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Friday, November 28, 2014

Called in Hunter While Turkey Hunting (Blog 218)

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and Virginia's one-day Thanksgiving Holiday turkey season was in.  Content with my deer season, I decided to go turkey hunting, especially since I had trouble finding birds during the two-week early season which had ended.

So given the fact that the general firearms season was in, I decided to go hunting on some private land in Botetourt County where only I had permission to hunt. Setting up in a woodlot where I could view a woodlot and fields on both sides, I began calling.

After about 90 minutes of not having any luck, I saw another hunter "sneak hunting" toward me.  The man did not have any blaze orange on (which is illegal) and I saw him cross the property boundary (another illegal act).  He clearly was stalking me, or more precisely my turkey sounds.

In such a situation, the conventional wisdom is not to make any movements since an unethical hunter could shoot at any movement.  So I began yelling that someone was "over here."  I had to shout out four times before the man stopped and acknowledged me.  The man said he was "hunting."

I told him I was through for the day and the woods were his.  I don't like to argue with someone who is not obeying the law and who can not see another hunter with blaze orange on and just 40 yards away.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New Editions ofJames and New River Books (Blog 217)

Much of this past summer was spent with my revising my first two books, The James River Guide and The New River Guide.  Now, my publisher has informed me that the new editions of both books will be out shortly.

This has been the most intense year of writing I have ever experienced in my 31 years a freelance writer and photographer.  The second edition of my Shenandoah and Rappahannock Rivers Guide and first edition of my South Branch and Upper Potomac Rivers Guide both came out in late June.  Plus, thus summer I took a class for recertification of my teacher's certificate.  It seems like I worked nothing but 12 to 14 hours each day.

Hopefully, readers of the new editions of the James and New will think my effort was worth it. By mail, both books cost $19.75 and that includes tax and shipping.  To order, send a check to me at 1009 Brunswick Forge Road, Troutville, VA 24175.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Peregrine Falcon Makes Kill (Blog 216)

Last week while deer hunting, I espied a raptor speed across a cornfield and make a kill.  Witnessing hawks or owls kill a rodent, mammal, or bird is not uncommon while I am afield, but there was something different about this bird of prey.

The first thing I noted about the bird was its blue-gray back and its large size, then I noted the long, pointed wings and long tail - and I experienced an eureka moment - it's a peregrine falcon I said to friend Doak Harbison who was sharing the blind with me.

The sighting was in Botetourt County, Virginia, and I can't remember the last time I had glimpsed a peregrine in my home county.  I will look for this predator the next time I go to the cornfield.

One of the best things about being an outdoor writer is that when I go fishing or hunting, I am always going birding at the same time.  Birding enriches the overall outdoor experience for me.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Hermit Thrush and Questions of Mortality (Blog 215)

A few days ago, I was filling up the waterer for our Rhode Island Reds, and I noticed a hermit thrush flitting about on the ground.  I walked over to the bird, and to my surprise, it did not fly away.  It was then that I picked up the thrush and realized that it was either sick or injured.

What to do? A cold night was the forecast, so I decided to put the bird in our garage overnight.  The next morning the thrush was still alive but also still unable to fly.  Then, I had another philosophical thought.  Should I put the thrush back outdoors and let it come apart of the food chain (as some predator was liable to eat it) or keep it in the garage where it would no doubt die in a few days.

I decided to do nothing.  The next day when I opened the garage, the hermit thrush flitted out and into the front yard...which is where I last saw it.  Several days have passed, and I can only assume that the bird is now dead.  I don't know which predator killed and ate the thrush, but I know that the thrush's likely death is the natural order of things.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Opening Day of Virgnia's Early Muzzleloading Season (Blog 214)

It's opening day of Virginia's early muzzleloading season, and, as I write, an hour before shooting light.  My two muzzleloaders, a Knight Bighorn and a Thompson Center Triumph, have been patterned, but they reside currently in my gun case.

The problem is the weather.  The forecast has improved somewhat, but for much of the day the prediction is that rain and/or brisk winds will occur.  Here in Botetourt, only bucks are legal, and that means that I would have to have a mature 8 pointer come by my stand as I am not interested in shooting a young buck.

Of course, I could drive to Franklin County where the landowner called me last night and invited me to come.  But that is a 124-mile round trip, and I still don't like the look of that sky.  But doe season is open today in Franklin, and I could also pursue turkeys before going on deer stand.  Maybe, I should  take my crossbow and go out and hunt behind the house...maybe not though because if the rain returns it would be difficult to track a whitetail's blood trail.

So here I sit undecided.