Archive for the ‘Texas Hunting’ Category

Well we made it by lunch time to Amarillo. The “Big Texan is exactly that BIG! I don’t believe we’ll witness anyone attempting to knock off the old 72 but thus place is well worth the stop. Plus this is the biggest damn chicken fried chicken I’ve ever seen!

20111020-135852.jpg

20111020-135914.jpg

20111020-135924.jpg

20111020-135935.jpg

20111020-135946.jpg

20111020-135955.jpg

20111020-140020.jpg

20111020-140029.jpg

During this Spring Turkey season, we experienced several ups and downs, some in our control and some not. The biggest problem this season was out of everyone’s control.  The wildfires to the south and west of our location proved to be the biggest problem and challenge.  The Oasis fire (Kimble County) was the closest to us and as of two weeks ago it had grown to 6,800 acres and was only 10% contained. When my son and I pulled into Junction at the middle of April there was so much smoke that you could barely make out cars on the other side of the parking lot. Two weeks after that I returned to the lease to find that the smoke was worse than  before.  Every time we stepped out it smelled like the fires were getting closer and on Friday April 29th the smoke in the main road was beginning to make me think I was going to be making an emergency evacuation of all of our gear.

Thankfully the wind changed direction that afternoon and blew the smoke out of our area and the reports from the forest service said the fires were still a way off and not really a threat at the moment.  Today the Oasis fire, while growing to almost 10,000 acres, is now 100% contained and rain is forecasted for that area in the next couple of days. Hopefully the fire danger is becoming less of a threat, fingers crossed!!!!

After setting my Moultrie trail cam up and driving 4 hours home I began to worry would it work, will there be pictures, and if so would there be any wildlife to speak of? Two long weeks I waited for the answers to my questions. You can imagine the relief when I plugged the D-65 into my laptop,  I could see thumbnails of something. I wasn’t sure what the quantity or quality of the animals were, but I knew in fact the camera did work and I had more than just pictures of  bushes blowing in the breeze.

Much to my amazement this was the first picture I saw. I was in the turkeys for sure!

This was my first confirmation that deer were finding my feeder.

Early bird gets the worm??

First buck, albeit a button buck. More to come on him in 4 to 5 years.

First look at a strutter and possible squabble breaking out to the right.

A better picture of this particular tom in strut.

I just thought this one look cool.

Strutting in the evening.

This is the only corn thief in 500+ photos. Raccoon or Ring-tail Cat? Leave your answer in the comment section.

First and only mature buck so far, possible big bases. Button buck makes another appearance.

Double beard???

Another cool one of a strutter in the fog.

After seeing these photos I felt as good as I would after a successful hunt. I think it’s safe to say I’m a believer in trail cams now, and I am completely happy with the performance of my Moultrie in its first two weeks.  My son and I are heading back out this weekend to give  Mike first crack at turkey hunting, lets see what my D-65 has waiting for me. I can’t wait!!!!!!

This past weekend seemed like it would never get off the ground because last Wednesday my father was hospitalized. They kept him for a couple of days to make sure he was ok,  but the doctor released him in the nic of time for my buddy Mark and I to hit the road Friday afternoon. I was a little apprehensive on how the hunting was going to be due to the fact the high temps were going to be in the upper nineties, never the less we suited up and headed out.

As usual, the next morning Mark and I woke up late; I rushed to throw on my camo.  As we stepped out of the trailer there was a noticeable temperature drop, thankfully I brought a sweatshirt with me. We arrived about 25 minutes before sunrise. Immediately I noticed  that I forgot my leafy top, the hoodie was staying in the truck. “Great, I’m going to freeze my ass off” I thought to myself. Mark on the other hand, was prepared and much warmer.

We pushed ourselves up against a big cedar bush about 25 yards from the feeder. As the sun peeked over the horizon we started to hear faint gobbles in the distance.  About 30 minutes later my back was telling me to shift my position, as I started to move I heard a chirp 10 feet behind us. Suddenly, I froze, and looking from the corner of my eye I managed to catch a glimpse of a jake standing five feet to Mark’s right.  After the first bird, a second jake came into view, this one passing even closer to us. Both jakes circled my pin as if they were trying to find a way to get in without having to fly over, but eventually with one flap of their wings into the pin they went.

We watched for a bit, before several hens and a couple of jakes came sprinting to the feeder. They were running so fast we could have been in blaze orange and they wouldn’t have noticed us.  More time passed watching the turkeys eat, it seemed like a tom wasn’t coming, I quietly asked Mark “hey, you want to drop of the two jakes so at least we have some meat”? He nodded a yes, but suddenly we heard a gobble no more than 100 yards from us behind in a cedar thicket. Instantly, Mark gave a couple of hen calls to see if the gobbler would close the distance. We gave him another hour, but with so many hens in the area we guessed they went to him, so he wasn’t coming to us.

After I woke from a much-needed nap I noticed from the D-65’s photos, two young toms that seemed to frequent my feeder every day about 5:00 pm;  two hours before the timer was set to throw, so we headed back around four O’clock. We found a better location to set up; that wouldn’t silhouette us in the afternoon sun, and most importantly it was shaded. Temperatures topped out at 98 degrees that afternoon, and once again my back started screaming at me.  Suddenly we heard a chirp,  it was a tom, and he was coming right at us. As he  came into view he became nervous, quickly he turned around and ran into the brush. No more than 10 min later a group of hens came down the same game trail that the tom materialized from earlier, and at the same exact spot that the tom had second thoughts so did the hen, they spun around and took off. I started to look around to figure out what was spooking them. Best I could tell, the chairs we brought in an attempt to be more comfortable while camouflage the legs were probably giving off a glint of sun light that they could see at that spot in the trail. I broke off a tree branch trying to cover any reflection.  After I got myself situated and my chair legs covered, a group of four jakes appeared in the same spot as the turkeys before. Not wanting to miss another opportunity at some meat we raised our guns and  Mark said “GO”! In a cloud of dust and feathers I saw two jakes flopping on the ground, but I didn’t hear Mark shoot.  Thinking I just shot a double I looked at him and asked “ did you shoot”? “The one on the left is mine” he said. It turned out that we squeezed the trigger at the same time and I couldn’t hear his shot.

Sunday morning was going to be our last hunt, it was a bit windy, but not as cold as it was Saturday morning. We spent the night before cutting branches and stacking them up for better concealment. We nestled into our new blind,as the sun came up, but this time there wasn’t any gobbling. At 7:15 am my feeder went off. A moment later a hen ran up the pin; about the same distance as the other turkeys spooked from the afternoon before, and just like they did she quickly headed out of there. Then,  Mark took out his slate call and struck it a few times,  a strong gobble came in reply. I glanced over my left shoulder and I could see in full strut a bright blue head coming our way. Mark gave one more call off the slate and then got his gun ready, another chirp and purr, and Mark stuck that double barrel 16 gauge  through the cedar bush and let one round rip. Gladly we stood up out of our chairs for a quick stretch before having a look at Marks bird. It was a respectable Gobbler, about a seven-inch beard and one inch spurs, not a wall hanger but better than the two jakes from the night before.

I was glad to get Mark on the birds this weekend, it was about him having success more than anything. I have a weekend off from assistant coaching my son’s baseball team in two weeks, and I can’t wait to film Michael shooting his first turkey. Also, I am reviewing some Hunter Specialties turkey calls for Outdoor Blogger Network.  Maybe my next entry will be about Mike’s first turkey I called in.

Stay tune and join our subscribers list…..

PS:  Happy to report Dad is doing well!

5pm toms

Mark's Tom 4/3/11

Mark Baker 4/3/11

 

The game cam caught us in the background that first morning.

The alarm clock rang at 3:50am Friday, “man that came too fast”, I thought, as I drug my half awake self, to the shower. I wanted us on the road by 4:30am so I could get most of the day at the lease. I knew it was going to take at least three trips into town for materials. We had packed the truck the night before, all we needed to do was to get dressed and get going.

We made decent time arriving at the ranch around 9am, quickly unpacking, and then headed back to Ozona.

After a quick stop at the grocery store we went over to the Davey Crockett statue to snap a quick picture. The story of this statue is funny; it seems that it was originally built for the town of Crockett in East Texas, but for whatever reason it was not accepted. Then was given to the County seat in Crockett County (Ozona, TX) Davey never came within 300 miles of this area.

Many thanks to Russell and all the folks over at Triple C Hardware http://www.triplechardware.com. They had everything I needed, from the fence, feeder, and feed all at a fair price. To top it off I had some of the best customer service ever. The workers in the storage yard were able to get the feeder and fence in my truck, so I only needed to make one return trip to pick up my corn next morning.

Unloading everything was a snap, I just backed the truck up on the spot I wanted the feeder, and drug the materials out of the truck.

The feeder was surprisingly light for all that steel, but I was able to slide the legs on it and just leaned it up right, then the ladder just hooked in. After getting the feeder set up I called it a day. I was exhausted from the drive that morning. I knew next day was going to be a killer.

Saturday morning I picked up 500lbs of corn to fill my feeder. When I arrived back to my spot I was relieved to see my feeder still standing after a windy night,we had over 20mph wind the night before. I immediately realized that carrying ten 50lbs bags up that ladder in this wind was sketchy at best, but I managed to get it done with no mishap or injury. Note: the green streamer hanging from the varmint cage, lots of wind.

Michael found a new favorite spot to supervise the effort.

I had zero knowledge of how to build a feeder pin, so I was very fortunate to meet Clovis, one of my fellow lease members. Him, his wife, and grand-kids were there for spring break. He was kind enough to give me a hand in building my pin. Now I know why you hear building fences is no joke. I thought I was drinking enough water while working, but the dry air climate was sucking the water out of me faster than I could drink it. I was glad when we were done, I was completely tapped out.

I’d say it was a job well done. Thanks to Clovis!!!!!!

After completing the feeder and pin, and near exhaustion we drove to the top of a hill where there is an old caliche drilling pad to relax and soak in the day accomplishments while watching the sunset.  The last thing I needed to get done was hang my game camera. Fixing my blind will have to wait for another weekend.

As Michael and I headed out that night we made one last stop by the spot to set up the camera, and with that we headed back to Austin, knowing we were well on our way to a great 2011 deer and Turkey season.

I got tracks!!!!!!!

This weekend I’m taking my son out for his first look at our new deer lease. If you’ve read my earlier posts you know that this is a long time coming, and a huge deal for me. My son Michael has been on paid day hunts, or on an afternoon invitation to friends places close to town, but the opportunity to really sit and hunt hasn’t presented itself. He needs to learn what hunting is all about, not just “you sit, you wait, and you shoot”. Which last year was pretty much the case due to we were hunting on other folk’s schedules. We had no success getting him a deer last season, go figure! Now that I’ve signed on this lease out by Ozona Tx Michael can get an opportunity to sit watch and selectively harvest the right deer.

This week Michael is on Spring Break so we’re heading out this weekend to do a little work at the lease. The plan is to clean the trailer, set up my feeder (600# Big Horn) and a feeder pin consisting of roughly 10 16×5 bull panels to keep the ranchers goats out. A tower blind was left at the spot I’m hunting, and the only real repair it needs is to hang the door back on before the wet weather gets here. While I’m at it I’ll slap a new coat of paint on it as well. After the blind and feeder are taken care of I’m planning on hanging a trail cam (Moultrie D-65 IR) inside the feeder pin to look at the age of the deer in my area.

The “to do list” should take a day to complete. The biggest thing will be the fence posts for the feeder pin. The ground is made up of calich rock; so the posts may take some time to get in place. If I get it all done then that will leave a day to hang out and B.S. maybe head into Ozona for a bite to eat, and take a picture on the Davie Crockett statue. Also we hope to predator hunt at least one night. The head of our group (also named Michael) told me eleven bobcats were taken a few seasons ago. Can’t wait to get out there and call up some cats!

It’s going to be great getting out to Ozona, any opportunity a father and son can spend time with one another in the outdoors is time well spent in my book. Even better if it becomes a tradition.

Keep up with the weekends events through this site and twitter……………..

As a youngster I attended summer camp at Y.O. ranch in Mountain Home , TX . If you’ve never heard of the Y.O. it’s one of the largest ranches in Texas some 60,000 acres, and is home to more exotic wildlife than I’ve ever seen before or since. When arriving at the Y.O. you drive down a five mile main road to the lodge, the whole way you can spot exotic animals. Y.O. Ranch is the model that many Texas ranchers follow when starting their own exotic hunting operations in Texas .

Out of all of the exotics, that we were so fortunate to see, the one that always caught my eye was the “Blackbuck Antelope”. Blackbucks are from Pakistan and Nepal , and they are one of the most common exotics found in Texas next to the Axis and Fallow deer. It’s a small animal not much larger than a yearling Whitetail deer. The Blackbuck has a black and white coat that in the summer time fades to brown. The horns spiral at a slight outward angle off the top of its head.

During my stay the Y.O. we would ride in the back of pick-up trucks spotting and watching different types of wildlife, that’s how I had my first glimpse at a Blackbuck; I was truly amazed by the sight of the animal. I can still recall that feeling today. Ever since the Blackbuck has been on my list of must have trophies.

I was lucky enough to have a chance at hunting blackbucks in 2005. We were hunting in a community just east of Burnet, TX known as “Japa”. There were several different species on this particular ranch but the only one I was interested in was the Blackbuck. That part of Central Texas is flat and very open, but I figured with my 7mm Browning A-bolt and my new leafy suit; I would be able to close the distance to make a good shot. The guide Brian and I hunted hard for three day spotting and stalking, but we could never get with in 400 yards of the blackbucks on this wide open grass land, it just seemed that one always had it head up keeping a eye out while the others heads were down. One wrong move and over the hill they ran and back to the truck we walked, with our tails between our legs.

Because I wasn’t able to close the deal on a Blackbuck back in ’05 doesn’t mean I have given up, the opportunity to try again just hasn’t presented itself. When the day comes that I get anther opportunity I’ll jump at it, but this time instead of spot and stalk with a rifle, I’m going to sit in a blind with my bow. I’m getting too “plump” for crawling hundreds of yards on my belly.