Outdoors

Early season action in Zone A

For our neighbors to the south, in Florida’s Zone A, archery season has just begun. This may come as a bit of a surprise to many of you, but yes, we can legally hunt whitetail deer in July if we’re willing to take a long drive south.  I wouldn’t mind the drive, as I’m a bit jealous since here in our county we have to wait until September fifteenth to get started. But the heat; September is hot enough, but July heat is more than I wish to contend with on a deer hunt.

Watch Your Step!

I joined a friend of mine recently and we took a ride out to the old Iron Bridge in the Croom WMA to do a little catfishing on the banks of the Withlacoochee.  It was a hot and steamy afternoon not long after a shower had passed through and on one of the trails leading me to the fishing hole, we came across a young Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake.  Now folks, he wasn’t the least bit ornery, as most of them are quite passive. He never coiled to strike or rattled his tail in warning, he simply acknowledged our presence and continued going on about his day.

Night Hunting For Wild Hogs

I ran into a gentleman yesterday at the WalMart in Brooksville, who stopped to ask a few questions about last week’s column and hunting in the heat.  One point he made and followed with a question, was that it’s much cooler at night, so why not just hunt hogs after the sun goes down. I assured him, that I have spent many a night in pursuit of fresh pork and that he’d brought up a great topic for this week’s Column.  Thank you, Brian C., of Spring Hill for the inspiration.

Wild Foraging

On Friday June 22, 2018, I had the opportunity to attend a guided Wild Foraging program.  This took place at Chinsegut Conservation Center, and was presented by Kristin Wood of Dade Battlefield Historic State Park.  The purpose of the program was to educate the attendees in the wild edible plants native to Florida, and found in your backyard.  

From invasive super-predator to cash cow

Here’s a bit of news that I will confess, has really piqued my interest; The Everglades National Park will now allow state-contracted python hunters onto its federal lands to find and kill the invasive Burmese python.   They’ve been trying to remove pythons from the area for years, hoping to put a halt to the rapidly growing population.  But, all of the scientific attempts by biologists and wildlife managers has been remarkably unsuccessful.  Now, the snakes are so common, they are ravaging the park’s native wildlife populations and the state is looking to us hunters for help.

Get ‘Em To Say Cheese!

After a dozen or so conversations during the last week seeking information on trail-cameras, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned about their usage over the last few years.  But, before I do, I want to just suggest that a good trail-camera is no replacement for basic woodsmanship. Learning to read sign properly can give you the same information as the camera.  The only advantage the camera has been for me, has been to provide photographic evidence of the deer I’m planning to hunt.

 

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!