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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Rhode Island Reds See Their Snow (Blog 369)

Elaine and I have two flocks of heritage Rhode Island Reds living side by side in separate enclosures. We call the older chickens the "Big Reds" and the younger ones, the "Little Reds." This morning, the Little Reds experienced their first snow, and their leader, Don Junior, an eight-month-old cockerel, stuck his head out the henhouse door, saw the snow, emitted an alarm note, and promptly announced to his flock in chicken speak that it was not safe to go outside. Approximately, a half inch of snow had fallen overnight.

Of course, next door, Don Senior resolutely led his flock outside and began to do what chickens do best... eating. Meanwhile, I had to lure Don Junior, who so far has not taken after his father in bravery and leadership skills, out of the house by dangling bread bits a few inches in front of him. Once Don Junior was down on the ground, I had to physically remove the rest of the flock to join in.

Last winter, when snow fell one weekend, the younger flock stayed inside for several days, and a mite outbreak took place.  I don't know if that was because they remained inside for several days, but I am going to try to make sure that an infestation does not occur this winter. One way to do that is to make sure our flock spends time foraging - not cowering inside.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sitting Out the Last Day of Virginia's General Firearms Season (Blog 368)

Today here in Botetourt County, it is the last day of Virginia's general firearms season West of the Blue Ridge. Here I am working on a magazine article and my next Young Adult fiction novel. Elaine's and my freezer is almost full, and I wouldn't mind taking one more doe, but, honestly, I am looking forward to the late muzzleloader season.

I love that season and that time of the year. The weather is usually cold, sometimes, like last year, there is snow on the ground the last week of the season, which is the first week of January. Trudging through the snow, searching for deer sign, trying to dress warmly enough so that I can sit still for hours - it's all so challenging and exhilarating.

Quite frankly, most years I don't kill a deer during the late season, so my success rate is rather pathetic.  In fact, last year during the six antlerless days in Botetourt County, I never saw a doe, just four or five non-shooter young bucks. But during Virginia's late season, just being out in the woods is a good enough reason to be there.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Eve with the Family (Blog 367)

Elaine and I usually celebrate Thanksgiving Eve at our house with our daughter Sarah, her husband David, and their children Sam and Eli. And so it was last night. The only person missing was our son Mark who is in Alaska teaching.

Elaine fixed a scrumptious venison vegetable soup, made from a deer I had killed and for dessert we had crabapple muffins from our Dolgo crabapple tree. After dinner, we called Mark and visited with him for a while. It was a really good evening.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Virginia Bucks in the Morning, Does in the Evening (Blog 366)

Sunday morning, I went deer hunting on one of our properties in Craig County. I set up high on a ridge where I could overlook a feeding flat below, a place I have killed a number of deer over the years. With the general firearms season in and my being afield with a rifle, I was looking to kill a nice doe or a mature buck.

However, I never saw a doe all morning, though I did see four young bucks, drifting through the area and periodically fighting with each other. The sightings were extremely exciting because at one point, I had bucks around me for almost an hour.

That evening, I went hunting on our land in the Eagle Rock area of Botetourt County. I had never hunted the property before, just having bought it last year.  So I arrived at 2:00, set up by 2:15 and killed a doe by 2:30. I think I will hunt this property more in the future.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Virginia Muzzleloader Season Success (Blog 365)

After not being able to hunt Monday through Wednesday of the first week of Virginia's muzzleloader season, I finally was able to plan an after school hunt in Roanoke County. I drove quickly from school to the Roanoke County food plot that was my destination and about 90 seconds after I set up, the deer began filing into the plot.

First came a two pointer, then a nice  2 1/2-year-old six pointer, then another two pointer, and finally a doe. I watched the doe for about two minutes, then she moved slightly and I was able to make an easy 35-yard shot.

Saturday, I am heading for West Virginia to turkey hunt in the Jefferson National Forest in Monroe County. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, November 6, 2017

No luck on Opening Weekend of Virginia's Muzzleloading Season (Blog 364)

I was very confident that I would kill a deer on opening weekend of Virginia's muzzleloading season. I had chosen to hunt a food plot in Roanoke County so that I could kill a doe, given that every day in Roanoke is antlerless during the smokepole season.

However, the action was slow Saturday morning, and the evening was even slower. I saw a non-shooter six pointer but that was about it. A doe came near my blind but it spotted me in the blind...which is the last time I won't have a face mask on.  Sunday was even slower as I saw no deer all morning and when around 9:45, a youngster on a an ATV started driving up and down a nearby road, I decided it was time to go home.

I was hoping to go Tuesday morning because we have a school workday beginning at noon, but the forecast is for heavy rain...so I guess I will just have to wait a while.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Success on Opening Day of Virginia's Fall Turkey Season (Blog 363)

What an incredible morning on opening day of Virginia's fall turkey season. I had three flocks within 100 yards of me at dawn - too many it seems for me to decide what to do, which caused me to sit tight for several hours. That indecision caused me to wait several hours with the result being that all three flocks left for who knows where.

But one I started moving about, I encountered a flock of birds and ended up taking a hen from it. It is always a thrill to kill a turkey on opening day of the autumn season.