Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Turkey Town pt 1

Even though I'm a complete novice turkey hunter, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite hunts of the year! Not only was I excited to get back into the woods, but I was also excited because this was going to be Caden's very first hunt. Since he passed Hunter Safety earlier this year (read about that HERE) we've been looking forward to his turkey hunt to practice what he learned. I put in some evenings scouting and found a few toms and some jakes doing almost exactly what they had done last year. We also came across several spots where some turkeys hadn't quite made it through the long winter. 

The 'scouting' hikes were also a great opportunity to do some shed hunting and we actually found a few!

Being a music teacher never seems to come with an off-season, but spring isn't even close to that. Festivals, concerts, practices, and finishing out the school year all managed to get in the way of turkey hunting but we tried our best to get out in the evenings whenever we could. The boys were going to take turns going out with me because we only have one shotgun (and I thought having fewer people would be easier to minimize noise/movement/distractions). The first evening came and Caden got his first chance in the field. The plan was to catch the birds on their way to roost, not really trying to call them in unless they wanted to talk. The cold evening was just starting to go dark when we spotted some birds that had snuck in behind us. Caden got a shot at a tom, but he had to turn quick to shoot, and missed. 

Atley got the 1st morning hunt, but we completely struck out other than spooking some birds as we were still trying to get where we wanted to set up. Amazing how quickly thoughts of being cursed, or unlucky, creep in despite him having success in the past. The youth hunt ended without a bird for either boy, but they still had the opportunity to get one during the general hunt. Unfortunately, the weather kept trying to extend winter and I didn't want to force the boys to go out in bad weather, fearing that a bad experience might turn them against going out at all. Of course this is when a group of several jakes presented an opportunity. I decided against filling my tag with a young bird since I'd shot one for my first-ever turkey last year.

An evening of better weather got both the boys to come with me and Atley was up. Again, the plan was to catch the birds on their way to roost. Before we could get into position we spotted some birds in a field on private. We used the terrain to stay out of sight and worked up and above them. We slowly worked to where we thought they'd be coming through on the way to roost. As seems to be the trend of this year we were busted by a hen on our way to set up (maybe we're being too aggressive?) and we froze in our tracks until she moved off. Then we went into "Ninja-Sniper" mode, as Atley called it, and tailed the group of birds hoping they'd cross the fence to where we could get a shot. Super slow going! We did get to see a jake try to mount a hen and get smacked down by a tom. Suddenly, a red head was on the right side of the fence, but Atley couldn't see it. Quickly, it disappeared down the trail and we were in hot pursuit. Once we spotted it again Atley made a great shot and filled his tag! 

One thing I'm trying to be better at is letting the boys be more involved with the decision making and calling. Atley made all the decisions that led to his harvest. Once we spotted the birds he decided to use the scrub oak to hide us, he decided to take the high trail, and he decided to trail the flock. It definitely made the experience better for him and hopefully will translate into getting him out hunting more.

More to come about Caden's hunt and how I finished out my season. Good times with great people and lots of turkey nuggets! 

Hope you're as lucky,

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Da Greeen!

Dad taught us how to fly fish small streams and rivers with an automatic reel, a level leader and a renegade. There were no other flies on the stream. Fly fishing was for July and August only, once the water came down and cleared. I fished this way for years, catching quite a few fish and devoting the other months of the year to fishing lakes with my spinning rod. One summer, we did a job building a garage and pouring a new driveway for my Dad's cousin Gary. We knew Gary fly fished, but he used all those weird flies and didn't fish like us. During the build, there were several mornings when Gary would head out to fly fish, even though it was only May! He had a lot of success which made us want to get out too. Weston and I headed for the middle provo river where we figured was some of the only fishable water in the state at that time of year. We caught some fish, little ones, using our 'traditional' approach. Talking with Gary at the end of the next day he invited us into the house to show me a couple of flies and how to tie them. I still have those flies: Deer hair caddis, pheasant tail, para-hopper, Chernobyl Ant. After a trip (or two) to Sportsman's Warehouse and a local fly shop (full of snobs) I gathered all the needed materials to reproduce these flies on my own and an addiction at the vise took hold.

Another thing that Gary showed us was how to float Utah's Green River below Flaming Gorge on kick boats. I distinctly remember floating that river and watching Gary catch 5 fish or more to my every strike. This fishing was SO WEIRD! Sitting in what felt like an easy chair floating down the stream "with" your fly was strange, but the way the fish would come up and sip the fly from the surface was the weirdest. Fishing the riffles with a renegade meant that strikes came sudden and violent, it was too much to wait until the fish took the fly and several times I pulled the fly right out of their mouths.

Fast forward 15 years and I don't think there's a single renegade in my boxes (although I should have some, it's a great fly) and I've been trying to fish like Gary ever since. With these memories haunting me throughout the long cold winter, I decided to make the trek out to the green after several years of 'being too busy' with Dad and my boys in tow. 

Stayed the night at Dad's with Del and the boys since she had to be up north the next morning for a work conference. Early morning we headed out by way of Wyoming to the green, arriving at Little Hole not long after sunrise. To start we were the only ones around, though we knew that wouldn't last. In my rush to get a fly wet I didn't put on waders, and ended up not getting them on all day even though it would've made things a lot easier. 

Fish were active in the riffles taking beatis nymphs and I managed to catch a few before people started joining us and we decided to hike up the canyon to try a different spot. Most active fish were out of reach from shore, so we headed back to the truck for some lunch and a break from the wind. Watching more and more people arrive made us decide to drive up to try below the dam before heading for home. 

The change in scenery and getting out of the wind was nice, but Dad didn't want to fish too much longer so he dropped Atley and me off to fish for a little while and he took a nap while Caden told him all about the movie "Tron" that he's been obsessed with lately. We found a pod of rising bows to play with and they were willing to come up for a parachute blue wing olive. The  fish were cruising around a back eddy - so timing and accuracy were needed to fool them into eating at the end of a 40 foot cast. Some of the most fun you can have while flyfishing - sight fishing dries to rising fish. A few fish brought to hand and we decided it was time to call it a day. 


A sleepy blur of sagebrush and kids talking about random things is all I remember of the drive home as Dad made good use of the nap time he'd had. 

Hope you're as lucky,