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Across the Campfire
March 2005

(March 31, 2005)

SLOW IS THE word I continue to receive about turkey hunting in California. From Southern California, to Central California, and finally to Northern California those gobblers are running silent.

Jim Matthews reports from Southern California that hunters didn't do very well opening weekend. He also reports a group of eight hunters at Fort Hunter Liggett in Central California only picked up one bird opening weekend.

In checking with NWTF California State Chairman, Phil Martinelli, he reported gobbles from the roost on opening morning led to a nice gobbler for him after a fly down but two follow-up trips since then in El Dorado County have turned out to be completely silent.

Let's hope this turn to warmer weather will get those gobblers warmed up too!

(March 27, 2005

TURKEY OPENER WAS not what we had expected. As my son and I rushed up the highway into the foothills of the Sierras east of Stockton, California, we realized we were at least 45 minutes later than we had planned. The sky to the east was showing some light as we listened to the Bob Simms Outdoor Show on radio station KFBK. We listened closely as Simms played a pre-recorded taped conservation with California turkey hunting guru, Terry Knight from the day before. Knight was telling how the turkeys around his home were still in groups of just hens and just gobblers. He said they were not responsing to his calls. He thought the reason for this action was all the rainy weather we have had the last few weeks. Usually, the birds are gobbling up a storm by the time turkey season begins.

My son and I were hoping that Knight's description only applied to Lake County and not the county we were going to hunt this morning, but we were wrong.

It is always nice to be in the turkey woods on the opener.

After hunting all morning we had not seen a single turkey or heard even one gobble. We did see a couple of turkey tracks which looked like they were maybe a couple of days old.

Wanting to know how the opener was in Lake County, I email Knight and here was his response:
This was the weekend that I guided the two hunters on Wilderness Unlimited property on Spring Valley Ranch in Potter Valley (Lake County). There were plenty of birds but very few gobbles. I did manage to call in a nice tom for one of the hunters (a 21-pounder with a 9 3.4-inch beard.) and he shot it. The other hunter missed a shot. Mostly we had to sneak on the birds as they didn't want to respond to a call. So it looks like it was just as tough here.

Here is hoping that because the turkeys started off slow, that they will kick it into gear as the weather turns more like spring. Bad news, I just looked out the window and it is starting to rain, again.

Remember, if you are an archer, California this year has added two weeks to the end of the normal spring turkey season for archery only hunters.

(March 24, 2005

CALIFORNIA TURKEY HUNTING — A lot of California turkey hunters are glad to see the weather forecast of sunshine for the opener on the 26th. The last couple weeks of rain have made everything pretty wet.

With most of the turkeys on private property, many hunters find it difficult to have a place to hunt. For those of you who are still looking we have found a unique opportunity which allows you to have a family trip and at the same time get in some turkey hunting. It's a beautiful time of the year near Angels Camp so if you want to know more about this possible hunting location, click the link below.
Turkey Hunt

(March 13, 2005

A BENELLI BIRTHDAY — My birthday falls in the month of March. It has been a long-time (42 years) since I bought my last shotgun. It was a special order Remington Model 870 pump with a 28-inch barrel including the Poly Choke (if you don't have gray hair you probably are asking yourself, "What the heck is a Poly Choke?"). I can't tell you how many times I have racked the forearm back and forth on that sweet gun. Many an animal has also heard the sweet sound of that action — doves, quail, pheasants, chukars, turkeys, ducks, geese, snipe, crows, rabbits, etc., plus clay targets.

But with the advent of 3-inch and 3 1/2-inch shells and steel shot, over the years I have missed the opportunity of using them with my chamber only suited for 2 3/4-inch shells. Now, I still have taken my share of game with that 870 but because of the lack of camo in the turkey woods and watching some hunting buddies with their Benellis, I thought maybe it's time to break that 42 year shotgun drought.

My wife has a new Benelli Super Black Eagle II, ComforTech in Advanatge Timber HD camo on its way for my birthday. With a barrel length of 26-inches she also included the three brand-new CrioChoke tubes for turkey, pass shooting and decoy shooting. With these three chokes and the other five standard chokes I will probably get a brain cramp trying to figure out which one to screw in.

For those of you who haven't reached the graying stage in your life yet, the Poly Choke is a single unit attached to the end of the barrel. It has six choke settings and you just twist it to the one you like — easy and fast.

So if you see me in the turkey woods this season you will know if my new Benelli arrived because it is easy to see the difference between a camo shotgun and one with wood and blue barrel. But don't worry, after 42 years with such a faithful hunting companion the 870 will still be one of my hunting partners, it may just spend a little more time with me in the hands of my two young grandsons.

(March 10, 2005

DEADLINES — MOVE fast or you will miss out on the opportunities to apply for these hunts.

March 11 - Nevada Big Game Guided Hunt Application

March 15 - Wyoming Deer and Antelope

March 16 - California Junior Turkey Hunt

April 18 - Nevada Nonresident Big Game Hunt Application

(March 2, 2005

SOME TIMES THE wolf doesn't aways win. The following report came to us from Idaho.


Conservation officers in southeast Idaho found a young female wolf injured so badly they were forced to put it down.

The officers were responding to reports by mountain lion hunters about signs of wolf activity in the Big Bend Ridge area northwest of Ashton. On Thursday, February 24, senior conservation officers Bruce Penske, Charlie Anderson and Shane Liss set out on snowmobiles to search the Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area for wolf tracks. Once they found a lone set of tracks, they continued on snowshoes tracking the wolf for about two miles. They eventually saw the un-collared wolf dragging its hind quarters.

The officers eventually caught up with the animal in a steep canyon where they got close enough to determine that it was severely injured. Using cell phones, officers conferred with Idaho Fish and Game and United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USWFS) officials to receive the proper authorization to put the animal down.

The officers were able to get close enough to the animal to use their department sidearms to dispatch it. Upon closer investigation, the animal not only appeared to have a broken spine, but was missing an eye and had injured paws from dragging itself. There is no evidence to suggest humans injured the wolf. Investigators believe the injuries may have been caused by a moose, but the exact cause is still under investigation, pending a necropsy.

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