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Friday, November 25, 2011

Great Thanksgiving Hunting (Blog Sixty-one)

The hunting for my family and me could not have been any better on Thanksgiving Day.  That morning, my son-in-law David found a deer that he had shot late Wednesday evening.  Meanwhile I went fall turkey hunting on a Botetourt County farm where the landowner had assured me that I would be the only one afield.  Normally, I don't like to turkey hunt on Thanksgiving Day given the fact that so many others will be deer hunting.

But since I had the farm to myself, I went out after turkeys and at 7:35 A.M., I called in and killed a jenny.  Later that day my son Mark drove to a nearby Botetourt County farm, where the plan/hope was for only Mark to be hunting and for him to kill his first ever deer.  At 4:55 that evening, Mark did just that, a very satisfying event for the both of us.

Elaine even was involved with the day's events.  As she was assisting me in the cleaning of the turkey, I asked her if she would make me a river smallmouth-type fly out of one of the feathers - and that she include the fly in my Christmas stocking.

Who knows, maybe I will catch a smallmouth next summer with a fly made from a feather from a turkey killed on Thanksgiving morning.  Again, what a memorable day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Don't Hire Me as a Guide (Blog Sixty)

Every year, several individuals ask me if I can take them on a guided fishing or hunting trip.  I think there are several reasons this happens.  The first is that three of my four books on river smallmouth fishing have the word guide in them, and the second is that because I am an outdoor writer, I guess some people assume that I am a guide or that I can guide them to success.

Neither assumption is true.  In fact, I have a terrible record as an informal guide on hunting trips with friends and family.  Today, opening day of Virginia's firearms season, was a good example of why this is true.

This morning I took friend Doak Harbison on his first deer hunt.  The outing was at a Franklin County farm where I typically see more deer and have more success than any other farm that I have permission to be afield on.  Before sunrise, I brought Doak to a stand site that I had hunted twice last year and had killed deer there both times.  Also, my son-in-law David had hunted there three times this year and last and had tagged does  on two of those occasions.

Thus, I had taken Doak to a place where 80 percent of the time it had been hunted, a hunter had gone home successfully and 100 percent of the time deer had been spotted.  Furthermore, the landowner had told me that locale was a hot one this year.

The result: Doak and I stayed on stand from before sunrise until around noon - a solid 5 1/2 hours - and never saw a deer...or a squirrel...or a game animal of any kind.

Again, don't hire me as a guide.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Deer Hunting Doldrums (Blog Fifty-nine)

My son-in-law David and I spent the entire Saturday muzzleload hunting for deer on family land in Craig County - and had nothing to show for it.  At least David had an excuse, he saw no whitetails the entire day.  I, on the other hand, saw two.

The first doe came by at 7:40 A.M., and quite simply, I blew the shot.  I am still not sure what I did wrong, but the last David and I saw the doe that I shot at, she was walking calmly up the mountain.

Once while at a fishing event, a crowd member came up to me, introduced himself, and told me the thing he liked best about reading my magazine stories  was my writing about the blunders I make while afield either fishing or hunting.  "You sure seem to make a lot," the guy chuckled as he left.

Well, now, sometimes it surely feels that I do make more than my share of snafus.  The second and final doe sighting of the day was at 12:45, not the typical time one expects to observe whitetails.  The doe was within range, but I never had a killing shot, so I never fired.

The high point for the rest of the day was observing a fox squirrel feeding nearby, interesting because it featured a black face and black feet. 

I can't wait to hunt before school on Monday.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Turkey Eggs (Blog Fifty-eight)

We are enjoying the bounty of eggs, finding five in the next box on most days.

However, this week we were able to try out something a bit different.  A co-teacher of Bruce’s has both chickens and turkeys, and the turkeys seem to be seasonally confused at the present, laying in abundance.  So Bruce came home one day with four turkey eggs for us to sample.

They were quite attractive- larger than our hens’ eggs and barely fitting in the egg carton niches, and a lovely cream color speckled with dark brown – reminding me of the spatter painting I did as a child using a toothbrush and screen wire.  I wanted to keep the eggs as a display, so I pierced each end with a knitting needle, then blew the contents into a bowl for scrambled eggs…. a good way also to do a taste comparison.

The yolks were a paler yellow than our girls’, and the scrambled eggs had what I would describe as a creamy taste, almost as if cream cheese had been added.  Four eggs made three sandwiches, a bit larger amount than four hen eggs would have provided.

And now the empty shells have been added to our “Poultry Museum” of household d├ęcor.