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     There he is doing his job.  The Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy getting ready to suck in the big toms.  They see this little guy and they come right toward him to kick the living daylights out of him. Read on. This was almost like poaching.  Never in my life have I had such immediate success. The opening sentence should be the weather was cold, the wind was blowing, and it took me 30 minutes to find a suitable place and it was over in fifteen minutes.  There is more.      I put two feeder hens just about 6 to 10 feet from Funky.  I was told this adds the feeling of safety to the immediate area. Read on it gets better.   North of Council Bluffs in the Loess Hills lays a farm with a creek running through steep and rolling hills with woods, pastures, and grain fields.  This has all the mix for a good turkey population.  Decades ago, an old turkey hunter told me to hunt the last season because the hens were bred out, and the boys were still looking for a romantic relationship.  His theory was they will come to a call if the hens were in a more receptive fashion.  For years I used that theory and it served me fairly well.     Looking straight ahead.  The decoys are to my right and the timber is much thicker.  I have learned over the years to be concealed and do not move.  Those beady little eyes can spot the slightest movement and spook them every time.  We will discuss their eyesight a little later.    Second, he said most really big toms are harvested between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.  Again, this theory served me well, plus you do not have to be out there in the early morning light when they all come off the roost. Everyone has their own theory along with tried and true methods. Turkeys are cautious creatures.  Their wariness and then lack of it cease to amaze me.  It is called hunting, not shooting. Things changed for this season and due to unexpected personal circumstances, the first season was the one that would be hunted and it only lasts four days.  I never have hunted it before.   Next change was the landowner wanted me to hunt in an area never hunted. He had started running livestock on my previous locations.  Up on the side of a hill with timber behind me, was my favorite location. Just inside the timber line it was dark and bushy and made for an excellent hiding place. It was here that I had used the Funky Chicken Decoy for the first time and found it to be dynamite.  The toms on spotting it would come on a straight line right to the decoy to kick the daylights out of it.   For the last six years my method of hunting was to be at that location in Iowa's last season.  Adding a couple of feeder hens off to one side would provide calmness to the area.  After setting up, waiting 20 minutes, a couple of clucks and yelps were given and a few other calls, then I just sat there.  Falling asleep was a problem, but a book was always brought along where reading with no interruptions could be done quietly and serenely.  The east side of the farm was new to me.  Climbing up a slight incline to a semi-level area, it looked really meager to find a location.  Finally, a deer stand was spotted and below it and on either side was brush and small trees.  A hunter in a leaf suit could hide in the location and not be seen, providing he did not sneeze or have to play dog to a tree. The Funky Chicken Turkey decoy was set up about 25 feet away.  He was illuminated in the sunlight as the sun was coming over the hill and the woods to my front and right.  The hiding spot was a little open to my left, but forward there was plenty of cover and almost too much to shoot through.  To my right and up a slight hill was lots of brush and a big tree with a deer stand.  Visibility was poor to my right, but I was well hidden.  Now to sit and wait.          This is looking to my left. It is kind of wide open, but I have a lot of cover to my right and front so if a big boy comes up the hill from the right he may not be spooked.  I wear a leaf suit and I am totally covered. Now just to stay awake.   Up the hill to my right there was a lot of talking with hens and
 God does not charge time spent fishing against a man's allotted life span.  Old Indian Provberb Last spring Pam and I went up to Platte Creek Lodge and fished for walleye on Lake Francis Case.  The lake is part of the Missouri River series of dams that stretches from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota all the way into Montana.with the final lake at Canyon Ferry Dam.  We fish with a guide that is a native of South Dakota and has fished the river all his life.  His boat is outstanding and all the gear, bait, and know how, is included in the price.  Plus, he is a joy to be with and is so accommodating to his customers and guests.  That makes for a really exciting and great trip.    These are the keepers we caught.  South Dakota has a 15" minimum and we threw back a lot of shorts.  From the time we hit the water this nice series of eaters took three hours.  A hunting partner saw this picture and immediately started laying plans for a fall trip up to Platte, SD for a fishing trip.  Right after I got back from the elk trip to Idaho, he was at my door with a cooler for his ration.  He said, let us pick a time, check the long term forecasts, and make it happen for some fall fishing on Lake Francis Case, with your guide.  I was all in. Besides hunting and fishing his goal in life is to get his fishing therapy covered by his health insurance and medicare.  While that is a great idea, there are two chances, slim and none and slim left town.  One can always hope.  We planned mid October and our leader said the fishing was good on the lake that time of the year, but we should be prepared for some inclement weather.  He also said, "We fish regardless of what the weather might be.  Just come prepared." We drove to Chamberlain, SD checked into a really nice motel with restaurant and met our guide in the morning.  A pleasant day and we were off and running on the lake.  Francis Case is really big and if the wind comes up, a person should be well prepared for a boat ride like no other.  Fortunately it remained calm. We got on the lake just at first light.  What was amazing was the water temp was above the outside air. We worked shorelines along the east side of the lake with flicker Shad and other trolling lures. The reels had line counters on them and we let out of lot of line to get the lures down to the depth where the walleye were hiding out. This is where electronics comes in, as our guide was able to identify the levels fish were hanging out.  Boom, Boom! My friend bagged a couple of nice keepers.  I seemed to consistently pick up shorts.  Those fish under 15 inches in length are called shorts.        Looking out the back of the boat.  Good looking water for walleye and our day started out really great.   My partner kept catching fish, and I just caught shorts for the first hour and a half.  He had his four for the day, and then I hit all the keeper fish.  All I did was drop my line down a little deeper at the recommendation of the guide and I limited out in 30 minutes.  He had me change lures earlier, but then running deeper did it. This is where a really experienced fisherman comes in with knowledge of the equipment, the electronics, and what to do in the conditions we were fishing. Day one was done. the fish were cleaned up, packaged and we just hung out the rest of the day read and relaxed.     Eight legal size walleyes and the one on the left end is a white bass.  Once you skim off the red meat, they eat really well.       There it is, four apiece and we are done for the day.         There is dinner swimming around  That night we had dinner with our guide and his wife at a Mexican restaurant, Mi Pueblo Mexican Restaurant that was the best I have ever dined in.  Who would have known, Chamberlain,SD had an eatery of this quality and in a rural town of 2,350 population. Forecast was for another nice day, but it did not happen as forecasted.  This is South Dakota and the beginning of the winter season so it turned cold and windy.  We met our guide at another Chamberlain eatery for breakfast.  This was the Main Street Cafe and Market.  Wow, this was outstanding and the meal was enormous.  You get really fed well in
   As I sat in the lodge and looked up, it felt like he was staring at me.  The lodge has a real nice wall hanger. For some this is what an elk hunt is all about.  For us it is all about the meat.  Last January I made plans to make, what seems to be, an annual pilgrimage to Idaho and hunt elk on a sheep ranch.  Having been there before this is gentleman hunting at its finest and at my age it is the best I can do. We have enjoyed wild game for many years as have many of our friends.  One couple not only enjoys game, but they enjoy a homemade adult beverage made from grapes to accompany a meal of well prepared game.   They are also excellent cooks and a week before the trip, there was a familiar voice on the phone saying, "I have a case of exquisite liquid made from grapes.  It is yours for my yearly ration of elk meat."  We can hardly wait and the time table was laid and, of course, it is contingent upon a successful hunt.  We have made this drive before.  It starts from Council Bluffs to Rock Springs, Wyoming and is 755 miles.  With stops it is a full 12 to 13 hours.  It is very weather dependent as east of Laramie is the Sherman Hill Summit that reaches an elevation of over 8,640 feet.  We want to cross this spot in the daytime and hopefully when the sun is out.  Driving in the clouds east of Laramie is not fun and it take some time to break out, but not until you get to Laramie at an altitude of 7,220 feet.  After that it is smooth driving to Rock Springs.   After Rock Springs it is only a mere 320 miles to the ranch in Idaho.  Now that does not seem so bad, but is almost a full days drive as you travel from Rock Springs to Jackson, Wyoming and then over Teton Mountain Pass.  Now as a flat lander, this is a challenge.  Going up is not a problem, but on the other side the road is narrow and winding going down hill.  We go so slow and pull over frequently to let the locals pass.  They all wave with one hand and a finger in the air.  It must be a form of greeting.   The Aspens were in their glory and as I cleared the pass this view was captured.   The Aspens interspersed with the pines made a great pic At the ranch, we were greeted by the same people that have worked there over the years from the cooks to the guides, the manager,  and the lodge dog.  After settling in and shooting the rifle on the range, it was dinner and plans were made for the next morning.  The lodge is just as good looking inside as outside. This is what Gentleman hunting is all about.   We all have met a person several times that we really hit it off with and this is the case with our guide.  When the reservation was made he was requested, and it was a pleasure to hunt with him again. .  His son also guides at the ranch.   We have a lot in common.  I hurt too when I get up in the morning or when I sit too long.  I was amazed this year at how the ranch looked.  The sage brush had really grown and this made it very hard to spot an elk.  When they are feeding on the grasses their bodies are hard to spot and you have to look for the antlers sticking up above the sagebrush.  In some cases the sagebrush was almost to my shoulder and I am 6'2" tall.  We were hunting the first week in October and it was unseasonably warm.  The ranch is located about 75 miles southwest of Yellowstone at an elevation of about 5,000 feet.  We did not expect this kind of weather.   Looking out across the ranch.   That is Pam standing in the sagebrush.  In spots it is over her head. We drove along the ridges, then stopped and began glassing the areas below to the hill across the valleys.  Our requirement is a young boy that does not have a low slung belly or any type of sway in his back.  Also, I do not shoot big racks.  I already have a bull that scored 380, and this is big enough for me. Our guide took us over to a spot on the ranch where he had spotted some young bulls.   You work the low country first, then move up to higher elevations.  The elk are really hard to spot in all the sagebrush.  With the  warm
  A sentry on duty  We have the good or bad fortune of living on a golf course fairway. Canada geese also make the golf course their home, and they are a really exciting bird to watch beginning in the early spring and throughout the year.  I hunt waterfowl, but not the Canada goose as it would be like hunting my neighbors.  The golf course has everything the Canada Goose needs.  There is plenty of food as the fairway is composed of grass that attracts their palate.  The fairway has a large body of water along one side, and there is a sand pit.  Food to eat, water to drink and to float around on, and sand for their gizzards are all they need.   The grasses on the golf course are very digestible and the layout of the course is very open and allows the birds protection from predators.  They can see a problem coming at a great distance. They are also somewhat protective of their territory.  There is one exception and that is the golfers.  They move off to a safe distance generally about 20 feet and continue their constant grazing as the golfers play through. Morning on the golf course. The property lines between the golf course and our back yards are very discernible.  We plant blue grass which is considerably darker and longer than the grass on the golf course.  Golf course grass is generally bent grass, and is shorter and a lighter color and more dense.  The geese will graze right up to the grass line separating the two properties and rarely cross over into back yards.  The other item might be that when they get close to the houses they do not have that much protective space.  This spring we counted five families on the course each one having from 4 to 10 babies.  One family stood out as the mother sat on a nest right opposite our home along the lake.  She sat and sat with nothing happening.  Neighbors we talked with were all worried whether she had any eggs alive in the nest.   Here she sits on her nest.  Everyone was worried about her and we were worried the golfers might disturb her.  They ignored her and played on through.    That is dad out floating around.  He stayed right close to her and if a golfer got close he went toward him/her.  Then it happened.  We got up early one morning to see how mom was doing and there they were.  Ten little puff balls running around but staying close to the parents.  Mom and dad were very attentive and kept them all together.   The little devils were running all around and it was hard to get a picture of them all together.   Mom and Dad with the chicks in the low spot.   Mom dad and the family out for breakfast. They grow really fast and soon we could not determine whose family we were looking at.  As they got bigger it was hard to count as they scooted around the golf course.   That is two families out for stroll.  They walked between houses, across the street, to the pond in the next neighborhood.  Amazing! This is a family of eight.  Not the one we initially watched.   Another morning on the golf course We had five families on the golf course and as I indicated earlier family size ranged from 4 to 10 goslings.  As they grew it became harder to distinguish families when they were all on the golf course. There is our 10.   They grew at an outstanding rate.  This is one of the first families.    A couple of visitors showed up one morning.  We did not see them go for the geese as they come periodically to fish. Eagles fly in from the river and perch on the roof tops waiting for a fishing opportunity.   That is a family and it is amazing how fast they grow then start flying.   Families.   We caught them again one morning walking between the houses down to the next pond.  A snow goose has hung out with them all spring and summer.  We are close to the end of October and we generally have Canada geese flocked up and occupying the fairway we live on from the T box to the hole.  But not this year, but the year is not over.   Look for my next two posts.  I just got back from an Elk hunt in Idaho and a fishing trip on Lake Francis Case in South Dakota.  Now to start duck hunting.  It is a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Click on the book and buy from Amazon.   Goodnight!!!