Our trip started off with a low tire when we left home this morning. Cletus had evidentially picked up a bolt on a job site the previous day and we were not going to be able to make the one-hour commute into work without adding some air until we could get Cletus by Don Duncan’s All-American Tire. Nathan Woodring quickly assessed the situation, located and removed the bolt, patched the Cooper S/T Maxx-Armor-Tek3 tire, put it back on Cletus in record time. It was a relief that Mister found the bolt and the computer on Cletus told us we had an issue before we started out on this trip.

I can’t say that the workday crept…it was 3:30 p.m. when I finally was able to take a minute to evaluate the amount of work I had left to do versus the amount of time I had left in the “concrete jungle.” The last 1.5 hours flew by! As Cletus’ diesel motor turned over and started purring, we found ourselves strategically placing the last few items we had left to load in the cab of the truck. Snacks directly behind the console, bag of ice in the cooler behind my seat, a roll of paper towels behind the driver seat headrest, my computer bad at my feet…it all becomes second nature when you have shared over 450,000 miles on the road hunting together over the last 10 years.

The fancy box in the dash where the crazy lady lives!

I plugged in our destination into the square box mounted in the dash, Big T Motel in Tarkio, Missouri, and the “crazy lady that lives in that box” politely told us that we would reach our destination 14 hours from the current time. We were on our way!

One of our favorite authors, James Patterson.

 

 

 
I have spent many hours in the passenger seat typing, editing, uploading photos and even paying bills, shopping on Amazon. Some time in this 14 hour stretch, I have some typing for a women’s boot article that needed to be completed. But first, i was responsible for the entertainment of the evening. I put an audiobook on, James Patterson’s 11th Hour, and cranked up the sound and we were settled in for the long haul.

 

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One of our favorite snacks on the road; Club Crackers, squeeze cheese, & Wisconsin Beef snack sticks. 

After a stop for fuel at the Love’s truck stop, it was time for a snack. We have eaten many meals in the cab or on the tailgate of our truck–I have to admit, we have shared some of our favorite meals together there. Tonight, captain wafers, cheddar can cheese and jerky snack sticks. Okay, maybe not the healthiest of all snacks but surely much better than some of the alternatives while on the road.

Catching up with friends on social media is probing that this unseasonably warm weather is putting a damper on deer movement. We can only pray that we made the right decisions on the dates we picked and have chosen some good ground to hunt. This is what makes Do-it-Yourself hunts exciting; you never know what will unfold on the trip. As we made our way through Nashville, I can feel my shift at the wheel coming up in a few hours so I better catch me a nap. If you are hunting this weekend/week, good luck to you, safe travels and remember to ALWAYS wear a safety harness.


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Researching on Google Earth, land maps and other mapping apps.

We were really disappointed that we didn’t make the Kansas draw in our favorite unit for this fall. It didn’t take but half a day of sulking about it for us to come up with PLAN B. We got the calendar down off the wall, pulled up Google Earth on the computer, and the Missouri Department of Conservation website and started brainstorming. There was a long weekend coming up and if we were going to hunt unknown area and if we were planning for success, it had to be scouted.

Narrowing down our search to the northwest counties of Missouri, Mister researched, gathered information about each area from social media, maps and from MDC personnel–the research was done and now it was time to gather our maps and data and hit the road over Labor Day weekend and do some scouting.

 

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Confined to the cab of the truck…but I am on the mend.

Unfortunately, I was not much help to Mister with the scouting. I was on the mend from a torn ligature from the bottom my hamstring that attached just below the front of my knee on my right leg. I had a brace; which quickly was no help after extended walking because my muscle fatigued and I felt I was having to do struggle harder just to climb the sloping hills of the first 5,000-acre property that we looked at. After a few stops and a couple leg brace adjustments, I told Mister that I felt I was doing my leg more harm than good since it was just recently starting to feel much better–either from rest and icing or from the flood of anti-inflammatory medicine I was taking. The fact that I was less than a week from leaving for the 5th Annual Double Deuce Ranch Ladies Archery Hunt also played a major factor in my decision to sit out on the rest of the scouting. Being confined to Cletus was the perfect opportunity for me to do a little research on local hotels/motels, laundromats, grocery stores, and gas stations; and make a few calls.

 

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Checking Google Maps, paper maps and after scouting the first hunting area. 

We started this trip with five areas of interest and we narrowed it down to three. Ultimately, we were really impressed with two of the three areas. I was extremely excited about one that we stopped at…I actually saw the largest deer tracks I have ever personally witnessed. I have seen hog tracks this large but the track was actually almost as large as my entire hand and just as wide. Not just one set of tracks, this buck had laid down a trail in that particular area. The area was nestled between a soybean field and a corn field. Granted, the movement of these deer will change anywhere from slightly to drastically after the crops were harvested and the rut kicked in–but I knew what area I wanted to be in.

 

 

 

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Some of our most memorable meals have been in the cab of the truck or on the tailgate.

We stopped at the town closest to the areas we had chosen to hunt and stayed at the only motel in town, the Big T Motel. The motel being older and limited to less than a dozen rooms, I made sure to book our room in advance for our hunting trip. I did the research, found a not so local processor for several reasons. First, with limited time, it only makes sense to have someone else do the labor so that we could be back out in the field hunting and doing some photography and filming. Secondly, because earlier this year Alabama enacted a ban on the import of deer carcasses from states where Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been confirmed. If we were planning on mounting a buck if we were successful, the deer needed to be completely capped out and the skull plate with antlers only. Unless European mounting and then it needed to be completely cleaned. That was going to take the expertise of someone else leaving us more time to scout, hunt, and film. Everything we needed was right there within easy access: lodging, fuel, grocery store, and a few restaurants.

The scouting was done, the motel booked and we were on our drive home with a plan in place. Next, the washing, drying, and packing begins…

 

 

 


Guest post by Rebecca Gicewicz

IMG_7584My Nebraska hunt with The Roost was a fantastic adventure with great friends. The hunting was physical, involving covering lots of ground and enjoying the unique scenery. The style of hunting was new to me as I am a fledgling turkey hunter. I did my best to keep up with our 6 foot 6-inch guide and his long, swift legs. My companions were good at coaching me a bit to keep me on track and improve my odds of harvesting.

On our second day of hunting our other two hunting companions were tagged out and it was up to Nancy Jo and I to close the deal. It was my turn to step into the batters box and we saw at least two toms in a field along the Middle Loup River. When we got into position the guide frantically whispered that TWO LONG BEARDS were coming in hot. Nancy Jo looked at me asked, “Do you want to try for a double.” I didn’t need time to contemplate that question, the answer was, “Let’s do this!”

MirriamsIn an instant, the gobblers were in view and Nancy Jo asked me if I was ready? I said, “YES!” Nancy Jo fired and I shot a second later. Her aim was true and mine not so much. I had a follow-up shot opportunity, but it was strike number two. There would not be a strike three as my gun jammed. Too much crawling through the dirt, I suspect.

So my hunting buddy harvested herself a beautiful Merriam’s turkey! I was happy for her but felt like I had let the guide, the cameraman, and my hunting partner down. I wanted that double! So with mixed emotions of celebration for my friend and frustration at myself I took a few minutes to regain my perspective and composure. Once all those emotions were sorted out I was ready to be up to bat again!

We went to a new spot and called in a few jakes who were ready to brawl. It was awesome to see their displays! Our next spot was a cut corn field that had four toms and two jakes. The stalk was on! Nancy Jo stayed at the truck while, guide Dustin aka Dirt, cameraman Richard aka Mister and hunter Rebecca aka Slugger went creepin’. We set up and the turkeys weren’t visible. Dirt called and finally a few gobbles cut loose and he whispered,  “Here they come.” My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking but I was ready for the fast pitch. The red heads crested over the berm and they were running into the decoy.

Two were Rios and one was a Merriam’s and Dirt desperately whispered, “The middle one, the middle one!” At about 20-yards, there was enough separation between the trio for a clear shot and I hit it out of the park. Woohoo!

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The other two turkey never skipped a beat they were looking to beat up on the tom that dared to encroach on their territory. They finally eased off and I was able to check out my bird. I was thrilled to be able to take in the beauty of that Merriam’s Tom. The intricacies of the feathers, the iridescence of its coloring. Being able to convert my swing and a miss into a single felt good!


As all of us converged upon the lodge of Misty Morning Outfitters in Alden, Kansas, we were chomping at the bit to get in the fields hunting some birds. When we were sitting around the fire pit the first evening, we found out we would be hunting by a method none of us had ever experienced….FANNING aka REAPING, a term the Turkey Reapers had coined for this style of hunting through their hunting tactics. I was excited about the challenge, however I was also somewhat nervous. My Beretta Xtreme was set up to be effective for extended range shots, not rushed close range shots.

Our first morning started off a traditional turkey hunt with locating a bird that our guide had roosted the evening prior. Mister stepped out of the truck and let out a owl hoot and the silent, moisture thick air was cut with a hard gobble in return. We all scrambled! Troy, our guide, was gathering up decoys from the back of his truck and was headed about 80 yards into the field just off the road to set up decoys. Mister grabbed his backpack, video camera, tripod and chair as Rebecca and I loaded our shotguns, slung on our turkey vests and followed in right behind Mister. We quickly found us some trees to nest up against.

Troy and the gobbler rallied back in forth for the next hour, but the tom never did commit to coming into the field in front of us. The tom stayed on the property behind us at about 80-100 yards…property we did not have permission to hunt. We finally called the hunt in this spot, pulled up the decoys, gathered our gear and headed back to the truck. As we drove by the field that was behind us, we had the opportunity to see this tom and his hens. This would not be the last time one of the Ladies in Camo hunters would tangle with this bird; read Rebecca Gicewicz’s guest post to see how she saw this bird up close and personal.

After riding around for several hours we did spot some toms in a field and tried our skill at “Reaping” but because there were four of us, one fan and a lot of cow pasture to cover, we were not successful. I did get a taste of what to expect for the rest of the hunt: staying low, single file, crawling, kneeling, peeking and waiting.

Unlike any turkey hunting I have ever experienced, Reaping is an intense and aggressive hunt. A lead person holds a full strut tom decoy that has been altered with a handle and stake so that the person can easily hold the decoy in front of them as they crouch their head below the full tail fan and peek through the fan. The crawling, crouching, long shuffles to cover the distance to where the toms will see your lifelike decoy and take an interest is exhausting at times. Add to that, we were hunting in hilly terrain that I was not accustom to. The excitement and rush make all the effort worth every minute of the challenge–I was hooked.

After lunch, our group was split up and I was hunting with Matt as my guide and Mister behind the camera. We rode around for several hours glassing birds but most were in areas we did not have access too. We finally found a tom in an alfalfa field and we strategically closed the ground on him to get within 80 yards of him. I was on the edge of the field on a downward slope and Matt was behind the decoy working the tom closer to us. The tom had a hen with him and came within 70 yards of us but lost interest and walked back to the hen. We backed out once the bird was out of sight and decided we would come back later in the afternoon and see if this tom circled back through there. He didn’t, so we decided this would be the perfect spot for a morning hunt.

We returned to that field the next morning but never heard or saw a bird. After sitting in that spot until 8:30 a.m. we called the hunt and rode around a while seeking other birds. Several hours passed and we were on our drive back to the lodge when we saw a tom and several jakes in a small cutover ag field. Matt wheeled into the long driveway and spoke with the farmer who granted us permission to hunt the birds on his property that was on both sides of the road. We drove half the distance of the driveway and attempted a stalk on these birds by taking advantage of three short silos. Once we got to the silos, Matt crawled out on his knees just after telling me to stay tight to the silo, be ready and when he said shoot step out and be prepared to acquire my target and shoot. As he crawled out, the adrenaline I was feeling sneaking up the drive had my heartbeat blaring loudly in my ears. I heard Matt say, “They are coming. They are coming. Be ready!” I clicked my safety off. I didn’t know if two or all were coming, nor did I know if the Tom was in tow…phew, it was an intense moment as I played my role over in my head…step out, acquire target quickly and shoot!

As luck would have it, only two jakes came into the trickery of the bobbing and spinning decoy and didn’t even come straight to the decoy. They cut to the left and decided to come from behind the silos into the tom. Matt whispered to me that they were circling around so I quickly turned and repositioned myself for the shot in that direction. I caught a glimpse of one bird and it was a jake. The second bird came in and bumped the first so I had a pretty good idea that this was also a jake. We were able to back out from those birds and get back to the truck without spooking them.

The hens, jakes and one tom headed across the road and we were strategizing how to get into that pasture in front of them. We drove up the road to a higher advantage point where we were able to glass the birds and find out where they were going. Mister stayed at the truck as Matt and I went over the fence, into the pasture after this tom. Matt was carrying the reaping decoy and we were able to quickly get to the vicinity of the birds and we were lucky to have several cedars and some trees to use to our advantage. As I looked back toward the vehicle, I watched as Mister was scanning the pasture above us. I saw him look in my direction through the binoculars and when he saw that I was looking back at him, he made a sign for us to go back down low and around a little pond, he was seeing birds there, no doubt.

We had two jakes come into Matt’s calling and they didn’t commit when they saw the decoy…I had no plans on shooting a jake so we let them walk back into the woods without further pursuing. We heard a good mature tom gobble up above the pond so we quickly got up and took off in that direction. We were in a bottom and Matt made some yelps and on the terrace above another good mature gobble shook the air. We quickly climbed the hill, Matt with the decoy and fan in front of him and me glued directly behind him as if we were one unit, we were able to get to the top of the terrace when Matt saw the tom.

IMG_5932Being a turkey hunter, I have to be honest and tell you staying directly behind the decoy person, not being able to look around and size up the tom for myself was the hardest thing to do. I tried a few times and Matt caught me, growling under his breath, “BE STILL!” I did get a peek at the bird as it turned to walk in another direction and I saw beard…long beard. I could not tell if it were five inches or 10 inches but at this point I committed myself to take a shot at this bird.

Matt asked, “You ready?” I kneeled on my knees with my butt on my heels, clicked my safety off, shouldered my gun with the barrel pointed at the ground and said, “Yes!” I could only imagine this is what a bull rider feels like when the gate man asks that question…I had NO CLUE what was about to unfold, but I knew that this performance was up to me. Matt ducked and rolled to the left as I shot up onto my knees, quickly acquired where that tom was and I placed the bead midway down his neck and squeezed off my gun, expecting to follow up with a second shot. The first flipped the bird and he didn’t flop. I said, “GOT HIM!” as I stood up. Matt finally unfolded from his half fetal position on the ground and got up and said, “Oh yeah! Awesome!”

What a rush! I can’t tell you what part of that moment made it more exciting, not seeing the bird until the fan was moved, having to quickly acquire my target and shoot or the fact that we were slipping around in the wide open in stealth mode behind this decoy completely fooling the keen eyesight of this tom. My second Rio Grande was in the bag! I danced in the Land of Oz and I was now one bird away from my second Grand Slam.


Guest Post by Rebecca Gicewicz

IMG_6670I am here in Alden, Kansas enjoying hunting camp with old and new friends. Part of my mission for this trip was to do my best to harvest a Rio Grande. Our first morning in the woods was spent with Nancy Jo, Mister and our guide, Troy; which is truly a treat as I am usually in the woods alone. I don’t mind the solitude but sharing the experience with friends was really a special element I was looking forward to. That morning came and went with just a few gobbles from turkey in the distance, but no shot opportunities. No problem, it is hunting after all.
Our plan for the afternoon was to use a different strategy by splitting the group up. I was kind of bummed but I just rolled with it. This turkey hunting gig is all new to me so I thought, :Let’s do this.” The afternoon involved driving on country roads past known areas and unknown land. Lo and behold, there was a nice Tom strutting near a creek but we didn’t have permission to hunt that particular land. Troy had a plan; a few clicks on a smart phone app gave the property owners information. So off we went on a mission. A few knocks on the door revealed that no one was home, but the show must go on. Undaunted, we went on with our turkey quest.

IMG_8638We drove and drove, but as fate would have it nothing came together. The final act of this show was to go back to the morning spot where all four of us had started of and try to catch the birds as they circled around to roost. The decoys were set up and I sat back against my tree from the morning hunt. I was missing my other two companions and kept wondering how their hunt was panning out. As an hour or two ticked by, Troy called and there was intermittent distant gobbling but it didn’t sound as if it was closing the distance. The sun was beginning to set and I started to think of what our morning plan might be.

IMG_3816That is when I saw something red and black about 100 yards to my left; it was a Tom! The tom was running up the edge of the field towards my position. I frantically whispered to my guide “to my left, one is closing in.” My guide was not able to see and just kept saying hold still, don’t move, and let him come. That is what I did. The tom slowed up at about 50-yards and of course he was standing in my one and only blind spot. I thought, “Oh no, he is suspicious, has turned and gone into the woods.”

That was not the case at all! The tom continued to move into range and I could now see him but didn’t have a clear shot. Troy gave me the “Shoot when your are ready” command but I had to wait for a clear and ethical shot. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the tom moved into a shooting lane. I clicked my safety off, lined him up in my Ghost Sight and squeezed the trigger. Down went the bird and Troy shouted, “Good Shot!”

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There were two other mature toms behind my downed bird. They kept closing the distance but I only had one tag; no double for me. Finally, they moved off into the woods and we got up to check out my harvest. I was anxious to see him up close. We looked at his spur on one side and it was a rounded nub; I have to admit I was disappointed. So, I focused on his fan, which was beautiful. I finally got brave enough to look at the other spur and when we did I was ecstatic. There was my unicorn; a stout, sharpened, 1-5/8” spur. I thought, “It’s ok that the tom only has one spur. He only needed that one.” I was super stoked! That is how I found my unicorn in the Land of Oz.


FullSizeRenderFor me, this hasn’t been a very successful turkey season. With spending the least amount of time ever spent spring turkey hunting in the woods, my lack of success was to be expected. As I scroll through social media and see all the successful harvests at each of the outfitters that we are traveling more than 15 hours to hunt with, I have high hopes that my luck will change at the two Ladies in Camo turkey hunts we are about to spend the next seven days hunting. Six ladies from four different states are converging upon Misty Morning Outfitters in Kansas to hunt Rio Grand turkey, and four are traveling on to The Roost in Nebraska to hunt Merriam’s turkey.

 

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Rebecca’s 1st turkey harvest! Photo Credit: Rebecca Gicewicz

 

Rebecca, from Florida, is traveling with us…asleep in the back seat of Cletus as I type this entry. Kim and Marla are traveling together from Illinois. Sherry and Connie are traveling together from Michigan. None of us “NEW” to turkey hunting, however, this is Connie’s first guided outfitter hunt; this will be Rebecca’s 2nd and 3rd bird and species as she recently harvested her first turkey, an Eastern in Alabama; and Kim and Marla were just in the woods turkey hunting this past weekend.

 

I have been fortunate enough to have hunted some place at a point in time with each of these women, except Connie. I am looking forward to gaining a new hunting friend. It has been nearly eight years since I have hunted with Sherry, who attended my very first hunt I organized. It has been nearly four years since I have hunted with Marla and just last September that I hunted with Rebecca and Kim. I feel blessed to be able to call these ladies friends.

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Kim’s opening day harvest! Photo Credit: Kim Hessing

My plan is to share as much of this hunt with all of my blog followers and subscribers, as well as my social media friends and followers. I will post some contributed blog entries and photos from the ladies attending this hunt if they wish to contribute. Look for stories of our travels, our good times at the lodge, photos and tales from the hunt, and of course, all the shenanigans. Check out the Ladies in Camo and Life in Camo Facebook page, search the hashtags #LICMMO16 and #LICTheRoost16 in social media to keep up with posts from the Ladies in Camo Kansas and Nebraska turkey hunts.

 

2015 Wilcox CountyAs we are rolling through north central Oklahoma, crossing over into Kansas, with just two more hours of travel, my mind is already on the turkey hunt…wishing these ladies the best of luck in the coming days.

I hope we ALL have the opportunity to “dance with a fist full of feathers!”


A question was addressed on a Facebook page for a writer’s website that I follow. The question was “As a writer, what is the best advice you ever received?”

My answer…
“Actually, this is not advice that was given to me, it is what I sat down and asked myself before I ever wrote and published my first product review; elements I use for every evaluation and field test.
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The Syren by Fabarm, a division of Caesar Guerini

I asked myself, as a consumer and a hunter who depends on my gear with some critical in saving my life in the field what is important to me, to others, to the industry as a whole. As a product review writer for the outdoor industry, I think the best advice for me was that I need to approach every product WITHOUT personal preference and to be unbiased to the product and brand.

What works for me, may not work for the next person. In all situations and for all hunters, is this product practical in the field, is it quality and is the price comparable to the products demand, use, and quality?”

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Houndstooth Game Calls

As hunters and consumers, we are all looking for quality products within our own personal budget, that appeal to each of us and are practical for the products intended purpose in the field. I use every product that I write about and I bring readers the technical information about that product, not necessarily my personal opinion, but my unbiased opinion of that product and how it performed in the field.

I often get asked, “How do you handle products you do not like?” This is simple, I return the item to the manufacturer or vendor with a brief explanation as to why I could not publish a positive review on the product or why it failed in the field during my use. I will not put a bad review in publication; if it is a product I cannot spread good news about, I return it with an explanation that allows the manufacturer to respond or to use my opinions as valuable product design information, which is appreciated by the many manufacturers and/or vendors and it allows me to stay in good standing with that company for future assignments.

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Heat Packs by ThermaCell

My ultimate goal is to get as much positive exposure on the Internet and through social media of a product for a company from my field testing and personal use of their product in the field.

The bottom line, I treat all of those that I deal with in a professional and/or business capacity in a manner that I would like to be treated if the tables were turned.

Much gratitude is felt for all the companies that I have worked with in the past and those I am working with this year in getting product exposure for your product; I appreciate your trust in my ability and your confidence in my promise to provide a service. 

As I sat at my office desk, tweazing the last thorn out of my index finger that I picked up during our last hunt, my mind wanders to the great memories made while hunting with Fatal Obsession TV in Hawkins and Green County, Tennessee.

We finally arrived at our hotel at 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning where we quickly assembled the camera equipment, plugged the electronics in, packed my turkey vest, put together a backpack for the camera equipment, and laid out our clothes and boots for the  4:00 a.m. wake-up call. It was going to be a long day, but turkey hunting was on the agenda so it would be a fun day.

The alarm went off and we looked like we were practicing for a fire drill. I had my turkey vest and gun waiting just outside the door and was completely dressed in five layers of Prois Hunting Apparel. YEP! Five layers! It was supposed to be 29 degrees at daybreak and the wind was blowing pretty hard. Shortly, a white truck pulled up, two young guides walked up and introduced themselves as Eric Lowery and brother, Cory Hawkins. A few seconds later, Robert Hawkins walked up and introduced himself. Robert had reached out to me about hunting Tennessee and it was nice finally having the opportunity to meet him in person. We were excited about getting the morning hunt started so we loaded our gear into the white truck and was on our way down the road.

Our first stop was just off a dirt road, through a fence and in a pasture. We were well on our walk in and was told we were going straight back to the fence line up on a hill. On our drive up to Tennessee the night before, I had joked around with Mister stating, “I hope these two young, fit guys are not going to put us through the wringer in the hills of Tennessee.” Then I quickly laughed it off and said, “I am just kidding. Us old farts are in pretty good hunting shape. We got this!”

Trust me! That was NOWHERE near or NOTHING remotely of what I was thinking half way up what they called a HILL! HILL? That was Mt. Everest to me in the dark. I didn’t think we would ever get to the top of it. As I was slowing my climb and Mister had gained the distance, I could hear him breathing hard as well. I didn’t feel so bad at that point. I took it a little slower and fortunately Eric and Cory were slowing down as well. Once they reached the top, they stopped. Once Mister and I reached them it took ALL I could do to keep bending over, placing both hands on my knees, and sucking in some of that briskly blowing air at the top of that “HILL” as if I just came up from a 100-foot dive with no air. PHEW!! We all kind of chuckled. I was assured that the next hill was nowhere near as bad.Set Up

We found a spot under some trees with about 15 yards between us and them. Cory was calling, Eric running a camera, Mister running a camera and I was holding the shotgun. The sun started to pop over the horizon and the wind had picked up and was blowing straight to us, head on. My nose was frozen, my eyes were watering, my ears were stinging and not once did we hear a single gobble. We did hear a hen about 45 minutes after sunrise, directly behind us. It was nearing 8 a.m. and we decided to pack it in and find lower ground to hunt where the wind would not be so brutal. It was obvious that is what the turkey was doing, feeding in the woods or where there was dense brush for cover or a lack of direct wind.

Yoder's Country Market

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Yoder’s Country Market Fresh Hot Donuts!!

Eric suggested that we go to Yoder’s Country Market to pick up a sandwich to take to the field with us to eat for lunch. Yoder’s is an Amish market with all fresh products, hand honed, hand and stone-ground mill items, baked fresh bread of different varieties and desserts of all kinds from puddings, cheesecake, a variety of icing and flavored cakes, and No Bake Cookies…I was like a kid in a candy store. Had we not been in a hurry to get back into the woods, I think I could have stayed in there and looked for about an hour. Mister fell victim to the smell of hot fresh, vanilla glazed homemade yeast donuts that wafted through the air as we walked out of the market. I had a bite and have to agree, he should have bought the THREE for $5!

We were back on the hunt! Our first top was a cut over ag field where we did not find any birds. We parked the truck a pretty good way from the field and realized when we decided to sit on this field a while and maybe partake in enjoying our lunch, we didn’t have any decoys nor our lunch with us. So Eric and Cory trekked back to the truck to get them. It was a good thing it was not a hot day.

IMG_6898Once they had returned and placed the decoys, we all settled in with the delicious sandwiches that were custom-made to our liking. I have eaten my fair share of meals in the woods and on the hunt but I have to be honest and say that fried country ham, baby Swiss on homemade sourdough with a smidgen of mayonnaise was absolutely divinIMG_6900e. I would have, without a doubt, fought for that sandwich! I sat back enjoying my meal when I noticed that Mister had picked up his binos.

It didn’t take me but a minute or two to finally see what he was looking at and at the same time I actually saw it, I heard Eric whisper, “Turkey!” We watched as eleven jakes sauntered into the field, one-by-one at about 200 yards away. They worked their way to about 100 yards from us before they veered off and eventually worked their way out of sight.

IMG_6938The next couple hours were spent riding around, scouting, where we did see some hens. We returned to the spot we hunted earlier that morning and there was nothing on this field. As Cory, Eric and Mister turned to come down of the hill to return to the truck, Cory caught a glimpse of a Tom across the road up on another hill. They quickly jumped in the truck and we drove to an area that we could park and go after this Tom.

As we made our way to the area in which this Tom was headed, a gobble belted out cutting the air like a chainsaw. It was comical from my view because all three of the guys were in front of me and when that gobbled erupted, you would have thought they were being pelted with a shower of paint balls…all three of them bolted in surprise and went to ducking and dodging looking for a place to set up. We never saw or heard another sound from that bird.

After riding around for about 30 minutes, we got a call from Robert that he had spotted two Tom’s in a field. We rushed over there. We had to wade through the creek and cross an AG field but there were indeed TWO Toms in that field. We were unable to close the distance and with the it being about 30 minutes from roosting time we made the decision to back out and return to this spot in the morning. It was evident these birds would roost in close proximity to the last place we saw them.

headerWe decided to call it a day with a plan tucked away for the morning hunt…but our night was not over! A place called The Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant was recommended for supper and we had about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get changed and get there before they closed. We made it….and let me tell you, I sure am glad we did! That was some of the best country-style eating I have had in a while. Served family style. You pick a variety of meats and all the fixings come with it…nearly more side-bowl fixings than we could fit on the three tables we put together for our group! The food and service were absolutely amazing!! I am glad I kept my mouth talking because I could have made myself sick overeating, no doubt!!

We had another morning to hunt and a well laid out plan. Would our plan be successful? You’ll have to check back to read the next blog entry–better yet, subscribe to my blog and you will get notification anytime a new adventure, great product or a short video is posted.


I had the pleasure of talking with Laura Eakin and Kadi Horrocks of The Hunting Widow Podcast a couple weeks ago. What a blast! I have not laughed that much in a while. We laughed about many things. Check out the podcast by clicking on the photo below or the following hyperlink: The Hunting Widow Podcast/Episode 24 Nancy Jo Adams.

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We are always excited about attending the NWTF Annual Convention and Sports Show to visit with turkey hunting friends, see what is trending and new in the world of turkey hunting and to plan my editorial calendar with product reviews for the spring. This year there was a multitude of companies releasing new products and Life in Camo Media is fortunate enough to be taking many of these to the field with us as we hunt the “El Jefe” in our home state of Alabama, travel to Tennessee to hunt some big gobblers with Eric Lowery with Fatal Obsession TV, travel to Kansas to hunt with Misty Morning Outfitters, to Nebraska to hunt with The Roost and to Georgia to hunt with great friends. Our first hunt is this Saturday morning as we take to the woods in search of that haunting bird, the El Jefe on the grounds of Woodham Farms; just shy of 45 minutes from home. If you would like to read about the items we found at NWTF and in our research of product releases, you can click here for the full article on 1800GunsandAmmo.com.

I want to wish good luck to all of our turkey hunting friends this season…“May you dance with a fist full of feathers.” ~Nancy Jo and Richard

NWTF 2016: The Hottest Turkey Hunting Gear

 

 


We found a plethora of new products on the ATA 2016 showroom floor and are excited about taking many of these to the field with us and publishing product reviews in the coming months. Which products will you be putting on your “WISH LIST” for this fall? There are so many great products to choose from. Click on the links below to see what we found of interest…there were many that we have yet to mention.

New Products at ATA, Part 1

New Products at ATA, Part 2

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Published article at 1800Gear.com on the bows found of interest on our visit to the ATA show room floor during ATA2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Click HERE to read the article. Let us know your favorite and if you will be taking one of these new bows to the woods with you this season.

Thank you for your follow to our blog. Please make sure to subscribe to keep updated on future articles, product review, hunting tales and helpful tips and information.

 

 


The Archery Trade Association Show is always an exciting show to attend for the media. We get a first-hand look at some of the years new releases in the archery/bowhunting world. This year was no different. I found everything from new crossbow cases, technology, electronics, hunting clothes, scent destroyers…you name it, it was there on the show floor.

I had so many favorites that I found and have many of those promised for future product reviews that I cannot wait to share with you. Some of these products will not release until late spring…and the anticipation is killing me. I will be sharing any published works right here on my blog in the coming months.

A sneak peek of a few of the items I will be sharing:

C280-Front-500x500The Lakewood Products Drop-In Crossbow Case is going to replace the humongous and somewhat cumbersome crossbow case that I currently own. The Drop-In Crossbow Case is a convenient, top-loading, stand-up design case that conveniently fits when packing. The soft-sided hard case offers maximum protection to your crossbow with designated areas for a loaded quiver and 18 additional bolts. The case measures 11.5″D x 37″L x 26.25″H and incorporates built-in wheels for easy transportation. This case is airline approved with zipper tabs that allow for a lock for secure travel. Made in USA with a Lifetime Guarantee. The case has an MSRP starting at $299.

ironMan14I hunted with a crossbow this season because of a shoulder issue and found it somewhat troublesome in un-cocking the bow each evening after the day’s hunt. Having to travel with our practice target in the back of the truck, unloading it to un-cock my crossbow, loading it back up for the next day. My problem is solved with the BIGShot Targets Iron Man 14. The Iron Man 14 measures 14″ X 14″ X 8″ and weighs 14 pounds. The triple compressed military fiber and ever-last nylon target face is rated at 450 fps for crossbows.  The Iron Man 14 is perfect for travel when a practice shot is critical in making sure your crossbow is still on and to discharge your bolt at the end of the hunt. The BIGShot Targets Iron Man 14 has an MSRP of $34.99.

Muck Boots ArcticThe new Muck Boot Company Ladies Arctic Hunter boot in Realtree Xtra definitely was of interest to me because of the issue that most women complain about not having enough calf room once they tuck their pant leg in during wet terrain or rainy conditions. The mid-calf design makes it possible to comfortably tuck in pant legs while hunting. As with all Muck Boot Company boots, the product is made quality materials and designed with the outdoor enthusiast in mind. The Arctic Hunter has an extended rubber exterior for durability in the field and 5mm of neoprene lined with warm fleece. The boot incorporates a dual density EVA midsole and slip-resistant rugged outsole for a comfortable and secure fit. The boot has a 10″ height with a back pull-on tab. For the ladies that don’t like pink on their camo, the Muck Boot Company Arctic Hunter only has a slight splash of pink on it.

Cirrus Hunt Vape TechnologiesThe trend of using electronics in the field is ever growing and it was evident by many of the new products I found on the showroom floor. One that got a lot of attention and was unique in its own nature is the Cirrus Hunt Vape Technologies Wind Indicator. The patent pending design detects the slightest wind or thermal currents with an easy to operate, one push, to expel a puff true vapor into the air. The small, lightweight unit requires a minimal amount of movement to operate and replacement cartridges are available. The unit is USB rechargeable and one cartridge holds thousands of puffs. This product will not be available on the market until later this quarter and an MRSP was unavailable at the time of this writing. Watch the video below to see how the Cirrus Wind Indicator works and to find out more information about this product.

Another vape product that was getting a lot of attention is the WyndScent Electronic Vapor Hunting Scent . Check out the informative video below for all the information and features of this product. This is a product I am looking forward to taking to the field with me next fall.

https://vimeo.com/147635937

There were so many fantastic and useful products that I found and many that I will be writing about in the coming months as some of them release or as I am able to field test the products personally. Stay tuned to my blog for publication announcements and information about these great products and a plethora of other great products released at #ATA2016.

All photos and video are the property of the rightful owner and used within this writing as reference only in efforts of product exposure for these owners/companies.  Per the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission, the products reviewed in this published material is an endorsement and the writer may have been compensated by “in-kind” or monetary payment to review the product. 

 


This past weekend was our final hunt of the 2015 Spring Turkey Hunting Season. This season was plagued with horrible weather, important appointments on the calendar, trips out of state, and a loaded plow with my day job and freelance work so no matter how the mornings unfolded, we were going to enjoy our time in the woods.

Our Saturday hunt started off with torrential rains so we decided we would sleep in and hunt mid-morning between the two bands of storms that were predicted by the Weather Channel. We arrived at Woodham Farms at 10:00 a.m. and took up our favorite spot. The humidity was high after the rain and the sun was beating down on us for the first hour. You could hear a breeze in the treetops but you sure could not feel it on the ground where we were sitting. Besides watching “Bully”, the farm’s Black Angus bull, plundering in the weeds and the newest bull calf kicking up his heels at the wind, the morning was pretty uneventful. We had not heard a tom our entire hunt–not even in the distance. Harvesting the “El Jefe” was not going to happen this season but a bird like that leaves a fire in your desire and gives us something to look forward to for next season–that old rattle box gobble will haunt my dreams until then.  This morning I was reminiscing about our April 4, 2015 hunt at Woodham Farms…

Every moment of idle thought, my mind brings me back to the sights and sounds of the piney woods of Alabama. The sound of the “El Jefe” rattling off his revelry just before the break of dawn. The sounds of that old bearded boss hen arguing with any hen or call she hears, cutting it off and far surpassing the number of yelps she took in. Some mornings there is a chill in the air but some mornings like this morning, there is a mugginess that makes your camo stick uncomfortably to you.  We were here, in this exact spot last weekend. We sat an extended time using the logic that these birds were frequenting the fields late morning from what our game cameras had provided. That was an unsuccessful hunt. Once the birds hit the ground they were off onto the neighboring pine plantation and we didn’t hear another word from them.

B&C Custom Turkey Calls proved to be the El Jefe's favorite call.

B&C Custom Turkey Calls proved to be the El Jefe’s favorite call.

This morning we waited under the pine located in the middle of the cow pasture of Woodham Farms. The cows moved in to investigate. The cows were somewhat stealth compared to their size and as I glanced over to see if “Bully” was in close proximity, I noticed that the heifer with her new calf was the closest to us. Ironically, my mind quickly formulated an escape plan just in case she were to charge us…a subconscious effort that I am sure hog hunting ingrained in me. As we stood for what seemed like half an hour listening for “El Jefe” to sound off, the only sounds we were hearing were that of a rooster which we coined as a Georgia gobbler (from an earlier story) and the sounds of the new bull calf taking in its morning meal.  Finally, a couple owls sounded off and a hen made a soft yelp and “El Jefe” let out a gobble. They were no more than 150 yards from us, roosted on the property line. We grabbed our gear and took out for the edge of the cow pasture. We decided to set up in the same spot that we sat in last weekend. Mister put the decoys out about 18-20 yards, an Avian ¼ strut Jake and breeding hen and a Dakota Decoy breeding hen that he put on a stake.

As we settled in and I slide on my face mask and pulled on my gloves, I noticed the cardinals had started their morning serenading and several other birds were sounding off. Mister made a soft yelp on the B&C Custom Turkey Calls copper call that we brought to the field with us to review. No sooner had he struck the third yelp and the boss hen cranked up with her angry yelp and “El Jefe” sounded off with a rattling gobble and I caught the faint half gobble of a jake at the end of “El Jefe’s” gobble. There was a 7-10 minute intense conversation between the hens roosted in the trees, El Jefe and, every now and then, the sounds from the B&C copper call.

Waiting…..

I had already raised my gun and rested it on my shooting stick and was waiting until I heard the sounds of wings. I heard a bird tree hop so I slide the safety off and I instantly could hear my heart rev up in my ESP hearing protection…KaThump, KaThump, KaThump.

It was at this point that I thought this could very well be the morning we take down the El Jefe. “Would the sun come out for good photos?” “I wonder what size spurs he has.” “I hope he doesn’t hang up just below that terrace.” “Will the bearded hen come in angry, looking for the hen cutting her off.” All of this ran through my mind.

The first flop of wings finally gave us a clue that the birds were pitching down. About four, then a pause, and one more set of flopping wings and then a big rattling gobble sounded off. They were either just inside the pines in front of us at the property line. All we could hope for now was that the hen come seeking the hen she believed was encroaching her area. I could feel my heartbeat in my neck and my eyes were watering from straining as I was searching the edge of the pines for any movement. El Jefe gobbled two more times then everything fell silent in the woods in front of us.

After fifteen minutes, I got a gut sinking feeling that the birds were moving into the pine plantation on the adjacent property, an area we did not have access to so there was no way to get up and get in front of these birds.  Finally, a faint gobble proved what I was already thinking. So I put my shotgun back on safety and pulled it down into my lap. I looked over at Mister who shrugged his shoulders. We sat there another ten minutes before we decided we would sneak around the edge of the property line to the back fence and see if we could get an idea of where the birds were going once they hit the ground and how we could get between them and the planted pines to cut them off. We used the Trimble Hunt Pro program to get a visual on the terrain. We laid out a plan for a morning hunt and made plans to come back in the afternoon to see where the birds would roost.

Mister crow calling to see if we could get a return gobble.

Later in the afternoon we returned. We walked into the area close to where we found the birds roosted that morning. We could not find a decent spot to set up and the only spot was smack dab in the middle of an area with this spring’s new crop of poison ivy. I figured if I didn’t bother it, it would not bother us. We sat until after roosting time and did not hear or see a single turkey. It kind of took the air out of us for a morning hunt. The birds were roosted deep into an area we did not have access to. I decided with a loaded plow of work that I needed to get done, maybe I would just stay home and get an early start on my To-Do-List.  Of course, with that said, don’t think that the “El Jefe” was not the last thing on my mind when I laid my head on my pillow and drifted off to sleep.

The El Jefe will continue to haunt my dreams until I can haul him out of the woods stuffed securely in my turkey vest. Next season, my old friend, next season!


P1-Wild-Hare-Deluxe-Tournament-BagTurkey season will soon be over and most of us will be hog hunting, fishing and/or heading to the shooting range for several round of 5-Stand, Skeet or Sporting Clays.

Is your range bag ready? Check out my suggestions for the “PERFECT” range bag. Click on the link below to read the article…

Essentials That Make-up a Great Range Bag for Sporting Clays

Photo: Wild Hare Deluxe Tournament Bag is roomy enough for a lot of gear and offers a lifetime warranty. Available in two colors.

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Okay, who is joining me on the elliptical this morning? Whew..I don't know about you but I am "thankful" that Thanksgiving is over...having an excuse to eat too much food is an an indulgent I don't need four days of!! LOL! Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving! Please take a moment to think of those serving in our military who cannot be home with family. Give thanks for all you cherish. Life in Camo - Richard & Nancy Jo LQQK what I just got in the mail!!! Just in time for some over-the-holiday reading!! The Messenger Grunt Call by Hook's Custom Calls. Great sounding grunt call with easy to adjust reed banding. Perfect size for pocket and lightweight for wearing. #LifeinCamo #hookscustomcalls