Started out the New Year with my Brother and a couple of long-time Friends from Califon, doing something that I had not done since 1991…..Rabbit Hunting! Geez come to think of it, I had not hunted with these guys easily in twenty five years or more.
So when I was leaving Mom`s on Christmas eve, saying good-bye and all, I shook my Brother`s hand and he asked, “Hey bud, if you don`t have any plans on New Year`s Day, Hanky, Pete and me are going rabbit hunting and we wanted to know if you wanted to come along?”
“Well hell, I have plans now! Sure I would love too” I replied, “Just text me what time we`re meeting”
Let me enlighten you a bit, as to whom these fellas are and why they`re special to me. First off, there aren`t very many folks around these parts anymore, that are actually from Califon. But the four of us, Pete Samski, Hank Stillwell, Keith Beam and of course, myself, are true Califon Natives as we all grew up here. As a matter of fact, both Hanky and Pete, being a little older than me and my Brother, played softball and also were members of the Califon Fire company and hunted with our Dad. So that`s why this rabbit hunt was special for me anyways……..to be able to hunt once again, with these gentlemen that also hunted with our Dad. Both of them know what it was like in Califon, in days gone by……a time when hunting was more of a mainstream activity in town.
So we met up at 9am and finally got to the spot around 9:30….when we got there Keith asked, “Well what are the teams?” Pete said, “Ahhhhh I guess I`ll take Kenny….. can you shoot? he asked busting my chops!
I replied laughing, “Hell yea Pete….. I got three shells in the gun!” and Hanky said, “Hey that might get expensive if you miss a lot!” and we all laughed as we trekked down the dirt lane to begin our hunt.
We took turns driving different patches for each other, in other words, Pete and me drove a patch for Keith and Hanky then vice-versa. The first patch I heard Hanky say “Ohhh…there goes one!” then shortly after that I saw Keith put his gun up……. but never shot. When we got to the end of the brush patch they both said they had seen a few rabbits……. but neither shot! I chimed up and said, “Did you guys come here to hunt or what? Keith give me your gun”…… as I pulled my phone out of my pocket I said, “Here shoot some pictures with this, since you don`t want to shoot your gun!” haha! And we all laughed like hell.
They drove the next brush patch for us……. nothing. No bunnies. So we were up again to drive. As I kicked around in a patch of rhododendrons a rabbit tore from the cover as I quickly fired off two shots……missed. Moments later, Pete fired off a round…..missed. Then in less than a minute, he kicked up another one…..and missed. Keith and Hanky were laughing like hell, “Now that shooting is going to cost you boys some money!”
I said, “Damn….. I swore I rolled that rabbit!”…..”I just need to settle down a bit” as we all laughed.
Over the next few hours, we laughed and joked and just had a really great time……..
To be able to hunt with the three of these guys again was a true Califon camaraderie indeed.
And I did settle down, as you can see….
Someone once said, “It`s more fun to think of the future than dwell on the past”……
Ya know what I think?
I don`t believe that person grew up in a town as magical as Califon with these kinds of Friends way back when. As for this politically correct world that we live in nowadays,…….well…….
“Do forgive my evil ways……
Sometimes I have a real hankerin` for the past with true old Friends and some fine rabbit stew”
After a full week of rain each day last week, I was really looking forward doing some NJ Turkey Hunting this past Saturday morning. The weather forecast wasn`t the greatest, but better than anything I had heard the last several days. So the alarm was set and my day began at 4:00am.
Now anyone that has ever chased “Thunder-Chickens, knows how the early hours wear on you as the weeks progress. At least my girlfriend always reminds me about my lack of sleep and my crankiness during Turkey season! She keeps me in-check.
So this particular morning, since I had gotten a Gobbler the week before, I decided I would roll the dice a bit and see if I could indeed “Go PRO” a Turkey Hunt. After I shot that Long-Beard the week before, several guys had asked my from various hunting forums, “Do we have a Video Ken?”. “Between calling and setting up the Go PRO, this would be rather challenging”, I thought as I headed out to my truck in the early morning darkness.
I arrived at the State Land where I hunt and made my way out across a few fields at 4:30am, heading towards a wooded lot. I like to try setting up in an area that will give me a fairly decent view within a 30-40 yard radius. Which can be tough when you`re hunting in wild roses. I cleared a spot and sat up against a tree and waited. A roosting turkey that was roughly 300 yards away, broke the cool morning air with a gobble at 5:25am on the nose. Then another much further away also gobbled back.
As it got a little lighter, I really liked the looks of the area I had chosen, even though the turkeys that were gobbling, weren`t really all that close. See I think a good number of hunters like to move in closer to a roosting turkey, and perhaps that works for them. Me on the other hand, I prefer to set up in a spot and see if I can hopefully coax them towards me as the morning progresses. Hey whatever works for you. Right?
However, things got a little “interesting” at around 7am, as another hunter had walked in and started calling within a hundred yards of me. Now this would really bother some hunters, but I really don`t mind it if it happens, because I always figure a different bird may come in from behind him and walk towards me.
He called several times using a mouth call and the turkeys never gobbled back. Then I lightly yelped and they responded to my calling by gobbling eagerly back. The birds were going back and forth way up on this hill that had to be a good 3-400 yards away. And they gobbled back and forth till around 8:30am…… Then the gobbling stopped completely and I didn`t hear the other hunter calling anymore either.
“I`ll bet he`s trying to get closer and moving in on those birds….let`s just sit tight and see how this plays out”, I thought to myself. As I worked a few clucks on my call, a gobble! And another! Two different birds were answering me and they appeared to be running together looking for a sexy hen(me!) – Now they were within 200 yards and definitely coming towards my direction.
I purred lightly as I knew I had the pair of Long-Beard`s attention. Sending them into a Gobbling frenzy!
As the birds circled a bit around to my right searching for that “hen”, I clucked lightly turning them directly towards me. They were now gobbling their brains out less than 100 yards out and coming in fast!
At about 50 yards the gobbling intensified even louder! I slowly put down the call……….. and raised my Browning A5……
Now…… without any further ado, here is my first Go PRO Turkey Hunting Video for you all to enjoy. If you think this was easy to do, put the call down, put the Go PRO on my head before the turkeys got to me, then pick up the gun,……think again gang! This one was tough to do! So turn up those speakers, as I think you`re really going to like this.
Please subscribe to my site and my YouTube Channel. Thanks for watching.
New Jersey Pheasant Hunting seemed like an ideal alternative solution, when deciding what to do on this very windy Saturday afternoon. Heck I was in my tree all morning before daybreak and the only movement I had seen all morning was a pretty Red Fox that came scampering by right at daybreak.
By the time I was climbing down out of the tree and got back to my truck, it had warmed up to a “balmy” 38 degrees. I decided to scout out another spot and also was considering having a go at some late-Fall Bass possibly that afternoon.
Right as I was leaving my newly scouted spot, my friend Curt called and said he was heading over to Spruce Run that afternoon to chase some pheasants and wanted to know if I was up for it.
“Hell yea” I told him, and said “I`ll see ya around 2pm” as I had to go home, change guns and shells, take the pups out and grab a bite. I ended up getting there about 2:15 and figured we`d have about two hours of shooting daylight by the time I caught up with Curt and Jake.
We weren`t hunting together more than thirty minutes when Curt`s GPS Tracking collar showed Jake on point.
Then the goose-chase began, as the collar was telling us that he was on point in one direction about 150 yards out. As we hustled off in that direction, at about 80 yards out Curt said, “Now it says he`s in the opposite direction 90 yards away!”.- This had only happened to us once before while using the GPS Collar.
But what a pain in the ass as you can`t find the dog! And I literally walked by him when I was within 50 yards away in the brush! Doubling back, I caught a glimpse of Jake on point in the brush and yelled to Curt.
So I did have the Go PRO that afternoon and think you`ll enjoy this short clip that I shot of the day`s adventure;
Though we only hunted a couple hours that windy afternoon, we managed to each get a pheasant and Curt graciously gave me his at the end of the day.
Just two good friends scouring the fields and tramping through the brush searching for those ring-neck and hen pheasants…..and whether we get to hunt for the entire day or just a few hours, there`s nothing quite like the camaraderie that comes from hunting together.
This year I swore that I wasn`t going to go Grouse hunting way up north, as my hip has been giving me some on & off trouble. And the swampy areas can certainly make for a very challenging hike when you`re out and about hunting up there.
Now my best friend Curt usually heads up just about every week, if he can and always fills me in with his weekend “hunting reports” on his way back to Jersey on Sunday eve.
At this point in the season, he`d been up to Tug Hill only twice as work has kept him busy weekends. Well two weekends ago he called me on his drive back home to give me his report and tells me how he must`ve had forty “flushes” that weekend but only shot two grouse.
Now that really got me interested(ok ok….. maybe salivating!), I said to Curt, “Hell….. maybe ya could`ve cracked a few more, if ya had another, maybe a even faster “gun” up there with ya“
Curt said, “Who….you?” I said, “Ahhhhhh yeah what the hell, let`s go up next weekend!” as I figured someday we might not be able to do this. Me with a bad hip, bad knee and three back surgeries and the fact that Curt is a diabetic and starting to have issues with cramping in his legs, was enough justification for me to say the hell with it, we`re going up.
So I packed my gear and gun on Friday night as we would be leaving at Curt`s by 3:30am on Saturday for our four and a half hour drive north. Sharon put together our meal bags so Curt and I had plenty of grub to eat for two days of hard hunting.
On our way up, we stopped at “Fat Nancy`s” on the up by Pulaski so I could get my out-of-state hunting license. While at the register, the Lady kept staring at my Hat and finally said, “That`s the most interesting Hat I have ever seen“…….. I grinned and said, “Thanks……. it`s my lucky fishin` & huntin` Hat and hopefully it won`t let me down this weekend”
Getting into Tug Hill, we stopped at the first spot of the morning and Curt`s bird dog “Jake” was raring to go as we threw on our hunting jackets.
We joked as we started walking down the old logging road as to who would crack the first grouse of the day!
Which wouldn`t take too long……..as Curt was quickly on board with the first Grouse of the day!
It was very,very windy on Saturday and we still did relatively well ending up with two Grouse and three Woodcock at the end of the day.
Got up Sunday morning and Curt suggested we go grab a hot breakfast down at Lloyd`s Diner which sounded good to me. Well why we were there, I noticed this bottle of ketchup on our table……..
Curt was like, “Hey Ken….you like hot foods, put some of this on your scrambled eggs!“
Ha! Ha! I said, “I believe I`ll pass…… Don`t need any Fire in the Hole out there huntin` this mornin`!“
Now the weather was a bit different this day as we had to contend with a steady light rain and windy conditions almost the entire day. But we still wrangled up a few birds!
And you must know by now that I usually have my Go PRO! So without any further ado, here`s the Video that I shot of the weekend`s adventure up north.
Always a good time up north with Curt and Jake. And isn`t that what good Friends are all about?
NJ Deer Hunting in the Wintertime can certainly be challenging and today when I jumped up in my tree stand at 5:45am it was a brisk 12 degrees. Fortunately I do indeed like the cold weather, not the wind, just a nice calm, cold winter morning.
After seeing what showed up on my Trail Cameras this past week, I was very anxious to jump up in my tree
this morning! Two very Big Bucks showed up during the week, one is an absolute Trophy! A Huge 8-Pointer
with very high tines on both sides. Have a look at the pictures below –
Quite the Big Bucks eh?!
Now I do read about this quite often, hunters on various threads around the internet saying, “Ohhhhhh they`ve gone “Nocturnal”….. Really? No no……. see they went “Nocturnal” because nowadays we all have trail cameras and can finally see Monster Bucks like this at night! Big Bucks have always been Nocturnal feeders and are very wise deer, hence the impressive “Crown of Antlers” they usually exhibit like the Big Boys above. So I have been regularly jumping up in my tree stand, hoping that one of these Big Bucks would walk out of the cover…….. but to no avail as of yet. While I am routinely in my stand, I`m not taking that bet that either will show up before the NJ Deer Hunting Season ends. I really think my opportunity to see either or both will be in the Fall of 2015 during the Rut. But I have my fingers crossed and maybe if we get a little snow, these Big Boys will show up in the daylight hours.
As it is getting along in the NJ Deer Hunting Season, it is also time to fill the freezer with some meat!
My opportunity came this morning around 11:30am as four does approached “Ken Beam`s Big Big Buck Deer Feeder”, I cracked the one below, loaded the doe up in `ol Big Red and drove it over to my friend`s place, Tommy the Butcher in Washington to have it processed. By the way, if you`re looking for an excellent butcher in NJ, I highly recommend Tommy! All of the cuts are vacuumed packed and you can`t beat his prices!
I`m 51 years old & I still get as excited about the first day of NJ Small Game Hunting Season as much as when I was nine years old & Dad let me actually hunt with him carrying my trusty single-shot .410 shotgun on that Opening Day long ago.
(Yes yes……. I know…….. legally you can`t be a licensed hunter in NJ until you are ten years old……… All I can say is that things were very different back then. Hell I`d been walking alongside my Dad rabbit hunting since I was six years old. Nowadays you wouldn`t think about
letting a kid hunt without having a NJ Hunting License………yea……. like I said folks, it was just a different time way back when)
So on Saturday I met my best friend Curt Ryder & his dog “Jake” at our usual meeting place,… the Quick Check on 46.When Curt pulled into the Quick Check, I grabbed my gun & hunting gear & as I jumped in his truck he joked sayin`, “Geez………. What the hell is goin` on here???
Ken Beam is actually on time! For that matter he`s even early!“…… ha! ha!
Our Hunting destination was about a little over an hour away.
We planned on hunting the Walpack Cemetary as we usually do very well there on Opening Day of Small Game Hunting. The weather was perfect. It was a nice, cool, sunny Autumn morning to hunt.Curt had this new GPS-tracking collar on Jake & it was really pretty exciting because it actually tells you how far away he is & and when he`s on “point”! As you walk towards the dog, it shows your getting closer on the GPS screen.
By 11am we each had our limit of two Pheasants. It was definitely a great morning to start the NJ Small Game Hunting Season of 2014!