Addicted To Wild Turkeys

Toby and a trophy tom taken on private land in Citrus County

I don’t plan on making apologies for my addiction. It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see me stand up at a meeting and proclaim, “Hi, my name is Toby, and I’m a turkey hunter!” in an effort to take on the first, of a twelve-step program. I understand that most addicts do that when they begin on the road to recovery. But, quite honestly, I don’t want to cure my turkey hunting addiction. Fact is, I’m mighty fond of it!

My First Turkey Call

By Toby Benoit

A wingbone yelper I built years ago.

I’m a turkey hunter. In fact, I am probably more passionate about turkey hunting than I am about any other of the outdoor sports. The excitement of listening to the Springtime conversations of those big beautiful birds is awesome, but when you take an active part in that conversation, knowing what to say and how to say it, can lead you to a euphoric overdose of adrenaline. Because, once that big old he-devil of a tom comes strutting in close, gobbling, spitting and drumming the entire way, it’s a spectacular rush!

Spring Is Here- Along With The Jadera Bugs

by Dr. William Lester, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County

A group of Jadera bug nymphs and an adult on a palm tree trunk in Spring Hill. Photo by William Lester

Every spring our office is deluged with phone calls and visits about hordes of small insects that cover exterior walls of homes, devour every plant in the landscape and destroy homes. Many times we can identify them without actually seeing a sample, just from their description. These small black and red insects turn out to be the Jadera bug, also known as the goldenrain tree bug or red shouldered bug. Here in Central Florida, they emerge in great numbers for a few weeks to a month every spring.

“Off Road” experience on Florida National Scenic Trail


Hikers and Nature Photographers on the FNST at Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area

The Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) guides hikers through portions of Hernando County including the Cypress Lakes Preserve and the Withlacoochee State Forest (Croom). Its newest addition takes hikers through the Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area (CWEA).

Preparations began over a year ago on this section of the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST), re-routing trails along the roadway into the wildness type environment within the CWEA, more visually inspiring for hikers.

The Saw Palmetto


Jim Davis is the Multi-County Extension Director for UF/IFAS Sumter County and Hernando County Extension and a Florida Master Naturalist Instructor.

Two color forms of the native saw palmetto. The silver saw palmetto on the left and the more common green on the right.  Photo by Jim Davis

The Saw Palmetto or Serenoa repens is without a doubt one of the most underutilized of landscape palms. Many homeowners select statuesque palms such as washingtonia palms, Sylvester palms, mule palms and the not so recommended queen palm. Tall palm species such as these can certainly make a statement in the landscape. However, consider adding another layer of palm diversity. The saw palmetto can grow to an average height of about five to six feet. They can grow to ten feet, but it would take a very long time for that to happen.

December Fishin’ Report

The storms are gone, the weather is a little cooler, and the trout are back on the flats.

Limits of trout are being caught in two to three feet of water.

The most popular method of finding them is to drift with the tide while casting suspending hard baits like the MR17 or Catch 2000 from MirrOlure.

Use a pattern of twitch, twitch, pause, retrieve. Jigs are another good choice. I most often use a 1 eighth oz jig head with a 4 inch Gulp Swimming Mullet in pearl white, but depending on conditions other colors may get more bites.

Major blueberry grower wiped out by Irma; help them replant


Hurricane Irma downed approximately 100,000 blueberry bushes at Frogmore Fresh Farm, a 125-acre blueberry farm in Pasco County. If these plants are not re-staked and reestablished, they will die, a significant loss for the grower and the Florida blueberry industry. Searching for a solution, Whitney Elmore, UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County director, worked through the UF/IFAS network to recruit volunteers to come to the farm and help save the plants.

Planting Fall colors in Florida


Firebush Hamelia patens via Flickr

School is in session and Labor Day is fast approaching. What do these two events bring to mind? Changing temperatures and Ah, the glorious colors of Fall! Oh wait, this is Florida. No changing leaves of orange, red and yellow. No brisk evenings requiring fuzzy sweaters and warm cider. Nope. None of that here in Florida. What we do have is sunshine, sandy beaches, sweet iced tea and lots of tropical flora that is as resplendent in its variety as any of the Fall foliage seen in northern climes.

Little beetles can cause big problems

by Dr. William Lester, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County

Adult sixspined ips, Ips calligraphus (Germar). Photograph by David T. Almquist, University of Florida.

If you drive around Hernando County you will notice quite a few dead pine trees. This is because we have had an outbreak of Ips pine engraver beetles this spring and summer. This beetle pest occurrence isn’t nearly as bad as the southern pine bark beetle, which can cause major losses of pine trees across the entire Southeast US; but if you are the one suffering the loss and expense of removing a dead pine tree, this is little comfort. The main areas in our county that have been affected are Spring Hill, WeekiWachee, areas west of US 19 and along Cortez Blvd.