Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Turkey Hunting Tips

Turkey Photos by L. Ross

Turkey Hunting Tips and Map Updates for Turkey and Deer Hunters

By: L. Woodrow Ross

Turkey season is just around the corner. As a hunter, you can’t have too much information. Scouting is an important part of hunting for turkeys as well as for deer.
If you can home in on a roosting area, this is a good location to hunt. Try to be there the evening before the hunt and listen for birds flying onto the roost.

Just because you saw turkeys roosting in an area last year doesn’t mean they will be there this season. Turkeys move on a large circuit. They may be in one area for a week or two and then move on to another location. They will eventually complete the circle and return to an area, but it pays to scout before hunting.

When hunting, don’t approach too close to the roost. Try to find a clear areas where the gobblers will fly down in the morning to strut. If you approach too closely to the roost, you will spook the birds. If you call to the gobblers and they don’t respond, don’t make a move too soon. Even though they don’t answer, they may be approaching and it may take a while. Eventually, if they don’t respond, move to a new location and try calling with a different call. Often, turkeys will not respond to one call, but will immediately gobble when they hear another.

As a turkey hunter, become proficient with as many calls as possible. This should include box calls, slate calls, diaphragmn calls, tube calls, wingbone calls and box call variations with separate strikers of wood or slate. The traditional wingbone call is not used as much as it was historically, but can be deadly. My friend Jim Casada, well-known author and lecturer, is a virtuoso with a wingbone call and has killed more than 200 wild turkeys and many fell victim to the allure of his wingbone call.

Maps are available on SCDNR’s website for “Turkey Density Distribution” and “Peak Breeding Dates for Deer”. The map information for deer is the first developed for the state, but the turkey information is an update after a 10-year period.

The information about the deer “Rut” or breeding period is very interesting. Any time you get a group of deer hunters together, there will be arguments about the effects of the moon phase and weather on rut dates. The truth, as documented in the newly reported data, is that photo-periodism or length of day determines the breeding season of deer.

Part of the misconception that weather is a major influence in the rut is if the weather is unseasonably warm, the deer move more at night and are not encountered by hunters. Therefore, the general thought is that the rut is not in progress.

Basic dates for breeding run from mid-October to mid-November. These dates are slightly earlier in the coastal plain, but a month later in the mountains. If you home in on those dates in your region, it will provide you the best chance of taking a “bragging” buck.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fly Fishing Trail

Rainbow trout photo by L. Ross and angler photo courtesy of Jackson County Tourism Authority.

The Jackson County, NC, Tourism Authority launched the Fly Fishing Trail in February 2009. The Trail now has 15 prime spots listed and free maps are available. They highlight excellent quality streams in Jackson County and references to lodging near each fishing destination.

The map is a handy reference with information on trout stream regulations for each location listed. In addition, access information is provided with highway numbers and details about parking or pull off areas.

In 2010, the Raven Fork (Cherokee Trophy Water) was added to the Trail. It offers excellent trophy opportunities. The locations listed offer a variety of streams including: hatchery supported water, wild trout water, delayed harvest water, wild trout with natural bait and catch and release, single hook, artificial lure.

Fly Fishing Trail Maps are available by going online to www.FlyFishingTrail.com or calling 800-962-1911. In order to receive a map you must take the trail pledge: “As a true sportsman, I pledge never to litter and to avoid trespassing on private lands. I will respect the rights of property owners, and always leave the streams in better condition that I found them”.

Over 20,000 of the free, water-resistant, full-color maps have been distributed, and the website has received more than 46,000 visits. If you are a fly fisherman, don’t miss the opportunity to secure one of the maps and take advantage of the fly fishing opportunities.
The fly fishing trail is an easy drive from upstate South Carolina. Many of the destinations are day trips, but for convenience, planning an overnight stay is a good idea. Non-resident freshwater license is $30 and a trout stamp in $10. That is a good investment for some top quality fun on the water.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

FoothillsOutdoors.com blogger wins award

By Jeff Dennis

Frabill is the world's largest producer of live bait containers and aeration products. Frabill also supplies other accessories to fishermen like dip nets of all sizes, all purpose waterproof gloves, and foul weather gear. Since 1938 Frabill has been gaining trust among anglers who want can-do products. Since Frabill makes live bait handling a priority it makes sense that they conducted an essay contest for outdoor writers to discuss why live bait is the way to go. On January 13 Frabill announced that Larry Ross won first place with his article, "Love it or hate it, Live bait is usually the Ticket to Success." The article appeared in the Anderson Independent newspaper and Ross collected the $1000 first place award, and distinguished himself among his peer group of outdoor communicators. Congratulations Larry - well done!

PhotoByLarryRoss: Two youngsters bait up with a wiggling worm
PhotoProvided: Larry Ross in the Foothills

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Youth Day Success

Photo by: L. Ross

Rivers Cathey didn't take one of the big bucks above on youth day, but nevertheless, he had a great outing. Rivers is the son of Daniel Cathey, Anderson cattle farmer and part of the Skeeter Branch Shooting Preserve's duck hunting operation. It must be in the genes. Daniel is an excellent bowhunter and recently took a great Anderson buck that Phillip Gentry reported in the South Carolina Sportsman magazine.
Rivers was hunting on Youth Day, January 8, and it was a cold and windy day. The wind velocity became so great that he climbed down from the elevated stand to hunt from ground level beneath the stand. He was rewarded with a shot from 8 steps at a young buck. He was successful with his PSE 42 pound compound, shooting a two-bladed Muzzy Phantom broadhead. The shot was a complete "pass-through".
Rivers is not a stranger to the hunting scene. This season he took a doe and an 8-point buck with a rifle. His father, Daniel, was extremely excited about the bow kill. Congratulations to Rivers for what is likely the early stages of a life-long love of hunting. Once you take a deer with a bow, it becomes a preferred method of hunting.
Youth day allowed a two deer, any sex, limit and no tags were required. It applied to all private lands and some specified WMA's. This is an excellent way to recruit new hunters by setting aside special days to encourage them to participate.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tracks in the Snow

Snow scene photos in Travelers Rest by L. Woodrow Ross

A snowfall in the south is a magical event. In spite of the problems with travel, the inner child delights in the chance to feel the delicate fall of a snowflake on the extended tongue. A winter wonderland awaits those willing to brave the cold.

One of the interesting things about the snow is that it records the passing of wildlife, domestic cats and dogs, and the human traffic that passes. A walk in the woods in a fresh snowfall is an education in the ways of wildlife.

Rabbits meander in an almost random pattern. When I was a youth, it was an adventure to track rabbits in the snow. The tracks would finally disappear under a brush pile. A little kicking would dislodge the rabbit and if the shot was successful, rabbit was added to the menu.

It is not unusual to see the tracks of foxes, coyotes or feral cats hunting in the snow. Evidence of their skill is often noted by a scrap of fur or feathers left at the scene. Rabbits, mice, squirrels and birds are the usual victims. The tracks and signs of a brief struggle tell the story.

Sometimes a line of tracks will end abruptly in the snow. A hawk or owl has descended on an unwary prey and it is almost as if the victim had vanished into thin air (in a way, they have).

Another interesting fact about snow is that it muffles sound. The first thing you notice upon going outside is the silence. It is an eerie and other-worldly sensation.

Tracks tell a story in the snow that is not obvious under normal circumstances. It reveals the prolific amount of wildlife that often goes unnoticed, even in urban areas. From the smallest mice and birds to the larger mammal like deer, they do not pass without leaving their calling cards.

Enjoy the falling flakes. They are rare in our area of upstate South Carolina. Our normal fate is freezing rain and sleet that causes travel problems and power outages.

I once heard a country minister say, "a trash pile looks like a gold mine after a fresh snowfall". It may not be the best sounding metaphor, but you get the idea.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Upland Nationals at The Clinton House

The Upland National Dog Trials will be held at the Clinton House on January 14 - 16 with special events to Benefit the Boykin Spaniel Society (BSS). 'This is a big event for sure, but the Boykin Nationals that are here in March will see competitors from all over the nation,' said Mike Johnson, the manager at the Clinton House. If you want to come see some great dog work in a beautiful setting then come join the fun in Clinton. First up is a pheasant tower shoot on Friday January 14th followed by a country dinner, and on Saturday and Sunday will be the Crazy Quail shoot and retrieve game plus a silent auction with donated items like hunting and fishing equipment. For more information call Bill Crites with the BSS at 803-730-7198 or e-mail him at wcrites307@bellsouth.net.
PhotoByJeffDennis: Mike Johnson, manager of The Clinton House, works his boykin Tillie in the field.