Outdoor Goals 2013 Recap…

Last year, I wrote a blog post listing my outdoor goals for the year of 2013. You can check out the list here. My list included five goals and I am proud to say that I achieved two of them. However, that obviously leaves me a lot of room for improvement in 2014.

I will be posting my outdoor goals for 2014 in the coming days, but wanted to take a few minutes and recap my goals for last year and how they went.

My first goal was also the goal I most wanted to achieve and that was to fill a spring turkey tag for the very first time. On opening day of the 2013 spring turkey in season, I managed to take a tom turkey from the Ohio woods and I couldn’t be more proud of that accomplishment. You can read the entire story of my spring turkey hunt here.

The second goal on my list was to catch and weigh a largemouth bass of over three pounds which would beat my personal best bass of all time. This goal was the one I suspected would be the most difficult as I have been bass fishing since I was young and had never topped the three pound mark. Well, at least not officially that is. There were several times that I believe I caught fish bigger than that, but I either failed to land those fish or didn’t have a scale with me at the time. Unfortunately, that makes those occasions nothing more than fish stories.

Anyways, as these things usually go, the goal I thought would be most difficult proved to be one of the easiest. It was also completely unexpected. I had just finished scouting my turkey hunting location and happened to have my fishing gear with me. It was an unusually warm spring day for Northern Ohio and I couldn’t resist wetting a line. Long story short (and you can read the full story here) I wound up hooking, landing, and weighing a 3+ pound bass on my first cast of the year.

The last three goals that I set for 2013 were much less successful. Unfortunately, I never even got a chance to really pursue them. Busy schedules and the unpredictable spring weather that is commonplace in Northern Ohio made a flathead fishing trip impossible to get planned and executed and a lack of equipment and the decision to not figuratively pull the trigger on an expensive purchase made a 2013 whitetail deer hunt out of the question.

The last goal that I set was to take a great outdoor picture. Although I had my camera with me just about every time I was out in the field in 2013, that great picture just never happened. However, I did still get a lot of great shots of fish I caught as well as those caught by friends and family. The more I think about it, maybe those pictures are even better than the great landscape shot that I was hoping to get.

Although I did not achieve all of my outdoor goals that I set for 2013, they still pushed me to be a better outdoorsman and to just appreciate having the freedom and opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors in all of their abundance and beauty with good friends and family along the way.

Here’s to another great year in the outdoors in 2014!

 

Opening Day Tom…

This past Monday was opening day of spring turkey hunting season here in Ohio and the only place I could be found was out in the woods. I made plans to hunt with a good buddy of mine who is a great hunter and all around outdoorsman.

I am fortunate enough to have access to 250 acres of prime Medina County farm land for all my hunting trips and that was where we decided to hunt. The land does not get very much pressure and is filled with all kinds of game.

We got set-up in the field at about 5:30AM with the stars still visible in the sky and about 1 hour or so before legal shooting light. It was a chilly 38 degrees with expected highs near 65 later in the day. Luckily, we got a day with no real breeze to speak of.

We set up in a pop-up blind on a field filled with corn stubble from the previous year’s harvest with a woodlot to our backs. We set up two hen decoys and a full-strut tom decoy in front of us at about 15 yards.

Around 6 o’clock we started hearing our first gobbles of the spring. What sounded like a couple of different birds a couple of hundred yards back in the woods started lighting up on the roost. However, once they flew down, they promptly shut up and we assumed they had paired up with hens.

Things were pretty quiet for a while until about 7:30 AM when my buddy saw a gobbler running in and a hen creep out of the treeline. We thought that gobbler wasn’t going to stop until he gave us a clean shot, but for some reason, he hung up back behind our blind. The hen did come out into the field and fed for awhile but soon disappeared back into the woods.

Around 8:30 AM was when the real action started. Birds started gobbling their heads off way back in the woods again. As far as we could tell, about three different birds were gobbling about 200 yards into the woods near a creek bottom.

My buddy started hitting the call about a half hour later and those birds were calling back hard. After a few minutes a group of jakes worked their way into the field but they wouldn’t commit to the decoys. They fed for a while while always seeming to keep looking back into the woods.

Then at about 9:45 AM, they vanished back into the woods. Then almost out of nowhere, a longbeard emerged from the treeline on my right. He was looking for a fight and walked straight up to the full-strut tom decoy. Before he could start attacking the decoy I made my shot. It was a clean kill right at 15 yards.

My first ever turkey and it was a beauty and on opening day nonetheless. He weighed in right at 23 pounds. His beard went 11″ and his spurs were right at an inch. That puts him right around three years old.

All in all it was a great hunt with a good friend made even better given the fortune of finally being able to fill a turkey tag. It was a fun morning in the spring woods and I already can’t wait to do it again next time.

In a previous post, I listed my outdoor goals for this year. Filling a turkey tag was one of them and I’m glad to say that I already met that goal. Only four more to go!

Here are a couple pictures:

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Ol’ Boss Gobbler…

During the winter session offered at UMass last year, I took a creative writing class. It was really my first class of the sort and I truly did learn a lot. The class wound up mostly focusing on poetry and I could not be happier that it did. I discovered that it was something I enjoyed doing. Prior to the class, I don’t think I would have ever even tried my hand at it.

However, after seeing the reaction to my writing from both the professor and my fellow classmates, I decided to pursue. Not as a career but simply as a hobby. I have even entered several poetry contests. Not with an expectation to win, but just to feel like my work can be noticed in some small way.

With spring turkey hunting season fast approaching, I decided to share a poem I wrote for the class about an experience I had while turkey hunting last spring. So here goes nothing…

Ol’ Boss Gobbler

The wild turkey of

the deep forests and

sparse woods of North America

is the king of early spring.

They are a completely different

creature in those early months

that see the forest reborn

than they are the rest of

the year. Eyesight to rival

an eagle.

 

Any hunter who has

braved the predawn woods

with calling a gobbler in mind

can attest to that. Despite the needling of the

old-timers on the porch of Mumford’s

during the pre-hunt pit stop,

the hunter remains optimistic.

 

The old-timers chuckle at

That youthful exuberance they had

Lost to seasons long past.

Creaking sounds manifest from

Rocking chairs or joints. No one

Is quite sure anymore.

 

They roost

in trees; flight not impossible

and soar down at dawn in

an explosion of feathers.

They shatter the surrounding serenity

with a gobble that carries and

drifts through the still blooming

limbs to the ears of the eager

hunter.

 

The ol’ boss gobbler

that is the quarry of the hunter

is no easy prize to claim. That

bird is no spring chicken.

and is not fooled by much.

He’ll tease the hunter with his

brain rattling gobbles and

apparent approach only to

disappoint at the last moment,

to strut and parade for the resident

hens he aims to impress.

 

Sending the hunter home

with an unfilled tag but

a story to tell. Of the ol’ boss gobbler

at the old woodlot living to see

yet another sunrise from his throne

at the top of the sagging spruce

on the south ridgeline.

 

You haven’t

lived until you’ve heard a turkey

erupt in a gobble ten yards behind

you,

and catch not a glimpse.