Apr 24, 2012

Another Successful Youth Turkey Hunt

Me, Dylan and Busch Pilot with Fingers

Passinthru Outdoors is all about sharing the passion for the outdoors with others and this past weekend Busch Pilot and I had the opportunity to take a youngster out for only his second turkey hunt ever.  Earlier this week Bubba was telling us about Dylan, whose father had just been deployed and his serving his country as a member of the Air Force and that Dylan had no one to take him Turkey hunting.  Bubba was going to be out of town with his family so we didn't hesitate to say yes when asked if Busch Pilot and I would take him out for youth day here in CT.  The chance to take a youngster out for a hunt is always top on our list, but to take a youngster who's father is currently serving our great country and protecting our freedoms is definitely number one on the list.

Turkey we named Fingers who was on our hit list.

Dylan had completed his hunter safety course last spring and got his license just in time to hunt the last day of the 2011spring turkey season.  Dylan was fortunate enough to tag his first deer last fall and was really looking forward to trying his luck at spring turkey and we were excited to be part of it.  Any time we take a new hunter out to the woods, especially a youngster, it always adds a little bit of extra pressure as you always take the opportunity to teach and you want that person to see game and have a positive experience and if possible to fill a tag.  Well this hunt offered up everything we had hoped for.

Busch pilot and I spent time doing our scouting and getting an idea for what was going on and it was interesting how things changed in just one week.  The birds were broke up even more and were much more quiet.  Even their roosting habits changed. There are hens on nests and we are catching them returning to roost very late in the day.  This is why scouting on a regular basis is important to successful turkey hunts.  Friday evening before the hunt we had 6 jakes work through the farm and head off to roost on the adjoining property, the good news was we felt they would work right back on to the farm or at least we could get them to do so as they would be well within range to hear us calling.

I picked Dylan up at his house at 4:30am and we made the short drive to the farm where we parked and waited for Busch pilot to show up because stopped down the street to talk with fisherman waiting for the 6:00am start time for Connecticut's opening day of fishing season. We got our gear loaded up and headed off to the lower part of the farm which would put us close to where those jakes headed off to roost.  The first signs of light were greeted with a long distance gobble, which perked all 3 of us up.  It wasn't long after that when the next gobbler sounded off and others responded.  We had gobblers close enough that we knew we could work one and it wasn't long before Busch Pilot was working his magic and talking turkey.  We had been talking and teaching Dylan about what was going on and what we thought might happen and he was very attentive and asked some questions.  The best question was when he asked us if we should load the gun!  We got caught up in listening for birds and explaining things to Dylan that it was almost 15 minutes into legal shooting and we still hadn't loaded the shotgun.  We all had a good laugh about that one.

Check Fingers off the hit list

We had gobbles not far from us and knew they had crossed the property and were in the lower pasture of the farm we were hunting and now all we needed was a visual.  I caught the first bird moving up the field and put the binos on him and could see it was a good tom so Busch Pilot gave him a few calls and he stopped and looked right into our setup.  As he stopped to look, we noticed more birds coming in the field below him and it was the 6 jakes from the night before.  All we needed now was for one of them to get interested in the sweet sounds coming from Busch Pilot's slate call.  When that tom took two steps towards us, we knew that this was going to happen.  That tom worked our way while the jakes continued up the field and out of sight.

I had the camera running, BP was calling  and we couldn't forget about coaching Dylan who was extremely calm and ready to go.  At one point when the tom was in range BP and I had a discussion and we decided to let him keep coming to the decoy to offer up a closer shot and the Tom obliged.  When he got to the jake decoy Dylan had the gun up and a bead on him and when we gave Dylan the okay to take the safety off and take his shot.  When the Remington 870 20 gauge barked that tom flipped over and Dylan had his first turkey on the ground.  I think Busch Pilot and I were way more excited at first but it didn't take long for Dylan to join in the celebration.  We exchanged high fives and hugs and let our adrenaline calm down and then sent Dylan out to retrieve his longbeard.

Dylan brought the bird back over to the blind and we looked it over, filled out his tag and took some pictures before breaking down the blind and packing up the decoys.  Dylan's first bird was a two year bird weighing 20lbs and had a 9" beard and had just incredible color.  His bird was also one of the birds on our hit list known as Fingers and there were plenty of folks in our crew hoping to claim his as their own, but not a one was disappointed in the news that Dylan shot fingers.  Matter of fact, everyone was extremely happy and excited for him, even my daughter who held out last weekend in hopes of getting a poke at Fingers.

Dylan with his first turkey - 20lbs 9" beard
 Just as we made it back to the trucks, some friends showed up to check out Dylan's first bird and offer up congrats for a job well done. We then headed off to Busch Pilot's house to clean Dylan's bird and call it  a day.  Dylan plans on mounting the tail and beard and I hope that every time he looks at it he remembers this hunt and thinks about how he can share the passion with someone new.  Because in the end, it's not about the trophies on the wall or the filled tags, but the memories of sharing the passion for the shooting sports with someone else.

Congrats Dylan!

Apr 17, 2012

2012 CT Youth Turkey Hunt Success

Saturday April 14th was the first of two turkey youth hunting training days here in Connecticut.  These days are designed to allow licensed youth hunters to hunt prior to the opening of the general season as long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult.  Only the youth hunter is allowed to carry a firearm or bow and the only one allowed to hunt.  This offers up plenty of opportunities for the youth hunters to learn as the adults teach.  Great concept and very valuable in getting kids excited in our sport of hunting.

So Saturday Busch Pilot and I planned on taking out My Daughter and Bubba's youngest son Jared out turkey hunting at the farm.  This would be Jared's first turkey hunt and my daughters second year.  Last year Kaleigh was successful tagging her first bird on a youth hunt and we were hoping the same good luck would be with Jared.

A mature bird nicknamed Fingers - he is on Kaleigh's hit list

We have been watching the farm for weeks and knew we had plenty of birds using the farm regularly including 3 longbeards and a jag of young jakes.  At times during our scouting the filed would be full of birds as much as 20 at one time.  The Friday evening before we scouted the farm, and the birds did the exact same thing they've been doing as previous scouting trips which made our game plan simple. Busch Pilot and Jared would setup in the upper field closer to where the birds were roosting, while Kaleigh and I hunted the lower pasture hoping to catch one of the bigger toms skating around all the action.

Just as it started getting light the first gobbler sounded off and it started the typical morning chain reaction and we had birds gobbling on the roost all around us so we knew the kids would see birds today and hoped they would come close enough for a shot or two.  Once the birds hit the ground they got a little quiet, but there was a good mix of birds in the field and heading down off the upper field which would put them in view of Jared's setup.  Bubba had to work and couldn't join the hunt, but he was down on the road watching the show and his watch all while willing the birds into the Jared's setup.  Busch Pilot is our Turkey Whisperer and speaks fluent turkey and he gave a couple of soft yelps and purs and that strutting Jake turned to look and got his first glimpse of the decoy.  That strutting Jake walked right up to the decoy just 15 yards from where Jared sat and when that Remington 870 20 gauge barked that Jake hit the ground and never twitched.  Jared's first turkey ever was on the ground bit the field was still filled with birds so they sat tight.   Seeing we have a 3 bird limit on private land here in CT, Busch Pilot asked Jared it he wanted to shoot another one, which by the way was a stupid question, of course Jared did.  So Busch Pilot worked a another Jake and hen into the decoys and told Jared to shoot when the hen cleared out and was safe.  That hen cleared out, Jared shot and two Jakes hit the ground.  Yup, another Jake was running in as he shot and both went down.  So Jared's first every turkey hunt ended in him tagging out by 6:30am.  That wasn't the plan, but it happens sometimes.

Jared's first, second and third Turkey of hist hunting carreer

Kaleigh and I could hear the whole thing and would catch a glimpse of the top of a strutting tom's tail but the only bird to make it to us that early was a bearded hen. When Jared went to retrieve his flopping bird, the birds spooked and flew off so Kaleigh and I decided to stay put and let things calm down.  About an hour later we had hens talking and birds gobbling again so we got back to business and it wasn't long after that when we saw birds coming around the point and working are way.  Kaleigh had decided that she wanted a mature bird and was not going to shoot a Jake and I thought that would be thrown out the window at the first sign of a Jake and she was about to be tested, not once but multiple times.  As we watched the first bird coming our way we could see the second, third and eventually the 7th Jake coming down into the lower pasture.  We looked them over good at a distance with the binos and then I asked Kaleigh if she wanted to shoot one and I thought for sure she would say yes, so when she said no I was shocked.  I asked again to make sure and she reemphasized her no a little louder which was my signal to not ask again.  So I asked her if she wanted to have some fun with them which she agreed to, so we gave a few soft helps and those Jakes turned and walked right to us.  The milled around gobbled some, tried to strut there stuff but they seemed a little nervous which was probably due to the fact that Jared had knocked down 3 of their friends.

The Jakes finally headed off down below us and continued to gobble every now and again.  While all this was going on, we could hear two more gobblers off in the distance and we both knew they were most likely the mature birds we were looking for.  I felt that trying to work the mature birds with 7 Jakes less then 75 yards from us would prove to be ineffective, but we gave it a shot.  Just about 10 minutes after calling to those mature toms, that I hear that sound of a turkey strutting and peak out the window to the right and there is one of those Jakes just 10 yards from the blind.  Crap, they came back.  I once again asked Kaliegh if she wanted to shoot one and this time I got the head shake and a dirty look.  So we sat backed and enjoyed the show that the Jakes would put on for  almost 20 minutes.  They huddled up by our decoy at a mere 15 yards and gobbled and gobbled and gobbled.  They gobbled at everything.  Crows, planes, geese, other turkeys, actually they gobbled at just about anything that made noise.  All this time we could hear those two other gobblers still sounding off but getting farther away.  Not good, but we decided to sit and enjoy the show which we did.  We giggled at almost every gobble, Kaleigh took pictures with her cell phone and sent them to all her friends and she would ask some questions and I would answer.

Once the Jakes finally got out of our setup, we waited about a 1/2 hour and decided we would do some additional calling from our current setup to see if we could hear those other Toms before changing game plans.  We got a long distance gobble here and there but they obviously had their ladies with them and wanted nothing to do with us.  We did a little run and gunning but couldn't go to where those Toms were and nothing else responded so at about noon we decided to call it a morning and head out to get some lunch.  We ate lunch and ran back to the house to check in with mom and it was almost 1:30pm and even though we could hunt until 5pm on youth day, Kaleigh had a birthday party to go to that evening and decided to skip the afternoon hunt.  She was going to from camo and the turkey woods to a dress and heels all in one day.

Fingers the day after the youth hunt - Kaleigh took his picture

Success comes in many forms and success is really defined by the individual.  Jared had a very successful day no doubt about it, and some may feel that Kaleigh didn't.  The fact that Kaleigh made up her mind and stuck to her game plan and never wavered, even with multiple legal birds taunting her just feet from where she sat taking their picture, says different.  These youth hunts are also about training and opportunities to gain experience, I'd say the hunt provided us with plenty of opportunities to discuss and learn from and for Kaleigh to grow as a hunter and I was proud of how she handled the experience.  In my book that equals a successful hunt.

Apr 5, 2012

Connecticut Marine Angler Survey Program

Capt. Scott with a keeper Fluke - 2011

For those anglers that frequent Connecticut's shoreline and marine waters to fish there is an opportunity to help the CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) Marine Fisheries Divions by volunteering to participate in the Connecticut Volunteer Angler Survey (VAS) Program.    This program is designed to collect fishing trip information from Marine recreation anglers by giving them tools to recording their angling activities and catches in a log book.  At the end of the fishing season you simple send your logbook to DEEP where they will enter all the data into their computers and then ship your log book back to you to keep for your records.  It doesn't get any easier then that.

More information on the the VAS program and DEEP Marine Fishers Division contact information can be found by visiting the DEEP website at: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2696&q=322750&depNav_GID=1647