Monday, January 27, 2014

EMAIL TO NYS LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTATIVES

 HERE IS THE EMAIL I SENT TO MY REPRESENTATIVES TO APPROVE THESE IMPORTANT PROPOSALS OF GOVERNOR COUMO'S BUDGET. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS CUT AND PASTE IT AND SEND IT TO YOUR NYS REPS

 Dear(representative)
The Executive budget was presented and as expected, language that will legalize crossbows as hunting implements as well as turn regulatory authority for their use over to the DEC was included. Additionally, language changing how far you have to be from a building to shoot a bow or crossbow from 500 feet to 150 feet, the 6 million allocation for 50 public access projects and the 4 million for DEC fish hatchery which are badly needed,  is also part of this package. I am urging you to support this segment of the Governor's budget.  It is a positive proactive step that is important to sportsmen and New York State’s economy.”

Saturday, November 2, 2013

JIM BUBB'S ADIRONDACK TROPHY BUCK

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It begins with Jim Bubb, Mechanicville, joining several of his hunting buddies for their traditional northern zone opening deer hunt in the Forked Lake area of Hamilton County. Jim’s day began very early paddling a canoe across the lake to reach the base of the mountain that he planned on hunting. It was an area he had hunted before and knew that he had a chance at getting a big buck there. He headed up and over one of the mountains in the wet windy snow and at about 11 a.m. he reached an area with fresh tracks and scrapes; and began his sneak and peek adventure. He hadn’t gone too far when he got a quick glimpse of the deer when it jumped up; but he saw enough of it to know it was the one he was after. 

After several hours of tracking Jim thought he knew where the buck was headed and decided to cross over the creek and circle around and try to get in front of him; which he did. What he didn’t see was the buck laying down about 40 yards from him until it jumped up. He missed with the first shot but the second round from his 30.06 was on target. I am sure there when that buck went down there was a very big smile on this face and his “YES” echoed all over the mountain when he stood over this huge 8 pointer.  But now the hard part; he was at least 3 miles from the canoe.

He radioed his friends and told them he had taken a buck and would be on his way back. It was after 2 p.m. before he finished dressing out the deer and then started the long drag back. He knew the shortest way out was to follow the creek; however he also knew that the heavy brush that he had to encounter. When he looked at his GPS about 5 p.m. he realized he was still several miles from the canoe. It was then that he decided lessen the weight and he deboned the deer and very carefully cape it; because this buck was going to be mounted. Now, with over 100 pounds in his backpack, his rifle and flashlight in one hand and the head and cape in the other, he headed Jim started out again.

It was dark now and the radio contact with his friends became very spotty, and it was then that his friends notified the rangers. It wasn’t too long after that the rangers finally made some radio contact with Jim; but that too was spotty. The rangers continued to try to get radio contact and were about to start their search when Jim reached trail he was able to tell them he was fine; and on his way out.  I don’t know how many stops to rest Jim made, but I am sure that when he reached the canoe and rangers sometime after midnight they looked very good to him.

Back at the camp the measuring tape came out and his big 8 pointer raw scored at 134.25 inches; which included 4 inches around the bases of the antlers and a 21.25 inch inside spread. As for weight it was well over 200 pounds. Congratulations Jim.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

NYS OUTDOOR WRITERS SAFARI 2013 IN WASHINGTON COUNTY - GREAT







Washington County safari yields a tom

Reach Gazette outdoors columnist Ed Noonan at enoonan@nycap.-rr.com.



    Last Thursday, I was one of 16 members of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association who visited the Cambridge/Salem area of Washington County for our annual safari.
    Each spring in May, NYSOWA chooses a New York county to visit and enjoy the outdoor activities our host county has to offer. Unlike our annual conferences, the safari is strictly a “no business” event in which we just have fun and renew friendships. I’m a bit embarrassed to say this was my first hunting visit to the area, and I live less than 30 miles from Cambridge.
    The two primary outings this time of the year center around turkey hunting and fishing, and what better place to fish in May than on the famous Battenkill River. When canoeing, kayaking and hiking trips through those beautiful plush green hills that surround this picturesque area are added, you couldn’t ask for a better place to spend a long weekend.

    Our Thursday evening Meetand-Greet get-together was held at Momma’s Restaurant in Cambridge, where we were welcomed by Christine Hoffer, Washington County tourism administrator, who outlined our busy agenda and introduced the two places where we would be staying — Batten Kill Valley Outdoors (www.battenkillvalleyoutdoors.com) and Battenkill Riversports and Campground (www.brsac.com). The former offers all types of river rides, boat rentals and a vacation rental house we used as our headquarters, and they have quite an assortment of gear and flies in their shop. Battenkill Riversports and Campground is located right on the Battenkill.
    After driving up to Cambridge, especially along New York Route 313, where both these places are located, I came to the conclusion that Vermont may be the Green Mountain State, but this southern area of Washington County’s rolling hills are equally as green. The next morning, I found out just how hilly they really were.

FRIDAY
    Everyone was up early and anxious to chase gobblers or hook up with some of those Battenkill brown trout. The turkey hunters, with the exception of three, headed off with their guides where they would hunt private lands. Melody and Frank Tennity of Honeoye and I were going to be on our own, hunting several portions of state land that had been pointed out to us the afternoon before.
    My starting point was the 512-acre Eldridge Swamp State Forest that borders the Battenkill. This area is stocked with pheasants every fall by DEC. And I know that two of them are still alive. When I arrived there just before sunup, I made my way along the edge of the wood line and stopped at a corner of the field to wait and listen.
    A morning greeting from a distant owl got me the response I wanted (gobbles) several hundred yards off into a mixed pine and hard woods, and I quickly and quietly headed in the direction of where the tom was still gobbling.
I stopped about 75 yards from him, and my first soft yelp got a double gobbling result, and I set out my three decoys. Then our conversation began.
    I knew he was coming, but fi rst in was a hen who eyed my decoys. Mr. Jake appeared shortly after, gobbling and all puffed up with his notched tail. He wasn’t what I wanted, but fun to watch, and finally they moved off.
    I waited about 10 minutes and began calling again, and I got a response from the same area, and
this one came in on the run. It was another jake, who continued to strut around the decoys. For fun, in a very loud voice I asked him: “What are you doing here?” He actually fell down twice trying to run off.
    At about 6:30 a.m., after walking and calling without any responses, I decided to try spot number two, up behind the lodge. It was defi nitely “up,” and there was no trail. Eventually, I made it to the stone fence they told me about and set up again. I didn’t hear anything for more than an hour, nor was I able to solicit a gobble, so I guessed it was time to do a little walking and talking.
    For the next hour, I followed the wall, stopping every 100 yards or so to call, fi rst with a low tone and then increasing the volume. At 8:30, I headed down and back to the truck — time to visit spot number three, the 2.5-mile State Peaked Rock Trail, also in the Battenkill
State Forest.
    Its peak altitude is 1,100 feet above the Battenkill. As I made my way slowly up the trail, I found these 69-year-old legs were not as strong as they used to be, and believe me when I tell you, there were numerous stops. Up about a half-mile or
so from its head, the trail bordered several different green fields on one side and a dried creek bed on the other. At each field, while resting, I made some yelps with my box call. I got one response on the other side of the road on private land.
    At the top of the third field, I noticed there was a deep gully leading to the creek bed which had three to four inches of water in it. It looked like a good spot to rest and call.
    My normal calling ritual when walking and stopping to call is to begin by making soft yelps, then, depending upon the results, continue to increase the call volume. I repeat the sequence every fi ve or 10 minutes.

    I liked the looks of the area, so I decided to stay a little longer and occasionally make a few calls. On my fifth calling sequence, I got a thundering response gobble somewhere above me. I estimated him to be at least 200 yards up, but on the other side of the creek. Every time I called, he responded and was getting closer, but still on the other side of the creek.
    Now the “book” says incoming toms will not cross creeks. So I grabbed my decoys, slid down the
gully, crossed the creek, set them out on the edge of that side, then I climbed about three-quarters of the way back up from the creek on the trail side and settled in with my Benelli and got him talking again. With all that up-and-down running around, it’s a good thing I don’t use a mouth call. I wouldn’t have had enough wind to blow it.
    What happened next was a fi rst for me. The tom crossed back over to my side, and I thought all was lost when he went quiet. I was looking straight to where I heard his last call when out of the corner of my eye, there he was, fully displayed and walking “in” the creek toward the decoys. It was the fi rst turkey I ever shot in the water, and he was a beauty, even though he was wet.
    I can’t remember the last time I shot a turkey on New York state land, and I couldn’t wait to show him off. My Washington County gobbler, after drying, was over
20 pounds, carried a 9 3 /4-inch beard and 1 1 /8-inch spurs. Thank you, Jerry Wilson, for your great box call. It did it again (www.wilsongamecalls. net).
    You can also see my Washington
County tom at http://fi shguydblog.-blogspot.com/.
    Back at the lodge for lunch, I found out that the Battenkill River and Dead Lake anglers all had some nice trout on ice.
    Our afternoon tour of the Quality Deer Management Co-op in Easton began with a most interesting presentation by Tony Rainville, president and founding member of the local branch, and Jami Whitney, local branch director.
    What I learned and saw on our walking tour of the food plots, etc., was very impressive and clarifi ed many questions I’ve had. These individuals are a dedicated group that’s truly improving the deer herd, and it’s a LOT more than just developing trophy bucks.
    I urge every deer hunter to go to www.qdma.com and see what it’s all about.
    Thank you, Christine Hoffer, and all the Washington County individuals who helped make this safari a very enjoyable and successful outdoor experience. I’ll be back.

DAN LADD Charles Witek of West Babylon, a member of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association, fishes with his wife, Theresa, from a boat on Dead Lake in Washington County. They were part of the group’s annual safari.



Saturday, May 4, 2013

LAKE PLACID HIGH PEAKS TURKEY HUNT  MAY 1, 2013





HIGH PEAKS GOBBLER


Three years ago, the New York State Outdoor Writers Association held its annual fall conference in Lake Placid. I limited my outdoor activities that weekend to the various types of lake and stream fi shing the area offers.

October is a great time to be standing by or in any of the many trout streams or boats fi shing their crystal clear lakes. Threre isn’t a more picturesque place to be during the peak of the colorful foliage season. During the day’s conference, I found out they had a growing population of wild turkeys. Lake Placid Tourism hosted dinner that evening, and I said I’d like to try hunting these high-peak gobblers in the spring.

In late January, I got an email from Sue Cameron, events and communications manager of the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Offi ce of Sustainable Tourism, asking if I was still interested in hunting turkey in the high peaks, and if I was, what would I need. It didn’t take me long to answer that question. I told her if they could find any properties that had turkeys, all I’d need is permission to hunt. I also added if someone, or a guide, wanted to help me, that would be great.

Several weeks later, Sue contacted me and said she had talked to many of the hunters in the area, and the name that kept popping up when it comes to turkeys was Bill Moore, the Lake Placid chief of police. I also found out that Bill had taken two NYSOWA members turkey hunting during the fall conference. I thought this was great, because I’d have someone familiar with the territory and the bird’s habits and locations. In all my years of hunting, I’ve never shot a turkey north of Glens Falls, and I was going to be hunting the high peaks.

Shortly after lunch April 30, I headed for Lake Placid. I’ve always enjoyed the ride on state Route 73 from the Adirondack Northway at Exit 30 to Lake Placid village. It winds through Essex County’s Keene Valley and alongside the famous trout waters of the Ausable River.

What really surprised me was the large chunks of ice still on some of the high rock walls. I believe when the foliage along this road starts to green, it’s almost as beautiful as in the fall. I wasn’t the only one that day to stop at one of the pull-offs to take a few photos.

It was right around 3 p.m. when I passed the Olympic ski jumps that were built when Lake Placid hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics. My first stop in town was to check in with Sue Cameron, who gave me directions to The Pines Inn, where I would be spending the night. The Pines Inn is a turn-of-the-century historic inn, but with all the modern conveniences, and the proprietors, Jill and Frank Segger, were very congenial hosts.

Once settled in, I had an early dinner, and later that afternoon, I met up with Bill at his son, Sean’s, baseball game. Sean was going to join us for opening day of the turkey season, but he was one up on us. On the first day of the Youth Hunt season, Sean shot a 20-pound tom with a nine-inch beard oneinch spurs.

THE HUNT

I set the alarm for 4:15 a.m., but I was up shortly after 3, as usual, anxious to get into the woods. It was still dark when Bill and Sean picked me up, and he said we’d start on his friend’s property. His friend had called the night before and said he heard toms gobbling out behind his house.

We parked several hundred yards from where the birds were believed to have roosted, then walked slowly down a dirt road winding through the pines, stopping occasionally to call, but got no responses. Before leaving, we set up on the edge of a fi eld, made a few more calls, got one response, but nothing after that.

“Back to the original plan,” Bill said.

We packed up and headed for the area he’d roosted birds several times during the week. As we were driving down the road leading to the property, we saw a tom and two hens well out into a field, and on our way to turn around, we spotted at least six birds on the other side of the road, about 200 yards in along a woodline. Two were definitely toms.

We quickly parked the truck and began sneaking and peeking, using bushes and trees to cover our advance. Sean and I got within about 50 yards of where we thought the birds were feeding, and each took a spot where we could watch each side of the cover. Sean was watching the left, I the right.

Bill stayed back about 25 yards in the high brush and set out his decoy. The plan was that the tom would see the decoy and head for it, and Sean or I would intercept him.

Bill began with several soft yelps on his slate and immediately got several booming responses. This is when that chill runs up and down your spine and your fi nger slowly moves towards the safety as you anchor your cheek on the shotgun’s stock. I don’t care who you are or how long you’ve been hunting turkeys, when you know that tom is interested and coming, you can feel your adrenaline level beginning to rise. I know that mine rose significantly when I heard him spitting and drumming, a sure sign that he was close and coming.

Out he came on a fast trot and in full display with his big bright red head pushed back against his raised fan feathers that were glistening in the morning sunlight, and all he saw was that lovely hen decoy that was about to cost him his life. It was during this stare that I slid the safety off and placed the orange front sight on the base of his neck and squeezed the trigger.

At just 30 yards, it didn’t take long for the three-inch No. 4 copper-plated pellets of my Federal Premium Mag Shok leaving my Benelli Vince at 1,300 feet per second to reach Mr. Tom. It was quick, clean, and he never took another step. This was my seventh turkey with this gun in just as many shots. Finally, after decades of successful turkey hunting, I’d taken my fi rst high-peaks gobbler.

But before I could move, two more gobblers announced their presence, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a lone hen walking and clucking her way past Sean. Both of us froze so as not to alert her or the toms. When the hen was out of sight, one soft yelp by Bill was all that was needed to light up those two gobblers and in they came, side by side, and walked behind my downed tom. I think the dead tom might have made them a bit nervous because they quickened their pace as Sean raised his gun. Unfortunately, he was unable to get off a good shot. All this excitement, and it was only 6:45 a.m.

We estimated my tom weighed about 18 pounds, and his full, thick beard measured 9 1 /4 inches. What was interesting, and a first for me, was that he did not have any spurs.

Prior to our setting up for these birds, I hadn’t looked at our surroundings and never noticed just how picturesque a background I had for the hunt and our photo shoot. I was just about 100 yards from where we took the photos, and I could actually see the tops of the Olympic ski jumps. But most impressive were the mountains. Looking at them left to right, I could see Marcy, Skylight, Colden, Wright, Algonquin and Iroquois. If you go to my blog at: http://fi shguydblog.blogspot.com/, you’ll see what I mean. Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge them and check out the snow on the tops of some of them. It’s truly beautiful country.

With several hours of legal hunting time left, there was plenty in which to get Sean a tom. Bill decided to circle the area where I’d shot my tom and see if we could come in below where the other two toms had run off into the woods.

We walked down parallel to the woodline several hundred yards away from the birds and then entered a trail that led us deep into the woods. Once inside them, Bill began a walking 50 to 75 yards, stopping to call and listening. But the toms were not talking, and after an hour, we loaded up to move to another area.

“They’ll be back,” Bill said, “and we’ll give them a try tomorrow.”

We made several other stops, but none produced sightings or responses, and we ended the day’s hunt about 11 a.m.

Back at The Pines Inn, I thanked Bill and Sean for their hospitality and for what was definitely one of my most memorable wild turkey hunts.

Thank you, Sue, Bill, Sean and the Segger’s for your hospitality.







Sunday, April 21, 2013

12 YEAR OLD BRECK BREEN'S FIRST TURKEY

FIRST TURKEY HUNT IS A SUCCESS

“I think you are more excited than Breck about tomorrow’s turkey hunt,” my wife said to me last Friday night. She was referring to my taking 12 year old Breck Breen, Wilton out for his first wild turkey hunt. Last weekend, April 20 and 21 had been set aside as the Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend for licensed junior in NYS, ages 12-15. They had to be accompanied by an adult and they were allowed to take one bearded turkey. Breck’s dad Tim, who was a bit under the weather, asked me if I would take him out; and I jumped at the chance.




I know that Tim had been grooming his son to all aspects of the outdoors and that included gun safety, hunting and marksmanship; first with a Crosman air gun and then with a .22 and lastly a shotgun. I found out that he had shown some of his good shooting abilities off during his NYS 4H Shooting Sports Hunter Education course breaking a few clay birds; so I figured he would be ready for the turkey hunt.



My plan was to register him in the Sharp Spurs Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation that included a tremendous cook out with all the trimmings along with some friendly competition and prizes for all the 51 kids that signed up for this ‘free’ contest. When I told my friend, Mike Galcik, Schuylerville about my young hunter he volunteered some of his hot spots providing I take an oath of secrecy; which I did.



Early the next morning I received a text message and a photo of 3 strutting toms from Mike that said: “Have Breck pick one.” And when I spoke to him later in the day we decided to put a ground blind up the next afternoon. However that part of the plan did not work; because when we were going to put the blind up the hedgerow of the field we found it with about 20 turkeys. Now I think it was about this time on Friday that I started to get really excited.



After dinner on Friday Breck and I headed for the range to pattern and punch some holes in life size turkey head targets. It was a short shoot, because Breck’s 3 shots from that little 20 gauge Youth Model 500 Mossberg at 22 yards put more than enough pellets in the neck head area to drop any turkey. He was definitely ready.



THE HUNT

I never heard the alarm go off at 3 a.m.; because I awoke at 2:30 a.m. and started getting ready. I did wonder what the effects of all torrential downpour and extremely high winds would have on the birds. Wild turkeys spend the night roosting in trees holding on to the branch with their feet; so it had to be a see-saw wet ride for them.



Breck and my enthusiasm had us sitting in Mike’s driveway at least a half hour earlier than are 5 a.m. meeting time but it went quickly and we loaded up all our gear in Mike’s truck. It was windy, cold and slightly drizzling but when we heard that gobble just as we were getting out of the truck at our destination, we all warmed up.



Entering the field a good distance down from where the birds were roosting we hugged the edge of a hedgerow making our way to a setup point near where the turkeys usually go by in the morning. Mike set up about 15 yards behind us and when it started to get light he began to answer the already talking toms up on the hill. It was about 15 minutes when Breck whispered: “Here comes one.” It was definitely a tom and on several occasions would display his fan and do a little strutting. He was headed straight for us. Breck sat perfectly still with his cheek frozen to the stock of his shotgun; and he never moved. Unfortunately despite Mike’s good calling the real thing (3 hens) appeared and a few yelps from them turned him in their direction. It is hard to beat the real thing. And it wasn’t long before we watched the entire flock cross the paved road entering another field.



Quickly we packed up and back tracked down the field, across the road and up to a ridge where we hoped would put us ahead of them; and it worked. Breck and Mike set up just overlooking the ridge where below them were several toms. Mike quickly got Breck setup and started to talk to the birds; but although they occasional gobbled a response they had no intention of leaving their harem. Finally they moved off, back across the road exactly where they had crossed earlier. “If we hunt tomorrow,” Mike said, “we will set up early right there where they had crossed.”



TIME TO MOVE

It was only a short ride to the next spot. We had only walked about 300 yards down a farm road when we caught a glimpse of turkeys in a field. Quickly we set up in a hedgerow and Mike started to calling; and within minutes he was getting responses from the tom. But all they did was talk; and he too had no intention of leaving his ladies. We did get some far off gobbles but it would require spooking the birds in the field so we headed back to the truck.



The next stop was only about 15 minutes away and again we started down a farm road that ended at an old cornfield. Setting up at the corner, Mike said he expected turkeys to be at the back of the field feeding and when he made his first yelp call that is exactly where the gobble came from. For a while the caller and the gobbler talked but his reluctance to come to us told us he was “henned up.” But just as we were about to go to him, out pops a mature yelping and clucking hen. Now we had live bait.



We sat still watching and let her do the calling and she was getting responses from one or maybe two gobblers. However once she disappeared into the woods we had to move and get in front of her hoping the gobbler would follow. And he did.



Once we got in front of her, and we could hear her continuing to yelp, we quickly set up in a small overgrown green field about 50 yards into the woods from the farm road. Things started to happen fast beginning with the hen who yelped her way past us; and with the help of Mike’s calling the two of them had what sounded like not one but two toms following.



I was amazed at how calm Breck was during all this excitement; quite unusual for a 12 year old on his first turkey hunt. Another hen passed us quickly and within minutes the thundering gobbles were very close. However there were two of them as we expected. Unfortunately they were about 50 plus yards out; and a bit too far for the 20 gauge. Each time they started to move off Mike talked them back in but not close enough; and eventually the disappeared gobbling responses to Mike’s calls as they moved off.



Moving time again and from the climb up this steep ridge following a young man and a 12 year old I realized I was a 68 year old; but they were kind and waited on the top for me to catch up. Moving along the edge of the field we would stop and make a few calls and it wasn’t long before we got another response. Another quick setup and from the gobbler’s responses he was coming straight two us.



I was sitting behind Breck and Mike waiting to turn on my movie camera when next to me, standing no more than 30 yards were 2 gobblers announcing their presence. These may have been the two that stayed out of range down below. I dare not move or they surely would have seen me; but when I looked at Breck he was right on them. It seemed longer than it really was before Breck pulled the trigger and I watch the tom fold. This little hunter had shot his first tom wild turkey and his smile stretched from ear to ear. High 5s were definitely in order and both Mike and I were extremely happy. Definitely a GREAT hunt. For me this hunt is the very best one I have ever been on.



The gobbler weighed in at 15 pounds and carried a 4 3/4 inch beard and you can see it and a smiling Breck Breen if you click on this link to my BLOG http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4811742045506221910#editor/target=post;postID=7893723070742898833;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=0;src=postname



But our day was not over. After thanking Mike for all his help we headed for Auriemma’s house to register Breck’s tom. It was a packed house of camo clad kids and adults when we arrived. The final count was 51 youth hunters; which is outstanding. And I believe 15 of them shot a tom; and I saw three twenty pounders, any of which, I would like to see in my sights on May 1. Once again the Mike and Michele Auriemma did a tremendous job. The food was good and there was plenty of it and all the kids left with 3 prizes. THANK YOU Mike and Michele and all those sponsors and helpers.

























Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WYOMING ANTELOPE A SUCCESS




Last Sunday at the crack of dawn when Steve Zahurak, Schenectady and I should have been in a treestand for the opening of the NYS bow hunting season in the Southern Zone, we were boarding a plane bound for Casper Wyoming for a 5 day ante lope hunt. The hunt was the result of an out of the hat drawing of 75 outdoor writers business cards who attended the Wyoming Business Council media dinner at this year's Shot Show in Las Vegas. The guided hunt was for two also included all the licenses in one of Wyoming's best zones-Area 25. Steve was the obvious choice to accompany me on this hunt because he attends the Shot Show with me every year; but I did call my wife from the Show and invited her; but she refused.

Three planes and 7 hours later we touched down in Casper and as promised, Kelly Glause, proprietor of Cole Creek Outfitters was there to greet us and take us to our hotel. Kelly guides for antelope, whitetail and mule deer, prairie dogs and pheasant and his clients often include various shooting sports manufacturing companies such as Swarovski Optics, Bushnell Optics, Horton Archery and Hornady Ammunition who would be hunting there later this week. Ironically I just happened to be using their 130 grain GMX SUPERFORMANCE bullet in my Century Arms 270 rifle. Ballistically this bullet leaves the barrel at 3190 feet per second and with muzzle energy of 2976 foot pounds.

Kelly has been managing this 80,000 plus acres of prime hunting land for over 23 years; and we found out just how good it really was the next day. Since I was going to be in Wyoming I arranged a Merriam turkey hunt also; which, if I was successful, would help me to qualify for my 7 th National Wild Turkey Federation Grand Slam. Kelly said he would set me up with the best turkey guide in the area; his son Kody; the owner of Heart Spear Outfitters (www.heartspear.com). Kody also guided for elk, mule and whitetail deer, bear and mountain lions. Kelly also said if I did not want to bring a turkey gun he could set me up with a special one; an offer I accepted.

THE HUNT
It was only a short ride from the hotel when we drove through the gate leading to the hunting grounds; and I don't think that the gate was fully closed when we saw our first buck antelope that quickly disappeared over a hill. The pronghorn antelope is the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere reaching speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour. Equally amazing is that they have a 320 degrees field of vision and their eyesight sees what humans do when looking through 8 power binoculars. Definitely a challenging animal to hunt.

Our plan was to ride the range and Kelly would stop and glass boss bucks in each group looking for the biggest horns. Then if he found a "keeper" he would tell us it was a good one and then ask us: "What do you think?" This is something I have never had a guide do before."

We had glassed about 20 groups with bucks I had thought were good but Kelly just smiled and said: "We can do better." And later, we were glad he did. It is hard to describe how big this ranch really was; in term of miles it was roughly 25 by 20 miles.

I was about 7:45 a.m. when Kelly spotted and glassed a buck laying down and said that it definitely was a good one; but he had a small piece missing from his left cutter horn. What I saw was a mature antelope buck that has been fighting to keep the young bucks away from his harem; and his big swollen neck was definitely a sign of the rut. It was my call and I didn't hesitate: "I’ll take him, “I said.

As quietly as I could I slid out of the truck and before my feet hit the ground I could feel the adrenalin rising as I chambered a round into my rifle. Slowly I readied for the shot and was glad that I had added the Caldwell bipod to give me a steady level rest.

The buck was lying down in the grass which covered several inches of its lower body but I had enough to shoot at as I sighted him in. He moved but did not get up. The only thing that I remember after I pulled the trigger was the chill that ran up my spine: I MISSED! Now prior to this trip I spent time sighting in the rifle with its new LUCID L5 scope and the Hornady ammo; and when I finished I could cover my 3 shot group with a penny 2 1/2 inches high of center at 100 yards. This was the proper setting for this gun. Therefore the miss was not the gun's fault.

As I chambered another round he jumped up and started to trot uphill; but he made the mistake of stopping at the top and looking back; it was a deadly mistake. Shot number 2 put him right down where he stood. WOW! I did my best impression of a Tiger Woods victory pump and accepted the handshakes of Kelly and Steve. It was just 8:17 a.m. on the first day.

Kelly estimated the antelope to be about 3 1/2 years old and weigh about 140 pounds. The horns measured 13 1/2 inches. Now earlier that morning I presented Kelly with the Viscerator knife by FieldTorg Knives which I asked him to use to field dress the antelopes. Later that day he commented that he was very impressed with the knife’s performance and its construction.

Looking back at my miss I believe what happened was that I had incorrectly used one of the BDC (ballistic drop calculator) lines in my Lucid L5 scope rather than the center of the crosshairs, causing the shot to go even higher than the 2 1/2 inches. I am not use to the BDC (ballistic drop compensator) drop lines in my new Lucid L5 scope; but I will be with a few days at the long range practicing and rolling over a few coyotes.

STEVE'S TURN
Back in the truck Steve told Kelly that he needed to shoot an antelope with horns that measured at least 13 5/8 ths. This is typical competition that we have developed over the years. We did not have to go far to find more antelopes. If I were to guess we had already seen at least 80 or 90; and we hadn’t seen half the ranch yet.

I don't think we traveled more than a few miles and glassed a dozen more groups when Kelly spotted a "shooter" laying down; but as we approached he was up and moving. Kelly and Steve exited the truck and started their sneak and peek. They had gone about 50 yards when Kelly set up the shooting sticks for Steve’s shot. At about 150 yards he fired but it was too low; and his second shot at 200 yards was high and the buck disappeared over the hill and disappeared into a gorge.

It was about 20 minutes later when we spotted another which we believe was the same one Steve had missed earlier. Quickly he set up and at 250 yards he was again high; but we were not done with him yet.
Watching his hasty retreat we jumped back in the truck. Kelly's sharp eyes and knowledge of the ranch knew where he was going; and he knew how to get in front of him. When we spotted him again he was 250 yards out and Steve's shot was horizontally perfect but he believes he jerked the shot off to the left. Now we got to see how fast an antelope really is; and how good Steve really is.

Following the flying buck in his scope Steve pulled off what was the best shot I had ever seen. We heard the bullet impact on what turned out to be a perfect heart shot. I think it died of fright; but Steve says he always takes a few practice shots at the “range” before he shoots anything.

Lots of hoots, congratulations and photos followed. It was truly a great day; except for the fact that I sat on a cactus when having my photo taken with Steve. He did however generously offered to take a photo of me removing all those needle-like prickers from my butt. As for the horn measurements I rounded them up to 13 1/2 inches. It was noon, on the first day of the hunt. This is one GOOD guide.

We did do a little more shooting before leaving the ranch at a few prairie dogs; and these little ranch pests are fun; especially when you do it with a .270.



TURKEY HUNT


After I got my turkey license Kelly said he had arranged a meeting for me with Robert Stone of RGS Custom Rifles (www.rgsllc2010.com) which is where I picked up my turkey gun. Robert’s guns were outstanding and the one that I would be using was the first one he had even made. It was a single shot .22-250 that, if he had to replace it, would range around $6,000. At the range I put two rounds through the same hole and figured the turkeys were in trouble.



Kody had definitely done his homework for my turkey hunt because the river bottom he had chosen had plenty of Merriam turkeys; most of which were mingling with the cattle. This was definitely going to be a spot and stalk hunt; something I do not do a lot of when hunting for turkeys. Kody glassed the flocks looking for a good tom and found several feeding closely with the cattle. It was obvious that with all the cattle activity the shooting window would not be open long and the shot would have to be threaded carefully. To say I was a bit nervous would be an understatement; not only did I feel nervous about scratching his beautiful rifle but also in not hitting a cow.



But the gun was definitely up to the task and at 5:30 p.m. that afternoon I shot through an opening in a hedgerow and toppled a Wyoming Merriam tom that carried a 5 inch beard and tipped the scales at over 20 pounds. All this on our first day of hunting!



THANK YOU Kelly, Kody, Robert and a special thanks to the Wyoming Business Council from Steve and me. For photos


















 






















Friday, October 1, 2010

BLACK BEAR MEETS REMINGTON R-25


It was a warm sunny late September afternoon when I pulled into the Canadian Border Customs in Lewiston several weeks ago in route to Port Loring, Ontario where I hoped to shoot my seventh black bear. Little did I know then that this would be the last ray of sunshine I would see for the next 5 days. Having my gun registration paper work completed prior to my arrival helped to expedite the process; however when I opened my gun case and the Canadian officer saw my new fully camouflaged Remington R-25 .308 caliber modular repeating rifle, he was quite impressed as were several of his fellow officers who also came over to look. Once across the border I knew that I would not reach Port Loring until the wee hours of the night and decided to drive until about 9 p.m. and find a motel to spend the night; which I did in Trey, Ontario. And by mid-morning the next day I was knocking on Hermann and Lise Stroeher’s door. It was really good to see them again since my last visit 4 or 5 years ago and they were as warm and friendly as ever. But Hermann was all business and told me we can talk later and to follow him to where I would be staying. He wanted me to get unpacked and back to his house by 1:30 p.m. so I would be in my treestand by 2:30 p.m. I could feel the adrenaline already starting to boil just thinking about the hunt. My accommodations this year were at Wright Point Resort, a beautiful spot on the banks of the Pigeon Lake which is actually is part of the Pickerel River system; and it is loaded with small and largemouth bass, northern pike and walleye(they call them pickerel). The owners, Dianne and Dan Feasby, had set me up in one of their 4 motel rooms which, like their 7 lake-side cottages were fully furnished with all modern appliances, dishes, pans, etc. and they had boats and motor rentals right there. What a place to spend a week’s vacation, fishing and/or hunting. And if you are a snowmobiler, they showed me an Ontario trail map with thousands of miles of snowmobile trails. Unfortunately I only got to fish the lake for about two hours; in which time I caught and released 31 nice bass. The majority were smallies, the largest measuring 20 inches and two of the largemouth were over 3 pounds. All were taken on a Stick-O-Worm rigged wacky style. I did leave the rest of these worms with Dan and one of his campers. The hospitality here was outstanding and if you would like to see more go to their web site at, wrightpointresort.com. DAY 1 At 1:30 p.m. I was following Hermann in my truck headed to my treestand site and I was anxious. It was a long ride, approximately 25 miles on a paved road and another 6 miles into the bush on a dirt road where I parked my truck and Hermann walked me in on a small trail to the site got me settled, then headed back to camp. There were dark clouds beginning to roll in but I was hoping the rain would hold off until dark. It didn’t. Perhaps and hour or so after I climbed into the stand I heard thunder in the distance behind me; but it sounded like it was going away from me. It wasn’t. The rains came first but I was ready for that and quickly slipped into my rain suit and used another light rain jacket to cover my gun. The winds followed shortly and I found out later that they were upward of 40; which at times felt like I was on the high seas. Within 45 minutes of the start of the rain the thunder began, and with it the lightning. Now my choices were climb out of the stand and go sit in the truck until it passed and then sneak back in, which would probably ruin the hunt. So I chose the second option of staying in the tree. An hour or so later the thunder and lighting did stop, but the heavy rain and high winds didn’t. And at 7:50 p.m., the end of legal shooting time, I climbed down from the stand and sloshed my way back to the truck. Did not see a bear. Back at camp no one else had seen a bear either and Hermann said that the combination of the heavy rain, high winds and thunder and lightning makes them very nervous. All we could do is go back out again the next morning. DAY 2 I was in my stand an hour before sunup and when I looked through my scope I could see that the bait had not been touched; so there was still a chance that the bear would come in this morning. Forgot to mention it was still raining and the wind was about 20-25 mph. At 10:30 a.m. I climbed down and headed back to camp. After breakfast and a short nap I was sitting in the stand in full rain gear hoping that tonight was the night. The rain continued along with the heavy winds all evening and once again there were no bear visits. But I did have 4 grouse cooing around under my stand for about an hour. The grouse season was open but the .308 was a little overkill for grouse hunting. DAY 3 After another morning of rain, wind and no bear I met up with Hermann who suggested that after breakfast I join him on his morning baiting trips and we could check the activity at several of the sites, and I could pick the one I liked for the afternoon hunt. We visited 5 sites, all of which were hit since the last time he checked them. The site that I choose had plenty of activity signs but the real draw for me was the timber wolf tracks I saw in the mud on the way in that got me excited. Only once, years ago while sitting in a treestand at Hermann’s, I had a timber wolf appear about 150 yards from me. I did get to look at him through my binoculars but he quickly disappeared. That evening the rain continued and it was then that I realized the value of good equipment. Other than my hands and face the only thing that got a little wet and cold during these long sits in the nasty weather was my nose. The camouflaged Red Head Squaltex Bone Dry rain gear totally protected my body from the rain and the wind and the Burris Full Field II, in all this nasty rain, never once fogged up on me. Actually I did get a bit wet the next day when climbing down from my stand in the morning I caught my jacket on a nail and ripped a big chuck out of it. As for the bear this particular evening; nothing came it. DAY 4 The final day, my last chance. The morning hunt went too quickly and the rain did stop for an hour or so and, the sun did shine for perhaps an hour. But there were no bears. It was going down to the wire again. That afternoon I was in the stand earlier than usual but knew this was it; because tomorrow I was heading home. The weather was actually fairly pleasant; for awhile. Then about 3 p.m. the winds began followed by the rain, and with each hour both increased and by 6 p.m. things were back to normal; heavy rains and gusting winds that were causing my treestand to move a good six inches from side to side. I must have looked at my watch at least a dozen times; and time was running out. I remember checking my watch at it 7:35 p.m. and saying to myself, just 10 more minutes of legal shooting time left; it looks like it is over. But when I looked up there he was coming in, 70 yards away in the opening. Quickly I shouldered the gun and put the crosshair on the bear’s shoulder and clicked off the safety. My only problem now was that the 40 plus mph wind was again rocking the stand side to side. It seemed like forever that I held the horizontal crosshair of the scope on target just waiting for the wind to stop. And when it did I set the crosshairs on its shoulder and tapped the R-25 trigger and the Remington 150 grain Ultra Bonded PSP put him down. To say I was relieved and excited would be an understatement as I scrambled down the steps and trotted to the bear. A tap on his nose with the rifle barrel told me what I already knew; it was over. Quickly I unloaded my rifle, put it in its case, which is required when leaving the woods after legal shooting time in Canada, and quickly headed to my truck to go get Hermann. He was as happy as I was about the news and he had already put the ATV on the back of his pickup; and we headed back to get my bear. Once again I watched Hermann’s skill with the Outdoor Edge cutlery(Kodi-Pak) I had given him years ago. But the fun really began when we had to drag the bear about 20 yards over a number of brush piles and stumps to the ATV. Two old men pulling on a bear would have made a great photo, but we got it there and loaded on the back of the ATV. And yes, it was still raining and windy; but I really did not care. This was another great hunt with some very special old and new friends; and I have to rate it as my most memorable bear hunt. If you would like to see more photos of the bear you can go to, fishguydblog.blogspot.com/