Turkey Season 2016

2016 marks my second year of turkey hunting with a bow (and in general) as well as the first year that Minnesota allows bowhunters to hunt the entire season, which started on 4/13/16 and goes until 5/31/16.

Below is a chronicle of my season.

4/13/16:

Hunting public land spot A along the river. Put the birds to bed the night before, things were looking optimistic. On my way out I flushed a trio of birds there weren’t there when I left. The Gobblers were gobblin’ but no dice.

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 3

Toms: 0

 

4/15/16:

On the way to work, driving over the river I look off to my right and I see a group of 5 turkeys in the woods, plain as day. I pull over and grab my bow to put the stalk on.

I belly crawled to a stump and began calling. One of the toms pulled away from the group and walked down an old creek bed to go looking for love. As luck has it, I forgot my range finder. I guessed at 30 yards, let an arrow fly, hitting his feet and then he ran like hell. Obviously it was more like 40.

I belly crawled closer to the remaining turkeys. They moved to the other side of the creek bed, giving me cover to crawl up to the edge of the creek. All 4 turkeys laid down for a nap. I snuck up behind a tree and waited for them to get up. They all stood up at once, I drew and stepped out, exposing myself. I put my 40 pin on the tom’s wing and let it fly…only to take a few feathers off his undercarriage. Two arrows gone. Two turkeys still alive. Lesson learned #1: Bring Your Range Finder.

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 4

Toms: 2

Shots Taken: 2

4/16/16: 

Hunted down by the old farm along middle road. Found a nice oak ridge with lots of turkey scratchings. Hot as hell and a long ass walk. Used the blind and decoys. Waited all night and didn’t see a thing. On the way out I could hear gobbles in the distance to the south. Maybe a mile away.

 

4/17/16:

Hunting spot A, started at the ridge and listened for them to fly down. Tried calling in the tom but he kept moving farther away, so we went after him.

Walking the trail I stood at the edge of the strip mine and did a yelp, he immediately returned. Did it again and we saw him run to the edge of the woods about 600 yards away. It was time to go after him. We walked to where he was and didn’t see him. Then, looking to the west, we see him. Exactly where we were! So set up the decoys and hid behind some berms and 45 minutes later he showed up at 150 yards in full strut. A perfect fan and shiny feathers. He stayed out at 46 yards, pecking along a brush line, then started making his way toward me. Thinking he would pass right in front of me, I waited. Then he made a sharp right turn and went into the woods to the left of me about 10 yards away, giving me no shot. He never came close than 80 yards to the decoys. I feel the Montana Tom decoy was too much for him, even being a mature bird. Especially this early in the season. He hung around as we could get him to respond back with a gobble. After a while I decided to pack it up, I stand up and there he was, in the same spot out in the field. He obviously saw me too and it was over.

Lesson Learned #2: Take the shot when they are coming straight on. 

Lesson Learned #3: Stay put after hearing a gobbler respond, even if he is 600 yards away. 

Lesson Learned #4: Ease up on the use of tom decoys.

Lesson Learned #5: Stay put. 

That evening I took Leah out on her first turkey hunt. She was so excited to finally be able to go and have the opportunity to be the one shooting. We got set up around 6:00 PM in the ground blind on top of the ridge. I let her choose where to put the decoys. Boredom was setting in and then around 7:00 we heard the gobbler boom. The look on her face was priceless. She went for the crossbow, got it on the shooting sticks and was ready. The tom was probably 100 yards away but in the woods. Told her to just ease up, we have some work to do. Did some gentle purrs and clucks and had a ton of hens scratching all around us. It was intense! Then Leah wanted to try calling with the box call. It was a little crude by she got a tom to respond! She was so pumped to have a turkey respond to her call.

 

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 2

Toms: 1

Shots Taken: 0

 

4/19/16

Tried the flat for a while with decoys out. Had a hen show up right where another hen showed up on the 17th. Came into the decoys and pecked around and left. A few minutes later another hen showed up in the same spot. She went to the north. Waited until 6:30 and then I moved to the ridge. I stayed a little farther south on the ridge than normal and waited for gobbles. As I’m sitting on the ridge I could hear another hunter on the island. And rustling down on the river bottom but I couldn’t see anything. Then I heard gobbling to the north. A minute later a hen pops up on top of the ridge. She had climbed straight up the bluff! The ground and leaves were soft from the rain and she was clucking on her way to the toms. So I decided to follow her silently. I followed her for about 40 yards and then I kicked up 3 deer. The deer ran and flushed 3 turkeys from the trees. Disappointed in my decision to follow her, I went back to my spot. As I’m standing by the tree I had an owl come straight at me…so close I had to put my arm up and then it did a 180 and flew to another tree. Guess I looked like a good perch. I waited for another 20 minutes – it was probably 7:45 PM and I decided I had screwed up my hunt and decided to pack up. I stand up, sling my decoy bag over my shoulder, turn around and there’s a tom 10 feet away from me who just came up the bluff! We both had that “Oh shit” look on our faces and he did mach 20 through the woods. Hunt over.

Lesson NOT Learned #5: Stay put. 

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 4

Toms: 1

Shots Taken: 0

 

4/20/16

Decided to do a quick hunt after work. Got to the parking lot around 6:00 and another hunter, younger guy, was getting ready to head out. We discussed where each of us was going, he was obviously much more ambitious than I was since he decided to do a 3 mile hike at 6:00. This time I went a little farther on the ridge, to where a little peninsula sticks out into the creek. Set up my decoys and waited. Did some light clucks and purrs, rain wasn’t giving me confidence in birds being in the woods. I didn’t hear any birds all night. Then around 8:00 I look about 60 yards to the north and I see a tom coming  through at the top of a hill. Following him were 3 hens and another tom. They didn’t stick around but I believe I found the tree they roost in often.

Turkeys Seen

Hens: 4

Toms: 1

Shots Taken: 0

 

I’ll be spending some quality time with the kiddos over the next few days so probably not much hunting will be done until Sunday. Hopefully I can put a game plan together in the meantime and get it done. Then the focus is on getting Leah a bird.

 

 

 

 

 

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Venison Pepper Steak

This is a great recipe for those busy days where you won’t have time to make dinner. 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs venison steak (top or bottom round works well), cut into ½ in strips
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 (16 oz) can Italian style tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp beef bouillon
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp steak seasoning
  • 1 tbsp steak sauce
 
Instructions
  1. Toss steak in salt, pepper, & flour and add to gallon-sized freezer bag. In a med bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients, add to bag. Zip close and place in freezer. When ready to use thaw in fridge overnight. Empty contents into crock-pot and cook on low 8 hours. Serve over rice or lo mein noodles. 

Recipe borrowed from  Mommy’s Fabulous Finds.

 

2013 Deer Season in Review

This year was perhaps my best deer season ever. Let’s recap..

Regular Firearms Season

This was the first time in 15 or so years that my dad has hunted with me. While he didn’t get to fire a shot it was great having the old man at deer camp to swap stories with. Hopefully we can keep this going as a tradition.

As always we had to spruce up deer camp a little bit. So this year we added lighting:

Deer Camp

I stepped outside of my comfort zone and left the deer stand and opted to hunt the ridges (which was physically taxing!). This blessed me with the biggest buck of my lifetime (which isn’t saying a whole lot) – a seven point, 159.98 pound buck.

That buck decided to fall all the way  down the bluff and enter a farmer’s pasture. A pasture in which he rents out to campers. So there are campers surrounded by cows. Weird.  Getting the deer out was a pain due to one hot-head camper that didn’t think I had any right to retrieve my deer. Long story short, I got my deer.

That deer scored me first place for the 160 and under division in the Big Buck Challenge (www.usbigbuck.com). First place earned me a 5′ x 10′ utility trailer! This was undoubtedly my 15 minutes of fame that put me on cloud nine for about a month. Make that two months.

Trailer

Management Hunt

My cousin and I were lucky enough to get drawn for the special management hunt at Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve near Prior Lake, Minnesota. With UNLIMITED tags, we had high hopes. The first day was cold, windy, and the only deer I saw were 2 does and 2 fawns 5 minutes before shooting time. My cousin kept getting busted before he could get his gun up.

Day 2 was much different. I did get to shoot early in the day but it was a swing and a miss (I’m blaming the brush). So I got mobile (since that worked for me earlier in the season) and began slowly creeping through the woods. I jumped a doe that was bedded down under a fallen tree and she ran over a ridge. Thinking maybe I could get a shot at her I went to the top of the ridge and meandered in the direction she went. Out of the corner of my eye I saw three deer crossing a land bridge between two sloughs and walking in my direction! So I reverse course, go to the side of the ridge where the deer couldn’t see me and circle back to try and cut them off. My guesstimate paid off because when I came to the top of the ridge the adult doe was standing broadside at 75 yards. I put the crosshairs on her shoulder and the CVA Accura ignited 110 grains of Triple 7 powder, sending a 300 grain Parker Productions Ballistic Extreme down range dropping the doe in her tracks.

The other two ‘fawns’ (it’s a management hunt, everything was a target, and they didn’t have spots) didn’t know what happened and just stood there. After fumbling for my reloads I reloaded as fast as I could, found the next deer standing broadside and fired. The deer bolted 10 feet and dropped. At this point my adrenaline levels were through the roof!

The third deer was still there and eating acorns. So I reloaded again (still fumbling), and shouldered the Accura and found the third deer facing me and trying to figure out what I am. My only shot was a neck shot at 65 yards. I centered the crosshairs right below the white patch on her neck and fired. She dropped instantly. All of this happened within 3 minutes (it could have been faster but time flies when you’re dropping deer left and right).

 photo SpecialHunt_zpsb34bc72f.jpg

We spent the rest of the day pulling deer out of the woods. Another first was we got to put our custom made ladder stand game getters to work. When the idea was conceived in The Wizard’s head, I’m sure three deer on one ladder stand was never in the vision. But it definitely got the job done! For the record, I would limit it to two deer per ladder stand going forward.

meat wagon

Muzzleloader Season

Muzzleloader season found me on private land for the first time this year. It was my wife’s first time out this year and we spent some quality time in the blind overlooking a deer highway. Apparently there was a traffic jam somewhere because no deer made in our view.

I also spent a few hours on some public wildlife management areas. My hopes never get too high this time of year and it was as expected. No deer. But four deer in a year is a pretty fantastic year in my book.

One thing I did notice while hunting public land was how cordial and courteous other hunters were. I think people are starting to understand that we’re all out there trying to have fun and nobody should expect to have the woods to themselves when hunting public land. Definitely a good sign for deer hunting in Minnesota.

Muzzy University – The Purpose

Muzzleloading’s roots go back to the inception of black powder with everything from firearms to cannons utilizing it as a propellant. Over time muzzleloading has gone from the ONLY way to fight a war or take game to now being an option in the every growing arena of weaponry and its technological advancements have grown at a greater trajectory than modern smokeless firearms over the past 30 years. The purpose of this blog is to dive into the details of modern muzzleloading; that being the in-line muzzleloader. We’ll cover everything from the butt-to-muzzle, bench-to-backstop, stand-to-exit hole.  Myths and misconceptions, prejudices, and outright dangerous and bad information abound in the muzzleloading world – both in online forums, gun shops, and published articles. My goal is to dispel those myths and provide you with accurate, correct, and safe information. Additionally, this is Muzzy University so newcomers to the sport can easily beat the learning curve that so many of us spent countless hours reading, researching, and just plain failing through trial and error to overcome. Throughout these articles you’ll be better prepared to unlock the potential of your modern in-line as well as save you time, money, and SANITY! Hopefully you’ll find this blog both entertaining AND informative.

Welcome to Muzzy University!

Class is now in session…