Friday, May 29, 2009

Spring Turkey Season Wall of Fame . . .

The following write-up was completed by a good friend of mine and a fellow turkey hunting fanatic. Enjoy!

It has been a long turkey season....

Day 1: Get up at 3AM. I got my dad his turkey on the first morning. We had 6 Jakes, 2 Toms and a Hen in front of us. I called the Jakes in and kept them at the decoys. The 2 toms came in about 20 minutes later and
started to chase the jakes around. When they cleared the jakes, my dad picked out the bigger of the 2 toms and let him have it from 40 yards away. The bird never flinched. I passed on the smaller tom...only had a 4 inch beard and seemed smaller than the one my dad shot. Dads bird: He was 18 Lbs and had a 7 inch beard. We then drove to an abandoned apple orchard where we heard a bird gobbling from the road... Snuck in and setup... called to him but he wasnt having any of it....stayed out of site and moved past us up into the woods. We checked a few more spots and called it a morning....

Day 2: Rise and shine...3AM Went and setup in the apple orchard. Nothing.....checked a few more spots and saw some birds but no luck. Went to the spot where I shot my bird last year. There was a gobbler in the
field with a hen. Went and setup but he was long gone with the hen by the time we got settled.

Leonard with his first Turkey ever! From the smile on his face I would say he is hooked!

Day 3: Man am I tired...3AM again. Went back to where my dad got his bird on Day 1 and had birds everywhere. There was a hot hen and several toms and jakes all tree'd up. I was calling with the hen....sort of competing with her....and got a small jake to come to the decoy....I had my mind made up that I would take anything with a beard. He was only a small jake with little to no beard so I passed. Left that location and went back to the apple orchard. Heard the gobbler again and this time got setup in the orchard. As soon as we got setup, one bird had snuck in behind us and was gobbling from 30 yards behind us in the woods. He saw us or something and immediately fled the scene. The other gobbler we heard from the road was making his way through the field toward the orchard. We were behind a rock wall and there was a short pine tree obscuring the view into the orchard....bad setup. I called that bird from 400 yards away and he came into the orchard and setup on the other side of that darn pine tree....for an hour and a half I called to him and he gobbled and gobbled and gobbled....less than 20 feet away. he simply would not come out into the open. Finally, it took a stick and started scratching in the leaves like a feeding turkey. It worked..... I was calling and my gun was in my lap. I look up and he had made his way past the pine tree and all I see is a beard and legs....I reach for the gun but its too late....busted. I quickly raise the gun and slid the bead on his side and squeezed the trigger. He clucks and turns to run as I fire and the shot runs right up the side of him. Complete miss at less than 10 feet. Not a single feather touched. CRAAAPP!!!!!! Good size bird...11 inch (or so) beard.

Day 4: Hard Rain. Deep sleep. No hunting

Day 5: 3:30 AM: Rain let up. Hunted alone in Brunswick. Devin and I had driven around the night before and found 4 Toms of good size and watched them go to bed. I setup the next morning....near 6 other hunters....and had the birds across a creek less than 200 hundred yards from me. They did not want to move. So I tried a no avail. I got within 40 yards but just could not see the birds. I started to drive home and decided to run by some fields out past the house. As I drove by my neighborhood, a HUGE tom was standing by the side of the road next to someones mailbox. I drove by him and he crossed the road. I turned around and drove down into my neighborhood and go setup in the woods below where he went in. Called to him for about an hour and called it a day.

Duck man with his first ever Turkey. A double shot from Duck man's 12 and my 10 brought these two down on the opening day at the same exact time!

Day 6: Monday. Dad decided not to go and I had decided that given my work load this would be my last day. The day felt good...was confident that
Today would be the day. Had leads on 3 birds and had seen birds every day. Got up late and made my way to a spot that always seems to hold a tom at roost. Made a single hen sound from the road and he sounded off in the tree just off the main road. I went to a field below and setup. He flew down at about 5:30 AM and was very hesitant to come in. I called to him for about a half hour but he moved off and down towards the river. I picked up and left. I arrived at the corn field where I shot last years bird in time to see a hen and small tom fly down from their tree. They moved towards the only spot where I could enter the field so I decided to move on. Maybe a good spot for tomorrow if I decide to hunt. I drove to the former town landfill....same spot where I missed that huge bird last year. It is only 6:30 yet I resign myself to this being my last chance today. I walked up the old road and got to the top. Used the box call to see if anything was around and heard a jake respond back. I got setup in the field below the road. Made one call with the box call and put my mouth call in. Just as I did that I looked up to see 2 white heads running down the road at me..... One of the toms came into the field towards the decoy and I immediately id'd him as a young bird with only a 4-5 inch beard. The bigger bird stayed on the road and was flared out and posturing. His head was brilliant white and I could see he was a bigger bird than the one less than 15 feet from me near the decoy. The young bird turned towards the decoy and puffed up and gave the decoy a peck...I knew the gig was up. I took the opportunity of him looking away to move my gun and sight in on the bigger bird now 40 yards away. As soon as he was lined up...I shot the bird on the road. I immediately jumped up as I was unsure if I had hit the bird hard. 2 birds immediately took off and I thought I had missed him. I was about to shoot the second bird in the air when I heard the wing flaps my bird back on the road. Turns out there were 3 Toms coming to me...I only ever saw 2. YAHOOOOOOOOOO! 10 inch beard, 19lbs 4oz. Season over!!!!

Another successful season....4 for 4!!! All excellent birds!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Foraging for Food

I began my foray into foraging last night with a supper of Dandelion greens. I figured since they were very easy to safely identify and readily accessible at my house they would serve as a nice starting point. The book I have been reading, “A Foraging Vacation Edibles from Maine’s Sea and Shore” by Raquel Boehmer, explains that the genus and species name of the Dandelion is Taraxacum Officinale and that it is the most famous of Maine’s many and varied potherbs. The 117 page book is a great short read and highlights many more of Maine’s edibles including periwinkles and Sea Urchins to Chickweed and Beach Peas.

A quick search of the perimeter of my lawn yielded many Dandelion plants and for my “test” I harvested 4 specimens. Though the book suggests digging up the plants I simply gathered together the leaves and pulled. In 3 of the 4 cases this resulted in the root being ripped off the main stem and left stuck firmly in the ground. For the one root that I did manage to harvest, I am drying for a future attempt at making into tea.

After thoroughly washing the greens, I dropped them into a frying pan and added about a tablespoon of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and approximately half a handful of chopped onion. I then let this concoction percolate on the stove for about 15 minutes on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions turned translucent. Next the experiment was placed on a plate and after adding a splash of white vinegar down the hatch they went.

I was surprised with the richness of flavor these greens possessed, lacking any of the bitterness that I had originally expected to experience. I thought back to all of the years I mowed over this annoying and “weed” not knowing that it contained such splendid and complex flavors. Let me state that I will be mowing no more!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Garden Update II - May

5/16 Update – My father-in-law arrived from Massachusetts with 12 lettuce plants approximately 3 inches tall and one tomato plant around 5 inches tall. These were planted in garden one in the barren sections of the lettuce row. My plants in this section were struggling, so I calculated that perhaps these transplants being stronger would do better.

I thought it interesting to note, that the plants were transported in a brown paper bag and simply had their roots covered in a small amount of dirt. My father-in-law, a Portuguese farmer from the old country, certainly had no qualms about roughly handling the plants. In another bag, he brought a small amount of fertilizer and this he used to ring around each plant after he had transplanted them. They were then “refreshed” by a small amount of water and left to rest. I find this very interesting and will be curious to see if these transplants thrive.

Despite a heavy frost on 5/13, I looked over the peas today and thought they were growing extremely well. I went ahead and planted 10 more seeds in areas that had not sprouted. The pole beans still have not managed to break through the surface.

Several onions were trampled by the dog . . . recovery doubtful.

Inside starter plants:
4 cucumbers have managed to break the surface in my newly acquired “greenhouse” that I purchased at Longfellows last weekend.

7 Peppers are still surviving and about 1.5 inches tall. My 49 tomato plants range between 1 and 2 inches tall. I am still expecting to put them out in 2-3 weeks.

6 Pepper plants I purchased at Longfellows dropped their lower set of leaves. I am curious if I left them outside for to long on a windy day earlier this week.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gardening in May

I managed to set aside part of the weekend to quickly expand the garden by adding a 7’ x 12” row of spinach and 80 pole bean plants on 10 poles. I also erected a chicken wire fence to use for the impending crop of cucumbers. My thought is to get these vine plants growing up rather than out and in the process save me valuable garden space. Time will tell if my experiment will be worth the extra effort.

Seemingly motivated by several rainstorms this past week, I have been amazed that my tiny garden is starting to grow with increased vigor! Every row seems to be showing some sign of life with tiny sprouts pushing through the soil with delicate green leaves. As the vegetables have sprouted, so have several varieties of weeds including grass, clover and other obnoxious greenery. I remain hopeful that my close quarters (French Technique) planting will eventually drown out these invaders and leave me with a garden that requires little “tending”.

My inside plants, started on 4/25, consisted of a perhaps an over zealous 40 tomato and 20 red pepper plants followed by 20 more tomato plants on 5/7. My initial assessment of the tomatoes and pepper is that the tomatoes seem to be growing very well but the peppers are progressing at a MUCH slower rate. At first I thought that none of the peppers had managed to germinate but in the last week several have managed to begin peaking through the soil. Encouraged by the recent growth, I planted 20 more peppers, 20 cucumbers and 10 additional tomatoes on 5/10 and am hopeful that they will also begin to produce within the next couple weeks.

Inside Starters and Dates
4/25 – 40 Tomatoes and 20 Red Peppers
5/07 – 20 Tomatoes
5/10 – 20 Red Peppers, 20 Cucumbers, 10 Tomatoes . . . in purchased mini greenhouse.
5/10 – Purchased 6 Red Pepper plans approximately 8 inches high from Longfellows Greenhouse.

If anyone noticed in the photo of my starter tomatoes I have some interesting pots made of “recycled” newspaper. The easy directions for how they were created can be found on wikkihow. While they require much more work than the store bought containers they are also free, easy to make and great fun for kids to construct.

As I peer at the calendar, I note that yet another week of spring slips by and the season of planting veggies is quickening its pace. Let this Memorial Day weekend be my guide in finalizing the last of my seed planting. Two weeks after the holiday, I will attempt to plant my inside grown peppers and tomatoes in garden number two.

Though far from being a green thumb, I have to admit that most of my initial feelings of anxiety experienced during my beginning planting have subsided. Eyeing my growing crops this overcast Sunday afternoon has left me with a feeling of confidence that I can actually grow something. I have no doubt that most seasoned gardeners reading this post will chuckle at my total lack of inexperience in things “green” but I am also sure that others out there will completely sympathize with my trepidation.
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