Claim the privilege of hunting according to the dictates of your own conscience, and allow all hunters the same privilege;
let them practice how, where, or what they may.








Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday Blog Rodeo 8/21/10

© 2009-2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Saturday Blog Rodeo 08/21/10

Holy Smokes! Another week has come and gone and I am still here in Afghanistan, still in one piece, and still sucking dust and eating dirt! No one has yet to answer that one overriding question I have had for a long time: How does Al Gore find the time to keep all this stuff coming up around his Internet?

Anyway, once again I bring to you the Blogs, posts, and commentaries that I found most entertaining and informative! And believe it or not, none of it has anything to do with President Obama bin Biden, anyone's prostate, or that moral afront to all Americans and Patriots that they are trying to build on our hallowed Ground Zero.

NOTE: Those of you that have comments embedded within your post, I cannot comment on your blog because of the MilNet's filters. I'm really sorry that I can't comment because there are so many posts that I wish to leave a note on! Very frustrating...

Once again I was just meandering from one blog roll to another when I found Allegheny Mountain Wanderings. I was taken by the delightful pictures and good down to earth writing! It didn't hurt that Mr Grimes is also a 16 gauge afficionado like myself, and also loves fine doubles, again like myself! You can do no better than to peruse his posts and enjoy a nice evening of reading. "Haven't had a chance to shoot her at the pattern board yet but she really dusts the claybirds when I do my part..."



Remember, if you happen to bump into a post or blog you really like, let me know and I'll include it in my next Blog Rodeo!

Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Bagram Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...





Friday, August 20, 2010

Sporting Classics: The Oldest Song, presented by Bernard and Associates

2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5. trochronicles.blogspot.com

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, in association with Bernard and Associates, proudly presents Sporting Classics. Widely recognized as the premier outdoor magazine, with award-winning graphics and the country's top writers, Sporting Classics focuses on the best hunting and fishing throughout the world. Whether it is wingshooting grouse on the Scottish Highlands, stopping Cape Buffalo on the plains of Tanzania, or landing delicate Rainbow Trout on a 2 weight bamboo fly rod, Sporting Classics and its stable of renowned authors covers it with class and finesse.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles has been chosen as one of the few Outdoor Bloggers to share content from a well respected and well known magazine in the outdoor community!

Please enjoy the following advance publication. I would like to thank the Bernard and Associates team and Sporting Classics for choosing The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles  as a partner in their endeavours!



The Oldest Song

"He could no more stop hunting than he could stop breathing.
The music played too loudly in him."
by Dr. T. C. Jennings

Five a.m., opening day breakfast hadn’t changed much. Hank, Frank and Floyd, two of the brothers nursing hangovers, Pastor Fred, Harry and Earl still commandeered the corner table, raucous as crows in a cornfield. Earl owned the place, “The Shot,” he named it, one of those small town bar/breakfast joints that smelled of coffee and smoke and burned bacon and eggs, good smells to a deer hunter. Folks ladled out jam and jelly with a communal spoon and poured cream from the same pitcher and sugar from the same jar. Winston still tasted good like a cigarette should, everybody carried lever actions and wore wool, and most downed a deer by season’s end. A shot of Earl’s coffee in the morning, a shot at a deer during the day, and a shot of Earl’s whiskey in the evening . . . no matter what, everybody took a shot. Hence the name. Time seems to stand still in a small town.


"The Shot"

Jack Troutwine sat in a back booth sipping bitter black coffee and listening to their voices. Twenty years gone as a boy and back as a man, no one had recognized him but he remembered them, the rhythm and cadence of their words familiar as old friends. Snippets of conversations reached across the restaurant and across the years to his booth, making him smile.

“Dogs and dopes are going to inherit the earth and I hope it’s the dogs,” Father Fred intoned, disgusted with some chicanery somewhere.

“Not the poor?” Frank winked at Floyd, figuring he’d goosed Pastor Fred in the gospel for once.

“Hell no. That’d mean dopes like you two would be in charge. Give me a Chihuahua anytime. At least it has enough sense to sit in an old woman’s lap instead of chasing her from bar to bar half the night and throwing away good money hand over fist.”

Whistles and jeers greeted the retort, flushing the brothers deep red as the Woolrich coats that hung from their chairs. “Don’t think I didn’t hear about you two boys stuck in a poor man’s hoist last night.”
The brothers glared accusations at one another before Frank spoke. “How’d you know we were in the ditch? We didn’t tell anybody, did we, Floyd?”

Floyd shrugged. “I sure didn’t.”

Pastor Fred grinned like he had God in his back pocket. “The Lord is my shepherd, boys, and keeps a good watch out for the wolves who threaten my flock.”

About then Earl’s wife dropped steaming plates of breakfast around the table, stilling the din for a second, long enough for Hank to lambaste the food starting with the bacon, an opening day tradition.

“Hey Earl, these pigs of yours fly?”

“What do you mean, Hank?” Earl winked and played along while everybody leaned in for Hank’s jibes, wondering how he’d outdo last year’s tirade.

“Pardon me, Pastor, but for chrissakes, Earl, the bacon looks like a couple of hummingbird tongues, the eggs look like scrambled canaries, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say the toast is burned blacker than the stain in a hobo’s undies. You expect us to eat this mess?”

Laughter and disgust drowned most of the conversation and as the restaurant filled, the last voices Jack heard were Harry’s complaining how his deer-chasing shorthair always ripped his tongue on briars and bled like he’d “swallowed a box of knives,” and one of the brothers bragging how his new girlfriend could swat down grouse like she was “backhanding stepchildren.” From their gestures, though, he knew they’d turned to buck stories, each measuring invisible spreads bigger than the others.

Finishing his coffee, Jack rose to leave, never able to eat on opening day, his nerves likely to jitterbug with anything in his stomach, his excitement keen as ever.

“Jack? Jack Troutwine? Well I’ll be damned,” Pastor Fred remarked, catching Jack’s eye and rising to stand unsteadily on his cane.

Jack reached across the table, careful not to squeeze the pastor’s hand too hard, and nodded at the others. He noticed a walker behind Hank, his face a geography of gullies and ravines, and grey hair curling from beneath the brothers’ caps. Even Harry, the youngest, wore a web of spider veins in his cheeks, the patina of age purpling his skin. Time had found another entrance, separating then from now.

“Home for the hunt?”

“Yessir.”

“How’s your father? I haven’t seen him in a month of Sundays.”

“Good. A little slower.”

“Aren’t we all.”

“You hunting the marsh or the swamp field?”

“The swamp field, I think.”

“It’s as good an opening day spot as any, I suppose. Been an awful dry summer, though. From what I heard, even the turtles were packing canteens. Collar-up weather today, though.”

Jack grinned and nodded. “How ‘bout you?”

“None of us old farts hunts much more than memories, Jack,” Pastor Fred responded for the group. “We still do breakfast, though, and talk deer like when you were a kid, and Earl still antes up a free drink if you shoot a good one. Right, barkeep?” He slapped Earl on the back and laughed.

Small talk gave way to pause, allowing Jack to leave before the silence stretched to awkward. Good lucks followed him out the door where a light snow drifted across the parked trucks, swirled into small tornadoes by the wind. Backing out, he glimpsed crow tracks walking the edge of his eyes, shook his head ruefully and pointed his headlights toward the swamp field.

Rituals remain, he thought, hearing the whispers of his own mortality, but we don’t. Grateful to still be part of the hunt, he watched the restaurant fade in the rearview mirror.

An hour later Jack Troutwine shivered in the darkness before dawn, happy with his discomfort while awaiting the most important morning of the year. He believed in hunting the hard way, with no blinds or bait, just an overturned bucket in a field overlooking a cedar swamp with the wind in his face. Jack had always hunted this way, believing a level playing field made the experience true.

Pulling the gun to his shoulder like an old friend and aiming at an oak across the field, he felt confident knowing it fired where it pointed and huddled down into the rhythm of the hunt as snow stung his skin like slivers of ice. Weaving among ragged, grey clouds, a half-moon glowed like a gem in the black ear of night and the sky wore a sparkly number sequined with stars, both promising sunrise despite the snow that powdered the trees and clung to his coat. It reminded Jack of an old time ticker-tape parade layering the landscape with confetti.

The snow also coated the fur of a swollen-necked buck resting under a cedar deep in the swamp after a night of carousing. If Jack had known, he would’ve shivered with more than cold.

The morning’s music was sung by the usual choir, owl song and pheasant reveille followed by mallard chuckle and the whistle of wood ducks seeking refuge elsewhere. Woodpeckers banged the timpani, startling loud-winged doves onto the low branches of a hawthorn. Bluejays shouted the sun’s coming as the sky brightened beneath clouds turned to cotton candy in the pink wash of dawn, pools of blue forming between them as if someone had broken through ice. Across the field young maples mixed with birch and poplar began to glow like sparklers in the gathering light, their yellow leaves bright as finches, while a clump of shrubs blushed red knowing nakedness was soon to come. Of all moments, these were Jack’s favorite, the hymn of color and sound that foreshadowed morning.

Minutes later three apparitions hugged the swamp edge. The color of shade, they eased from the cedars cautiously and angled toward him, jittery in the wind, ears alert, ghosting into the brown grass invisible as chameleons. Lifting and lowering their heads in syncopation, they moved with stealth, furtive and shy and impossibly silent as they closed within 15 yards, eyes locked to his, sensing wrong. Jack hung a crosshair on the biggest deer when all three heads dipped.

Pow!

He heard the shot in his imagination and watched the doe fall before lowering his rifle, dry run done. Cutting man-scent in a swirl of wind, the deer whirled, grabbed her sisters by the hand, it seemed, and disappeared as if never there.

“Goodbye, girls,” Jack whispered, staring at an empty field except for the trees and grass and rising wind that loosed snow squalls from a bank of black clouds. The rest of the morning snow and sun traded turns as Jack squinted for another glimpse of the supernatural.

By noon his concentration flagged and his mind sifted through memories of other hunts. He remembered every deer he’d ever killed, from the orchard eight-point to the first one as a 14-year-old boy, a doe taken with a .410 slug on the last day at dusk deep in the cedar swamp he studied now. Searching in the dark, uncertain of his aim, he finally found it dead under a thicket of pin cherries when his flashlight reflected green off the doe’s vacant, iridescent eye. Bending to touch its fur, he choked back tears, overcome with joy and sorrow.

Gathering himself, he struggled the deer to a small stream that meandered among the dense cedars, in his mind feeling again the cold water pressing against his boots as he floated the doe downstream through the swamp on a starry, cold night toward camp.

Hearing the shot, his father had waited anxiously in the light of a gas lantern, the hiss of its mantle sinister to the old man as he watched for his boy before breaking into a grin when he caught sight of him holding his gun in one hand and a hoof in the other. Together they gutted the deer and dragged it to the truck, their breath white as moonlight in the cold, before emotion overwhelmed him and Jack cried openly.

“It’s the way you’re supposed to feel,” his father counseled. “If you felt otherwise, you wouldn’t be a hunter who honors what God gives you; you’d be a poacher, which is the same thing as a killer. Wait here.”

He went to the animal and returned to touch its blood to Jack’s lip. “You’re not a boy anymore.”

Jack accepted the covenant, understanding that hunting had imbued in him a compassion and respect for life unlike any other experience, teachings he would honor for the rest of his life, and he knew that day he could no more stop hunting than he could stop breathing. The music played too loudly in him. The irony of taking a life to revere it, however, was not lost on him, a dilemma he would never resolve, and he knew his elation in taking an animal always would be tempered by grief for its death.

Late that afternoon the resting buck arose rejuvenated and hungry. Sidestepping a downed cedar, he moved silently through the thick underbrush toward the edge of the swamp where a gnarled oak littered the ground with acorns, the same one Jack aimed at in the morning. Wind-gusts paused his pace and the deer stood still as a statue while reading a thousand sights and sounds and smells from the landscape, recognizing them all, sorting safety from each.

Jack saw no movement even after the deer entered the field to follow the doe trail. By now evening veiled the swamp and joined the deer, draping shade over the snow-powdered grass.

Something out of place caught Jack’s eye, something extra, a stump he hadn’t noticed before. Raising his rifle slowly, he laid the crosshairs against the object just as sunset seeped under the clouds to reveal a row of red candles glimmering in the dusk, seven in all, a moment’s menorah.



Swamp buck, Jack thought, noting the reddish-dark horns. Heart racing, he braced his elbow on his knee and aimed. In the instant between the touch of the trigger and the sound of the shot, the buck fell, heart and shoulder shattered by the bullet.

Trembling from the hunt’s crescendo, Jack racked the rifle and watched for the deer to rise and run. Struggling to quell his emotion, he waited 20 minutes before walking toward the oak where the buck lay dead. A red splash darkened the snow like spilled wine. Taking a thin wafer of the dark snow, he placed it to his lips and listened to the wind sing in the field.

“Thank you,” he murmured, kneeling to care for the deer before heading back to Earl’s,
his heart filled with the song of the hunt.

***

Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Nebraska Hunting Company, Scott Croner

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yo-Yo's for Troops Big Hit With the Brits Too!

Dearest Friends!
 
As you know, I've been out East a bit and hanging large with the British contingents. As it turns out, they are just as greatful and appreciative as our own boys are upon receipt of some Yo-Yo's! I hope you all don't mind that I shared a few with them, but they sweat and bleed right along side our guys, and I wanted to present them with a small token of our appreciation.
 
I got a call that that K (Spikessib) Sent a package with not only Yo-Yo's, but some goodies for the troops as well. Dr. Nichols also forwarded some very nice and useful things in addition to the yoy-yo's. They are very much appreciated!
 
BTW if you do send some odds and ends for the fellows, rest assured that every single item, from powder to chapstick, ziplocks to candies, all of it will be distributed to the troops. If you are wondering what you might send, hunting and fishing magazines are always in short supply, cough drops are very welcome, and babywipes are ever popular!
 
Thanks again to everyone that has participated, and I am hoping to have a big give-away when I get KAF. maybe even have Stars and Stripes cover it!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
The Range Reviews: Tactical




A Chronicles' Interview: Bo Parham of Edge Habitat

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5. trochronicles.blogspot.com

A Chronicles' Interview with Bo Parham
And Edge Habitat


Folks, once again a great hello and good hunting to you! Today we are adding to our splendid interview series “The Outfitters Chronicles.” Though Bo and Edge Habitat aren't in the outfitting business, habitat management is an integral part of game management, and it is only fitting that we interview them as only the Chronicles can.

Our interview today is with Bo Parham of Edge Habitat. Bo and I worked on this over a series of e-mails. I had bumped into Bo's blog some time ago, and like many things, it kind of went on the back burner. Through a series of "Blog Hops," I bumped back into Bo's blog, and started our correspondence again. I've always been interested in reclaiming damaged environments, and wildlife conservation management is right up my alley.


EH: Albert, first, let me say thank you for taking a special interest in what I'm trying to do.

TROC: Bo, it's my pleasure to sit down and talk to you about habitat restoration and design. After twenty years of construction and related activities, I am super pleased to finally meet someone with the knowledge and ability to either design new wild spaces, or restore damaged ones! But before we go into that, please introduce yourself to our readers.

EH: My name is Jerry Boswell Parham. My Mother and the cops call me Jerry, but most everybody nowadays calls me Bo, a nickname my Dad gave me.

TROC: Then Bo it is! I started right off with how pleased I am to discuss habitat improvement and restoration with you. As a student of biology, it's exciting to know that with a little bit of knowledge and some hard work, you can actually reclaim damaged environments, or improve marginal ones.

EH: That's absolutely correct, Albert. And even in incremental steps, you can make a difference in the quality of the habitat around you. So much emphasis today is placed on feeders and food plots for wildlife, and those concepts certainly have their place. But improving habitat is much more than feeding the animals. And it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg for hi-protein feed sprayed from automatic feeders or high priced food plot seeds planted in a man-made clearing in the middle of the woods. It can be done by simply utilizing the existing natural seedbank and the existing edges on the landscape. And it doesn't have to necessarily look unsightly to be effective.

As I see it, the closely manicured landscapes that we see today have eliminated far too much habitat that could be utilized much more appropriately. Man and wildlife can co-exist, but man can't keep destroying the habitat without destroying the wildlife. This sort of thing has become a passion with me. It's more than just being in tune with nature or having a place to hunt. It's not taking from the environment or taking it for granted, and it's giving something back.

TROC: I think that a lot of folks would like to do something, but have absolutely no idea of where to start. How did you "educate" yourself in Wildlife Conservation Contracting?

EH: I studied biology in college, but where I could afford to go had no formal wildlife biology training. It was more of a pre-med curriculum, but I managed to work in my own independent studies, when I could. I almost got a 2nd major in geology, and I studied agriculture independently. So, officially, I'm not a wildlife biologist, but it's where my heart lies.

Quite frankly, I am a synthesizer of other peoples research at this point, but I aspire to help improve or restore habitat in any way I can, whether by writing about it, or offering advice or personal labors. I didn't start Edge Habitat to make money, but to spread the word and to improve wildlife habitat. That is why I welcome any feedback from people who know more than I do.

Prescribed Burn: Another habitat management technique.

TROC: Tell me Bo, where are you currently located?

EH: I live in Clarksville, Texas, Red River county, between Texarkana and Paris. It's right on the edge of the blackland prairie and the piney woods. North of the Red River lies the Kiamichi Mountains and the Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma. To the west of Paris lies the Caddo National Grasslands. It's a diverse environment, filled with excellent habitat in many places and opportunities to improve habitat in many others, not unlike other places I'm sure.

TROC: I'm certain that you've quite a bit of outdoor experience too. How did your outdoorsmanship get its start?

EH: Hunting and fishing have been ingrained in me since childhood when I could walk out my back door and go hunting, all day... Or fish in the neighbor's stock ponds or the creek a couple of miles away. Unfortunately, those times are long gone, and so is that environment in far too many places. Some of the lucky ones can still enjoy that type of experience, but they are few. It is from those roots that my love of nature and the outdoors has grown.

TROC: I've gotten a little hunting in over the years, no where near enough as far as I am concerned. My problem is mostly that of access. I've seen areas that were once readily accessible and well stocked with game, both large and small, become subdivisions almost over night. I see you've done quite a bit of hunting. What are some of your successes?

EH: As for my hunting and fishing successes, they have been adequate. Besides the 140-class WT pictured on the blog, I have a 6X7 bull elk (unscored), a 160-class mule deer, a half a slam so far in turkeys (best being a 23 lb. 11-in. w/ 1.25 spurs)and 3 double digit largemouth bass (best being 10.96) as my personal best trophies. But Albert, as you well know, every encounter in the outdoors, no matter what, makes you live longer...

TROC: You mentioned that you worked in the medical field for quite some time, how did you get from scrubs to overalls?

EH: I did spend the majority of my life in health care, both as a pharmaceutical representative and a radiology technologist. However, in '08 I was injured moving a patient in the hospital. I lived in Spokane, Washington as a young man, and I worked as a packer and a cook for an outfit in the middle fork of the Salmon River country in ID. Then I went to work as a Hunter Safety Coordinator for the Washington Department of Game in Spokane. There I was able to assist habitat specialists and others in their work. I developed a working knowledge of the subject, along with a sincere love and respect for that type of work.

When I became injured and forced into semi-retirement, I sat down and asked myself, "What assets do I have that I can use to make my way and be of service?" and "What would I be most happy doing with the rest of my life?" From that, Edge Habitat was hatched. So, honestly, Edge Habitat is a fledgling enterprise created to try and be of service to both the landowners and the wildlife. It doesn't hurt that it might help an old outdoorsman survive as well!

TROC: What sort of projects have you been involved with?

EH: There have been a few small projects, but nothing special to recall... yet!. Most have been erosion control or bank stabilization projects. I have been trying to get the mayor of our city to hire me to manage the grounds at the local city lake for wildlife; but, there again, there is no money in the coffers. This would be an excellent project, since it's just across the main highway to the east of me; and it's in dire need of some help.

The largest thing that I've done is to advise a friend about how to maintain habitat and prevent erosion post logging on some inherited property of hers. But that was pro bono, and I was happy to do it. It allowed me to put into practice some of the ideas I had been developing, and observe the results over time. Local TX P&W biologists have called me a couple of times about their projects, but nothing has yet to come of that either.

That's why when you emailed me about this I was pretty discouraged. But that doesn't mean that I don't still think it's a good idea that needs to be pushed. It's a tough sell, especially in this economy, but I haven't given up on being able to get something going.

TROC: Bo, I am always curious, tell me, how did you get started blogging?

EH: The blog idea was a suggestion of my sister to help with cheap advertising. But it soon became a way to express /vent some things and gather information too. Frankly, Albert, the blog, as minuscule as it is, is more successful than the business at this point. People will talk to you about your ideas about the land, but they can't spend the money to do anything in this economy. If they do, they do it themselves; and utilize your ideas or what NRCS or TX P&W has suggested to them.

As for suggested projects that people can do on their own, the Edge Habitat blog has got numerous posts to that effect in the archives. Edge feathering, strip disking, regenerating the seedbank, comes to mind. All of these can be done with minimal expense and mostly just some work. I am always open to anyone who might have a question to be discussed; but, mostly, I find I'm talking to myself...


TROC: You know Bo, I used to feel that way also when I first started blogging. But with time, you develop a network of readers and followers. Before long you will be the subject matter expert that folks come to for advise on reclaiming land for wildlife! Now, what would be a dream project for you?

EH: The ideal situation for me would be to land a job with an absentee landowner who has deep pockets and several hundred / thousand acres to manage for wildlife. And I would thoroughly enjoy an opportunity to write about wildlife, habitat, and the outdoors. I think that would be both pleasurable and desirable at my age! But then, there are plenty of younger people out there with more specific degrees in wildlife / habitat / ranch / forestry management to fill such jobs, don't you know. But maybe, just maybe, I can do something by synthesizing information and spreading the word to interested people that will help me find a way. And, like the song says, "Get by with a little help from my friends."

TROC: Bo, I wish you all the best in your endeavours. We need more people in the field that can help us maximize the available habitat, restore damaged habitat, or create habitat out of areas that have been destroyed or altered. We will continue to keep in touch and it is my hope that we can feature some of your writing right here on The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles!

EH: Albert, Thank you!
Once again I would like to thank Bo Parham of Edge Habitat for taking the time to interview and introduce Edge Habitat to us.

If you would like to know more about habitat reclamation and habitat restoration. please see Bo's blog, Edge Habitat.

You can also reach Edge Habitat at:
edgehabitat@windstream.net


Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles


Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Nebraska Hunting Company Scott Croner

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hunting Merriam's Turkey in Nebraska

© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5. trochronicles.blogspot.com
Hunting Trophy Merriam's Turkey

While pecking away at the keyboard some time ago, I came upon fellow Outdoor Bloggers Summit member Scott Croner’s Blog, Nebraska Hunting Company. I meandered off to his company website, NebraskaHunting.net, to see what it was all about. I am always curious what fellow bloggers do when they are not beating the keys off the keyboard. Makes me feel like I know everyone a little better.

As it turns out, Scott is an outfitter based in Nebraska and covers several of the Midwest states in his pursuit of American big game, waterfowl, and turkey. Not only that, but we had some interesting acquaintances in common, but more on that later.

Scott has some great pictures of his clients on his website, and on the left hand side is a beautiful turkey that one of his clients harvested. Big turkey too, as far as I can tell.

But before I get into what caught my eye, I think a little bit of turkey talk information is in order! You would be surprised at how much there is to know! I certainly was.

There are two species and four subspecies of turkeys.

Eastern Photo Credit: WL McCoy
There’s the Eastern Wild Turkey. He’s your garden-variety turkey that you see all over the place except on opening day of turkey season, or for that matter the rest of it too. Since the eastern wild turkey ranges the farthest north, individuals can also grow to be among the largest of any of the subspecies. The adult male, can be as tall 4 feet (!) at maturity and weigh 20 pounds plus. As an aside, the turkey came in second as the bird of the National Seal. (They say Ben Franklin was besides himself when they told him the news! Legend has it he said, “$&!% that Jefferson!”)

Osceola Image Credit: CL Evans
These are my own hometown turkeys. The Osceola is named for the famous Seminole Chief, Osceola. They are a bit smaller than the eastern variety and live in the oak and palmetto hammocks where they thrive on palmetto bugs, acorns and palmetto berries, the slash pine woods, and the swampy habitats of Florida. (Basically everywhere else on the southern two thirds of the peninsula.)

Rio Grande Image Credit: TwoTom
The Rio Grande subspecies lives adjacent to what’s left of the Rio Grande. But they are found as far north as Kansas, usually by water. The Rio Grande turkeys are comparatively pale and copper colored, and they are awful long legged compared to their cousins; sort of like that redheaded girl in middle school that you were scared of.

Merriam's Image Credit: Alice Outwater
Further north still, and probably the handsomest (if you don’t include the fellows from south of the border), is the Merriam. This species is most at home in mountainous wooded regions, and it has been successfully stocked in areas far away from its original range in the southern mountains of Western America.

Gould's Image Credit: Ornitholoco
The Goulds, named after J. Gould who, I guess, discovered them in 1856 during his Mexican road trip in search of artisanal agave tequila. The Goulds are pretty rare at about 800 or so in the US, though a substantial population lives in Mexico. Arizona and New Mexico offer limited hunting opportunities for the Gould’s wild turkey, while stocking from Mexico continues to increase their numbers in the South Western US.

Ocellated Image Credit Real Turkeys
The prettiest of them all is the Ocellated turkeys. They are their own species and do not have any sub-species. Both male and female ocellated turkeys have beautiful greenish-bronze iridescent feathers, but neither the male nor female have a beard. Their tails feathers have a blue spot that terminates in orange at the ends, and the head and neck is also pale blue with bright orange warts. They live in the tropical forests of the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico. They are truly a remarkable and beautiful bird.

Now I have always known turkey hunters to be a little obsessed. Box calls, slate calls, glass calls, owl hooters (Hooters? Who knew?), camouflage, gilliesuits, blinds, special chokes, shotguns, knee-pads, and shells in different lengths, sizes colors and loads. And that doesn’t include the turkey bowhunters!

I had no idea how far the turkey madness went.

Curiosity peaked more than was probably good for me, I found the National Wild Turkey Federation website. Much to my delight it was a virtual warehouse of information, chuck full of all sorts of turkey stuff. Single-handedly, they have managed to complicate the relatively simple idea of killing a turkey, and elevated into well nigh an art form.

I was entranced and enthralled by it immediately.

By now it was getting late while I was reading all of this, and I came to the “Slam” page. Logically I assumed that this was the recipe page where turkey, egg, and pancake met. But, much to my surprise and glee, what I found was the Holy Grail of turkey hunting aficionados. The Slams my friends, are the different levels of madness that one can attain by hunting the different subspecies of turkeys! And you get a certificate (Suitable for framing!) commemorating the event and a pin for your lapel! All that is required is membership in the National Wild Turkey Federation , and the turkeys.

These are the Slams that NWTF awards:
  • Grand Slams consists of the Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam's and Osceola (Florida) birds
  • Royal Slams is the four subspecies listed above in addition to the Gould's bird
  • World Slams include all five subspecies listed above in addition to the Ocellated wild turkey
  • The Mexican Slam consists of the following birds harvested in Mexico only: Rio Grande, Gould's and Ocellated. Of course you are required to survive the experience. No posthumous awards issued.
  • The Canadian Slam consists of harvesting the Eastern and Merriam's bird in the following provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta or British Columbia, and then serving them with thick sliced bacon.

Unlike many other feats of huntsmanship, like hunting Marco Polo sheep with a spear and loincloth, this one is a relatively attainable goal. The NWTF maintains records of the registered turkeys, and when you complete a NWTF Slam you receive a slam certificate for each slam you complete, you receive the distinctive wild turkey record slam pin for each of your slams, and they put you up on their Slam Website! And more importantly you do not have to kill all the turkeys in the same year. So this allows you to plan a great adventure far into the future with your family members or friends. That’s just Slamming!

So of course now I am all crazy about getting turkeys. I have always been interested, but now… I’m obsessed… must get calls…must get more camo…

Sorry, lost my train of thought. Phew! It’s worse than I thought.

Well this brings me back to Scott and Nebraska Hunting Company. While kicking around his site I saw a fascinating turkey. During the 2009 spring turkey hunt, one of Scott’s clients, Mr. Todd Ried, harvested a melanistic or black color phase Merriam’s turkey! As you can tell the turkey is almost completely black, a stunning and exceptional trophy indeed! Not only is the Merriam one of the lesser-harvested turkeys, but to get one in a color phase is just unbelievable.

Todd Ried with his all-black melanistic Merriam's trophy!

Melanistic mutations occur in almost all creatures from fish to humans. It is much like albinism but not as hazardous to the animal’s health as being all white in the dark green woods! Birds in particular have several other color mutations that can occur, including blue, yellow, and red. Red, or more appropriately copper or rust, is occasionally seen in turkeys.

I want one. In a full mount, flying, so I can take up even more room in our miniscule apartment!

Tom H., Scott C., and Warren P.
I called Scott up to inquire about his turkey hunting concessions (leases) and the general availability and the possibility of collecting a Merriam’s. Scott “Turkey Man” Croner told me of this past season, and I am not kidding you, I was taken aback by his success ratio. I have read and talked with enough hunters to know how difficult turkey hunting can be. The number of clients and the number of birds taken was simply phenomenal. I have to admit I was a little skeptical, but after checking his references and talking to several people, I have concluded that he is a very talented outfitter and his concessions are fantastic! Having good concessions is very important. Good concessions have good habitat and that is what makes or breaks a turkey population.

I called Scott back and we did a phone interview, a TROC first by the way. I have been so impressed by his good character, integrity, and know how, that I will definitely be booking with him when the time comes for me to collect my Merriam’s.

…and the Snow goose.

The turkey is going to need some company.

Contacts:
J Scott Croner
Nebraska Hunting Company
Nebraska Hunting Company Merriam's Turkey Hunting
Mobile: 402.304.1192
Email: scott@nebraskahunting.net

Related Posts: Quaker Boy Typhoon Turkey Call

Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS
The Hunt Continues...







Monday, August 16, 2010

Best of the Outdoor Bloggers: I Don't Wear Pink Camo to the Woods

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Best of the Outdoor Bloggers:
Friday Fishing Fun (Knot)

One of the newest blogs for me is Kari Murray's I Don't Wear Pink Camo to the Woods. I actually found her blog through one of my "Blog Hopping" expeditions, and I was so enamored with it that it went straight to my favorites, blog roll, and Saturday Blog Rodeo. Kari is a Toxophilite (Go look it up... I had to!) and we all know what a turn-on that is! She's married to a swell outdoorsman of a guy and has an awful cute little fellow that is bound to be an accomplished fisherman and hunter in his own right before long.

So without further blabbing let's dive right into this installment of The Best of Outdoor Bloggers!

Good Hunting!
Albert Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

In my last post I had stated that I was recently inspired to count my Blessings in a BIG way. This is the story of that inspiration. Given not by the beauty of nature but rather its wrath. 
It takes place on Friday, April 2nd 2010.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




As the afternoon rolled in they sky looked as if there could be a possibility of perhaps a sprinkle or two heading our way. That’s nothing serious to me though. After many years of being rained on I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am not sweet enough to melt simply by getting a bit wet. So the day’s plans stood. Little man off to G-Ma’s and Pa’s to decorate Easter eggs and Hubbin’ and I off to the Chippewa River to catch some crappies.







We put the boat in on Lake Wissota then traveled around to the not-so-secret secret spot (given away by all the boats there to drop anchor). It was the perfect day for fishing in my eyes with temps hitting around 70 and the sky being just a bit cloudy. My biggest complaint of the day thus far was without the rays of the sun, I couldn’t properly try out my new X-ray Fish Glasses. Those are the polarized ones for those of you who don’t speak in Kari-izms yet. (And if you think that’s bad, might I add that I also own a Fish Purse, more commonly known as a tackle bag, to those of you who angle.)




As we sit anchored, truly enjoying just the fact that we are outside together, Hubbin’ graciously showed me what I was doing wrong tying on my lures. One loop short, (kind of sounds like the story of my life! lol!) but I’ve certainly got it now and feel well on my way to being more independent when it comes to the things of fishing. In fact I even suggested that it would be nice to be able to run the boat by myself but have since retracted that thought. In a minute you will see why.




My new lures.
We fish for about a half an hour or so without a bite. I have to admit that I was focusing on how to retrieve my new lures so intently that if a fish would have struck, I may have made a fool of myself by screaming like an excited school girl seeing the boy band of her dreams. I’ve never really fished with lures before, just the ol’ trusty bobber and worm combo, so all of this is very new to me. After a bit with no action, Hubbin’ made the decision to try a different spot directly across the river.




As the anchors were set down and I made couple of quick casts, the sky began to grow dark at a rapid pace. I look up from the water to see my Hubbin’ starring off into the distance at the incoming clouds. He casually turned to me and said, “Oh look, lightning.” Well even I’m no dummy when it comes to this.




Metal Boat + electricity coming from the sky + water = Deep Do-Do!




It’s time to close up shop and now. We rush to button up the boat, quickly bringing up the anchors, and make it no more then 20 yards before encountering the inspiration behind me sharing with you the suggestion of taking stock of the good in your life. My own scaled down storm version of Deadliest Catch.