Outdoors

Garth & Mutt on the hunt

I recently had the pleasure of escorting a pair of octogenarian turkey hunters to the woods and listening to their stories.  Between these two brothers, they shared experiences with me from over a combined 120 years of hunting these big, beautiful birds all over the country.  Anybody who knows me understands just how much I appreciate a good story and these two did not disappoint.  Mutt, 82, and his older brother Garth, 84, were true turkey hunting gentlemen and great sports. 

The Bachelors

This past Saturday, the opening day of Spring 2021, I found myself and a client seated on the edge of a small cypress strand.  We were there to hunt a big Osceola gobbler; my client and good friend Devin Selowese, has since named the bird, “Chuttles.”  The “Chuttles” name came from the raspy, warble way he would finish his gobbles.  Made it sound like he was saying, “Gobble-Gobble-Gobble, Chuttle, Chuttle”.

First Annual Squirrel Hunt

Dawn was just breaking as the sun reached the eastern horizon, daylight barely overcoming the shadows.  The crickets and other nighttime insects were ceasing their song as birds and frogs took up their chorus.  My partner for the morning’s hunt, eight-year-old Owen Geer, nudged me before pointing upwards into the oak hammock before us.  His eyes wide and a smile spreading across his face.

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.

Our Hog Waller Thanksgiving

We spent our Thanksgiving at a park in Putnam County called Hog Waller. It is a privately owned and managed property comprised of 1100 acres of woods with ATV and UTV trails.  Back in the early 1900s, this property and surrounding areas were part of a logging community called Rodman according to the park’s website.  “Many thousands of acres of forest land were harvested and many farms surrounded the community.

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! 

The Wood Stork

The Wood Stork is a very strange looking bird found in Florida. The head lacks feathers, it has long thin legs, black/white feathers, and pinkish feet! Although unusual looking, I have developed a fondness for this most remarkable species of wading bird. The Wood Stork was on the brink of extinction. In the 1970s there were only 5,000 pairs recorded. Loss of wetland habitats and food base were primary factors in the sudden decline. In the everglades, nesting failure was also a contributor. In 2014, the U.S.