Trout and Trail Cameras.

Sunday afternoon, we headed out to check our game cameras after a month of leaving them alone. Mostly, it was Trail Camera Images Starring Squirrel and Leaf (one camera had over 700 images. 690 of moving leaf), but we got some pretty good images.

And since we were out that way, it meant trying our hand at trout fishing again. Which also meant Matt getting one trout, losing one, and me getting none. However, I did find a hole in each wader. The bright side is that I found said holes long before the icy water of duck season would be a problem. Now I have even more reason to upgrade to chest waders. Plus, my line broke at the spool, so I spent 15 or 20 minutes in thigh deep water, trying to re-rig my ling with one hand. A lot of agricultural run off goes into this creek, so a lot of it is silting in. I got stuck with both legs in soft, knee deep, sucking mud. Matt’s trout was a nice one, though. I just don’t really enjoy fishing Black Earth Creek.

Looking west, downstream.

Looking west, downstream.

Matt's little rainbow.

Matt’s little rainbow.

Early Spring Turkey Scouting

Sunday afternoon we finally got out in the woods a bit. The weather warmed up significantly this weekend- near 60 on Sunday, with a high of 62 for Monday. It’ll drop back down the rest of the week, but we got out while we could and hung trail cams and did some light scouting ahead of turkey season.

Miscellany

This post is sort of a catch-all.

I went and did the tire thing today, only to get back to the house and realize they gave me a 5-lug-pattern rim, when I told them I needed a 4-lug-pattern. I should have noticed it at the tire place, but they also should have gotten it right the first time. They’re willing to do an exchange for the rim I need, and are shipping it in from Illinois or Minnesota. It should be here in two days or so. At least I don’t have to call up a flatbed like last fall.

Secondly. When I was editing the video from this morning and writing up that post, I looked up from my laptop to see this out my front window, strolling from the Nosy Neighbor’s yard into my own front yard.

SAMSUNG SAMSUNG

 

Now, neither of those photos are of my front yard, as I went and got too excited trying to take a picture, and scared her away. I walked to the front door, and she scuttled across the street to that driveway, and then to that gravel lot. Mind you, we live in Madison. Technically, we’re on a more north-eastern edge, but there’s a few blocks, an airport, and an Air National Guard installation between us and The Country. Saturday a mating pair of mallards hunkered down in the grass up there (I fed them some bread),  and two weeks ago, Matt saw a small herd of deer in our front yard around midnight when he got home. This place is a damn zoo.

Third-  I completely forgot to mention that Sunday morning we attempted to coyote hunt some more. We saw 0 coyotes, but Matt used his ghillie suit (he looked like a grassy hump), and I used my leaf poncho (I looked like a pile of raked leaves with a face). Sitting on a hilltop on a warm, sunny Spring morning is not a bad way to pass the time. We even saw a turkey- a hen walked across a field at the bottom of the hill. Most of the turkey we see there are in fairly small groups, or by themselves.  Saturday night we drowned our sorrows, and we got advice on where to hunt turkeys. Some people Matt knows  through work, and who come into the bar I work at, even drew us a little map of a nice piece of public land near Wyocena. Our turkey tags are (seriously) for next week. How time flies!

First Boat Outing of the Year.

After yesterday’s epic fail, we went turkey scouting this morning. Then this afternoon we grilled brats for lunch, did a little yard work, and got the boat we *do* have cleaned up the rest of the way. We’re going out fishing, and we’re going to try to bowfish tonight. It’s a little over 70 today, and it’s lovely. Wish us luck!SAMSUNG

Re-Visiting Last Year’s Hunting Grounds

We spent another weekend out looking for turkeys. Since we hunt on public land, and neither of us really knows the good spots (yet), doing the legwork to find the animals is essential.

We didn’t go fly fishing on Saturday as hoped- I ended up closing at work (I tend bar), which is just whenever the last patrons leave. I got done around 10:30. Matt had gone to the Deer and Turkey expo with some of his coworkers that afternoon. I had a text on my phone stating “Never let me into the expo alone again”. We have a lot of new toys. Anyhow, he was out with friends by the time I got home. I went and got him, and we went to bed. He wasn’t feeling great the next day.

I finally dragged him out of the house around 3pm. We decided to take a look at the public land we used for deer season  (SunnySlope), as well as sight in his most recent rifle purchase and attempt a coyote hunt. After I shot my doe there last Fall, I had seen a turkey walk across the field in front of me.

Here be turkeys. Or Dinosaurs.

Here be turkeys. Or Dinosaurs.

It’s all old cornfields-turned-clover, and not far along the old tractor access, we saw these. As we continued along the road to the back field at the top of the hill, we saw plenty more turkey tracks of all sizes. We also saw plenty of deer tracks. This was good, as after gun season, and late season bow, we’d barely seen any deer sign.

For reference, my hand is about 5 3/4" from the tip of my middle finger to the heel of my hand.

For reference, my hand is about 5 3/4″ from the tip of my middle finger to the heel of my hand.

We saw these monster tracks all the way back as well. This bodes well for deer season. This particular unit was pretty heavy on the deer sign last year as well. The problem is, it’s only about 7 miles outside of Madison, and it gets incredible hunting pressure. One of the last days we went out for the first gun season last year, we saw 5 other hunters. The very last day we went out for bow season, the high of the day was only 15 degrees, and we still saw two other people out there. Did I mention it’s only 240 acres? None of them really seem to attempt to move in and out quickly or quietly, and sometimes they’ll get up and leave right during the near-sunset time when the most deer are out. Very discourteous.

Anyway. We saw plenty of very encouraging sign. We didn’t see any coyotes though. On the way back to the car, we ran into a group of three hunters. This was the first weekend of  the first turkey season, and they were attempting to stalk a group of gobblers. We politely waited for them to move down the road, and away from our path so we wouldn’t mess up their hunt.

The view while we sat down and waited.

The view while we sat down and waited.

Matt played with his spotting scope, and we saw a herd of about 7 or 8 deer in the field opposite us.

You definitely can't see them here, but it's the field in the center of this photo

You definitely can’t see them here, but it’s the far field in the center of this photo

Sunday we got up early and trekked on over to Goose Lake again. We listened for turkeys, but didn’t hear anything. We hunkered down and tried to call in some coyotes. We saw plenty more ducks and geese. We could probably even hunt from the grassy field opposite the lake, since the geese fly in so low as they hop from lake to pothole to lake. Even the ducks come in low. This is a plus, since we don’t have a retriever and have to gather our birds from the water ourselves.

Cloudy sunrise

Cloudy sunrise

We didn’t see any coyote out. We also experienced one of the foibles of public land hunting, especially in an area as populated as the area around Madison is. Around 6:30 or 7, someone walked their dogs past us. We were laying on the lee side of a small hill, and he probably didn’t see us. Plus, since coyote are always in season as pest animals, it’s not a defined season, like deer, when many people avoid land used for hunting. Kind of the way it works though, as it’s there for everybody to use. We packed up and headed out.

Walking back to the car

Walking back to the car

We decided to drive around the country “block” Goose Lake occupies, as Matt had found a few other entrances/parking areas that would more easily access the far eastern end of this property. On the way over, we saw a decent sized flock of turkeys! I was a total flake and forgot to take pictures of them. We even pulled over to get a look at them feeding in a tilled field. There were 3 toms in the group and about 4 hens. Hopefully, they nest or spend some time in more of the woods on that eastern side where we can get at them. We also saw a few more groups, a bit farther off the road as we drove back towards home.

Next weekend, we may go and take a look out at some land in Mazomanie. With the high hunting pressure at Sunny Slope and the moderate traffic at Goose Lake from hikers and dog owners, having a third option would be a really good idea.

Tomorrow’s post will cover the progress we’ve made on the boat trailer.

 

 

 

 

Scouting Goose Lake

[I edited this post after changing themes today. There’s now a gallery at the bottom of the post.- A]

We had a relatively busy weekend, and it was our first weekend doing something outside in almost a month. The camper is now mostly-finished.

We also picked up that dryer to tumble the hides, but Matt would rather I didn’t talk about that until we get all the bugs worked out.

Our other major activity this weekend was to scout some public land for hunting, specifically turkey. We’d had our eye on Goose Lake since last fall. It’s a good sized chunk of land, and it’s definitely bigger than the land we hunted deer on last year. It ended up taking us two days to scout. The first day we walked all over the eastern side of the parcel of land.

My poor old camera died fairly early on this trip. We didn’t see much turkey sign out walking around on this side. We saw some deer scat, and nibbled branches. On the far east side we found some trails. We also found out it’s named Goose Lake for a reason. We’ll probably try to hunt it for geese and ducks this year. As it was, the poor things were landing on a still-frozen lake. Saturday was pretty warm at about 45 degrees. Sunday was chillier, around 35. Both days were pretty overcast, and Sunday was very windy.

Most of the east side was flooded with melt off, or it was pretty low, swampy land to begin with. I did find one turkey feather, though, in a small stand of trees on our way back to the car.

Yesterday afternoon we drove over to Deerfield again, and this time chose one of the parking areas on the western side of the property. This side was mostly upland brush and hardwood.  Both sides of the land had upland terrain and brush that would be excellent for pheasant if we had a pointer/setter/retrieving dog. There are restrictions posted for pheasant, and you can only hunt them before 2pm. We hiked along the treeline at the bottom of the one big hill.

We still saw little in the way of turkey sign. For deer, however, we found what is probably a big watering hole. We will definitely be using this come deer season in the fall. It is used by people out hiking and walking their dogs, so we’re not sure how this affects the deer. It’s also just up the road from a gun club, and we could clearly hear gunshots on both days.  We also saw more geese coming in to the lake on this second day.

We headed back to the car, and Matt checked the map on his phone. We decided to check out one more little bit of public land on the other side of the road we parked on. This was all tall, brushy growth, but there was deer sign and scat everywhere. We followed a deer trail back and down a small hill into some more hardwoods, and came out on a snowmobile trail. It continued north into the woods. We followed it south where it came out into some tilled fields. On the edge of the field there was a permanent tree stand. There were deer tracks all over the mud on the trail. We checked the field to see it there were turkeys anywhere. None. So we walked back a ways, and started to check the woods on the other side of the trail. We scared up a deer sleeping just inside the treeline. I didn’t get a picture of it, but I did get a picture of a hoofprint. We kept an eye out both day for sheds, but no luck there.

In instances like this, the internet really saves our bacon. Neither of us had ever scouted for turkey before, so we were trying to do it like you scout for deer. We’re going to try something different on a day this week. We read that the easiest way to find turkey in the first place is to simply listen for them as they leave their roost in the morning. We need to see if there were even turkey on this land. If not, Matt hopes to try somewhere west of town near Mazomanie. We’re also asking around to see if anyone we know has land for turkey hunting.

Tomorrow I hope to have a video of our first attempts at turkey diaphragm calling edited and uploaded. This afternoon we may also be picking up fly fishing supplies, and finally making that trip down to the Root River for the salmon run next weekend. Our licenses expired yesterday, so we’ll have to get new ones and pick up our trout and salmon stamps as well.