NJ Turkey Hunting is one outdoor activity that I really get excited about doing each Spring. The days are longer, the air is getting warmer & the Gobblers are gobblin` at daybreak! Getting up at 4am to hunt couldn`t be easier. But just don`t ask Sharon how I can get by weeks C & D from lack of sleep! ha! ha!
I always put in for a couple of permits during the “Lottery” and usually get them. However, the day that the over-the-counter left-over permits go on sale, I am on-line right at 10am that very day, attempting to score permits for each week A,B,C,D & E(for Saturdays). The reason I try to get all weeks is simply because I don`t always know when I`ll have a chance to chase `Birds with work & all. And because I`m a disabled Vet, all of my fishing, hunting licenses & all permits are free in New Jersey. So why not right?
Last week was “A” week in New Jersey & it didn`t start out real well for me anyway. Monday was opening day & I planned hunting a couple hours before work. Now usually right around 5:30 to 6am, right at daybreak, I start to hear the first gobbles of the morning. But that first morning, not a single turkey was gobblin` anywhere even remotely close to where I was hunting in Warren County. Called it a day & headed back home by 8am to get ready for work.
As per Sharon`s suggestion, I decided to hunt every other day rather than get up every single day at 4am, so that I could catch up on sleep a bit every other day. She`s a smart gal & knows I get a little cranky from lack of sleep this time of year. So the next time out was Wednesday & the Springtime morning air was very cool & crisp as I shuffled out the door at 4am. Now another reason why I was really excited about Turkey hunting this year, was the fact that I had a Brand New Browning A5 3.5″ Shotgun to use! I`ve never had a new Browning in my life as I`ve always hunted with my old Belgium Brownings. I was really anxious to crack an old “Tom” Turkey with it!
I decided to try a different spot that morning a couple miles past where I was on Monday. I hiked way out into the darkness across several fields, stopping & listening. Hoping to hear the first gobble open up the morning air. But nothing. By 7:30 I was beginning to question what the heck was going on. “How the hell could this be?”, I thought to myself. By 8am I was on my way back to the truck……… & about 75 yards from the truck I hear “Gobble Gobble…..Gobble Gobble” – A turkey! Well within working distance. So I set up & decided to have a go at old Tom. Well I worked that bird for an hour & a half & at 9:30, he had decided that either something wasn`t quite right or he caught up with a hen & wasn`t interested in me anymore. He probably came within 60-70 yards then just walked away…….gobbling as he went further & further from me.
The third time I planned hunting was this past Saturday. I decided to stay in Warren County, but go to a new spot and really hike way out in this new territory. It had rained the night before, so with the wet leaves I decided to play “Run-and-Gun” rather then set up decoys, knowing I could move very stealthily through the woods that morning. “Which might just give me a little edge at daybreak”, I thought as I walked out to my truck that morning.
I arrived at my spot & scurried across the wet fields making my way to a wooded lot. As I approached the last field, I heard my first gobble at 5:20. It was still dark enough that I made my way to the treeline barely at first light. Then another gobble! Now I had a couple birds probably within 300 yards. So I sat up against a tree in a clearing……. and waited till it got lighter out. At about 6am I lightly worked my slate with a very light yelp. Gobble Gobble! A response!………. Still a good distance out. So I waited for them to fly down before I called again. About twenty minutes later, another gobble a good distance to my right. Old Tom was on the ground and started talking. As I worked a few light purrs & clucks, the Tom Turkey stated really getting excited and was turning towards my direction. Within thirty minutes, he was closing in fast on me! The last gobble was easily within 50 yards of me. However I still couldn`t see him. He was coming through an area thick with wild roses, so he`d have to step right out in the open in order for me to have a shot. Another gobble! This time he seemed right in front of me in those wild roses. I put down the call & raised my gun…… anticipating his next move being right in front of me. I waited…… & waited. Gun raised towards the roses……. nothing. No more gobbles…. “Where the hell is he?” I thought to myself. Then he gobbled the opposite side of me, probably 80 yards away! I quickly put down the gun & grab my slate & started clucking a bit wildly, trying to see if I could bring him back in.
And it worked! He turned back & was bee-lining right towards me again!
This time I kept clucking a tad faster as he got closer, then switched to a couple light purrs. And this brought the Tom right in. At 30 yards he showed, I slowly raised my Browning and BANG! I dropped the old Long-Beard in his tracks!
My “Run-and-Gun” tactic in the wetness had paid off & the morning NJ Turkey hunt had turned into quite the adventure indeed. **Scroll down to see all of the pics.
Dingo, our Aussie Cattle Dog wanted to be part of the “Wild Turkey-Photo-Shoot” too!
NJ Deer Hunting is a tradition that I`ve been doing for forty-two years. It`s hard to believe that much time has past as I can still recall my first morning ever deer hunting at the age of ten, like it happened yesterday. I can still hear those shots at eight o`clock and just minutes later, three bucks appeared!! I certainly heated up the barrels of that old JC Higgins Double-barrel 12 gauge that cold December morning. Cleanly missing all three bucks! My Dad said later that morning, “I don`t think I ever heard anyone load and shoot a double barrel that fast ever!” Heck those deer were over a hundred yards away out in an open field and I was still shaking and shooting at them! ha! ha!
So here I am at fifty-two still enjoying this immensely and still getting excited when that buck comes through.
Although I like to think I can keep my composure better when one comes through than I did that morning back in 1973! ha! ha!
This December has been unseasonably warm…… very warm for that matter. However I decided to have a go at it on Thursday morning since I don`t work till 1 o`clock that day. It had rained steady the night before and was still drizzling when I walked out to my truck at 4:30 that morning. One thing that I have always enjoyed and have had a decent amount of luck is hunting or fishing in a light rain. The wet leaves would be ideal, as I would be able to pussy-foot easily to my stand.
I got up in the stand at 5:30 as I like to get situated while there`s still a fair amount of darkness. Had my `ol 1960 Belgium Browning Light Twelve Gauge paired with a Full-Choke Browning barrel from a 1938 Belgium Browning that I also have. This combination throws a pattern of Triple 0 Buckshot unlike anything I have ever shot. As a matter of fact, (and I do have witnesses for you non-believers out there) I actually killed a buck with a single shot at 93 yards with this gun using Triple 0! Dropped my hat where I was standing when I shot, called my cousin over and he paced it off from the hat to where I was standing with the buck and was shocked!
At about 7am, that “One-Horner” came scampering by spooked by something and the sound of my old Browning awoke the the quietness of the morning forest. My morning hunt had been successful and now I would have the pleasure of enjoying delicious venison in the months ahead.
I read quite a few conversations on-line lately in regards to NJ Deer Hunting stating that “There just aren`t any deer around this year” ………. And I don`t know what the exact answer to this statement is, but perhaps some of the following factors come into play. 1.)The State of NJ has the one of if not the longest deer season in the country, as the State wants to cut down the population. Heck when I was younger, we had 6-Day Firearm and a Doe-Day the following week. You didn`t have a Permit Shotgun Season that allowed you to hunt deer till the middle of February. So perhaps their plan is working and finally catching up?
2.) Coyotes. Who remembers ever hearing those “Song Dogs” while in your hunting stand years ago? I personally never ever heard them until a few years ago. You certainly hear more and more about them in recent years.
3.) Baiting. Maybe this element has made deer hunting way too easy in the State. I`m nuetral about this and really could care less how anyone chooses to hunt or what they choose to shoot.(Bucks or Does). But maybe this is another factor?
4.) Weather. I don`t ever remember it being as warm as it was for the entire week of 6-Day Firearm, as it was last week. We all know that deer do not move the same when it`s warm outside as they do colder weather. A factor for seeing a limited amount of deer last week? Could very well be.
Well whatever the reason was, I hope we all can enjoy many, many more years of NJ Deer Hunting.
Curt, “Jake” and myself enjoyed a day of Woodcock hunting way up north near Walpack New Jersey.
Me and Jake with my first Woodcock of the day.
Curt had this awesome new GPS Tracking Collar for Jake today. He explained to me that he would now be able to monitor Jake as to what direction he was and if
indeed he stopped and was on “point”. See Jake has a habit of covering alot of ground and running way, way far away at times. So I asked Curt how far out can it track him? He said, “Seven miles!” This is perfect I thought!
I have to tell you, it was pretty exciting when he went on point, then to know how many yards away he was and what direction we had to walk in to get to Jake.
The technology definitely adds another dimension to hunting. I mean there are plenty of times that he`ll go on point quite a ways out and we don`t have a clue what direction he`s in. This will absolutely make our hunting adventures very interesting!
Time for lunch and what an awesome lunch it was! We stopped at the Layton Country Store and had Spanakopita for an appetizer, then we each had these incredible Quesadilla Gyros. I never had a Gyro till today…… Sharon has asked me for a few years to try one but I never would. I can hear her now…. she`ll be going, “Ohhhhh sure sure……. you won`t try a Gyro with me but when you`re out & about with your buddy Curt Ryder you will!”…..ha! ha!Well if you`re ever up in that neck of the wood, definitely stop in the Layton Country Store for a bite. The food is excellent.
So the Opening Day of NJ Woodcock Hunting Season was a good day to be out & about in the woods.
Heck…… Any day is a good day when you`re in the woods!