This spring, turkey season has had its highs and lows. Have you ever had those hunts where everything that can go wrong does? This season has been full of those hunts. Overall, it should have been a good year. I've called in several birds but something would always seem to go wrong before I could close the deal. One hunt was blown by two deer running between me and a bird I was working. On another hunt, I called a big Tom into shooting range but my camera man wasn't able to get the bird into frame. I called this same bird in again two days later only to have another hunter slip in between me and the bird and blow the hunt. On our Up North Journal Pro Staff hunt in Kentucky I was able to call in a big strutter and roll him at 35 yards only to have him flop over the edge of a 80' bluff. I wasn't able to recover that bird. Persistence finally paid off when I teamed up with a good friend and we were able to take a decent bird on the last morning of the season. It's always good to end on a high note.
On another note, everyone remember to keep all of the storm victims in their prayers. As most everyone knows, Alabama was devastated by tornados last week. There are still people missing and lots of families have lost their homes and loved ones. I don't think that there is anyone in the state that wasn't affected by the storms in some way. But with all of your prayer, God will help us get through these tough times. No prayer goes unheard.
The bucks are finally rutting here in central Alabama where I live. There is one week of deer season left so burn those vacation days and stay in the woods all day. Bucks are on there feet and moving during daylight hours so get in the woods early and stay late. The bucks are covering lots of ground looking for receptive does so I like to hunt travel corridors and doe bedding areas at this time. Bucks will be scent checking these places regularly. Clearcuts seem to be good also. Don't be shy about using grunt calls and can calls. They can be really productive right now. I used a grunt call to call in a 8 point two weeks ago and a combination of tending grunts and doe bleats to call in a nice 9 point on Jan. 20th. We've only got one week left so make the best of it. Stay in the woods all day, hunt those areas with lots of doe activity and use your calls.
Team Up North Journal takes first place in the Campbell Outdoor Challenge Whitetail qualifier by successfully filming the successful harvest of a 239lb. 8-point buck and a 151lb. doe. We arrived in Carmi, Illinois at 10:00am Saturday, October 23. The ten competing teams selected their hunting areas through a random drawing and were allowed to scout the areas that afternoon. The challenge began Sunday morning with the conditions not being ideal for hunting with 20-25 mph winds and the temperatures reaching the upper 70s. Even with these tough conditions, most teams were able to get some good footage but there were no successful harvest videos for the first two days of the competition. Tuesday morning, hunting was canceled due to tornado warnings and hurricane-force winds. After the storms passed and conditions improved, teams were given the choice of seeing their secondary hunting areas or continue hunting the primary areas. I chose to continue hunting our primary area because we were seeing quite a bit of buck activity, just no shooters in range. The area that I had chosen to place our stand was a hardwood flat on the bank of the Wabash River. Most of the trees were chestnut oaks or commonly called "swamp chestnuts". The deer were browsing through this area in the mornings and evenings on their way to and from the cut corn and bean fields that surrounded the hardwood flat. Wednesday morning we woke up with temps in the upper 30s but the wind was still howling at 20-25mph. We saw several small bucks and a few does on our morning hunt. I noticed that the deer were focused on several red oaks that were scattered in with the swamp chestnut trees. I decided to move our setup downwind of a large red oak that was dropping acorns. I knew that this would be a hot tree because of the fresh sign underneath. About 45 minutes before dark, a spike and a large mainframe 8-point came in and began picking up acorns under this tree. The 8-point turned broadside for me at about 35 yards but Randy couldn't get him in frame because of a tree obstructing the camera view. The deer continued to feed on acorns and Randy finally said "I've got him in the camera; take the shot". The buck was about 45 yards away and working his way out of range. This wasn't the shot I was looking for but I knew it was now or never so I turned the arrow loose. I could tell by the sound of the impact and the way the buck ran off, it was hit hard. We found good blood and I could tell the deer was lung hit. But after blood-trailing him for about almost 250 yards with a small flashlight, we decided to pull out and resume the search the next day when we had better light. Thursday morning, we found the buck about 50 yards from where we had marked the last blood. The filmed buck harvest put us in 1st place going into the last day but it was a close competition and I knew that we needed a doe harvest to hold onto the lead. Friday morning about 7:45am, we had 7 does and a small 8-point working their way into range and began feeding under the same red oak that I'd taken the big 8 from. I was able to make a 20-yard shot on a 151lb. doe that sealed the deal for team Up North Journal. My camera man, Randy Adams did a great job filming both hunts under tough conditions. The first place win earned us a spot in the 2011 professional Campbell Outdoor circuit. This is a 4 hunt challenge against the top pros in the outdoor filming industry and guarantees a $100,000 purse to the winner. Additional information can be found at Campbelloutdoorchallenge.com.
The Alabama Archery season opened this weekend with perfect weather; sunny with highs in the mid-70s and lows in the low 40s. My new PSE Bow Madness is setup and sighted in. I replaced the factory string with America's Best custom bowstring and installed a DragonFire ThermoGrip heated handgrip and stabilizer. This is a really sweet shooting bow with this setup and I've been looking forward to breaking it in.
Saturday morning I decided to hunt a piece of property close to home where I had been getting some pictures of nice bucks on my trail camera. I set up on a well-traveled trail that ran parallel to a fence line about 15 yards inside the woodline of a hardwood flat. Most of the water oaks and the red oaks in the area were dropping acorns and there were lots of sign showing that the deer have been feeding on the acorns. I found a fence crossing that intersected the trail and decided that this should be a good place to setup. Saturday morning began with high hopes. Randy Adams (my camera man) and I were setup before first light. About 7:15AM, a couple of deer starting working their way down the fence line toward us. But, the wind betrayed us and the deer blew us out before they got into bow range. I decided to move our setup about 20 yards down the trail in a large pine that offered a little more cover and elevation. Sunday morning we were back in the new setup before daylight. About 7:30AM, we had two does work their way into range. Both deer were acting a little nervous (probably the same deer that had blew us out the day before). The lead doe turned to look back at her companion and gave me a perfect 25 yard broadside shot. My TEKAN broadhead hit her behind the left shoulder. I would have liked to have waited a little longer so that Randy could have gotten more footage but the trailing doe was acting really nervous. So, I decided to take the shot while it presented itself. My new PSE was fast and true.
I have one more week to hunt here in Alabama before I'm off to Carmi, Illinois for the Campbell Outdoor Whitetail Challenge. The Campbell Outdoor Challenge is a 5-day team event where a bow hunter and camera man team compete against other teams across the country. I'm hoping we get a little more practice in this week. We will need to bring our "A" game to compete against the caliber of hunters that we will face next week. Look for us on the VERSUS channel. Game ON!
This past week, I had the rare opportunity to mix a little pleasure into a mid-week work day. We were working at a residence in my hometown of Chelsea, Alabama. The home owner who is also a good friend of mine has about a 3 acre lake on his property and informed me that it was stocked with bream and also had some pretty nice largemouth in it. Tuesday morning before leaving home for work, I grabbed a couple of reel & rods and a small tackle box out of my boat and stashed them in my truck. As we were working that morning, I noticed that the bream were feeding pretty heavily on top and I would see an occasional swirl that I recognized as bass attacking these bream that were feeding on top. For lunch I decided to grab a reel & rod instead of a sandwich. I tied on a 1/4 oz. War Eagle spinnerbait and began waking the bait just under the water's surface in the area that the bream were feeding. When it was time to call an end to lunch and get back to work, I had six very nice bass to show for the effort with the best four fish weighing over 5 lbs. each and the largest exceeding 9 lbs. Best lunch break I can remember!
Spring is in the air. It seemed as though winter would never let go but the last two weekends here in central Alabama have turned out to be absolutely beautiful. The temperature finally broke the 60 degree mark which usually happens here the first or second week of February instead of March.
The longer spring days and warmer temperature usually make for very busy weekends. Between some pre-season scouting for the upcoming turkey season and assistant coaching duties for my son's baseball team, I managed to find time to clean my boat and prepare my fishing equipment for a little on the water fun. After re-spooling my reels with new line and making sure all my boat batteries were charged, it was off to the lake to make sure my outboard would still crank. Because of the high ethanol levels in today's gasoline, you have to take all the proper steps to prevent serious damage to your outboard before you put it in storage. Even if you are going to let your boat sit for only 2 or 3 weeks between use, it is still important to treat your fuel with Sta-bil or some form of fuel stabilizer and let your outboard run for about 5 minutes to allow the fuel treatment to circulate through the entire fuel system. I usually try to go one step further and add ethanol treatment every time I fill up. Even with all of the precautions, I still catch myself crossing my fingers when I go to start my engine after it has been sitting for any period of time.
Well I guess the storage treatment paid off because my Yamaha fired up on the first try. I backed my boat off the trailer and checked the water surface temperature in Beeswax Creek where I had decided to launch. The water temp was 50.7 degrees F, perfect for a pre-spawn crankbait bite. After a short run up the main river to make sure all was well with my boat and outboard, I returned to Beeswax Creek and began throwing a crawfish colored SR-7 Shad Rap that I had pre-rigged on one of my cranking rods. I fished this bait on several secondary points and around isolated clumps of coontail grass. When it was time to load my boat back on the trailer I had managed to put a couple of Coosa River spots in the livewell that weighed in the 3 to 3.5 pound range and had caught and released one egg laden largemouth that was pushing 6 pounds, not bad for the first day on the water this year. See you on the water or in the woods or maybe both.
Another deer hunting season has come and gone.Sept. 4th opening day of bow season in Kentucky was where the fun began for me this year. On Sept.5th I had filled my buck tag on a soybean field in western Kentucky.What a great way to start. Alabama's bow season still a month and half away and I had already got the monkey off my back.
Oct.24th my camera man Glenn and myself were rolling into Carmi, Illinois for 5 days of competion at the Campbells Outdoor Whitetail challenge,a team event where a bow hunter and camera man team compete against other teams from all over the country. This is a great event that I would highly recommend trying if you ever get the oppurtunity.The accommodations and staff were all first class. By the end of this event I had filled my Illinois buck and doe tags and had a coyote as a bonus. We were lucky enough to get this all on video. It will be shown on the "VS" channel later this year. As soon as the air time is anounced, I will post it on my blog.
From Illinois it was back home to Alabama. The Alabama season was very tough this year. We had lots of rain which resulted in a bumper acorn crop,and plenty of other food sources that were abundant throughout the entire season. This was good for the deer but made trying to pattern food sources hit or miss at best. The abundant food sources combined with two full moons in January, and a late Alabama rut that didn't get into full swing until the 3rd week of January kept the deer in nocturnal pattern. It appears that the best hunting conditions will take place after the season is over which is often the case in Alabama
Even with the tough conditions in Alabama, the season as a whole was still a memorable one. I was able to fill my buck tags in 3 states along with a couple of does and a coyote.
Well Febuary is here so it looks like predators and pigs until March. I guess everyone knows what March brings? Gobble! Gobble!