Archive for April, 2012

Turkey Tag Out

Monday, April 30th, 2012

All winter long most outdoors-man and women go through the dreaded cabin fever. We think of spring not for the warm weather and pretty flowers but for gobbling turkeys. We prepare our gear and shoot all winter to be sure that we are ready when that big Tom comes into our decoy spread. I live for these 20 pound critters and look forward to hunting them with the bow every year. I have done well over the last 20 plus years and enjoy watching the country come to life each morning. 

A good set of decoys and and blind make bow hunting these birds a blast. You can get top pin close or more and have some great action. I usually like my standard 7 to 10 yard shot. This way if you are hunting wary birds and they hang up they are usually within 20 either way. They are way too small of a moving target to shoot much further than that, well at least for me.


This year I had tags for my home state of Montana as well as Idaho. The border is only 2 hours away and it offers some great turkey hunting. I like to try and hunt a few states and with it being so close I can give the birds a break and bounce back and forth. Even though you practice all year and would think that an opening morning 8 yards shot would be a slam dunk it is not! Well for me this year it was not. Who would think that such a little bird could get a grown man all flustered but it happens. A few days later I made good on my bird in Idaho.

The previous winter was rough for the turkeys in Montana and I was just not finding a good number of mature birds. The few that we had found this spring were already taken by my friends. I still head out every morning weather permitting to find a bird that wants to play the calling game. This weekend I found such a group of birds and was able to work them for over an hour. A little patience and subtle calling finally brought in this bird for another close up shot. I am tagged out for spring turkeys for this year.

But please don’t feel sorry for me because after turkeys are done I chase one of my favorite  animals, the bear. I am headed to Alberta Canada at the end of the week and look forward to finding a big mature boar. It is an excellent hunt and whether I am sitting in a stand over bait or spot and stalking I equally love to do them. Hopefully I will have some good stories and pictures of a big bear down in the next few weeks.









Archery Turkey With Good Friend

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Every year I look forward to chasing turkeys with my bow and sharing my hunts with my good friend Dave. We have teamed up for some very good hunts and always seem to get it done. He is an excellent hunter and we share a lot of laughs while out in the field. We just came back from a short hunt in Northern Idaho. We have hunted this area before and have learned the best places and techniques to bagging a mature Tom with our bows.

A big key to success is having the right set up and be in the right spot to get the birds into less than 10 yards. Here we had the 1 hen lying down and the other feeding. The Tom was facing us. It is important to face the tail towards the direction you think the Tom will come from. This bird was gobbling with a handful of hens and we got close and set up. He was down the hill behind the decoys and knew he had to come up the hill to see the set up. Most mature birds will come around and face the advisary and give you a great shot.

After a little calling the Tom could not resist coming up the hill to see if he could add these hens to his group. Once he crested the hill he saw the strutter and could not resist. He came right into the spread at full strut and Dave made a great shot. I captured the entire hunt on video for him.

That afternoon we hunted a different area and I was up to bat. We noticed that a Tom we were working was very hesitant about coming into our same spread. This bird must have had a few bad encounters with another Tom in the area and was very timid. We tried to take the strutter down after he left and call him back in but he had made his mind up not to take on another Tom. We roosted the birds and set the blind up that night in the dark. We were going to be close to their fly down zone and did not want to make any noise come morning.

The next morning we decided to only put out hens and not go with the strutting Tom. It is also very important to use very realistic decoys. I have these new hens I got and as always my strutter has a real fan in it. This added realism makes the difference no doubt. Dave even goes to the extreme of replacing the eyes on his decoys with real glass eyes from a taxidermist.

I put out the 2 hens and we nestled into the blind 30 minutes before the song birds started to wake up. The gobbling began and soon the birds hit the ground. It took a while for the group to make their way out into the green field we were sitting on. There was 4 hens 2 Jakes and the 1 Tom. The males responded to our calling a few times and at one point the 3 were less than 5 yards from the blind gobbling spitting and drumming. The problem was they were on the backside of the blind and behind the pine tree we used for cover. After about an hour the hens fed out into the field and brought the Tom with them. The Jakes kept hazing the strutting bird away from my hens as the so often do.

Patience and just some subtle calling brought the big bird closer to the hens. As he cleared the window in the blind I came to full draw and made sure the camera was rolling. After a nod from Dave I settled the Hoyt in and shot the bird broadside at under 15 yards. He went only 20 yards and never left the field.

Outback Outdoors Spring Fever

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

As I am writing this blog about Spring fever and the great possibilities for being in the woods we are setting records with the heat this week. The team hits the woods hard once the snow melts to chase turkeys and look for shed antlers. I enjoy being in the outdoors scouting, calling turkeys and also walking my hunting areas looking for tell tale signs of the animals that made it through the winter. It is a great way to lose the cabin fever and get some well needed exercise. 

You can also take this time to contact ranch owners and help out with their calving or fixing fences and it helps build a good relationship. I just came back from finding these sheds, running all over trying to get a big Tom in bow range and help the land owner brand calves. This little bit of work goes a long ways to keep your favorite hunting area “yours”.

Just make sure you check yourself for ticks as I pulled off 23 of the little heathens in just 1 day.


Outback Outdoors – Bowhunting Thunderchickens at Swanson Lake Ranch, NE

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Swanson Lake Ranch in Stratton, NE has been the back drop of Outback Outdoors’ team turkey hunt more than once, and this year , once again, SLR did not disappoint us. Team OO’s Adam Wells and cameraman Kyle Sanderson met up with Trevon Stoltzfus and new OO editor/producer Grady Rawls on Thursday night to try and arrow a few toms on film. This year, like last year, Trev and Adam were the featured speakers at the McCook Bowhunter’s Association banquet so the team was using this trip to combine some hunting and a speaking engagement.

With the banquet scheduled for Saturday night, the teams split up Friday morning and settled into their blinds about 1 mile away from each other. At first light Trev and Grady, who were hunting some farm ground on the edge of a popular roosting area, had a bunch of turkeys fly into the field. After about an hour of watching the birds strut and loaf, along with some sweet alluring turkey calls, Trev arrowed a nice tom, captured for posterity and in vivid DSLR HD by Grady.

Adam and Kyle had no opportunities, and so that afternoon we switched things up. Trev was tagged out so he grabbed the camera and headed out with Kyle to try and video him take a turkey and Grady joined up with Adam. The payoff came on Saturday as Adam arrowed a nice mature tom on film literally in the nick of time, as the team had to head to McCook for their speaking engagement.

The banquet was awesome! Grady rolled camera and Adam and Trev entertained the crowd discussing the tactics of “Shadowing an Elk Herd” in order to successfully harvest trophy bulls. The response was great, along with the food (it was a wild game feast) and it was past midnight before the boys got back to the lodge to catch a few winks before the morning hunt.

In the meantime some terrible storms had moved into the area and tornado like winds were anticipated. Once again team OO split up into 2 teams (Trev/Kyle & Adam/Grady) and headed to the blinds before first light. Rockie Jacobsen, with Bugling Bull Game Calls, had called earlier in the week and asked Team OO if on this hunt, and they had a chance, they could knock a mature tom down with a shotgun on video as he needed the footage for a new commercial. Adam grabbed the bang stick and was happy to oblige.

Trev and Kyle had only hens come into range, but Adam and Grady had a mature tom bail out of the roost and strut right in front of the blind. With lightning flashing in the sky Adam waited for the tom to clear the hens and made a great shot, crumpling the big bird where he stood.

This trip was a great time and a great way to cap off our NE Turkey season. Now it’s time to get back to work preparing for the fall and continuing to finish the 4th season of production for the OO TV show

Team Outback Outdoors