Toby Benoit

Quackers for the Kitchen

I’ll admit right up front that I’m not much of a duck hunter. It’s not that I don’t love those frosty mornings out on the marsh, watching the flocks winging in, I do.  I just can’t seem to connect when it comes time to fire the gun! I’ve gone duck hunting a handful of times and have managed to make an awful lot of noise with my old Winchester, but I have yet to so much as even cut a feather.

Talking The Talk

There are a lot of people out there who apparently think that whitetail deer are simply cute little mutes wandering about the forest.  Well, although they aren’t the loudest of critters, they’re far from mutes.  The fact is, they have a pretty fair range of vocalizations from social grunts, a “hey how are ya” type of call, to a shrill wheeze, sounding the alarm of danger.  But, one call that’s been mighty important for deer hunters to learn, is the bleat.

Doe Days and Newbies

One of my greatest pleasures is introducing new hunters to the sport and helping them find success.  Seeing the experience of the outdoors and the hunting heritage fresh, vicariously through their yet untrained eyes, renews my own love affair with the wild places.  One of the obstacles that I have to overcome when taking out young folks on their first hunts is their expectations of an instant kill.

Public Land Pointers

I know that there are a lot of you, who like myself don’t have the deep pockets for private lease fees or outfitters in order to hunt.  Instead, we're left to hunt the public Wildlife Management Areas, which while offering some great opportunities, they do see a lot of pressure and offer unique challenges.  Now, I’ve been hunting and taking my share of game out of the public WMA system for well over thirty years, so I decided to share some pointers. I really hope that these tips can help you battle the crowds and skittish deer, while setting you on the path to success.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween my friends and I hope everybody has fun tonight with the Trick or Treating crowds.  I know I’ll be coming in from the woods in time to pass out a few treats to any ghouls and goblins that may show up at my door.  Just as well too, since I’m not entirely fond of walking out of the woods after dark with the skunk apes roaming about this time of year.  What, there’s some of you who haven’t heard of Florida’s skunk ape? 

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!