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Turkey broadhead should prove deadly

March 17, 2016

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Ever since I started bow hunting in the fall of 2011, I have focused my efforts on trying to execute pass-through shots on deer in the heart-lung vital area.

To that end, I landed on a mechanical broadhead manufactured by New Archery Products called the Killzone. The two blades open up to 2 inches, and I have gotten pass-throughs on two of the three deer I have shot at with these heads.

This spring, I will be armed with another NAP product, this time for turkey hunting. But, I will not be aiming for a pass-through. In fact, the product is designed not to pass through a turkey.

That’s right: it is NOT built for pass-throughs.

How can this be? Well, I have done lots of reading up on this head, called a Spitfire Gobbler Getter. From what I can tell, it has been around for about 10 years, and it has most of the features of the conventional Spitfire — three folding blades, with the ends pointing forward and hugging the ferrule.

The Gobbler Getter features a blunt, rounded head versus a sharp, pointed head that the conventional Spitfire employs. The idea is that the blunt point will result in more energy being released into the bird. So, in addition to the blades slicing the bird, you’ll also have blunt-force trauma. This is designed to help keep the bird close to the point of impact.

That’s a huge advantage for the bow hunter. One of the common problems with bow hunting for turkeys is having the birds run or fly off after being hit. They can travel more than 100 yards, and often there is little to no blood trail. Add to that their tendency to crawl into thick cover and you have instances where the bird is never recovered — or at least requires a huge effort to recover.

Thus, the designers of this head tried to come up with a product that can hit a bird hard and anchor it near the point of impact. The research I have done online suggests that hunters have been achieving this effect.

The conventional three-blade Spitfire has been a highly successful design that creates a big wound channel, plus it has a history of consistently opening on contact with a deer and getting lots of pass-throughs. The reviews have been great on this head, and it is a personal favorite of Chris from NAP, whom I talked to about NAP broadheads recently. He and I had a lengthy conversation, and I got a chance to pick his brain about broadheads for both deer and turkey hunting.

I decided to get my hands on a set of Gobbler Getters, and I am planning on using them on future archery hunts, with my crossbow in Wisconsin, where they are legal for all hunters, and in Minnesota with my compound bow. Chris from NAP said they should work just fine with my crossbow.

One thing to be careful of with mechanical heads is the danger of having them open in flight because of the higher speed of crossbows. But, Chris said I shouldn’t have to worry about this for two reasons: 1. My particular crossbow, the Parker Enforcer, is relatively slow, shooting at 285 feet per second (some compounds with 70-pound draw weights can approach or match this speed), and, 2. the Spitfires are held closed with tension springs versus o-rings or rubber bands, so they are less likely to open in flight.

Bottom line: I am not going to worry about using the Gobbler Getters with my crossbow. I eventually hope to try them with my compound bow, too. I thought about it this year for Minnesota, which now allows turkey hunters with an archery tag to hunt throughout the entire spring season, rather than just one seven-day period.

But, I applied for the first time period for firearms and got picked, so I plan to hunt the first season with my shotgun (though I might bring my crossbow and try it out if a bird comes in really close). Had I not gotten picked, I would have bought the archery tag. I likely will keep applying for first season, and there probably will be years when I don’t get picked. So, that’s when I might buy the archery tag and hunt with my compound bow. But, at age 54, I am only six years away from being able to use a crossbow for archery hunting in Minnesota.

I really think NAP has a winner with the Spitfire Gobbler Getter. Having these heads also makes me want to try to conventional Spitfires for deer. Chris said that the three-blade design consistently produces nice blood trails. He said it’s very rare that you get a poor blood trail on a deer shot with a Spitfire.

He believes that you can get great results with a two-blade head, which I have, but if the cut is more horizontal than vertical, you can get a lot less blood coming out of a deer.

I see his point. That exact thing happened three years ago on a deer I shot with a Rage two-blade mechanical. A doe came walking down a trail near my stand, and I took a 25-yard shot at her (I had measured the distance from the trail to my stand, so I knew it was 25 yards).

Because I had a lighted nock, I saw the arrow hit the doe right behind the front leg and in the vital area. I watched her run off with the arrow sticking out of her. I couldn’t tell how much penetration I got, but it looked like the arrow at least hit the right spot.

Unfortunately, I found a small blood trail that eventually dried up. To this day, I am convinced that I hit the deer where I was aiming and that it eventually died.

But, in that instance, I may have had the trouble Chris described. The good news is I have had some great blood trails since then, and I am confident in the Killzones I have in my quiver. I have six of them, three brand new and three with replacement blades. Plus, I also have three Killzone crossbow heads. I now see that, based in my conversation with Chris, I may not have needed to buy the Killzone crossbow heads. But, that’s OK. I killed a deer with one of them, and I am massively confident in them.

I would like to deer hunt with Spitfires someday, but to be honest, I am so sold on Killzones that I am reluctant to switch. I first tried them on a recommendation from the guys at A1 Archery in Hudson. These guy are serious hunters, and nearly all of them use Killzones and love them. They have always steered me right, so I easily chose to buy Killzones. Plus, one of the guys at A1 installed replacement blades on three of my heads when I bought the blades there. That’s customer service you can’t beat!

So, with all due respect to Chris, I probably will be taking my Killzones back into the woods this fall for deer. Now, if he wants to send me a set of Spitfires to try, I would be happy to do so. I’m sure they would perform admirably.

On the other hand, I’m not looking to fix something that isn’t broke. I have shot at three deer with Killzones and killed them all. One of them I did not recover until the next day, which was too late because the coyotes got to it first. That’s on me for not the greatest shot placement (a little far back that resulted in the deer jumping up and running when I went to track it).

So, if I just make sure to execute proper shot placement, I think my Killzones will do a great job. But, it sure is nice to know there are other great options, too. But, whatever NAP mechanical broadhead you choose to use, Chris wants to offer one CRUCIAL tip: Replace the blade after every animal you harvest with it, NO MATTER WHAT. Chris was emphatic on this point, and NAP offers replacement blades for both the Spitfire and the Killzone. They’re about $15 for a pack of three, and worth the money. To me, it’s like sharpening your hook after every fish you catch.

My Spitfire Gobbler Getters arrived in the mail recently. I’m excited to use them!

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Minnesota turkey lottery: I’m a winner!

February 12, 2016

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Late yesterday afternoon I decided to check the Minnesota spring turkey lottery results. This year, the first two seasons are drawn by lottery. Prior to that, it was the first three seasons. And, another change is every season but the last is now seven days long instead of five, which means every season will include a weekend. I was thrilled to go online and discover that I got picked for the first season. Praise the Lord!

For about the last 10 years, I was hunting later in the spring, during Season E. But, I changed my thinking after having a tough hunt during the E season last year and having some great action with my daughter Claire during the first season. We only hunted one day, but she got a chance at two gobblers that I called in during the first hour, along with nine hens.

The landowner told me about a spot where he always sees birds, especially during the early seasons, and I set up the blind for Claire and I there. Sure enough, we had action. In fact, there were two vocal toms roosted within 40 yards of the blind. It’s about as close to a roosted gobbler as you can get.

It was not fun watching those two toms run away after Claire missed the shot. I have kept thinking about those two birds, and decided that I wanted to try to hunt that spot again during the first season. Thankfully, I’ll get my chance after getting picked in the lottery. I am super excited about a first-season hunt.

I wasted no time getting on the phone to talk to the landowner where Claire and I hunted. I also called his next-door neighbor, who also has a nice piece of land with birds on it. In fact, Claire and I went there after she missed the shot at the two toms, and we had a bird gobbling there, but he wouldn’t come in. I also took my son Andy to this property about six years ago, and he shot a nice tom after three came in.

I was able to reach both landowners, and secured permission to hunt there first season. I’m stoked! I have hunted early seasons quite a bit over the years, and have had success more often than not.

One challenge is there are lots of hens running around at that time, and gobblers find them soon after flying down from the roost, and often stay with them all day. The key is to do one of two things: 1. Find a tom that isn’t with hens, or 2. Call the hens to you and bring the tom along.

The latter isn’t necessarily easy, but it can be done. I have done it a number of times, including last spring with Claire. Usually, if a hen starts talking, you can call her in. Just mimic what she does, with just a little extra volume and intensity, and she often will come in eventually. But, it may take a while. Also, the tom sometimes will hang back even after the hens come in, but eventually he should come into range.

With seven days to hunt this year, I’m optimistic. It will be fun coming back to the property where I killed my first Minnesota longbeard in 2003. In fact, it happened very close to where I was set up with Claire last year. I hunted the property for several years and killed another nice bird there in 2004. Then, more hunters started showing up and I ended up going elsewhere to hunt.

There are still a high number of hunters on the two properties, but there also is a high and stable population of turkeys. And, between the two properties, I will have more than 600 acres to hunt. So, even if there are other hunters out there during first season, I should be able to find good spots to set up.

The key is to do scouting and find several areas where birds are hanging out.I have walked both properties extensively both in spring and fall, so I have gotten to know them well. That should pay dividends this spring.

It’s now time for the next step of my preparation: practicing my turkey calls. I have done a lot of practicing over the years, so it shouldn’t take much to get me ready. I use mouth calls, slate calls, box calls and other friction calls. It helps to be versatile, and sometimes, turkeys seem to favor one call over the others. I’ve never been able to explain why. I just know that it happens. So, I want to be ready with whatever call will work.

I also got the chance to call a landowner in Wisconsin to get permission to hunt the fourth season there, which begins in early May. This is my top property to hunt in Wisconsin, both in terms of good bird numbers and in terms of the fellowship I have with the landowner. He is a wonderful, kind man and we have struck up many a conversation at his house when either my hunt is over or I’m taking a break.

We had another great conversation last night, but he told me his wife has cancer and has been struggling with her health. The treatments have helped, but some of the cancer is still there. He said she feels a little depressed about it, which is understandable.

Seemed like he needed to talk about it, and our conversation lasted quite a while. But, I paid no attention to the clock as I spent time talking with this fine man. In fact, he inspired me by telling me that he now tells his wife every day what she means to him.

That’s a great example to follow, and I was able to tell my wife Julie what she means to me. I did it last night and again this morning, and want to do it every day. I told the landowner I would be praying for he and his wife in the coming days. May God restore her to health and bless them for their continued generosity to me!

 

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Sighting in new crossbow a breeze

February 11, 2016

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Got my hands on my new Parker Bushwacker crossbow last week. I didn’t wait long to put it together and sight it in.

I found it simple to put together and easy to use. I really like the way it feels in my hands, and it was amazingly easy to sight in. I started out at 10 yards, and it was very close. I moved back to 20, and it was just a tad low and to the left. A few clicks on the scope adjustments and I was dialed in dead center.

I took a few more shots to make sure, and every one hit the bullseye. I am supremely confident about hunting with this weapon. And, my hat’s off to Parker for making a solid crossbow that I’m sure will take down some animals for me.

I plan to use it this spring for turkey hunting. There’s a place in Wisconsin where I bow hunt where the landowner only allows bow hunting. And, with crossbows being legal for any hunter in this state, I plan to try mine there.

Should be fun. I feel confident I can make a shot on a gobbler out to at least 20 yards, even though a tom’s vital area is only the size of a tennis ball. The crossbow certainly is capable of hitting the target.

But, a critical decision is what broadhead to use. After doing some research online, I plan on trying the Spitfire Gobbler Getter by New Archery Products. It’s designed specifically for turkey hunting, and it has features to help put the bird down where he stands or close to it. Many hunters agonize over birds they hit with an arrow, but run or fly off. My brother-in-law just recently told me about a friend of his who hit three turkeys while archery hunting last spring, but didn’t recover any of them. That’s definitely an outcome I would like to avoid!

I may also try archery hunting for turkeys in Minnesota with my compound bow. An archery tag is good for the entire spring, so that would give me lots of time to try for a gobbler. I applied for the first season in the lottery. If I don’t get picked, I’m seriously thinking about buying an archery tag. I consider getting a turkey with a bow to be the supreme challenge in archery.

I need to decide if I’m up to the task!

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Archery season ends quietly

February 3, 2016

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It’s finally over. I went on my last archery hunt of the season Sunday, Jan. 31. In Wisconsin, one piece of property I hunt is located in the Hudson Metro Subunit, with an extended season that goes through Jan. 31.

I hadn’t hunted there since November, so I went on Saturday morning and did some scouting. There was deer sign aplenty throughout the property, including fresh droppings. I found a promising spot and threw down some corn, as baiting is legal in Wisconsin.

I went back to the spot Sunday afternoon for one final sit, with my friend’s crossbow in hand. When I got there, I checked the corn pile and did not see any fresh deer tracks indicating that deer had found the corn.

So, I went to a different spot where I had seen a good amount of tracks on Saturday. I set up in a cluster of pines and waited.

Nothing showed, and I spent the last 10 minutes of shooting light walking around to see if any deer were moving. None were, which resulted in a quiet ending to the archery season.

It was a season of peaks and valleys in terms of deer movement, with mostly valleys. There were many hours in a stand in both Minnesota and Wisconsin when I didn’t see a single deer. I blame the unusually warm fall, which may have been the culprit again last night, with temperatures near 40 degrees in the afternoon.

No matter when it is during the archery season, the colder the weather, the more deer move during daylight hours. I am hoping next year won’t be this warm. I talked to a lot of hunters during the season, including some who spent many days in the field, and they all reported drastically reduced deer sightings.

I know some people think the problem is lower deer numbers, but I hunt in areas with healthy deer populations. In fact, the deer sign on the property I hunted yesterday was very good. The deer are there, they just haven’t moved much during the day.

Well, I can’t complain. I had a good season overall, and was able to take two antlerless deer, one in Wisconsin with a crossbow and one in Minnesota with a shotgun. There’s plenty of venison in the freezer and my family is enjoying it. We had venison meatloaf just last week, and I will be making venison stew later this month.

So, I give thanks to the Lord for the blessings of this archery season!

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New Parker crossbow on the way!

January 29, 2016

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After lots and lots of research, I finally made a decision to purchase a crossbow. I had used a friend’s Excalibur crossbow in the fall and took a doe with it in Wisconsin, where crossbows are legal for all hunters with an archery license.

I enjoyed it so much, I decided I wanted one for myself. I shot several and really liked ones made by Parker. They have two lower-priced models that are nearly identical — the Enforcer and the Bushwacker. The former sells for $500, the latter for $400.

That’s low when it comes to crossbows, but still more than I had hoped to pay. I was hoping to pay $300 or less, but the more research I did, the less that seemed possible. I did see one for less than $300, but a guy in the archery department at Cabela’s advised against it. He was high on Parker crossbows, saying he does not see them get returned, plus they are made in the U.S. with a lifetime warranty.

I tried one out in two different stores, and they just felt good in my hands. The next task was trying to find the lowest price possible.

Today, I got a nice blessing when a guy from Parker emailed me that the company had some older Bushwackers (pre-2015) that they were closing out. The price was great — $225. Needless to say, I jumped all over that and ordered one right away.

It should come in the next week or two. I’m excited to use it, and may try it in Wisconsin during the turkey season this spring. One landowner where I hunt only allows bow hunting, so I’ll be good to go on his property with my new crossbow. Plus, I likely will be the only turkey hunter on his land this  spring.

I can’t wait to try it. And, of course, I will use it in the fall. My journey to crossbow ownership all started with some nagging shoulder pain that significantly influenced shooting with my compound. Now, I have the option of using the crossbow in Wisconsin. And, at age 54, I only have a few more years to reach the age requirement of 60 in Minnesota for crossbow use.

I’ll  be sure to follow up with more information about how the new crossbow shoots. Stay tuned!

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Bow hunt yields surprise sighting

November 24, 2015

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A surprise encounter with Donnie Vincent led to a photo opp with this hunting video producer.

A surprise encounter with Donnie Vincent, right, led to a photo opp with this hunting video producer.

The best thing that happened on my bow hunt Sunday morning took place after I climbed down from my stand at 11:15 at Mr. Snowman’s Christmas Tree Farm near Prescott, Wisconsin. I had seen five deer but failed to get a shot opportunity.

Would have been nice to draw my bow, which I haven’t done this fall. But, three of the deer were running (a small buck chasing two does) and out of range, and the other two were behind the stand and did not walk down the trail and past me.

That’s OK. I have two deer at Stasny’s Meat Market in St. Paul for processing (one taken with a gun, the other with a crossbow), so I don’t need venison. I was planning on donating any deer I shot to friends who need the meat. In the end, I was happy with the morning, and with seeing the five deer.

But, the best was yet to come.

I was coming back to my car, and happened to strike up a conversation with someone who was there with his wife and three dogs to cut down a tree. Turned out to be Donnie Vincent. He produces what I believe are the best bow hunting videos on the planet. My son Joe got me started watching them last year. His wife shot a photo of Donnie and I with my iPhone. It was very cool. I texted the photo to my son Joe, who thought it was awesome. He replied that he felt a little jealous.

What’s even better is Donnie agreed to go into the woods with me and check out my stands and the ridge I have been hunting for two seasons. Turns out he found a tree that was rubbed multiple times by what he believes to be a big buck. The trail goes right past my stand. He also found a spot where I could set up my ladder stand and get shots at the trail the buck was using, plus a flat area down the hill from my stand that the deer also use. Both would be about 20 yards.

How cool is that, having Donnie Vincent scout my area and tell me the exact tree to set up my stand? I feel like I can’t go wrong. I will move one of my stands to that spot very soon, and I will be ready to go for next year.

In the meantime, I am thinking ahead to Dec. 25. Donnie said he is going to release another video right before Christmas. You can bet it will be on my wish list. His videos are unlike anything I have ever seen. They are about way more than just the kill, featuring spectacular cinematography. The landscapes of the places he hunts are absolutely stunning, and are well worth getting the videos for.

I also like how Donnie captures the entire hunting experience, including failures and disappointments. He is not afraid to include missed shots in the videos, in addition to his personal thoughts about those failures and about hunting in general. It is clear he is a highly reflective person when it comes to hunting, which is a big reason why I like his videos so much.

I also like the fact that he is very humble. He comes across that way in the videos, and in person. I had no idea who he was when I saw him on Sunday, and I just walked up and started talking to him. He showed no trace of pride or arrogance, and eagerly agreed to take a picture with me and take a brief walk in the woods to look over my hunting area. And, his wife was very gracious in not only taking the photo of Donnie and I, but letting him step away from their Christmas tree search to do a little scouting with me.

As a person, as a hunter and as a video producer, I give Donnie Vincent five out of five stars. He’s a class act! And, I hope all  serious hunters —especially bow hunters — will take the time to watch his videos.

If you have a hunter in your family, I believe you can’t go wrong in buying him or her one of Donnie’s videos. They are a nice thing to watch during the long winter months.

And, for those who are interested in buying a Christmas tree, Mr. Snowman’s is a great place to go. It’s just a little more than 30 miles from downtown St. Paul, so it’s not far. The owner, Charles MacDonald, a retired physician, said this year was a great growing year and his trees are robust and healthy.

So, for those who maybe have had artificial trees up to this point and are thinking about getting a real tree, this year is an excellent time to make the leap. Mr. Snowman’s features the opportunity to cut down your own tree, or get a tree on display that already has been cut.

Looks like the weather will cooperate over Thanksgiving weekend. Just be sure not to wander into the woods beyond where the trees are, in case I am sitting in my stand.

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Deer hunting 2015: a bountiful harvest!

November 16, 2015

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This nice doe was taken with a crossbow in Wisconsin.

This nice doe was taken with a crossbow in Wisconsin.

On the crisp afternoon of Nov. 13, I sat peacefully in a deer stand in Wisconsin with my hands tucked into a camo muff.

Some important items were inside the muff — chemical handwarmer bags and a blaze orange rosary.

Never heard of a blaze orange rosary? Well, you obviously have never been to St. Hubert in Chanhassen. I procured my set of beads there Nov. 8, the day after the firearms deer opener and the day the parish celebrated the feast of its namesake, who also happens to be the patron saint of hunters.

I was first introduced to my deer hunting patron in 2012 by my oldest son Joe, who encouraged me to pray to St. Hubert. I did and was rewarded with a 10-point buck in the final minutes of the 3A firearms season, the largest I have ever taken.

Father Bruno Nwachukwu of St. Hubert in Chanhassen dresses up as St. Hubert and passes out blaze orange rosaries the weekend of Nov. 7-8.

Father Bruno Nwachukwu of St. Hubert in Chanhassen dresses up as St. Hubert and passes out blaze orange rosaries the weekend of Nov. 7-8.

Thus, I was highly motivated to come to St. Hubert parish to claim a set of blaze orange rosary beads. I also was treated to the sight of Father Bruno Nwachukwu, the associate pastor who dressed up as St. Hubert and handed out the rosaries and posed for pictures with a blowup deer.

By then, my hunt was well underway, and I was celebrating the success of the previous day. My friend and hunting partner, Bernie Schwab, and I both had tagged button bucks on the opening day of the 3A firearms season Nov. 7. They were considered antlerless deer, and were legal in this zone under the Hunter’s Choice rule, which allows hunters to tag one deer during the entire fall season, buck or doe.

With that accomplished, I was now trying to fill one of my archery tags in Wisconsin. I sat for six hours in a stand on one piece of property I was hunting the morning of Nov. 13, then switched to another farm after seeing no deer.

When I climbed into my stand at 3 p.m. with a little more than two hours of shooting light left, the high winds were starting to calm. I was optimistic that a deer would step out near my stand. I was hunting with a crossbow, which I had decided to do for the first time this year. Crossbows are legal in Wisconsin, and I wanted to try one out. Thanks to the generosity of a friend, Gary Altendorf, I had one in my hands on this cool afternoon.

Throughout the first hour of my sit, I fingered the rosary beads and said a few prayers to Mary. I don’t know how much pull she has in terms of bringing a whitetail my way, but I thought a Hail Mary or two couldn’t hurt.

A little after 4 p.m., I heard some rustling in the thick brush to the north of my stand. I knew this was a bedding area, so I started to feel anticipation. The noise got louder and closer, and I sensed a deer was near.

Then, only about 20 yards in front of me, a nice doe emerged from the brush and walked right at me. This is a fine shot if you’re holding a gun, not so much if you have a bow in your hands, even a crossbow. There’s a lot of bone in the way of the vitals when a deer is coming straight toward you.

I wondered if this deer would walk right under my stand. Then, a few seconds after this doe popped out, another one emerged behind it. It followed the first, but then turned slightly away from me to nibble on a branch.

That exposed part of its front flank, and I saw my opportunity. I put the crosshairs of the scope on it and popped the trigger. The arrow (called a bolt) found its mark and hit the deer in the spine. It went down immediately, which meant there would be no tracking required.

Most bow hunters will say that tracking a deer after it’s hit is the hardest part of bow hunting. After having done it a few times, I would agree. So, I was very relieved to not have that chore ahead of me.

I did put a second shot into the deer to make sure it was down, then I went and told the landowner. She offered to drive her tractor up to the spot where my doe was. I quickly and eagerly accepted.

Within an hour, I was on my way back to St. Paul and Stasny’s Meat Market, where I get my deer processed. The guys there do a great job, including owner Jim Stasny, who almost always is there to check in my deer. Their summer sausage is legendary, and I always make sure to order some.

I now have two deer at Stasny’s. Both were young, which will make for some good eating.

The good news is I have more tags left to fill in Wisconsin. I still have my buck tag, plus a county doe tag. I can buy more bonus doe tags if I want, which is a nice option to have.

But, I have not been seeing nearly as many deer as last year, so I’m not sure how many more shot opportunities I will get. I think the warm weather in October and November severely curtailed deer movement overall, especially during the daytime.

That’s why the cooler days are so important. A chill is in the forecast for later this week, and I will take Friday off to hunt. It’s the day before Wisconsin’s firearms deer opener, so it will be the last day of quiet before guns start blazing in the badger state.

After shooting my compound bow year round, it sure would be nice to draw back on a deer. Maybe, Friday it will happen!

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Turkey talk proves fun

October 12, 2015

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I decided to buy a fall turkey tag this year. Part of the reason was to gain more woodsmanship and knowledge of the birds, which will hopefully bear fruit next spring when I chase gobblers.

Another reason is for food. Wild turkey is excellent to eat, and I don’t have any left in my freezer. I got just one bird this spring, so I want to get another one for the freezer.

I should be writing about doing just that, but the truth is, I blew two golden opportunities. It showed that I’m rustier than I thought. Despite getting a late start, I had a shot opportunity minutes in to my hunt at Spot No. 2. I was walking along a narrow cow pasture, then spotted movement just on the edge of the woods. I saw two hens walking into the woods, but thought they were out of range.

Looking back, I don’t think they were. I could have raised my shotgun and fired, and more than likely would have dropped one of the birds, but instead I pulled back and tried to circle around and stalk in on them. But, when I got there, they were gone. Fall turkeys move almost continuously in the fall, so you’d better take a shot when you get the chance.

I moved to another area of the property, and set up at the top of the ridge. The landowner said there were birds in the area, so I sat down and did some yelps and lost calls (called the kee kee run). To my delight and surprise, a hen yelped back. She was either at the bottom of the valley or up on the other side. I couldn’t tell.

We went back and forth for probably about 10-15 minutes, but she didn’t seem to get any closer. Then, she shut up. I figured she wasn’t willing to come that far, and that I would have to go to her.

That’s exactly what I did. I hoofed it around to the other side of the valley. Just as I got there, I heard a yelp. To my utter frustration, it came from right where I had just been sitting and calling. She came after all.

It was not a happy moment for me. I sure learned my lesson. From now on, I’m going to stay put. The flocking instinct is strong in the fall, and turkeys just seem to want to gather up with other turkeys, even if they take their sweet time. Now I know.

Hopefully, I will be a better hunter next time. I definitely want to get after fall turkeys again this season. I have until Nov. 1 to hunt. But, I want to save those last few days in October for bow hunting. That’s when the real fun begins!

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Don’t forget about turkeys this fall

October 2, 2015

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Hunting seasons are open in Minnesota, and I have been focusing my efforts on bow hunting for whitetail deer. But, a package that arrived in the mail yesterday pulled my attention toward another game animal — the wild turkey.

The fall season for turkeys opens tomorrow, and will stay open until Nov. 1. With a new call in my hand, I want to go after these birds. It’s a simple mouth diaphragm call, but it’s wickedly good at producing the full range of hen calls, including the kee-kee run they use in the fall.

I have tried and tried to do this call over the years, which is a series of short, high-pitched whistles, but have failed miserably. That is, until I tried a mouth call from a company called Tom Teasers in Georgia. The company makes one called Cracked Corn, which I got several years ago and hadn’t gotten around to trying yet. I picked it up earlier this summer and decided to try it out. I gave the kee-kee one more try, and to my surprise, I did it beautifully on this call!

What’s more, I was able to do all kinds of other hen sounds really well, too. Just like that, I found my new go-to call. I decided to call the company to say how much I like this call. I ended up on the phone with Tommy Walton, the owner and founder. We talked for a while, then he generously offered to send me some more Cracked Corn calls, plus several other mouth calls. He even threw in two beautiful box calls!

I felt like I was in heaven. When I got ready for bed last night at 11:30, I couldn’t resist trying out the new box calls. I worked them softly, then decided I would really fire them up this morning.

In a word, they’re awesome, too. So, thanks to Tommy for getting all of these great calls in my hands. We talked about turkey and deer hunting over the phone, and I told him he should come up here to hunt sometime. It’s a long way from Georgia, but we have some good opportunities up here.

Maybe he’ll take me up on that sometime. If he does, I know what calls I’ll be using on our turkey hunts!

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Archery season finally underway

September 28, 2015

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I finally got out into the woods with my bow over the weekend. With my wife on retreat and my two kids living at home having plans for the evening, I went to one of my hunting properties in Wisconsin to sit in a stand.

I am excited about this stand, which is set up along a trail that runs parallel to a ridge along the St. Croix River. Early season is always a crapshoot, but I fully expect this spot to be good once the rut kicks into high gear and the deer start moving more during the day.

It was a gorgeous evening, and I was all smiles as I climbed into a stand for the first time this season. I settled in and leaned back against the tree where my ladder stand was positioned. There was lots of squirrel activity, and a couple of them chattered at me for a while. They will often do that when they spot a hunter in a tree. I find it annoying, but they usually quit making a racket after a while.

With about an hour of shooting light left, I heard some noise below me about 25-30 yards away. I looked down and saw a deer walking through. It was out of range, and I could only see part of it. But, I did make out the legs. It walked and stopped a couple of times, then continued on. I pulled out my grunt call and gave a few grunts in case the deer was a buck.

Whatever it was, I was not able to steer the deer my way. That ended up being the only one I saw. I’m not disappointed at all. I enjoyed a beautiful evening, and at least saw a deer. Last year, I didn’t see a deer from my stands until Nov. 1.

I can’t wait for the rut to get going. In about a month, things should start cranking up. I hope to spend plenty of time in my stands. The good news is, when the timing is right, sometimes the sits are short, meaning a deer comes by early and I get a shot off. Two of the three deer I have taken with a bow have come before 7 a.m. The third came at 11 a.m.

When it comes to deer hunting, timing is everything. That’s why I plan to be in the woods as much as I can in early November.

 

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