Memorial Day Reflections
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Tomb of the Unknown

Memorial Day is a day we should remember all those who have served our country and pay respect for the sacrifices they made so we can be free. I hope you take time this weekend to reflect upon all the people who have served to keep us free.

Photo of the Day Orphaned injured bear cub rescued at Chimney Rock State Park
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NCWRC Photo on their FB Page “Park Superintendent James Ledgerwood rescues an injured bear cub found at Rumbling Bald.” Chimney Rock State Park

Remember your best bet is to leave young wildlife alone to see if momma returns.

Photo on NCWRC Face Book Page….. Cub found at Chimney Rock State Park

State Senate’s Budget Proposal Will Gut The Wildlife Resources Commission
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Will opportunities to interact, educate, and introduce young people to the wonders of nature still happen if the NC Senate has its way?

The Senate’s budget proposal will cut the funding to NCWRC from 18 million to about 9 million a staggering 50 % cut. I do not see any other state agency being asked to take such a cut and if this passes the impact could be devastating to the future of our natural resources in this state. We have such a narrow window to act to get this stopped so please take a few moments to contact your local State Senator.
NC Camo is all over this and has the links up to let you send an email so I urge you to follow the link over to their site and make your voice heard.

The Senate will vote on the budget tomorrow, Wednesday, May 22, 2013. The budget has to be voted on in two separate days, so this cut may be addressed and funds restored on Thursday, May 23, 2013 also. You still have time to provide important input to your Senator to correct this misguided cut.
The fish and wildlife management programs and infrastructure of the Wildlife Resources
Commissions contribute significantly to the state and local economies. The programs of the agency impact the state in all areas and have been created over the years with receipts collected from hunting and fishing license sales and other receipts from agency programs. Appropriations to the WRC are typically used to support the programs of the agency that benefit all the citizens of the state.

The Senate budget cut is accompanied with the implied suggestion that the Commission use the Wildlife Endowment Fund (WEF) to make up the difference. The WEF was created to provide a supplemental source of funding to improve fish and wildlife programs and not to replace traditional sources of financial support from the General Assembly. The WEF has been utilized over the years to keep our fish and wildlife programs efficient and current with such projects as fish hatchery improvement, improvements to law enforcement, and game lands purchases. We need to keep this valuable asset to continue improving our fish and wildlife programs and not be required to expend these trust funds for routine operations.

Hey …. Leave those Kids Alone
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This time of year critter babies abound all around us….. but please leave them alone

Spring is in full swing and many critters in the animal kingdom are having their young. For many mothers hiding the babies and walking away is a defense method to throw predators off so if you find a baby do not assume it has been abandoned.

Young wildlife may be cute — and it may be tempting to bring a fawn, cub, chick or kit home — but tiny animals are not pets. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding people that touching or feeding them can hurt wildlife and jeopardize human health. It also can harm the ecosystem.

Human encounters with young animals often increase in the spring, when many wildlife species bear young.

“Wild animals are not pets, and they are not meant to be raised and fed by humans,” said Ann May, the Commission’s extension wildlife biologist. “Wild animals still have their wild instincts, even if they seem tame. Well-meaning people can be injured by a wild animal just following its instincts,and the interaction can be harmful to the animals as well.”

It is illegal to keep native wildlife as a pet in North Carolina. Also, capturing and handling a young animal can stress it, sometimes fatally. In addition, young animals that look abandoned often are not. Many species do not stay with their young constantly and only return to feed them. The parent may return and become aggressive in an attempt to defend its young. And, as a young animal grows, it,too, can become aggressive.

Feeding animals may seem harmless or even helpful. However, it causes the animal to lose its natural fear of humans and seek more human food. An animal may become aggressive or cause property damage in its search for more human food.

Wildlife can transmit diseases, including rabies and roundworm, to humans.

For more information about wildlife in North Carolina check out the NC Wildlife Resources Commission Web site.

The Bearded Lady Helps Me Tag Out
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A little after four in the afternoon and it hadn’t been a very productive day turkey hunting thus far. I had heard one gobbler at day break gobble twice and that was it. Now I’ve moved to a whole another county for the afternoon. I’m sitting on the edge of a clover field with a lot of good sign of turkey activity and for the past few hours I’ve called in a couple of hens. Might be the same hen twice but needless to say its been a pretty slow day. Despite that my confidence is pretty high knowing from the sign this is a high use area and even if it’s just hens feeding here eventually a gobbler will get drawn in.

I’ve got a Jake decoy out and three hen decoys. I’m using the calls I made one is slate and the other is aluminum and I’m calling softly trying to match the conditions. Neither of the hens I had seen earlier made much noise just some soft purrs but the last one I seen was a few hours ago.
I spot movement at the far end of the field as a hen comes down the farm road and begins feeding. After a few minutes she stops her feeding and takes note of these decoys across the field so she comes towards my set up. By now I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have a Tom with her and she then does something unexpected. She gets loud and I mean loud…. Cutting and walking around these decoys perplexed I guess because they don’t move nor to the respond to her. I about bust out laughing because it sure seems like the exact opposite of what the conditions call for.

After her initial run through the decoy spread she goes back to feeding but still purring and the occasional yelp. She’s less the 20 yards from me and at this point I don’t dare move and I certainly don’t make any calls. I figure I got an expert turkey caller working for me so I just let her go. I can see that technically I could end my season right here because she has a stubby beard protruding from her chest. While a bearded hen is certainly something I’ve thought about taking in the past she is pretty safe because it’s such a small beard.
The bearded lady has been in the field for nearly an hour now and she takes notice of the blind I’m sitting in. She walks up yelping and looking in the window she is a mere 8feet or so and I’m holding my breath daring not to even breathe. She does that for what seems like a long time but in reality were only a couple of minutes before she begins moving off to my right. She gets about 10 yards off to my right when I hear what sounds like a low growl or roar and the woods explode as a gobbler bust out on a run at the hen. She flies up into the air and lands on the opposite side of my Jake decoy.

The gobbler then heads straight for the 2 un-flaring hen decoys and like a sheep dog working the flock he tries to break them off. Un moved by his actions the decoys stay so he circles around and heads straight towards the Jake Decoy. I have my shotgun up but not wanting to fire on a running Tom I hope he’ll stop when he gets to the Jake. In the back of my mind I think he might not and continue on after the bearded lady that is beyond the decoy and really outside the range of my gun. That thought had just begin to register with me when Tom came to a screeching halt nose to nose or more correctly beak to beak with the decoy. I didn’t wait to see what he planned to do next as I slipped the safety off my 20 gauge and sent a load of # 5 heavy shot into his head.
All of that took place in about a minute or so and I sat there catching my breath. As I exited the blind I heard a Put and that’s when I realized the bearded lady was still standing there. She flew off sounding the alarm as I went out to get the Tom and punch my last tag for this unusual but very fulfilling season.

Nice sharp spurs

18 1/2 lb 10 inch beard 1 inch spur< [/caption]
My Best Gobbler Yet For a Number of Reasons
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21 lb gobbler 11 inch beard 1 1/14 inch spurs

Tuesday afternoon when I squeezed that trigger and that gobbler dropped like a ton of bricks I knew I had just completed a journey to get to this exact moment. Being sick and out of work for 3 months gives a guy a lot of time to think and put things in perspective and I’ll be honest part of me figured this turkey season would be a no go for me. I decided I’d try to make it out some and with a lot of people’s help and God’s healing I’m in the woods again.

I still have an open wound that has to be packed and dressed a few times a day which is a task my wife does for me. So with me wanting to go turkey hunting that means on days I go she has to get up with me around 3 am to do this for me before I hit the road to head for the woods. That’s love right there and I’m grateful for her and the blessing she is in my life.
I’ve switched to an over and under 20 gauge for this year to reduce the recoil. Which for the most part is still more than enough weapon to hunt turkeys with I’m just more mindful of the distances. Monday I had a gobbler at 50 yards which my 12 gauge would have no problem with the 20 gauge I’m looking for 35 yards or so.

20 gauge over and under and the call I made

When I was rehabbing from my surgeries there wasn’t a whole lot of things I could do so I picked up some materials to make some turkey calls. So on Tuesday afternoon when I called this gobbler in it was with a turkey call I made. I remember those days sitting on the back porch working on those calls and day dreaming of being in the turkey woods.

Tuesday morning was beautiful while I worked some birds the hens had messed me up and took the gobblers away. My hunting partner Rick killed a gobbler in the lower field near the creek that morning and he saw a lot of activity. So mid-morning with farm to myself I moved down to the lower field to see if I could get one off the creek. I had some decoys out and did some calling off and on but didn’t get any response. Knowing that my odds of getting a bird went up with each passing minute because for sure the hens should be slipping away to go to nest thus leaving Tom lonely. Shortly after 1 pm I got a response to my calling with a gobbler sounding off on the creek bottom in front of me. Well that got the blood a pumping and then he gobbled again getting a response from another gobbler further down the creek and another gobbler behind me.

Focus is off but you get the idea…. heck not bad considering I was holding my breath

The gobbler behind me sounded like he was in the upper field near my truck. I certainly didn’t think he’d have time to get to my set up because this other gobbler was right out in front of me on the creek. What I thought was going to be rather quick took a lot longer because neither the gobblers on the creek would come out and the gobbler above me was in the woods now but seemed to have no desire to leave the woods for the field. While my call sounds pretty sweet I also knew that if I kept playing it this standoff of sorts would just continue.
So after getting them all fired up I shut up for a long time. They gobbled at each other…. Gobbled at the crows…. Gobbled at the hawks…. But me the pesky hen in this situation wasn’t talking I wanted to see them. So after an hour of me not calling and them not gobbling for a little bit I started purring on the call and the gobbler up behind me cut me off. He was obviously a lot closer and then he walked into the field a good 125 yards from my set up and as soon as he saw the Jake decoy he blew up and began strutting. He did this for a good 15 minutes, which by the way is a new record for me holding my breath, before he had enough with this Jake and he was going to teach him a lesson. So he strutted over to the decoy and began circling it. My gun was up and as soon as he came out of strut and lifted his head I slid the safety off squeezed the trigger and sent a load of # 5 heavy shot his way killing him instantly. The decoy was 25 yards away from me and I was happy the 20 gauge did its job.

After tagging my bird I sat on the edge of the field and thanked the good Lord for giving me this day and allowing me to have such a wonderful experience out in nature. I sat there and listened to the two gobblers on the creek still gobbling the hawks above me soaring and screaming, and just looked around at the beautiful world God created.
I was happy and I don’t think I’ve ever felt a greater level of accomplishment in that I knew how far I’ve come since Thanksgiving night when I got so sick to this very moment that I’d envisioned a number of times during my recovery. I know I couldn’t of made this journey on my own and I’m truly grateful to the family and friends who helped me, prayed for me and encouraged me. For the medical team that has helped me and continues to work with me to get well I say thank you. Above all I thank God for his mercies that are new every morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23
The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

On The Eve of Turkey Opener Some Thoughts About Safety
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Safety has to be paramount in your mind as you turkey hunt.

With some fore thought about what you’ll do tomorrow in the woods most accidents can be avoided. The biggest mistake seems to be the failure to properly identify your target and what is beyond it that is a recipe for disaster. This past week the foliage has really popped around here so seeing in the woods has become a little more difficult with the leaves returning. Even if you are hunting on private property that no one else is suppose to be on do not assume that call you hear or that movement you see is a turkey. A few years ago I had an encounter with a trespasser that was between me and the gobbler I was working it was only by chance I was able to spot him cause he certainly wasn’t saying anything because he was doing something he shouldn’t be doing.

NC Wildlife sent out this list of items to keep in mind;

The Top 5 Safety Considerations for Turkey Hunting

· Leave the area if you think another hunter is already there.

· Alert another hunter to your presence by saying “Stop” in a loud voice.

· Never stalk a gobbler, which only increases your chances of being mistaken for game.

· Never wear red, white, blue or black — those are colors of a tom’s head and body.

· Make sure your decoy or harvested turkey isn’t visible when you transport it.

Hunting is a fun activity and by doing your part it is a very safe activity. Be careful out there I hope the woods and the hillsides roar with gobbles in the morning and the hens sleep in. I’ll be at work missing the first opening day for me in a long time but don’t worry I got some woods time planned for next week. BE SAFE

Turkey Season Up Next …… Going to Try Transfan Gobbler Decoy
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Transfan decoy set up right out of box. Now to get it in a hunting situation.

Turkey season is on us opening day for us older folks is tomorrow (Saturday 13 April) the youth have had a week head start on us. This year I’m going to have to take a bit of a different approach to my turkey hunting giving that I’m still recovering from major surgery back in December and my follow up surgery in January. I’m going lighter… switched to a 20 gauge shotgun…. and I’m taking a hard look at what all I carry into the field. Additionally it seems I’ll have to utilize blinds a bit more still not having my level of energy to run and gun like I would like.

Decoy use is sometimes the trick you need to help close the distance on a smart old bird. There have been a number of times I’ve had birds respond to my calls but not really close the distance till they had the visual confirmation of other turkeys. Decoys if your like me get stuffed in a vest pocket and pulled out when the situation calls for it but sometimes those decoys are missed shaped from being stuffed or if you have the blow up ones they got a leak. I came across the Transfan while shopping on line at Wing Supply at a discount price of about $7. It retails for much more then that other places but for $7 I’ll give it a try. Interesting concept of having just a fan, folds up nice and neat sets up quickly. Will it work? I don’t know if I get the chance this season I plan to try it out. Here’s their video on it.

So has anyone of my readers used this product? Be interested to hear about how it works for you. I’ll also have some more stories on some of the changes I’ve had to make to be able to get out and hunt this season.

Dixie Deer Classic Was a Hit
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It was another spectacular Dixie Deer Classic there is no doubt the Wake County Wildlife Club knows how to put on a show. I was out there all three days and got to catch up with a lot of folks I hadn’t seen for a while. One only has to look at the winning deer heads to see that North Carolina continues to produce quality deer and while we may never be the trophy mecca some other states are the opportunity to take a buck of a lifetime in the tarheel state gets better and better every year.

I believe the two buck limit in large sections of the state continues to help produce better and more mature deer each year.

I attended a number of workshops but the highlight for me was Steve Rinella from the Meat Eater show on the Sportsman Channel. I’ll admit it wasn’t until I got sick and stuck at home for a few months till I discovered his show. This is not your typical hunting show nor was his presentation at the Dixie Deer Classic. His book is on my to read list and his show is programed into my dvr.

Steven Rinella is the host of the new TV show MeatEater (premiered January 2012 on The Sportsman Channel) and an award-winning author. Steven has spoken to a wide range of audiences about his life as a modern-day hunter-gatherer. With humor and irreverence, he discusses the hunting lifestyle, wild game, the ethics of hunting, and the human need for wilderness. His talks are punctuated with stories of amazing and sometimes absurd adventures, ranging from falling through the ice in Michigan to getting poisoned by wild mushrooms in Alaska to almost getting killed by a wild boar that fell from the sky under very strange circumstances in the central highlands of the Philippines’ Luzon Island

My overall favorite part of the Dixie Deer Classic was the youth involved in the scavenger hunt. All three days I saw the young people going to various booths throughout the show hunting out answers to questions about wildlife and conservation. While this was a very educational endeavor for them I wouldn’t necessarily point it out to them because they were having to much fun learning about the great outdoors.

Well the show is all packed up and won’t roll back into town until next year…. so you should start making plans on how you are going to bag that trophy buck this coming fall so he can hang on the trophy wall.

Snow day means time to cook a Venison Lasagna
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Friday it was in the 60’s and beautiful but Saturday the weather took a change. A winter storm advisory originally posted for our area for late Saturday afternoon but by 1030 am snow was already beginning to fall. Growing up in New England this doesn’t cause me to panic like some folks around here I just get excited and hope for a big one. Well I’m still recovering from my illness and surgeries I can’t really get out and truly enjoy this weather. I decided it be a good day to make some Venison lasagna drink some coffee and sit back and watch the snow. So here is my recipe for my lasagna. I will tell you I’m not much on measuring I just kinda eyeball it but the basics are here you’ll just have to adjust it to your taste.

Venison Lasagna

Sauce Ingredients :
Crushed Tomatoes 28oz – 2 cans
Diced Tomatoes with Garlic & Oregano 14.5 oz – 1 can
Tomato Paste 12oz – 2 cans
Venison Sausage (Mild) ¾ lb
Venison Sausage (Hot) ¾ lb
Venison Burger 1 ½ lb
Beef burger ½ lb (I add a small amount of beef if I hadn’t added beef fat to the Venison burger when I grind it.)
Rosemary ( about a tablespoon more or less to your taste)
Garlic Chopped ( 3 tablespoons once again more or less to your taste)
Garlic Powder (to taste)
Salt & Pepper

Dump tomatoes into large sauce pan and begin to heat. Brown meat with chopped garlic rosemary and salt and pepper in fry pan, drain off grease and then dump into saucepan with tomatoes. Let simmer for 30 minutes add garlic powder and any additional salt to taste at this point.

Cheese mixture Ingredients
Fat Free Cottage Cheese – One Container 24 oz
2 eggs beaten
Shredded Italian Cheese mix – 1 cup
Black Pepper

Mix all together in a bowl

Lasagna Assembly Ingredients

Meat and Sauce Mixture
Cheese Mixture
Lasagna Noodles ( No Boil)
Package of sliced Mozzarella Cheese
Shredded Italian Cheese mix

Spray pan with cooking spray prior to beginning to assembly the lasagna. Cover the bottom of the pan with some of the sauce meat mix. Then layer lasagna noodles next. On top of that you put about ½ the cottage cheese mixture with a layer of the sliced cheese on top of that. Another layer of noodles more meat sauces mixture and keep on building in layers. On top sprinkle some of the Shredded Italian Cheese Mix. Cover the whole pan with foil and seal it good put it in a 350’ pre heated oven for 50 minutes. Take the foil off after 50 minutes and put it back in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes to let the top brown.

When you pull it out of the oven let it rest for a few minutes before you cut into it. I occasionally will add a small layer of spinach in the lasagna for something different or mushrooms to the sauce. The options are really unlimited. It freezes up well so even if there is just a few of you a big pan can be utilized with leftovers for a later time.

It’s Sunday now and there is still a few small patches of snow left around. Other then some black ice last night and this morning it was a pretty non event. We had Venison Lasagna last night and then again today for lunch. There is still some leftovers for a meal somewhere down the road and I guess that is what is good about this dish even if you don’t have an army to feed. I think it tasted better today when the lasagna had some time to sit and meld together. While I’m still unable to really get out and enjoy the outdoors like I want to its great to recall the hunts this past fall when I killed the deer I needed to make this meal. They tell me I need to consume a lot of protein daily to help my body heal and there is not much better protein then a deer you hunted yourself.
I’m feeling better and better each day.

Infolinks 2013