Post Turkey Season Happenings

My turkey season finished on a pretty low note here in Pennsylvania.  Try as I might, I couldn’t get on the right bird and I wound up eating my tags in both Pennyslvania and West Virginia.  Oh well.

Pennsylvania WoodsThis is how I left the Pennsylvania Turkey woods.  No turkeys were harmed.

Nemacolin Fly FishingLuckily, I’ve been staying really busy guiding fly fishing clients here in the Laurel Highlands.  Here’s a happy first time fly fisherman with his first trout.  A lot of our business involves teaching new anglers on the fly (no pun intended) and it is really rewarding to see someone go from never even holding a fly rod to being able to make a drift and catch a fish.

Lots of mayflies like this Light Cahill keep the trout active.  It’s been really fun getting to fish dry flies.

Yough River

Youghiogheny River Trout

I even get to fish too sometimes.  I caught this rainbow in the river one evening during a pretty significant sulphur hatch.  Catching fish on top is fun.  Catching big fish on top is more fun.

Brown troutTwo evenings later, our client Jesse hooked up on a big river brown.  It drug him around for a while before we could finally get him in the net.  This fish reminded me there is more to netting a fish in current than stabbing at it with the basket.  Being patient and waiting for the prime opportunity to scoop it is key to not losing the fish and Mike Steiner (right) displayed some masterful technique.

brown troutThe look on Mike’s face says it all.  Fish like this don’t happen every day and to get one landed for a client is a really good feeling.  It’s nice to get reminded once in a while why we do this.

brown troutOne more of the hog brown’s release on my GoPro.  Such an great fish.  The sad part of this is I walked past this fish two days in a row and didn’t even know it.  Maybe next time I’ll be a little more thorough.

I’ve been a little busy and it’s been a little tough to adjust with the long days on the water with no days off so my posting has dropped off considerably.  I’ve got some new stuff in the works and will be doing some more cool stuff with the Benjamin Marauder.  200 yard pellet gun shots?  It’s looking that way.

My Life As a Turkey

Joe Hutto knows more about the wild turkey than any living person.  That’s because he raised a brood of them from eggs.  He was the the first face they saw upon hatching and imprinted on them.  He lived a year with them.  Every day, he was a turkey.  He wrote a book about his experience called Illumination in the Flatwoods.  PBS did a documentary about it.   The link to the full episode is HERE.


Sometimes You Need Checked

I killed my first turkey when I was seven years old.  Twenty-three years have passed since then and during those years I’ve gotten to experience a lot in the turkey woods.  I’ve had the privilege of being raised by a turkey hunting fanatic and to meet and hunt with some truly fantastic turkey hunters.  When these guys talk, I listen.  I’ve picked up things from them that I’ve used with great success and they’ve helped steepen the turkey hunting learning curve.  I’ve also boogered up more turkeys than I care to admit and had more than a few do things that range from out of the ordinary to downright logic defying.  And I’ve gotten lucky, a lot too. [Read more…]

Done in West Virginia


At least someone (obviously not me) can still get the job done.  Dad punched his second West Virginia turkey tag last week on this dandy Fayette County tom.  I’ve hunted my ass off ever since I’ve got home from out west but I’ve continued to strike out.  I did have a few close calls back home one day I bowhunted (for the record, bowhunting turkeys is stupid), and my buddy Jon Cohen and I came really close on the opening day of Pennsylvania, but that’s about it.  This is my 23rd turkey season and I can confidently say it ranks in the top 3 most difficult years I’ve ever had.  But it isn’t over yet.  I called in reinforcements and Dad arrived here in Pennyslvania.  He came close this morning and I think tomorrow he stands a good chance of knocking one out.  So for those who care, that’s my season at home so far.  We still have more than two weeks to go.  Hopefully we can get a few more killed before quitting time.

Custom Benjamin Marauder Project Complete



It took a little longer than I’d planned, but I got the Marauder buttoned up.  I ended up shooting the stock with a flat PPG auto paint.  It’s plenty durable and took me 15 minutes to do.  I used a friend’s paint booth at his body shop.  You could could also use a rattle can but your results might not be perfect.

[Read more…]

West Virginia So Far


I didn’t get to hunt the opening day because I had to work, but my dad was successful back home in Fayette County.  He had 4 longbeards in front of him and killed a good bird with an 11 inch beard.  I hunted yesterday on some public land close to Morgantown where I have killed birds in the past.  I didn’t hear any gobbling but saw no sign of any other hunters.  This morning I did hear a bird gobble but I also saw 3 people between me and him so I made an early exit and came home to do yard work.  The season is young and hopefully next week I’ll be able to head south and hunt some of my old honey holes.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

I got to be in Saturday’s paper in a piece about turkey hunting done by Bob Frye.  They even put my picture in there.  They must have had a limited photo selection.  LINK.

Three States in Eleven Days

I just got back from my annual springtime turkey hunting trip to the midwest.  My dad and I, along with a few others, hit Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.  The following pictures are the high spots of the trip.  I’ll post more and a few videos as I get them sorted out.

My dad was the first to draw blood in Oklahoma.  He killed this pair of gobblers immediately after fly down when they decided to land in the wrong place…right in front of his gun barrel.

Our good friend from back home, Stephen Young killed these two longbeards the first morning not far from where I was hunting.  The report of his shot made a turkey gobble right behind me.

Around 9:30, during a thunderstorm, I intercepted this gobbler sneaking up a row of cedars.  I had been surrounded by a group of gobbling jakes not long before this guy came out.  He was really being cautious and was on the look out for the band of gobbling marauders.

oklahoma turkeyI killed my second bird the second evening of the hunt.  He came in gobbling hard and got up on a bluff behind me.  I even saw him peeking over the edge of the bluff trying to locate the hen he heard.  Realizing he overshot his target he hopped of the bluff right in front of me where I had to make a quick shot.  I’ve always heard you couldn’t call them downhill, but nobody every said anything about calling them off a cliff.

armadilloI did see a couple armadillos in Oklahoma.  I’m sure people who see them every day don’t think much of it, but they’re quite a novelty to an East Coaster.

rio grande turkeyThey’re all beautiful in their own way, but there is something about the buff color on the base of a Rio’s tail.


IMG_7539After we all tagged out in Oklahoma, we set our sights on southeast Kansas where it was my dad again who scored first on the morning of the shotgun opener.  This bird weighed almost 25 pounds.

stevenyoung                                                    Stephen also killed a great bird opening morning.

kansas turkeyAfter not hearing much the opening day, I managed to get this big double bearded bird into shotgun range.  He had a big paintbrush main beard with a 7.5 inch second beard.

longspurI didn’t get a chance to measure them, but this bird definitely had some hooks on him.  They were at least 1.5 inches long.  He’s my best Kansas turkey to date and I was happy to get him.

robstoneMy good friend from back home, Rob Stone with a great Kansas bird.  Rob had been in Kansas doing video work and guiding and found a little time to hunt.  He called three in one evening and filled his second tag.  He killed another great one a week before with his Mathews NoCam.  We had a close call together the day before shotgun season opened when we had an old gobbler come to us.  I watched the footage on my tv and I can say he with about 99% confidence he has a 12 inch beard.  You don’t see many of those.  He was about 1o yards short of Rob sticking an arrow in him before a hen took him away.

IMG_7590While everyone else struggled to hear a gobbling bird, Dad found a willing participant and called him into shotgun range the next morning.  After three days of hard hunting, we parted ways with our buddy Stephen and headed to Missouri but not before we found a bunch of Morels which we thoroughly enjoyed.  Leftovers don’t exist with these things.

morel mushroomsFor Missouri, we hunted Stateline Trophy Hunters in Mulberry Kansas with our longtime friend Rusty Willis who runs the outfit.   Conveniently located 300 yards from the Missouri border, Stateline offers a unique opportunity to hunt two states from one spot.  I hunted the Kansas side hard for a day and half trying to fill my second tag.  Kansas had been pretty slow in terms of gobbling, but I did manage to get on one.  He came in behind me and I rushed the shot and missed him at 10 yards.  He isn’t the first one and won’t be the last but it doesn’t make it any easier to take.  There are few feelings worse than boogering a turkey.

turkeyThe opening morning of Missouri season, we hunted a farm Rusty had just leased a few weeks prior.  It was loaded with strutting toms.  Before daylight of the opening morning, Dad and I positioned ourselves in the corner of a secluded pasture where we had made a nest in the brush the previous evening.  Birds had been strutting in this pasture for days and we figured this was a likely ambush spot for the henned up gobblers.  We had this big rehearsed plan that if two birds came out together we would shoot on the count of 3.  That very thing happened, except my bird was the only one who fell.  I think I shot a little early and made Dad flinch.  For the record, the whole shoot on 3 thing is tougher to pull off in practice than it is in theory.  I wound up with a 24 pound double bearded tom, and Dad got a funny story to tell.

IMG_7883The second day of Missouri season, I sat at a distance and watched birds filter out into the main pasture field after fly down.  Four gobblers and their respective group of hens aimlessly meandered through the field for at least 2 hours before the hens broke off to do whatever it is they do.  Knowing my dad was positioned somewhere in the field edge, I watched intently through my binoculars trying to locate him but to no avail.  I watched a lone tom strut up the left side of the pasture close to where I thought Dad would be hiding.  I heard the familiar sound of his box call and the gobbler responded.  The turkey turned and marched back up the tree line almost 150 yards gobbling the whole way toward the sound of the hen.  Out of nowhere, Dad’s Browning Maxus roared and the gobbler was reduced to a flopping heap.  Dad had crawled through the weeds to get in position and when he called, the gobbler came in like he was on a string.  It was really cool to watch the whole thing play out.

We parted ways on Tuesday evening and I came home to go back to work.  I’ve got a lot of fishing trips to do the next six days but hopefully I’ll get a chance to get back home to West Virginia for their first week coming up.  I went up today and checked one of my Pennsylvania spots where I’m guiding a client on  opening day May 1.  A little breather is definitely needed, although I’m chomping at the bit to get back after it.  This truly is my favorite time of year.









There’s More to it Than Just Hearing One Gobble

wild turkey


I love this time of year.  The anticipation that builds up before turkey season is better than Christmas.  I’ve been spending a lot of mornings in the woods the past couple weeks listening for birds and scouting out new hunting spots.  Around here the birds have broken up and I’ve seen several strutters on a few rainy evenings. [Read more…]

Last Bird Hunt of the Year

englishsetterBefore hanging it up for the year, I took my year old English Setter for a run.  It got hot and he fizzled out pretty quick, but he hunted very hard and pointed five birds in our 45 minute hunt.  He has come a long way in the past four months and it was very gratifying to see all of our hard work paying off. [Read more…]