Toby Benoit

Merry Christmas / Hog hunting

Merry Christmas, my very good friends!  It’s been a long year with quite a bit of craziness; I hope that it didn’t cause any of you to act out.  It’d be a real shame if Santa finds your name on his naughty list.  Of course, I seem to stay there….  Been asking for a flame thrower for forty years and still, that fat guy in the red coat has yet to come through.  Not that I really need a flame thrower; I just thought it’d be fun to light up the barbecue pit when we cook a hog.

More on Coon-hunting

I was blown away by the interest I’ve received in my inbox and while out and about over last week’s column when I told y’all a little about coonhunting.  So many of you have been kind to share your own stories of coonhunts from your past and great memories of standout hounds you’ve hunted with.  I thank each of you as I‘ve trained and handled some mighty fine hounds during my many years of involvement in the sport.  Along with your great stories, there were a few questions asked of me, which I’d like to answer this week.    

Thanksgiving Turkey Hunting

Ya know, we eat turkey more often at Thanksgiving than we do at Easter, yet the majority of hunters still see turkey hunting as a spring-only pursuit.  In fact, many of those hunters will tell you that the fall hunt is boring, though they more than likely haven’t even tried it.  To them, turkey hunting is all about the gobble and the excitement of the wild turkey’s breeding season.  The shame of it is, they are really missing out on some great hunting and even greater education about those big beautiful birds we all love so much! 

Does Florida Have A Rut?

I’ve recently had the privilege of discussing Florida’s rut with a handful of fellow deer hunters which were full of questions.  They were mostly confused by the lack of signs indicating rutting activity on some of the local WMA’s.  To be sure, Florida’s rut cycles can be tricky to predict; especially for out of state hunters unfamiliar with our southern whitetail.

Hide N Seek

I do all of my hunting, while on the ground using whatever cover is available as much as I can, to hide myself.  As a fat guy, I honestly hide better on the ground by blending into the landscape than skylighting myself up a tree.  I think that for some folks, treestands or other elevated platforms can be a distinct advantage, but let’s face it, even camo’d and in the treetops, my big behind isn’t really fooling much.  At times, I could almost hear the deer discussing it….  “Hey Ned, that a hunter up there?”  

“Naw, too big, I think it’s a giant squirrel’s nest.”  

Talkin’ The Talk

As fall progresses and the days continue to shorten, darkness begins much earlier each evening and morning arrives a bit later.  It’s this photoperiod, which triggers whitetail bucks to enter the rut, a period of heightened breeding activity.  And I’ll tell you folks, if the fresh scrapes I’m finding while out hunting and scouting is any indicator, our first rut period is now!  From now up until our peak rut in mid-January, bucks will be most receptive to deer calls.  They’re going to be on their hooves looking for does and challenging other bucks to territorial disputes in their testostero

Archery Opener

This Saturday, September 19, 2020, is opening day for archery
season in the majority of our county located in Zone C, as designated
by the Florida Wildlife Commission. It’s been a long time coming and
I know a good many of you are just as excited about it as I am.
We’ve been having quite a bit of rain this year, so we can expect to
find the woods a bit soggier than usual. I hope that when driving into
your site, you’ll be wary of standing water and slick trails; what a
shame it would be to get stuck in the mud and not make it to your

The Big Shift

In the coming weeks, a giant shift will occur in the deer world.  Both food, and cover, will be changing which will surely affect the feeding and travel patterns amongst the herd.  Mostly though, amongst the buck population, physical changes are taking place.  The velvet they’ve worn, covering their antlers is now shed out and each buck is sporting brand spanking new antlers.  Along with that change, a major shift takes place in how these newly shed bucks interact with other deer.  

Sharp Knives Matter

When I was growing up, every man carried a knife in his pocket.  Heck every kid carried one also.  Especially, out in the country where they were an absolute necessity for innumerable chores.  No single tool is reached for more often day to day out in farm country and few are probably given less thought, than the knife in a pocket.  But, there was a distinct difference in the knives carried between the old-timers and us kids; the od-timer’s knives were sharp!


It’s Gator Time!

That’s right folks, it’s gator time and I’ve only made it out onto the Withlacoochee River once now for a freezer full of swamp-chicken.  I’d like to tell you I filled a tag already, but the only g bull I caught up with tore free of my line and escaped into thick hyacinth cover and escaped.  But, my companion Cheyenne made pretty good use of the downtime though, by multi-tasking while shining for gators; she got busy catching catfish, so the night wasn’t a total loss.