The Spirit of the Hunt
Apr16

The Spirit of the Hunt

Photos document a moment in time, but they only tell part of the story. Our hunting stories come to life every time we tell them, but no story is as vivid as the experience when it happened, and the words pale in comparison to the actual hunt. But for me, as with most hunters, the storytelling is part of what we love about hunting, along with the connection to nature that surrounds us. Opening day for turkey hunting on private land in South Carolina started with the threat of powerful thunderstorms, but we decided to make the hour-and-a-half trek to our hunt club regardless, knowing that the weather often changes quickly. Quite sure that it would be a short hunt with the storm threat, we decided to sit together in a blind that we had originally set up for my husband, Trippett. Being a gentleman, he was good with letting me take the lead with the calling as we worked together to get the decoys set up and got ourselves situated so we could quiet down and listen for the sound we dream about hearing . . . gobble, gobble, gobble! Daybreak was a good 40 minutes away, and we sat quietly and waited for the forest to wake up. The skies cleared, the rain stopped pelting on our blind, and we were so happy we didn’t forgo the opening day hunt because of weather. One of the things I love most about hunting is the spiritual connection I feel as I sit and wait. Day after day, we find ourselves exhausted from the constant stimulation we are exposed to, both physically and mentally. The opportunity to sit quietly and peacefully grounds me, and this is a spiritual break that I look forward to so much. Typically, I would be by myself, but today I shared this sanctuary with my hubby, who is not too proud to get comfortable and take a nap, knowing that I was on full alert watching for signs of turkeys. As for me, I soak it all in . . . every tree frog that croaks, every crow that caws, every owl that hoots, and every noise I can’t make out keeps me in the moment. This spiritual break is what I seek when I hunt. The big bird in the photo is very important, trust me, but bringing home my quarry is only a part of what compels me to hunt. As I sat there in the darkness of the blind, armed with my favorite slate call, I gently sanded the surface of the slate and sat ready to respond to the sound...

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Snake in the Grass… Gobble Gobble!!
Mar18

Snake in the Grass… Gobble Gobble!!

Finally! Turkey hunting starts on private land in South Carolina on the 20th of March! Many hunters spend the months and weeks prior to the season preparing and counting down the days.  Like many regions, we have a good many venomous snakes to be aware of when we hunt, especially when turkey hunting.  I don’t have a fear of snakes, but I do have a healthy respect for them.   I like to start out in a blind, and if I don’t have any luck, I like to run and gun and that means I may find myself sitting up against a tree or stalking through some dense woods to get closer to a gobbler. Snakes are expected to be in the woods, so you just need to be careful especially where you put your hands. I like to take an extra chair in my blind so that I can set my backpack on it instead of on the ground. Wearing snake boots is a given and I feel comfortable wearing them year round when hunting.  Checking your blind with a flashlight throughly is a very good idea before you get too comfortable and carry a stick which makes a good first defense should you come upon one. I had a snake in my elevated deer stand this past year so that told me that you need to be prepared. Here are some of the most interesting ideas I found on some forums about dealing with snakes when turkey hunting:  If you are hunting in a blind, when you first approach the blind, give it a good shake so that if there is a rattle snake in it, it will alert you. Make sure there are no snakes nearby and then sprinkle Snake repellent or moth balls around your blind. The snake repellent I found smells just like moth balls and I find it too strong for me to consider. Snakes do not like to crawl over hemp rope.  Surround your hunting space or blind with a rope. Snakes hate cinnamon and clove –  In a gallon bucket, add 10 drops of each essential oil in the bucket and mix.  Use a spray bottle to spray the outside of your tent. Snakes also do not like tick spray- spray the outside of your blind thoroughly with tick spray. Take a plastic container in the blind to keep everything dry and in one place so you don’t have to search in the dark for gear. Make sure your blind has been completely cleared of all plants, grass, or anything that would make a cozy place for a snake.  I shoveled...

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Things That Go BUMP in the Blind!
Mar30

Things That Go BUMP in the Blind!

Those of us who hunt turkeys can’t wait to get out in the woods to take on the challenge of calling in that gobbler and making a perfect shot. Unlike deer hunting, where we have the option to sit high above the ground in our tree stands, we are resigned to hunting from a ground blind or under a tree. I love sitting up high and being able to look down and know what is going on all around me. But turkey hunting does not offer that opportunity, as elevated blinds aren’t allowed. When turkey hunting, I prefer a ground blind to sitting up against a tree. Like last year, I am hunting solo but very grateful that I will be dropped off at my blind instead of having to walk a long way to get there in the early darkness. Entering my blind, I settle in and set up as quickly as possible so that I can turn off my headlamp to avoid alerting the turkeys roosting high up in their trees. I check that my gun is loaded, and the safety on. A blind is just that—a blind. You can’t see in, and in the dark you can’t see out! I rest my handgun on my lap, just in case. In case of what, you ask? Memories of last year swirl in my head. I was dropped off deep in the South Carolina swamp near Gum Branch Creek. My blind was set up approximately 2 miles away from where my husband would be hunting. The guide said he would be back around 11 to pick me up. As I was getting ready to turn off my light, I checked my cell phone to make sure I had reception so that I would be able to text my husband, and at that moment I realized my battery did not charge overnight as I had expected. Okay, I have no cell phone, no backup battery pack, and no one’s coming for me for five hours! Immediately, my mind is on high alert. What if a snake bites me? What if I have an accident? Could there really be a Swamp Man? What the heck was that noise? It sounds close! My handgun is off my lap and held in a firm grip in my hand prepared for anything that might happen. I take a deep breath and calm myself down. Yoga breathing. Yes, everything will be fine. It was probably a squirrel. Minutes seem like hours as the owls screech overhead, and the blackness inside my blind has never seemed blacker. There’s no moon to lighten the skies. I swear...

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Hot Gobble Soup on a Cold Wintry Night!
Mar16

Hot Gobble Soup on a Cold Wintry Night!

In just a few more days. we will be out hunting turkeys, so  I checked the freezer and saw that we had two large packs of turkey breast meat from last March.  The weather is cold tonight with temps expected to go to the mid 20’s which is very cold for a night in March in South Carolina.  What could be better than wild turkey soup with wild rice?   Nothing except organic vegetables, spices, and wild rice was used to celebrate this beautiful bounty!  What an amazing dinner we had!   I tried a different approach to making the soup and was happy with the results.   Check out this recipe: Ingredients: Turkey breast meat cut in into chunks 4  carrots 4 stalks of celery 1 large onion 6 cloves of  garlic- crushed in large hunks 1  can of diced tomatoes 1 carton of chicken broth low sodium organic 4 cups of water Fresh sprigs of parsley Spices:  salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, tarragon, rosemary, onion powder, garlic salt- to taste! I tried something different – I tossed the turkey chunks with olive oil and seasoned them with rosemary, salt and pepper,  I roasted them in the oven for about 15 minutes so that they were partially cooked.   I sautéed the onions, carrots, garlic, and celery in olive oil until translucent.  I added all the ingredients except the wild rice into the crockpot and cooked for 4 hours on high.  I added the wild rice the last hour.   The soup had a fresh, aromatic, and hearty appeal.  My hubby said it was the best wild turkey soup he has ever had and I have to agree!  We are so inspired to have a very successful turkey hunting season this Spring.  Thank you Mr. Tom!           Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogleRedditLike this:Like...

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Giants Among Turkeys!
Feb16

Giants Among Turkeys!

When I joined the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association by the urging of writers, Dr. Bobby Dale and Jim Casada,  I had no idea I would be in such incredible company.  If being a career Emergency Medicine physician isn’t enough, Dr. Dale of Tupelo, MS shares his passion for turkey hunting by writing books about adventures he and his colorful and famous cohorts have enjoyed over the years.   I am so tickled to add Turkey Roost Tales, Bearded Rednecks, and his very special children’s book, Rainbow to my library.  Dr. Dale’s hunting tales confirm that being a  turkey hunter puts you in a club that is distinguished from all others.  It’s that immediate smile you get when you say “turkey hunting” and you know right then the person you are speaking with is in the club.      Rainbow will touch your heart.  It has a special message not only for your special youngster but for you as well.  Nature belongs to everyone and the “main character” will make you feel like a child again. Check out dg book sale to find out more about these wonderful books and Dr. Dale will be happy to inscribe them for you. Dr. Bobby Dale, SEOPA’s first vice president, read my article that appeared in Sporting Classics Daily and asked Jim Casada to contact me to encourage me to be a part of this outdoor communications organization.  Jim has been my sponsor and my mentor and I could not feel more privileged to be associated with these amazing writers.  Quite frankly, it is a bit intimidating to have these talented writers read my articles and blog posts!  I humbly admit, I write for fun and my writing skills are not on their level or even close! Jim Casada is a retired history professor from Winthrop University and a widely published outdoor writer with over 40 books and over 5000 magazine articles published.  Currently the Editor at Large for Sporting Classics,  he has earned more than 150 excellence-in-craft honors for his writings.  I first learned of Jim Casada several years ago,  when my husband and I received a book gift,  America’s Greatest Game Bird by Archibald Rutledge- edited by Jim Casada.  Written in the first half of the 20th century, Rutledge’s stories about turkey hunting are timeless and capture the spirit of why the turkey is truly the greatest game bird.   Jim Casada masterfully assembled what is called the Rutledge Quintet a collection of books with Rutledge’s tales of his love for  hunting and the outdoors.    To get more information on these books, visit Jim Casada Outdoors where there is a virtual library of some of the best outdoor...

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The Bearded Lady
Jun03

The Bearded Lady

Going Home… Turkey hunting season had been over in SC for almost a month, but not in PA where the season ended on May 31st. I planned to visit my family Memorial Day Weekend in northeastern Pa and of course, to hunt turkeys. I was born and  grew up in Pa, but have resided in SC for most of my life.   Since I did not take a bird this year in SC, I was eager to have a successful hunt. I took care of getting my Non- Resident PA Spring Turkey License and was intently looking forward to hunting turkeys on the family farm. With a very limited hunting time available and a whole lot of family gatherings, I had to make the most of it. The Hunt My husband was not hunting, but I was happy for him to come along with me.    We set up in the blind at 4:30 am and quietly waited for the woods to awaken with sounds of birds singing around us. As light broke, we were excited to see wildlife including a beautiful deer and a very aggressive coyote working the field. It’s coloration blended in with the landscape and it was on the hunt for a meal. It provided us with some great entertainment, but I knew that a coyote would not be good for a hunt as he would scare off the turkeys. “I laughed to myself wondering if my turkey calling would have a southern accent!’ One distinct difference in PA is that all bearded birds are legal to hunt in the Spring, unlike SC where it is not legal to shoot bearded females. For those of you who are not familiar, yes about 10 % of female turkeys have beards. Quite often hunters take bearded hens thinking it was a Tom based on the fact that it has a beard.I was so happy to finally see 3 birds about 200 yards away. I laughed to myself wondering if my turkey calling would have a southern accent! The biggest bird had a 4+ inch beard and as it got closer, I could see it was a bearded hen. Because of my time constraints, I made a decision that I would not hold out for a big Tom.  For today, it was about the harvest.   I took the bird and my hunt was over. Now, I was determined to prepare the turkey for traditional roasting so I picked the feathers and cleaned the bird so that there would be no waste. Many hunters only harvest the breast meat, but that was never an option for me. Preparing...

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