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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Opening Day of Virginia's Turkey Season (Blog 318)

As much as I enjoy deer hunting, nothing is more pleasurable for me to do in the fall than to pursue turkeys.  So when opening day began yesterday, I was on a Botetourt County mountain.  I heard birds on the roost and began an arduous climb to them.  Periodically they called back, but the terrain was so steep and the woods so dry, I had to take my time reaching the flock.

When I finally did make visual contact, I saw that there were four of them and they were 75 yards above me near the crest.  From the sounds/tones of their voices, they were old hens without their offpspring - more evidence, as shown from biologists' reports, that the hatch has been failure.

I called to the birds as they looped around the side of the mountaintop.  One paused briefly stared down below, then continued with the quartet.  I knew then that I was doomed to catch up with them and several more hours passed as I tried to relocate the flock - to no avail.

I then went to another farm that has always had birds in the past, but this year it does not.  I will try again at a different farm this morning.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Virginia Bears Are Abundant (Blog 317)

Next month, I have a story coming out in Virginia Game & Fish on bear hunting in the state.  One of the topics I cover is the state's burgeoning bear population, and yesterday I saw yet another example of that.

Friend Doak Harbison and I drove to a Botetourt County farm to bow hunt for deer after leaving our teaching jobs at Lord Botetourt High School. When we reached the gate where we would go our separate ways, Doak and I simultaneously spotted a bear near my tree stand.

The creature stood and watched me as I approached it, and, since I wanted to climb into my tree stand for the evening, I had to scare the bear away from my position.  This I did by clapping my hands and yelling at it.  After two attempts by yours truly, I finally convinced the bruin to depart.

Son-in-law David Reynolds and I have discussed trying to kill a bear on the Botetourt County land where our respective families live.  Given the large bear population, I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of us tags one this year.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hunting Fall Turkeys in West Virginia's Mountains (Blog 316)

Come autumn, my favorite thing to do is pursue turkeys, so I was extremely disappointed when the heavy rains kept me from going afield opening day of West Virginia's season. But with the precipitation at an end, I was able to go afield the following week on a mountain in Monroe County just outside of the community of Pickaway.

I had heard the hatch was largely a failure not only in West Virginia but also in Virginia, and such certainly seemed the case on that Monroe mountaintop as I neither heard or saw turkeys or even found any sign.

Fortunately, I had had the foresight to put my crossbow in my vehicle, so I headed for my land in Gap Mills to deer hunt after striking out on turkeys.  Just 30 minutes after climbing into my ladder stand, I killed a deer, which was certainly a nice ending to the day.  But I surely wish I had had a turkey to take home.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Black-throated Blue Warbler while Bowhunting for Deer (Blog 315)

While bowhunting behind Elaine's and my Botetourt County, Virginia house Thursday after school, I saw a beautiful songbird, a black-throated blue warbler, migrating through our woodlot.

The warbler, on its way to the Carribean or perhaps Central America, flitted about for over five minutes, going from tree to tree searching for food.  Interestingly, there were two of the warblers, perhaps a mating pair that were on their migration together.

I didn't see a single deer that evening, but the warbler sighting made the outing worthwhile.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Opening Day of Virginia's Bow Season (Blog 314)

Last Saturday, I blew an opportunity at a nice doe on opening day of West Virginia's bow season, as I moved into position to shoot at the wrong time.  It was one of those times that a whitetail "appeared out of nowhere" it seemed. This morning on opening day of Virginia's season, I watched a deer slowly approach me for some 15 minutes.

So I had plenty of time to position myself and release a good shot.  I cut out the bottom loins for a future meal as well as the heart.  Larry Proffitt, Elaine's and my friend whose family runs the famous Ridgewood Restaurant in East Tennessee gave us some of their Ridgewood Bar-B-Que Sauce back in the spring when I hunted with him.

Elaine is going to barbecue the heart with Larry's sauce, and we look forward to trying it out.