My friend Jason Love and I hunt together often and we’ve been chasing some turkeys in our area for about 3 weeks. Up until earlier today the turkeys had been winning. It has been somewhat frustrating trying to get everything to line up.
Thus far this season it has seemed that the turkeys are not nearly as vocal as they have been in the past seasons. My theory has been that they are silent because of the coyotes (as demonstrated in the “Tech-Turkey Brings in Coyotes” blog video. This season we’ve been turkey hunting twice and seen 6 coyotes, shot 2, and killed 1. I was hoping the trend wouldn’t continue. Fortunately today we had a much different and better experience.
We got there early and set up near a point that overlooks a field. Behind us was a fresh cutover. We were louder on the way in that we wanted to be, but we made it to our spot. We’d scouted birds and seen them in the area for the past few weekends. We were not hearing them, but rather were just seeing them. Though, this morning we had turkeys gobbling from all directions, which was a nice change of pace.
As the sun rose we listened to nature wake up. We heard several turkeys start gobbling. Jason started giving the turkeys the “pillow talk” and we had one that was going absolutely crazy, but he was far off. However, he was seemingly getting closer with each gobble. It was an awesome morning in the woods. It was cool enough that mosquitoes weren’t out and we weren’t covered in sweat by the time we got to our location. The turkeys were really hammering from the trees and it was good to finally hear them in the area again.
We anticipated the turkeys entering into the field, but as often happens when turkey hunting, the unanticipated occurred. We had 3 jakes come in really silent behind us from the direction of the cutover. When they got about 60 yards from us they gobbled and liked to scared us half to death. At that point Jason turned and got his body in position to shoot in that direction. He saw the birds and said “Hey they’re close sit still, don’t move”. So I knew that they were getting within shooting range. I didn’t move because I didn’t want to mess up the hunt.
As I sat there looking the wrong way it dawned on me that the camera’s screen was reversible. So I turned the camera around backwards and aimed it over my shoulder. Then I flipped the viewfinder screen so that I could see in the viewfinder. It was really difficult to video in reverse over my back, but I did the best I could. It took me a while to find the turkeys, but when they got really close I was able to video them. One thing I could easily see though was Jason’s facial expressions and reactions. He was very focused and as they got closer you could tell it from his body language because things got more intense.
When the turkeys got about 20 yards away from us I was able to find them in the viewfinder. They worked their way closer. The turkeys were feeding just about 15 yards from us when they went behind some stumps. They stayed there momentarily, though it seemed liked forever. Then they started moving across our face to our left. Jason whispered “You ready?” and I said “Yes” and the turkey stepped into the perfect window, but he didn’t shoot. He had a tree in his way. I said “Wait!” and zoomed out. Then a few seconds later I said “Yes” and Jason instantly pulled the trigger and the bird dropped to the ground. The other 2 took off running and the rest was history.
Now to help you visualize that story, check out the below video...
This year turkey season came in on a cool and windy Sunday morning. A cold front came in that brought some really strong wind with it and conditions were not the best for turkey hunting. On top of that we couldn’t hunt too long as we needed to head to the early church service too, Palm Sunday. Nevertheless we still wanted to give it a shot.
As most of you are aware I’ve been working on the Tech-Turkey this off-season and was ready to give it a test run. My friend Will List picked me up early and we headed to the woods. We’ve got some turkeys on the land we hunt that consistently come out in the field in the mornings.
When we parked the wind was really gusting and pollen was in the air. I didn’t know if we would be able to have any success with the wind blowing so hard. On the way into the field we found a nice shed rack which I always enjoy finding. I was hoping it would be a sign of good luck.
We set up on an island of woods that overlooks a field. I went and put the decoy out about 35 yards away from us. Once set up I logged into WeHuntSC.com on my phone and tested connectivity and movement. The turkey was moving around just as it should. We were good to go and the sun was rising.
As it became lighter in the sky we were able to see the trees swaying back and forth in the wind. We hadn’t heard a gobble in the distance and really couldn’t hear much other than the wind. Usually by this time we would have heard some gobbles in the distance. We stayed and waited it out hoping for some gobblers to come around.
Will wanted to video the turkey from his phone and he asked me to make it move. So I made the turkey move and he videoed it. We were both looking down at our phones and I looked up to see 2 coyotes coming straight for the decoy. We didn’t hear a howl or have sign of coyotes coming, they came in silent and were focused in on the decoy. The wind that had been blowing so strongly was directionally blowing across our face so the coyotes couldn’t smell us. I couldn’t believe how close in they came.
Since Will was looking down at his phone I said “Will” and I turned the camera on. Will grabbed his gun and I was videoing. The coyotes came within 35 – 40 yards of us and like 10 yards from the decoy. Will debated letting them get even closer, but if he waited we may have been leaving with a mangled up decoy. In the video you can see the coyote pause for a second and that was the moment that Will pulled his gun up. Then seconds later he shot twice and hit the coyote both times. The coyote was flat getting out of there, but Will’s 20 gauge, 5-shot wasn’t enough to bring him down. It was definitely an interesting hunt. I think the coyotes will think twice before rolling up on a turkey again though!
So as you can imagine this wasn’t the hunt we had hoped for and it’s definitely not a good sign to have coyotes aiming for turkey decoys and our turkeys in general. Though, for the part of the Tech-Turkey decoy it is a good sign that the coyotes came to it because it was realistic to them. Usually coyotes are very keen on things and it’s a positive sign that they came in.
Hopefully next time we’ll be able to get some turkeys to come in.
The 2016 Predator Challenge was another successful event. We continue to grow as this year’s competition had 85 teams and 260 hunters registered on the website. It’s great to see the growth in the competition, but the awareness of the sport is what we’re really pleased to see. Ultimately we are outdoorsman who love to hunt and we host this competition to help raise awareness for what coyotes are doing to other game populations around the state (as the below video denotes). The more people we can get hunting coyotes, the better off our deer, turkey, ducks, and other game species are.
Coyote Only For The First Time
This year we implemented a request that hunters had voiced in post-competition-surveys for some time. The majority of our participants demanded a “Coyote Only” hunt and so this year that’s what we delivered. We knew that cutting out foxes and bobcats would lessen the number of people that could win, but our main purpose is to hunt coyotes as they are the true predators affecting deer, turkey, farm animals, and other wild game populations around the state. We didn’t know what to expect making this change, but in retrospect I think it was good and everyone still seemed to enjoy themselves.
It should go without saying that we cannot hold a competition without sponsorship. We are very fortunate to have some great sponsors. If you are predator hunters please check out our sponsor organizations and their products as they are the true ones who support you and us!
As everyone knows, the weather this weekend was not the best for hunting. It was particularly difficult for us upstate hunters and for NC teams. The snow, sleet, and ice made travel difficult and it made the coyote hunker down for a good portion of the weekend.
We received some criticism via email, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc. about the competition weekend. People were saying we should reschedule, pick a different weekend, or have some alternative. For those who were criticizing understand a few things… we plan the competition months in advance and aim for a full moon, we don’t control the weather any more than you do, and several hunters take Friday off work to hunt while others line up specific land to hunt for this weekend. If we were to reschedule at the last minute it would inconvenience a lot of other people as well. It’s just difficult to please everyone with rules, scheduling, the weather, and timelines we have to operate under in order to host the competition. It’s very similar to a bass tournament where they fish regardless of the weather. Also, keep in mind that this is a FREE competition and we’re doing the best we can to serve all the hunters in our state and beyond. We do not make any money from the weekend. We actually lose money to host it. So we acknowledge the weather and your complaints and we take them with a grain of salt :-)
Team Members: Tyler Logan, Erica Catoe, Jacob Gainey
Counties Hunted: Lee, Darlington, Sumter
Coyote Total: 8
2nd Place: Carolina Dawg Killers
Team Members: Cody Ahlstrom, Trent McWhorter, Simmty McWhorter, Cambel Cox
Counties Hunted: Chesterfield, Union (NC)
Coyote Total: 7
3rd Place: McKenzie Outdoors
Team Members: Eddie McKenzie, Barret Griggs, Scottie Hoffman, Patrick Griggs
Counties Hunted: Chesterfield
Coyote Total: 2
Big Dawg: Carolina Dawg Killers
Team Members: Cody Ahlstrom, Trent McWhorter, Simmty McWhorter, Cambel Cox
Counties Hunted: Chesterfield, Union (NC)
Big Dawg Weight: 43.9
Congratulations again to the winners and thanks again to everyone who hunted in this year’s Predator Challenge. If you participated in the event you will receive an email sometime in the near future asking for feedback, concerns, thoughts, and snide remarks!
See you again next year!
Often time’s people ask “What kind of gear do I need to go coyote hunting?” This video is designed to give you a general understanding of some of the gear we use when we go coyote hunting. Outside of the gun & calls, most of the gear is related to scent, wind, and concealment. Robbie Boone gives an overview of the gear used when coyote hunting.
REGISTER FOR THE COYOTE HUNTING COMPETITION
Today’s video is all about calling coyotes. If you’ve never called for coyotes then the point of this video is to give you a high level understanding of sounds coyotes react to and make. It is true that most hunters use electronic calls to call coyotes, but in this video I’m using mouth calls as demonstrations. Typically when we hunt we’ll use a mix of electronic and mouth calls. Ultimately though it’s whatever works for you. Some of my favorite electronic calls are ICOtec & Primos
REGISTER FOR THE COYOTE COMPETITION
We’re continuing our video series on Coyote hunting with today’s video “Coyotes 101”. This video was part of our introduction section at Sportsman’s Classic Coyote Hunting Information Session.
The purpose of this video is to help you get a general understanding of coyotes and coyote hunting. We often hear people say that they don’t know the first thing about coyotes. They ask us what to look for, what to listen for, when they should hunt, and how to set up for coyote hunting. And that’s exactly why we made this video, to help you get a broad understanding of coyotes and coyote hunting.
The Coyote Hunting Competition is next week. We are excited and getting ready for it! As we lead up to the competition we are going to share some videos that we used as part of our presentation last year at SCDNR's annual expo, The Sportsman's Classic. These videos were used throughout the presentation and were accompanied by a thorough PowerPoint slide deck. If you're interested in us giving the same presentation to your group, just give us a shout, we'll be glad to.
In this first video we set the stage for why we need to hunt coyotes. We interviewed a local hunter and a local farmer, both of which are being affected by coyotes. These individuals are an example of what's happening in our local community, but there are people just like this in every area of South Carolina.
As you can see it's important for us to hunt coyotes! So join us in raising awareness for the Coyote Hunting Competition!
On Our Way to Okeechobee
We woke up around 4:45am and headed west. We would be putting in on the southern end of the lake in a town called Clewiston. Since it was so early it was of course dark, but I as we approached the town of Clewiston I could smell the smell of smoke. I asked Matt what that smell was and he said “Oh that’s the Sugar Cane farms, they burn the sugar during some part of their harvesting process”. It was interesting to smell that smell for a good ways, but yet not be alarmed that something was on fire or wrong. Late on in the day we found out that the sugar cane farmers actually burn the fields before they even harvest the sugar. The sugar cane fields spanned for miles and miles and miles. It was a neat sight.
Roland Martin Marina & Marine Center
We were set to meet our guide, Mark King, at the Roland Martin Marina. Once we started getting near the landing you could see the Christmas light decorations that were in the shape of a bass hanging in the streets.
Of course as “foreigners” we didn’t know which was the Marine Center and which was the Marina, but we learned pretty quickly. We went inside and saw several boats, tons of fishing lures, hats/shirts, and just about anything you could think of. Roland Martin’s name was everywhere and the marina had about what you would expect as well. There were restaurants, boats, weekend rental apartments, tiki bars, and of course fish on the walls and they even had 2 swimming in a tank.
Mark King, Bass Fishing Guide
We met the guide Matt lined us up with, Mark King, at the Marina. Mark was a very nice guy who definitely knows how to bass fish and he knows that lake like the back of his hand. Mark’s been guiding for 18 years and has all the accompanying honors and accolades that anybody would want a guide to have. Learn more about Mark’s guiding service at http://markkingfishing.com
Mark didn’t waste any time and we all hopped into his boat, which he already had waiting on us in the water. We rode through the locks and around the edge of the lake as the sun was rising. It was a beautiful sight.
Grass Paths in The Lake
Mark then made a left turn ducking into the grassy reeds of the lake. One thing I noticed throughout the day of fishing was the grass or weeds that were in the water. Of course I’ve seen grass in a lake before, but the lake had a lot of these on the edges and the paths that the boats ride leave carved out tunnels of sorts that were like hidden paths to bass hotspots if you will. I’d never really thought much about it, but these weeds or reeds were something that stuck out to me about the lake and when I think of Lake Okeechobee I’ll envision the grass in my mind. Anyways, we rode through these carved channels and we were head to a specific destination. I had the feeling that Mark knew these paths just as good as I know my way to some of my deer stands.
The Fish Were Biting
We got to our first stop and it wasn’t long before we had fish biting. We were using live bait, minnows, for our bait and they worked really well. I’d say we’d been stopped for about 5 minutes before we had corks going under. Mark told us to wait until the cork went under, count down from 5, then set the hook. This was obviously to let the bass get the minnow in their mouths really good before we set the hook. Even though we definitely wanted to let the bass get ahold of the minnows really well before setting the hook, you could see your cork darting off back toward the depths of the grassy weeds. It worked on my nerves a little bit to have a bass on and let him run back into that stuff, but I trusted the guide!
We set up right on the edge of the grassy reeds and would throw right out beside them. In every spot we fished in it wasn’t long before a bass would come out of that stuff and hammer the bait. We probably caught 15 bass the entire day and we constantly had action. There may have been a few minutes of lulls in action, but just as soon as I would turn around to look at something Mark would say “You’re down” and boom we’d have a fish in the boat.
Every fish we caught was healthy and nicely sized. We didn’t catch any state records, but we caught a nice mess of fish. One thing Mark told me was that the entire lake was only about 5 feet deep. I figured it would be deeper, but it wasn’t. Because it’s not that deep a lot of the boats there have unique anchoring systems called the “Power Pole” http://www.power-pole.com. You may be familiar with that type of anchor, but I wasn’t. I’m used to just throwing out something heavy and waiting until it hits the bottom.
Here are a few pics of fish we caught:
We Had a Blast
Needless to say, my friend Matt and I had a great time. We enjoyed being out on the lake and Mark was definitely effective as a fishing guide. I hope to be able to get back down there and fish with him again at some point. If you’re ever down in that area, be sure to give Mark and shout and tell him that you read about him here. You won’t be disappointed!
The Long Walk In
I knew bucks would be in the area near the stand and I knew it was time to make the trip deep into the woods. Yesterday I sprayed down really well and carried a bag of corn down to the stand and poured it out in the shooting lane. I felt sure deer would be moving in the area and I just wanted the corn there to potentially get a deer to pause in case I needed to make a shot.
I was eager to get in the woods this morning and since I had to make a long trip in, I got up a little extra early. It was about 40 degrees and the wind was blowing 3 mph in the direction I needed it to be blowing for a chance. The only thing that wasn’t cooperating was the moon. It was very bright… it looked like a flash light in the sky. Since I had a long walk in I unzipped the zippers in my legs and my chest to let my body heat out as I walked. I hate walking a long distance with multiple layers on, getting to the stand and being all sweaty, only to have the sweat dry on me then be freezing. I walked half way in just by moonlight.
The Arrival & The Wait
As I hit the edge of the woods near the stand I sprayed some buck bomb on the sides of my boots. I arrived to the stand and got situated in the stand and left my zippers open until I cooled off. I could hear dogs barking off in the distance and slowly the sun started to rise. As time passed I wasn’t seeing or hearing anything. I felt like I should be seeing deer. I started hearing rifle shots off in the distance and then close by. I bet I heard 7 shots all around me before it was all over. I started getting a little down on things thinking I shouldn’t have hunted that stand. I felt as though the streak would be over. Then around 10 minutes after 7 I heard something. It wasn’t a stick pop or rustling of leaves, but just some sound that caught my attention and I looked to my left. This deep in the woods it’s really thick with oaks and pines so visibility wasn’t the best. I saw something brown moving behind some trees and tree limbs. It was a deer!
My heart instantly started pounding. At first glance I thought it was a doe, but yet it was alone. The deer was probably 40 yards away from me to my left and moving at a steady walking pace. Initially I thought any deer I saw would be heading toward a fresh pile of corn. This buck could have cared less about that corn. He was heading in the opposite direction. The deer went behind a large oak tree and I put my gun up. The deer came out on the other side of the tree and I found it in my scope. Antlers! I could tell it was a buck, but it was so thick I couldn’t get a clear view of the deer’s rack. The deer stopped and stared at me. I wasn’t moving at all and the wind was blowing towards me so the deer couldn’t be smelling me. Regardless, the deer knew something wasn’t quite right.
The buck stood behind some small trees and limbs and continuously moved its head up and down trying to check me out and wind me. I knew it wouldn’t be long before the deer bolted out of there. I’ve seen this scenario happen one too many times. I needed to know if this deer was big enough to shoot as on our club we have game management rules. The deer stood directly facing me and turned its head slightly to the left. This gave me a view of the tines and I could see the thickness in the tines. I knew it was a shooter. I pulled the trigger and the deer ran about 15 yards and dropped!
I tried to calm down and then I climbed down out of the stand. I walked over and found a nice 8 point awaiting me. Here is the picture of the deer as I found it laying
Just when I though the streak was over this buck came strolling through and helped me keep the streak alive.
3 Things I Learned From This Hunt
So now the pressure is really on for next Thanksgiving! If somehow I get 4 in a row I don’t know what I’ll do. I can say this though, Thanksgiving weekend in Chesterfield County sure is a good weekend to hunt from what I’ve seen.
In June of 2010 I wrote a blog titled “The Convergence of Technology & Hunting” that elaborated on the emergence of technology in the hunting industry and discussed how technology can give hunters advantages. A lot has happened in the technology world since I posted that blog and the evolution of technology continues to advance. Though, the one thing I didn’t anticipate is that I would be participating in the evolution in a way related to physical products.
The “Tech-Turkey” is a project I’ve been working on for a little while now. If you’ve noticed that it’s been kind of quiet around WeHuntSC.com lately, a large part of that is due to me investing so much time learning and building what you see in this blog post, an automated, internet controlled turkey decoy. The process has been both fun and challenging!
This decoy system gives you the ability to control your decoy from your cell phone, tablet, computer, or anything connected to the internet. This project is a work in progress and currently in prototype phase as I continue to enhance the solution. The roadmap for the project has some slick enhancements already lined up as well.
You may be reading this and wonder “Why would I want to control my decoy from a cell phone?” Well there are a few advantages to having your decoy be controlled through the internet ie: your smart phone:
To best communicate what the turkey can do, check out this video that we made of the decoy in action
I am excited about this project and am indeed looking for a few field testers for the upcoming spring. I want to get the technology out in the field on some live hunts and get feedback from actual hunting scenarios. I definitely won’t be able to give everyone a decoy to test with, but I would like to work with a few of you to get your thoughts and opinions of the decoy. It is definitely helpful if you can provide me with a YouTube link of some of your hunting videos as I will want to get some quality footage of the decoy in action in live hunting scenarios.
If you’re interested in field testing the Tech-Turkey just submit the form on the “Tech Turkey” page.