Camp Meeting On Again, May 16

Well the governor says groups of 20 can meet so our annual camp meeting and crawfish boil is on again, for Saturday May 16.   Boo has again graciously offered his place for the event.  Same plans as last time, have the meeting at 1:00PM and then eat crawfish about 2:30.   Boo’s address is 3030 Barnes Rd, Crystal Spring 39059.  Turn at the Pet Motel sign, that is Boo’s drive.    Boo’s phone number is
601 953-8780 if you get lost and need help finding it.  If you want a chair to sit in you should bring it.
Here’s a Google link: Directions to Boo’s place
Thanks,
Glen

Close Encounter of the Yogi Kind

bear encounter

Chris and I made one last try for a turkey Sunday.  We had a nice morning but I think the turkeys have decided to put an end to the season.  We were on cable road, parked at #62.  We put our gear in the truck and headed toward the gate and as we came through the place where the bank is high on either side we saw a bear about 75 yards ahead raking a cedar tree.  He must be that big one that keeps that pine tree torn up.  He was big and stretched out on that cedar tree.  He was in direct sunlight and the way the sun was reflecting on his hair he looked like he was a brownish cinnamon instead of black.  I’m not sure if that was really his color or if it was just the sunlight making him look that way but he wasn’t the solid black I would have expected.

When he heard us he turned that big head and big yellow nose, gave us one look and then he was off down in Regan hollow like he was after a jelly doughnut.  It wasn’t an encounter like De’s but we were both really excited to have finally seen Mr. Big out for a stroll.  In the pic above Chris is raising his hand to the point where the bear had left fresh scratches.  Actually the scratches go a ways higher than his hand.  Chris is 6’2″.  The bear’s shoulders were about even with Chris’ head.  Yeah, a big boy for sure.  This is probably the bear that found my buck and drug it off and ate on it.  He was coming out of the same hollow where I had found the last blood.

 

 

Third Bird for 2020!

 

Chris bagged this bird this morning, Wed. April 15, one day before his birthday and his daughter Natalie and I were able to share in the experience.

It was a textbook hunt.  Chris did the calling and the shooting while I assisted a little on a slate call with some purring and clucking.  Started out good with a gobbler and hens coming in close early:

The birds wouldn’t come any closer though but about nine o’clock I saw Chris raise his 870.  I was facing the opposite direction and couldn’t see where he was aiming but I knew the way he leveled off it had to be a turkey.  Natalie was sound asleep but came up quickly when Chris pulled the trigger and sent a round of turkey load through the 870’s “jelly head”.

Apparently the gobbler came in the back way and was strutting and drumming on a little mound of dirt.   Chris made a clean shot and I thought I was making a video of Chris getting up and picking up his turkey, but I, duh, forgot to press record on the phone.  Then I tried to make another video, but I inadvertently selected “slo-mo”.  So much for my career as a videographer.

It was a great morning.  The gobbler sported a nice beard, 9 inches.

One Long Beard for 2020 Anyway

Turkey 2020

This was a cagey bird.  Hunted him several times the last weekend in March but he just would not come to me.   The first Saturday in April,  I thought I had him.  I was on the ridge next to his and the gully between us had no ditch or at least the ditch started further down, there was no obstacle that might hang him up other than having to cross through the gully.  He had a nice easy walk to me but this bird wasn’t having it, he wouldn’t cross and he disappeared after 8:00, staying mostly on the opposite side of the ridge.  Here’s a video I made facing the ridge he was on, turn the sound on, hear my clucks from my mouth call and the gobbler’s response:

Ragsdale gobbler

The next day I slipped over on the side of the ridge he seemed to like.   It wasn’t dark but it was early morning gloomy, you know, too dark to see if you might be stepping on a rattlesnake.  After hooting and getting him to gobble, I got in the ditch next to his ridge and walked down and when an howl hooted, he gobbled from a tree only about 100 yards away.  I was afraid to move up on the ridge for fear he would bust me, so I just climbed up on the bank a little and sat where a tree would keep from sliding down the bank.  I put the decoy just right in front of me because it was all I could do, the bank was too steep to put it any higher without a lot of effort that might get me busted.

I knew this gobbler didn’t seem to like too much talk so I just used simple clucks from the mouth call.  He gobbled at just about every cluck, but I couldn’t see him in the tree though I was pretty sure which tree it was.

At 8:00 I heard some flopping like a helicopter was landing and here he comes flying down to a flat above me at about 40 yards.  There was just enough rise that he was hidden so I pulled up the gun and held it tight.  I clucked softly with the mouth call and he came slowly down the hill.   I saw his long beard flopping but he wasn’t strutting for me.  Finally he came to 25 yards or so and he started looking at the decoy with me right behind it holding the shotgun over the decoy’s back.   He looked suspicious and raised his neck up high and I felt like he was going to bust me so I went ahead and took the shot.

A great hunt.  With all the logging going on I felt very lucky to get one out of the camp this year.

My wife Cassie cooked it by marinating in Italian dressing, soy sauce and honey and then baking it with bacon to keep it juicy.  Wild birds don’t have the thick skin of domestic birds so its pretty much useless.

IMG_2007

The end result was delicious.  Not your Thanksgiving turkey meal but delicious nevertheless, and in my opinion, way better than those dry, and almost tasteless grocery store birds.

IMG_2012

 

Found Him!

IMG_1748(2)

Yesterday afternoon, I stumbled upon the buck that I shot while bow hunting with Chris on December 8.  After I shot at 3:30, we trailed him until dark and then went back later and trailed him until about 9:00 PM.  I also came back the next day, Monday, to look , but I just couldn’t find him.   I went hunting yesterday, Sunday afternoon, and found him on my way to the stand.  My finding him was just dumb luck.  I was walking down a gully to get to a spot to hunt, and suddenly there it was, the head, vertebra and  ribs, laying right in my path.  There were no leg bones, jawbones or any small bones or hide around.  Since there was a big spot of bear dropping nearby, I think the carcass had been dragged off by a bear.  That might help to explain it being over 700 yards from where we gave up on the blood trail.   Chris and I both had been down that same gully during November and the decay was at least a month old so it was in the right time period and in the same area and of course, it looks exactly like the one I shot.  I had a good look at him,  he was only ten yards away.

15.5 inch inside, 19.5 inch beam, one G2 was 11 inches and the other ten inches.

IMG_1751

Chris and I had nicknamed him O.B. because I had suspected a buck we had seen cross the highway at the “Orange Barrel” was hanging out in the thicket below.   We planned a hunt,  going way around and to get below him without him detecting us.   Chris was  hunting what we called the “back door” and I was hunting the “front door”, to the thicket below the orange barrel on the road.  We stayed just far enough downwind of the adjacent ridge to keep our scent from going to him.

At 3:30 I hit the grunt call in a three-grunt, SOS type pattern which was Chris’ suggestion.  Actually we thought if he came he would circle downwind which would have put him on Chris, but instead he just came out at a fast walk only three minutes after I grunted, right across the “front door”, which was me.   At ten yards he was slightly quartering to me and I put the sight on his shoulder, I think maybe too low.   He whirled at the shot and I heard a crack sound which was the arrow which broke off at the fletching.    We trailed awhile and then gave him time and went back after dark and we trailed it further but eventually we just ran out of trail.  I went back the next day and looked until noon, tried to get a dog but getting a blood dog on Monday morning is tough.

Oh well, at least it was good to find him.

 

With Respect to Thy Neighbor

I had an interesting experience the other day at the camp.  I bumped into this article
and wondered how this current Mississippi law might apply:

wyleE

I only bring it up because it’s really ridiculous, funny, and yet not funny when it happens to you personally.  All the year we wait, we work five days a week, waiting for weekends, we finally get a chance to sit on a deer stand for a few hours and then someone deliberately ruins the hunt, but not without looking ridiculous.  Not to mention all the expense we put into hunting a perfectly legal hunt.  Yeah, funny and yet not funny, definitely ridiculous.

Harvest Data Received

Unfortunately the directors were tied up and couldn’t make the Big Black Club meeting where biologist Stan Priest was presenting data, but we received our data in the mail this week. For the full report, click here, 2018 Deer data color

2018 DMAP report

The data is interesting, at least to me it is, in that the club “reorganization” known as “Ragsdale 2.0” can readily be seen in the data.   The first year of reorganization was a tumultuous year in that the membership was reduced by half or more, dog hunting was ended, rules were stringently enforced and our Deer Quality minimums were raised to 1 inch higher than the ATCO minimums.   The effect of those changes jumps off the page in the single, beige colored bars of the first two years compared to the multiple bars of previous years.  Those single colors mean that for the first two years all bucks taken were 4 years or older and even last year, after we eased our DQ standard slightly, only one deer was less than 4+ and it was a 3.5+ deer. All of the 2016 bucks were 5.5 years

2018 buck age graph

To explain the numbers, I think that more careful, accomplished hunters were observing deer before taking them.  Some of that is partially due to eliminating dog hunting and shooting at running deer but most of it is simply more careful, accomplished hunters, that were probably somewhat more concerned about the consequences of rules being enforced.    Good job, Ragsdale hunters!

One thing that seems out of whack is the doe lactation chart, which shows a steep drop-off in lactating does.  I am not sure how that might be explained or if it is even something that we might need to be concerned about.

2018 doe lactation

I examined the data cards and the does are mostly large, mature does .  Four of the non-lactating does are over 5.5 with one that’s 7.5 years old and one 6.5 years old.  All of the other non-lactating does are 3.5.  Of the two lactating does,  one is 2.5 and one is 1.5.   From the  high ages, one could argue that mostly large and mature does that were past reproduction were taken, which is exactly what we should be doing.   But I am no biologist, if that’s not the reason, then something’s not right because in all my years at Ragsdale I’ve never seen such a high number of non-lactating does.  I have to think it is the former, that Ragsdale 2.0 members are taking the right does.  I think in the history of Ragsdale, 2018 may be the first year the “right does” were taken. So until someone says otherwise – good job again Ragsdale 2.0 members!