2016! Here I come … soon

Pennsylvania’s early archery season is less than a month away.

A part of me says daily, I want the season to start tomorrow. The other part says, I’m not ready.

It’s the never ending tug-o-war that goes on with many hunters I suppose. My first battle of the hunting season usually starts over the summer during my target practice. Getting my pins dialed in always seems to give me fits. Knock on wood, this year I seem to be shooting the best I’ve shot in some time.

The last couple years I’ve started shooting some odd ranges in preparation to the season – shooting between pin distances at 15-25-35 yards. In my mind, the chances of a deer hitting that exact 20-yard mark is just about never. So I’d like to know how my arrow acts with my 20-yard-pin at 25 yards. And today when I was shooting, I was about an inch low.

I also like to shoot during any weird weather or time of day. I would challenge any hunter to shoot at dusk or on a windy day or rain, whatever weather condition you suspect you may be hunting in. Make the situation as realistic as possible.

Today during my target practice I was also trying to cut down my aiming time. Have you ever had just three or four seconds to draw and release an arrow? If you’ve ever had that situation, you know those four seconds can tick off quick. So that’s what I practiced today, counting down in my head and trying to shoot accurately in a short amount of time.

Before we know it, the Oct. 1 opener will be upon us. Do your best to be ready to be successful. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Keep mid-morning and afternoon options open

I’m hearing the frustration.

I got an email the other day from a turkey hunter, which in part summed up what many are feeling: “where are they hiding?”

Another message: “they’re super henned up.”

Whatever the reason, finding a spring gobbler in the middle of May is no easy chore. There is nothing worse than finally finding a gobbling bird just to have him either, 1. gobble back and not close the distance, or 2. clam up totally.

Filling that tag can involve a little luck and finding the right bird willing to investigate.

If you are not on a bird at first light, this is the time of year where the mid-morning can be your best friend. Many times those toms with hens will split up at some point later in the day. When you get your chance at a gobbling bird, don’t hesitate to use a hen decoy to draw him in closer.

I nearly blew my opportunity last week when I quickly scrambled to set up my decoy. I set out only a jake decoy, and when my tom saw the jake with no hen nearby, he nearly checked out. Luckily for me he was within range and my aim was on target.

So keep mid-morning in the back of your mind then next time you head out. It’s now legal to hunt in the afternoons as well for spring gobbler. That gobbler you’ve been searching for just may be searching for you on the next ridge or treeline just when you least expect it.

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No such thing as perfect spring gobbler plan

To be honest, my Thursday morning did not go as planned.

Such is spring gobbler hunting.
There are times each spring where I find myself wandering. A half hour later I’m left scratching my head, wondering if I’m hunting or just taking my shotgun for a walk.

I’m not afraid to walk, although my friends would tell you I curse a little at hills. So when I heard a gobble off in the distance on Thursday morning, I started to walk. An hour later, I had walked far enough because that gobble I heard at daybreak was clearly much further than I had anticipated.

So, I turned around.

It felt like the scene in Forrest Gump when Gump, who had been running for weeks across the country, decided to go home. I wasn’t going home, but I most certainly wasn’t going any further.

My feet were happy. My ego, bruised.

So, I walked a mile or so into an area where I thought turkeys liked to go. It’s a grassy area in the woods — a storm years ago had ripped down some trees and what was once woods was now a three-acre greenery in the forest.

I called. Nothing. I called again. Nothing.

Determined to give it a shot anyway, I set up a jake and a hen decoy, and snuggled up to the nearest tree.

And then it happened —  a gobble just down the hillside maybe 150 yards. I readjusted my position, set my jake decoy and called. After just a couple of calls, it’s obvious this bird has some interest and is closing the gap.

Within minutes a tom appears into view at 40 yards and he’s glued on my jake. This may actually happen, I’m thinking.

He may not have been in the mood to fight, but he certainly was in the mood to investigate. With two putts from my mouth call, I was given the perfect shot and took it.

What a morning, I thought. But that’s the nature of turkey hunting, a sport that can change in an instant.

All you need is an imperfect plan, and the will to take a walk.

 

 

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Rainy days and turkeys

I’m guilty as charged. I’ve heard the raindrops on the roof and decided to turn off the alarm and drift off back to sleep.

What a mistake.

There’s a time in every hunter’s life where you are left with tough choices. Climb a gruesome hill. Cross some slippery rocks streamside. And, oh yes, hunt in the rain.

It can be unpopular for some to go outdoors among the raindrops. But if you are a turkey hunter, rain and especially fog, can be your friend. It’s been my experience that foggy and rainy days can send turkeys to fields for hours, and if you have the right decoy and sound, those toms will investigate.

I’ve also had dreary days where the gobbling never ends. Why is that? I have no idea.

During the first week of the Pennsylvania spring gobbler season we had plenty of overcast and rainy days. Some hunters stayed home and waited out the rain. Others did not, and came home with some dandy longbeards.

For me, I wasn’t as lucky,  although last week was as entertaining as they come. The gobbles were plenty, but the shot opportunities were not, and I was forced to let one bird skirt me just outside of my shooting range.

Maybe next time I suppose, whether it be in the rain or sunshine. Whatever you do, don’t pass up the dreary days of spring. You just may enjoy the morning of a lifetime.

 

 

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Chasing gobblers a sign of spring

Many of us start the day the same way, being awakened by a loud, annoying buzzer.

For a turkey hunter, a 4 a.m. alarm is nothing new. But there is a silver lining – the chance of a very heart-pounding blast of a gobble isn’t far away.

If you have never heard a turkey gobble, it’s the prettiest sound an ugly bird can make. OK, before you start writing me hate mail let me say that turkeys aren’t exactly ugly as their feathers have awesome iridescent colors of red, green and a little bluish shimmer. The males, or Toms, have a tail fan that rises to attract hens.

And of course there is the gobble, the sound that echoes across the mountains of the Poconos and into the valleys. For turkey hunters, the thrill of the gobble coming closer and closer is like the smell of bacon at fat camp – you just can’t get enough of it.

For me, I was introduced to turkey hunting about 10 years ago. Needless to say, I’m hooked. I’m more than hooked, I’m addicted to turkey.

Yes, hunters must endure the elements – ticks crawling up your leg, mosquitoes sinking into your neck isn’t all that uncommon either. But when there’s a longbeard at 60 yards and he’s coming your way, unless that tick is crawling across your nose, you had better not move.

A turkey’s eyesight is their best defense, so when I hunt with first-timers, that’s my first advice. If you can see them, they can see you – don’t move!

I’m big on sharing my hunting stories, both the good and the not-so-good. That is hunting, after all, more failures than anything else. To me, there is nothing better than sharing the experience. Last year my friend and former Stroudsburg football coach, Fred Ross, teamed up to tag Fred a dandy Tom.

He smiled, but I may have smiled more. I’ve grown to love bringing the experience of hunting to friends who wanted to try it, but didn’t know how. That was my story a decade ago when a friend took me along, up a hill, and down another, in the dark … enough of that.

This spring I plan to keep up with my blog ‘See you in the woods’ which can be found at PoconoRecord.com. My goal is to share the hunting experience with new friends and old this spring, and if there’s a story to tell, I’ll share it.

I’ll also be sharing some video on Twitter @Mike_kuhns because there’s nothing like sharing the fun of the hunt, and the gobble that comes with each spring.

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Take aim at a coyote

Usually by this time we’ve seen the snow fly and 20-degree days have arrived. Not this year.

If you are a hunter and have some time to, ah, kill, why not head to the woods for a little coyote hunting. It can be a lot of fun, and the action comes surprisingly quick. Last spring I was hunting with a friend who told me the coyotes were on a property he knew. Five minutes into the sit and the call blaring a rabbit squeal, the dogs were on us.

I highly suggest it if you haven’t tried it. Maybe some day hunters will be paid the $25 bounty lawmakers have been talking about. Until then, we’ll have to wait for any cash.

Another good way to pass the time outdoors is setting up a trail camera. That’s right, now is an excellent time to see what has survived the hunting season. Now that most hunters have left the woods, and the risk of having a camera stolen (sad but true) has dipped, put a camera out and look for any deer which slipped through the cracks.

You know they’re bucks out there … go find them! And while you’re at it, put a dent in the coyote population.

 

 

 

 

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Chances of landing a buck dwindling

Tyler Deiter from Stroudsburg with his first buck taken on Nov. 30, 2015, while hunting with his stepfather Keith St.Clair. Tyler is 13 years old. Photo sent in by his mother Kristi St.Clair.

If you are lucky enough to have tagged a deer this season, stand up and take a bow.

For the rest of Pennsylvania’s hunters, the final day of the two-week rifle season on Saturday Dec. 12 may be the best chance to take that buck of a lifetime. Most hunters have hopes that a big buck is still in the grasp of possibilities, but getting past the mental block of “it’ll never happen this year,” can be tough.

The last day can offer a better-than-average chance though, especially if you consider the numbers of hunters that will head to the woods. Hunters in the woods searching for a deer always seem to help activity, but almost always those deer are on high alert.

During the bear season I spotted a buck which was being pushed through the woods by hunters. His bone-white eight-point rack stood out in the sunlight as he ran by my stand. I couldn’t help but laugh as the biggest buck I had seen all year trotted right by during the bear season. Why couldn’t I had seen him during the archery season, I thought.

Isn’t that the way hunting works? Oh well, spring gobbler is less than six months away. Maybe if I think about turkey hunting, I’ll get a chance at a good buck.

Good luck to all and be safe.

 

 

 

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Black bears: Pennsylvania’s majestic animal

I’ve had a fascination with bears for some time. Amazing animals if you ask me.

Some can grow very large in Pennsylvania, but can run upwards of 25 miles per hour, can climb way up a tree, swim across a lake or river, and sometimes act like they don’t have a care in the world. They flip fallen logs and big rocks like we kick a rock down the sidewalk.

When they’re born, a bear can fit in the palm of your hand and weigh less than a pound. Oh yeah, they are born in the dead of winter in a den.

So when I see a bear, I have tons of respect for them. I’ve watched them walk over saplings to eat the leaves, and I’ve had them follow my footsteps to my treestand.

My trail cameras have captured some large bears over the years, one guesstimate of 600 or more pounds by a park ranger. I’ve seen plenty on camera in the 400-plus range, which is plenty big to get my attention.

I’ve never shot a bear, although I’ve hunted for them several times. Actually, I’ve never even seen a bear during the hunting season here in Pennsylvania. In 2014, I saw three the week prior to the archery bear season.

If you are lucky enough to see a bear, count your lucky stars and enjoy the sight. They are truly one of Pennsylvania’s majestic animals.

 

 

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Two bucks, one doe and no luck

When you were a kid, you played a game called “tag.”

It was a simple game – there was home base and you ran around in circles trying to avoid the person who was “it.”

On Wednesday, I witnessed the whitetail deer’s version of tag. Two bucks versus one doe and there was no home base.

I spotted the antlers 80 yards down the hill from my perch. A bone white rack was my first impression of the first buck and he was blocking a mature doe who must have been ready to breed any day. Behind those deer was a third, a smaller 7-point buck.

What to do, I thought. I pulled out my grunt tube and all three looked my direction. At 80 yards, I felt I was safe not to give too much information away. I paused and then grunted again.

Finally a reaction came. The smaller of the two bucks made a bee-line for my set up. Not what I had hoped, but I was still OK. He walked directly under me and kept on going.

Now I have two deer, a doe at 50 yards and the larger of the two bucks just beyond at 60 yards. Back and forth they went – she walked right, he moved right and so on. This went on for about 20 minutes and I stood patiently wondering if I was ever going to get a shot.

She drifted slowly my way — 40 yards, 30 yards, 25 yards. I’m starting to think that this may just happen.

And as quickly as I thought I’d have a shot, she jumped to her right with two hops. He looked anxious and nervous as she started to put some distance between the buck that had been shadowing her.

At 40 yards and brush to contend with, I had no shot and had to watch him walk off. My heart sank as I realized my best chance at a good buck was just steps away.

 

 

 

 

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‘Burning the candle’

Time. It’s a precious thing, they say.

For a hunter, it’s everything. For a hunter who works, time in the woods can be quite limited. For me, my time gets crunched on both ends — up early to hunt, grab a quick 45 minute nap, and then off to work for a shift that often lasts close to 11 p.m.

At 45, I don’t hold up as well as I used to when it comes to “burning the candle at both ends.” Still, I try.

The alarm will go off at 4:35 a.m. tomorrow. Right now it’s 10:49 p.m. and I’m at the office. I wish I had a little more time to rest.

But it’s the rut, the prime time to hunt whitetail in Pennsylvania. I couldn’t prove it though, as I haven’t seen a deer in over three weeks. That’s a heck of a drought in anyone’s hunting log. I’d like to burn my 2015 season log and start over.

Time doesn’t work that way, though, and we get what the woods gives us.

There is two weeks left in the early archery season in Pennsylvania. It’s my favorite time to be in the woods. I’ll never complain about my lack of sleep because I know all too soon this season will be over. I’ll be wondering if I gave the season an honest effort.

Sports and hunting — it’s my two favorite passions and I’m lucky enough to partake in both. As for the time to enjoy both, I make the time. Well, with a little help of a trusted alarm clock that reminds me it’s time to start a new day all over again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    Mike Kuhns

    I'm a lifelong hunter, who in the last 10 years, has found a reborn passion for archery hunting. In general, when it comes to hunting I like to listen and learn, and I think many of us can learn from one another. Hope you like the blog. Feel free to ... Read Full
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