Toby Benoit

Small Game Sport

Any of y’all out after coyotes lately?  I’m getting a lot of feedback via email, from hunters around the county who have been out targeting song dogs but having a pretty tough time of it.  They’re not really coming into the critter in distress calls lately…. I’ve experienced that myself.  As the coyotes are in the midst of their breeding season, the only calls that appear to be working are territorial howls and female barks and yips.  

First Forecast for Spring Gobblers

The dogwoods haven’t begun to bloom yet and already I’m seeing toms, still in their bachelor flocks, following the hen flocks.  This is a time of great changes amongst the wild turkeys.  They are changing up their feeding patterns and more and more traveling in the open places as opposed to the depths of the forest.  As I travel about our county, I’m seeing more and more turkeys and the numbers are giving me great hope for the new season.

Camp Cooking

I share a lot about small game hunting in this column, mostly because it’s so much fun.  But, also because I simply love dining on small game.  I especially enjoy hunting and dining on squirrels and I’ve some mighty fine memories of squirrel hunts from the past.  A few of my early hunts stand out above all others because after we’d taken our limit of bushytails, dad kindled a fire and cooked them up right there in the woods.

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