Getting Ready for Season

Here it is, 4th of July weekend. I’ve got less than 19 weeks until the Rifle Opener here in KY. I am starting to make a list of what needs to be done.

First off, the time to establish a new salt lick for the year is probably over. I know a lot of guys who start putting out licks in September, but the deer’s desire for salt begins to wane about then. You really need to put out your salt in March. That is when deer will be starting to look for it. I added rock salt to me two licks just a few weekends ago, but these were already in place. I was just refreshing ones that had been around for more than a decade. I am not going to say it’s wrong to put out salt now or even later, but the benefit will be mostly seen next year. The peak of salt lick activity is in June around these parts. The best reason to put out a lick is to habituate the doe groups to using particular trails.

 Salt Licks–Now!

If I was going to pick the best time to pick up a new deer rifle, it would be just as season is ending. Usually January and February are the best times to find a new deer rifle, but nobody wants to think about it then. I say this, because stores want to reduce their inventory. My buddy clued me in that the best time to find a used deer rifle is at the big gun show just before Christmas. Guys are trying to sell off their guns to have money for presents. A lot of guys buy a new gun every year and sell it off after season. I have gotten a few like that over the years.

So shaman, so far you’ve said what this ISN’T a good time to be doing. What is?

Treestands

I have found that the next 3 weeks are the best time to pick up deals on treestands, especially mail order. You may be getting last year’s inventory. You may be getting close-outs. However, who cares? They don’t go stale. Buy stands now.

I’d also be thinking about building stands, or at least getting your act together for building one. If I was putting together a new stand or ground blind, I would be using the time now to assemble the wood and screws and start pre-fabbing stuff for a setup in the first week or two of September.

Bow hunting

I’ve been off my bow since the 2007 season. My shoulder went bad. I generally did not shoot in the off season, but July was when I started to get my bow out and start thinking about what needed to be bought for the coming season. July was a good time to get my arrows made, buy a new rest or drop the bow off to have a new string put on. This is the month where you can still avoid the rush. I would also start a regimen of daily pulling an exerciser so strengthen my muscles so that I was ready to pull a bow in August.

Scouting

I’m scouting really all year round. However, now is a good time to get out and get a feel for the deer. Unlike winter scouting, the deer sign is quickly obscured. So it is easier to determine exactly how many deer are around. In winter, a habitual trail may look like Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow when it is only 4 or 5 doe making the tracks. Go back now, and see. You will be able to better discern how many individuals there are. I spend evenings glassing with my binoculars. The deer are contented and not very skittish.

I put out a game camera or two right now around the salt licks. It is a good way to count numbers and determine the overall health of your herd. I am not a big proponent of game cameras, but I do find the eye candy satisfying.

Ammunition and Reloading Projects

Go down to the ammo locker right now. Make an inventory of everything that needs to be replaced before season. If you are buying ammo, start looking for deals now. Your choices wane as it gets close to season, and the cheap deals on deer ammo really happen too close to season. The best time to shop for ammo for this season is just before the start of LAST season.

I haven’t shot factory ammo at a deer in this current century. For me, it is all about reloading. I have to figure out how much of everything I am going to need. I still have to find a pet load for my 25-06 and I have an 8mm Mauser to start on. However, I also have to figure out if I need to load up replacements for all the others. I usually start sighting-in about September 1. This year I have a new Progressive Reloader. I will have to get all my projects cleaned up with that before I pull it off the bench and start the various small runs of deer ammo that will get me through the season.

July 4th weekend has always been my favorite for working up new loads and trying out new rifles. It gives me a chance to really dig into a project in depth. If you’re asking me why I am not out there this weekend, it is because I am pretty well set for deer rifles right now. If I let the 25-06 and 8mm projects slide, I’ll still have enough depth on the rack to get me through the season. I have also been putting in a lot of time at the new Hornady Lock-n-Load AP. In the time it used to take to make 50 rounds of pistol ammo, I’m not able to crank out 200 rounds.

Clothing

Start going through your kit and filling in any holes– literally and figuratively. Some time this month I’ll get my turkey duds washed in baking soda and put them away for deer season. Begin watching for good buys on insulated clothing, polypro underwear, socks, etc. They want to move this stuff out of the way to make room for this year’s stuff. Check everything for fit. The time to find out that you’re a 2X and not an XL is now. Patch holes. Mend broken straps.

 

 

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Buck Weather

This is an interesting thread on 24hourcampfire.com

Favorable Rifle Season Buck Weather  

A lot of folks like snow and cold.  Here at Genesis 9:2-4 Ministries, the Shamanic Dream Team takes deer in a lot milder weather. Here is my answer:

As patriarch of camp, I keep the log. It’s in .XLS format, so it is easy to ask these sort of questions. What I’ll give you is bucks only. The doe results are far more variable.

Temp: 32F to 62F with the average being 40F

Conditions: Clear or Partly Cloudy. None taken in Rain or Snow (we’ve had less than 5 days with snow on the ground during deer season since 2001)

Wind: 0 to 17 MPH. 75% taken under 6 MPH. 33% Calm. 50% with wind S to NW.

Barometer: 29.54 to 30.61 with the largest number between 30.04 and 30.08. There is a 2-1 preference for rising barometers.

Time: 3/4 taken in the AM before 1000. The vast majority taken in the 8 O’Clock hour.

Moon: All phases. However, more seem to be taken while the moon is waxing.

This is the results for a 200 acre patch of heaven in SW Bracken County, Kentucky.

The peak of the rut was decreed years ago by Jake, the proprietor of the general store in Lenoxburg, KY. It was and is the largest deer processor in our part of the county. He set the official peak of the rut to be 10 AM of the Rifle Opener.

“You can’t rut when you’re hanging from a meat pole.” he said.

On a good Opener, Jake had to shut down intake at Noon on Saturday. If you were going to get your buck to Jake, you needed to be quick about it.

To distill this down, here in our patch of the Trans-Bluegrass:

It is beginning the second hour of legal hunting on the Opener. Temperature is 40 degrees. It will dip one more degree before the sun starts to warm you. The wind is calm, but you can hear the leaves rustling in the oaks on the ridge to the west. The sun has just cast your shadow on the ground for the first time this season. For the past few minutes, the shooting has been a continuous fusillade. You hear a heavy thudding in the leaves off to the south and east. Something is coming.

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Countdown to the Rifle Opener

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The clock is operating. We’re underway!

 

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What’s the Best Factory Ammo?

Just a while back there was fellow asking me about ammunition for his deer rifle.

“What’s the best factory load?” he asked.

“For me,” I replied, “I’d say it was the 30-06 180 grain Musgrave round noses.”

“I’ve never heard of Musgrave!” he said.

“You probably wouldn’t.” I replied. “A boatload of the stuff came in from South Africa back in the 80’s. It was the one and only time I saw it.”

“What about now?”

“I haven’t bought ammo at the store since Clinton was in office.” I said.

You probably think this is going to be another shamanic paen to the benefits of reloading. If you do, then you probably know what I am going to say already and have not taken my previous recommendations. Either that, or you have already drunk the Kool-Aid and are patting your little green Rock Chucker and are confident you know what is coming next.

This is not that.

I think this fellow had a valid question and deserves a valid answer. What constitutes good factory ammo for deer?

Let me begin by analyzing why I answered with the 180 grain Musgraves. At the time I bought the stuff, I had only one deer rifle. It was a Remington 742 in 30-06. If you look back in my weblog, you will see many mentions of the rifle. I no longer shoot it. It is a long story. However, back then, like any beginning deer hunter, I thought my rifle was the best thing out there for deer.

The Musgrave stuff showed up at my local gun store about 1984. Jay, the manager, had it stocked up by the register. Prior to this, I had tried Remingtons and Winchesters in a variety of weights. What I noticed was that if I went out looking for ammo, I might find 150’s, 165’s, or 180’s in stock. They might be Remington Core-Lokts or Winchester Super-X, and I would pick up a couple of boxes and go shooting. I would expend the first box getting the rifle sighted-in and then get a season’s deer hunting out of the remainder. That was if I was lucky. Sometimes I would have to repeat this all a couple of times before I had enough ammo left to go hunting.

Part of this was availability and part of it was the vagueries of the ammo from lot to lot. Part of it was that I was not all that great a shot at this point in my career. I could have been holding inconsistently or not keeping a steady rest. The problem was I just did not know.

I bought a couple boxes of the Musgrave to try out. It worked like a charm in that old 742, so I went back to Jay and bought a case of the stuff. I think it was $3.99 a box or something like that. I took my first deer with it. I took a bunch of other deer with this stuff. I still have a few boxes left in the back of the cabinet.

A lot of folks hear reloading and they think it is all about shooting on the cheap. It is, but it isn’t. A lot of the “cheapness” is about reproducability. Once I have found a load that works in a deer rifle, I usually stick with it. In some cases, I have kept to the same load for 15 years or more. I have fewer rounds to crank off every year making sure the scope has kept its zero. Not worrying about lot-to-lot variations helps tremendously. I loaded out of the same 8# jug of H4895 for 10 years for most of my deer rifles and those of my sons. When something is off on a given day, it is more likely me.

Getting back to the original question: “What is the best factory ammo for deer?”

1) It is what shoots best in your firearm. Every rifle is different. Even rifles with consecutive serial numbers shoot the same ammo differently. The trick is to find what works best in your rifle.
2) It is the cheapest stuff that will get the job done. I never did shoot a $50 box of ammo. I think the most I ever paid was about $20. Deer are not that hard to kill. Anyone who claims differently is trying to sell you something. Forget all the fancy premium stuff. Deer will not know the difference.
3) It is the stuff that you can acquire easily and reliably. Most all of the manufacturered ammo is better at lot-to-lot consistency than it was in the mid-80’s, but there are still variations.
4) It is most likely the stuff that is in the middle of what’s commonly out there for that particular chambering.  Forget the stuff at the far ends of weight spectrum.

If I had to repeat what I did with the Musgrave ammo tomorrow here is what I would do. First I would hunt around for the cheapest load that shot well in my rifle. It might be Remington or Winchester or Federal. It could also be Sellior & Belloit or Prvi-Partisan. Either consult with your LGS or go online to a place like grafs.com and find that exact load and buy as much of it as you can afford. Get your deer rifle dialed in with that load and then hold onto that stuff as best you can. With the Musgrave stuff, I basically bought a 10 year supply at a 50% discount from what I was paying at Walmart for a big name brand.

There is another concept here that I will introduce at this point and that is the dedicated deer rifle. If all you have is one rifle, then there is the temptation to use it for target work and plinking at cans. You might loan it out to your buddy for the weekend. You might decide to let it rattle around in the truck all summer. If you are serious about finding the best ammo, then it is time to ask yourself if it is not time to dedicate one rifle to the purpose of deer hunting at the same time you are dedicating one load to the rifle.  Lastly: save your empties. Ten years from now you’ll be thinking about reloading them, and you’ll have a supply of 1-fired brass to last you for the rest of your life.

 

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A Quick Update on the Press

First off, I want to let you know I have a growing admiration for the Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto Progressive press. The naysayers complaints just have not panned out. Based on others’ comparisons to the Dillon 650, about the worst thing I can say about it, in my experience, is that that it has a red paint-job instead of a blue one. That may change, but poised to do my first big run of 9mm, that is the size of it.

Click on the banner for details

 

Grafs.com had the press and a stool for $450 back in March, and the price has dropped since then. Hornady is also throwing in 500 free bullets until the end of the year.

I submitted my paperwork with a check for $14.95 and 500 Hornady SP 150 grain SP’s showed up yesterday morning. They say to wait 12-16 weeks for delivery,

but I got mine in two.  For me, that’s a near lifetime supply of deer bullets.

Here some hints I’ve found so far:

  1. Hornady keeps telling you to spray One-Shot on everything before doing anything else.  I didn’t have any One-Shot cleaner/lubricant, and the stuff costs $15/can. What I did use was a combination of kerosene and alcohol to do the initial cleaning followed by some PB Blaster dry lubricant. Spray on, wipe off as much as you can. That’s enough.
  2. I’ve got a well-lit room, but I really needed some additional lighting on the press.  The dedicated lighting offered by Hornady is kind of expensive, but for $10 bucks, I got this little gooseneck lamp.data:

This has a magnetic base that does locks onto any steel surface nearby. Remember: the press itself is cast aluminum.

This little thing is bright.  It’s all I need.

3.  A lot of people complain about the manual supplied by Hornady.  I watched several of Youtubes on the press before opening the box, and I did not have a problem understanding things. One thing I can say is the information is all there. It is not always immediately accessible, but it is there.  The parts about configuring PTX die are a little eccentric, but nothing is missing.  One fellow complained in an online forum that it was too touchy: that less than an eighth of a turn separated no expansion from splitting the brass.  I had plenty of room to get the expansion just right.  All I can say is this fellow was doing it wrong.

4. Hornady wants you to spend $50 or more to buy the tool rack for the various wrenches and such that are required.  I had a spare 1-tray tackle box, and everything for this press, including spare parts, tools and shellplates fit in it.  For immediate use, I just keep the handful of allen wrenches attached to the magnetic base of the lamp.  Go through the list of tools needed at the start and go fill any holes.

5. One of the big gotchas on this press is the bolt that holds the shellplate on.  If you’re not reading the instructions correctly, you might think it needs to be really cranked down.  DONT!  There is a big honking hex wrench included to tighten it, but tightening it just enough to get the detent to slip is enough.

6. Another gotcha is the circular spring that holds the shells into the shellholder. This is an ingenious system, but it takes a little familiarization. Follow the installation instructions very carefully. It does take a couple full revolutions of the shellplate to get the spring aligned.  When it is, the spring is bent down a little to let the finished shell eject.

7) The primer feed works like a charm, but it takes a little learning.  Also, picking up primers is dull tedium.  I sprang for this:

Frankford Arsenal Vibra-Prime

Frankford Arsenal Vibra-Prime

This works like magic on filling the tubes. I also bought extra tubes on Ebay, 4 for $18 bucks.

I had a devil of a time though, loading the primers into the press until I figured out I was using the LARGE primer tube instead of the one marked SMALL Duh. It’s the little things that get ya.

8. About the only real hassle I have had to date was having to align the alignment pawls.  These are two little dinguses (dingi?) on the bottom of the press that regulate how far the shellplate advances on the up and down cycles. Things were going great and I was just about ready to do a test run of 100 rounds when all hell broke loose on the press. Nothing fit. Brass was getting crushed.  It took me 2 hours to figure out it was a minor adjustment on these two pawls. Now that they are set, I am ready to rock.

9.  If you have been skating on eye protection with your reloading up until now, a progressive press makes it almost mandatory.  The reason is the way primers are handled– a hundred or more together in a stack.  This press has a stainless steal shield that keeps the blast contained, but my buddy SuperCore has had a chain-reaction blast from 100 primers go off on his Dillon 650.  The blast peppered his face with fragments.  If he’d not been wearing protection it might have been bad.  I sprang for a new set of goggles for this press:

They’re Dewalt. They’re under $10 and they work well with eyeglasses.  You must need to make a slit in the rubber for them to fit through.  These are the most comfortable eye protection I’ve ever owned.  They are awesome.  I can pull a 4 hour stretch without discomfort or fogging.

 

 

10. Oh! One last thing and that’s the stool.  Guys on the 24hourcampfire.com were making fun of the stool.  Is it worth

Hornady Stool

$150 list?  I don’t think so.  Was it worth  free?  You bet.  It is tall enough for me. I’m 6’4″.   It is sturdy enough to hold my 300 lbs.  It also lets me sit for hours without my butt complaining.  My previous perch was a bar stool I pulled out of the trash. This is heaven.

 

 

 

 

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Going Progressive– A new Bench and Press

Just before Turkey Season, I was shooting 9mm with Angus and the thought occurred to me that 9mm was a lot of fun, and it was a shame it took so much effort to load up a measly 50 rounds with my single stage press. That triggered a line of thought that ended up with me ordering a new progressive loader and building a new bench. It is my intention to fill you in on the process and document my progress.

First off, let me take you through the reason for the new press. I have been loading a bunch of pistol and rifle chamberings using the RCBS Rock Chucker Deluxe Master Reloading Kit that KYHillChick bought me for Christmas in 2000. It has kept me happy and contented all this time. Normally I can do a couple dozen rifle rounds in an hour, or 50 pistol rounds in 2 hours. That is usually enough, and it makes for a nice trip down to the bench. However, I tried loading 200 rounds of 9mm for my outing with Angus, and it took up a whole weekend and left me with a sore arm on Monday morning. You have to figure, a pistol round takes sizing, priming, expanding, powder, bullet seating, and crimping. That is six pulls of the handle for each round. That times 200 rounds meant (let me take off my boot and socks so I can count) 1200 manual operations for 200 rounds. Yikes! No wonder my arm was sore.

The other thing is that the 22 shortage has meant that 22 LR has becom an expensive proposition. If I can load 9mm on the cheap, that competes with the price of 22, I’m going for it. Used brass, cast wheelweight bullets– probably I can get down around 5 cents a round if I work at it. However, that sore arm told me something had to be done to streamline the process.

Everyone told me to go with a Dillon press. However, I found the Hornady Lock n Load AP gave a lot more bang for the buck. Yes, the diehard folks all say “Go Blue.” However, I really found nothing bad about the Hornady offering. It was cheaper than a Dillon 550, and had the function of a Dillon 650. What’s more, there was a deal on at Grafs.com: A Hornady LNL, a $150 stool and 500 free bullets for $450 bucks. I jumped on it just before I went off to hunt turkeys and it was all waiting for me when I got home.

Before I could put up the new press, I needed a new bench. My reloading bench was built by the previous owner of my old house. He was a corporate lawyer. It was a workbench that looked like it had been built by a lawyer– not very solid and overly complicated. The problem was that I built my new reloading room around that bench and it had odd dimensions– 55X28″. I did some research, both in its construction and also dug around in my scrap bin. The design was pretty standard: 2X4 frame with a plywood top. I used 3-inch deck screws and Gorilla Glue throughout. I did not have any 3/4″ plywood, but I had scraps of various stuff, so my top surface was a 1/4 Ply with 3/4″ particle board and then another layer of 1/4″ plywood. Underneath I had 2 slabs of 1/2″ plywood glued on. This thing is a ROCK! For extra ballast, I plan on storing a 100 lb stash of pure lead on the bottom shelf.

I thought about all sorts of ideas for a finish. If this had been all brand new wood and such, I might have opted for wood stain and polyurethane. As it was, this whole thing was built of scraps. Most of it came from packing crates I took home from work when I was employed at the solder factory. As a result, I have decided to just paint it with latex and be done with it. I’ll use the same pain scheme as the old bench– Battleship Gray on top and Forest Green on the bottom. It held up through 15 years of reloading and if I scratch it up, all I have do is spackle the holes and repaint.

Now for the mounts. I wanted to still use my Rockchuker. The new Hornady LNL AP required a whole different set of mounting holes. I researched it a lot and asked folks on the 24HourCampfire.com what they were doing. What I found was a major mix of methods. A lot of guys just bolted their presses to a 2X6 and then clamped that to the table. I wanted something a little more sophisticated, but I did not want to spring for any of the fancy mounting systems. I figured on a scrap-made table stout and cheap would do fine. I ended up with cut-up chunks of old shelving in an ‘L’ afixed to mounting holes on the bench with 3/8 inch bolts run through the surface and secured with T-Nuts. On top, I sprung for some 3/8″ knurly knobs like what you have on your lawnmower. Shazzam! I set up the Hornady first and then built an identical mount for the RCBS Rockchucker and I have enough wood left from the old shelf for a third bracket. Additionally, I added holes and T-Nuts so I can mount the presses in 3 positions on the front of the bench. I figure I’ll also use these mounting holes for things like my case trimmer, case prepper, and a gun vise down the road.

I have also added a pull-out computer table to the new bench.  Having a laptop is handy.  I get most off my loads off the Hodgdon Reloading Data Center, and it is great not having to go to another room to look things up.

 

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Turkey Season Post-Mortem 2017

When I look back at Turkey Camp 2017, there are two things that immediately come to mind and they’re both the weather. The weather was uncommonly warm this season.The harvest in our county was down, and I can only think the weather had something to do with it.

It was a record mild winter. That gave the turkeys a leg up. I am fairly sure we had more survive the winter than average. It also meant things were a little accelerated. However, rather than moving everything evenly forward a couple of weeks like it did the flowers, the warm weather made the turkey’s normal breeding pattern a rather slap-dash herky-jerky affair. I saw hens obviously nesting in March instead of mid-April. I never did see the big flocks build and break up. I seldom saw turkeys in their normal places. There was more breeding action in the afternoons than the mornings. It was all sort of on its head from the get-go.

Home » Turkey Season Post-Mortem 2017 » Turkey Hunt 2017

Near Misses:

Another thing: I don’t know if there was something wrong, but all the turkeys we took in had relatively empty crops and very little fat. I blame the weather.

I tagged out. SuperCore and Angus each got one and left one tag unfilled. Angus had a running battle with one gobbler that lasted over the last two days. We think it was the Virginia Rambler that I connected with in a pre-season scouting trip. You heard his grandfather on one of my Podcasts back in 2012:

Listen to “A walk through Virginia”

This fellow basically took over the role of boss gob from the bird I nailed on the Opener, and was pestering the same crew of hens throughout the season. I tracked the gob for Angus and put him onto him. Angus had the bird  coming to him two-days running, but in each instance, the bird went silent. Angus got up to re-position and came eye-to-eye with the turkey at close range. Patience is a virtue.

Gear:

 

We had no major changes in gear this year, except I started carrying a new turkey purse. It is a Rothco Tactical bag. It did a great job. I’m going to retire the old bag. It was starting to show its age.

The other piece of gear I want to crow about is my knife, the fixed blade Buck #?. I went through two deer seasons and two turkey seasons and it only started to dull up after the first turkey this year. That’s 4 deer and 3 turkeys on one sharpening.

 

SuperCore got a bird this year. He is now using an ATV to get back and forth to his blind. He parks the quad next to the blind and puts a camo cover over it. His gobbler walked out of the treeline at 12 yards. Granted, he was on the side of the blind opposed to where the quad was parked, but he did walk within 20 yards of a parked ATV. If you are looking for examples of whether a parked quad scares turkeys, here is at least one data point.

 

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Biscuits and Gravy in Browningsville

We were down at Mister Browning’s store in Browningsville. We heard there were good biscuits and gravy available on Saturday mornings.  O.D. was there. O.T. and O.P. showed up as well. One thing you have to remember is that it is important to have a fresh set of turkey hunting duds if you plan on going to Browningsville for breakfast in season.  I was tagged out, and Supercore did not want to hunt in the pouring rain.  He dressed. I stayed in my civvies and wished I hadn’t. Folks looked at me like I was some kind of heathen.  They take turkey hunting seriously in these parts.  It had been pouring rain, and everyone in the store beside us was in immaculately clean turkey duds with all the latest camo patterns and logo-wear. Nobody had mud on their boots, nobody had wet hair and no one was leaving puddles on the floor, so there was no way anyone could have come from the field.  No, this was Sunday biscuits and gravy in Browningsville, KY. It was like high tea, but it was just CostCutter biscuits and canned gravy but the coffee was good and you get free refills. Truth is, the biscuits and gravy are much better in Lennoxburg or at Donna’s in Brooksville, but you don’t drive out on a rainy Saturday morning for food. You go for the show.

As we were settling in, talk got to who’d gotten one and who had tagged out.  They asked Supercore. Supercore told them about his gobbler that had taken three shots to subdue.  Folks were approving. I mentioned I was tagged out. That got a sniff and a huff. I figured that was because I was not dressed properly for the occasion, only clean Carharts and a freshly dry cleaned barn coat and the only camo on me was my baseball cap.

“O.P.?” asked someone behind me. “How you doin’?”

“I got five.” replied O.P. He had noticed his partner was lighting up and borrowed a cigarette and the lighter and lit one up before putting the lighter in his pocket.

“Five?” asked someone in the back, “O.P., you’re only allowed two tags for the whole season. How did you get five birds?”

“I’m on the new Shoot and Release Program,” said O.P.

“Never heard of it.”

“It’s a new thing. I’m just trying it this year,” replied O.P. “I shoot ’em and if they ain’t up to my high conservational standards, I throw ’em back so they’ll grow up.”

Everyone laughed except for the two youngest hunters. They were taking serious mental notes. These were brothers, but I did not catch a name.  There were in to sit at the feet of the master turkey hunters.  Both were in barn boots, so you knew they had come after chores, but both had on camo shirts that were at least minimally acceptable for the unwritten dress code.

“So you say you got three?” asked the youngest?

“Actually four,” I replied. “My son got one as well, but he’s not here. ”

“Where you huntin’ at?”

I gave them a general description of where we were.

“We’ve been hunting over on. . .”  the youngest started jawing about all the gobblers they’d been into over near  Berlin, giving exact locations and such and suddenly everyone’s ears turned, and it was like one of those old E.F. Hutton commercials.  The older boy shut the other one up.

“Yeah, but they’s all played out.”  said the older brother, staring down the younger.  “We’s seen a bobcat.”

“Yeah, that’s right.” said the younger. “We caught him on our game cam.”

“There was one over by us,” I said. “He was living in a hollow by Bachelor’s Rest for a couple of years. I wonder if it is the same one.”

“Could be,” said O.D. “I heard that one out grouse hunting a few years ago. He’s moved on though.” He put his paper plate down for Babette, his poodle to finish.  Babette always gets the last bite off O.D.”

“I sure like to mount one.” said the older boy. “Sure would!” He was looking at me when he said it, so I figured he was asking for an approving response.

“No thanks,” I replied. “I’m happily married.” That elicited a chuckle from everyone in earshot.

“That’s a good one!” said his younger brother, blowing YooHoo cola through his nose. “Did you get that Oren?  Did you get it?” The older brother just shook his head and took a sip of his  Coke.

About this time the Saturday meeting began to break up. Folks got a refill on their coffee and started heading to the front of the store to sit in the collection of metal lawn chairs. SuperCore and I wished everyone good luck and left.

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Shamanic Tag-Out: Scratch One More

It’s now a little after 0930, on the third Saturday of KY Spring Gobbler Season. I’ve been tagged out for a little more than 2 hours. I woke this morning with the expectation of not even hunting. The heavy storms started around midnight with high winds, driving rain, thunder, lightning and several bouts of hail. I was listening to thunder when the alarm went off at 0430. The skies lifted long enough at 0530 that I suited up and told Supercore I was making a dash for Midway. The way it was thundering, I was fairly sure I was going to get caught in it, but everything held off until I was in my chair with my rain suit off and my feet up. There were intermittent showers. In between dozing, I tried calling with a Toby Benoit Rebel Yell box call. It is a small, high-pitched high-volume call that has kept its sound in damp conditions. I awoke with a start just before 0700 with a sound coming from over by the county road that sounded like heavy furniture falling off the back of a truck. That elicited a gobble from down in left leg creek to my north and west. I did not think much of it, but I cranked the box a little just in case.
A bit later, I saw a hen feeding out about 50 yards from my blind. I threw some clucks and purrs at her and she acted highly unimpressed. I poured my first cup of coffee and settled back to check on the progress of the impending storm. Weather Underground has a very useful app for Android. It has one quirk that I find humorous. When I’m on the front porch at camp, it tells me I am in Brownings Corner. In the back of the house, it registers as Klibat. From the Honey Hole, it tells me I’m in Berry, Kentucky and 200 yards away at Midway it invariably tells me I’m in Milford. None of them are right, mind you. However, I find it funny how Weather Underground interprets the vagueries of the Greater Browningsville Metroplex. WU told me I could expect rain at any time. I took a sip of coffee and saw another hen was now in the field. I threw a call her way. She went into a strut.


Dang! That was no hen. The gobbler emerged from the unseasonably tall grass and put down his plumage. My guess is he was the source of the one lone gobble and been on way to me when he got sidetracked with the hen. The hen was now about 40 yards out. The gobbler was trying to split the difference and edged close to my corner of the field. I think he noticed the barrel coming out of the shadow just before I lit him up.
While he finished twitching, I finished my coffee and started packing up. After last year’s traumas, I kept a wary on the carcass. However, there was nothing to fear. He dropped and stayed down. He was a compact bird with 5/8ths spurs and a ten-inch beard. The hen walked over and took a look at him flopping about and then went back to feeding.
When I did make a break back to the house, it was lively. There were thunder and lightning all the way in, and the while I was dressing the bird. I slammed the lid on the freezer and came back out to the shooting bench and found 3 gobblers courting hens out in front of Fountain Square about 200 yards out from the porch. For a moment, they caught my movement and came to attention in profile, looking like the Three Stooges before going back to feeding.
I expect SuperCore will be in soon. Angus was tired from work and slept in. He’s driving out this afternoon for a PM hunt and then will go out tomorrow morning.

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Supercore Scores!

After a long dry spell, Supercore scores on a nice 2-year-old at 0820 this AM. The gobbler came to his calls and trotted within 10 yards of the Jagendehutte. Supercore had to engage in some close-quarters combat with the gob, but eventually got it tied off to the ATV and brought it home.

It’s a 19 pounder with spurs going 11/16ths and a 10 inch beard.

This breaks a dry spell we had since the Opener last Saturday. The gobs have had a bad case of lockjaw. We all were out today. SuperCore was the only one to see one.

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