On the other hand, you can run out to the big discount store and pick up a plastic-stocked Ruger American in 308 WIN for about $375. Adjusted for inflation, that would be a $45 dollar rifle. I’ve shot some $50 rifles from that era. They’re good rifles, but no where near the quality or accuracy of the Ruger American Rifle.

So, what’s changed in the past 10 years? When the cheap mil-surp deer rifles dried up, I didn’t know what I was going to do. At about the same time the used rifle market dried up, because of Obama. Everyone started buying rifles and the demand produced some of the best bottom-end rifles ever. If you are looking for a new Golden Age of deer rifles, this is it.

But Shaman!!! What about the AR?

I’m not a big fan of the AR platform for deer hunting.   I’m not going to go all Jim Zumbo on you and say they have no place in the deer woods either.  The AR platform is an answer for problems and situations that you just are not going to find hunting whitetail deer.

  • The deer are not shooting back.
  • If you’ve expended more than 3 rounds on a deer and still have nothing to show for it, it’s time to take a time out and rethink what you’re doing.
  • If you find that you have a hard time making a decision whether to take the medkit, the night-vision scope or the tomahawk in your day pack you’re no longer deer hunting.

The big issue is cost. This is about cheap deer rifles.  There is nothing cheap about an AR.

Why not single shot rifles?

I’m not going to say you shouldn’t buy a single-shot rifle. However, I prefer having a second or third round handy without any fumbling. Single-shot rifles are also light. Light rifles mean more recoil.

Why not Levers?

I love lever guns, but they are falling from favor. One buys a lever action, because it is a lever action, not because it is the best cheap deer gun out there.


O.D’s 2 of 7 Rule May be Real!

The more I look at it, O.D.’s 2 of 7 rule may be true. At least, that’s what the cameras are telling me.

As you may remember, I’ve been writing about my neighbor O.D. and his crazy theories about deer hunting. One of his most notorious is the “2 of 7 Rule.” Basically put, deer will show up at your blind an average of 2 out every 7 days. It’s a bit bigger than that, but that is the nut of the whole thing.

If you think about it, there’s a lot more going on there. Assume 2 of 7 is for real. If you see a deer on Saturday morning, chances are 1 in 6 you’ll see it on Sunday. If you saw deer come by your stand 3 days in a row last week, you probably won’t see them again for a fortnight.

I have written about this before. See O.D. and the 2 of 7 Rule

I put in security cameras to watch over deer camp while I’m gone. They send me email if anyone comes on the property or even drives on the road. I pointed one camera out into the field so that I could get a view of the place much like you see in the header. There’s that big U visible with the barn at Faulty Towers to the left and the big dead tree at Fountain Square on the right and about 20 acres of pasture snaking around the top of Hootin Holler.

It dawned on me as I watch that camera that I am seeing O.D.’s 2 of 7 rule panning out. Let me summarize my findings.

I started to visualize the whole field split up into 150 yard segments. That is about as far as a normal deer hunter is going to be able to see given the terrain and the cover.

About 2 out of 7 days, the deer do not show up at all. There’s either a lot of wind or rain or snow or something going on. They stay bedded during normal hunting hours.  The camera draws a blank.

There are perhaps a dozen or so places the deer like to use as ingress and egress points coming out into the pasture. That means a guy putting his stand up back a few yards from the treeline are going to see them coming in or out of the field at those choke points. The passage of the deer is random.

There are several groups of deer. On a good day, I may see 3 groups of 3-7 or more deer showing up. On a minimal day, it may be 1-2 single doe. They may pick the same choke point. They may come out of different places. They may end up all together or spread out over the field.

Any way you cut it, those deer are hitting a given choke point about 2 out every 7 days. A hunter posting so that he can see a big 150 yard chunk of pasture is only going to see deer in front of him on 2 of 7 days.

Here is an example of a fairly normal sort of evening from just after rifle season ended.  You may want to blow this up to full screen.  A lot of the deer out in the field are nothing more than dots.

So shaman, how come you talk about this 2 of 7 thing, when you’re seeing deer 5 of 7 evenings?

Most hunters do not get a view like I have of so much land at once.  In this part of the world, a hunter is likely to see maybe 80 yards at the most inside the treeline.  If he’s posted where he can see a whole field, 150 yards is  a generous chunk of real estate.   Remember that most deer are taken by hunters inside 80 yards.  Any way you slice it up, O.D.’s  rule of thumb seems to be holding up to scrutiny.




A New CC Pistol

Ever since I took my concealed carry class a few years ago, I’ve been trying to find a decent full-sized pistol for everyday. Originally, I was carrying my Ruger P-90 in 45 ACP. It’s a great pistol. I’ve had it close to 20 years, but it only has an 8-round capacity.

Last year, I tried a new Ruger SR9. It was an ideal pistol in 9mm. The mag hols 17 rounds– more than double the P90. I just found myself missing the action of the Ruger P-series. I finally found just the right piece, a Ruger P95DC. It’s a 9mm. It holds 15 in the mag. It doesn’t have a safety. There is an ambidextrous de-cocker.

All my P90 accessories and holsters and such fit.


Sorry for the Outage

Sometime after 0800 ET, folks started getting a message
“403 Error — Access Forbidden”
when accessing this site. By 1100 ET, I had a ticket in with the ISP. They managed to get it fixed sometime after 0600 ET this morning.

Genesis 9:2-4 Ministries has returned to normal service. Sorry for the outage.


On Learning to be an Expert Turkey Hunter

There was an outdoor writer many years ago that opined that turkey hunters fell into 3 categories.

1) From 1 to 20 turkeys, the hunter is trying his best to learn how to hunt turkeys
2) From 20 to 40 turkeys, the hunter is trying to tell everyone else how to hunt turkeys
3) From 40 turkeys on, the hunter has learned to shut up and keep his opinions to himself.

Look, I don’t mean to be telling y’all how to hunt turkeys, but I’ve been at it most of 40 years. The way I look at it, sometimes it helps walking through the cow pasture if someone points out the plops before you step in them.

When I first started turkey hunting, I was convinced of several things.

1) Turkeys like to roost near water. They like to flop down and go straight away to water, and from there to feed.
2) The only way to hunt turkeys in the morning was to get out, get as close to a roost as you dared and get between the turkeys and their closest source of water and call the gobs off the roost.
3) If that didn’t work, it was time to start hiking, using locator calls along the way to get gobblers to sound off, and then sit yourself down beside a big tree and call him in.
4) If that didn’t work, it was probably time to go in. When I started it wasn’t even legal to hunt turkeys past noon, so it must be bad for the turkeys somehow.

I spent the first 20 years or so having a terrible time of it. I could go back and give y’all a rundown of all the wrongheadedness, but none of what I thought in those first twenty years of hunting turned out to be true. About 15 years ago, I started to have glimmers that what I was doing was all fouled up, and started thinking for myself. That is the key. Yes, I read a lot of books and magazine articles. I rented lots of videos. They were all by well-known legends of turkey hunting. I’ve even met some legends in my time. However, the breakthrough came when I started thinking for myself.

When I got my own property, I immediately started turkey hunting the way I’d been taught. On my 200 acres, Turkey Catechisms #1 and #2 dictated that I take off every morning and go to the lowest elevation on the farm, get down into the creek bottom and sidle up to a roost.  By the time that scenario played out, it would be about 8 AM, and I would start doing the old Run & Gun thing all over the property. By 10, I’d be tuckered out and go back to the house for a cup of coffee. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. That almost invariably led to failure. In all my years of hunting turkeys, I have never seen a turkey pitch down off the roost and go grab a drink of water.  The closest to this was about 30 years ago, I was out bow hunting deer on the last weekend of bow season and witnessed a gobbler deliberately break through the ice on a small creek so he and the rest of the flock could get the flowing water underneath.

Where all this running and gunning thing got me into trouble was that the idea had been coined by turkey hunters that had vast tracts of public land to hunt. Me? I could walk out the front door and be at the farthest edge of the property in 30 minutes, taking my time as I went. There wasn’t enough property there to run, and I was probably mucking things up by using a locator call and my big loud box call way to much.

It finally dawned on me that I was invariably finding turkeys out in the pastures on top of the ridges, and it finally sunk in that the best thing to do was to stay up on the ridge top and wait for the turkeys to come to me, rather than start down in the bottoms and chase them all morning on their way to the top.

Now comes the tricky part. By this time, I had started corresponding on a lot of outdoor forums. Along about 2008, I found Turkey & Turkey Hunting’s new forum. I popped on for look-see and immediately got assaulted by the old-schoolers. What I was doing wasn’t hunting turkeys. I was ambushing them. It as a sin as great as using a pop-up blind and decoys. One fellow actually likened it unfavorably to being pro-Abortion. Blah, blah, blah.  Eventually, the old-schoolers all wandered off and infected some other forum. I ended up a pro-staffer at T&TH.

I want to give ya’ll some advice. Think for yourselves. There are enough turkeys out there for everyone now. You can hunt them the way you see fit. For me, that meant sitting my butt down and letting the gobblers come to me. It is not really what they call ambushing. That would imply I don’t call them. I do. I just don’t go chasing after them. Over the years, I figured out I was putting my butt down by the same trees, so eventually I gave up trying to act surprised over it. I stopped being hell-bent on trying to call gobblers off the roost. I don’t give up. I found out the gobblers are usually very henned-up after flydown. By 0900, they’re a lot more cooperative, and they are far more willing to come to a call. I stopped being all wound up at sunrise and learned flydown was just the overture. Over the years, I have had an increasing number of gobblers pitch down off the roost and come to me. I guess when I stopped trying, I stopped sounding so needy.  Who wants to date a needy chick, right?

The Honey Hole looking towards the road

The old-schoolers did have one thing right.  If you can find a tree that is wider than your shoulders at the base, this is the ideal spot for placing your butt while you wait for the turkeys to arrive.  The thing they did not realize is that you can put your butt down by the same tree, day after day, year after year and get similar results.  All that hiking around never got me to where I could sit and watch turkeys for long periods of time.  I’m now watching the great-great-great-great-great. . . whatever grand dads of the turkeys I was hunting back in 2001.  They enter the same fields at the same times from the same directions.  Furthermore, gobblers that strut in the same corner of the pasture have similar personalities to the gobblers that strutted there a decade ago.

I found out a lot of other things to be true.  If I have a mind to, I can go out to one of the pastures where I see gobblers in the afternoon and high-ball a box call from Noon until I start hearing the hens flying up to roost. Some days a gobbler will come, sometimes from long distances, to be with that loud hen. I have learned all sorts of tricks like that, but I had to start by opening my mind to the possibilities and look at the turkeys and the land with my own eyes and use my own head.

No, e, I’m not going to tell you how to hunt turkeys. When I was pro-staffing, I never tried to put myself forward as an expert turkey hunter. If I am, I am only an expert on my little 200 acre plot. No, the best I ever claimed to be was an expert beginning turkey hunter. 40 seasons on, I’m still just getting started.


The Big Book of Gun Gack

I spent Saturday reading in John Barsness’s book, The Big Book of Gun Gack.  You have probably read the author, he’s published in a heck of a lot of magazines, and he’s got a slew of good books on  This one is a collection of articles about a select bunch of rifle cartridges for the hunter and John’s take on reloading for them. It is a book for the hunter that reloads..



Table Of Contents

Working Up a Load in the 21st Century
Modern Rifle Powders
Rifle Primers
Rifling Twist
Pre-Testing Big Game Bullets
Sizing Cases Straight
Meat Hunting Bullets
Why Reloading Data Varies
Choosing Varmint Bullets
The Tree Factory .17’s
Why the .204 Ruger Works So Well
The .22 Hornet and K-Hornet
The .221 Fireball in a 700 Classic
The “Triple Deuce” (.222 Remington)
.223 Remington: The Smallest All-Around Cartridge
Newer Powders in the .22-250
The Infamous, Accurate .220 Swift
A Pair of Fast .22’s
6mm PPC, the Essence of Accuracy
Untangling the 6mm Lee Navy
.243 Winchester: Popular Imperfection
The Other Two .24’s: 6mm Remington and .240 Weatherby
A Pair of .25-20 Winchesters
The Accurate .25’s
.25-06, The Most Popular “Quarter-Bore”
The 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer
The 6.5 Creedmoor-Modern Accuracy Distilled
The 6.5×55 Swedish-Norwegian Mauser
The 6.5/.284 and 6.5-06
Reviving the .264 Winchester Magnum
26 Nosler-The Hottest 6.5
The 21st-Century .270 Winchester
7×57 and 7mm-08 Remington-A Perfect pair
The Hard-Luck .280 Remington
.280 Ackley Improved and 7mm SAUM
Remington’s Phenomenal 7mm Magnum
Handloading the .30-30-If You Simply Must
Easy Accuracy From The .308 Winchester
The 7.5×55: A “Metric” .30 Caliber
The .30-06-Still the Finest All-Around Big Game Cartridge
Holland & Holland’s “Super Thirty”
Winchester’s Most Popular .300 Magnum
Roy’s Famous .300
Great Britain’s Great .303
Modern Powders in Two Old 8×57’s
Kinder, Gentler .338’s
The Changing .338 Winchester Magnum
The .338 Lapua Magnum, King of the Wide-Open Spaces
.348 Winchester-Only The Loney
The Original .35 Remington
Colonel Whelen’s Fine .35
9.3×62 Mauser, The Working Man’s Medium-Bore
The .375 H&H, Still The King
Modernizing Two Old .40’s

Probably, whatever you’re lobbing at whitetails or elk  is listed.  If it is, I would suggest you pick it up.  If you’re not lobbing stuff at whitetails, I’m wondering what brought you to this weblog in the first place!

John is also on posting as Mule Deer.  I have been corresponding with John for over a decade and a half.  He holds court in “Ask the Gunwriters” where he is the undisputed authority among the serious rifle looneys.

The book is available from however, I would strongly suggest ordering from the 800 number.  His wife, Eillean will pick up, and she’s such a nice person.  While you’re talking to her, have her pitch you for becoming an official rifle looney and getting the  Rifle Looney News.



Dawn of American Deer Hunting

Junior, my honorable #1 son, gifted me a book. I’ve already been through it several times, and it is super cool. I have been enamoured with old pictures of deer hunting for quite some time, ever since we got the farm.   Back then, I had all these bare walls to cover, and not a whole lot of budget.  I went online and downloaded every old hunting photo I could find and put them in cheap frames.  My surmise was that over time, our pictures of actual hunts would slowly replace the old stuff.  Quite a few of the pictures in this book happen to be on my walls. This book tells the story behind them

A lot of the pictures from before 1900 show fellows with converted flintlocks.  That means that a lot of the rifles that were around at the founding survived a hundred years or more.  Also, if you are into old lever actions, this is your book.  The modern bolt action deer rifle really does not appear until much later.

I am going to buy an accessory for this book– a stereoscopic viewer.  A lot of the pictures are stereographs, and with a proper viewer, they should produce the 3D effect.


Deer Camp Close-Down 2017

Angus, Moose and the Mooselette joined me at Deer Camp one last time to shut down camp, and have one last time afield before the cold weather hits.

Moose and Angus went for a hike. Mooslette and I went on a grand tour of the blinds. This was her first time at Hollywood. I introduced her to the 2-man tower blind. She’s 5. She’s highly motivated to hunt. She sits in bed with her head under the covers at night watching Youtubes of deer and turkey hunting. My son caught her when he heard “Shoot it! Shoot it!” coming from her room. This was a kid that was wired for hunting. The new tower blind is 5X7 and it has enough room for a kid to get up and stretch and fidget without the deer or turkey seeing anything.

We all met back up at sunset to watch deer and enjoy the last Super Moon of the year.