The AWF, Working for Alabama’s Wildlife & Wild Places

I had the distinct pleasure this past weekend to get a first hand look at one of the premier Wildlife and outdoor habitat preservation and conservation groups in the Southeast. A group we are privileged to have headquartered here in Central Alabama on the beautiful grounds of Lanark Sanctuary here in Millbrook.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation has been working for the wildlife, and outdoor way of life, that many of hold so dear for more years than many of us have been alive! This weekend, they put into action another great event that gave over 250 youngsters a great morning of catfishing on the two ponds at Lanark. The event was outstanding again this year, with many large “cats” caught and even more smiles caught on the many cameras flashing as they reeled in the “big ones”.

I spoke with one young lady who was visiting her grandparents, who live locally, and she exclaimed she came all the way from Seattle Washington for a visit and catching some fish was a real “highlight” of her visit. What a great story she will be able to share with her friends about our great outdoors in Central Alabama! The Catfish, no doubt were a big hit on many dinner tables Saturday night after a great morning of fishing at Lanark, the event was no doubt a big hit for the many adults who helped the kids fish. I took a photo of one young fisherman who caught a big catfish over 5 pounds and happily released it back in to the pond after he and his dad celebrated and got a photo of the “bigun”. He is definitely a future conservationist in the making!

Saturday afternoon and evening, the State Finals for the AWF Wild Game Cook-off Competition began with the winners from all across the state who qualified as the best at their individual competitions cooked a wide variety of ingenious recipes using everything from venison, wild pig, and coon, to the other end of the spectrum with shrimp, fish and wild turkey. I tried numerous sausages  created from various critters, or mixes of critters and a couple of them beat any of the best store bought I have had from a grill!.

The event was a well attended one by several hundred ardent supporters of the AWF and they were not disappointed at all! There was of course the great food, drink and atmosphere galore. Some of the finest outdoor collectibles, outdoor prints, and even Auburn and Alabama prints that I have never found at another venue! It was great!

My oldest son, Hunter, and I really enjoyed the State Finals of the Wild Game cook-off and have made it an annual father, son activity that we are already looking forward to the next one, the Tri-County cook- off in the spring. We saw several good friends who share our passion for the outdoors and the AWF, got to discuss the upcoming hunting season, enjoyed some good easy listening music provided by a really good entertainer, and to relax! That is a great Saturday! Especially for a Summer night!

Check out more photos from the event on the gallery tab.

The AWF and Lanark are true treasures of our area!  Check them out  http://alabamawildlife.org/

Summer is on the way out! Dove Season will be here in just a few weeks!  Time to go shoot some skeet so you won’t miss so many doves! You know you need to!

Until next week – postoak, out…..doors.

The Alabama Gun Collectors Show Today in Birmingham was Great!!

One way to make an outdoor, hunting, shooting, collecting enthusiast happy is a great event that is going on this weekend. It is the summer gun show at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center going on this weekend in the North Exhibition Hall. The Gun collectors association holds four shows a year and each one is well worth the trip! My oldest Son, Hunter and I are the normal participants and we meet my Father in Law and Brother in Law from West Alabama at the show and end it by going to lunch.

It is a tradition we have enjoyed for close to two decades now and we have bought, sold, traded for many rifles, shotguns, pistols, knives, swords, bayonets, old silver coins, war memorabilia, and other assorted collectible items. It really is like a candy store for guys who love guns and we all “are one”!

My youngest son Walt, is at home for the summer from college and went with us today so it was an even better day for him and his brother to have fun together and for “old dad” to enjoy them both as a “guys day out”.  The summer gun show really helps to break up the summertime blues and helps us to hang on until hunting season gets here and dove season is only a couple of months away!

At today’s show, I was glad to see a real good turn out of folks but, did not find too many bargains to bring back home. We only took a pistol and an old British bayonet to sell or trade and came back home with both of them. I did purchase an 1877 French long bayonet with scabbard for a decent price and should be able to get a fair profit from it on E-bay or the Bulletin Board. I also picked up a couple of old shotguns that are pretty neat, one of them is an old LC Smith Double Barrel and the other is a very nice Colt Double Barrel which is a very rare gun that should bring a premium price.

Gun trading really is a great hobby and very gratifying. My other favorite trading, buying hobby is silver coin collecting. However, I was very disappointed today at how high everyone had their silver coin prices set despite that silver price has traded downward over the last few months. Needless to say, I did not buy any coins today and considered going back tomorrow and selling some of mine if I could get the kind of price they were asking!

Anyway, it was another good Saturday to enjoy time away from the rigors of work and have fun with my sons and that makes for good memories to enjoy for years to come.

Last Saturday I went fishing over in Tuscaloosa at my brother in law’s and fished a pond they stocked about three years ago with F1 Tiger Bass. If you have never fished a pond or lake with a good stock of those bass and you get the chance, DON”T pass it up! These fish hit like a normal bass twice their size and are great fighters all the way to the bank or boat.

Even though the weather was sunny and HOT, they were still relatively active and I caught 26 or 27 and kept 6 to fillet for a future meal, before retreating from the heat to go visit my sister and brother in law who live within site of this particular pond. After a 3 hour visit, I returned at dusk to the pond for what I thought would be the best action of the day and on the first cast, I had a big girl with a bad attitude nearly snatch the reel from my hand! I finally reeled her in and did the “Bill Dance” thing since we release all the biggest and smallest back in. I fished for another 30 minutes without a strike and called it a day. The bass had been much more active during the mid day when it was hot and windy than in the cooler, calm evening. I believe when the water got calm, they got spooky and would not bite. I had noticed during the day when they were biting best, I caught more fish in areas of the pond where the wind was pushing water than I did in the corners where the bank protected the surface from the wind.

But, isn’t that part of the best about being outdoors? Observing, considering, strategizing about which method, which materials, which presentation will bring you the desired results as you seek your quarry. Whether it is a big F-1 Tiger Bass, a limit of doves taken by finding the best “spots” in a field that the doves choose to fly over, Getting that deer stand set-up down wind over a promising deer trail or finding the strut zone of an old boss gobbler. Those are the cerebral stimulating exercises in the outdoor world and I love each of them so much that life without hunting, fishing and the shooting sports would be a terrible torture for me.

Next Weekend is the HUGE World Deer Expo in Birmingham so I will be right back up at the BJCC to enjoy some more outdoor sports indoors! Hope to see you there! Check it out !  http://www.birminghamdeershow.com/

Until next week,

Post Oak OUT……. doors

Gun Show Picks 7-14-12

Gun Show Finds, Old Shotguns and Bayonets found today at the gun show in Birmingham. postoak

 

June – A month of Outdoor Opportunities

Chainsaw carving at last years Jakes EventJune is a month that flies by so fast, you might miss it if you don’t get outdoors and do a little of that “carpe’ diem” stuff! Seize the day to go try your luck on a pond, lake, creek, or river. Central Alabama has miles of shoreline and acres upon acres of beautiful lakes to dunk a cricket, drown a worm, or cast a line with your favorite lure for a big bass or a nice bream on an ultra-light reel. I love to fish and plan to take a couple more trips before June has slid right off the calendar.

However, This weekend I will be doing some volunteer work with my fellow Elmore County NWTF Committee members to put on our annual “Jakes Day” event at Fort Toulouse in Wetumpka.This event is one where we teach kids from 5 to 17 about the various aspects of outdoor sports such as hunting, shooting, fishing, Identifying and appreciating nature, crafts such as carving are also part of the exhibits for the youngsters to see and enjoy.

Many of the exhibits are created for the kids to “try it out” BB gun shooting, archery, turkey calling, and even hatchet throwing! It is a great event and one that has one National recognition as the best Jakes event in the entire nation in years past. Our Jakes Chairperson, Carole Matthews and her husband Chet, head up the event along with a small “army” of volunteers will make it once again a great day for kids around Central Alabama to get out and enjoy the great outdoors! Fort Toulouse is a very beautiful and shady location on the banks of the Coosa and a great place to visit anytime. I will be there demonstrating turkey calling and discussing turkey hunting basics for the youngsters. I also make it a point to hand out wild turkey feathers to every kid who wants one and that is usually most of them. What a great use for my feathers from this spring’s birds!

A Gun Collectors show will be coming up next weekend at the Shriner’s Temple on the Eastern Boulevard and I can’t help but go there! I rarely miss a gun show in Montgomery or Birmingham as they are great events to find guns, hunting and shooting collectibles, old coins, knives and other “guy” stuff. I love the gun shows!

June is a great month to get outdoors, don’t let it slip on by you. The 4th of July will be here before you know it. Buy a cane pole and a bunch of crickets or worms then take a kid or some one who has never had the opportunity to watch that cork slip under and feel the fight of a big, tasty bream! As my granddaughters says is is “awesome!”

Until next week,

~Postoak~

Friday the 13th, A Lucky Day For Me and A Unlucky Day for an OLD MONSTER Gobbler!

As I have been lucky enough to do for many days this spring turkey season, I took a vacation day Friday the thirteenth and travelled back to Greene County Alabama for another 3 day turkey hunting trip. And, I will tell you that this one was worth the cost of a tank full of $4.00 gas! I had a very productive weekend of hunting and the Gobblers must have thought they were “Goblins” cause they were sure howling out some big time gobbles all around our lease, fighting each other, and strutting the logging roads all around the property!

On Friday morning, I greeted the dawn on a high ridge overlooking a 200 acres “cutover” that the hens are drawn to for nesting sites and the gobblers were sounding off everywhere trying to persuade the hens to come watch them strut. I heard six different Toms and loving the challenge of another duel with an old bird who had left me crying at the alter of a shotgun wedding a couple of time before this year, when he gobbled, I just had to go try and coax him into losing his head over a sweet girl. It has happened before! I decided that a little variety was in order so I grabbed a jake decoy and started toward the gobbler who was only one hill top over and was commanding respect as all but, one other gobbler ceased to gobble in the general area he was sounding off from. I was able to make it to a small road that is one of his strut zones and stick the jake decoy up in a sandy spot. After hiding well, I sent a soft yelp toward the old gobbler and he blasted a response right back! I was hoping he would come close enough to see the jake “interloper” standing in one of his favorite strut zones and come charging down the road to attack the jake. However, he never crested the hill where he would have seen the decoy and he slowly worked his way toward a big hardwood bottom with each gobble marking his retreat from my location.

Disappointed, I decided to stop that madness and go elsewhere. I retrieved the jake and walked nearly a mile to the area where I heard another Tom gobbling at day break. I was able to find him and he did gobble at my yelps a few times but, he too had retreated from the hill top in the cutover to a hardwood section of woods off of our lease. As I walked back to my truck for a mid morning break, a crow sent out a sharp call and was answered by several other crows and a gobble from the woods below where my truck was parked. I eased down in the woods past my truck and this old gobbler seemed eager but, after a dozen or more gobbles, a hen apparently found him and he went silent. I enjoyed a short break in the hunt with some Gator Aide G2 and pack of “square nabs” ” and pondered my next move.

The morning was weather perfect, the gobblers were active, and I was thoroughly enjoying the fact I was out in the woods away from work and everything else just enjoying the freedom of the spring woods! I decided to do some scouting around our lease and slowly traveled the property roads, looking intently to try and catch a gobbler strutting in a field or down a logging trail that I could drive by and stalk back to for a “set up and yelp” session. The lower end of the lease had been clear cut, bulldozed and wind rowed last spring so none of us had paid it much attention so far this spring, so I decided to “check it out” .

The deer hunters had planted several food plots last fall for the deer and I knew of one where I had killed birds in previous springs when there was a nice stand of timber all around it. Now, it was sitting on an open ridge in a clear cut where you could see a half mile in several directions except for the direction of the access road that had recently been reworked by a bulldozer and when I drove down it and rounded the curve to the food plot, I interrupted a fight between three long bearded gobblers who stopped their bout and took off in separate directions running low and very fast !. I decided that to be a good bet for an afternoon hunt and about 4 hours later, after a lunch break in town, I parked down the road from the food plot far enough away to be able to slip up to the field using the available cover and the wind which was blowing strongly with gusts over 25 mph according to the local weather reporter.

When I got near the food plot, which was planted in a short stalked variety of wheat that had matured and dried, which was attracting the turkeys to come eat, I approached in a crouched stalk mode and it paid off when I got to the curve in the road. There were three gobblers in the field and they were engaged in some sparring and spurring bouts, chasing and jumping up in the air kicking at each other like some kung fu fighters in feathers. I dropped to the ground and crawled away from the food plot since there was no cover to slip into a position for calling or shooting at them. Plus, I still like the challenge of calling the gobbler to the gun, and was a bit disappointed in myself for resorting to the use of a decoy on the morning hunt.

I found a spot about 15 yards back down the road where the dozer has pushed off a drain ditch and there was some good bushes to offer cover and the sun was behind them allowing for a good shade cover in an otherwise sunny area. I got settled in and sent a plain yelp toward the food plot. I waited for a gobble in response but, got none, 10 minutes later I yelped again a littler louder since the wind was blowing toward me from the field and I was not sure they heard my first yelp but, again no response. A little impatient and frustrated, at 5 minutes I sent a loud yelp with a couple of sharp putts on the end and was disappointed with again no gobble and no turkey coming down the road. As I sat for the next 10 minutes trying to decide my next move, I saw a flash of red, white, blue and black as a turkey came charging down the road in a flash and threw on the brakes about 15 steps from me, breaking into a full strut.

Only problem was he was so fast, my gun was still in my lap! in a split second, I made the decision to make the shot and started an extremely slow rise of the shotgun. When I nearly got it to my shoulder, he noticed my movement in the shadow and came out of the strut. However, his Friday the thirteenth just took a very unlucky turn as I snapped the gun to my shoulder and sent a load of numbers fours to him. He was so close, I was able to see the shot cup hit him in the side of the head, along with that swarm of “Federal fours”. I kept my seat and watched him flop a little and when he was done I went over and checked out his spurs which is the first thing I do on every long beard as that is, in my opinion, the true indicator of a trophy tom. When I got a look at the 1=3/4 inch spur on one leg and the broken, but still 1-1/2 inch spur on the other leg. I let out a scream of my own! After all, it was Friday the thirteenth!

Saturday morning I killed another nice Gobbler with a 10 inch beard and 3/4 spurs which made my 4th bird of the season so it is time to be particular about my final bird. Saturday afternoon, I passed on a couple of two year old Toms that I called to the literal end of my gun barrel. I could have swung the barrel and hit one of them in the Head! I had another gobbler come into the food plot but was unable to determine that he was indeed a good gobbler until he had walked out to a distance that was a bit far for a clean shot.

On Sunday morning, I had two big jakes to nearly step on me trying to find “the hen in the bush” ” I was hiding in, and I had two grown gobbler respond 15 to 20 times but, not come in for a closer look. I guess the figured two of their kin had lost their heads the previous two days and no sweet hen yelps were worth dying for, even on Friday the thirteenth weekend!

Check out the spurs on that old gobbler that I have posted!

I am getting lots of big gobbler kills reported and hope you enjoy the pics of those on the outdoor sports photo section!

Send me an email and I will get that picture of you and that gobbler posted! postoakman@gmail.com

Until next week!

~Postoak~

Good Friday was Just That In The Turkey Woods!

Good Friday found me off on another day of vacation chasing those hard-headed gobblers in Greene County. At daylight, I was in position to hear no less than 4 gobblers on our lease and a few more on the adjoining property. They were all greeting the day as the absolutely stunning full moon of Easter was slowly setting in the West and seemed to almost outshine the sun that was chasing it from the East horizon. Just for the heck of it, I gave a couple of owl hoots to see if any other gobblers who had thus far failed to partake in the cacophony, would join in the noise making.

After hearing no additional gobblers sound off, I started down the hill on a small logging road and less than 200 yards from the truck, I bumped three turkeys from their roost. Two of them I got a good look at and could have shot one easily from flight but, I just don’t believe in that way of taking a bird, even in a less than great season as I find myself in. The racket they made, breaking pine limbs and cackling wildly caused the other gobbler who was another 300 yards down in the bottom, who had been gobbling good and was my intended target, to also go silent. I stood there for awhile waiting to see if he would gobble again and not hearing from him in the next 10 minutes, I decided to punt and go to another bird who was next in line.

This however, required me to go back to my truck and unload my four-wheeler due to bad road conditions over the next two hill tops toward the general vicinity of the gobbling bird. When I got over to my intended stopping point, most of the birds had flown down and the gobbling was rapidly diminishing, partly due to their locations in various bottoms that muffled the gobbles but, mostly due to hens who had already made it to them or had communicated they were on the way. I decided to just keep my noise down and slowly make my way along one of the small internal trails to get down to a large bottom where I was almost certain that one of the gobblers had been when he gobbled from the roost at daylight.

I slipped down to a small green field the deer hunters had planted in wheat and it also had some crimson clover that was “heading out” and I have found turkeys to be fond of it when it blooms out like that. The woods on the left side of the field were mostly hardwoods and behind them was the open bottom so I started looking for a spot on that side. The first tree I threw my camo cushion down at was centrally located and was a great cover spot.But, before I sat down, I noticed a small game trail coming out of the bottom and decided the turkey, if he came to the field, might come up that trail so I found another tree about 10 yards to the left and although not as good as the first one for concealment, I figured it would “do”.

I sat there about 30 minutes just letting the nature settle in around me and blot me out of wary eyes that could have seen me enter the field. At 7:45 a.m. I gave a short, plain hen yelp on my Woodhaven Red Wasp mouth call and got an immediate strong gobble from the open hardwoods off to my left at about 150 yards. I did not respond and waited for him to make the next move, only he said nothing more. I had decided to not call much and stuck to that for the next 15 minutes watching for the gobbler to appear. I gave another short yelp followed by two sharp cuts and his gobble blasted off the end of my call! I made up my mind at that point to wait him out and he did not gobble anymore.

After another 45 minutes, I noticed movement on the small game trail I had first thought of sitting at and there he was! He literally glided out in the field and broke into a full strut no more than 10 yards away. He let out a pfffffttt…ummm and shuddered in a drumming motion that I am sure he had used before to make the hens swoon and squat at his feet! He came up out of the strut and looked around as if to say “where are you at hen?” Only then, did he give a suspicious look my way but, thanks to good camouflage clothes and years of experience, I had my gun in position and was a millisecond from the trigger squeeze. He gave that little “putt” as if to say OH NO! but, it was too late. His next thoughts must have been “why can’t I pick my head up?” as it was laying on the ground and he was furiously beating the ground with his wings trying to take flight for an escape! I walked over to him and ended the commotion with a quick “twist” to “relax him”. It was 8:45 on good Friday morning and it was a real good one for me. Bird number two was a nice 20 lb gobbler with a 10.5 inch beard and 1 inch spurs. He was most likely a 3 or 4 year old and was plenty sharp enough on most mornings, just not this one! As I cleaned him later that morning, I found several shotgun pellets in his lower breast that were completely healed around from an old encounter with another hunter. When I find that, I know that I have been diligent, and a little lucky, to outsmart an “educated Tom”. That’s Him in the photo at the top!

I am getting some good reports from hunters around central Alabama and other locations from Florida to Tennessee that the gobblers are getting vocal and hens have started nesting so it should just get better until season runs out for us on April 30th.

If you take a big gobbler, send me a picture and I will be glad to post it with your permission and name on the Outdoor Photo section here at the Advertisers web page! It is easy, just send it to postoakman@gmail.com and I will handle it!

Good Hunting!

~postoak~

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Hello Norman Bates, I Have Met your Kinsmen Gobblers!

As a child, I watched with intense scrutiny and concern the movie “Psycho”. An old Alfred Hitchcox suspense-horror film in black and white who’s main character was a man by the name of Norman Bates. Now Norman Bates had a demented side that caused him to exhibit some psychotic behavior at times. I don’t recall how many folks he murdered in the film, but I do, along with most everyone else, remember the horrific shower scene where he stabbed to death the young hotel guest at his mother’s hotel. It made a big impact on lots of the kids and youth in my generation and we coined the term “going Norman on you” to describe how bad we were going to beat up a buddy by just “going crazy on them.”

Well, it didn’t take long before the Norman Bates description got tagged on to some of the animals we pursued that proved themselves very unusual in behavior and not acting like the other males of the species we were hunting. The term was a mixture of total disgust that the animal would not come in range for a shot, or do the exact opposite of what the other animals were doing. This disgust was also sprinkled with a little bit of respect for the survival instincts that made that particular animal, mostly old gobblers and trophy bucks, almost impossible to kill. We have all faced our “Norman Bates” in the woods and the score has usually gone in his favor. We do “tag one” every now and then and that is what we live to hunt for.

For the past few Springs, A couple of my nephews and I have leased 1200 acres of land in north Greene County for turkey hunting and found the place to be well stocked with birds that I can only describe as direct descendents of Norman Bates ! This year, one of my nephews has killed two birds, both by woodsmanship, not by calling them in, but sneaking up on strutting toms. I have taken a two yr old tom that acted as wary as most 4 yr old trophy toms would in other locations. It took me four hours and three strategic moves to finally get him to mess up and get too close “looking for the hen” who refused to answer his gobbles or show herself. These turkeys are so wary that we rarely see a hen or hear one yelp or cackle. they will mostly just cluck or putt a response to your calls but, stop doing that after and initial few minutes.

The gobblers do gobble back at your calls but every last one, even the young ones, will “hang up” at about 100 yards and gobble at you repeatedly trying to get you to come to them. They just will not come in gun range answering a call in 99% of the cases. I did notice they got a little bit less wary later in the season last year after the hens had started to set the nest so I am placing my hope in that happening again this year toward the end of season. Last weekend, I decided the strategy of the day would be to get “old school” with them and severely limit my calling, call with a small friction call only and limit most of my calls to clucks, putts, and purrs.

Friday morning I awoke to rain pouring outside my window but, got on out to the lease anyway with some optimism about hunting in “wet day mode”. As a child, my dad explained how turkeys like to get out and walk the logging trails or visit small green fields so that was the strategy for the day. Unfortunately, the turkeys did not move, gobble, or even breathe from what I could tell on Friday. Saturday Morning, I again woke to rain pouring outside even after it had cleared off in West Alabama the night before. The weather did clear some around mid morning and I started to hear some gobbling, especially in response to some thunder in the sporadic showers that moved through until around noon. I sat a green field on Saturday afternoon from 4:30 until 7:00 and did not hear a peep.

Palm Sunday morning with a mix of guilt and remorse for “backsliding” and missing church on a Palm Sunday, I was standing on a beautiful hill top well before daybreak thanking God and asking him to forgive my turkey hunting sins. At first light, I heard six different gobblers greet the day and struck out to hunt a location on the lease that I had not yet hunted this year. I hiked over a couple of big hills and into a large open hardwood bottom that was beautiful! I decided to just sit and listen quietly for an hour or until a tom turkey gobbled in close proximity to me. After and hour of hearing nothing, I started out with some very light clucks and a sequence of feeding purrs with a light cluck at the end of each to mimic the sounds I have often heard feeding hens make as they travel through the woods foraging. I would also make it a point to move leaves in a swishing motion to mimic the sounds of a hen scratching back leaves to find food on the forest floor.

Many times, this purring and leaf moving had brought a gobbler in silently or he came in drumming which is great to alert me of his whereabouts. After close to another hour of this activity, with only a cackle and yelp from a passing hen that I still did not get to see, I decided it was time to move. Before I moved, I did decide to break out my mouth caller and give a few yelps since the friction caller was just not getting it done. I started with a plain hen yelp at medium loudness and got an immediate gobble from a turkey that was over the hill in the next hollow. I decided I would cut the distance to him, so I jumped up and ran across the bottom to a brush pile about 200 yards from my previous location. I found a big red oak with some bushes near the base and sat down in a well concealed spot where I had a great view of the transition area I figured him to walk through. A couple more yelps and he gobbled much closer and it was easy to tell he was coming my way. However, like all his kin, he locked up at a hundred yards like he was right on cue.

I was determined to not give him the satisfaction of any more responses, so he started to double and triple gobble, demanding the hen that he heard to come out and walk to him. All I could do was to see if he would let his curiosity, and me, get the better of him. He finally moved into about 75 yards and I could catch glimpses of him strutting back and forth, catch glimpses of his old red and white head fly forward when he blasted out another gobble and hear his loud drumming. He stayed out in front of me doing that for more than an hour and all I could do was watch from my hiding spot. Then he broke out of his strut and started my way, I thought to myself, I got you now! But, he stepped out of view and after 20 minutes of agony from holding my gun to my shoulder and being totally still, I relaxed back against the tree exhausted, and ticked off.

I sat for another 30 minutes and then decided to send out one small cluck. It was immediately answered with an emphatic gobble from him and he had moved up the other side of the bottom and was now a hundred yards behind me. This gave me enough room to reposition and I figured to call him back with some soft clucks. He came back to the end of the huge blown down tree I was sitting on the other side of and I could catch a glimpse of him when he gobbled. He was so close I cold feel his chest rattles when he blasted out the demanding gobbles but, he would not step around the brush top for me to have a shot. Nothing more I could do but wait him out and see if he came around the end. After another 30 plus gobbles, he went silent and walked off, I knew he would not respond to anymore calls so i sat there for another hour or more hoping he would mess up and slip back in silently.

I looked at my watch and it was ten minutes after one o’clock. He had first responded to my call a little after 8:15 and we were both tired. I guess you could call it a draw, nawwwwhh, whipped again, in the spring woods. Some hunters in the area call it Mantua (pronounced man-che way) Madness since that is the closest cross roads community to the property. I call it Norman Bates’ world, home to psycho gobblers who just “ain’t right”.

I am looking for a new lease somewhere else next year! Anybody who wants to lease some turkey rights just send me an email !

Any of you guys that do kill a nice bird and want to have the photo posted, send it to me! postoakman@gmail.com

Until next week, Hope you get the opportunity to find a big dumb turkey in your sights!

~postoak~

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Turkey Season Off To A Good Start For Many Hunters

The early spring and warm weather has got the Tom Turkeys gobbling great and I have received many reports and photos from folks around central Alabama who are taking some good birds. A number of hunters have taken three or four birds already so they will be wrapping up their season early since the limit is five gobblers. Unfortunately, a small number of hunters will get “amnesia” and some will continue to hunt until April 30 without regard to obeying the law. Don’t be one of those guys! If you get your limit, leave your gun at home and take a kid or a novice hunter and call a turkey up for them!

Some of the best hunts I have had, especially in recent years, are those where I have taken a youth hunter, lady hunter, or a hunter who has never been turkey hunting and call in a bird for them to take! I called in birds last year for three hunters and all three were hunts I will remember for the rest of my life. Compare that to the many turkeys I have taken through the years that I have no memory of what so ever. It is pretty clear to me that the value is in sharing the splendor of a wild turkey gobbler responding to your calls and finally coming to you in a full strut, red head glowing, the white and blue highlights that our creator so skillfully adorned the male turkey with, the iridescent feathers that show hues of green, brown and black in a collage of colors more magnificent that a “Van Gough” or a “Renoir ” ever dared to be!

It is no wonder that it causes grown men to swoon at the first glimpses of our prize coming in to our skillfully presented “audio-ruse” and in the anticipation of the moment the trigger is pulled! I know the sight of a trophy buck stepping from the woods in to view on a greenfield, a flock of “green heads” locking down and coming in for a landing over a pristine pond on a biting cold winter day are all wondrous sights we as hunters cherish with a passion we would fight to defend. But, for me and many others, that gobbler who has committed and shows up in our gun sights is the most beautiful and majestic trophy we will ever find. Last week, I was having lunch at a local BBQ cafe when an old friend walked in who I hadn’t seen in a while and I went to greet him and “catch up”. The first topic was turkey season as he is an avid hunter and is one of those people I referred to earlier that I took to kill their first bird. I called that old Lowndes County swamp tom for nearly an hour and he travelled from almost out of hearing range right to me in a slow, delightful, strut that ended with a “bang!” From that point on, Curtis was hooked on spring turkey hunting and we still laugh about how excited he was as the old tom slowly made his way to the gun. It has that lasting effect on most of us “turkeyaddicts”.

As for my spring season this year, it has been less than spectacular. This past Saturday morning on my lease in Greene County, there were several birds gobbling and I went to the closest one and slowly snuck in as close as I dared. He was blasting out gobbles that indicated his youthfulness and I was able to sneak to within sight of where he was perched at the edge of a third year regrowth cutover. The only problem was some briars so thick that I knew he would never come through it to me so I had to turn backwards and use the toughness of my turkey vest to push through the briars to a point I could reach the woods. Once in the woods that were open, old growth stuff with a clear understory, it was easy to see this would be the spot to call from so I got to a good setup spot where I could see him land and waited for him to fly down. After another 10 minutes of gobbling off the roost he sailed in just as I expected. I started to envision a quick hunt and early breakfast at a local eatery and I sent a light yelp over to start my persuasion with the bird.

An immediate response and I got my gun shouldered as I leaned against a big old wide based oak tree that hid me perfectly. Only the gobbler was not fully persuaded! He started to walk down the hill and I cackled to turn him thinking surely he is just a two year old and will come right on in to some excited cackles and cutts. He answered every peep I made, he answered scratches in the leaves, he answered my lightest purrs and most demanding putts but, kept walking! I then decided the silent treatment was in store so I stopped any noise and sat for almost an hour as he gobbled every few seconds at crows, other hens, a pileated woodpecker cackling, and even a dog barking at a house close to a mile away! I kept thinking, this little two year old gobbler will be here any minute but, he was not inclined to come see me. He walked across the hardwood bottom and over the next ridge “telling everything” in the woods where he was. When I was sure he was far enough away, I walked about 200 yards down to the bottom of the hollow and found another great cover spot by a huge poplar tree that was close to a hundred feet tall. My first yelp was a excited hen yelp closed by a couple of loud putts and he double gobbled in response from just over the next ridge, when he gobbled again, he was clearly headed to me and his gobbling frenzy excited two other toms so much they gobbled as well! I thought, now I am getting somewhere! However and hour later he had circled my position twice and came in behind me standing on the hillside where he flew down. He would not come in range and stayed 80 to 100 yards out as he made another circle. I refused to do any calling since I was certain he knew where I was and we got in another stand off. I let him walk away again and then slipped back up the hill to where he had passed by twice and waited. I sat silently for 35 to 40 minutes when I caught movement off to my right and saw him walking in silently, looking for “that hen”. At 35 steps, he found her. The new “flight control” Federal premium number four shot did a super job and he hit the deck without so much as a kick or a flop. I was somewhat disappointed in his stature when I picked him up although I had already determined he was just a hard headed two year and he had a 8 inch beard, short, dull spurs and weighed in at 17 pounds. But, I will say he offered me a great morning and more than enough of a challenge for this old turkey hunter..

I just can’t wait to meet his dad or one of his uncles!

Maybe in the next couple of weeks when I go back over to Try them again.

Until next week, hope your turkey season is going great!

Send me a picture of that turkey ! email it to me postoakman@gmail.com

~Postoak~

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Tactics for "Henned-Up" Toms and Why I Hate A Dumb Gobbler

The spring turkey season has arrived and as I alluded to last week, I am as excited as a kid a Christmas every year to be able to enjoy another season chasing gobblers in the beautiful spring woods around central Alabama. Each season brings it’s own challenges and requires us as hunters to quickly recognize how far along the breeding season the turkeys have made it to when the season arrives. Last year was a colder wetter spring and a pretty sorry spring season overall. The last week of season last year was by far the best for me and I had much more gobbling activity on my lease the last two weeks than I did all the first four weeks.

This spring appears to be a widely contrasting picture due to the early heat that got here in February and as many of us veteran turkey hunters figured to be the case, the birds are well along the way from opening day on in the mating game. I hunted in Greene county the first two days and both days I interacted with gobblers but, they all had hens with them. My yelps were met with good responses from the gobblers but, I also got a rousing reply from the hens that were very vocal and were “standing by their man”. The gobblers would only gobble about two or three times per hour in the morning hours, and of course shut down completely around noon.

Thursday, I called up two hens that circled me purring and clucking, spoiling for a fight with that “intruder girl”. I got out of the woods around noon and it was just so hot, I decided to call it a day. Friday morning, I went back to the same general area since there was four gobblers sounding off there the day before and I made it a point, even at the risk of “bumping” one from the roost in order to get on down into the deep hardwood bottoms where the turkeys were all gathered the day before to escape the heat. As daybreak broke, I was rewarded with the sound of a gobble very close so I just stopped right there and gave him a few minutes to fly down. When I heard him fly off the roost, I cackled while he probably still in the air and he busted out a big double gobble when his feet hit the ground, I could see him across the bottom, about 90 yards out, on the other side of a small stream and felt my chances were good to close the deal as he broke into a strut. Just then, it started raining hens! about 9 or 10 hens came sailing in to him and he immediately bred several who presented themselves. I knew then I was in for a long wait so I just sat and watched them all feed out of sight down the other side of the stream.

After about 30 minutes, (tactic # 1) I slipped in behind them like an old coyote on the stalk and then I outflanked them by quickly walking over the ridge and working my way along a parallel path. When I figured I had got ahead of their projected path, I set to them again and made a couple of light, crisp hen yelps sort of like “here I am, where are you?” and sure enough, I got a good gobbling response but, could not turn them to come over on my side of the bottom and all I could do is watch them walk by me at about 70 to 80 yards. I decided then to just employ ( tactic # 2) and that is patience. This tactic gets easier for me as I get older, I like to tell myself that it is me getting smarter, but in truth, it is me getting older and not being able to run and gun or plan ambushes for henned up toms. Seriously, patience is a strong tactic, but lets not over do it. Sometimes you just got to try different things.

At about 10:30, the gobbler let me know he was still interested in me and I thought he had most likely lost all the lady friends to their egg laying chore. I answered him back with a couple of loud putts and an excited yelp that he “cut”. Often when a gobbler “cuts” my call with a response gobble, that is a sure indicator he means business and it is time to make sure my head net is up and my gun is at the ready. I waited about 5 minutes and he gobbled again, this time closer and bearing in on my position. I putted a couple more times to let him hone in on me and then I saw him coming down the bottom but, he was not alone. He still had 4 hens travelling with him and I never like to defeat that many sets of sharp eyes but, I still felt good. There was some brush about 60 yards out between us and when they came out from behind it they were on the wrong side from where I need them to be! They then walked in directly behind me and I had no way to turn, move, or hardly breathe! They walked to within 15 to 18 steps of the tree I was up against, putted, purred and gave the very soft yelps they produce when they are looking for “that hen”. I had to let them walk away and I had it in mind, as I have successfully done many times, let then get out of sight, reposition myself to bring them back in front of me and then call them back in. Only this time, all I got was several more gobbles as he walked away.

Saturday morning, I hunted in north Elmore county on a new tract of land and I was pleasantly surprised to hear several gobblers at daylight, one of which I engaged in a conversation rather quickly. However, I guess his gobbles attracted another hunter who came in the area “chopping wood’ on a box call. I decided to let him play with that turkey and I struck out over a couple of more hills and hollows to find another bird. As I walked a small trail, running a diaphragm call, I was answered by a gobbler down in the bottom who was close so I just found a hiding spot and in a few minutes, I spotted him strutting over the ridge crest coming right to me! At 60 yards, I clicked off the safety, sure I had this one in the bag, when a DAD-GUM DOG! came crashing in toward the tom who was so startled he shot straight up in the air and flew off. Twenty years ago, that dog would have been in peril. But, as I may have mentioned, I am older and a lot calmer, for the most part.

So, here I sit with no kills to report from my first weekend of season. However, many hunters I know took some very nice birds and from south Alabama, a buddy took a real trophy tom who weighed 20 lbs, with a10 inch beard and was equipped with inch and 3/8 spurs. Trophy indeed! I have a photo from him I will get posted on this site soon! It appears, in my opinion anyway, that the breeding in south regions has gotten far enough along that some hens are already setting. I got two different reports, one from Coffee and another from Henry county of hunters spooking hens off the nest. This coupled with reports of lots of gobbling activity and gobblers coming to calls with no hens in tow, tells me the south area is hitting its peak or is real close. In north central, where I hunt, they are still “all henned up” so maybe the best is yet to come.

Where have all the dumb gobblers gone? I used to run across them with some regularity. You know the kind that just come to your calls like a fire truck to a three alarm blaze and often it would be two or three of them shoving each other like young schools boys trying to be the first out the door a recess. Well, I am glad, I don’t find them hardly ever anymore, you don’t learn much, and they are not much of a challenge to your woodsmanship! Nah! I don’t like dumb gobblers! In fact, I hate them! and the next one I see, I am going to shoot in the neck!

(Lord, please bring me a dumb gobbler!)

Send me some pics of those dumb gobblers and even the smart ones you out did! Email to postoakman@gmail.com along with a note giving me permission to post them, along with of course the relevant info as to who shot and weight, spurs, beard info, etc.

Thanks for reading and click on the recommend button for me!

~postoak~

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This Thursday Morning is Just Like Christmas Morning For Us Turkey Hunters!

This Thursday Morning, March 15th, is the first day of Spring Turkey Season in Alabama. There are a lot of grown men, me included, that will find it hard to sleep tomorrow night as we toss, turn, check the clock, wish we could get some “good sleep” and about 30 minutes before the clock is set to alarm, we drift off, into that “good sleep”, just to have our ears assaulted by the cruel tolling of the bells to rouse us from that rare slumber. The sleep shakes off like a sucker punch from the third grade and we arise with a mix of youthful zest for the pursuit we are to about undertake, ohhh yessss! another spring season has finally arrived! I guess you can tell I like to turkey hunt huh?

Last weekend was the special “youth only” weekend for turkey hunting and I took my granddaughter out for her first turkey hunt at a hunting club I joined in Elmore County. It was a better opening morning than some I have experienced, a little windy and cool when we left the truck but, it warmed nicely and we enjoyed the hunt. The only problem was that we heard no gobblers and saw no turkeys, very little “turkey sign”, and covered over 3 miles of trails in our quest to find a gobbler to “work”. My granddaughter was great though, and had no complaints about the distance we walked or the outcome of our hunt. She was ready to “keep hunting” when I pulled the plug on our hunt at about 9:45. The wind had gotten up and without hearing any activity out of the turkeys I believed to be in the area, I knew it was time to head home. She got a little spoiled by her “beginners luck” in the deer woods and had an impression that turkey hunting could be just as easy to squeeze the trigger as it was on the deer hunt. She is optimistic, even if her grandfather is not.

Thursday morning, I will be standing on a hill top well before daybreak on a turkey lease I share with two nephews and a good family friend. We have 1450 acres in north Greene County that is comprised of rolling red clay hills with just enough sand in the mix to make it clump like prairie gumbo mud from the lower part of the west Alabama Black Belt. The majority of the lease is paper company cut over land and is accessible only by four wheeler. The property has some wide SMZ stands and a few hundred acres is a privately owned tract with some beautiful timber on it. It is not all together the best land I have ever leased but, It does have a good population of “birds” .”. I have hunted the area intermittently for the last 42 years and enjoyed some great hunts, even though the area has a reputation for growing “Psycho Toms” and I have to agree with that assessment. I believe they are some of the more challenging birds I have hunted and I will choose to hunt elsewhere if I can find a good lease but, they too seem to come and go. I had a great place here in Elmore county for about 10 years and the club I was a member of gave up the lease. I then joined a club up in Coosa County but, that did not work out so I subleased turkey rights to a great place over in Sumter county. The lease over there was super and I took a limit of birds every year and called in birds for others each year. However, a clear cutting by the corporate owners after I hunted it for 6 years caused the hunting club I was sub leasing the turkey rights from to give it up and that took me to an advertisement for the lease in Greene County. Kind of a home coming since I hunted there in my youth and lived in that area, only thing is the land and me both look a lot worse for the wear of the last 40 plus years.

Another Christmas-like activity is to prepare your check list and check it twice! I hate to have the naughty, nasty things happen due to a lack of planning and preparation on my part. So, be sure to check all your gear, your clothes, boots, turkey vest, seat cushion (for sure) or other type of portable seat, check your calls, (you should have already been practicing enough by now that your wife has threatened you, just be sure they are in the truck!) decoys, if you use them, owl hooter, crow call, face mask, camo gloves and of course, your gun and shells. Make sure you have some good mosquito repellant ( a thermacell repellant device works great!) and for sure, a tick repellant to spray on your clothes!! Mosquitoes buzzing about your head distracting you and causing you to move can get you “busted” by a gobbler, or hen, and have cost me more than a few gobblers. BUT! let me tell you that ticks can be a real threat to your health and possibly your life! I had a severe case of Lyme disease several years ago and it took me years to recover from it. Please purchase and USE some type of tick repellant and even then, check yourself or get checked for tick bites as soon as possible after leaving the turkey woods Some of the ticks are not much bigger than the head of a stick pen but, they can really pack a punch in the world of virus and parasite infection. Google” up some info if you doubt the danger of tick bites, they are nasty!

If you prepare and equip yourself with the right gear, right knowledge, right land to hunt on the right days, turkey hunting can be a very righteous experience!

Most of the folks I have talked to recently about gobbler activity have about the same assessment as I do after last weekend. That is, despite the early spring and early “green up” the gobbler are still not near the peak of the gobbling season and many are still being seen travelling in bachelor groups as they do in the winter season. So looks like the spring season is right on time and I am feeling a little like it is December 23rd!

Santa, bring me a big old gobbler with two inch spurs on opening morning, I have been a very good boy… mostly..

Send me a picture of that big opening weekend gobbler ! just email me – postoakman@gmail.com I will be glad to get it posted for you here on the outdoor sports photo page!

Good turkey hunting!!

~postoak~

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Special "Youth only" Turkey Hunting Weekend is HERE!

Spring Turkey season will be ushered in this weekend with a special “youth only” hunt on Saturday and Sunday. This is a great event just like the youth weekend prior to gun hunting season for deer. This is a great time to take a youngster out and focus on calling them up a big old Alabama gobbler!

I recently bought my grand daughter a nice model 37 Winchester 20 gauge single barrel shotgun for the upcoming turkey season. She is about as excited as I am to get out to the spring woods this Saturday morning and see if I can call a gobbler in close enough for her to get her first turkey. Last weekend, I was finally able to get out to a new track of land I will be hunting on this spring here in Elmore County. I also have a large lease over in Greene County with my nephews, so I should have plenty of places to find some “Toms” to practice a little hen talk on and top that off with some #4 Winchester Turkey Loads. I know lots of guys who buy the “Nitro” shells, have shells custom mixed with 4s,5s, and 6s, still others shoot “Heavy Shot” and other “hi-dolla” shells that will allegedly make a gobbler jump on his back and practice some bicycling from 70 yards away. My question is why? I like to get a turkey in a 25 to 35 yard range from my location and enjoy the “show” if he comes in strutting and drumming, before sending him a fatal head ache with some High velocity # 4 Winchester Supreme Turkey Loads. They work great for me and with a 3.5 inch 12 gauge shot gun, it is almost “over-kill” with that standard type shell so paying $5 to $9 a shell is not necessary to be successful. I would spend it if I needed to but, I have not found that to be the case for consistently killing some good eastern gobblers in the old fashioned way of calling them in softly, slowly, with limited chatter so they come looking for me. I tried a box of “Heavy Shot” a few years back right after they first came out and while they are really good, I will stick with my Winchester shells.

Next Thursday, March 15th, the season begins for the rest of us and I will be standing at my listening post well before daylight in anticipation of another Alabama Spring Turkey Season. They never get old, even if I have, and they make me forget the rest of the world, work, bills, chores, and all other manner of unpleasant thoughts brought on by our stressful existence in the fast paced world. When I send out that first call of a little shy hen, and it is answered by the lustful gobble of one, or two, or five, gobblers! all beckoning me to come to where they are strutting and drumming in a “procreation party”. Then, it takes all my focus and I will to sneak in and position myself in a spot that will hide me well but, be close enough to convince that best Tom of the woods that I am worth a closer look. We then converse in turkey yelps, clucks and purrs, small scratches in the leaves when possible to mimic a hen feeding and assure him that his “prize hen” is just over the ridge, just behind that hedge row, just on the other side of that big swamp oak. What a nasty surprise we hunters have in store for the tom ! It almost makes me feel a little sorry for them, until the first one refuses to come see me, refuses to answer my calls, or slips in on my position quietly, and lets me know with a loud PUTT!! as he is running off that HE is the king of the woods! The monarch of spring, the smartest critter on two legs in His world that I can only visit in the spring mornings when he, like all creatures in God’s kingdom, succumbs to the weaknesses wrought by interactions with others. In that, is the challenge of turkey hunting, to -out-wary the wariest- of birds who must daily be the best, or wind up as some predator’s dinner.

Gobblers, old gobblers especially, have earned the reputation and honor that they seem to imbue naturally when you observe one strutting in a field, surrounded by admiring hens and living like the king he is. It has often been said that if a turkey could use his sense of smell as well as a deer, you would never kill one and I find a lot of truth in that. An older turkey, tom or hen, is a very careful, very tactful creature, they see with the acuity of a eagle, run like a deer, a fly faster than a quail on a covey rise. Above all that, they are smart! yes, they have a small brain, but it is a brain focused on survival, focused on living for the moment, that moment he or she is currently living, they are not day dreaming, looking a a wrist watch or a blackberry, unless it happens to be a real one that is ripe, or even better, has a big juicy bug sitting on it ready to be gulped!

Hope you are making plans to go hunting and take a youngster this weekend to pass along our great hunting heritage to a new generation. Take some time in our beautiful spring woods admiring the chartreuse green foliage, the budding plants and singing song birds. Live in the moments of that time spent in the woods and think about nothing but those moments, about where you are, about what you are seeing, hearing and experiencing, that is some of the best living any of us can hope to achieve and it is the stuff of memories that matter… Memories that are even more special when shared in teaching a youngster to appreciate it all.

I will be back next week to show off that gobbler My granddaughter got, I hope!

until then, GOBBBLE GOBBLE!!!

~postoak~

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