Archive for the ‘Hunting’ Category

img_0259Deer season has some rewards that lead to good turkey hunting. I have gone out several times this fall with very limited success. Taking new friend Gary Anderson from Lawrence, Will Falley and brother Seth, but all with no success. I have scouted for them and had birds in easy gun range on several occasions, but didn’t want to shoot and ruin the site for them on the next day or weekend. Then along came deer season. O.B. Caudle allowed me to hunt out of one of his wonderful tower stands. On one morning 4 nice toms paraded in the field before me and I enjoyed it immensely. Then O.B. told me about a hunter seeing several nice toms on another field in the early afternoon. O.B. even had some great trail camera pictures of them. On the last day of deer season there they were as I attempted to climb up into the tower on the north edge of the field 250 yards away. O.B. asked if I wanted to hunt birds in the morning. I didn’t but I knew where I would be that afternoon.img_0231

Dashing around the house at nearly 1 PM and I still am not able to locate my gloves from the previous day. Finally I decide to use a new pair before I am too late for my 2 o’clock rendezvous. I drive the 10 miles and jump out (quietly and quickly) moving to the location where the toms were the previous day. I set down where I think is a good spot and here what I think is a cluck. Then looking over the shooting lanes determine that I will not be able to shoot where I need to if they do come into range. I look and find a tree 5 yards away that will be a much better spot. I move and as I settle in I hear another cluck this time certain. With mouth call inserted I let out two yelps and am answered immediately. Within seconds there is rustling in the grass to the north of my location. Another cluck and there they are, 6 toms and the long bearded on leading the charge. Right into the opening that I had just cut a couple of small brushy limbs from obstructing. Boom roars my M-1 and 5 toms head for the timber leaving behind their previous captain. Tagged and totting the tom back to the truck I check my phone and it is not yet 2 PM. “When you are going to get one. . .”


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 For the first time ever I was able to talk my wife into purchasing a tag the spring. We have gone out several times using a blind a friend loaned me. On this day we took the blind, two chairs, two guns, my vest, and snack food.  I feel more like a pack mule that turkey hunter.

Upon arriving at one of my favorite spots we can see the turkeys down in the corner of the field about a half of a mile away. The only way to get there without them seeing us is to walk up around through the north pasture. Additional walking for the pack mule is worth it for the chance.

As we walk over the ridge to the extreme north through the binoculars we can see three Tom’s fighting. Finally after a nice 30 minute hike, we are within 150 yards of where we saw them earlier. Putting up the blind is out of the question because of noise but there is plenty of coverage with weeds and overhanging lambs. I crawled through the grass to the edge of the field and put out the full strut Tom decoy. 

Crawling back through the grass to where Charlene is I give her gloves and a mask. She looks pretty cute. Just before I put on my gloves and say to Charlene, “Let’s pray.”

“Dear God bring us a turkey, amen.”

I just about have my gloves and mask on when she mentions something about the decoy moving. Somehow a Tom has snuck in and I tell her it would be best to shoot him since he’s only 10 feet away. Her gun is on safety and in the confusion the Tom sees us. Fortunately we’re the only ones with guns and I drop him with Winchester 6 shot.

Immediately a series of gobbles ring out from down the hill. They gobble again and again and again. Here they come. Five tom’s through the bushes gobbling their heads off. We can’t shoot but enjoy the show. After about 10 minutes they move off.

 A thunderstorm is bring to the west and so I load up the pack mule and carry everything out. Charlene has her cap on and I think she’s carrying the snacks, but she sure looks cute (I did say she looks cute didn’t I).

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Michelle & Ron are great friends

 A couple weeks back I saw a really cool hat with a turkey embroidered on the side. BNSF was on the front bill of the cap. Told a friend of mine who works there about it and they bought me the hat as a gift. I offered to pay for it she refused asked instead I take her son on a hunt. Taelur was up to the challenge. 

We had been out twice. The first time it rained and we never got out of the truck. The second time Tom strutted 300 yards out but never moved any closer. Tonight didn’t start out well as a farmer was discing the field next to my first choice. I called a friend about a second option and got the go ahead.

Moving down to the bottom of the ravine I spotted a Tom striding strutting in an open meadow about 400 yards away. We quietly moved to the edge of the field after he moved off and set up shop. Afternoon hunts are normally very quiet but soon toms were gobbling all around us like the middle of the morning. After about 45 minutes there was movement things look promising but it was a deer. Then another deer and another deer and another. Seven in all graced the meadow.

It was now nearing sundown and a Tom’s appearance seemed unlikely. They were moving west on the other side of the ravine it sounded.  I cut once and yelped a few more times on top in 15 minutes the sun would be down. After a five minute silence suddenly there was a series of gobbles on our side of the ravine. Two hens popped out into the field. Not far behind them a nice Tom. He looked our way for a moment and then started striding our direction. “Get your gun up,” I whispered, “it’s show time.”  

The old boy came within 15 yards decoy and stood. A tree blocked Taelur’s shot. Tom backed off 5 yards put his head down for his last supper, a gnat. Quickly Taelur moved his gun and with the Tom’s head back in the air I whispered for him to shoot. At 26 paces was the prize. Even though Tarlur has a broken ankle I still thought he had to carry the bird out which he did valiantly.  

Up the hill with your prize

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Not very “purty” all covered with mud.

Two and a half weeks into the Kansas season and finally have something to show for it. I had taken Brad McNary out a 10 days ago. Four nice Toms came into us. I shot first but a bush blocked a lot of my #5’s. Brad followed up and was able to take one. I have scared several off the roost and finally last Saturday had two jakes come in serving as a moral victory.

Sunday , Bill Becker asked how I was doing this season. He felt so sorry for me he asked if I would like him to call for me. So this morning he took me into the woods. No luck though we did call in two skunks. A pair of hens walked past as well Bill told me, but I didn’t see them.

After working in the yard I decided to reward myself with a trip to the field. I parked at the top of the hill near the cemetery in case a tom was near the gate. With gear all gathered I slowly walked down the road with an occasional crow call hoping to not startle a lazy strutting tom in the hay field.

I took my largest tom ever from the same spot but had been unable to draw three toms in from near this location the night before. I hope the past is more likely than the night previous. Just as I finish putting out the first decoy a tom gobbles back to the north and east. Surprised to hear because a farmer was spraying the field east as I walked down the road. I quickly decide to put out the other three decoys and move into the base of a fallen tree in the fence line.

As I spread out my calls on the ground around me the tom sounds off again north. I call a series of yelps and a tom sounds off west and south. Both sound off again within 15 minutes. I call again and the bird to the west gobbles substantially closer. I am able to see much of the hay field, but can’t see the bird. Several more gobbles from both directions and a few calls from me. Suddenly two jakes appear directly east. I move my head to see them and they raise the heads and begin running back east. How did I scare them?

My thoughts are interrupted with a loud gobble west. I slowly turn my head back and there is the big boy. That’s why the jakes took off. He crains his neck and studies the layout. After a couple of minutes he takes a couple of strides my way and stops behind a tree that stands between us. I decide to adjust so that I can take him in the west hay field, but now there is another tom standing where I first saw him. He trots down to where the first tom is. That tom gives him a jab for crowding him. They both move to the fence.

Under the fence they go and the lead tom is now in half strut. Looking directly at the decoy the night before that scared him off he moves in closer. With each step he saunters in he swells a bit more. I think I will try to take them both and I move the shotgun to the other side of a limb directly in line with my strutting decoy.

At the blast of the gun the tom folds to the ground but the other bird lifts skyward. I take a shot, but it is wasted lead. I spring forward to gather the bird that is down and he turns head over heal. By the time I reach him he is near the top of a ditch full of muddy water from the cattle tank just up hill. I can’t catch him and down into the mud he falls, flopping, flapping and kicking mud in all directions including me. That which only moments earlier was a thing of beauty is covered with “crap.” Not much for pictures, but mine altogether.

Back at the truck he weighs in at 22 lbs. 11 oz, and an eleven inch beard.

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Chatter from AboveOn the limb above me he chattered. I was in complete camouflage with a face mask and gloves, but he knew I didn’t belong. I enjoyed our conversation, but I think he was displeased. It was a simple thing, but a treasure.

There are often treasures in life that have very little monetary value but warm a heart and bring a smile. I have been reading of becoming more aware of them through the writings of Ann Voskamp. I must admit I play the part of the squirrel far too often. I chatter and moan about the interruptions that take up my world. Things that are out of place and I don’t think belong are an irritation and I bristle at the thought of having to put up with them.

I ask forgiveness endlessly for my chatter in the face of such blessings. One of the great values of hunting for me is that it leads me into a place where I can see treasures, but that I can’t talk or they will disappear. I sat still recently for over two hours while hen turkeys moved through and even napped within a few feet of my location.

I get paid for talking in part, but I remind people that preachers are not paid for overtime especially at noon on Sunday. Talking when there should be stillness is like the pig with the gold ring. Whatever the beauty that could be the smell prevents the seeing. Words can stink even when they are true. They tend to spoil and rot when piled up needlessly.

These are the words that get in the way of hearing God. They can echo so loud that one can’t hear the whisper of the near God. God’s words are so valuable that sometimes He doesn’t repeat them for the noisy soul.  Noise is often the byproduct of the heart that is troubled with life’s challenges.

David was fleeing Jerusalem with Absalom closing in to take over the city. All David’s men are noisy, but somehow David’s soul is still. The catatonic scenes rise in volume until Shimei is shown dusting David with rock and cursing. Enough shout David’s men, but David calm still speaks, “It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good” (2 Sam 16.12).

Clearing the noise both outside and from within is not an easy task. It is a discipline that many think is unnecessary or impossible. I have not perfected it, but I am learning to admire it. I think its admiration is part of its learning. The strange function is that silence to the noise does not yield immediate answers.

Truth is this, some things learned cannot be taught, but are learned only by experience. My children teach me this all the time. I see them doing things I used to do, but no longer, and I am glad, but I cannot give them a reason. I am not frustrated by this. I understand now better the value of aging.

Perhaps we can find stillness in more moments by listening with more than just our ears but even our souls. It is scary to be this vulnerable with God on the loose. Yet, I am sure He can be trusted to speak what we really need to hear.

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two hens prunningSunday afternoon, Brad and I went to collect some firewood. The winter just doesn’t want to give up. With a bed full of wood we drive around just to see if there are any birds out. A large group of toms run from the field into the pasture that I have permission to hunt. I look at my watch and tell Brad, “I’m going to be here tomorrow.”

Daybreak I am watching a group of three tom’s strut, but I can’t wait as Leon is heading out of town and I want to see him. I’m planning on going to Kelly’s this afternoon, but the clock won’t move fast enough. It is only 11, but maybe they will be there early. I go ahead and drive out to where we saw the birds yesterday. I put out a full flock of birds, a tom, a jake and two hens. Just before noon a hen yelps behind me and walks through the decoys and on out to the south. Maybe she will bring in the rest of the birds. A half hour later she returns, and moves in close. Not more than a few feet from me but I can’t see her behind a limb that is hanging from the fallen tree that is serving as my backstop. I finally get my head twisted around and I can see her. She is laying down taking a nap about 10 feet from where I am uncomfortably watching. I slowly move to a slightly better stance and hear another bird behind me. It’s a second hen and she too moves into the 10-20 foot range and takes a nap with the other bird. It’s about 1:30.

My rear end is about as stiff as can be and it’s been over an hour. I check my phone it’s 2:45. I’m close to paralyzed. I p

IMG_1420op a knuckle and the birds stand at attention. After about ten minutes they begin to calm back down, but I have to move or I am going to die. My leg spasms from a cramp, and the birds  crane their necks to get a better look. They start to cluck. I fear I am busted after over 2 hours of stillness. Behind me I hear a high pitched “put, put, put”. I groan another hen. But alas a flash of black moves to my left peripheral. A

nice tom is strutted up next to the decoy. I decide to just swing and shoot before the hens see me. Down he goes and I struggle to my feet with a frozen knee and the other leg asleep. I never even see which direction the hens went, but I role over the tom to see a great pair of spurs. It takes more time to get the blood back into my limbs then it does to gather the decoys, but I have the finest trophy yet in my career.

24 lbs 6 oz, 10 1/2 beard, & 3 inchs of spurs total up to 75.375 point tropy

24 lbs 6 oz, 10 1/2 beard, & 3 inchs of spurs total up to 75.375 point tropy

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According to the game camera the old toms were coming by this opening about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. That’s what O.B. told me. The timer wasn’t set correctly, but it was close enough for a try. I put away my things and headed out as soon as I could that direction the clock read 2 in my truck and it was a twenty minute drive.

In the rush to leave the home, I had forgotten my Walker Game Ears, binoculars and hunting tags. At least I had shells. Then a quick Bad luck can let the air out of a good hunt.glance down at the truck revealed the flat tire. It would need changed, and hopefully I would be back before dark. I have learned sometimes a whole lot of bad luck adds up to good luck.

I moved in quickly it was now 2:30 PM and I really wasn’t sure from what direction the birds came. Above the area where the camera had been I see what appears to be several birds on the opposite side of the field. If I had my binoculars I could tell better what I was seeing. I crawl the rest of the way in not sure if that was the big toms or not.

Now that I am in the  location that O.B. recommended I am trying to find the exact spot that he mentioned, but I can’t be too particular because that may be birds on the other edge of the field. Did I say that I left my binoculars behind. I make my first call on the slate call that Ryan gave to me. There they go to my south and west three big black spots moving fast on the other side of the timber line. Not sure if they are moving in or away, but as fast as they are moving something scared them. Probably me from when I crawled in and didn’t check the end of the field close enough.

The woods go quite now. It is the quite you have when you know something is close, but you just haven’t spotted it yet. There it is a doe. Probably a yearling. She is at the corn. Directly behind the thicket that I thought would give me some good coverage. I don’t have a shot. No big deal with the doe, but I can guarantee that those birds if they show up are going straight to the corn that is still there. The better part of 45 minutes she walks around and inspects the entire opening. It sure helps a guy to stay still when a deer is close by checking out everything. As soon as she leaves I am going to adjust my spot to be able to shoot toward where she has been. Finally she moves off into the brush and I think I can swing around to a bit better position.

Not so fast there was a cluck and now into the meadow comes two long beard toms. If they move about twenty yards east and I won’t be able to shoot at them. That is exactly where they are going, to the very spot where the deer had been, just like I suspected. I think the lead bird is in range and I have a good look at his beard. I let my first shot go. He staggers and drops, the other bird is there too. I aim and shot, but miss. He is directly in the sunlight and my shot really wasn’t a very good effort. The first bird now is up and starting to run. I shoot again and he takes the air. At the top of the trees he folds his wings and drops. I am going to need to run him down.

I reach the other side of the field where he is settling into the bottom of the dry creek bed. I take my last shot, a very hurried effort, and clean miss him. He starts to run. I am not more than twenty yards from him, and it is clear that he is not going to go far. I make the dash to grab him and trip over a tree limb. The second sprint meets with a great deal more success, and I have him in hand and with a quick flip am able to ring his neck. I gather back to my original position and realize that I am missing my cell phone. Back to the creek and I find it where I fell down.

Twenty minutes later back at the truck I start the work of changing my flat still no cell tower or I would have asked O.B. to come help. Finally with tire changed and the sun well down over the horizon, I show my prize to O.B. and then later Sean Kahler. Number 80 with only one tag left for this year. With any “luck” I’ll be able to fill it too!

20 lbs, 11" beard, 3/4 spurs.

20 lbs, 11″ beard, 3/4 spurs.

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