Thursday, April 29, 2010

Turkey Love

If turkeys flew fighter planes I think Monday morning would have sounded something like this.

“Roost control to Gobbler one you have clearance to start engines and taxi to runway 32 west.”

“Roger Roost Control. Gobbler One is ready on 32 west. Engines run up and ready for launch.”

“Roger Gobbler One. We have two contacts bearing 280 degrees.”

“Roger Roost Control. Freeing guns and going in.”

“Roost Control this is Gobbler One. I have a SAM lock on me. Contacts are hostile. Breaking off.”

And that pretty well sums up opening day for me.

I was pretty excited when the alarm went off at 4 am. My first ever turkey hunt was about to begin. I donned my camo grabbed the bow and headed for the bush. I had a plan to hunt about the only bit of turkey sign I saw on my friends farm. I walked to the edge of the corn field and found a bit of dryness for my blind and set it up. It was the best situation because it was a narrow strip of grass with swamp water on one side and field mud on the other. Made a rather limited number of seating options. The swamp was huge and I was hopeful the turkeys would cross it today.

Gobbling started early which made me happy. I heard several birds gobbling away. It wasn’t long after dawn that I heard something splashing through the swamp. I didn’t have the back flaps of the blind open so I could only see through a couple of tiny openings. I could see a coyote slowly sneaking through the water heading towards the downwind side of my decoys. I think I had him fooled. Clearly not as smart as the turkey’s turned out to be. I didn’t mind the idea of starting my day with a coyote but as soon as he got downwind from me he disappeared back into the bush at a much faster clip than he came out.

I did manage to see some birds. I had two come in through the gap in the fence from the neighbor’s field. They took one look at my decoys and disappeared. I later realized that one of the hen decoys had become bent. I’m guessing they don’t look like that in real life.

Maybe the decoy set up wasn’t brilliant. I got the new issue of Ontario Out of Doors and it had a great bunch of articles on setting up decoys. Sadly I got it 2 days after these sad pictures were taken. Not great timing on their part I thought but what can you do?
That pretty much summed up my day. I hunted in the evening but it was so uneventful that there is no point even describing it. Heard nothing, saw nothing, did nothing sums it up completely. On a positive note I did manage to cross this rather large swamp and get into the bush.

The bush was only slightly less swampy in many areas but what I found a lot of were deer trails that looked like this.

I’ve already started to pick out some good trees to use my tree saddle in. I might not have had a great turkey hunt but come fall I will definitely be a deer ninja. Until then I guess I’m going to keep lying to turkeys until one of them falls for it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Turkey Season gets close

Turkey season is imminent and my excitement is building. The bow is tuned as good as I can get it. I'm practicing on a turkey silhouette out to 40 yards. I'm having scouting issue though. The first issue is that I've lost some turkey ground. It makes me sad as the one farm I've seen turkeys on. The farm I have left for the turkey season is rumoured to be crawling with turkeys but I have yet to see sign of them. There's an almost un-passable swampy part between the fields and the bush that may dry up in time but I'm uncertain. On a positive note it's showing significant deer sign that looks good for this coming deer season.

So I'm still scrambling for a spot on opening day but if it doesn't work out brilliantly I think I'm ok. I met one of the Vortex Pro shooters in my area and he offered a guided turkey hunt. Ken Cull is his name and he's got a reputation for being very good at introducing new hunters to the sport. I have to be honest. The bow will not be making the journey on that day. After a bit of a discussion I decided that using one of his shotguns would be wise so that I can focus more on all the other components of the hunt. Also I don't want to miss the bird considering his guarantee is a legal bird within 40 yards but no discount if I then miss it. The stuff I do on my own will be with the bow. Missing for free is ok .

So now I'll be scouting and working and praying I still have the day off on the 26th. My eldest daughter is home from school today so I think our plans will be to finish up in the office and head out to the turkey woods. She's so much fun to watch. Every flicker of movement. Every squeak of sound must be thoroughly investigated. She's convinced it must be a turkey. I think we'll leave the pack of supplies home. I don't have the energy to carry it like I did in the cold of rabbit season.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm Straight

So today I’m going to try and raise my nerd level a little. Pictures say a thousand words so hopefully I can make this work and be speechless. Just in case, however, I’ll do some babbling so I don’t inadvertently leave lots of unexplained blanks on this blog if the pictures don’t show up.
It was a little bit of a long shot but Alissa was headed for Winnipeg last week and Winnipeg has a Cabela’s. Like the good woman she is she trundled off looking to see if they have an EZE-Center laser for tuning bows. They aren’t available anywhere in Canada that I can find but Cabela’s in the US carries them so we thought we’d take a chance. She did a fabulous job in spite of the fact that Cabela’s in Canada doesn’t have them. She smiled sweetly at the Cabela’s staff member and he sent her off to a store called Heights Archery Range and Proshop. He didn’t carry them either but happened to have a used one in the back that he sold her for a sweet price. So now I have a laser tuning tool.
Now that I’m starting to fiddle with my own set up I decided that I needed a place to do it. Off to the “man cave” I went.

As you can see The man cave has a problem. It’s a full of crap cave. It has fabulous potential. It’s heated and large. My father ran a motorcycle shop here for years and this was the repair area. So I’ve embarked on a clean up and organization campaign but it will take a while. I managed to get enough sorted out that I can get at the work benches. It won’t be considered a success until the boat trailer/storage bench is out and safely living elsewhere.
The next task I needed was to get a bow vice. The best priced ones I could find were all at least $100. I have lots of tools and gadgets and was hoping to come up with something useful and inexpensive when I tripped over the perfect thing at Canadian Tire.

It’s a small woodworking vice with a rotating head that I have clamped to the bow and a piece of wood that’s clamped in a big metal vice I already had mounted. It worked pretty good. I stuck a string level on it and got it level in both directions and immediately discovered that my arrows weren’t square to the string. I use a QAD Ultra-rest so making some minor adjustments was pretty easy.
I took the site off and strapped the new EZE Center device into the site mounting holes. It was very easy to do with the mounted bolts.

I should probably apologies up front for the quality of the pictures. I used my Blackberry Curve and it’s not exactly the best choice for expert quality shots of this type.
The next step was to line the laser light up to the string in the centre.

I checked the centre by the rest and it looked not to bad but when I turned the head farther I could see it was far from centered.

As you can see it was out quite a bit. I was a little disappointed in myself as I had spent a fair amount of time using a micrometer trying to get everything set up just right. I was feeling pretty cocky until the laser showed me how far out I was.
Out came the tools and another little adjustment of the QAD Ultra-rest and the picture was much better. As you can see the light is in the center where it is supposed to be.

Tomorrow my new shafts come all set to go and hopefully I’ll be dazzled. It’s just as likely I’m not good enough to see a difference. I feel more confident though. I STILL don’t know what to do about scent control and my underwear.

*Note* Got the shafts. Shot the Shafts. Love the Shafts and changes. I have to admit I definitely noticed a difference. I’m completely impressed. Turkey’s beware.

My thanks to Marian at and Kari at for their help trying to make me more computer literate.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Your first is always special.

My knife cut through the tender meat. I raised the fork to my mouth and closed my eyes as the meat melted succulently across my taste buds. It was fabulous. Cooked to a turn, but not by me, it could rival the finest steaks I've eaten anywhere. There was only one significant difference. It wasn't steak. It was venison. It was the first venison I had ever brought home but it took some doing to get. Down to the wire. The last few days of my first season. I had all but given up.

The alarm rang on the third to last day of the deer season. It was 5:00 in the morning and I quietly slipped from between the sheets. I can't say that I was feeling particularly spritely. I had repeated this groggy ritual many, many times since October first without any success. I checked the weather report for the day and my shoulders slumped a little as I realize the wind had not held its end of the bargain. My nice new Christmas pop up blind was not going to get its maiden voyage into the bush. My only option was a tree stand that had been recently placed near what looked like a deer highway but had yet to produce anything but some turkeys clucking in the field next to me. My mood didn't improve when I realized that the best I was going to see in temperature was -13 degrees Celsius.

I can't say that the bitter cold inspired me to hunt like a pro. I, for the first time, only gave a passing thought to my underwear. I filled a thermos with hot cider. Tasty and apple scented. I went through the motions as always but I must admit I no longer believed. I planned for an entire day in the tree stand and wasn't looking forward to how much I was about to suffer. This was bound to be worse than the day it rained from dawn to dusk. I was certainly doing a hunters penance this season. With a sigh I loaded the truck and headed for the farm I was going to hunt that day.

Things really weren't going very well for me. A couple of times I considered turning around and heading home. As the sun rose and shooting time started I was still at the truck changing into my rather chilly hunt clothes. For the first time this season I didn't wait until I was cold before taking measures to try and correct it. I started the morning with hot packs everywhere I could. Thank goodness for the wonders of modern science and chemical reactions.

My boots crunched sharply in the snow as I set off back the farmers lane. You can always tell how cold it is by the sound of the snow. If you can hear it crunch loudly with every step then expect to suffer. That's a sure sign that it's miserably cold. On a positive note I spotted footprints on the path that gave me some hope. I hadn't seen so much as a single footprint the past few times I had been out here. I followed their route down the tractor path until I reached the point I had to turn left to head for my tree stand. The footprints didn't follow along. I was disappointed to see them carry straight on towards the bush on the other side of the hay field I was in. I walked along a small stream and was sad to see that the new snow didn't provide a single sign of deer. When I arrived at my tree stand things didn't look much more positive. There may have been some deer prints mixed in with the rabbit prints but there wasn't anything newer than 24 hours old.

I silently cursed the fates and started to mentally prepare myself for a long, bitterly cold sit waiting for the twilight to approach. I climbed into my stand and proceeded to organize my equipment. Once everything was hung and organized I began to play with my new laser rangefinder toy. I zapped everything. If it was larger than a grain of sand I tried to get a reading on it. It was great. No more guess work for me. After A few minutes I put the rangefinder away and pulled out my blackberry to check my facebook. As you can see I was not rating my odds very high. A quick check and a whining status update later I decided I should actually act like I thought I had a chance at accomplishing something. I settled into my chair, picked up my bow and placed it across my lap. A few minutes later I heard it. The quiet crunch of squirrels crossing the snow. It only took me a few seconds to realize that there was no way squirrels could make noise in the snow. As quietly as the conditions provided two young does came around the corner of the scrubby bushes I had followed. They were faithfully and foolishly following my footprints.

Even though the experience had been described to me more than once the sound of my own heartbeat screaming in my ears was a surprise. I had trouble believing they couldn't hear the hammering pump trying to smash its way through my ribs. Holding my breath didn't help. When I remembered to breath again I think the sound might have been enough to cause them to start a little. It was probably lucky that the ice in the stream behind me was booming and cracking enough that the small sound was quickly lost.

A few moments later the first doe moved out from behind the last of the trees and brush and put her head down to sniff a small tuft of grass. A moment later I realized that, in my youthful zeal of new toy-it is, I had ranged that spot at 20 yards only a few minutes earlier. I carefully came to full draw. Paused a second to mentally confirm my anchor and site picture. With a gentle squeeze on the release 30 inches of carbon and steel hurtled away from my Hoyt Alphamax. I watched it ricochet off the icy ground and smiled as I realized it was on the opposite side of the deer in front of me.

A few seconds later it was all over in the middle of the hay field. I had knocked another arrow but without a call the confused second doe finally listened to her anxiety and decided not to come back to my corner. She wasn't sure at first and I have wondered if a couple of bleats couldn't have won her over. I suppose that would have been greedy. As the adrenalin induced tremors coursed through my body I reached for my blackberry to brag to Alissa, who is my biggest fan, and for my laser range finder. It was new, the deer in the field was bigger than a grain of sand and I am, after all, a boy with a toy. Ninety yards was the verdict.

The rest was a little anti-climactic. Fifteen minutes later I climbed out of my tree stand. It was a sum total of 45 minutes from beginning to end. Not bad in 13 below weather. I walked out to inspect my prize. Not the biggest doe to ever to be taken. It was mine though. My first one ever. I quickly field dressed her, drove my truck into the field next to her in a quite decadent fashion and tossed her into the back. A little after an hour from the time I headed into the bush I was headed home. Next year I think I need to do this before it gets so cold. I wonder if I can get them all to come quickly and maybe drop in the back of the truck to save even more effort.


I, sadly, can't make pictures post so I'm begging for help. I'm reading all the help files I can but seem to be stumped. I write my blogs in MS Word 2007 and push the publish button and it works great. For some reason I can't seem to figure out how to make the pictures go with them. I know someone will have the answer for me. Feel free to send me step by step instructions. It's best to pretend I'm not so bright. In the meantime I'll write a new blog that doesn't need pictures.