Archives for May 2014

Late season update

I haven’t been home in 4 days.  I’m only 30 miles away but it feels like 3000.   I’ve spent the last 4 days trying to get some good folks on a turkey and I’ve stayed with them at our company lodge.  I’m absolutely worn out and in 4 hours, I’ve got to get up and take my hunters to the airport…then go work a 13 hour day.  I’m exhausted.  But the past 4 days is some of the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on in a long time.  When I get home tomorrow, I’m going to pour a whiskey and write all about it.  Until then, in the words of Mills Lane; good fight, good night.

Still Trying

With turkey season wrapping up at the end of next week, I generally spend this time of year resting and recovering from 2 months of craziness.  Getting four or five hours of sleep every night, and then going full throttle all day wears on you.  But I can’t stop yet. Yesterday I took a repeat client, Jon on his second turkey hunt.  We hunted hard and gave it a hero’s effort but by noon, we hadn’t produced anything except for one gobble about 2 counties away.  Deciding to take advantage of the weather, we swapped our camo for waders and hit the trout stream.  Still in turkey country and keeping the shotgun close, we fished a good Fayette County freestone and managed to get into some good fish.  Jon put some good drifts down and was rewarded with the some great fish including an 18 inch male brookie he coaxed out from under a big rock.  I’ve fished this stream for a lot of years and it was the largest fish I’ve seen brought to hand here.  Pretty good stuff.  Some stream side beers capped off a pretty damn fine day, turkey or no turkey.  We will get him next year, Jon, come hell or high water.

Jon with his stud of a brookie

Jon with his stud of a brookie

I’ve got a couple fishing trips to get done and then Tuesday, my buddy Dave from Inside Outdoors TV is coming up to try and smack a late season Pennsylvania gobbler.  I’ve kept really close tabs on the birds and while they just aren’t gobbling much any more,  if Dave can be patient, I think we can probably get one killed.  When we do, you’ll be the first to know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday

SteveHatchertukeys

Here’s the ol Man in 1975 with a big West Virginia longbeard.  That mustache ain’t too shabby either.

 

Dad wraps up his spring in Pennsylvania

Above is a short clip from our hunt this morning.  My dad made it up yesterday and we went out and scouted a little bit.  He’s never hunted Pennsylvania and our schedules lined up with me having two days off so he made the trip to try and end his season with a bang.  This morning was was a chilly 32 degrees but the birds were gobbling and we got one to commit after coming from behind and circling us.  Once in front of our setup, he marched in to 25 yards and without hesitating, Dad dropped the hammer.  It was a very exciting hunt and I really enjoyed being able to put him on his first Pennsylvania turkey.  After all the birds he’s put me on over the years, it was gratifying to begin to return the favor.

The obligatory hero shot

The obligatory hero shot

Success in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvanialongbeard

Getting it done before the rain moved in.

I’ve been pretty busy with work so I was pretty happy to get a day off to go chase turkeys by myself.  I normally hunt on public land up here in Pa but I’ve been hunting clients on some private ground that’s a little closer to our home base.  After finishing with most of my hunting clients for the year, I figured I might as well hunt there myself.  We’ve hit this place pretty hard and I’m going to move on to a new patch of ground for my remaining hunters, but I was pretty sure I could squeeze one more bird out of there.

The turkeys here have gobbled pretty good, albeit a little late in the morning.  I have been out here almost every morning for the past month and aside from a few mornings, the birds haven’t made a sound until they flew down.  Kind of weird.  I know where they roost and a lot of times I hear them fly down, but they will not gobble on the limb.  Their normal gobble time of 6:45 came and went, but I never heard a thing.  Undeterred, I sat still and pulled out my slow and steady tactic of clucking and purring every 15 minutes or so.  I had a commanding view of the area from where I was so I sat tight.  I knew they were out there somewhere, so it made no sense to leave.  Around 9, a bird shock gobbled at a crow about 300 yards away on the neighbors property.  I got creative with my calling and tried to make him respond but no dice.  Back to the clucking and purring.

Around 10 o’clock I heard a distinct sound that was not like the normal bird chirps of the spring woods.  A sound I’d know anywhere…a gobbler spitting.  No drumming, just spitting.  Then I spied the top of his fan over the mayapples in front of me.  Then his head, crown glowing like a light bulb, finally appeared. He was probably 40 yards out just standing there in full strut.  The undergrowth in the mountains has really popped out in the past few days and rather than rush the shot through the thick stuff I just watched him as he moved toward an opening.  Now drumming as well, he just stood there blown up turning left then right.  Behind him were two more long beards, just standing and looking.  What I failed to see was the hen they had with them that kept getting closer to me.  I noticed her about the time she noticed me at 10 yards to my right.  She never spooked but she knew something was askew.  She did that weird head cocked to the side look turkeys give when they can’t make something out and started turning away from me getting ready to make an exit. Knowing I had just a few seconds before she boogered and ran everyone off, I decided to shoot the strutter as soon as he faced me.  I know you’re not supposed to shoot strutting turkeys, but you have to do what have to do.  He turned and the old A5 roared, knocking him flat on his back.  He didn’t even flop.

As I get older, I realize the things my dad taught me about turkey hunting when I was growing up are very true.  Two of his lessons rang true this morning.  1.) They don’t have to gobble to kill them.  2.) Patience kills more turkeys than anything.  I knew there were at least 4 gobblers that weren’t killed on this place.  I was in their house.  It’s where they live and to kill them, you have to live there too.  I wound up with a 21 pound gobbler and one hell of an exciting end to an otherwise mundane morning…all because I sat still and didn’t quit when I didn’t hear anything. Turkeys don’t get the luxury of leaving when the weather is bad or if they get tired of being out there and neither can you.  They just walk around all day.  They’re gregarious animals, and they will investigate sounds of other turkeys.  They aren’t always in a hurry,  but they’ll make it eventually.  Like I’ve said before, it may not be the most exciting method, but it gets the job done when the conditions call for it.  It was a fantastic way to cap my season and I’m looking forward to taking my remaining hunters.  Let’s just hope the birds are a little more vocal.

Marc Anthony accused of faking it

MarcAnthony Looks like bowhunting celebrity Marc Anthony is caught up in a little bit of a scandal.  I’ll keep my opinion to myself until I know more about it.  Here’s what Field & Stream has to say:

When Marc Anthony shot what appeared to be 190-class buck with his bow in the fall of 2010, he caught a lot of people’s attention. Anthony, who hunts from the ground with a ghillie suit, had already killed a pair of net Boone & Crockett bucks using this method, so tagging Booner No. 3…

LINK (Via: Fieldandstream.com)

One more hits the dirt in WV…Still trying in Pa

WestVirginiaTurkey10I’ve been a little busy and haven’t updated lately but I’ve yet to kill a turkey in Pennsylvania this year.  More on that later. Down south, our friend Valerie Vaughn who killed her first bird earlier in the season, had one more tag to try and fill. My dad took her to the same place she killed her first bird about a week before. Nothing gobbling until around 10am one fired up fairly close.  They talked to him a little bit and out pops a gobbling jake. Wrong place for him to be. Valerie put a great shot on him and has tagged out for the year.  Job well done!

As far as the Pennsylvania season goes, I think we’re just starting to get into the meat of it. The first week produced some gobbling but no responses. I only have gotten to hunt 2 full days and the rest have been short hunts before work. All the birds I’ve dealt with have had hens and aside from the occasional courtesy gobble, have yet to have one crank up…until yesterday. As well as being a fly fishing guide, the company I work for also offers turkey hunts and yesterday was my first hunt of the season with a paying customer. We didn’t hear a bird until 7:30 out on a point where they’ve been roosted all week.  I did get a bird to respond and slowly he closed the gap.  When he was about 200 yards out a bird gobbled 50 yards behind us.  One had come in silent and then cut loose right on top of us.  We sat tight and let him go away gobbling.  Once I was confident he wouldn’t see us, I was able to get my hunter spun around and facing the right direction. A couple clucks and he thundered back. He offered a split second shot and when he didn’t see that hen, off he went. A couple more gobbles as he went away and that was that. We had everything but the trigger pull. Like it or not, that’s turkey hunting.

I’ve got more hunters this week and hopefully we will be able to get the job done. I might even be able to get out there myself a morning or two. There’s going to be some changes with the blog soon and I’m going to increase my content output. I’ve got some big things in the works. Thanks for reading and stay tuned. Like these Pa turkeys, I’m just getting started.

 

Tagged out in West Virginia

My dad, Steven Hatcher with his second WV longbeard of the year.

My dad, Steven Hatcher with his second WV longbeard of the year.

Three days into the second week, Dad’s West Virginia season has come to a triumphant close.  He hunted a new spot this morning close to his house where a friend had spotted three gobblers strutting in a field a few days before.  This morning he was able to get within sixty yards of of three gobblers still on the limb.  A couple of soft clucks was all they needed.  They pitched off and strutted right to him.  Job well done ol’ boy.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get down south one more time and chase the two survivors.  Dad has the rest of the week to relax but next week, he’s heading north to stay with me and give these yankee birds a run for their money.  These turkeys up here better enjoy these next few days of peace.

Another WV gobbler bites the dust.

 

Pops getting done in southern West Virginia.

Pops getting done in southern West Virginia.

While I’d rather have been hunting, I had to work today guiding a good client of mine on one of my favorite Pennsylvania freestone streams.  I knew my dad was going back after a bird he didn’t connect with yesterday.  I keep my phone on vibrate in my chest pack and around 9 o’clock I felt it go off.  I didn’t have to look at it to know what it was.  My dad hunted hard yesterday but never heard a gobble.  Things were a bit different this morning.  He told me after taking almost an hour and a half to get into a favorable position, he called a big tom to the gun barrel.  Hunting turkeys in the steep hills of southern West Virginia can be a real challenge, but the old man stuck it out and found the right bird. Fifty seasons under his belt and he’s still knocking ’em dead.   Good job Dad!

Sunday hunting in West Virginia.

SundayHuntingWVIf you live in West Virginia you’re probably aware of our asinine law which does not allow hunting on Sunday except on private land in 14 of the 55 counties.  I’m not going to get into the reasons why the current laws are stupid, but what I will do is encourage you to vote on May 13 and help get the state moving in the right direction.  While the upcoming vote will only allow for hunting on private land, it is a step in the right direction to opening all land in the state to Sunday hunting.   Here’s a link the Sunday Hunting in WV Facebook Group.  Like it and share it.  Spread the word and make your voice heard at the polls May 13.