A Turkey Hunt In God’s Country
After having an unusual turkey season in Arkansas (more to come on that later) Brandon and myself were able to hunt the final week in Kansas this year. Normally, the peak time to hunt Kansas turkeys from my experience has been the end of April or first part of May. This year we were unable to do that, so we made plans to try and tag out the last week. Of course, anytime I go to Kansas I bring the rain and thunder. This trip was no different, several bad storms passed over the area we were hunting during this final week. It rained so much that several of the fields we hunted were completely under water. It was by far the most amount of water I’ve seen on these agriculture fields in the area we hunt.
This trip we hunted hard, we did a lot of extra scounting and looking than we normally do. The afternoons were especially harder on us with the heat. Turkeys came out later in the fields and this provided us with a limited amount of time to hunt. After getting permission to several additional fields this trip we were able to finally bag our four Kansas longbeards. Brandon ended up getting his final longbeard literally in the last several hours of our hunting trip. We stopped at one more field before leaving that afternoon and there ended up being a limbhanger hanging out in that field. The thing that makes the hunt even more special is we barely beat round 2 of the huge buildup of rain, thunder, and lighting that had been hampering us most of the trip. As the hunt was over I was capturing a picture of a cool rainbow in the field we hunted that stretched across the road and beyond. I’ve always wondered where the end of the rainbow leads, as rumor has it- supposed to be a pot of gold. It started making me wonder if this wasn’t true…Here I was being blessed with the opportunity to hunt in the midst of a storm and it reminded me of the many promises given to us from the Creator himself. For me, my pot of gold was in God’s Country….. A recently planted corn field in the middle of Kansas…. -AB
2013 Youth Waterfowl Hunt
The regular duck season here in Arkansas came and left us in a hurry, it seems like just yesterday it was the month of November and season had just began. Though it’s disappointing time passes so quickly my favorite time of the year is at the very end, the Arkansas Waterfowl Youth Weekend. This is a chance to take the youth out into the woods and provides a weekend specifically for them. Not that we shouldn’t be taking kids out every time we get a chance, but this guarantees that they’re going to be the only ones doing the actual hunting. The main focus for me is to try to make sure the hunts are safe and enjoyable for the kids. “If the kids aren’t happy nobody is happy.” The hunt isn’t just about killing a bunch of birds, (though that is nice) it’s about imprinting ethics and the promotion of conservation for the future of hunting (these kids are the future).
During this weekend we made a special trip over to the eastern part of Arkansas. Matt had seen quite a few ducks using this area a few weeks before the youth hunt and thought it would be a great opportunity to get these kids out in the woods. We loaded up Friday night and headed over to the duck club to stay for the weekend. On the first morning we weren’t quite on the exact spot the ducks wanted to be. We still ended up having a great hunt and the kids managed to kill their limit of mallards during the morning hours. The next day we expected to be in the right spot and have these kids ready to hunt at legal shooting hours. Usually most of my hunts always have a hiccup or two in them but, not this one we boated to the hole at shooting light and the ducks were there. We landed several big groups in the timber and it allowed the kids to pick out their four mallard drake limits fairly quickly. (pictures of the Day 2 Hunt above) It was a great weekend and I feel truly blessed to have the privilege of taking the two kids we did. I now know the hunting of tomorrow will be one step closer in being preserved for another generation. If anyone ever gets the chance to take a kid hunting don’t pass up the opportunity!!!!
Arkansas Opening Day
The opening week for duck hunting in Arkansas can be very exciting to say the least. Hunters usually have their spots picked out one to two weeks before opening day. This “duck camp” atmosphere is usually prevalent all across the state, camping areas fill up fast as hunters make sure they have a chance at their spot for the next morning. Arkansas public land usually has several options for hunters, though these WMA’s can be crowded on a dry year. We have usually been confined to these public areas on the first day. Pre-season scouting has always been beneficial to us when determining where we want to hunt. We feel very blessed to be able to participate in the excitement built up every year before the opening of duck season. It is great to enjoy the freedoms we have to hunt and spend time enjoying God’s creation.
This 2012 season provided many challenges for hunters across the state. With the warmer temperatures and lower water levels this year it has produced limited hunting opportunities for everyone, which can be both a good and bad thing. Matt G. was able to find some ducks and stay on them for several days at the beginning of the season. This allowed us to make a trip to some of Arkansas’s beautiful greentimber. Though we didn’t see a lot of new migrating ducks we were right where the ducks that were using the area wanted to be; working several big groups of mallards in close will always appeal to any duck hunter. “Boo” the 9-year old black labrador retriever who picked up most of our ducks seemed even more excited than we were. It ended up being an awesome hunt and a great opportunity for us to enjoy the harvest of creation. We hope that colder temps and rain will be in the forecast soon!
Arkansas Black Bear:
A new venture is always exciting. Last winter, my friend Matt and I decided that we were going to try to kill a bear during the next archery season. This pact between friends was not fully understood until we were neck deep in work, bait, and debt during the hot summer months. We spent a lot of time and money trying to get a new bear-skin rug for Matt’s house.
Our plan was a good one – as good as it could have been given the fact we were rookie black bear hunters. We had the property. It was a small tract owned by Matt’s dad bordering the National Forest. We had the scouting report. They had yearly problems with bears tearing up deer feeders. We had the bait. At no expense to us, we were given used cooking oil from a gracious local restaurant. Also at great cost to us, we purchased several 55 gallon barrels worth of corn.We even had the coaching. We were blessed to make a connection with a helpful official at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission that was instrumental in us even having a chance at a bear. We also had the guidance of a couple of my family members that have each killed Boone and Crockett black bears in Arkansas.
The plan was set, and we executed everything on our list… except the rug portion. We scouted, baited, and hunted hard, but the results did not match our dedication to the effort. We’d both heard stories about how easy these Arkansas black bears were to kill, but we did not find this to be true where we were hunting.
Over the course of a month, we baited 3 different sites. We had pictures of 3 different bears (1 at each site). Only one of the bears on camera was what we were considering a “shooter”. So, we focused on this area when hunting season came. When the time came to sit in the stand, we would rather have had more of the same hot weather we saw while baiting and hanging sets than the wet weather that we had to endure.
I don’t want to blame our lack of bear sausage on the weather only because rookie mistakes were undoubtedly made. But, I do want to note a lesson that I was re-taught by the conditions that we endured – hard work does not always equal a kill. If killing a bear was how we measured success, Matt and I failed miserably. Working with like-minded people toward a goal, making new friends, growing existing friendships, learning about a new sport, and enjoying the outdoors and the opportunities that are offered to us in this state is much more of a definition for success in my book. We enjoyed every minute of our Arkansas black bear hunt this year. Matt and I did have a successful season – we just hope that the next one includes a new rug for the living room!
Please enjoy this video as the first installment of our black bear hunting adventure this season.