Category Archives: 2013

Jazzed For the Turkey Chase

There may have been similar posts on here in recent years, but I just don’t recall a spring that I have been more excited to hit the woods chasing turkeys.

The reasons why seem logical:

CST

– Deer season ended too long ago – and the 2012 season saw me hit the woods fewer days than any other season over the last 20 years.

– I’ve had a chance to see more turkeys already this spring than I recall over recent years – especially in my home state of NC.

– My hunting buddies keep posting pictures online of the turkeys they’re already killing in states that have already kicked off turkey season.

– I’ve not had a chance to kill a turkey since 2011.

– My local hunting buddies’ interest in turkey hunting is rising at the same rate as the NC population of thunder chickens.

– My preseason scouting trip reminded me of my love for opening a morning to the sounds of a gobble.

One other reason is worth mentioning. If you read this blog, you know I’m a big fan of Midwest Whitetail productions. And the same group of producers for that semi-live online hunting show have created a similarly themed turkey show, Cabela’s Spring Thunder.

Host Aaron Warbritton does a great job in the role and it’s easy to see that he and his turkey hunting cohorts know what they’re doing when it comes to chasing turkeys.

Here’s hoping we’re connecting on a few chases here over the next month. We’ll certainly keep you posted on when that happens!

Don’t forget to “Like” our page on Facebook. Just click here. And keep us all posted on how your turkey season is going!


Riverview Outfitters’ Elusive Bastard

By Nick Pinizzotto
AHT Contributor

“Elusive bastard!”

That short phrase summed up Tyler Sellens’ thoughts about a monster buck roaming one of the many great properties he manages with friend and partner Josh Turner at Riverview Outfitters in western Illinois. The outburst also provided a fitting name for the giant deer that represents all that we love about the challenge a mature whitetail buck can pose to even the most seasoned hunters.

Bastard Buck 2Only three photos of this deer exist, and the first time he triggered a camera was on September 29 at 4:46 a.m. Although the date on the above photo says 2011, it was most certainly this fall. Almost immediately after pulling the photos the guys posted it on their Facebook page with the comment, “Look who came strolling along.”

Those of us who know Tyler and Josh well realize that they must have been excited because they uploaded the picture so quickly. It’s not uncommon for a few of us to give them a hard time about being slow to post photos, but that wasn’t a concern in this case.

Exactly one week later, the massive monarch strolled past the same camera.

Exactly one week later, the massive monarch strolled past the same camera.

When the buck triggered the same camera one week later, it seemed like this would be the first of many photos of the old bruiser. That’s where the story takes an all too familiar twist. Like the biggest and most experienced bucks have a knack for doing, he simply disappeared. Despite several cameras being out, there were no more new photos.

Despite several different clients hunting the property and using a number of scattered stand locations, the buck was never seen. When I returned to hunt in early December I thought I was the first person to lay eyes on him across a long field, but after reviewing my mental images and comparing them to the photos, I’m almost certain it wasn’t him. I saw some good bucks that evening, but I have to believe if this guy stepped out it would have made a special impression on me. He simply vanished.

When the season ended with no new photos or a single sighting, we assumed the buck was either shot on a different property or that the deer simply spent a week in the area and just happened to pass by one of the cameras. I guess none of us was willing to believe that The Bastard Buck eluded us.

Although you hear stories all of the time about great bucks that made an appearance and then disappeared for months or even entire seasons only to turn up again, we just couldn’t let ourselves believe that it could happen to us. Just a few weeks ago, Tyler sent me a message that brought a smile to my face while also providing a harsh reality check. “You’re not going to believe this, but we got another picture of that buck.”

Although he is a little thinner after the rut, the Bastard Buck was alive and well just before Christmas.

Despite being a bit thinner after the rut, The Bastard Buck was alive and well just before Christmas.

Two days before Christmas, The Bastard Buck sent a loud and clear signal that he was alive and well, and still haunting the Riverview Outfitters property. At 7:23 a.m. on December 23, the magnificent stag made a daylight appearance on the opposite side of the property from where the earlier photos were snapped. Just like that, he was back into our lives and imaginations providing fuel for the fire as we look forward to next season.

Already a great buck, the fact that he has been a bit of a mystery only adds to his trophy status. How many times did hunters walk right by him on their way to a stand? Did he ever get to his feet during daylight hours while hunting season was in? How could he avoid all of those hunters and cameras for several weeks, especially during the rut when he would have been most vulnerable? Did he simply leave the area for a few months and eventually meet up with some girls from across the tracks during the rut? All we can do is guess.

bastard (adjective):  of abnormal shape or unusual size,
of unknown origin.

It appears that the buck has at least 13 scoreable points and he has good mass and long main beams. I’m not going to estimate a score as it would be a disservice to this great deer, but I know it is way up there. Although I would love to see what this buck looked like in mid-November in his peak, I feel pretty confident saying that the deer is likely 4 1/2 and possibly 5 1/2 years-0ld.

I’m going to lean toward 4 1/2 because he still has some room on his frame for growth and his neck is still fairly well defined. Regardless, the buck will very likely add inches to his rack this year and there’s no telling what he’ll look like. With any luck, Tyler and Josh will locate his sheds in the next few weeks and we’ll have a better understanding of how big The Bastard Buck really is.

As Tyler pointed out the other day, “If he just walked out on the first day and you didn’t have to hunt him, what fun would that be? That’s what drives a whitetail freak.” I couldn’t agree more. We’ll be thinking about this buck all summer long. He’ll be in our minds when we’re at the range, and increasingly in our dreams as the season approaches.

What makes a great buck legendary is the story behind him. It’s the pursuit you remember. Just knowing he’s out there somewhere and hearing a twig snap will be enough to send our hearts racing. We have no way of knowing how the story of The Bastard Buck will end, but with any luck he’ll make a dream come true for one of the Riverview Outfitters clients. In case you’re wondering, there are still a few spots left for next fall.

—-
Nick Pinizzotto blogs at www.WhitetailWriter.com. He is the Chief Operating Officer of Delta Waterfowl. The Western Pennsylvania native currently resides in North Dakota, where his passion for the outdoors is put to good use on a daily basis.


Chasing Game Through a New Lens

It would be a fib if I insinuated that the thrills were equal. They’re not.

But there is something about chasing the perfect photo that sparks a fire in me that closely resembles hunting success.

Bobber reflection on the water

Bobber reflection on the water (click photo to enlarge)


My wife commemorated my last birthday with a new D-SLR camera that has more bells and whistles than I remember on my SLR piece long before digital came about. I’ve enjoyed taking all kinds of shots since.

The good news is most of your professional style camera equipment today is fool proof … with limitations. For instance, I’ve been getting pretty solid photos in the first two months I’ve been shooting, but can understand where some of the accoutrements available can improve your shots.

Redheads swimming in their familiar lines on the water

Redheads swimming in their familiar lines on the water


Simply put, you can be as good as your wallet will let you!

Within this post are a few of my early shots with the camera and lenses I currently have. I’ve enjoyed the chase so far, trading my gun for the camera when seasons have gone out, or I’ve taken a hike on a Sunday (when hunting is closed here in NC).

I look forward to sharing more photos, and hope that one day I look at these and make jokes about the infancy of my photo-taking career!

An 8-point not seeming to mind the snow covering his face

An 8-point not seeming to mind the snow covering his face

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

My daughter and nephew having fun on a winter day

My daughter and nephew having fun on a winter day

A Greenhead's colors glowing on retrieve

A Greenhead’s colors glowing on retrieve

The familiar curiosity of a mature doe.

The familiar curiosity of a mature doe.

All Business!

All Business!

A winter day's meal

A winter day’s meal

From acorns grow mighty oaks

From acorns grow mighty oaks

Eyes into a best friend's soul

Eyes into a best friend’s soul

Lots o' divers

Lots o’ divers

The kiss

The kiss

Mallards retreat

Mallards retreat

American Widgeon

American Widgeon


Wild Game – The Ultimate Organic Food Source

By Nick Pinizzotto
AHT Contributor

I was having a conversation with a co-worker recently about why we hunt and it was interesting that both of us had one of the same top reasons, which is for truly organic food.

Within hours of being shot, these fine mallards were processed and in my freezer.

Within hours of being shot, these fine mallards were processed and in my freezer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the only reason I hunt is to put meat on the table. In fact, I’m toying with the idea of getting more into predator hunting because there is an overabundance of predators and they have a profound impact on game that we eat as humans. What I am saying is if I didn’t eat the wild game that I shoot, I likely wouldn’t hunt. That may surprise many of you, but rest assured that I am the furthest thing from killer, which I define as someone who hunts for the sake of the thrill of the kill.

Vacuum packing ensures the meat will stay fresh for several months, although I doubt these mallard breasts will be waiting long.

Vacuum packing ensures the meat will stay fresh for several months, although I doubt these mallard breasts will be waiting long.

Just prior to moving to North Dakota, I had come pretty close to eliminating any meat from my diet that wasn’t wild game. I admit that I occasionally had a weakness for a pile of hot wings and a stadium hotdog, but for the most part I only ate what I shot. When we relocated to North Dakota last spring, I had to give my remaining meat away leaving me with nothing in the freezer for our first few months here. While this didn’t impact Angela as she is a devout vegetarian, it had a definite effect on me because for the first time in a long time I was eating store-bought meat products. While often tasty and juicy, I never felt quite the same after eating commercial meats and there was something about the richness of the various cuts of beef, pork, and chicken that just didn’t seem right.

I was elated when hunting season finally came around this year and I was able to begin refilling the freezer. After a pretty successful fall, the freezer is now full of a variety of duck species, geese, and the whitetail buck that I shot in early November.

My whitetail buck was quartered and partially processed in the field before final cutting and wrapping. This is a necessary practice if you hunt far from road access in the wilds of North Dakota.

My whitetail buck was quartered and partially processed in the field before final cutting and wrapping. This is a necessary practice if you hunt far from road access in the wilds of North Dakota.

I really appreciate knowing exactly where these animals came from, and there is something special about having a hand in processing all of them. The same cannot be said for commercially packaged meats, particularly those that are purchased at large chains and big box stores. Please don’t get me wrong. This is not a rant about not eating meat from commercial sources. In fact, I encourage everyone to purchase meat products as close to the farm as possible, and directly from local farmers where possible. Farms that allow their stock to grow naturally and practice grazing as a primary way to feed are preferred to those that overfeed and under-exercise their animals. There are a number of good documentaries on factory farms and processed foods that I encourage you to check out in order to help inform your opinion.

There is plenty of wild game in my freezer for the coming year.

There is plenty of wild game in my freezer for the coming year.

There is a lot of quality information out there about the differences between wild game and domestic meats, and I found a very balanced report prepared by the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension that is worth reading. You might be surprised to learn that there isn’t a huge difference between protein and fat content of wild and domestic meats, but this varies widely among species as described in the chart below. The real difference is in the lifestyles of the animals while they are still alive, and how they are handled from death through the butchering and packaging process. It’s a big enough difference for me to choose wild game over commercially processed meats at least 90% of the time.

I’ll conclude this article by sharing the interesting story of author Tovar Cerulli with you. Mr. Cerulli turned vegetarian and eventually vegan in his early 20s, only to later decide to take up hunting as a way to feed himself and his family better. Cerulli states on his website: Over the past three years, my blog has brought omnivores, vegetarians, hunters, and non-hunters into dialogue with one another. It is a place for celebrating all the ways we are sustained by the larger-than-human natural world. A place for asking questions. A place for not being too sure any of us has all the answers. A place for listening, learning, and laughing, especially at ourselves, peculiar animals that we are.

I became acquainted with Cerulli through Twitter, and have been intrigued by his perspective ever since.

I’m blessed with the ability to obtain my own meat through hunting and a wife that works hard to fill our refrigerator and shelves with organic foods. Granted, I could get crushed under a giant piece of falling space junk tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter, but I think it’s worth my time to eat as healthy as possible in anticipation of many years ahead.

While there are many reasons that I hunt, being able to put healthy meats on the table combined with the humane nature of harvesting it through hunting make me proud of the lifestyle I’ve chosen.

—-
Nick Pinizzotto blogs at www.WhitetailWriter.com. He is the Chief Operating Officer of Delta Waterfowl. The Western Pennsylvania native currently resides in North Dakota, where his passion for the outdoors is put to good use on a daily basis.


New Yorkers Stripped of Rights, Freedom

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

It wasn’t about guns, it was about freedom and New York State residents awoke Tuesday morning stripped of it.

The free people of New York are disarmed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Sate Senate orchestrated a closed-door deal, ramming secret legislation through under the dark of night. The result: an over-reaching bill that strips New Yorkers of their Second Amendment rights.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is no longer the law of the land. New York has been infringed upon – thanks to a dictator named Cuomo and a class of clowns knows as the State Senate.

All rumored to be burried in this bill…

The number one selling rifle in America is now illegal in New York State. Thousands are manufactured in New York’s Herkimer County, but its people are now not free enough to own one.

Having a magazine with a capacity of eight rounds or more is now illegal in New York. The max is a seven round clip. Yeah, the Ruger 10/22 you bought to take your son or daughter squirrel hunting is now useless without its 10-round clip.

Oh, and if you need to purchase bullets for that .22, good luck.

10 Round Clip

10 Round Clip

All law-abiding citizens are now subject to a background check when purchasing any type of ammunition – and there are limits on the quantity you can purchase. Good luck getting through the line at Bass Pro or Wal-Mart the day before deer season.

Those who possess a hand gun permit will now be forced to be recertified every five years. Can you say money grab?

The so called ‘mentally ill’ will now be stripped of their guns. That next knock at your fron door could very well be the State Police demanding your weapons.

The question that begs to be asked is what exactly defines mentally ill? Is Johnny Joe considered mentally ill because he was prescribed an anti-depressant following the death of his 6-year-old son?

All of this legislation comes from the same man who decriminalized the use of marijuana while criminalizing gun owners – In the same speech!

Is this America or Neo-Nazi Germany? The last time I check this was The Land of The Free and The Home of The Brave. At least half of that statement remains true.

Let’s face it though, this wasn’t about guns, it’s about freedom – or the removal of it. And let’s not forget Mr. Cuomo’s 2016 ambitions. Coincidence? I say not.

New York State ratified the Constitution in the year 1788. It died on January 14th 2013.


Dear Deer: Fear this Spyder

Christmas may have come and gone, but this weekend had a similar holiday morning feel to it.

After more than six weeks of waiting, my new bow, a Hoyt Spyder 30, finally arrived! But I wasn’t able to get my hands on it until after a few patience-testing days. Work and family obligations left me unable to get to my bow shop to pick it up, even though the call of its arrival came several days prior.

Spyder 30 ready to hunt!

Spyder 30 ready to hunt!

Last week’s ATA show in Louisville came with it a number of reviews on the bow. I’m pleased to see that the lion’s share of those were glowing (including one that noted Hoyt’s unprecedented under-rating on IBO/ATA feet per second – seems it’s actually faster than advertised!).

While I’d like to say it was Hoyt’s connection to one of my hunting mentors Bill Winke that led to me selecting this bow, I actually decided on the Spyder after a true open-minded test drive of several 2013 models. The Spyder simply outclassed all others when evaluating my personal preferences on draw cycle, shot reaction, speed and general feel. The Mathews Creed was the other finalist among the six bows I shot and finished a close second when the decision added up.

Spyder2

The Spyder actually marks the first Hoyt I’ve ever owned. My last four bows previous to this have been Mathews, and I’ve loved every one of them for different reasons. My favorite among any of those was an Outback that still hangs in my hunting room and will be a bow my kids will one day shoot. As I get older, I’m getting less brand loyal and more into equipment that I simply like better.

Spyder3

In fact, the one minor detail I decided to give up on when selecting and ordering the new bow was getting the Bone Collector licensed version. I have nothing against that crew, I just didn’t want to appear like a hardcore BC fan who just had to have the show’s logo on my bow.

I buckled after realizing that doing so was going to save me an estimated $100. I felt strongly about wanting a camo riser with black limbs on the bow. Ordering this version meant I didn’t have to go through Hoyt’s custom shop, which was backed up well beyond the six weeks I waited.

Upon getting the bow set up by Sie Graham at S&S Graham Archery, it was time to start sighting it in.

If I can maintain this kind of group, the Spyder 30 and I will get along just fine!

If I can maintain this kind of group, the Spyder 30 and I will get along just fine!

It didn’t take long. I’m no Robin Hood, but I was pleasantly surprised with the initial groups out of this bow out to 40 yards. It’s truly a fun and comfortable bow to shoot.

 


It Turns Out, She’s One of Us!

Very few things have captured the national news cycle over the last 24 hours more than a particular football fan sitting in the stands during last night’s BCS National Championship game.

Katherine Webb as a Realtree model (Image borrowed from Realtree.com)

Katherine Webb as a Realtree model (Image borrowed from Realtree.com)

This particular show stopper, though, just happens to be dating A.J. McCarron, the quarterback for Alabama who easily steered his team to consecutive national championships during the aforementioned game. That’s still not what made her Twitter followers grow roughly 8,200% since (and still climbing!).

Katherine Webb (@_KatherineWebb) was in focus on ESPN’s broadcast when play-by-play analyst Brent Musburger made several comments pointing out her beauty. The rest of the world, as awkward as it was, pretty much agreed.

I’m not sure anyone could argue that she’s beautiful, but then again, she is also the reigning Miss Alabama.

For us hunters, it gets better.

It turns out Webb also is a hunter. In fact, she is a camouflage model who has done work for Realtree in the past. According to Realtree staff, she loves to hunt quail, dove and deer, she describes herself as a country girl and is very proud of those facts.

I’m from the country. I’m a hunter. Heck, I even have a boat load of photos featuring me in Realtree camo. Any comparison to Miss Webb stops right there for me.