Posted by Darrell under: Whitetail Deer.
………. Well, I haven’t done a very good job of keeping the blog updated this season. My apologies!
Unfortunately, I didn’t spend as much time in the woods this season as I wanted to. But, the time I did spend was certainly “quality” time. I did harvest several deer and have lots of venison in the freezer. My son, Caleb, also had a great season. He harvested two deer and had a great time.
We hunted the first weekend of firearms season at a large membership type ranch with most of my hunting family and several friends. It was an absolute blast. We haven’t been able to hunt the opening weekend with them all for the last few years and it was great to spend some “quality time” with them.
I also was able to hunt with my friends, Dana, Mike, and Chris in Iowa. Again, I had a great time. These are some really fun guys to spend a few days hunting with. I saw some monster bucks, but never had one within range. Dana and Mike both took really nice bucks. I plan on posting some pictures soon.
The reason that I’ve neglected posting regularly and spent fewer hours in the woods this season is a good one. My passion is the outdoors. I’m working as a partner on a large project that will enable me to share the great outdoors with a huge number of people. It’s a really exciting project and is consuming my time. I’ll comment more about it on here once the project has been publicly announced.
Make the most of the last few days of season. Happy hunting!
Posted by Darrell under: Whitetail Deer.
Today was the first day of the two day Youth Only Missouri firearms deer season. Caleb, 14, had been looking forward to today for months.
We started the morning in a double deer stand in an area where I have been seeing a nice 8 point buck. The buck came by at a little over 100 yards. Caleb got set, took his time, got his breathing down and squeezed the trigger. He didn’t get the buck and was devestated.
My brother in law came by later in the day to site in his rifle. Caleb and I decided it might be a good idea for him to shoot a few times, too. Well, imagine my disgust, when I found out that Caleb’s rifle was shooting about 10 inches right and over 10 inches low at 100 yards. I’ve had this particular 30/06 for about 6 years and, until today, I’ve never had to make an adjustment to the scope. So, while I’ve been shooting my other rifles over the past few weeks, I haven’t shot the one Caleb was using today. I learned a valuable lesson: ALWAYS SHOOT YOUR RIFLE PRIOR TO SEASON - NO MATTER HOW CONFIDENT YOU ARE IN IT AND NO MATTER HOW MANY YEARS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN TRUE.
Caleb missed a nice buck because of my stupidity!
Ok, moving on. In the afternoon we decided to hunt a double stand where I planted about an acre of milo. Unfortunately, went we got to the stand we found a neighbor cutting firewood about 200 yards away. We decided to try somewhere else. Since I really wanted to get to a stand quick, we decided to try a single stand on the edge of a field. We made it to the stand at around 5pm. I climbed up first and found a nice (not so comfortable) limb to sit on. Caleb made himself comfortable in the stand.
About 15 minutes later a deer came out at the edge of the woods close to 100 yards away. We spent another 5 minutes or so glassing the deer. It had a squared nose like a buck, but no antlers or buttons for that matter, were visible. Caleb had decided that he would shoot a doe if he had the opportunity. I gave him the go ahead and he took his shot. He shot freehand without any rest. It was almost 100 yards. The deer dropped immediately. It never even kicked again. The shot was PERFECT.
Caleb was dissapointed to find that the deer was a button buck. However, the deer had some issues and needed to be harvested. It had no teeth. Seriously. It was a good size deer without any upper teeth and only 3 bottom teeth. I assured Caleb that it would have died this Winter anyway. And this way, he still has a buck tag to use during regular firearms season!
Posted by Darrell under: Whitetail Deer; Private Ranch - Missouri.
Missouri archery season opened on September 15, 2009. I hunted the opening week pretty hard. The deer were quite elusive and I was unable to pattern them. I ended up seeing only about a dozen deer or so during the week. This was about 100 deer short of what I’m used to!
There were 5 of us hunting on opening morning. My friend Billy was in a climber and he took a nice doe about one hour after season officially opened. Cameron and Thad (my friends from Texas) both saw deer but didn’t have good shots. Jeff and I both saw nothing! In fact, I didn’t see a deer until the third day.
Thad took an eight point basket rack during the afternoon hunt of opening day. I’m glad he harvested it. It was a large 3 1/2 year old buck with a genetically inferior 8 pt rack. This deer needed to be removed from the gene pool! Thanks Thad!
I harvested a large doe on the evening of the 18th. I was hunting from a climber and finally saw several deer including a young 6pt and several does.
During the course of the week, the five of us collectively saw several small bucks and a couple LARGE bucks. We were most succesful at finding the deer by hunting acorns and berries. The deer were not hitting foodplots, clover, or minerals.
The hunting will get better and the deer will be easier to pattern as the season progresses. I have every intention of spending all the time I can spare in the woods this fall. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Posted by Darrell under: SPEARFISH HUNTING!.
Arkansas Spearfishing season opened on June 15, 2009. It was a Monday and there were fewer people on the lake then usual. My friends Jeff, Zack, Billy, and Mike met me in Bull Shoals, Arkansas on Sunday the 14th. Jeff, Zack and I did some dives Sunday to determine where the fish were holding and what to expect on Monday.
We weren’t dissapointed. Over the course of 4 dives and two tanks each, we saw hundreds of catfish and walleye (yes, I said hundreds). We were all confident that we could have limited out on both Walleye and Catfish several times over! It was a little dissapointing that we didn’t see too many big cats. We saw a few 10-15 lb fish, and I saw 1 20lb blue laying out in the open on a rock ledge at about 12 feet.
The thermocline seemed to be between 21 and 25 feet. The water on Sunday was the clearest I’d ever seen on Bull Shoals. Visibility seemed to be 40 feet or more! It was some insane diving.
We found the fish in the shallows. The catfish were all between 8 and 12 feet (or shallower) and the walleye were 12 to 18 feet. Over the course of the 3 days we dove, I saw more Walleye than I’ve ever seen in the past. I probably saw at least 500 or more walleye. Many of them were 12 to 16 inches. However, I saw lots of “keepers” too.
Monday (opening day) turned out to be a great day. We had several biggest fish pots going, including biggest catfish, biggest walleye, biggest crappie, and biggest white. We also had a deal going where whoever shot the smallest catfish had to pay everyone else $5. Mike and I tied on biggest catfish. We each had a 5 3/4 lb blue. I had biggest crappie with a nice 13 incher. Jeff had biggest white. Zack had biggest Walleye with a paltry 8 1/2 lbs! Mike had the honor of smallest catfish with a 1 3/4 lb channel cat.
On Monday, we limited out on cats with 25 and over 100lbs. Most of the cats were between 4 and 5 lbs. We were close to limit on walleye and had over 40lbs! Along with this, we had several crappie and whites. My personal take was 5 catfish, 3 walleye, 4 crappie, and several large sunfish.
Billy and Zack left Monday night - leaving Jeff, Mike and I to carry the torch. We awoke to thunderstorms and high winds. So, after a leisurely three hour breakfast at Gastons (the famous resort on White River), we finally hit the lake. We dove some new spots that we’ve had our eyes on and once again hit the jackpot. I ended the day with 5 cats, 3 walleye, and a white bass. Jeff and Mike both limited out on Walleye, too. Jeff took the largest cat of the trip with a blue near 8lbs and Mike took lots of white bass. The highlight was a 15″ crappie that Jeff took. Crappie are extremely hard to get. They are really skittish and you have to be really good at being still and holding your breath.
Flathead season opens on July 15th. I’m looking forward to it, as I saw several 10lb flats during these dives. Overall, we had some amazing dives and I can’t wait until our next trip. For all of you that don’t spearfish, I’m sorry. There is no other experience that compares with hunting for fish. If you are a certified diver - you have to try it! You’ll be thanking me for the remainder of your life.
Posted by Darrell under: Turkey.
Assuming I did my math right, the total 2009 Spring Turkey harvest was 44,712 birds. That is 41,829 during the 3 week Spring season and 2,883 during the Spring Youth season.
Of those totals, I’m happy to admit that one of those birds taken during the Youth season was by my son Caleb. Unfortunately, Caleb was not able to fill his other tag during the regular season. And, we certainly tried! The Spring season is tough for kids to be able to fill their second tag. If they filled a tag during the Youth season, they cannot hunt the Spring season until the second week starts. The second week starts on a Monday (which seems ridiculous). Kids are in school on Mondays (and you can’t hunt after 1:00pm) so they can’t go hunting after they get out of school.
So Caleb didn’t get to hunt until the 13th day of season. My guess is that whomever sets the seasons for Missouri doesn’t have kids. By the 13th day of season, the birds are what you could probably describe as pretty wary. Going out and calling one in isn’t a simple matter anymore. We hunted as hard as we could but couldn’t close the deal. A kid that is successful during the youth season can only hunt 4 days of the three week regular season if they are in school. If a couple of those days are violent storms (as ours were), then you are simply out of luck.
My season went really well. I filled both of my tags. I took my first bird at 44 yards with my compound bow. I was hunting alone out of a blind that was set up on a fence row between a field and a patch (80 acres) of woods. The turkeys spent the morning walking back and forth down the fence line. I saw about a dozen different Toms during the morning (2nd day of season) and took the first one that got within bow range. It was a Jake with about a 5″ beard and I put an arrow through his back as he was walking away from me. I couldn’t get him to stop and so eventually I stopped trying and just set up to take the shot as he walked away. By the time I shot he was at 44 yards. My arrow punched through his gullet just above his breast bone and he died quick.
I stayed still and quiet because I didn’t want to spook the other birds that were around. I was shocked by what came next. One of the other Toms saw him flailing and came running over. He jumped on his back and started (and I’m going to try to put this nicely) … humping him. He kept going at it for at least 5 full minutes. I’d never seen anything like it and thought I would likely never again. I was wrong.
The next day I took a friend of mine to the same spot. My 1st week tag was filled so I was just along to observe. My friend ended up getting a really nice bird with a 10″ beard. Again, we waited to see what would happen. Well along came a couple of BIG gobblers that were travelling together. (We ended up nicknaming them the “Gays” as I saw these same odd acting birds all season long). When these birds saw my friend’s dead bird laying on the ground they both ran towards it. The immediately attacked it and began kicking it, pecking it, and then umm….. excuse the language, but humping it. They took turns for about 20 minutes. Seriously! We were both in shock. My friend got some pictures but we could have shot ourselves for not bringing a video camera. I’m planning on getting the pictures from my friend and posting them. I just don’t want this site to be filtered by the granny patrol!
I got my second bird early on the second week in basically the same spot. By this time the birds were more wary. The Gays still came through like clockwork, but for some reason I didn’t bother them. Something about cleaning and eating one of them just didn’t appeal to me. Anyway, I got pretty nice bird - this time with my gun. I switched to a gun to try the new Winchester X-tended turkey shells. I’m planning to write a post about them soon, too. Unbelievable!
All in all, it was a really fun season. I got to witness my friend Zack take his first bird ever, two others getting their only birds of the season, and one that missed repeatedly (you know who you are and only my overwhelming kindness prevents me from going into great detail on the repeated misses!)
I probably saw at least 3 dozen different Toms during season. Only a handful of these birds were taken. The Fall turkey hunts should be great. I can’t wait!
Posted by Darrell under: Blog Posts of Note.
I haven’t posted one of these in a while, but here are some sites I’ve stumbled across lately that are worth taking a look at. Some are new to the Internet and I’d like to welcome them to the “outdoor” cyberspace.
AfricanHunting.com - Everything you need to know about hunting in Africa, all on one site. If you’ve ever dreamed of an african hunt or are in the process of planning one, you will want to check out this site!
MyHuntingFishing.com - This is a new blog about hunting in Oregon. Blacktail deer, black bear, and cougar are covered. One thing for sure, this is another guy that loves spending time outside and is willing to write about it. Take a look!
HuntOnly.com - I don’t know that I’d call this site a blog, but it does have some pretty informative hunting articles on it. I’ve also found some pretty cool pictures inlcuding the infamous Texas Piebald buck.
Nature Inspired Jewelry - Jewelry artist Greg DeMark custom makes each of these pieces. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on jewelry. However, these pieces definitely inspire thoughts of the outdoors.
Florida Bass Fishing - This site is dedicated to improving your bass fishing in Florida by giving you tips, techniques and free lake maps with hot spots. It also has an online store. I’m starting to notice more and more of these types of sites that mix ecommerce with information. Personally, I don’t mind the e-stores as long as the content is unique and helpful - which it is on this site.
Posted by Darrell under: Gun; Guides - Tips, Ideas, & Info.
Back in mid March, our friends Thad and Michelle came up from Texas for a visit. We started planning some fun stuff to do. We had all heard about Flying Feathers and so Jeff called them to see if they were still booking hunts. We caught them right at the end of the season and were thrilled to get a hunt booked. They were out of Quail for the season, so we booked a Saturday hunt for Chukar and Pheasant.
We decided that a little practice would be beneficial so Friday was dedicated to practice. Jeff, Thad, Caleb, and myself headed down to Ozark Shooters (near Branson, Missouri) on Friday morning. We spent most of the day shooting skeet, wobble trap, and sporting clays.
Our first round was skeet. We were all horrible! I think we might have collectively hit 20 clays out of 100. Needless to say, this didn’t do anything for our confidence. We next went to wobble trap where our confidence was restored. We shot round after round with everyone doing pretty good. Caleb had an impressive 23 of 25 in a couple rounds. This is impressive since he had never shot skeet or trap before. In fact, he had previously never shot at anything in the air.
We finished the day with a trip through the sporting clays course. Caleb, again, held his own with a pretty respectable score. We were all amazed. I will reluctantly admit that Jeff beat me on the sporting clay course. I had him beat up until the last station. He somehow made all 4 shots and I somehow choked and missed all four shots – which allowed him to beat me by ONE! Thad and Jeff really had fun rubbing that one in!
On Saturday morning we headed Northwest from Springfield to Flying Feathers. It was about a 1 hour drive and we were due there at 8am. We made it on time and after a brief orientation and introduction to our guide we hit the field. If you are anything at all like me, you love watching dogs work. It was so enjoyable to watch those dogs work that field.
We spread out 4 wide and started walking the field behind the 3 dogs. We put Caleb on the outside which is guarantees some of the harder shots. We put him there for safety reasons and so that I could keep a close eye on him. It turned out to be for naught, as he was careful and only took one shot that he shouldn’t have. It was a shot a low bird and after we talked to him about it and how it can put the dogs at risk, he didn’t take any low shots again.
Caleb obliterated the birds, though. He made some incredible shots! I would venture to say that he made at least 2 of the most difficult shots of the day and his birds fell clean. He was dropping birds at 40+ yards and most of his birds were not flying straight out from him. All of us were amazed – including our guide.
Caleb attributed it to the new gun I had bought for him. It was a Mossberg 500A pump in 20 gauge and we had a modified tube in. He loves that gun. He likes the weight of it and swears it doesn’t kick at all (when compared to the 12 gauge he had been shooting).
All of us did really well and had a great day. We bagged close to 40 birds (all pheasant and Chukar) and it was pretty even. All of us did really well – but the day had to go to Caleb. I spent about ½ the day with my mouth hanging open in shock as I’d watch him calmly shoulder his gun and drop a bird with an incredible shot.
I think I might have bagged the most birds, but I also had the worse miss. A pheasant got up right in front of me and flew beautifully straight away. It was by far the easiest shot of the day and I shot three times and missed all three times. It was one of two birds that I shot at that didn’t drop. However, it was the easiest shot ever, and for the second time in two days, I completely choked. I’ll admit it. I don’t even blame the other four (Jeff, Thad, Caleb, AND the guide) for making continuous fun of me for that miss!
We had a great time. After the hunt, we had a good lunch back at the ranch house, while they cleaned and prepared our meat. I can’t wait til this Fall so we can go back again!
If you are in Missouri and would like an enjoyable day of hunting, give Flying Feathers a call. They are a first rate operation. Their number is (417) 232-4033.
Posted by Darrell under: Turkey.
Saturday – April 4, 2009 was a special day for my son, Caleb. It was the opening morning of the Youth Spring Turkey Season. We woke up early and went to meet our friends Jeff, Todd, and Todd’s seven year old son – Gavin. This would be Gavin’s first hunt (of any kind) and he was really excited. Caleb, too, was excited. Caleb has taken a couple deer, a pig, several pheasants (which I still need to write about), but up until this point – no turkey.
On Friday Jeff and I spent the afternoon out at his tract of land in Taney county (near Branson, Missouri) scouting for Turkey sign. We found the perfect spot, near where we both had taken turkey in the past, and set up 2 blinds about 80 yards apart. The turkey were obviously roosting close to this spot. Caleb and I would be in one blind, and Jeff, Todd, and Gavin would be in the other. That evening we went back to Jeff’s house and patterned the guns. Gavin had absolutely no fear of the guns!The blinds were a good 15 minute hike from where we could park the truck. We didn’t arrive to the land until about 6:30am Saturday morning (by which time it was already light) and we busted hens that were already on the ground on our way into the blinds.
It was warm and windy and we didn’t know what affect that would have on the Toms. They were pretty quiet. We heard a couple gobbles, a long way to the North of us, at around 7:30. After those gobbles, it was quiet again. Jeff and I had agreed to call sparingly. We 1) didn’t think we’d need to call too much since the turkey were obviously using the area and 2) didn’t want to ruin the birds for the season by educating them to our calling.
I called intermittingly after we arrived for the first 30 minutes and then would give seven clucks once every 15-20 minutes. Nothing happened until around 9:00 am. I did my seven clucks and a Tom immediately gobbled. He sounded like he was maybe 150 yards from us (South and down the hill), which put Jeff and Gavin’s blind directly between the Tom and Caleb and I. I decided to go ahead and try to call him in and hope that he walked right by their blind.
He did. As I started my next call, he fired off immediately. It sounded like it came from Jeff’s blind and I wondered just for an instant if Jeff was messing around with us. I could see Jeff’s blind, but I couldn’t see the Tom. I knew though that he had to be really, really close to them.Caleb and I didn’t hear any shots. So I continued calling. That bird came in hot. I think he might have been a little spooked because he didn’t come directly to us. He circled and went north of our blind and then took off running on a course that would bring him parallel to our blind at about 25 yards.
At that time, I doubted that we were going to get that bird because he was really moving and he was at an angle where there was a lot of brush between our blind and him. I had seen him for maybe 6 or 7 seconds and Caleb still had not seen him, although he had his gun up and he was ready. As that turkey passed by our blind at 25 yards and in some brush I gave one final call in the hopes of slowing him down and giving Caleb a shot. As I called that bird came to an abrupt stop. At this exact time Caleb saw him and lined up on him. The Tom stuck his head out perfectly through the brush and started to gobble. I couldn’t believe it. He gave Caleb a perfect shot at his head and neck.
Caleb shot while he was gobbling. This all happened within about 3 seconds (no joke). I didn’t even have time to tell Caleb to “get ready” or “there he is”. Caleb acted on his own and made a perfect shot at the perfect time. I was amazed!This confirmed for me a suspicion I’ve had for the last couple years. Caleb is a natural hunter. I can’t believe how well he controls his nerves and the calm way in which he is able to take his shots. He also seems to naturally take the shots at the right time without having to be prodded or told. Yes, if you hadn’t guessed it, I’m really proud of him. I’m also impressed and glad to have him as a hunting partner. I look forward to hunting with him for the decades to come.
Gavin also had the time of his life and I think he, too, might just be a natural hunter. The big tom that Caleb got came within 10 yards of their blind. Gavin tracked that bird with his gun and came within a second or two of pulling the trigger. He was that close to bagging his first Tom and his first game animal. Remember, this was his first ever hunt (of any kind).
After Caleb shot his bird, we sat tight to give them an opportunity at any Toms that might have been traveling with our bird. Unfortunately, none materialized. One answered the call a couple times, but then disappeared. Gavin sat in that blind for 4 ½ hours. Jeff and Todd said he was having an absolute ball. Not many 7 year olds will sit still for 1 hour let alone 4 ½ . Jeff, Todd, and Gavin went back on Sunday morning and spent several more hours in the blind – even though it was 28 degrees. They didn’t see or hear anything. However, when I asked Gavin later what he thought of it all, He said that “it was really really fun”. I’d say he is a natural hunter!
Sunday night, we celebrated Caleb’s first bird by eating it. There is nothing like wild turkey. It is so much better than the domesticated bird you buy in the store. Caleb received a couple gifts from friends to commemorate his first turkey, including a really nice Browning knife that Billy bought him. I’m sure he will be walking on clouds for the coming days. Turkey season in Missouri opens on April 20 and you can bet I’m counting the minutes.
Caleb’s turkey was a mature Tom with a 9.5 inch beard!
Posted by Darrell under: Gear - Tips, Reviews, Wishlist.
It is the “off season” for me. There aren’t any local hunting seasons open and I’m not quite ready start fishing heavily, so I’m bored! To fill the time I’ve been doing a lot of browsing and shopping and have been gathering equipment information for later in the year. Oh, and sometimes I just have to go ahead and BUY some of these products.
Today, I received my brand new tent. It is a Eureka Pine Lodge Tent. It is a huge 12′x10′, plus an awning and sleeps 8 adults! I’ve been wanting to pick up one of these larger tents for quite some time. I have a smaller Eureka camping tent that is dome style and can be set up in a couple minutes. This cabin style tent will probably take a little longer to set up, but I’m hoping the extra time is worth it in exchange for the extra room that I’ll have. Eureka’s website says that 2 men can set it up in about 10 minutes. (I’ll let you know).
I like plenty of room when I’m camping on hunting trips. Room for several large cots is a must to really be comfortable. A lot of the cabin family camping tents that I’ve looked at are $1,000 or more. I found the Pine Lodge on the expedition and outfitters page on Eureka’s tent website. This tent sells for $550, so it seems comparatively like a bargain. I’ll certainly find out!
One of the funnest things about getting something new (like a tent or a gun) is that you have to immediately start planning a trip to try that item out. Boy, am I ever feeling pressured. I’ve just got to get a trip planned where I can fully test out my new tent. I’ve been trying to explain all of this “pressure” to my wife. Now, you are probably thinking that she is giving me a hard time about planning yet another hunting adventure - but you’d be wrong.
I think I’ve figured out that the “off season” is as hard on my wife as it is on me. She is getting so tired of seeing me mope around that she actually offered to help me with my trip planning. I believe she even said something to the effect “Are you sure nothing is in season that you want to hunt right now?”
I’ll probably have my first opportunity to put this tent to use in late August. I’m thinking about doing a DIY archery antelope hunt in Nebraska. This will likely be my first hunting trip of the year, unless I get to use this tent on a hog or turkey hunt this spring.
I’ll let you know how this tent performs. If anyone has any experience with it, please feel free to let me know.
Posted by Darrell under: Archery.
I’m a little late at writing this post, but I thought I’d share the excitement of Caleb’s first pig hunt. Caleb (who is just barely a teen and who I still think about as being just a little kid) took this pig with his BOW from about 20 yards.
Caleb, my son, just started hunting with his bow this year. He amazed me every time we went out to practice. From 30 yards or closer he was dead on. Of course, we all know that this deadly accuracy can disappear whenever we are actually shooting at something. For Caleb, this did not prove to be the case.
I watched him draw back on the pig for both shots. I couldn’t see the pig and didn’t know what was happening on the pig’s end of things. Caleb, however, appeared perfectly calm and poised and I watched in amazement as he drew back, sighted, and released his first arrow. I could hear the pig running and watched Caleb take off after it. He ran about 30 yards and then, wam, he was drawing back and shooting again.
I guess I was in a slight state of shock during all of this, because I couldn’t get over how calm he was. He didn’t appear to be shaking or even breathing hard. In fact, I think my heart was beating a lot faster than his when I saw him pull that bow back!
After his second shot, Caleb yelled to me “I got him Dad” and then began hooping and hollering. I’m sure I was hollering too as I jogged the 80 yards or so to him. When I saw the pig, I was a little suprised. It was a small pig and had 2 arrows in it’s head (I’d wrongly assumed that Caleb had missed his first shot).
I asked “Where were you aiming, son?” (again assuming that he was aiming somewhere other than the head). He looked at me like I might be a little slow and said “uh, the head - it was all I could see on both shots”.
I don’t know what the ethics are of shooting a pig in the head, but I will say that it definitely worked. And, even though that pig wasn’t very big, he sure tastes good!
Congrats Caleb on your first pig and your first harvest with a bow!