Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's next?

Here I am in my backyard with one of the hens on the "turkey pole" I shot Sept. 17. Photo by Zac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

What a strange season this has been so far.

After deciding not to sulk over losing my Sanilac County, Mich., spot where I could early doe hunt, I embraced the revamped fall turkey season.

Traditionally, the fall turkey season has started in early October. For this year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment moved the season up to mid-September. Probably in hopes of getting more hunters to help trim the ballooning turkey population, mainly in southeastern part of the state.

In addition, it allotted 40,000 tags in the area with no limit per hunter.

I rather liked the change in months. It is hard to pull away from the archery deer season to chase fall turkeys. Every once and awhile I do like a change of pace, and would swap my bow for a 12-gauge, but it wouldn't be as often as now with it opening up Sept. 15.

The end result for this hunter was three turkeys in two days. One of which had a beard 13-1/2 inches long.

There are many different opinions weighing in on what constitutes a trophy, but in my book, a fall gobbler is at the top of the list. It's hard enough just finding them let alone getting in gun range because unlike spring they're very unreceptive to calls. Really they have no need to investigate another call.

I did just what you want to do: find where they want to go and be somewhere along that path. A main locator would be a food source. And I lucked out, the place where I decided to set up -- between a known roosting area and a cut corn field -- was indeed where they were headed every morning.

Ordinarily I would have already been busting through the ferns and multiflora rose in hopes of downing grouse and woodcock, but today, Tuesday, Sept. 28, the first day I would attempt to get out saw an all-day rain.

I'm thinking it might be tomorrow but it's tough to pull myself out of the rack after a night of work.

Now with the bow season fast approaching (Oct. 1), I'm hoping to cash in on the same luck by taking a nice buck.

Can't wait to find out.

(For the story and pictures on Mac Arnold's fall gobbler, log on to www.macshuntingmag.com.)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Getting goosed out

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS editor

I had to re-evaluate how I was going after the geese at Dairy Farmer Dave's in Sanilac County, Michigan, when in seven days I hit the field four times.

The impact was immediate: burn out?


Wait a minute here, deer season hasn't even begun yet. Which is what I call affectionately, "90 days of insanity."

Don't get me wrong. I like goose hunting but I've had to take a long look at just what kind of goose hunter I am. I'm thinking lately, not so good.

The feathered critters are as wary a game as I've come across in many a day. Whereas the deer and turkeys never make me behind my pyramid blind, I've gotten nailed every time out.

To my credit, it is an open winter wheat field with a few sections of weeds to hide in but I just can't hunker down enough without detection.

And decoys? They're out I've decided. The birds fly in, see the dekes and bust me in the blind, then flare at 60 yards. Leaving me with no shot.

I found myself questioning the range estimations in my head but when I stepped them out they were at 60 yards.

For my last hunt I decided I would bag the dekes and the blind and use the woods as cover since I noticed they were flying over at nearly the same places each morning en route to Dave's north wheat field.

And it would've worked if they would have just been within the magical 50-yard imaginary marker.

I even decided to test the hypothesis and was once again deemed a fool by merely dusting the lead bird's feathers.

In a perfect world I envisioned me driving over to where Dave is on the farm, dropping the tailgate and Boom! Three geese are laid out for his inspection.

Poof! I shake my head and I see no such reality.

What I wanted to do was show him I wasn't just goofing off out there.

One thing he doesn't have to worry about is the birds landing in his wheat field any time soon.

Between Dave periodically chasing them away throughout the summer and me firing warning volleys, they're easily convinced that's one field they don't want to be in.

I guess that's good and bad. Good for Dave, and bad for me.

Albeit temporarily. This is only the early season, which runs until Sept. 15.

Then I'm treated to a new, earlier fall turkey season. Traditionally, the fall turkey season begins in early October, but the Department of Natural Resources in its infinite wisdom has deemed there is a glut of birds.

So I will probably try another go or so on the pesky geese ... in the NEW field they prefer and try the same woods-cover trick there.

Then, fully armed with two tags, I will give the earlier turkey season a try.

Dave would like to see them reduced if not eliminated from his woods all together.

I consider turkeys more of a specialty of mine, albeit the spring variety mostly. I already have them scoped out -- where they roost and their usual routes to the surrounding fields and to a watering hole in the woods.

Hopefully it is during this season that I can snap out of what I've noticed is a slump. I've dropped nothing of any consequence since the six-pointer fell from a shoulder-blaster arrow shot at the end of October 2009.

Where you can travel to any hunting show and hear several patrons say, "I really just like getting out in the outdoors," ad nauseam, I'm there but eventually I need to see a kill and fulfill a sense of accomplishment.

So geese fly on and we'll meet again during the regular season when it begins Oct. 9 and I need the occasional break from the mother of all seasons: deer archery.