Tag Archive: Virginia Outdoors

Talkin’ Toms in Fauquier County (Guest Post)

One has to be careful during the Virgina Spring Gobbler season because if you blink you could literally miss it. The majority of the season only allows for birds to be taken before noon followed by just two weeks of full-day hunting. Unlike last years deer season, I haven’t been able to get in the woods as much as I’d like too. I was fortunate enough to take a trip with Will Jenkins up to Highland County VA to chase some birds and trout fish for a few days. Although we didn’t punch any tags we had a great time in the mountains, you can read more about our trip on Will’s blog in his two part article Hunting Highland.

A few days after our hunt, I received an email from one of our Virginia Huntography readers, Regg Simmons, a turkey hunter that has kept his eyes wide open so far this season. Simmons was happy to tell me that the turkey hunting was “hot and heavy” in northern Virginia. The photos that accompanied his email didn’t lie. With two great gobblers on the ground within a week of opening day, I’d say Simmons having one of the best spring seasons of anyone I know. I asked him if he’d like to recount his season thus far and he kindly obliged. So without further ado here is his story…

On the morning of April 13th I rose at 3:00 AM to make the drive from Manassas to my hunting spot in Fauquier County. It was a long cold, hike up towards the crest of Naked Mountain where I set my single hen decoy and settled in to a pile of cut timber to await the coming of dawn and the start of the 2013 Spring Gobbler Season. Toms were answering owl calls by gobbling on the roost at 5:30 AM so I knew things could interesting once the sun came up. With sunrise the birds got all fired up – 5 Toms gobbling at all points on the compass. I was sitting in Tom central ! By 6:00 AM I had a Tom in sight at 100 yards – strutting and gobbling like crazy answering the yelps and purrs coming from my long box and diaphragm calls. Well that Tom was locked up at about 80 yards when off to my right, just over a rise and out of sight, came thundering gobbles from at least two more Toms. A few soft purrs from the diaphragm was the deal closer – over the rise came three Toms, with the biggest boy leading the pack. When they crested the rise and spotted my hen decoy all three Toms went into full strut, spitting & drumming making a beeline for the fake hen. As they closed the distance I had my Remington 870 locked on the leader of the pack. A round of Hevi-Shot Turkey load sealed the deal with the Tom at 18 yards. One of the surviving Toms flew away while the other ran a short distance then stopped to survey the scene. Just for fun, a few soft purrs called him right back in to gun range but of course he would have to wait for another day….
Tom #1 weighed 23.4 pounds, had a 12″ beard and 1′ spurs.

RBS 300x274 Talkin Toms in Fauquier County (Guest Post)

I got back after them on Saturday, April 20. Once again I hiked up Naked Mountain in the pre-dawn darkness this time hunting near one of my favorite deer stands. As the sun rose I could hear gobbling but it was coming from way down in the creek bottom. Having learned a long time ago to “sit down, be still and be quiet” I decided to stick with my spot rather than go “running and gunning”. The gunning I can handle but the running is getting harder every season…. Other than “tweety birds” the mountain top was quiet, no turkey talk other than my occasional plaintive calls. By 9:00 AM my patience had worn thin so I decided to pull my decoy and slowly walk back down the mountain towards the truck. After picking up the deke and getting my gear stowed I decided to make one more loud series of yelps before leaving the area. I yelped and a Tom thunder gobbled, 75 yards uphill of my location. At break-neck speed I reset the hen decoy, stumbled back into a pile of weeds and tried to regain my composure. Another yelp – another gobble, even closer. Then I spotted that red/white/blue head coming through the brush at 35 yards so up came the Remington and off went the safety. Spotting the decoy the Tom went into full strut at 20 yards and closed the distance to the deke. The Tom circled the decoy several times, strutting and displaying the whole while. A soft putt from my diaphragm got his head up for the kill shot at 15 yards. After recovering from a mild case of hyper-ventilation I recovered my bird and made my way back down the mountain…..Tom #2 weighed 22.25 pounds, had an 11″ beard and 1″ spurs.
2013 Turkey 2 008 crop 224x300 Talkin Toms in Fauquier County (Guest Post)

Turning the Page to 2013

Well it’s the start of the new year and most Virginia deer hunters have already begun cleaning their guns and sending their bows off to be restrung. There won’t be any more chances to harvest a buck until bow season next fall. This past year I didn’t have the success I had anticipated but it was one of the best hunting seasons I’ve had in a very long time. I was able to get out in the woods at least thirty times and each trip was a blessing. Through all of my hunts there were only a handful of times that I didn’t see a whitetail deer but my luck never went as far as putting a nice shooter buck within my sights. A lot of times after deer season I hear hunters over use the terms shoulda’, coulda’ and woulda’. At the beginning of the season I promised myself I wouldn’t let the deer get the best of me, as they have every year before, leaving me full of regrets. Since hunting season closed shop last weekend, I’ve only been thinking about all the great times I had embracing the beauty of the woods and the animals that I encountered. There were tons of close calls and each deer seemed to have their own agenda. Even though I didn’t tag out or harvest a trophy buck I was just as satisfied by being able to participate in another hunting season in the mountains of Virginia.

In Virginia, technically deer season isn’t completely over. In over 35 towns and cities across the state, Urban Archery Season lasts through March 30. Only archery tackle can be used and it’s an excellent opportunity to still put some meat in the freezer.

As much as I’d like to continue chasing whitetails I believe it’s time for me to give them a rest until October. So what do most Virginia hunters do after deer season? We anxiously prepare for the next hunting season, spring gobbler! But before you start packing away all your cold weather gear, I would encourage hunters to take advantage of the fall firearms turkey season that kicks off this weekend and last through the end of January. The map below is courtesy of the VDGIF and unfortunately the season is closed to the areas highlighted in white, blue and yellow but the green areas are wide open for hunters that are hungry for a turkey leg.

 Turning the Page to 2013

I don’t foresee myself getting too many chances to chase the late season fall gobblers but this spring fellow huntographer, Will Jenkins and I will be backpacking up to Highland County VA for a few days in hopes of bagging some birds. Will announced our trip along with a DIY elk hunt he’ll be doing out west this September in one his latest blog post, New Year, New Look, New Adventures on his website, TheWilltoHunt.com.

I’d like to personally thank everyone that has supported Huntography over the past year and a special shout out to Rudy for making it all happen! Good luck to everbody that will be out in the woods or on a river bank in the next few months and be sure to keep up with us as we embark into another year full of hunting stories and experiences that we intend to share.

Deer in December

Since the #Deertour passed through Virginia last November I’ve only been able get out in the woods a handful of times due to work, school and the holidays. Although we’ve been experiencing some extremely unusual fall weather conditions thus far this year, I’ve still been lucky enough to continue seeing deer as the season winds down. For most people in the state of Virginia there are only about 3 more weeks of hunting season left. Late archery season kicked off last weekend and remains open throughout January 5th and there’s still a chance to break out the black powder when late muzzleloader begins December 18th and lasts until January 5th. Be sure to check your local regulations for more details on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

On Saturday I went out for an evening hunt and decided to go against the odds in the 70-degree temperatures. Did I mention it was December? This may sound odd but I remember this same kind of scenario last year, I was hunting in the middle of December and it was 65 degrees. Is this something I should start expecting from now on? I sure hope not, an inconsistent and warmer fall weather pattern results in inconsistent deer movement and behavior. From what I’m seeing the rut is still semi-active and there are plenty of local hunters still bagging some decent late season bucks.

While I was in my stand I witnessed a couple of does butting heads and then nice buck emerged from the brush. The video was a little shaky and the buck makes a quick appearance towards the end of the video, around the 51 second mark.

So, You Think You’re Zeroed In?

Flash back to October 6th. Opening day of bow season and I’m in Blacksburg, VA with Field Editor, Zac Stovall, both of us were itching to get into the woods.  The start of the season was looking grim until the sun started going down and then sound of whitetail began filling the woods. I heard a noise behind me and spotted three does coming up the woods.  After watching them for a bit I thought to myself “why not take a shot, its opening day, you got this”.  I was wrong.  Letting my arrow fly only to miss a good piece of tenderloin.  All that practice and hurry to miss my first shot, I have to be the worst bow hunter ever.

6am in the morning a few weeks later, I decided to hit up the farm.  Hunting national forest is a love of mine but this morning private land was just too convenient.  Glazing at a doe in my head light while it was still dark, I was pretty sure it was a going to be a good morning.  At the first of the season I was excited and rusty.  About 3 hours into the hunt I was surprised by a small, basket rack 8 pointer.  This deer snuck up on my blind and got so close there was no way to miss, wrong again.  Who knows what happened, first buck of the year and I hold my record with a bow. Nada.

Finally, early muzzleloading season in Virginia opened up last Saturday.  I was trying to get to Asheville, NC that evening to meet up with Zac at the WNC Fly Fishing Expo and not sleeping well the night before left me with little time in the woods.  I was already up not so bright and early but I was intent on making the best of my day.  I headed out to my blind where I saw the basket rack the week before just wasting time; hell I didn’t even eat breakfast and forgot my facemask and gloves.  The sun was just coming over the hill when I heard a rustle and I perked up real quick. Coming through a thicket straight towards me was a decent size buck with only one horn.  Normally I wouldn’t shoot a smaller buck but I was tired of missing and I was hungry. With one smokey shot, I dropped my first buck of the season.  It was then time for a quick much needed nap.

spike So, You Think Youre Zeroed In?

     Any sort of hunting of any sort is an exciting experience for me.  When I’m in the woods I always think I’m ready and all zeroed in but in nature things change.  Sometimes you have luck when you’re not even trying.  I hope everyone feels the euphoria of being out there chasing down the big one.  Don’t get mad about missing, killing a smaller one than your buddy or not seeing a thing.  Just smile and think that’s just another day you’ll get to hunt for that living room hanger.  Wish me luck for the Deertour, I’ll need it.

 

Almost Time

Well it’s about that time. We are a little under 2 weeks away from opening day of bow season! But before you make the mad dash into the woods, I suggest taking full advantage of this upcoming weekend. This Saturday (September 29th) Virginia allows a statewide Youth Deer Hunting Day. As long as the hunter is 15 years old or younger and are accompanied by adult who has a valid Virginia hunting license they are eligible to shoot deer of either sex. For more detailed regulations and information on the Virginia 2012 Youth Deer Hunting Day check out the VDGIF’s 2012-13 Hunting Regulations.

For the past 8 months I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods preparing for this season, probably more than I have ever before. Each year that passes I become more and more fascinated with the deer. Their patterns and behaviors never seizes to amaze me. Just a few a weeks ago I was scouting an area and I climbed up a tree like I was 10 years old to get a better look at the terrain. I found a nice little nook in the branches and sat for about 15 minutes and along came 3 does each with a set of twin fawns. I watched them for about 20 minutes, they started to get wind of me and they commenced to a snorting conundrum. For 10 minutes they stomped the ground, threw their noses up in the air and snorted back and forth. They never saw me and eventually scurried off but I was in disbelief of their knowingness that something just wasn’t right.

One thing that I always find amusing is hunter’s moon 291x300 Almost Time superstitions; from the lucky shirt to the lucky arrow we all have our fallacies that keep us engaged in the hunt. One of mine is the moon pattern. I can honestly say in my own experiences that the moon has played a pivotal role deer movement. This may be old news to some of you but when the moon is in between the Waning and Waxing Gibbous phase that’s when I’ve noticed deer are moving the most. Don’t get me wrong here, just because the moon isn’t in its Full phase it’s defiantly not going to deter me from climbing in my stand. Many of the deer I’ve harvested were contributed to nothing but pure luck and being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes the only preparation I took was loading bullets into my gun. Either way, whatever your ritual is that keeps you going back into the woods, just keep at it.

Hopeful and Thankful for the 2012 #Deertour

Since the official announcement of #DEERTOUR 2012, I can honestly say that there isn’t a day that goes by that I can’t help but think how lucky I am to have been chosen to be a part of such an evolving and supportive culture of deer hunters. I’m excited to meet Rudy and Will and welcome them into the mountainous, southwestern portion of Virginia. Like all the fellow Huntographers, deer season is never over. Over the past few weeks I’ve been checking trail cams, learning the travel patterns and scouting for new hunting locations.

Chris, Will and I have loosely agreed on upon setting up deer camp at a hunting cabin in southwest Virginia. The property will be a new hunting spot not just for Will but for myself too. When I met the owner of the cabin he was anxious to show me a photo a black bear that was around the property during his last visit.

IMG 20120625 213415 300x225 Hopeful and Thankful for the 2012 #Deertour

There’s defiantly no shortage of deer, turkey, and bear in the part of the state. Even the coyote, raccoon, and fox populations have been vividly noticeable. We hope to represent the purity of our hunting culture. Special thanks to Rudy and Will for letting Chris and I hop on board with Huntography and we are patiently on the countdown to November.

IMG 3245 300x190 Hopeful and Thankful for the 2012 #Deertour

Bone Rack in Roanoke County, Virginia

Stepping Into Summer

Memorial Day weekend was amazing this year in southwest Virginia. Temperatures held steady in the mid 80’s and we didn’t see a drop of rain all weekend. Fishing and hiking were ideal, and I managed to do a little bit of both on my extra day off. Special thanks to those serving around the globe in the U.S. Armed Forces fighting for our freedom so we can enjoy the great outdoors.

Even though whitetail and turkey seasons have wrapped up for the year, October bow season never seems too far away. I’m always on the lookout for wildlife, even during the off-season. Over the years one thing I’ve noticed that the deer around here in the summer months get a real smooth, almost red coat. While I was doing some work around my house on Monday afternoon, I noticed this curious doe sneaking up to my back porch.
doe 2 300x225 Stepping Into Summer

To show a better comparison of the color difference of the deer fur, here’s a photo I took last September just a few days before the 2011 bow season opened. It’s a nice 8-point buck that has already grown out his winter fur and a spike that’s still donning the summer coat. These deer were photographed in Washington County, Virginia.
washi 300x225 Stepping Into Summer

Support Your Local Knife Maker

Many of you can agree that a sharp blade is just as important to the hunt as a finely tuned bow. For years I’ve used the same knife to skin out game. The blade I used worked just fine and still gets the job done today. Over the past 2 years I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know some new hunters in my area and I’ve noticed many of them share the hobby of making knives. Being around these guys talking about the process of knife making has inspired me to get more familiar with different types of knives and the craftsmanship that goes into making a solid blade.

Through the grapevine, I’ve discovered two extraordinary knife makersBig Bear 231x300 Support Your Local Knife Maker in southwest Virginia that are banging the steel and producing some amazing knife works. Since the early 1990’s Charles Vestal, of Abingdon, VA, has been perfecting his craft as a knife maker. Vestal creates a variety of skinners with stainless guard or bolsters and stainless bolts or pins. His prefers to use natural materials for the handles but offers customers the option for a synthetic or Micarta finish. Every Vestal knife comes accompanied with a high quality vegetable tanned leather case that is hand stitched. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an exclusive waiting list for Vestal’s masterworks but defiantly would be worth the wait. For more information and a photo gallery of Vestal Knives check out his website here.

Less than 20 miles away in Bristol VA, Burt Foster is busy keeping the tradition of knife making alive. Foster’s website answers the question, why we should buy a handmade knife….

“Hand made knives, like many hand crafts represent a slower time when everything a person owned was made with care by a craftsman, and most stuff took a while to make. Even dinner took all day to make! Our society usually doesn’t permit us to live at in the slow lane, and to do so is death in the modern world, but if we can step down sometimes and consider the future, not the next hour or day or week, but for a generation or two, we would put greater value on things that last.”
hunter 031 large 300x214 Support Your Local Knife Maker

Foster is a certified Master Bladesmith by the American Bladesmith Society Inc. and likes to build forged, fixed blade knives. He also produces a variety of camp knives, fighters and hunters while specializing in stainless and carbon laminated steel, Damascus steel and even basic, high-performance, working knives. Foster’s website includes a 150-photo slideshow that showcases the step-by-step process of a hand crafted Damascus steel camp knife.

Vestal and Foster are just a few of many local knife makers in Virginia that have taken the time to sharpen their craft in order to create quality products. Their skills are traits that any hunter or outdoorsman can appreciate. I would encourage everyone to support their local knife maker and take the time to respect the craftsmanship that goes into making a quality handmade knife.

andy knife 300x179 Support Your Local Knife MakerA friend of mine in Montgomery County, Virginia was able to do some research on knife making and within a few months he had created his very own masterpiece. He doesn’t consider himself a professional just yet but I’d say he’s off to a good start with his blaze orange skinner.

Get Ready to Gobble

If you didn’t know already, this Saturday the much anticipated Spring Gobbler season will open here in Virginia. Keep in mind from April 14 – May 5, hunters can only hunt from one-half hour before sunrise until 12 noon each day. Then from May 7-19, one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Before you hit the woods, be sure to double check your gear. Another thing to consider when hunting in the warm weather is bugs. Grab a bottle of Permethrin and spray down your gear and clothes to fiend off ticks, mosquitoes and other insects.

Good luck to everyone headed out this weekend and let us know what you think about the 2012 Spring Gobbler season.

Testing the ThermaCELL

There is nothing I love more than knowing that the spring and summer time weather is just around the corner. Soon it will be time where we can stay outside all day and through the night. I’ve already planned out some camping, hiking and fishing trips this year. Thanks to a belated birthday gift, I’m going to be testing out the ThermaCELL portable device throughout my adventures.

The recent warm temperatures and rainy forecast have already brought out some preseason mosquitoes. The last thing I want to be doing when I’m hunting spring time gobblers is to be swatting mosquitoes. This year instead of dousing myself with chemically concentrated sprays, I’m going to keep the ThermaCELL nearby.

310MhsBKVBL. SL500 AA300  300x300 Testing the ThermaCELL