Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Canoga Creek Brookie

My local Trout Unlimited Chapter continues to take an interest in Canoga Creek. We worked hard to get DEC to allow the stocking of Brook Trout in Canoga Creek and succeeded, bringing the fish back to a creek they have been absent from for over thirty years. I was fortunate to catch one on a little bee pattern delicately presented in front of a mini-log jam in about 1 foot of water. Sweet satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment for the Canoga Creek.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Perfect April Day: Repost from "Ramblings.."

Long story, but a helluva day:

April 26 - opening day of turkey in PA. Paul and I met at prospectors at 4:00am and headed to weaver. Original plan was to stalk the monster bird at the nursery, but one of Paul's co-workers "claimed" the spot first. No way he shoots that bird - we'll get 'em later this season...

The morning started off with a long walk to the back of the weaver property, a little over a mile. Unfortunately, the property is bordered on all sides by private land and some jackass had driven his truck through the woods and parked it, literally, right on our spot - the exact spot where I'd shot a huge bird a few years ago. So Paul and I sat down about 150 yards away and decided to wait and hear how the morning started before changing positions. This genius in the truck proceeds to walk right toward us in the dark - we whistle at him and he changes direction, but sits down about 60 yards away, just inside the new exclosure. These guys are asking to be shot. We tried to relax and just see how things would go - it was too late to change position without screwing up that whole side of the property.

As light came the song birds started around 5:30 and were in full swing at 5:45. 6:00 came and brought with it the first gobble - it would be the first of many. There were at least three birds, just over the hill, inside the exclosure. For the next 40 minutes they must have gobbled 60 times. One would sound off and the others would gobble right behind him, four, five, six gobbles on top of each other. We thought something might materialize and sat still, guns ready and waited, listening to the horrible calling of the jackass down the hill. Two hens came over the hill, but the jakes wouldn't make the trip - they headed away from us and the gobbling stopped. Did a big boy finally stake his claim and send the jakes running?

After sitting tight for a while we decided to move - a slow walk along the fence finally proved fruitful as we heard the same rally of gobbles from the back corner of the property - maybe 500 yards in front of us. We got as close as we could and set up along the fence. The birds were inside the fence and we had a nice knob between us so we set up paul's decoy on the fence line, I set up in the brush to call, and paul sat against a tree with his gun trained. We thought the birds (if they came) would come around the contour of the knob, but instead (yeah, they came) they ran right up over the top of the knob directly at us. I never saw them, but paul said the first bird crested the hill and stopped, the second bird came over the top and did a double-take at paul - one eye, two eye, "yep, that doesn't look good," and he bolted. Paul let two shots go in hopes of knocking one down, but to not avail; we watched as the two of them flew away. He was kicking himself a bit, but there was nothing else to do except watch them run away - fine decision. The only bad part was he didn't quite get the gun shouldered before firing and his bicep was killing him the rest of the day.

It was pretty late in the morning by now so we circled the property boundary for another 3/4 mile and found a nice ridge to take a nap on. Slept for 30 minutes or so until I found a couple ticks on me and got us back up moving. The plan was to stick to the property boundary and hit a couple known hang-outs on our way back to the truck. Coming up on the back of white pine corner a gobble halted us - 100yards. We dropped to the ground and donned the camo - that was close. After a quick discussion we decided I'd be the shooter - I crawled on my stomach up to a small ridge and slowly peeked over, gun leading. After only a second I saw a bird - big, dark body; bright red and blue head: A Gobbler, and a big one. He was headed to the right so in the quick moments as he was hidden behind trees and brush I readjusted and waited. A couple of those moves later I noticed the bird wasn't alone - there was another one, equally big, and closer, back to my left. I readjusted on this one, but he was headed right as well. Couple putts and some leaf scratching managed to turn him back left. They were moving closer, but they were nervous - maybe they had been screwed with earlier that day, or last season. The bird in my sights was staring hard at me - one move to the left and he would be in a clear line of sight. He moved left. And here's where my long day of fishing the day before screwed me - I'd forgotten my turkey choke. The modified choke in my barrel spread my 4 shot too thin - the bird was gone before I could even reload a shell. The other bird wasn't so lucky. I swung right and shot...missed, but lifted the bird into the air. Another pot shot did nothing to stop his flight. Fortunately, the bird was flying directly over Paul. He rose and unloaded, knocking that bird out of the air - DEAD BIRD!! Not pretty, but successful. And to think, if I'd had my proper choke, there would be two birds. Won't make that mistake again...

20lbs, 9.5" beard, 1 1/8" spurs. Real nice bird. Had some of it grilled up this evening at Pauls house while entertaining his boys. Can't wait to get back out during the week when all the bozos are sleeping or at work.

When I got home, Ben and I headed to Penns. We'd had some serious action on the stream the previous night and couldn't wait to repeat. We stopped in at feathered hook first to figure things out - turns out we had likely witnessed trout gorging themselves on rusty spinners (dead BWOs and Hendricksons). We spent a few bucks on flies and headed out. A long walk down from tunnel road and nymphed until about 5:30. I caught one and then took a nap in the sun on the bank...long day. Ben nymphed the whole afternoon and didn't catch squat - that is the worst. And I figured I'd make it worse by hooking a rising fish he'd been trying to catch on my first catch. Luckily I didn't land it.

We were stalling, trying to catch the few rising fish we could see and wait for the witching hour when the spinners would start...maybe 7? Maybe 7:15. We made it until about 6:15 when the gathering, black clouds finally made us decide to give up and head back to the car. About halfway back it hit - strong winds and a downpour; we were soaked in a huge thunderstorm. Great, though, to be in the woods and on the stream with Ben during a wild storm, drenched and happy. Dinner at the Red Horse topped off the day. Not bad to start off turkey season and spring trout :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cast n' Blast Weekend

Not a bad weekend. Spent Friday on the famous Pere Marquette River out of Baldwin Michigan fishing for Steelhead. Although we got chased off the river a couple times due to nasty thunder/lightning storms, it was a great day on the river. We hooked into several steelhead and landed a few including the one pictured.

Had dedicated Saturday and Sunday to bagging my first, self guided, turkey. While the story of this years harvest isn't as spectacular as last years, its just a memorable. Worked several roosting goobler this morning, with several working close, but not close enough. Unfortunately, birds just quit talking after 7 am, which made things more difficult. Switched locations in the afternoon, which seemed to have less hunting pressure. Set up my blind and decoys around 11:45 and sat quiet until 1. Had a hen work in behind me, but had no suitors in tow. After she vacated the area I made a few yelps on the slate and then shut up. About 1:30 I thought I notice something red about 60 yds down the hill from where I'd set up. And then it moved! Here comes a Tom!! Since it was slightly down him from my location it was tough to see at times and I had to stand up in the blind to tell if it was still there. It was, but it wasn't all that active, and didn't seem to notice the decoys. Should I call or shouldn't I, I debated this for a while. The real birds were less than 30 yards from the decoys. I thought they could see them for sure. Finally gave in and made a few soft yelps on the slate. It wasn't long and I notice the bird coming up hill toward the deecs. Next I knew there were 3 red, white and blue heads coming up the hill! 3 Jakes! They worked right in and check out the decoys, but stayed bunched up so I couldn't shoot without taking all 3. They eventually moved toward another set of decoys I'd set up and spread out enough where I could take a shot. The middle bird got a taste of Mr. Benelli and the Winchester Supreme Turkey Loads. With a 15 yard shot the bird dropped on the spot! Lots of lesson learned this turkey season, but it ended successfully.
My next posts should be from the Dark Continent. Leave May 9. Back June 10. Kiddies go home on June 5. Plan to do some Francolin hunting June 6, 7, and maybe June 8.
Til then
Safari Jim

Wet-wading...not on purpose

Thanks for the invite to the blog, guys. And in my first post, I will embarrass myself further and publicly:

Rich came into town last week for a defense and a few meetings. We squeezed in our meeting Friday morning...on Spring Creek, of course. Caddis and BWO coming off and we managed to pull in a few. Rich came with stealhead flies (only thing in the vest after the Salmon River?) and after a good hour of nymphing was interested in borrowing a couple dries from me. Being the good host that I am, I decided to leave the hole I was fishing (despite having caught 4 on the surface in a matter of minutes) to deliver the bug-o'-the-day: a griffith's gnat. Somehow, on my way to the bank I managed to find the most slippery rock in spring creek which led to the deepest hole upstream of Bellefonte. Yep, I went in - right up to my chin. Despite the warm weather we've been having, that water was freakin' cold!! My phone went through a few fits but seems to be no worse for the wear. First time I've ever gone in like that and I had to do it on the smallest, most tame stream around -- with people watching. Figures.

And I feel obligated in my first post here to fashion a haiku about the experience:

Hooky on a stream;
Trout rise to a buggy fly.
Sharing leads to bath.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wily woodcocks wrangle wet worms: or, why they're called bogsuckers

Mr. Mike (the ORIGINAL Mr. Mike) asked me to post the following video from his blog. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008



For Arthur Kleinman

You ask why I turn to landscape, lift
my eyes unto the hills. It’s identical
to the haven you find in work,
bringing the unbearable
under a semblance of control
so that we are returned to ourselves,
in some small way able to comprehend
what’s slipping through our hands,
what will not answer to our will.

And so I wake to water and the rub
of a jetty against rock,
the tide taking it upon its shoulders
for the second time today
to deaden the shock
of a lobster boat butting against the quay.

I know it well, the brine and pine-
soaked air, decaying bladder kelp
at dead low water, this turning to landscape
for what one cannot say,
and then, having taken my medicine
and been reproved, sitting in silence
at a window that will no longer open,
staring at the sea.

Houses settle, It’s a sign of age.
At night I listen for the familiar sounds:
an engine cut or gunned, gulls clamoring,
the lap and drift of water disturbed
across the bay. The arhythmia of our existence
you might say. The paradox
of being tied to the land
though we know we cannot stay.
A strip of sand where once was solid rock.
Gulls scavenging on what we cast away.

Michael Jackson (Harvard Divinity School)

Use Enough Gun

Watch out you wily woodchucks . . . .

I've been meaning to be back in touch with Yeoman about his rifle advice from last year. Since our exchange here on the blog I have picked up two smallbore guns, a CZ 527 in .223 Rem, and a Tikka T3 Lite in .243 . (I also picked up a CZ .22lr military trainer, which I and my kids absolutely love.) Here's my report so far:

CZ 527 American
Yeoman, while I think I've come to agree with you about the CZ's overall quality compared with the Tikka, let me tell you that it seems to me CZ makes you work for it. This .223 CZ gun has a very rough bolt and very rough magazine feeding. The bolt was so bad that the gunsmith at the store offered to polish it for me as a warranty repair before I even took it home.

The CZ also makes it hard (though not impossible) to mount a scope, due to (a) the short action, but also (b) the clearance needed between the scope and the bolt handle. I ended up fitting a very nice 4x14.5 x40 Nikon Buckmasters scope on it, but I won't be able to put flip-up scope caps on it.

The good news is that the .223 shoots well and seems to like (so far) Black Hills remanufactured ammo with 55 grain soft points. The set trigger is also kind of fun to play with--basically a hair trigger once it's set.

So basically the main issue is that I've got to wait for the action eventually to smooth out after shooting it a bunch more.

Tikka T3 Lite
Here's more good news. This thing shoots. I've got a Nikon Buckmasters 3X9X40 with a BDC reticle I'm not sure I need. But lookee here--at 160 yards with Federal Premium 70 grain Nosler Ballistic tips:

These rounds will go an inch high at 100 yards and an inch low at 200 yards--about right for the fields around here. While 70 grains through a .243 seems like overkill for groundhogs, one thing I learned from the elephant gun video . . . it pays to use enough gun.

Watch out you wily woodchucks.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Yo Stedman! Metcalf is a faster blogger than you are

Check out . There's even a picture of Lou Soprano's big fish.

Swims with fishes

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Don't you owe me a bottle of scotch?

Awfully quiet, awfully quiet...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Red River Rough Cut Redux

I'm not sure Aldo covered this one in Game Management ...