Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ready or Not

I'm a big time person.I'm rarely ever late and if other people are well it irritates me to say the least.So with my schedule at work,gone for a month home for two weeks,it's hard to fit everything in.I tend to miss quite a bit and I can't imagine if I had a family to tend to.It's that time of the year where Summer gives way to Autumn and it's going to happen whether you are ready or not.The weather doesn't care if your done bass fishing or camping.The weather doesn't care if your duck decoys are rigged or the boat is grassed up it's going to happen plain and simple.The date will come when others head to the field and you will either be there with them because you were prepared or you will be at home waiting to here the stories of glory they bring back.The wood duck season opens in Virginia on October 6th and for the first time in several years my schedule has me home.The weather is forecast to change.Change from rain,fog,humidity and everything else tropical to a much more typical Fall forecast.I'm looking forward to spending a few mornings in the water before the season opener to pattern some birds the old fashioned way.Sit in the middle of the river,fish,watch the sun come up and watch for birds.So I hope everyone stays tuned as we enter one of the best times of the year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ridin' on Dubs!Part 2

Crazy geese,that's a cattle farm!

With the Resident September goose season underway one would think an avid waterfowler as myself would be excited about it.Unfortunately the exact opposite was happening.Over a foot of rain,hurricane winds and crazy tides had pushed all the local birds into a pattern I couldn't figure out.So what's an outdoorsman to do?The water on the local creeks was entirely to high for fishing,the Chesapeake Bay was the color of chocolate milk and still is to this day.Dove season,that's the answer!So with a little friendly chatter with a local corn and soy farmer I gained access to a field that had been cut prior to the hurricane.Not just any field though,the one on the other side of the fence in my backyard.So i called my brother,the nutty professor,cleaned my mossberg 500 pump and looked forward to a relaxing opening day of dove season in Virginia.

High flying resident geese over the corn field

Many of the local corn fields had not been cut prior to the hurricane thus limiting the areas the doves could possibly be feeding in.However just like the local geese,the local dove population had yet to "Get Right" after the storm.The birds were very spread out and I had done zero scouting prior to heading out in the field with a gun in my hands,hunter fail.I did spend the afternoon before opening day riding around the area checking power lines right before sunset and then again early the next morning.The season opened at high noon and lets just say it was a bit warm to be hunkered down in the brush next to the railroad tracks.I headed out the backyard and across the field a little after noon to claim a spot for me and Nutty who would be a few hours late.Not being very experienced in dove hunting I picked an area in the field that funneled the birds down some railroad tracks into a neighboring field,i chose wisely.Shortly after showing up,placing my camping chair and cooler down in the brush some of the other locals began to filter in.They weren't openly upset at the "new guy" in "their" spot but I could tell I was a bit of a thorn in everyones side.So seeing as how we were all armed I walked up and introduced myself and friendships were born.I have had little interaction with the locals since I moved to the area late last Summer.That being said apparently they know who I am,kinda spooky.So with names and numbers exchanged we all set up on the perimeter of the field and waited.Then we sweated and waited.Then I walked back home to get more ice for the cooler and Nutty showed up with some good luck.

Nutty with his first Dove of the day

I quickly got Nutty set up down the railroad tracks from me and in short order he watched me miss a dove on landing on the line.Yeah,that happened!Whatever,I'm man enough to admit I scare more birds then I kill.A few minutes later Nutty had his eye on a low Dove and with one shot the bird was down.After some high fives and calls of nice shot echoed around the field we were set again.I had nutty watching the field as I watched downed the railroad tracks.The next pair came through the funnel fast and I shot and missed,Nutty took one shot and got another one.This was starting to get painful!I'm watching these little red shotgun hulls building at my feet and I have nothing but a warm gun barrel to show for it.The shooting slowed down with a few passer bys high above the trees,a flock of local geese looking for lunch flying over and a few laughs traded back and forth with the locals.

We called the hunt,gathered together,had a few beers on the tailgate and wandered back home.Simple,yes,relaxing,yes,just what I needed,hell yes.I get extremely burnt out bass fishing in the heat all Summer so I really look forward to hunting season.The problem is hunting to me means,Fall,cooler weather and North winds.In September,in southern Virginia you are dreaming if you think you are going to get any of that.However every year i get so amped up for September 1st and am usually let down by the 85 degree weather,blistering sunburns and absolutely no wind.So maybe I have found my September calling,Dove hunting.Next year the field will be planted in corn and not harvested until early November with crop rotation.So next year i will again have to man up,ask around and try to find a field to hunt in September.With one under my belt I almost look forward to gaining access on the local fields.A short note on behavior on private property.Of course none of us would ever leave shotgun hulls on the field,do donuts with our trucks,throw beer cans in the woods,right?Well how does the farmer know that when he sees it this winter when he goes to plant his wheat?He gave you and 10 other peopled permission so how does he know it wasn't you?My tip of the day,take it or leave it,pick up the other guys mess.You don't have to tell the farmer,unless the damage done is severe,just pick it up and look at it as the price of admission.So there you have it,hunting season is officially underway.In a few weeks I will be in the water trying for the 6th consecutive year to bad a wood duck,pathetic I know.Bring on the cold North winds and get outside!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ridin' on DUBS! Part 1

Next year I want permission to hunt here

In the words of Ice-T,'That ain't me dawg!".So with Hurricane Irene gone,the following week brought major flooding of all the local rivers and creeks.This translates to trees with root balls still attached floating down river at 4 knots,aka not going bass fishing anytime soon.No worries the September goose season came in!Not only was I not excited,it was almost like I wasn't enjoying the thought of going to hunt honkers.I powered through this outdoor depression and got the boat ready.Blind put back on,grass mats attached,decoys washed off,ready to roll.Opening day I was by myself in a spot that I most likely will never get the chance to hunt again.This topic I will not discuss until it all gets figured out but lets say the blind laws in Virginia are a bit strange and leave it at that.So there I was reading my current selection,The Good Soldiers,in the boat blind in 80 degree weather not feeling this hunt.Not sure if it was because i was by myself,was it the weather,was it the lack of birds?Again I powered through my second bout of outdoor depression and the birds never worked correctly and I went home empty handed.I made the decision that I needed to do something different to get the outdoors enjoyment back in my life,a boot to the pant seat if you will.After a short chat with my big brother Swamp Thing I began to realize it was time to stretch my outdoor legs and branch out.

The Goose setup
Dove season opened in a few days,sounds like a plan.I looked at public areas to hunt,I decided that was a horrible idea.People lined up on the dirt roads shooting each other in the face isn't my idea of getting in touch with the outdoors.It was high time I took a go at getting permission to hunt private land.Not just any land,but the large field directly behind my house that was planted in half corn this year. I met the farmer earlier this year,at night,while fireworks were going off,not a great time to connect with a land owner=fail.This time I drove by the harvesters at the end of the day and caught one of the farmers sons outside.A short chat later and I was in!I couldn't believe how cool he was with the idea.It definitely helped that I lived nearby and was a "hard working man trying to do right by the world."Southern people are awesome!So I made the call to my other brother who lives nearby and we had a nice setup for the next day.Dove hunting in the field directly behind my house,how much easier can it get.I didn't even care if we didn't see any birds,it promised to be a relaxing afternoon spent outdoors.Stay tuned,next time we go dove hunting,the guns work well but how about our aim?Have a good one and get outside!

Sunset on the Elizabeth River,Southern Branch

Monday, September 12, 2011


LONG LIVE AMERICA!Don't ever forget what it took to make this country the greatest country on Earth.I was planning to upload a video as a semi tribute to 9/11 however the video is to large.So I urge you to go to youtube and look up Boatlift,an untold tale of resilience.It's not just another make you cry video.It's a video that looks at the massive evacuation that took place after the towers collapsed.So watch the video and take a minute to remember.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mud and Blood

Across from Big Woods WMA,A nice piece of nature conervancy property

No name creek on Big Woods State Forest Virginia

So the weather has not cooperated much this year,anywhere in the United States for outdoor activities.Locally we went through Hurricane Irene with the rest of the East Coast.Fortunately,personally all I lost was time to spend outside.The creeks,rivers and lakes were all flooded and way past unfishable.September goose opened up on the 1st however the storm has the birds spread out.I had electricity,A.C. and a home,many people lost these after the storm so I had little to complain about.I decided to switch gears,take a drive and see if I could add some new hunting and fishing spots to my arsenal.

Give it a few years,this path won't look this nice

I ended up at the Big Woods WMA in Sussex county,Va.I was informed about Big Woods at the end of last Summer and never got a chance to make the hour drive to check it out.Big Woods is an interesting WMA in many aspects.First it is one of the few WMA that was purchased using funds from the state hunting/fishing license and ammunition tax.The last part is fact,I researched it.This next part is suspect,who owned the land prior.Before heading to the property I noticed online the maps were much like a rainbow in color.This is because it is one part state forest,one part private property,one small part WMA.Once I arrived on the property,I noticed the Nature Conservancy owns a very large portion of land surrounding the area.I suspect the land was purchased from the Nature Conservancy as they have unfortunately been struggling in the last few years financially.This is not fact,I am speculating.So regardless of who owns what and where it came from,it's now public and mostly free.

Plenty of deer around if that's your thing

I entered on a small access road not labeled on my maps but labeled on my Garmin etrex gps,thank you Garmin!No I didn't get a free gps but i wouldn't turn one down either.The roads were signed forest property and the gate was open.The sign said "While hiking,biking,hunting,fishing,permit is required."Well I was driving so on I went.Now you can imagine the interior roads 0f forest property and a WMA after 10 inches of rain.Let's just say thanks for 4wd whoever came up with that concept.The ultimate goal was to try and find a few creeks I was told about,follow the creeks to the swamps,locate wood ducks for hunting in October.It kind of went like this,drive down bumpy,muddy road,look at gps,move fallen tree,drive,drive,looks good I'm stopping here.I pulled off the "road" and slapped on my Lacrosse knee boots,again not free,they just rule.I followed the path until it ended,then I located a million deer prints,a few bear prints,coon prints and zero water.I jumped back into the truck and headed to the WMA part of the property.

It's funny to me that this property,being managed by two different state agencies,look exactly the same.I was really worried that one side of the property would be well managed and the other would be neglected.This wasn't the case!The entire property is well signed,foot paths are cleared,roads are as good as you can expect.I was actually amazed the roads were open after all the rain.I guess the fact is that the property just switched hands last year so it hasn't had long to be neglected.So on I bumped around trying to find a creek bed to follow and I did.Now that the temperature was up around 85 with ridiculous humidity,I was less than happy to trounce through the woods but i did.Being careful to avoid freshly downed trees i worked my way down the creek.With my gps in my hand I walked through thorns,moved limbs,stepped in water I had no idea of the depth,yes this is what I call fun.I never found the wood duck promise land.I headed back to the truck,sat on the tailgate and took it all in.My sandwich that is!No seriously I did enjoy my lunch on the tailgate,covered in mud and blood.I looked at myself thinking,why do I continually do these kinds of activities?The answer,because I love it!It's a sense of self accomplishment,even though I didn't accomplish anything.It's knowing now that if anyone asks me about this piece of property i have personal hands on knowledge of it.It's knowing that,I could have stayed home on the couch,but I didn't.I got outside and took in nature and to me that's priceless.Until next time,get outside everybody,seriously.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Quick Post

Just wanted to throw out a quick post.Honestly I have been so wrapped up in being home I almost forgot about the blog.No worries I have plenty of pictures and a few stories to pass along in the next few weeks.The Hurricane definitely put a few screws in the plan but I worked through them.I'm heading back to work in the morning so I should be able to find time to write up a good post or two.So strange,I have time to play on the computer at work but not at home.It's getting cooler outside and I hope everyone has been finding time to enjoy it.