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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Success in the Virginia Spring Gobbler Woods (Blog 336)

After hunting Virginia's spring gobblers for ten straight days during the time I was on break from school, I was a little frustrated about my inability to call in and kill a time.  I had spent five of those days on Elaine's and my land in the Sinking Creek Valley of Craig County, last Monday making the fifth visit.

As I was leaving the property for the day and walking down the mountain, I decided to yelp one last time, and sometimes that last yelp can be a big deal.  For a gobbler answered about 300 yards away. I set up quickly and for the next 75 minutes, the tom answered sporadically.

Then, suddenly or not so suddenly, given the nature of turkeys, he was standing 40 yards from me, peering down the mountain toward me.  I gave him a few more coaxing calls when he seemed unsure of whether to walk toward me - then in he came. He was a typical two-year-old tom with 4/5-inch spurs and the standard nine-inch beard. Gone was the frustration from the previous days.  I'll concentrate now on tagging a West Virginia tom.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Racket in the Virginia Spring Gobbler Woods (Blog 335)

This morning while pursuing gobblers in Craig County, Virginia, I debarked from my car about an hour before sunrise.  After walking up the mountain for about 10 minutes, I made a barred owl call and, by my count, I heard six different coyotes yipping.

That caused, by my count, four barred owls to start calling which resulted in, by my count, seven different gobblers sounding off.  It was the most racket I have ever heard while spring gobbler hunting and it was still well before sunrise.

The gobblers and owls kept hammering at each other for another 30 minutes.  But by 7:00 or so, the woods was quiet and stayed that way, except for a few gobbles, the rest of the morning.

I have been out seven straight mornings in Virginia and have heard gobblers every morning but have yet to see one.  On my annual Tennessee hunt the first weekend in April, I only saw one gobbler in three days.  Fortunately, I killed him, but my tally of seeing just one tom in ten days is more than frustrating.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Best Birthday Present Ever: Carolina Wins National Championship (Blog 334)

This week I turned the momentous age of 65, but what I always will remember about this week was University of North Carolina winning the national championship for the sixth time and for the fifth time since I have been a fan.

I started rooting for UNC in 1966 when my sister Janice and I decided to pick a college basketball team as our favorite and have remained a hardcore fan ever since.  When I was growing up, Dean Smith was a role model for me and has remained so during my career as a teacher.  Coach Smith's precepts on how to treat people, an emphasis on working hard and playing by the rules, and always being on time and trying your best have always meant a great deal to me.

So when UNC went on an 8-0 run to win the NCAA championship Monday night, I told Elaine what I wanted for my birthday - a book covering the 2016-7 season - hopefully there will be one.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Signs of Spring -Bear Wrecks Compost Bin (Blog 333)

Signs of spring are all around Elaine's and my Botetourt County, Virginia home.  A winter visitor, a hermit thrush, is singing his mating song, a mockingbird is in full throat, and the mourning doves are already mating.

But a sure sign of spring is our local bears coming out of hibernation.  Yesterday, we were greeted with the sight of a bruin wrecking our compost bin, emptying the contents and pushing/shoving the bin about 10 yards into the woods.

We won't use the compost bin again until December when winter sets in.  Then make sure that its contents are spread earlier next March.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Two Weeks before Virginia's Spring Gobbler Opener (Blog 332)

The two weeks  before Virginia's spring gobbler season begins, I think, is when a season is made.  This is the time when scouting takes place, and I check out farms and national forest land where gobblers may be.

The first week is all about finding the gobblers, the second about determining which ones are more likely to respond to calling.  Tomorrow, Saturday, I'll visit the first place on my list, some property in northern Botetourt County.  I also have scheduled visits to Craig and Franklin counties in the coming days.  By the opener, I should have a good idea where my chances for success are highest.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Gobbling on a Snowy, Virginia Morning (Blog 331)

Tuesday morning here in Botetourt County, Virginia, I didn't have school as some snow fell, the winds were gusty, and the temperature plummeted into the single digits.  Yet, as I did my morning chores of taking care of our chickens, I heard a gobbler sound off in the midst of the snow, wind, and frigid temperatures.

Why would a tom be gobbling in absolutely terrible conditions?  On our land, I've heard gobblers gobbling during summertime afternoons, wintertime cold fronts, and rainy fall days. Turkeys never cease to amaze me concerning why they do what they do.

I've also not heard gobblers gobbling during absolutely glorious spring mornings when all the conditions were perfect and even when the hens were raising a ruckus on the roost.  It is simply a mystery.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Emerald Ash Borer and Ash Trees (Blog 330)

It's a cold March Saturday here in Botetourt County, Virginia, and I am preparing to go outside and cut down ash trees.  In the current issue of the QDMA magazine, Quality Whitetails, I have a story on how the emerald ash borer has devastated the ash trees in this country and such is certainly the case on our 38 acres.

Almost every ash on our land is sick, dying, or already dead, and I suspect the few that are not have the EAB inside them, just waiting for warmer weather to do their deadly work.  Most of our ashes live in our creek bottom, but there are a fair number in our hardwood hollow and one recently cut one was in our backyard.

It is a small comfort that the ashes will be firewood for years to come, but it is a tragedy that they will all soon  be dead.