As a sportsman and shooter I rarely comment on political topics but yesterday, I felt the urge to send a message to the Dicks Sporting Goods and Field and Stream corporate office over their CEO's recent public comments and business decisions. I began searching the web for a contact source because I do not use any social media apps or programs other than email. After several emails I found this site:
I posted my comments that had to do with my personal feelings about the company's decision to remove certain types of guns and equipment from their Field and Stream stores. I tried to keep my comments as clear and professional as possible. I then shared this site with my friends. They all posted their comments and statements and gave their feedback to the company as I had done.
Later, as the comments started coming in we all noticed that the site was deleting all of our comments and continually adding only comments that agree with the recent company changes. It's like they have hired someone to comment and promote their point of view. I guess I'm just naive..
'Fake News' on the Dicks corporate 'Communist' website.
It's like some Orwellian prophecy.... All opinions matter.. but some matter more than others...
I guess my feelings were right on about their company.
The dove hunting has changed drastically over the last two decades in Acadiana. It's my opinion that it is mostly due to changes in farming practices and chemical weed control. I usually have a hard time finding enough doves congregated during the September early season to get a good solid hunt together. Sometimes, I will find a nearby perch, wire or resting spot holding birds and key in on some of the local hatch and adult doves in my area. I can't remember the last time that I called up a few friends and planned a big hunt during the early season.
The morning of September 2nd was defiantly still wet and damp from the recent rain events with plenty of mosquitoes. I decided to run the roads around my family's farm and nearby areas in search of opportunities. While driving near the farm, I found several doves using a neighbor?s harvested rice field in the early morning and perching on the rice stubble to rest and digest their morning meal. That afternoon, I went by there after work and established that the birds were still using the field. It wasn't a lot of doves, but enough for a nice little kid hunt and plenty enough to satisfy my retriever that has been anxiously awaiting the beginning of any hunting season. Once at home, I called our neighbor and received permission to hunt the next morning.
I am a diehard bird hunter and my two college age children were raised in a hunting household. Both live at home for now and still come with me from time to time. My daughter Emily has slowed down on her hunting over the years with all of the other activities etc. My son Matthew has been coming with me more than she has so naturally, I asked him if he wanted to dove hunt with me in the morning. He declined but to my surprise, my daughter piped up and said that she wanted to hunt. Great! I called my cousin and invited his son to join us and we made our plan of attack.
We woke to a beautiful calm morning full of mosquitoes, gear, and plenty of Off. As we got to the field, the morning dawn was just breaking. I knew that the amount of mosquitoes coming up from the wet rice field was making Collin and Emily both second-guess their decision to get up that early. I set out my dove decoys on the top of the hay and rice stubble then placed our Mojo dove nearby. I gave another Mojo to Collin and directed him on where to set up.
Emily and I set up our buckets together behind my dove blind with Cash at heal waiting for the first opportunity for a shot. I was shooting my 28 gauge and Emily was shooting my 20 gauge. This set up proved to be deadly. The birds started coming across the field a few at a time and once they saw the decoys, they would come right in. Emily had not hunted doves since 2003 so she was a little hesitant at first but once she fired off a round or two and crushed a dove, it was all over. She and I sat together there in that spot picking our shots and shooting several doubles together. Collin was down from us having fun and holding his own with the birds. Once the smoke cleared, we had a nice mess of doves for the pot and made some great memories too.
What an awesome opening morning and a great way to start the hunting season. We are truly blessed.
Here's a great way to quickly clean feral hogs that I learned from a friend. It has saved me a lot of time cleaning hogs. First, you make the same basic cuts around the legs and inside the back legs. Then, you cut long incisions from the tail and legs all the way down the animal making strips. It's kind of like peeling a banana when you are done. Watch my video for a demonstration on the technique.
Made a good trip during the first split down to my lease and hunted with a good friend of mine. My son Matt and I had a great hunt and ended up taking seven different species of ducks in the same hunt. The morning started off slow and then once the clouds cleared a bit, the action picked up and we shared some exciting moments with several groups of ducks working the decoys at one time. I never take for granted how blessed that we are to live here in Louisiana and enjoy these wonderful resources and the freedoms that we have to hunt and enjoy the outdoors here in the USA. Check out the video from the hunt....
For many years now, I have been blessed to be able to travel out of the state of Louisiana to turkey hunt different species of turkeys and experience the majesty and beauty of our great country. Although I have mainly ventured to neighboring states, this year I was invited to travel to the heartland of north Missouri for an opportunity to harvest one of the larger sized Eastern gobblers that are known to inhabit the 'Show Me' state.
My hunting partner and traveling companion Troy had been fortunate to hunt this same farm last year and convinced me that it was worth the trip. He and I have turkey hunted together over the last twenty years, most of the time we are together on the hunts but separated while hunting so that we can guide our children or others. This hunt was somewhat a reunion of the hunting team that started some many years ago chasing turkeys together in the hills northwest of Clinton Louisiana. We were both looking forward to turkey hunting together as a team once again while in Missouri, employing our combined knowledge, methods, and turkey hunting prowess that we have attained on these mid western birds. We were confident that years of experience and wisdom would make it easier to fill of our tags if the conditions were right and the birds were willing.
The terrain in northern Missouri is that of rolling hills with areas of steep creek bottoms branching out like fingers, filled with tall majestic hardwoods. The fields are mainly old corn or bean fields placed on the tops of the hills and they fall off sharply into heavy timber. You can literally look across the tops of the fields from hill to hill and see turkeys walking in green pastures and in fields a mile away. I was surprised to find this area so hilly; we had to work hard to carry all of our gear, trudging slowly at times up and down the creeks and hills in search of birds.
The first morning found us running late due to unexpected vehicle trouble. We quickly decided to scrap our first plan and to start our hunt right near the camp on the surrounding property. We had planned to save that spot for the last day of the hunt because we knew that there were birds nearby, Troy had seen birds near the camp during the afternoon in the past. Missouri only allows hunters to hunt until 1:00 pm each day throughout the turkey season so it is imperative to get on birds quickly and not waste any time. We ended up making our first setup on a food plot opening that was full of clover between two gobbling birds at first light. One bird hit the ground and moved away from our position gobbling his head off getting further away while the other stayed put across a ridge and then got quiet after the sun came up. A hen eased in slowly and seemed to pay no attention to our decoy set up other than some initial clucks as she walked through the plot and out the other side with no gobbler following her.
Troy suggested that we strike out and walk the rest of the property and make something happen. As we crossed a hill, we heard a bird gobbling loudly, a far distance away. We trudged directly toward the gobbling bird crossing the deep ravines and hills until my partner spotted him sitting on top of a hill crest. We crawled swiftly the rest of the way and set up near a fence line overlooking the field ahead. The bird topped the crest of the hill and gobbled at our persistent calls for what seemed like an eternity. While we sat there, we heard two other gobblers answering our calls in the distance over our shoulders. We decided to move on them because we were quickly running out of hunting time for the day. We easily found another willing bird and set up on the edge of a wooded hillside near some open fields. The bird's thunderous gobbles sounded like they were coming from the valley before us as we eagerly waited, contemplating his arrival and discussing the shot. After a while, we realized that he was not coming so we moved slowly trying to determine his position. Oops! He spotted us from 400 yards away from the field while we were still moving through the woods! These birds defiantly were sharp eyed and could see into the thin timber looking for the slight movements of a hen.
Our last ditch plan was to move to the edge of an open field that we had spotted earlier and sit tight and call, hoping a roaming bird would hear our pleas. Just as we were picking our spot, we heard a gobble coming from the valley below, although it was late in the day, the action was just beginning. As soon as we started calling we spotted another huge gobbler crossing the field in front of us. His thick beard was hanging down like a brush but he was not the least bit interested in our calls. He had his mind set on traveling the ridge. Minutes later, a hen crossed in the same area but turned and headed out of sight. We were running out of time, by now it was high noon and we did not have a bird.
Just then I spotted movement through the brush to my right. Through my binoculars I could see a big tom headed toward us coming down the fence line at a distance. He was coming on my side. I only had a small gap in the brush where a clean shot would be possible. Troy turned with me as we both realized that there were multiple birds. As the two toms came into view into the gap, Troy was discussing a possible double shot. Just then they stopped and one bird turned and changed direction. At that moment I pulled the trigger...NOTHING! I pulled it again...NOTHING! I shucked out a shell and pulled again! I almost threw my gun at them! Troy saw this and asked me what was wrong. I told him that my gun would not shoot! He asked me if I wanted him to shoot and I said yes, my gun won't shoot!....BOOM! As the bird on the right tumbled, the other bird next to him gobbled and just stood there for a moment, I pointed at him this time and pulled harder on my trigger..NOTHING! As the tom ran off I spotted another bird that had been trailing making a total of three gobblers that had come in quietly to our calls. I was furious and upset that I had a gun malfunction. I threw my hat down into my chair! Mumbling a few words, I immediately tore my gun down and pulled out the trigger mechanism. Apparently, while crawling around on the other set up, a piece of stick or dirt had lodged itself right in my trigger so that it would not operate. I fixed my gun and sat in disbelief at my awful luck, licking my wounds pretty hard.
We took pictures of Troy's bird and sat in disbelief, discussing what had just occurred. By now the time was rapidly slipping away. We decided to sit back down to finish the hunt and started talking about our hunting plans for the next day. I started calling loudly. You are prone to call more and try different things when you think you don't have anything to lose. Just then, right behind us on the tree line...GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE! They were right behind us closing the distance rapidly making a bee line to our location. I quickly turned my chair to face the decoys that were out in the field to my left. There they were! Three white heads coming up rapidly over the hill from down in the creek bottom near the edge of the field. As the big birds came up the hill and approached the decoy set up, they stopped suddenly and just stood there with caution. My shotgun safety was in the off position and I was pointing right at the bird all the way to the left. The distance to where the birds stood seemed far but they were in range for a shot. We could not see their beards as their bodies were still hidden below the slow rise of the hill. I questioned whether they were gobblers or jakes not being able to see the beards as Troy said to let them come closer. I could have fired and 'ground checked' them but I didn't drive fourteen hours to shoot jakes. What seemed like a long time took only seconds as they all turned back and to their left and moved slowly away from the decoys and farther out into the field. Now I could see that they were all three big adult long beards! I should have taken the shot but now it was too late, they were just out of range. We had just killed a bird, called up a total of six big birds in a matter of minutes in the last hour of the hunt almost tagging out on the first day. Wow, what a day of ups and downs.
The next morning found us up early, ready, and in the field with time to spare. As we walked to the spot that we originally planned to hunt, the moon shined so bright that I could have read a book in its light. Troy had killed a bird the day before and now it was my turn at the gun and a chance to redeem myself. We walked with stealth down the edge of the timber and paused at a spot waiting for the pending thunderous gobbling sounds, waiting to pinpoint the turkey's exact locations. Owls were hooting as the first gobbles came right near our location just where we thought they would be. We quickly set up our decoys and settled into the edge of the timber so that we could see behind us down into the bottom and out into the field in front of us. Then we waited to hear them gobble again. The birds closest to us were gobbling now and some other birds were sounding off farther in the distance in other directions. We started making soft calls so that the close birds could pinpoint our location and maybe fly down into the field in front of us for an easy shot.
As it got lighter I heard the sound of birds flying off of the roost. I looked behind me and saw some hens and what looked like gobblers pitch down into the creek bottom. Through my binoculars I could see three big gobblers strutting with hens walking around them. The big birds stayed there for over an hour. They would gobble now and then and would answer us when we called. I lost sight of them after a while but then heard them cut and fly the creek onto our side. Time went by and Troy and I were getting impatient. We decided to call louder. I asked Troy to use his little loud box call, he held it up high and hit it hard...GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE! It was working! The box call had gotten them excited. They had just been standing at the edge of the timber quietly for some time and now had heard this loud call. They must have worked their way out into the field in view of our decoy set up and seen the fan of the decoy because now they were quickly closing the distance, headed in our direction down the edge of the field. I was in the ready position with my safety off as I heard Troy say 'There they are three of them'. I was so anxious, ready to redeem myself from the mishaps that had happened the day before. I told Troy that I was going to shoot the first one that gave me a chance. There was a limb hanging low to my left and an opening right in front of me that would provided a clear and easy shot. As they came ever closer to our set up, they hesitated. They had been walking single file at a quick pace through the heavy dew but now the lead bird had stopped and was sticking his neck up. I had the second bird in my sights. The first bird turned and reversed his direction and at the moment I saw a clear shot over my barrel and BOOM! To my surprise, all three turkeys jumped up in the air. Two flew off and one ran to the left. I just sat there in amazement and disbelief, I had MISSED! I couldn't believe it, they were standing just 28 yards away and I missed! Troy thought that I had shot over the big gobbler's head and I didn't know what had happened. I was so hurt and could not believe it. Three times I had groups of three toms in front of me and no bird to show for it! I have to admit, I was having a tough time with it. My lip was dragging so much that it was hard to hold up my head. It was 'Three Strikes' and I was out!
Troy and I make good hunting companions. He is one of the most optimistic people I know and really did a great job pumping me back up and convincing me that we could get on another bird quickly if we just gave it our best. We gathered up all of our gear and struck out again to find a willing bird. We bumped a gobbler out of the grass while crossing the field on the way out and then another bird on the way to the truck. This was not helping me as I was still going over the miss and reliving it in my head. Why didn't I just wait? Why didn't I just let them come to the decoys for good video? We had done everything right. We got in early, we set up near the roost, we waited them out, we called at the right time, and then I missed! Whew, and it was getting hot too.
After a mile of walking up and down the hilly roads, we heard a gobbler sound off down by a creek all by himself. We made a move down to the creek and called. He cut us off. We decided to try and get closer to his location. We rounded a hill up to a box stand and set up. Nothing, he had enough of us or traveled to our original location. We had possibly made another mistake. We had called to a bird then left that location, rookie mistake. Just then Troy saw five or six gobblers on the hillside far to our right. We walked a great distance over to that fence line scaring off another gobbler and hen on the way. Man was I getting tired and frustrated. Now we were talking about staying another day so that I could fill a tag. It was getting late in the morning and not looking too good. We stopped and took a break and enjoyed some snacks and water near the edge of the property. We reminisced about all of the turkey hunting in the past where we had faced adversity and made lasting memories hunting right down to the last minute without giving up. We left that spot with a little pep in our step and decided to start making our way back to the truck.
As we got in a small bottom on the way back to the truck, we decided to stop and set up on the edge of an old food plot overlooking a creek bottom that we had passed on the way in. Troy and the land owner had taken a bird near this spot the year before and it would be a nice place to sit a rest and finish out the day's hunt. We placed our gobbler decoy on top of the ridge in front of us so that it could be seen from either side of the field and set up our blind and just relaxed. The time was around noon now and once again, we found ourselves with little time left to hunt. I reminded Troy of a hunt that I had made in Texas years ago where after not hearing or seeing a turkey for two days, I made one of my favorite videos during the last few minutes of my hunt. He said, 'You never know what can happen on a turkey hunt if you keep a good attitude and don't give up'. I told Troy that if a turkey were to come in on this set up, I would guarantee that I would shoot all of my shells if I needed to put him down. We laughed.
I decided to call loud and aggressively, the wind was blowing pretty well and I didn't have anything to lose. I made a first call and...GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE! A turkey answered me right back from the creek below and down to our left! Troy called and he cut him off with a gobble, I called and he answered with another! Bingo! Our last chance! We would surely have to make the best of it! The gobbler was answering but after a while, we realized that he was not coming he wanted that hen to come to him. This went on for some time and now it was well after 12:00 and time was running out. I started calling more and more, all the while scanning the tree line for any movement or sign of a turkey making his way in.
The gobbler was answering me just about every time but not getting closer. Just then I caught a glimpse of movement to my right...'DON'T MOVE' I whispered to Troy. As I turned my attention to the decoy, I saw a big black gobbler that was headed directly to the decoy at a quick pace, coming up from the hill in front. I slowly turned my gun from left to right and drew a bead on his long red and white neck as the big bird reached the decoy. I was ready! The bird was in trouble! All of my energy and frustrations from the previous hunts were about to be unleashed on this poor thing. The gobbler spotted some movement and quickly moved behind the decoy putting. As he cleared the decoy to make a run for it, I was on him like a Top Gun laser guided missile about to shoot down a Russian Mig. He moved quickly, trying to make a break for it, realizing his mistake. BOOM! He went down hard in the field, end over end. I ran to him like a flash and stepped on his neck just to make sure. This sucker didn't have a chance! Troy and I hooped and hollered in celebration. He helped me recover the bird and we relaxed and gave sighs of relief, what a hunt! It was now 12:29 pm. What a day. The sun was shining and it was beautiful as he helped me to take pictures of my well deserved prize.
Troy and I had a roller coaster of highs and lows over the two day hunt. We were both longing to stay and hunt more but our tags were filled for that week in Missouri so we decided to head back home. I know one thing, I will definitely try to make more trips back up to the Midwest, the birds are responsive and large and the scenery is beautiful.
We always try to reflect on what we have experienced and what we have learned on our turkey hunts, going over the details on the trip home. I had come to Missouri confident and maybe a bit too cocky. I got a lesson on this trip for sure that I will take with me on my turkey hunts in the future....a lesson in Humility!
This year has been a tough year for many of us that work in the Oil and Gas industry. I have been fortunate to be able to take annual turkeys hunting trips with my friends and kids for several years but this year, I have not been able to get away and put these types of trips together. A good friend has been after me for some time to come with him to his lease in Mississippi so that I could attempt to take a gobbler. When the invite came this year, I took him up on his offer to try my luck in the Magnolia State.
I received a phone call from my friend on my way up to his place. The conversation went a bit like this... 'Look, I know that you are all into calling turkeys and getting them to come to decoys and video but...if I were you, I would go sit on this road this afternoon and not make a sound. He then told me that one of his lease members had seen several toms and some hens just days prior on the road. This area of his lease is a place where turkeys go every afternoon on their way to the roost area.
I got dressed as soon as I got to his camp around 2:30 in the afternoon and we headed to the spot directly. Once there, I took his advice and set up right off of the road in the tall stand of pine timber with little to look at and no decoy in an ambush set up. It was a tough hunt only in that the wind was blowing hard, singing through the trees, making it difficult to detect the slight sounds of turkeys making their way to my position. I was set up so that my gun was semi-mounted so that with little movement, I could turn to shoot either direction depending on which way the birds came down the road. My friend had told me that the turkeys would come around five o'clock.
As I was slowly looking I caught movement to my right. There was a gobbler exiting the cover to my right at just 10 yards! I looked at my watch and it was five on the dot! As soon as he took two steps he caught my silhouette and turned quickly, going back into the brush. The sun had peeked through the trees a bit and cast me in a bad light. I couldn't believe that I had just got busted by a sneaky Tom! This was supposed to be an easy out, sure thing hunt! I turned 90 degrees in my seat, pointing my gun so that I could take advantage of the situation if it would present itself again. I picked up my slate call and made a few soft clucks and then shut up. Twenty minutes went by. There was a small hole in the brush at about twenty yards where I could see a glimpse of green from the grass on the side of the road in the distance. I gazed intently on that spot with my gun mounted. As time went by I found it difficult to keep from turning to look behind me down the other side of the road but I held to my plan. As I watched the spot I saw the green in the distance turn to black....Ha! He was coming back undeterred. I pushed off my safety on my shotgun and leveled down on the area just left of his direct path behind the edge of the trees on the road ahead of him. He stepped into view and bent down while walking to reveal his beard giving himself away as a mature gobbler. BOOM, down he went! I didn't give him time to bust me again!
I got up and exited the tree line just to see another gobbler running down the road and taking off flying away around the corner. He had been with a buddy. Maybe his buddy was the first bird to see me and didn't do a good enough job of relaying the message. Regardless of how the hunt went down, it was still one for the memory books. I always enjoy spending time outdoors and enjoying the blessings of good friends and opportunity that God gives me...... even though it was an Ambush!
Several weeks ago I went to one of my favorite hunting spots on our farm in Crowley to check my game camera and to look around to see what I needed before deer season kicked in. When I got to my spot, I was surprised; someone or something had knocked over my feeder! This has never happened before; I thought that it may have been an escaped cow from the pasture nearby.
As I inspected the situation I discovered that there were small holes in the plastic drum of my feeder very similar to 22 caliber bullet holes. What? Surely no one had come onto the farm and shot my feeder and knocked it down! I looked around a little more and found all of the rice bran gone from my bran feeder and a small hole in the sensor lens of my Moultrie camera. Now I was somewhat perplexed and a bit angry, I couldn't wait to get back home and check my pictures so I could call the Sheriff and have this 'would-be thug' arrested! Maybe I could even get Lieutenant Clay Higgins to put my case on TV!
When I got home I went straight to the computer and began looking at the pictures. I could not believe my eyes! A BEAR! In Crowley! I called my wife and kids into the room and showed them the pictures. That big sucker had some fun with my feeder and helped himself to the bran that I had placed in my trough. Just then, I realized the so-called bullet holes that I had seen in my feeder were actually bite marks. That's some powerful jaw strength.
I called my WLF biologist in Lake Charles and reported the bear pictures. She told me that this bear had been seen soon after in Iota and later in Evangeline just days later. He was moving west. They sent me a bear information packet and asked me to report any more sightings.
I also discovered that the hole in my camera was from one crazy fox squirrel! She had seen her reflection in the camera and attacked it, chewing a hole in the sensor lens. I have a picture of her eye looking into the lens. Moultrie gave me a nice discount on a new camera once I told them about the pictures of the squirrel. That squirrel was the first squirrel that I shot on October 3rd!
My friend has been helping us rid our farm in Crowley of hogs and is doing a good job. Saturday, his crew caught this large boar right behind my house. He had been hunting this one for a while but the big boar had given him the slip a few times by running. He was a smart one and it took a little creative planning to get him. Thanks to SLAHoggers for getting this big boy out of the woods.
My son Matt and I were fortunate to once again be invited down to Bayou Dularge to fish with Absolute Fishing Charters and the crew. We had a Father Son weekend fishing trip planned and the reports had been good all week. We made it down to the Reel Inn on Thursday night anxiously awaiting the morning run in the hopes of filling the box the next morning. The exquisite food was waiting for us when we arrived and we settled in for the night.
Our trip started early and we had a fish hooked on the second cast. One stop is all it took to fill the box with hungry trout. The kids and the adults stayed busy slinging trout over the side of the Blue Wave until the bite slowed just in time for us to make in early to the lodge for lunch and a little R&R. We were back at it again the next morning but were met with stiff winds. The action was a little slower but we were still catching, picking at them one at a time. We ended up with a good mess of trout and a few reds that we caught in the marsh on our way in. What a great way to spend time with each other and enjoy the Louisiana outdoors for the weekend!
Thanks to everyone involved.
To the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries
Office of Wildlife
Much research and effort has been done to combat the explosion of feral hogs in many states across the country and especially in the south. Texas has been battling feral hogs and as a result has modified their hunting regulations to empower their ranchers, general citizenry and hunting public to battle this threat. They did this by allowing them to take feral hogs by any means, at night, and with no requirements for special permissions or calls to the local authorities.
I have lived in and around the Acadiana area all of my life, most of it living on my familyâs farm just north of Crowley. Over the past few years, I have seen an outright explosion of feral hogs at a staggering rate. My friends and family have had to battle these feral hogs that destroy our land by means of trapping, hunting, and the use of catch dogs. The feral hog population will soon be out of control in Louisiana as it is in other states.
It is my opinion that there should be no restrictions to reducing the feral hog population by hunting from the state of Louisiana. I am speaking about the regulatory restriction for night hunting nuisance hogs between the September 1st and the last day of February. There should be no valid reason to stop the hunting public from attempting to harvest these nuisance hogs at night any time of the year.
Additionally, Louisiana has one thing that other states do not have that makes this state the most able to eradicate this problemâ¦.. Cajuns that eat cracklins, boudin, hog head cheese, and pork stew!
All joking aside, if we donât make educated rational decisions about how to effectively battle this problem, we will fall fate to the over population of feral pigs and the problem will spread at a rate until it will no longer be manageable.
Let us night hunt feral pigs year round with any means possible, period.
Just my two centsâ¦.
Recently, I was fortunate to have the chance to hunt with some friends and fellow goose hunting addicts in the duck and goose capital, Gueydan. Louisiana. The speck hunting season was quickly coming to an end so I was thrilled when my buddy called with an invite and said that the birds were in the area and the weather and wind should be perfect for a phenomenal speck hunt. His predictions could not have been more accurate.
We swiftly walked single file to the blind as the morning light broke to clear skies and north wind. The five hunters quickly determined our individual positions in the blind and got settled. My dog Cash was impatiently scanning the skies eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the first flying guests of the day. As each of us scanned the horizon with our eyes to the sky our comments were first drawn to the large number of ducks in the area. Flights of mallards, pintails and various other ducks all seemed to know that their problems were over for the year and were happily at ease in the âDuck Capitalâ with no duck hunting pressure.
As the Specklebellies started to move in the area, our group started calling at a few singles. When you have five callers in the blind that are experienced callers and hunters, it makes for an enjoyable hunt. Everyone is busy calling and making the right sounds, it ends up being incredibly realistic. The first bird to show interest was flying really high but locked his wings for the long decent straight in like a dive bomber coming in to drop a payload. At one point, it looked like his wingtips touched as he struggled to rapidly lose altitude. He had his boots on when we called the shot and never stopped his decent as the shot rang out resulting in a splash and a thud within a quick retrievesâ distance from the blind. Cash made quick work of the goose and was at the ready for more.
We continued to work on several groups without passing on the âBird-in-Handâ singles that would break off and work in. The specks were starting to stack up in the blind after several high fives and good shot comments. Then we saw a large group of specks low on the horizon on the right angle to work to our calls. The group was slowly making their way toward us fighting the wind. If they would stay on their course, we would be in business! The birds all cupped their wings as they came closer and closer, lower and lower. Cash was at the ready as the feverish calling slowed to a murmur and we called the shot with the geese right in the target zone. Each of us rose up and geese started falling right to left. As cash retrieved the birds and we gathered our composure, we realized that the last volley had finished our five man limit of two specks each. Wow! What a great hunt and it wasn't yet 8:30 in the morning!
As we walked back to the truck, took our pictures and rejoiced in the moment, I couldn't help but reflect on how lucky we all are to live in such a great place like Louisiana. We are blessed with good hunting and good friends and many memories that will not be forgotten.
To all fellow hunting and fishing friends that may or may not be going somewhere this weekend,
If you did not early vote for Saturdays election, DONâT LEAVE TOWN BEFORE VOTING! Make sure to show up at the poles Saturday and vote Mary out. Increased regulation in support of Gun Control is no laughing matter and threatens your personal freedom. Donât make the mistake of exercising your freedom to bear arms this weekend while you lose them!
Do it! Vote!
I had a great Thanksgiving Day Specklebelly hunt with my son. We were in the blind only minutes and called in a single Speck. Matt took his first Speck with one shot and Cash quickly retrieved the beautiful bird to hand for a quick picture. Matt and I had three more singes work in to the call and we each got our limit of two birds by 7:30 and were off to tell our stories to all at Thanksgiving dinner. We should all be thankful for the many blessings God has given us. Time spent with family and friends together in the field and at home. I know that I am!
I got a few good action photos from our recent duck hunt with the kids. Thought I would share.
My friend called me Saturday and invited me and my son Matt to join him and his son Brandon on a youth duck hunt Sunday. Matt and I were excited to make the long trip down to the marsh even though we knew that we would have to wake up extra early to make the trip. We met up with our friends in Sulphur and shared our opinions and stories in the truck on our way down to Johnsonâs Bayou. During our short boat ride to the blind we stirred up groups of resting ducks as we traveled down the boats trails. It was a good sight to see big flocks of ducks in the early twilight sky in the marsh. As soon as we could get settled in the blind, we discussed gun safety and safe shooting habits in the duck blind. The ducks were plentiful and several big flocks of greys were already flying overhead. The boys loaded their shotguns and were quickly greeted by whistling wings in the decoys. Takeâem!, Boom, Boom! And three birds fell on the first volley. Matt had picked out one bird and knocked down two with one shot out of the group. Brandon had also knocked down his first bird of the morning. What a way to start the day.
The boys were intrigued by the sights and sounds of the hunt and had numerous shooting opportunities most of them successful. We were surprised to see a few mallard ducks in the area and worked in and killed a few. The moon was full and stayed out for most of the morning and the sky clear as glass with the late morning sunshine making the wings of the ducks flash vividly in the blue. We ended the day with a mixed bag of big ducks and many good memories that will not be forgotten. What a great way to spend the day in Godâs great outdoors. We are truly blessed.
p.s.: Thanks to all of our veterans that served our country to make it a free place to enjoy these things that we hold most dear to our hearts. Happy Veterans Day
We were blessed with a great weekend of teal hunting for the opening of teal season this year. My son and I were fortunate to get invitations to teal hunt with friends in some rice fields not far from my home. The early scouting report came in on Friday with optimism. Lots of birds, was the report. I donât think that I slept much that evening in anticipation of the hunt. There is something about that first teal hunt of the year. We arrived to the area and spread out across the fields in groups, each of us laying out our small offering of decoys and spinning wing ducks. As the welcomed cool breeze was blowing and the grey clouds began to come into view, shooting time was upon us. The teal were everywhere and soaring in and buzzing around from every direction. The chaos was exciting as we all started shooting. The birds were steady and all of our hunters were successful at killing their limit. My son Matt hunted with me Saturday and killed his limit. Cash, my retriever, was on fire. What a enjoyable opening weekend.
This year one of my closest friends John decided to plant a small field and manage it for doves on private land just north of Toledo Bend. He worked hard all year on the endeavor and called me at least twice a week to give me updates on the progress. As the opening day of dove season approached, the birds were starting to find the fruits of his labor and our conversations started turning toward things like, how many hunters would be invited, would the birds stay around or move out before Saturday. John planned a small hunt with a group of his local friends and invited me and my son Matt to come up for a visit and a chance to get in on the action.
Once the plan was in place, Matt and I went to the shooting range the weekend prior to the hunt to brush up on our right and left crossing shots. Unlike decoying ducks, crossing shots are the most common dove shot experienced in the field. Matt did great at the range once he got the picture and started breaking targets consistently. His success gave him an air of confidence and I could see that it would help him in the field on Saturday.
We arrived at Johnâs camp on Friday evening with much anticipation for the hunt the next morning eager to start the 2014 hunting season in Louisiana. After sharing stories after dinner and catching up on some overdue face time between old friends my buddy told me that we were meeting near the field early for a large breakfast with the rest of our hunting party. We got up early Saturday morning to great conditions. The weather was great with a slight north breeze. We ate breakfast, met everyone, and then John held a quick safety meeting to review a map pointing out the placement and plan of shooting safely in the field.
The field was planted with mixture of millet and different types of sunflower. John had painstakingly groomed the field by knocking down the seed, cutting and plowing strips to leave areas that were thick enough to leave some seed left over for later seasons. He placed us around the edges of the small field as planned. Matt and I had no sooner set out our spread of dove decoys when the first few takers took wing from the nearby timber and headed our direction. Doves waste no time in the morning going to feed and these birds were definitely hungry.
The action was steady as the other hunters in the field began to pop at the little grey rockets. It didn't take long for my eager retriever to deliver a full 15 bird limit to my hand along with three or four of Mattâs birds. Matt was doing well with his shooting, it seemed like the practice had paid off for sure. I placed my gun safely against the fence and became the spotter for him while I filmed a few shots with my POV camera. Then, to my surprise, Matt shot one dove and then instinctively shot another! Then he did it again, doubles! I told him that there are some people that hunt a lot and cannot shoot doubles. I could see that he was truly involved in the hunt with his eyes to the sky getting the feel for range and distance of the birds as he shot. Matt was beginning to learn through trial and error what all accomplished wing shooters know, leed and timing.
The numbers of doves entering the field began to wane as the hunt drew to an end. We all picket up our spent shot shells and decoys and headed back to Johnâs friendâs barn to clean our birds and share our memories and experiences of the hunt with the rest of the hunting party. We had a great time hunting doves on opening day in Louisiana with friends and family. There is something magical about the first hunt of the year that we all look forward to with anticipation.
As I get older every day I think about how many times I have heard people tell me that kids grow up too fast. It seems like just yesterday that my son Matthew was too young to shoot a shotgun and just tagging along on hunting trips.
Time flies when you are not paying attention!
Duckaholic (Lee Lawson)
This year my teenage son Matthew showed his first interest in deer hunting. Matthew and my daughter Emily have been accompanying me on hunting trips for deer and turkey since they were little tykes. The hunting trips have tapered off as high school activities have increased. Although hunting is my passion, Matt has not showed much of an interest in taking a deer in the past. When I heard him say that he wanted to kill a deer this year, I have to admit, I was eager and determined to make it happen!
We started off at the beginning of the season by sitting on stand in a spot on our farm that I have been preparing for a few years now. Last year I built a box blind large enough to sit three people on the edge of a field near the bayou. This spot is in a pinch point that the few deer in my area must travel to move along the shadowy high timber next to the wood line. I soon came to understand that sitting in a box stand for several hours at a time is interesting for someone like me but tiresome for someone like Matt. We made two long hunts together in the box and Matt started losing interest without seeing much activity.
This Thanksgiving, like other high school kids, Matt was off of school. A perfect time to get him involved and make this deer hunting thing happen! I got an invite to take Matt to a friendâs private lease for a day hunt the day before turkey day to shoot a doe. Their club had several management does to take and he had offered to let Matt kill his first deer there at his place. We made the trip and saw several bucks but we were only allowed to shoot does. One huge ten point buck came within forty yards of the stand but no does gave us the opportunity of a shot. After the hunt Matt was excited to see deer and told me that he wanted to go hunting again to get a deer.
Friday afternoon my daughter and I hunted our big stand on the farm. We didn\'t see anything during the hunt but I pulled the card from a trail camera that I have there to see what had been lurking nearby. The first thing that I did when we got home was look at the pictures with the kids. There were a few of the usual suspects, normal night time only deer showing up at the witching hour. Then I saw it, low and beholdâ¦. daytime photos of deer! There was a doe and a young six point showing up fairly regularly around 9:45 in the morning. I immediately showed Matt the pictures and told him that we should go to the stand in the morning and he agreed.
I guess that I have long forgotten how it feels to be a sleepy 14 year old with your dad trying to wake you up out of bed on a Saturday morning before sunrise. I canât sleep that late anymore especially during hunting season but Matt does not like to get up. He said he wanted to sleep in. Knowing that it would be the perfect day, I persisted and finally got him out of the bed and ready to go. The sun was already up and gleaming. I was trying to rush him out the door and talking about being late when Matt reminded me that the deer werenât going to get there until 9:00 am! Ha! I told him that we needed to be there before they got there and that if we were to see a deer it would be a sleepy deer that doesn\'t like to get up early, a âSleepyâ deer for a âSleepyâ Matt.
We sneaked across the field and into the stand after a short cool walk from the truck. There were some deep impressions of deer tracks pressed into the soft ground all around the area where we were hunting. I could tell that they were recent. The temperature was still around 34 degrees and there was a good frost on the ground from the night before with a calm wind. Once we got in the stand we carefully loaded the rifle and reviewed the proper shot placement for a clean kill and the safe operation of the gun. The sun was starting to burn off the frost as the rising vapors of mist climbed into to air from the grass around the stand.
We were having fun in the stand watching our breath in the cold air when I noticed movement to my left out of the window. A doe was moving quickly across the amber tinted weeds and into a shooting lane that I had cut through the grass in the field. âGet your gun quickâ I whispered as I helped him get his rifle into position to make a shot. I turned the camera on to get the event on video. The deer continued along her path making haste, definitely on a mission. I stopped the moving doe with a loud deer bleat sound. âBoomâ! The deer just stood there, then turned to her left broad side, Matt had missed! I quickly handed my rifle to him and he eased it out of the window to center the cross-hairs on her again. âSheâs running awayâ Matt said as I watched her bound off unharmed into the cover of the field before he could make a second shot.
Itâs a deflating feeling to miss a deer and watch it run off. Letâs face it, it happens to the best of us. Matt and I talked about what happened and where he was aiming trying to go over the train of events that led to our misfortune. We watched the video and saw that the deer turned to her left right before the shot. I told him that no matter what, we were going to keep trying to get him a deer this year. He said that even though he missed, the hunt was a rush of a feeling and he was excited and glad that he woke up and made it to the stand. I told him that it was a good day and still early and not yet 9:00. I reminded him that sometimes when a single doe is on the move, a buck is not far behind. We decided to keep a sharp eye out for another deer because a buck may be a few minutes behind on her trail.
Just then I caught movement from the edge of the shadowed tree line, a buck with his head down right on the trail where the doe had walked! âThere he is!â I exclaimed. With stealthy but quick movements, Matt and I changed places in the stand. He wasted no time getting the rifle in the window as I moved the camera out of the way. I made another sound to stop the young buck that was moving from left to right even more rapidly than the doe. Matt instinctively leveled the rifle and âBoom!â the deer jumped from the shot impact and cut across the grass into the lane running to his terminal resting place at the end of the lane.
Seeing the deer expire within view of the stand, we wasted no time getting down and making our way to the prize. The deer was a small six point with a beautiful coat, a great deer for a young manâs first. Matt and I took pictures and enjoyed the moment being sure to give thanks to God for the blessings of the hunt. We are all so fortunate and blessed to be able to enjoy the hunting opportunities our great state of Louisiana has to offer and to share our hunting experiences with our children and friends.
Sleepy the deer was down and it all happened before 9:00!
As this yearâs annual Turkey Quest is drawing to a close, I canât help but reflect upon one of the best hunts that I have ever been lucky enough to experience. My turkey hunting partner and I took our kids to a ranch in Goldthwait Texas this year for Texasâ first spring youth only turkey season opener.
My son Matthew and my daughter Emily have been turkey hunting with me for the past five years. My daughter has taken several birds but my son just recently showed an interest in shooting a turkey the year before and didnât get one last year. My main goal for this trip was to get a bird for Matt and keep the faith that all of the kids would be successful in the end.
We had never hunted this particular ranch before but as always, we were giddy with the anticipation and excitement of hunting a new area and the possibility of the kids scoring a bird by putting a full pattern string right in the face of a big old gobbler. We arrived at our destination with 4 anxious kids and enough turkey hunting gear to stock a Cabelas. Camo, guns, snake boots, chairs, pop up blinds, go pro cameras, tripods, fancy turkey decoys with real fans, enough calls to weight down Arnold Schwarzenegger, everything is on the list when you are a crazed turkey hunter dad on a kids hunt weekend.
We found ourselves hunting near a large two mile stretch of the scenic Colorado River in central Texas. Our scouting and land owner interviews the night before produced two options for the morning hunt that seemed to be a sure thing. Most of the birds were roosting near the deep and winding fingers of creeks and draws that combined at the river. The plan was for me and my two kids to set up near the creeks where we had heard gobbling the evening before. We had agreed that Matt would draw first blood and then go after another fan for Emilyâs wall.
There were no good roads that led to this spot so the land owner agreed to drop me and the kids near the spot in his ranch truck. We unloaded our plethora of gear and made ready for the sneaky walk across the creek to find a spot to set up. As we were walking in the dark, turkeys were booming thunderous gobbles down the creek off to our right, answering my owl locator hoots every time. There had to be more than one good bird in that group I thought to myself. We decided to set up at the thick base of a tree in a pasture across the creek that had been recently cleared of mesquite brush. We dropped our chairs, close to the thorny underbrush below the tree. I told the kids to load their guns and sit down and get ready for the hunt.
It was still twilight and I was busy making sure that the kids were concealed, snipping brush and arranging the setup when I heard a thick heavy gobble coming from the ground directly behind me! I was shocked because it was still dark! I quickly shot down into my chair to the right of the kids and turned on my video camera. As I was asking the kids if they were ready, I caught a glimpse of a huge Tom swiftly making his way right towards us across the pasture beneath the dimly lit overcast sky. The big Tom was walking merely yards away crossing from right to left when I whispered to Matt to take his safety off. The bird was right there! âShoot himâ, I whispered, and BOOM, right to the dirt he went! Matt had shot the bird on the move without blinking an eye. I ran over to get the bird camera in hand still recording, grabbed up the bird and ran over to Matt to congratulate him giving him a high five. Just then, I heard more gobbles from the same direction coming from the ground. I quickly stashed the big bird in the heavy brush behind my chair and told Emily to get ready. I made a call and several birds sounded off just yards away. Four more turkeys came dimly into view with the last bird opening his fan in half strut as I called. They were going to walk right up to us! I told her to shoot the âstrutterâ in the back as Emily aimed her turkey gun at the doomed bird with the experienced accuracy of a seasoned killer. One cut on the mouth call and BOOM, down the bird went! Two birds down in only minutes and in the dark. WOW, talk about exciting! I donât know if I will ever be able to make another hunt where I get to witness both of my children taking a turkey together but I sure hope so! All of the kids got a bird on this hunt. I am truly blessed to have shared this with my kids.
Once a year I am blessed to be invited by some good friends to enjoy the excitement of their annual dove hunt and BBQ north of Shreveport. This year was no exception but it came with an added benefit, I received the word that I could bring my son along for the trip! My daughter is know as the hunter and my son as the fisherman around my house so I was pleasantly surprised that he said that he wanted to come along when I asked him if he wanted to make the trip. He told me that he was going to shoot his first dove on this hunt and the odds were in his favor. He has been coming with me on a few extremely hot Sunday afternoon kid trips to the skeet range and having some success with the number 7 low house targets.
We headed out early the next morning driving north and started counting the doves that we would see from time to time crossing I-49 in anticipation of pulling the trigger that afternoon. My friend plants sunflower near a pecan orchard on his farm and the birds are usually very eager to get into these fields to feed and rest and perch in the nearby orchard. Upon arrival we met the usual group of about 25 people already enjoying the hamburgers, sausage and hot tamales that the cook had prepared. We grabbed some grub and set up in the shade of the pecan trees to wait out the birdsâ arrival. My son Matt had enough time to eat and joke a while before he took a quick nap in his chair. Some time passed without much flying in this spot so a group of us decided to try another field of sunflowers nearby where there were no hunters.
We arrived at the field right after my friends and found them shooting birds left and right. Unfortunately, it was the middle of a very hot blistering day with no relief from the sun and no shade in the field. Matt was reluctant to join me in the heat and I was intent on his first time hunting doves being one that he remembered as a positive experience. My friend asked him if he would sit a while in the truck with his young son while he and I went out in the field to shoot. They enjoyed the air conditioning while the old wise men got sunburns and quick limits.
It didnât take long for me to finish up so I asked Matt to come and meet me in the field. By the time he reached my position, the birds were coming in nonstop, zooming all around us like little grey dive bombers and landing on the heads of the sunflowers and on the ground close to us. Matt took my 20 gauge Berretta in hand and we reviewed the lessons that he had learned at the range about following through with his shot. Suddenly, one dove landed perched perfectly right on the head of a sunflower just thirty yards in front of us. Matt quickly snapped the safety and brought the gun to shoulder, boom! It was a dead shot. âI got him, my first doveâ he shouted! He handed me the gun in excitement and ran to retrieve his prize. My friends were all finished and came over to congratulate him because they heard us hollering and saw us giving the high five. The next shot was at a flying bird but missed its target right behind the bird. Just then five or six birds came right at us. He threw up the gun and shot one of the birds hitting it squarely. The bird fell right at our feet with everyone watching! WOW, what celebrating we did after that shot, I think his hand was sore for a day or two. More and more birds came and it was a bit overwhelming for a young hunter to try and decide which bird to shoot while everyone is pointing them out. Two more birds came and lit on a sunflower nearby and Matt shot knocking them both down! In all of the excitement we didnât realize that we were getting very hot. Matt asked me if he could take and break. We decided to call it a day and start back on our long drive home.
Once we got on the road, Matt couldnât wait to call his mom to tell her all about the hunt. He made her promises not to tell his sister that he had killed some doves and done it with my gun. He wanted to brag a little in person. What a great day. It was good to spend some time with my son in the field, Iâm sure that he and I will remember that hunt for the rest of our lives.