Toby Benoit

Opening Day Blues

That’s right, I’ve got the blues….  It’s opening day of archery season this weekend in the Southern portion of our state and I’m going to have to sit it out.  Heartbreaking, right?  Oh, I’ll survive I suppose; just one of those times where work just gets in the way.  Oddly enough, though, work will be taking me south for a few days next week, so I guess I’ll just carry my bow along and sneak off for a hunt or two if I get the chance.

Take Care Of Your Oaks

Now that the rains are beginning again as Summer rolls along, one of the things I do each year to prep some of my hunting areas, is to visit the big oaks with a bag of fertilizer.  It not only ensures that not only will the trees produce acorns in abundance, but that those acorns produced will be sweeter and more flavorful than those produced by the untended trees.  Not only deer, but all local wildlife it seems, will benefit from this small amount of work; it practically guarantees me a great show while I’m sitting in my blind.    

Candid Pics for Early Scouting

From time to time I use electronic game cameras to assist in my scouting.  These last few years, I’ve really captured some amazing photos on my game cameras and I thought I’d share a few tips to help you capture the best images you can on your own.  But, before I do, I want to suggest that a good trail-camera is no replacement for basic woodsmanship.  Learning to read signs properly can give you the same information as the camera.  The only advantage the camera has for me has been to provide some really cool before and after images of the bucks while they

Dads

My dad had gotten old, but I really didn’t know it.  Sounds strange I know, but really, I had no idea that the man I’d loved and admired my entire life, was slowing down.  He’d always been my hero; the guy that could catch a fish on the first cast, fill a quota of doves with only half a box of shells and could read the forest floor as clearly as reading a newspaper.  He was infallible, ageless and unchanged since my boyhood, until that hunt on some land down on the southern end of our county and he stumbled and fell.

Off-Season Archery

The old Archery bug bit me an awfully long time ago.  I’ve had a bow in my hand often over the last forty-five years; from the time I was five…. you can do the math later.  And what a wonderful blessing the sport of archery has been to me!  Starting out as a young archer, naturally I took to bowhunting small game around my family’s farm, like a duck takes to water.  I spent many hours chasing squirrels and rabbits back then and would only score maybe once, out of every hundred shots or so.  

Quota Permits

It’s that time again when those of us not blessed with the opportunity to hunt exclusively on private land, begin submitting quota permit applications to the Florida Wildlife Commission.  Those permits if drawn, grant us access to certain public hunting grounds on specified dates within our system of Wildlife Management Areas.  Most of us, being creatures of habit, apply for the same areas year after year, but I’d like to encourage you to take advantage of the summertime downtime to seek out some new hotspots on properties you haven’t left any tracks on.  

Offshore Adventure

I stepped way, far out of my comfort zone recently after accepting an invitation from an old friend and hunting companion, to join him in the Gulf of Mexico in pursuit of sharks.  Now folks, if you’ve read a handful of these columns, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a bit of a landlubber.  It’s true, I do enjoy a good fishing trip from time to time, but more often than not, it’s just sitting out on the bank of the Withlacoochee with a cane pole and a can of worms.  Shark fishing though….

Swatting Skeeters and Piling up Porkers

And here we are, stuck in the seasonal doldrums; turkey season long behind us, yet deer season seemingly still so far away.  It’s the time of year when it’s just plain hot and hunting activities drop to a minimum amidst so many other sporting options.  However, for us die-hards committed to maintaining full freezers and keeping our edge out in the field, there are still a few options available to us that help fill in the time between the seasons.

Croaker Cravings

I had the good fortune of visiting some good friends last weekend for an offshore fishing trip, bringing some big sharks alongside the boat for CPR; catch, photograph and release.  An epic weekend, to say the least, with great friends, great fishing, pretty girls and aged bourbon, all of it capped off with a world class sunburn.  But, one event of the weekend did leave me mildly dissatisfied….  You see, my party stopped at a local Venice eatery and I was very happy to see that they had frog’s legs on the menu, but they really let me down.

New Appreciation for Old Skills

I find it fascinating, the number of new hunters, who have been reaching out to myself and other old-timers I know, looking for advice on how to hunt.  These days fewer and fewer of these new hunters are entering the sport for the “thrill of the hunt” or to begin collecting trophies from the wild.  But rather, they’re seeking to place a wedge between themselves and their family’s hunger.  Already, store shelves are far less stocked than we’ve become accustomed to and the meat markets are rationing their supplies.  Should the forecasted meat shortages cont