VOLUME 64-----------OCTOBER 2007
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
October 2, 2007
Sorry, I'm late again. Now, in addition to my brother Ed, I've got Gary Hamil of "lite loads" fame from last month's newsletter, buggin' me about being late as well. I guess the good news is, that's two people that are readin' the darn things besides me!
As usual, I've got good excuses though! Jennifer and I have been turkey huntin'! So far its been all huntin' and no shootin'. As usual, those rascals that pooped all over the driveway before season opening were nowhere to be found on opening weekend, September 22nd and 23rd.
Jennifer spent the night with us on Friday, and on opening day she and I trudged a half mile to neighbor Paul's little pond in the timber northeast of our place. I felt sure we would at least see sign around the pond, as it's the nearest permanent water source. Wrong again! No turkey tracks in the mud around the water.
I found this strange because we've had extremely dry weather all summer. Only in the past two weeks have we received any appreciable rain. There are some natural springs and seeps in the surrounding hills, so I guess the turkeys are finding water without using the pond.
Here we are returning from our trek.
Jennifer and Grandpa
Back at the house about 10:00 AM, we were joined by Casey Jeppesen and his Mom, Rachelle. Casey is a schoolmate of Jennifer's and Mom is a Hunter Education instructor who recently joined our teaching team. Jennifer's Dad, Rick also trudged along with us. We covered our little acreage, as well as neighbor Larry's, with still no turkey sightings.
Casey and Jennifer - Turkey Hunters Extraordinaire
Jennifer and Casey did get lots of practice unloading guns and crossing obstacles as taught in Hunter Education class. There's a lot of deadfall across the trails on parts of our place.
After lunch of chili dogs and chips, we called it a day, and simply decided to wait a few days until the dang turkeys elected to again grace us with their presence.
Of course, grace us they have; front yard, back yard, and driveway, but always when Jennifer is in school. Even though Ann and I both have tags, we've refrained from shooting, because we don't want to run the things completely out of the territory.
We did interrupt the turkey hunting to attend the annual Balloon Festival in Prosser, Washington this past weekend. A group from our Wheelin' Elks RV Club try to go to this each year, and we were able to join them this time.
Prosser lies in the Yakima River Valley, which has long been famous for it's apple orchards. The orchards are rapidly being replaced by vineyards and wineries. A number of the Wheelin' Elks are "into" the wine thing, so several participated in a guided tour of some wineries on Saturday. I played golf with Dennis. Ann went shopping with the non winery touring ladies.
The Festival is not all about wineries, however. Weather permitting, 20 or so hot air balloons launch from a field south of the RV park about daylight on Saturday. While I intend to continue to avoid placing myself in one of those little laundry baskets hanging from a balloon, they are a beautiful sight as they arise into the dawn.
Here's one I caught in the midst of a "burn" just before sunrise
These were going up a little later in the morning
A good time was had by all, but hooking up trailers and getting ready to roll home in the rainstorm on Sunday morning was somewhat less than pleasant.
After the return home on Sunday afternoon, turkey hunting was again on the agenda. Rick and Jennifer spied the local flock and attempted an ambush in Larry's pasture, but they spooked and got away.
On Monday Ann picked Jennifer up right after school and she and I attempted an intercept of the local flock as they fed from the pasture toward the corner of Larry's garage, but again something spooked them before they were in range, and they disappeared over the horizon.
We had a bit of extra excitement today around noon as we were preparing to leave for Spokane.
I'll interrupt the story to remind myself of a conversation Rick and I had several weeks ago. Bear season had opened in August, with Cougar and Bobcat openers following in early September. The conversation was basically acknowledgement of the fact that we should have a rifle out of the safe and available for use when we are home, in case one of such a critter just happens to walk by threatening suicide.
I also reminded myself that a bobcat showed up last September, and hung around long enough that I was able to confirm the season was open, get a rifle from the safe, find ammunition, and stalk and shoot the cat. Think I learned anything from that experience? Oh, no!
Why not? Because the excitement I mentioned above, had to do with another, bigger bobcat sauntering down the hill behind the house, while all rifles remained in the gun safe! This time, Mr. Bobcat didn't hang around.
While I was scrambling for rifles and ammunition, he simply walked away down the draw. In spite of my best efforts to sound like a dying rabbit with a varmint call, numerous turkey clucks with a box call, and Ann's stalking through the woods, we never saw him again.
October 3, 2007
Jennifer was not able to turkey hunt on Tuesday evening because of school stuff, so Ann picked her up today for another try. I put up our ground blind in the area where the turkeys generally approach our yard and was awaiting the arrival from school. I was watching the flock wander about in Larry's pasture, and was hoping our place would be on their agenda later.
When the girls arrived we rushed to get Jennifer's boots and jacket installed so we could get into the blind and be ready. As we topped the rise in the driveway, three turkeys were standing beside the blind! Of course, they spooked and ran into the timber.
Here's a picture of the ground blind and the empty spot left by the dang birds
I could still see turkeys in the pasture, so we entered the blind and waited. After about 45 minutes, no turkeys had approached our area, and we couldn't tell from our vantage point if there were more in the pasture or not. So we trekked back to the house to check the pasture with binoculars. Ann's Swarovski's showed us one more turkey in the field.
We attempted a stalk, but were busted within 20 steps. Fortunately, (for us, not the turkey) it chose a course that we could intercept and stay out of sight. When we again saw the turkey, it was walking directly away at about 25 or 30 yards. When Jennifer's .410 spoke, the #4 shot put the turkey down for the count! The turkey was a mature hen. (Either sex is legal here during the general fall season)
Here are some pictures of a very proud and excited young lady and even a proud Grandpa too!
(So, Gary and Ed, this is what I've been waiting for so I can get the newsletter up and running!)
Grandma, Rick, and I still have turkey tags, but the season is over in two days, so we may be skunked. Thanks to Jennifer, we'll have Thanksgiving Turkey though!
After our Wheelin' Elks 'Last Roundup' this weekend, we can winterize the trailers and turn our thoughts to deer season. Ann, Rick, and I each have a regular deer tag, and we all 3 drew a second (antler-less) deer tag as well. With Jennifer's youth tag in the mix, we will collectively be allowed up to seven deer this season.
With our whitetail deer's over-population, it will be prudent, conservation wise, to fill all those tags if we can. While Rick's regular tag must be filled with an antlered buck, Jennifer, being under 16 years of age can shoot either sex. Ann and I, as senior citizens, can also fill our regular tags with either bucks or does.
Should we fill all or most of our tags, which shouldn't be too difficult, we will have way more meat than we can personally use. I have already made arrangements with the Union Gospel Mission to donate what we don't need to their food pantry.
Next week we'll just make sure all our rifles are shootin' where we're lookin' and we'll be ready for the October 13 opener.
This month's hillbilly wisdom again comes from that list of Old Farmer's Advice tacked to the wall of the Hauser Lake Gun Club:
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!