Your monthly guide to Missouri outdoors
Volume 1 Issue2
Fishing the White River below Bull Shoals Dam should be on the bucket list of every angler. The cold-water fishery is one of the premier trout fishing destinations in the country. Although trout are the targeted species, one never knows what may end up the end of their line. Here, young Zane Wheeler proudly displays a fine White River walleye.
Also in this issue of Driftwood Outdoors Skipping Work Lesson From A Lady Bear Hunter It Pays to â€œSit Rightâ€?
Turkey Hunting - page 10
Crappie Fishing on page 18
Father and Sons - page 22
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Missouri Senators vote for RESTORE Act by Brandon Butler Thank you, Senator McCaskill. Thank you, Senator Blunt. Last month I took a trip to Washington DC in support of the RESTORE Act. I am very proud to say both of our Missouri Senators voted in favor of the RESTORE Act. This bipartisan show of support highlights Missouri’s dedication to the restoration and future preservation of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s refreshing to see both sides of the aisle put aside personal agendas and come together in support of an obvious call to action for conservation. According to the National Wildlife Federation, passage of the RESTORE ACT means penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster will be used to rebuild the economies of Gulf Coast communities that were impacted by the spill and to restore the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries,
marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, barrier islands, dunes, coastal wetlands, that are the foundation of the Gulf Coast economy. The Gulf of Mexico is so much more than a place to the beach. It is a ecosystem beyond compare in North America. The gulf is the wintering grounds for most of continent’s waterfowl, and the producer of much our seafood. It’s a sportsman’s paradise. “With our state’s location in the Mississippi Flyway, Missouri waterfowl depend heavily on the Gulf Coast as a wintering ground,” said Bob Whitehead of Missouri’s Outdoor Guide Magazine. “Restoring the Gulf means providing our waterfowl with healthy habitat—and that’s something Missouri sportsmen and women can support. We thank the Senate for taking action to restore the Gulf, and we call on their counterparts in the House to follow suit to help make the Gulf whole again.” The past few years have been devastating for the Gulf. First, Hurricane Katrina
Teeg Stouffer (Recycled Fish), Brandon Butler, Senator McCaskill, Ben Weber (Vanishing Paradise)
tore up the region, and then the BP Oil Spill happened. Not only did this affect the natural state of the Gulf, it destroyed public perception, all but eliminating tourism. The people have suffered. Katrina and the oil spill shined a light on the region, but truthfully, the Gulf has been suffering for years. You see, the ecosystem is no longer able to replenish the wetlands the way nature intended. When we straightened the Mississippi River, changing it from a natural flowing wetlands based river into a shipping canal, we greatly reduced the amount of sediment flowing to the Gulf. Fresh sediment is needed to restore naturally deteriorating wetlands. Lack sediment means elimination of wetlands. The RESTORE Act will allocate funds to actually restoring the wetlands.
“This is a huge step for the Gulf, but we still haven’t brought this over the finish line,” said Land Tawney, National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager for sportsmen leadership. “For sportsmen all across America, this is our time and our conservation issue. A thunderous chorus of duck and goose wing beats and the tails of redfish can be heard spurring us on! Coupling the RESTORE Act with two years of significant funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund—a measure that ensures public access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities across America—is a great day for anyone who hunts or fishes.” See you down the trail…
What’s inside this issue of
05 06 08 10 16 18 20 22
News From The Field
A Deeper Look Into Missouri Outdoors
Just remember: Bag it. Notch it. Tag it. Check it. Gear Review Skipping Work Drift Boat Tactics Turkey Hunting Bear Hunting Crappie Fishing Hunting When Pregant Fathers and Sons
Contributing Writers Brandon Butler Jeremy Hunt Kevin Reese Will Brantley Mitch Strobl Stephanie Mallory Managing Editor Brandon Butler Sales Manager Nathan Sizemore 660-216-5727 Creative Layout Joe Pendergrass Circulation Director Jeff Thompson 573-822-2217 Driftwood Outdoors is published monthly. The entire content of this newspaper is Copyrighted 2012 ©. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written consent from the Managing Editor.
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Using the new spring turkey-hunting permits couldn’t be easier. Just follow the four easy steps to tagging and checking your turkey properly. The brief slide show to the right shows you how. Additional tagging and checking information • Until Telechecked, the turkey must have the head and plumage intact. • Notching voids the permit. Do not notch the month and day on your permit until you harvest a turkey.
• All turkeys must be Telechecked before they are removed from Missouri. • Only the person who harvested the turkey may possess and transport turkeys before checking. • After Telechecking, turkeys may be possessed and transported by anyone, but they must be labeled with the taker’s full name, address, Telecheck confirmation number and date taken.
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Bash trash in Missouri with April Trash Bash! JEFFERSON CITY Mo -- Many signs of spring in Missouri are a welcome sight. Green shoots and flowering trees and bulbs promise warmer weather ahead. Unfortunately, other sights during spring aren’t so welcome, such as litter along roads and highways, in our communities and in our outdoor spaces. Help fight litter through Missouri’s annual No MOre Trash! Bash in April. The Trash Bash is an annual event sponsored by the Missouri departments of Conservation (MDC) and Transportation (MoDOT) as part of their ongoing No MOre Trash! statewide anti-litter campaign. The agencies encourage people to clean up litter all across Missouri from roadsides, parks, neighborhoods, rivers, streams and other places. Trash Bash activities also include educational efforts in schools, at rest areas, community events, Earth Day celebrations, media promotions and more. “This is the tenth year of No MOre Trash! in Missouri,” said Stacy Armstrong, MoDOT No MOre Trash! coordinator. “Through the years, hundreds of thousands of volunteers have picked up more than half a million bags of trash during April Trash Bashes. That’s a lot of litter!” Last year, thousands of volunteers
collected more than 157,000 bags of trash and many more truckloads of debris during the 2011 April Trash Bash. Volunteers included MoDOT and MDC employees, Adopt-A-Highway groups, Stream Teams, Scout troops, schools and community groups and others. Littering isn’t just ugly, it also hurts wildlife and Missouri outdoors. “Missourians care about conserving our forests, fish and wildlife,” said MDC No MOre Trash! Coordinator Joe Jerek. “Animals get tangled in litter, such as plastic six-pack holders and fishing line, and it hurts and kills them. Litter also poisons fish, birds and other wildlife, along with their habitats, such as streams.” Littering also costs money. Littering can cost a person up to $1,000 in fines and one year in jail. MoDOT spends more than $5 million each year cleaning litter from roadsides. MDC spends almost $1 million a year cleaning litter from conservation areas and other locations. “Besides recognition, we all get some exercise, fresh air and a cleaner place to work, live and play,” Armstrong said. Visit nomoretrash.org for more information, to report efforts and for free lapel pins.
Peck Ranch Refuge closed to spring turkey hunting SUMMERSVILLE—Hunters who customarily use the refuge area at Peck Ranch Conservation Area (CA) will need to make alternate plans again this year, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). MDC closed the refuge portion of Peck Ranch CA to public access, including spring turkey hunting, in 2011. The closure was designed to prevent possible disturbance of elk freshly arrived from Kentucky as part of MDC’s elk-restoration program. MDC reopened the area to public access in July 2011 after elk were released from holding pens. This year’s closure is expected to follow the same pattern as a second group of elk arrives from Kentucky. Hunting will still be allowed on approximately 12,000 acres outside the marked refuge fence, according to Preston Mabry, area manager of Peck Ranch CA. Mabry said newly restored elk at Peck Ranch are a continuation of the area’s rich tradition in species restoration. The refuge played a vital role in restoring the thundering gobble of the wild turkey to the Ozark hills. That gobble is now joined by the bugling of elk. “Turkey season is a time we spend all year looking forward to,” said Mabry. “We certainly thank hunters for understanding and for doing their part to help create an area free of disturbance, so this second portion of the elk herd can become acclimated to their new home.” Mabry said MDC wants to minimize human presence near the facility where elk are held for an acclimation period prior to release. He said hunters are welcome to hunt outside the refuge. Peck Ranch CA information and a map of the area are available at mdc.mo.gov/a5203, or at the Peck Ranch CA Headquarters. The fenced refuge area is clearly marked. MDC established Peck Ranch CA in 1945 for wild-turkey management. For more than 30 years, MDC has used diverse management techniques, including prescribed fire and timber harvests, to maintain and restore natural communities there. This has created habitat for a wide range of native wildlife. For more information, call the Peck Ranch CA headquarters, 573-323-4249, or visit mdc.mo.gov
Driftwood Outdoors Gear & Gadget Review by Mitch Strobl
Hunt Comfort Specialist
In most hunting situations, a successful hunter must remain still. In order to be still, one has to be comfortable. This turkey season, or any season for that matter, Hunt Comfort’s Specialist is the perfect seat to take afield. All Hunt Comfort seats are handmade in the USA and are backed by a three-year warranty. The Specialist series is great for long day sits because it also includes a back pad. The SuperLight gel formula consists of three cushion layers, which excel at distributing pressure among the various layers of compression foams. Many foam seats don’t distribute seating pressure, so circulation is cut off which in turn causes numbness and discomfort. However, the Specialist is designed to distribute seating pressure, benefiting users with a more personalized feel. Like other Hunt Comfort seats, the Specialist is covered with ComfortTEX outdoor seating fabric, available in solid color or Mossy Oak patterns. In my field evaluation, the Hunt Comfort gel cushions exceeded expectations. In the “sticks and stones” test, I piled up rocks and sticks and placed the Specialist on top. When I sat down I heard the loud pop of a stick exploding, but felt absolutely nothing. Even when kneeling on the seat with one knee, I couldn’t feel the ground. Needless to say, the combination of gel layers and durable fabric provides the best seat around. Hunt Comfort seats are great for boats, ballgames, picnics and of course, hunting. Hunt comfortably with the Hunt Comfort Specialist.
ThermaCELL Hunter’s Starter Kit
Mosquitoes, flies, no-see-ums and other bugs pester outdoorsmen and women all over the world. Not only are they annoying, but they are potential vectors of dangerous parasites and viruses. In order to combat the “black cloud” of mosquitoes, various sprays and repellants are used, many times ineffectively. On the other hand, ThermaCELL mosquito repellants successfully repel mosquitoes, and are even built for an active outdoors lifestyle. ThermaCELL is odorless, silent, portable and hands-free. A butane cartridge heats a small mat containing the synthetic repellant allethrin, creating a fifteen-foot diameter area of invisible and odorless safety. ThermaCELL is a completely DEET free product, yet it offers the same repellent performance of DEET. The Hunter’s Starter kit comes with a belt clip holster that secures the ThermaCELL to your side. Its ergonomic design makes it easy to handle, and the on/off switch has been modified to be much quieter than before. Like many outdoorsmen, I avoided most repellants due to odors or use of nasty chemicals, but sometimes one simply can’t do without them. Last summer, I was skeptically hopeful when I opened the ThermaCELL Hunter’s Starter Kit. To my surprise, my canoe was literally bug free within minutes of turning the unit on. Even when I moved, within a few minutes my new area was again, bug free. The ThermaCELL takes away the worry of chemicals and odors found in other repellants, and simply outcompetes the competition. With a ThermaCELL, be the predator, not the prey.
Hunter’s Specialties Hide ‘N Hunt Blind Blinds can be extremely useful for turkey season; whether you’re taking a child hunting or you can’t sit still yourself, the Hunter’s Specialties Hide ‘N Hunt blind will keep you concealed. The Hide ‘N Hunt hub style blind is durable, compact for carry easy to set up. The pop open construction takes seconds to unfurl, and allows for easy tear down. At 65-inches tall and 62-inches wide, the Hide ‘N Hunt is extremely roomy for one hunter and will comfortably fit two. All four sides have shooting gaps with camouflage shoot through mesh, providing 360° of shot opportunities while keeping you invisible to prey. The blind is very bow hunter friendly as well, including vertical shooting slots to match a bows profile. Large windows also allow gun hunters to easily maneuver their guns in all directions. Don’t like shooting through the net? No problem, simply poke the barrel of your gun out through the integrated split in the middle of the window. In a field assessment, the Hide ‘N Hunt blind received high marks for hardiness. The fabric is built for abuse from the elements, as it is much tougher than other blind material. It’s puncture resistant and won’t fade nearly as fast as other patterns. Just from a durability standpoint, this blind is well worth the investment, as it will outlast competing blinds. The Hide ‘N Hunt sports Realtree APG camouflage, which provides a deceptive look and does a fantastic job at concealing in countless environments.
Chota Caney Fork Wading Boots
Nothing can ruin a trip to the stream like a bad pair of boots. Anglers invest in expensive rods, lines, flies, vests and other equipment; why skimp on footwear? The Caney Fork wading boot by Chota Outdoor Gear is a great option for multiple reasons. Comfort and Stability The Caney Fork wading boot is designed for lasting comfort. Removable EVA insoles and ¼” EVA footbed liners provide the cushion you need for long days on foot. The boot is roomy enough in the toes to comfortably accept wading socks, especially if the bed liner is removed. Thanks to the robust construction of the boot and Chota’s exclusive QuickLace system, superb ankle support comes standard. The lacing system is the ultimate, never coming loose or untied and they are very manageable, even with gloves. The “Felt-Alternative” Felt soled wading boots, long used to give stream anglers superb traction, are becoming a thing of the past. According to the Alaska Fish and Game, felt-soled waders and wading boots will no longer be legal as of January 1, 2013. The decision is in response mainly to the transfer of invasive species from stream to stream. This is becoming the case in other states as well. The Caney Fork wading boots feature the legal Dual Density ATX100 rubber out sole. The rubber sole provides traction both on the trail, and in the water. Rubber cleat receptacles accept optional steel or carbide-tipped cleats for extra traction as conditions demand. Play it safe with Chota Caney Fork wading boots, they are legal, sturdy, stylish, and most importantly, comfortable.
Skipping Work by Will Brantley
A weatherman may miss every other forecast of the year, but a rainy, windy, cold one for opening day of turkey season is always correct. The first two days of season have just such a forecast. The river bottom I’ve been scouting is full of turkeys, no doubt, but there’s enough standing floodwater on it now to compound the misery of the rain and wind. The forecast for Monday is a little different. Cool to start with but creeping to 70 degrees by midday. It’s supposed to be calm and clear, a classic high-pressure, post frontal day. I believe the turkeys will be concentrated around the few slivers of high, dry ground within the river bottom. Thing is, since it’s Monday, I have to work. But I’m only 40 minutes from the office. I figure I’ll throw some dress clothes behind my truck seat and if something doesn’t gobble at daylight, I’ll jump back in the truck and speed to the office. I’ll be 10 minutes late. Fifteen, tops. I don hip boots and slosh through woods befitting of a flooded-timber mallard hunt as the sky begins to lighten and songbirds begin to chirp. I stop and owlhoot in the dark a time or two. I don’t hear any gobbles, but I know I’m not quite to where I need to be. While scouting, I’d found a long strip of high ground and it’s just ahead, on the other side of this flooded stretch. I’m banking on a gobbler flying down in that area after daylight. The flood water can’t be much more than shin deep, so I wade off into it, feeling confident in my hip boots. The unseen creek is waist deep and cold. Good thing I brought dry underwear and socks with my dress clothes for work. I reach the high ground just as the sky lightens. I know the turkeys will be on the ground soon—even though I still haven’t heard one. I pull out my cell phone and check the time. If going back to work is the plan, I’ve got an hour. I snap it shut, slide it into a dry shirt pocket, and gasp a cuss word as two gobblers sound off 150 yards away. I slink my way to the base of a cypress tree and ease a friction call from my vest. The turkeys are the other side of another flooded spot, but they love careless yelping. Thirty minutes later the birds are still gobbling, but I know if killing one is in cards, I have to reposition. I also know I
Will Brantley shows off an impressive spring gobbler.
need to leave soon if I want to get back to work. The gobblers sound off the other side of the water. “I’m wet anyway,” I think. “None of that is over my head, surely.” But I know if I strike out toward them, making it back to work is a lost cause. It’s a crossroads of conscience moment. My cell phone has a full signal. I dial my boss’s assistant, stare at the number on screen, and punch the call button. I get her voicemail, thank God. “I’ve been up all night, puking,” I say, hoping the turkeys don’t gobble in the background. “Awful stuff and likely contagious. I may be in later, but I don’t want to pass this along to anyone else.” I like my boss and my job and I’m worried about this rather elaborate fabrication—but these are the first gobbling turkeys of the season, and on public land
at that. They belt out two more gobbles in tandem and the guilt subsides. I decide to fret about work later and hunt now. I go for another wade, get wet again, and reposition. I sit silently for a moment before making a soft yelp. From no more than 70 yards, a gobbler cuts me off. I set the friction call aside and pop in a mouth call for a final bit of pillow talk. My gun is level across my knee, the barrel softly rising and falling with my controlled breathing. I cluck and scratch in the leaves. He roars back at me just out of sight, and then he appears. His head looks like a giant cotton ball, and he’s already in range. Just as I bear down to kill him, he struts his way behind a giant oak no more than 15 yards in front of me. I can hear him buzzing on the other side and his wingtips dragging the ground, even
though the leaves are wet. When he finally steps out, he’s close and immediately spots me. Thoughts of love vanish as he drops strut and turns to run. I hit him in the back of the head with a full load of 6s. Nary another flop. I sneak my way back into town, gobbler in the truck bed, dress clothes still behind the seat, avoiding routes that will take me by the office. I clean my bird, change into some dry clothes, and settle onto the couch for an epic post-hunt nap. Work will be waiting for me tomorrow, I figure. There’s no reason to mess up the rest of today. Will Brantley is a freelance writer whose work regularly appears in many of most popular outdoor titles.
2012 Missouri Turkey Outlook A Good Hatch in 2011 Should Increase Turkey Numbers Throughout Missouri In 2011, relatively dry conditions and an emergence of periodical cicadas that provided protein-rich food for nesting hens and growing poults helped Missouriâ€™s turkey population experience its best hatch in nearly a decade. Brood-survey results indicated that 2011â€™s hatch was 42 percent above the previous five-year average. An especially notable improvement occurred in northeast Missouri where production was more than double the five-year average. In many parts of the state, hunters have already noticed the difference a good year of production can make. Because hatch success drives changes in turkey abundance, several more years of good production would bolster the number of turkeys in the Show-Me State. For more information about the 2012 Missouri turkey season outlook, visit mdc. mo.gov.
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Drift Boat Tactics for Taneycomo by Jeremy Hunt
The use of non-motorized drift boats has grown in popularity amongst the fly fishing ranks on White River Basin trout fisheries over the last five to ten years. These types of vessels can really be effective at accessing hard to reach water during specific flow conditions, and there is something inherently relaxing about being at the whim of the river’s currents while drifting in virtual silence. I can productively fly fish out of a drift boat on Lake Taneycomo during all water conditions, but the number of good spots available decreases exponentially once flows exceed the two-unit level. Many once-shallow gravel bars become deep, and the main current starts moving quite fast. From a guiding perspective, higher flows mean fewer opportunities for my clients, and the slack water areas that do hold fish will often be congested, as those without a motorized boat will flock to the same likely spots. Because the only boat launch on upper Taneycomo’s trophy section is located a mile below the dam, those without upstream conveyance – like drift boaters – are already missing out on over half of this section’s best water. The tailwater becomes deep and wide about a quarter-mile below Point Royal, so there are basically three islands that provide breaks in the current from the launch until the end of the best water. Even though each of these spots can offer up good fishing, the bite will rarely last for over two hours. This means that full-day guide trips involve a lot of time spent sitting around while anchored fishing to trout that have seen every fly in the
A drift boat offers fly fishers a great means of motor-less transportation, which keeps the experience quiet and serene.
book. I have decided to adjust my guiding strategy on Lake Taneycomo because the high-water drift boat experience is not an all day affair. If I have a guide trip booked for Lake Taneycomo, and it looks like the water will likely be running below the two-unit level, I will go ahead and do a full-day trip. When the water is running high on the morning of an excursion, I will now recommend four-hour (half-day) drift boat trips. If you are fishing on your own, I recommend you follow suit. When water is too high, the White River and Norfork
Tailwater in Arkansas are also good options. I am always willing to head south if conditions are better for fly fishing down there. You should be, too. There is a lot of red tape involved in using motorized boats on Lake Taneycomo, so I am always looking for ways to enhance the Taneycomo drift boat experience. I love the slower pace of this type of fishing, and a drift boat is the perfect way to beat the crowds during dead-low water. When flows are light to moderate, such vessels are perfect for delicately working down the river. Unfortunately, a drift boat
loses many of its tactical advantages when flows get heavy, but they are still effective if you are able to keep moving. Beating up the same fish is not my idea of a perfect day, so by adjusting my strategy, the clients will get a better value and I will have an easier time performing my job during difficult conditions.
Jeremy Hunt is a professional fly fishing guide on Lake Taneycomo and the White River. To book a trip, call him at (417) 294-0759
in Columbia, MO
From Anteaters to Zebras & everything in between...
Breakfast & Lunch on site!
Paddlefish Snagging The 2012 paddlefish-snagging season opened Thursday, March 15, and runs through Monday, April 30. Weekly paddlefish snagging reports for Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks and the Osage River are being posted weekly, on Wednesdays, by Fisheries Biologist Trish Yasger. Updates will be based on field observations from biologists and conservation agents. If you have never snagged or haven’t snagged in awhile, you’re invited to attend
our Discover Nature Family Paddlefish Snagging Clinic on Saturday April 14 in Warsaw. Please check Fishing Events on the MDC website for registration and contact info. Keep in mind that snagging is very dependent on weather conditions, primarily water temperature and flow. When water temperatures reach 50-55F and flow increases, paddlefish migrate upstream to spawn.
Novelty Shoots Iron Buck Jug Shoot
The R100 is a 3D archery event like no other, with 100 outrageous, silly, and down right scary targets! At the R100 you can shoot either 100 targets over two days or 50 targets in only one day. You don’t even have to score the targets and you still have a chance at winning door prizes. All prizes are distributed by drawing on Sunday at 2:30pm. Prizes total over $2,000 at this event and ANYONE CAN WIN!
7:00 am Registration or online @ www. R100 .org
Bring your shotguns! Trap & Skeet on Saturday Evening!
Located @ Prairie Grove Shotgun Sports 1420 County Rd. 276, Columbia, MO 65202
On Higher Ground - Turkey Hunting Taking Toms and Leaving Legacies by Kevin Reese
It’s that time of year again… Every year I try to make a point to go turkey hunting. Since taking my first bird years ago, I have been addicted! Six years ago, I called my own birds in, two toms, and took the largest of them. Ever since, I’ve been calling turkeys on my own unless a friend wishes to do the honors. When I take a tom as a result of my own calling, the reward of admiring the beard, spurs and iridescent hue of feathers has been the most gratifying of all of my personal harvests in our hunting woods. Since then I have also found great satisfaction in introducing others to our turkey hunting heritage and love the opportunity to call for them in hopes of both helping them bag their first tom and leaving the legacy of passing on our heritage to one I suspect will pay it forward. With that in mind, I wanted to share a personal hunting experience with all of you that really left its mark on me not just as a turkey hunter, but as a bowhunter… My alarm shattered the silence at 5 a.m. I headed out to my spot and parked my four-wheeler about 300 yards away. I carefully made my way to the ground blind, bobbing weaving like Muhammad Ali through the mesquites and cactus patches until I reached the blind. By 6 a.m. the toms were gobbling on their roosts. They were close, a good sign. I called slowly and quietly at first, gradually increasing my volume and urgency over the next 45 minutes. Nothing is vocalizing. The toms remained quiet throughout my calling but I reminded myself that just because they aren’t gobbling, doesn’t mean they aren’t coming. Eventually, I caught a flash of movement to my right; red heads assured me it was game time! I quieted my calling as they neared. I let out an occasional yelp and cluck to comfort them. I had an arrow nocked and ready. With every step, my heart beat louder. Butterflies flooded my guts as I felt blood surge through the veins in my neck, my pulse quickened. I talked myself off “the ledge” as turkeys filed into a draw at 60 yards, as I lost sight of them I knew they were still on their way. I heard the hens softly cluck and yelp,
Kevin and Jake. Photo Credit: Brian Magee at FiredUpOutdoors.com
then came a few close raspy yelps from the toms. The group came within view again, this time to my far right at about 20 yards and closing - seven hens up front, two jakes, in the middle, and a great tom pulling up the rear. The tom hung back behind an old cedar tree. I gave a couple of soft yelps with my mouth call but he tom held his position, he knew something wasn’t right. I turned my attention to the two jakes. They walked circles around my hen decoys before squaring off with each other. Finally, one hurdled over my decoys to spur the other, the fight was on! The other retaliated by leaping up to spur the other back. The fight lasted a mere 10 seconds and left me more anxious than ever. They stop to circle the decoy again, facing off
every few seconds. I resolved to harvest the larger of the two jakes sporting a 4” beard and ¾” spurs. I came to full draw. At this point he was less than eight yards from me on my side of the hen decoy. I held at full-draw for a long time; I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the shot. I put my finger on the trigger, and then backed off, performing that exercise numerous times before ultimately letting my string down slowly. “It’s not the one”, I thought as I let the young jake prod my decoy. You know, bowhunters are funny people. It’s true! We say there’s honor in anything you take with a bow, but “if it ain’t right, it ain’t right.” I went for a tom, could have had a jake and ultimately left
with nothing – I wouldn’t trade that hunt for anything. It’s never just about the harvest. It’s about the experiences, about the memories, about building a legacy and about taking others, especially our kids out to experience those same anxious moments of truth! Hunt hard, hunt often!
Kevin Reese is an award winning outdoor journalist who specializes in bowhunting.
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1777 River Road-Lakeview, Arkansas 72642 email: email@example.com Phone: 870-431-5202
Visit us on the web @ www.DriftwoodOutdoors.com
On the White River
There are countless outfitters serving those who wish to hire a guide on the famous White River below Bull Shoals Lake Dam. Driftwood Outdoors is fortunate to be working with two of the very best, Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock and Gaston’s White River Resort. Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock is a one stop shop for all water related activities on Bull Shoals Lake and the White River. Mr. Jackie Due is the head river guide for the Boat Dock, and after 40 years on the river, he knows where to find fish, BIG fish. Gaston’s White River Resort is one of the premiere trout fishing resorts in the world. With every amenity one could wish for, Gaston’s truly lives up to their motto of treating clients to a first class trout fishing experience. Mr. Jim Gaston is a living legend. His family pioneered guiding on the White River and they still lead the way when it comes to river fishing. If you’ve never fished the White River, we encourage you take a trip down there and experience Ozark trout fishing at its finest. Our friends at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock and Gaston’s Resort will make sure you have a wonderful stay. Trout are every in the White River area, including on the hood of Mr. Jackie Due’s van.
A cook from Gaston’s fries trout, fresh from the river that morning, to perfection.
With his playing days behind him, NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Smith now spends his days as the spokesman for Hobie Kayaks.
Lawrence Taylor displays a new tactic for keeping track of your kids with a Frabill fishing net.
The White River below Bull Shoals Dam is one of the premiere trout waters in the country. The area you see here is a catch-and-release trophy zone.
Brandon Butler releases a small brown trout back into the White River. If you fish the river, remember, rainbows are for eating and browns are for releasing.
Jackie Smith, licks his lips as he prepares to dig into Gaston’s shore lunch.
Mr. Jackie Due searches a hole for the shadow of a large trout. After 40 years on the water, he knows where the big ‘uns live.
Jimmy Jacobs, editor of seven Game & Fish magazines, shows off a respectable brown trout.
Gaston’s famous restaurant overlooks the river. If you’re fishing the river on a Sunday, you must take a break and have the famous Sunday Brunch.
A flotilla of fishing boats head for Gaston’s pavilion at lunch time. Gaston’s has perfected the art of shore lunch.
Driftwood Destinations is made up of outfitters, guides and lodges we endorse as reputable service providers. When deciding where to take your next fishing or hunting adventure, we encourage you to consider these fine destinations.
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by Brandon Butler
Happy clients of Beaver Creek Outfitters show off their elk antlers.
A few years ago, I decided to take a solo bowhunting trip for mule deer in the mountains of north-central Colorado. I met Scott Gesell of Beaver Creek Outfitters at a trade show, and we worked out a deal for him to take me into the mountains on horseback, where I would then hunt mule deer from a spike camp. It was an incomplete plan. Every time we hunters step in the woods, our goal should be to learn something. So here’s my lesson number one from my time with Beaver Creek: Do not go into elk country without an elk tag! I thought I’d be content deer hunting. I was not. I had elk within 20 yards everyday, 3 of which were really nice bulls. I never shot a deer, although I passed a dozen lesser bucks and a doe I still regret not arrowing. In the end, I came home determined to return to hunt elk with Beaver Creek Outfitters. I am saving my Colorado elk preference points, and as soon as I have six, I’ll use them to hunt for a nice bull with Scott. Beaver Creek Outfitters is permitted to hunt on four Game Management Units (GMU) and one Bureau of Land Management (BLM) area. The three GMUs are in the northern section of the Routt National Forest (#4, #441, and #214). All three have excellent elk and mule deer populations and are in mountainous terrain. They have some areas of thick, black timber, lots of Aspen trees and are integrated with many open parks and meadows. GMU #214 has a statewide muzzleloader area (easier to draw) and it is also an over-the-counter archery unit, meaning you do not have to
draw, so you can hunt there every year. The BLM area has similar terrain. It also offers excellent mule deer hunting, with many 28-30 inch wide trophies. It’s especially productive in the second and third rifle seasons, once the snow drives the deer to lower elevations. GMU #12 is located in the southern section of the Routt National Forest in the Beaver Flattops area and is southwest of Hayden, CO. This is also a quality elk and deer area. All of Beaver Creek’s areas are about an hour drive from Craig, CO. Once you reach base camp, you’ll then travel up to three hours on horseback to your tent camp. All hunting camps are seven-day hunts. This consists of packing into camp on the first day, five full hunting days, and packing out on the last day. Arrangements can be made for longer archery and muzzleloader hunts. We make every effort to arrange hunt dates to fit your desired times. It’s hard to explain how much I am looking forward to hunting with my friends at Beaver Creek Outfitters once my lucky number comes up for my muzzleloader tag. If you are interested in booking an elk hunt with a very good chance of success, contact Scott through his website www.huntbeavercreek.com.
If you would like your outdoor destination featured on Driftwood Destinations contact us at 660.216.5727 to learn more.
Beaver Creek Outfitters 19362 Glacier Rd Clearbrook, MN 56634 218-368-3679 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lessons Of A Lady Bear Hunter
WHAT TO KNOW WHEN YOU GO:
by Dianna L. Garbers My bear stew was a huge hit at a recent pitch in dinner. But surprisingly it wasn’t the recipe the women wanted me to share, it was the story of the hunt. Here is my story, my recipe, and what I learned. Let me start by saying I had never had a successful hunt, unless you count Easter eggs, morel mushrooms, or hide and seek with the kids! I pulled a short stint in a ground blind last deer season but I wasn’t able to bring anything to the table. So when my husband, Alan, suggested I accompany him and a friend on a bear hunt, I was skeptical. Alan convinced me this was a true hunt of a lifetime and I should go. I could decide at the time if I wanted to hunt and he would support whatever decision I made. In preparation, I bought a lever action 44 Marlin and spent the summer at the range. I also gathered gear and clothing. I watched and read everything I could find on bear habits and habitat. We arrived at our lodge in time to eat, shower and head out to our bait stands. I would be the first one dropped off and the last one picked up each day. Climbing into the stand, I was both scared and excited. My husband wished me luck and drove off to his stand. The next several hours were some of the longest in my life. Every sound put me on edge and the squirrels playing on the ground sounded like herds of elephants! Admittedly I was not entirely quiet, not sure I really wanted to see a bear. But the longer I sat there the more calm I felt. I was in a beautiful, peaceful setting and embarking on an adventure none of my friends could ever imagine. I sat there in the dark waiting for the guys to come pick me up and knew I wanted to make the most of every moment spent here. On the way back to the lodge I learned our friend had spotted a bear around 6pm, but it was spooked by a noise before he could get a shot. Alan was disappointed, he hadn’t seen anything. The next day I was the first one ready to head out. We grabbed our bait and arrived at my stand around 3pm. I sat as still as I could, making sure to not to make any noise. Around 6:10 I heard a rustling in the brush in front of my stand. Something was coming in and it was not making any effort to quiet its movements. Even though I had heard they were silent stalkers, I knew it was a bear. This was confirmed as it broke into a small clearing “woofing.” It could smell me but wasn’t sure where I was and the donuts in the bait were too tempting to stop it. I watched for
1. A GPS and a ThermaCELL are invaluable while hunting. Both are well worth the investment. 2. Find a weapon you are comfortable with and practice until you are confident in your ability. 3. Research your outfitter. Ask previous guests about their experiences, both successful and unsuccessful. 4. Know your prey and arm yourself appropriately. Know the weapon you need for the job. As my husband would say, “Don’t take a knife to a gunfight.”
Busy Mom’s Bear Stew
1 – Pound black bear meat 2 – 14.5 oz cans low sodium beef broth 1 - Packet Lipton onion soup mix 5 - Carrots -- sliced 5 - Potatoes -- cubed 3 - Stalks celery -- sliced 1 - 15 oz can cut green beans 2 - cups prepared noodles After removing all of the fat and silver meat from approximately one pound of bear meat, cut it into bite size chunks and brown in a skillet. Add browned meat to a crock-pot along with the beef broth and onion soup mix and vegetables. Cook on high heat for 6-8 hours in crock-pot. Prepare noodles per instructions on package and add to crock pot. You can also add a can of mixed vegetables, if you like, when you add the noodles. Serve and enjoy!
Dianna with her 2011 spring bear.
a few moments while it tore into the bait and decided to pass on this bear because I thought it was too small. But not wanting it to eat all of the donuts, I stomped on the stand so it would run off. It didn’t budge. So I said in as loud and confident voice as I could muster, “Get out of here.” Other than a glance my way, it still wasn’t leaving. What I did next, I would never do again, and not sure what possessed me, but I picked up a small twig from the stand and threw it at the bear! It jumped and turned around to see what I was going to do next, grabbed the remaining donut and sauntered off into the brush. I had survived my first bear encounter! Not fifteen minutes later I heard a slight noise off to my left and saw another bear coming from the brush sniffing the air. This bears approach was completely different from the first. It came in cautiously and silent, stopping occasionally to
sniff the air some more. It circled behind the stand and came into the bait. The remaining bait was a baitball tied to the tree. This bear was a shooter and as soon as it climbed up to steal the bait it presented a shot, which I took. The bear hit the ground and ran into the bush crashing around for a few moments, then, all was silent. It was a long two hours waiting for my husband and friend to come pick me up. While I waited another small bear came out but ran off the instant I turned to see what it was. The temperature was dropping and it was getting dark. When I saw Alan on the trail I told him I had shot a bear and where it went. We found a blood trail but it was getting dark fast and we knew we would have to wait until morning to retrieve my bear. After a sleepless night, we were able to find my bear and take it back to the lodge
I put bread mix in the bread maker in the morning and dinner is ready when I come home from work. Nothing like bear stew and homemade bread!
where I told my tale repeatedly to anyone who would listen. My first hunt and I bagged a bear! Unfortunately for the rest of our party, mine was the only bear that week! Alan saw one and got a shot but in the extremely thick brush we were unable to find it. It rained heavy that night and we never found a blood trail. So at the recent dinner, everyone thought it was hilarious that a rookie hunter skunked two veterans hunters. I find it interesting that women are the fastest growing numbers in the outdoor field. I never understood why before. I do now!
Early Spring Slabs by Allen Treadwel
Spring in Missouri makes me think of both hunting and fishing. If you are a Missourian and an outdoorsman like I am, then it is hard not to be excited about what Mother Nature has in store for us come April. The short cold days of winter are over., Days are longer, temperatures are warmer, and fun is just around the corner. One of my favorite activities to do as spring approaches and water temperatures start to raise, is to throw tube jigs to the shallows for crappie. Some of you may recognize me as a hunter and a shooter, but my hobby, my past time, is fishing. Whether it is crappie, white bass, or catfish, I can’t get enough of it, and Missouri offers some amazing opportunities. I start crappie fishing in February. At that time of year, you’re not pulling in the big numbers you will in the middle of March and April, but it gives you a chance
Allen Treadwell shows off a great Missouri crappie. A mess of these mixed in cornmeal makes a meal.
to get on the water and catch some fish. I start out early in the season pitching a 1/16th ounce tube jig in blue and white, or red and white. I use 4- pound test line. Light line helps jigs sink faster and is less visible. If you start having crappie snap 4-pound test, then please give me shout and let me know where you’re fishing. Finding crappie is the key to spring success. They’re shallow once the crap-
pie spawn is surging, but standing timber in deep water, like 20 feet deep or more, is great early. Shorter fish start moving shallow sooner than slabs, but the keepers won’t be far behind. Once crappie spawn, they head back to the deeper timber. One tool of the trade worth its weight in gold is a good fish finder. They allow you to see where fish are holding and at what depth. The best units have GPS. This allows you to mark waypoints when you find fish. I believe GPS is worth the extra money, because as many of you know, March and April in Missouri means big rains. When water raises or lowers, the bank looks different. By marking your spots on GPS, you can get right back on top of the fish when things look different. Keep an eye on the water temperature. When it reaches 55 degrees, start looking for male crappie on shallow banks close to deep water. The smaller males move in first to start preparing beds for the females. This can be a great time to catch a quick limit. The key is to not spend too much time in one area. After you catch 2 or 3 fish off of a spot, it’s probably best to move one. Chances are, there were only a few there. Later in the season you can pull several fish off of a spawning bank, but for now, they’re more spread out. When you catch a few, remember to mark it on your GPS, so you can hit it again later in the year. Once the spawn is in full swing and crappie are up on the bank, you can tear them up. Just about anything you throw will work. On a good day, you and a few buddies can load the boat with limits in a couple of hours. Spring also gives us turkey season. One of my absolute favorite things in the world is to be on the water reeling in slabs at daybreak as fog is lifting off the water, and to hear a turkey gobble in the distance. March and early April is the time to get out and scout for turkeys. You can accomplish this while crappie fishing. Talking about killing two birds with one stone. Before the season opens, the turkeys haven’t been harassed for almost a year and they are very calm and talkative. Spend a little bit of time before work up on a ridge, and you’ll find the areas that are going to hold the bulk of the turkeys on your hunting property come hunting season. Once you find them it’s just a matter of waiting of opening day. Pre-season scouting can be the difference between a bang up season and struggling along. If you’ll just spend some time scouting for turkeys, as you do for deer, your chances
Fishing with jigs usually works as good or better than fishing with minnows, and is a lot less work.
of success will be much higher. I use trail cameras for turkeys just like deer. You can learn a lot about their habits, including what areas they are using and what time they are passing through. A turkey is a very predictable bird if left alone. If they are using a certain food plot around 10 o’clock in the morning the week before season, you can bet if you are set up in that food plot on opening morning you should get a shot. One mistake I see a ton of people make in early season scouting is talking to the turkeys. As fun as it is to make them gobble, leave your turkey calls at home. Calling to pre-season birds does nothing but educate them. They learn that the hen in the distance that sounds like she is ready for love, never gives him any, and only makes it harder
to call him in when you have your gun in your hands. Believe me; leave those turkey calls at home. If you have to make them gobble, use a hoot owl call, or crow call. But in general, I advise you to resist the temptation. I hope all of you have an incredible April. I don’t know where in the world one can have as much fun in the outdoors as we do here in Missouri. Get outdoors and enjoy our great state. Until next time…
Allen Treadwell is a professional outdoor communicator who hosts television shows for Bass Pro Shop and Winchester.
The Conservation Corner A look inside the great outdoor groups making a difference here in Missouri.
Recycled Fish: Anglers as Stewards of the Resource
It’s thrilling when a fishing rod comes to life in your hands, but it’s even better when you’re hooked to a really big fish, right? To catch more and bigger fish, it takes the right lure with the right presentation in the right location. But it also takes more and bigger fish actually being there, swimming in our waters! That’s why there is Recycled Fish, the nonprofit organization of anglers “living a lifestyle of stewardship both on and off the water, because our lifestyle runs downstream.” On the water, we promote Catch and Release and Selective Harvest. Catch and Release has caught on, but our waters are still in trouble. Why? Because our lifestyle runs downstream. Our choices off the water actually matter as much as what we do on the water. Make no mistake - on the water stuff matters, too. Selective Harvest, cleaning up trash, and making sure we aren’t trans-
porting invasive species are important to healthy fisheries. But back at home, saving water, reducing energy usage, recycling and buying recycled, changing the way we take care of our lawns … even cleaning up dog poop in your yard helps our waters. And healthy waters grow more and bigger fish. One of the best things you can do: join the 1 Million Stewards at Recycled Fish (www. RecycledFish.org). When you do, we’ll send you a shoreline cleanup bag, a booklet that talks about everyday ways you can help our waters, and when you do something good – like cleaning up trash at your local fishin’ hole - you can tell your story at our website and win prizes, because Stewardship Has Its Rewards. After all, our lakes, streams and seas need not just sportsmen, but stewards – like you.
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Hunting When Pregnant by Stephanie Mallory
When I was in my 20s, I thought pregnant equaled homebound and helpless. That’s why the day I found out I was pregnant, I cried. Not because my husband and I didn’t want children, but because I thought all fun would have to cease while I incubated the baby. I had several turkey hunts planned for the upcoming spring, and I felt certain my doctor would make me cancel all of them. I made the earliest appointment I possibly could with my doctor, who confirmed my pregnancy and then diminished my fears. She explained to me that I’d be in my second trimester during turkey season, which is still a safe time to travel and hunt. I left her office feeling much better… that is until I told my friends and parents of my plans to turkey hunt that spring. They all looked at me as if I were crazy, then they expressed their concerns about tick-borne diseases, what gunfire could do to the baby’s hearing, and about getting sick because of bad weather. Pregnancy seemed to bring out the worry wart in everyone, and while I truly appreciated their concern, I got tired of defending my decision to hunt while pregnant. It’s true, certain sports such as skiing, biking and horseback riding should be avoided throughout pregnancy, but as my doctor informed me, hunting is not on the list of sports to shun. She explained, as long as the expectant mother uses common sense and is careful not to fall or over exert herself, then there’s no reason she can’t enjoy hunting. And she explained that the baby is so well insulated within the womb that a few gunshots wouldn’t affect its hearing. I ended up hunting more during that pregnancy and during my second pregnancy four years later than I did when I wasn’t pregnant, and I had more success to boot. In fact, one of my most memorable pregnant hunts involved killing a fourbearded gobbler during a freak spring
snow storm. Throughout my first two pregnancies, I enjoyed wonderful hunts and other adventures with my husband. But, my third pregnancy was a different story. At my six-week ultrasound, our jaws dropped when the ultrasound tech told my husband and me that we were having twins. I knew something was different about that pregnancy, as I felt worse than I had with my previous two…but “twins”. I wasn’t prepared to hear that word. After speaking with my doctor about what was now considered a high-risk pregnancy, we both agreed that I should stay out of the woods for the duration of the pregnancy. In a sense, it was my original nightmare-cometrue. But by that time, I understood that the following months would fly by, and I would be out in the woods again in no time. The twin pregnancy was uneventful until my 30th week. I went into preterm labor and ended up on hospital and home bed rest for an entire month before delivering my babies at 34 weeks gestation. They were both healthy and required little time in the NICU. So, I’ve made it through three pregnancies – two low-risk, which allowed me to continue to pursue game and one high-risk pregnancy, which kept me home bound and hoping for healthy babies. I learned so much through each pregnancy and by reading countless books and talking to doctors. Here are a few tips for hunting when your pregnant that I’ve learned throughout my experiences. • If you plan on flying to your hunting destination, consult your doctor. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, air travel is usually safe for the majority of pregnant women, although each individual should consult with her own obstetrician before making any air travel plans. Women experiencing complications, such as pre-term labor, hypertensive disease and other highrisk issues should not fly. And of course, you shouldn’t fly toward the end of your pregnancy.
Stephanie Mallory, 4-months-pregnant at the time, poses with her 24-pound bird and a jar of pickles and ice cream that the hunting guides provided her as a joke.
• Stay hydrated. Pregnant women require more than the standard eight glasses of water a day. If you’re exerting yourself at all while hunting, make sure that you drink plenty of water to replenish the fluids you lost. A lack of water during pregnancy can trigger premature labor. • Try to avoid falls. Pregnant women are more likely to fall than others because their center of gravity is off. Loose ligaments and tendons can also contribute to a fall as well as low blood pressure, blood sugar and blood counts. Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time and watch where you step. • Keep healthy snacks handy at all times. Make sure you keep plenty of snacks at the lodge and in your backpack. You never know when that queasy feeling will hit and you’ll need a snack to calm your stomach. • Make sure you carry the name and number of your obstetrician with you. That way if you have any questions or concerns regarding pregnancy during your hunt, you can call for advice. • Nap when you feel the need. Don’t push yourself during the hunt. You have nothing to prove and no one will think
less of you if you don’t get up for that 4 a.m. hunt. Listen to your body. If you are tired…then rest. • Dress in extra layers if it’s cold outside. Your higher hormone levels may make you feel chillier than usual. • Get up and move around at least once an hour. Yes, movement may frighten away an animal, but even more frightening is the potential for Deep Vein Thrombosis – a blood clot which forms deep within your body that can be potentially fatal. • Most importantly, talk to your doctor before you go hunting. Each person and pregnancy is different, and your doctor can give you the best advice for staying safe and healthy if you decide to hunt while pregnant. With these tips in mind, get out and enjoy yourself. Like me, you may find that you’ll experience your best luck and most memorable hunting trips during your pregnancy. Stephanie Mallory is the owner of Mallory Communications, and represents many of the largest companies in the outdoor industry.
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Fathers and Sons on the White River by Kenneth L. Kieser
Waters flowing down the White River mark passages of time. Fathers and sons have fished and hunted these waters for centuries. Trips to this river started as a means of survival in food and clothing. Today returns are measured in recreation and good meals, but fathers and sons still return. Glen Wheeler and Lawrence Taylor treasure these moments with their sons on this prime stretch of Arkansas River. Watching Zane Wheeler (9), Hunter Taylor (8) and Michael Taylor (5) hook and reel in trout makes the drive and expense seem unimportant and the best of times. Both men fished with their fathers and love to remember golden days when responsibility meant making good grades and mowing the yard. Dad’s kind looks of approval or perhaps a soft laugh while reeling in a good fish was silently received by the boys and mentally stored for later days, even though neither young man realized the importance of sharing time with their dads. But now their dad’s are gone and both men would give a year’s wages to see that kind look of approval or hear that soft laugh once again. Zane, Michael and Hunter all have one goal in mind on every visit, to catch the biggest trout. They love their annual visit to Gaston’s Trout Lodge and talk about it throughout the year to friends and family. But they love this fish-camp experience and make sure their dads bring them back to the long, green John boats used at Gaston’s, similar to the old wooden versions guides used on the river in days before the dams when the White River was still pristine. The water was warmer then and guides like the late Jim Owens, former mayor of Branson, Missouri took parties downriver. Dams eventually sent water from the lake bottom through chutes, making White River water ice cold and perfect for trout. But the boys don’t care about that. They just want to catch the biggest fish and impress their dads. Wheeler and Taylor exercise remarkable patience while making sure their sons have the best chances of catching trout. A constant vigil is required to make sure baits are correct and casts are uneventful, or in other words, insuring no hooks are
later dug out of scalps. But kids get bored when fish bites are slow, then a million questions start like: “Dad, why can’t I catch a trout now?” and “When’s lunch?” and “How much longer are we going to fish?” and “Are there weasels in the river, can we catch one?” Gaston’s White River guides pay attention to moments like this and are very talented in finding fish through constantly changing conditions, but more importantly, they are patient with young or beginning fishermen. So when the bite is slow, they motor to other fishing areas and use different techniques. New hope returns to young minds, even when the trout are biting slowly. “I just like to go down there and catch trout,” said Zane Wheeler. “I like spending time with dad too. I always catch more fish than him. But he never gets mad.” Zane and Hunter have made this trip with their dad’s four years straight. Both know how it feels to be Michael on his first trip and were surprised or perhaps annoyed when he caught a trout as big as theirs, his first trout ever. I watched both Taylor and Wheeler show a look of pride when their kids compared fish just before a fine trout shoreline lunch. “I caught my trout by myself,” Michael said. “Dad was there but he didn’t help much. He just showed me how to do it.” Wheeler and Taylor both learned the importance of these golden years with their sons on the White River and many other fishing spots. Their fathers planted the seeds of fishing in both men and now they are continuing this tradition. Someday these young men will return to the river with their kids and will longingly talk about those golden days when their dads took them fishing. “I look forward to coming here every year with dad,” Hunter said. “I love out fishing him too.” Zane, Hunter and Michael will remember the looks on their father’s faces when a fish was caught or they baited their first hook, and later they will realize that all was because of a father’s love for his sons. This legacy will continue through many centuries by fathers to their sons and daughters for memories to be stored in their mind’s special place, and some just call it fishing. Kenny Kieser is a member of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Communicator.
Michael Taylor, age 5.
It Pays to “Sit Right” by John Martino The first time I heard the phrase “I sat down wrong,” was decades ago when my wild turkey hunting career was still young. Back then my attitude still brimmed with the brashness of youth. At that time I was mired deeply with that know-it-all arrogance that comes from already having a half dozen kills under my belt. A group of turkey hunters stood outside a small diner in southern Missouri listening to a guy with gray stubble explain how he’d been beaten by a gobbler earlier that morning. The reason it turned out was he had chosen a poor set-up. “I screwed up,” the old man said matter-of-factly, “I sat down wrong.” I had just taken a nice gobbler and I remember silently thinking,” you silly old coot, you must not be a very good hunter, why would you set up wrong?” The years passed and I continued taking birds, but for some odd reason that old man’s words never left in my now bald head, especially each spring when turkey hunting season rolled around. To be quite honest, I am glad I never spoke those thoughts out loud because this year I would have choked on those same unspoken words. Because of a hectic work schedule, the first several days of this spring’s wild turkey hunting season went unanswered. But by the third day I was filled with anticipation. It was later that warm afternoon before I found myself ambling along an oak ridge. All of a sudden out of nowhere a turkey gobbled at the sound of my feet crunching the dry leaves. He was so close I could hear the rattle in his throat at the
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end of his booming call. He was already within shotgun range although I couldn’t see him because of the slope of the land. You would have thought I was a camo clad Keystone cop. For the next minute I had absolutely no productive thought in my head. I would have been much better off if he’d gobbled way off in the distance or not at all. I skittered around like a drop of water in a red hot skillet. I was in a thick growth of head-high oaks and several large trees blown down by strong winds. Instead of retaining my composure and easing out of those saplings or better yet, completely backing out to find a better set up, I immediately yanked my camo facemask crookedly over my head and plopped down beside a dead snag. I figured if the hip-hop crowd could wear their hat sideways, then I could do the same with my facemask. As soon as my backside hit the moist ground, I blew one soft yelp from the diaphragm call pasted to the roof of my mouth. He hammered back instantaneously, this time even closer. It was at that exact moment I realized the folly of my mistake. Sitting down my whole world just shrank to the size of a small bedroom. I would have been much better off to just stand. But for some reason there has
John Martino with a beautiful spring gobbler.
always been an unwritten rule you must sit when turkey hunting. I know for a fact if I remained standing that bird’s next visit would have been to the oven. He gobbled again almost blowing my facemask straight. He was less than 20 yards away. Through the dense brush I could see occasional small patches of blue on his glowing head and part of his fanned tail. He stayed with me for the next five minutes, gobbling, drumming and wanting to commit suicide. I would have
obliged if only I could have gotten a clear shot. He eventually tired of the game and either went looking for a more cooperative hen or knew something wasn‘t right. “Only fools rush in,” I said out loud after that encounter. One of the best ways to fumble a setup is to get in a hurry. I should have taken my time and picked a better spot to set up. Most of all, I should have never called. But then again, that nerve jangling situation that explodes in your head when a turkey gobbles right in your face is not conducive to analytical thought. It short-circuits you. Who would have ever thought a bird with the brain the size of a grape could humble the best of us. Another thing I learned from that encounter is even when a gobbler surprises you within spitting range; you still probably have more time than you think. The reason a turkey gobbles is because he thinks you are a hen or another gobbler. Either way, he’s not likely to move towards you before you answer, not very rapidly anyway. Sure, you can’t stand there all day and mull the situation over, but you don’t have to plop down right at that exact moment either. Later that evening as I trudged back to my truck, I realized plainly and simply “I sat down wrong,” just like the old guy at the diner said years ago. Maybe that old coot wasn’t so silly after all! John Martino is a longtime outdoor writer from Indiana.
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