Toby Benoit

Bushytail Bonanza

Small game season opened up this past Saturday and I had the chance to switch gears a bit.  Since archery opener, I’ve had some great times in the woods filling my freezer, but I’m not likely to be drawing back my bowstring again any time soon.  I took a good fall last week and broke a couple of bones in my right hand, so I was really happy that small game season arrived when it did. That’s why the gears switched, the old .410 came out of the safe and I invited my nephew Owen to join me in the woods for squirrels.

Old Timers

I got a call recently, the kind nobody wants to get, but far too often do; a friend of mine has passed away.  More so than just a friend, he was a mentor of sorts in my young adulthood and was a cherished member of a class of the most influential outdoorsmen.  The influence of men of that class is sorely needed these days, more so than ever...  My friend, Jimmy West, of Dade City, Fl, was an “Old Timer.”   

Love Is In The Air!

Lots of lovin’ in the woods right now as the whitetails are coming into rut and it’s a beautiful time to be on the hunt.  Temperatures are slightly dropping, the rains have stayed at bay for a time and activity abounds. The bucks are actively scraping and chasing the does, and every now and then, they will pick a fight with other bucks intent on dating from their herds.  The rut is on!

Hunting During The Pre-Rut

Opening weekend of archery season has been a great success for many bowhunters; I’m hearing lots of stories of good fortune.  The acorns haven’t begun falling in huge quantities and the deer are up and moving in order to fill their bellies. In this period of the season, it’s normal to focus on food sources or bedding areas while waiting for the rut to kick in.  And that’s always been my go to opening weekend strategy as well.

Archery Season 2019

It has sure taken long enough to get here, but archery season in our section of Florida, Zone C, as defined by the Florida Wildlife Commission has finally arrived!  To say I’m excited about opening morning is a huge understatement and I know that there are so many of you out there sharing my excitement. My inbox has filled up lately with requests for where to go and looking for tips and tactics to fill your tailgates and I’m mighty grateful to each of you who have taken the time to e-mail me.  I truly wish you all great success!

Pythons Pushing North, Part II

Last week I was telling you folks about the northern spread of the Burmese Python in Florida and how in recent weeks they’ve been popping up in some really, unexpected places.  Since my last column, two different presumably wild pythons, as they wore no microchip, were captured near Orlando and Miami; one a ball python and the other an Indian red-tail. Things are definitely a bit wilder out there in our wilds these days!

Pythons Are Pushing North

A few weekends ago, I received a message from our Hernando Sun founders, Julie and Rocco Maglio. According to Rocco, he had just discovered an eight-foot long, Burmese python on the road in front of his driveway.  Reports of such a creature have been quite rare much farther north than the Peace River, yet there it was. And, the swampy wetlands around their home are the perfect habitat for a Burmese python to thrive, so I would not at all be surprised if this was only the first of more to come.

Making Plans and Making Friends

As the next deer season continues to creep up on us, most of us are beginning to get outside a bit more.  Scouting out the mature bucks for sure, placing trail cameras and looking for signs from last year’s rut. Quite a few of us are going over our gear, checking to make sure things are as it should be.  Others still are making their lists and checking them twice, readying for a bit of shopping to replenish last year’s supplies; deer pee, Thermocell cartridges, nitrile gloves and such.

Snake Smarts

I got a little tickled earlier after reading a public service announcement from our Florida Wildlife Commission.  The announcement, basically stated that poisonous snakes, especially cotton-mouth water moccasins cannot climb trees and went on to claim that stories of moccasins falling from tree limbs into boats are complete falsehoods; myths, they claimed.  Now folks, the reason this tickled me is that I have first-hand experience on three separate occasions of having water moccasins fall into my boat.

String Stretching Time

Archery season is just around the corner and it’s time to get our gear ready.  Time to knock the dust off the old quiver, pull the targets out and begin flinging arrows.  For the bowhunters who don’t shoot year round (I can’t imagine) now is the time to begin stretching out the muscles to draw smoothly and comfortably and put your set up through its paces to ensure we’re every bit as ready for the big hunt as we can be.