After having a great Friday night out camping with friends, we arrived home Saturday in time to get cleaned up, grab some lunch and head out to a beautiful pond. We had a great time hangin' out as a family and got a great catch of fish to show for it. (That is a stringer full of fish that Skyler is trying to hold up.) It was very hot and the sun was a cooker -- so we all got our full dose of sun for the day. Since a lot of our outdoor time puts us in timber where the sun can't penetrate -- it was nice to get to catch some rays while still accomplishing a fun family activity. That evening we got home in time to do our usual fish cleaning assembly line where Paul cuts the meat off the bones, I separate the meat from the skin and then rinse and prepare the meat for another night's supper. Love how blessed we are to have landowners willing to let us fish beautiful ponds and therefore allowing us to add to our diet of deer and turkey meat. Mmmm - can't wait to fry up some awesome bluegills -- my FAVORITE!!
Can anyone ever truly "earn" the animals they harvest? If that can be done - we have been doing exactly that these past 2 weeks or so (in addition to accomplishing our daily life tasks). Weekend before last we spent many hours planting at least 100 trees (by hand) and last week and weekend we were busy tilling and raking up ground (with a little garden tiller which Paul put in a wheel barrel to push it down the lane) for food plots for the deer. This is a step up from our regular hoe and rake method of "tilling" as was our only option in the past. We know that all the hard work and sweat will pay off with a great upcoming season. We love to help the wildlife out where we can, improve timber stands, plant food to make their lives easier and, of course we sometimes benefit as well so it is a win-win situation. We also put a garage door opener in this weekend for one of our landowners whose yard we mow weekly -- some of the many things we do to ensure we will continue to have hunting privileges in the future. We had plans to go shoot our rifles this past weekend too but there just weren't enough hours in the day so we may try to get that done next weekend. We laid our heads on our pillows with that great physical exhaustion that we love to feel because we know we have really been living life.
On Sunday Bob Groene from the Argus/Dispatch came to Grissoms' Garage and interviewed Skyler about her turkey harvests this year. Skyler told us she was really nervous -- but by the time Bob left I think Skyler had loosened up a bit. If you are interested, you can see SKYLER'S ARTICLE HERE. I was laughing as I read the article because all the misses are usually rare in our family - so to have three listed in one story for all the world to see is a bit humbling...but I guess it happens to the best of us.
Skyler wanted to redesign my blog for me for Mother's Day. I was a little hesitant because she didn't want me to see it until all the changes were made...however, she was pretty relentless and I gave in. Once I saw the results -- I was glad I did. So anyway, the way my blog looks today is a little different that it did last week and I have Skyler to thank for it -- I think she did a wonderful job!
After I got my bird on Saturday, I was able to stay home with Skyler on Sunday (Mother's Day) so that Paul could have a day to hunt on his own -- no calling birds in for anyone else -- no worries about "the girls." And what a day he had. Paul was able to fill both his Rock Island and Mercer County tags. I was so excited when he called to tell me about each bird. Paul, Skyler and I have had a wonderful time these last 5 weeks -- spending countless hours in the timbers enjoying each others' company, planning out each day's hunt and coming up with different ways to make things happen. Congrats bud on a great end to a wonderful season.
Well - we are in the last few days of the last season of this spring's Illinois turkey hunt. Paul and I both had tags this time. The last couple of days of this season Paul went out to hunt with his dad while I got Skyler on the bus and went on to work. Unfortunately they hadn't been able to put a bird down yet. This morning both Paul and I got to go out -- again Paul went to call for his dad on another property and I went out on my own. Again Paul and his dad didn't have any luck -- only seeing one bird. Paul's dad was home and calling me on my cell phone just about the time I got my bird shot.
This morning, both Paul and I agreed, was one of the worst turkey hunting mornings one could ask for -- the WIND was absolutely terrible. Neither of us heard ANY gobblers all morning. I called occassionally but I didn't know if they could hear my calls above the wind. At about 7:00 I decided to get out the "last ditch attempt" call that I had snuck into my bag -- the gobbler!! If nothing else - it was something else to do as I sat waiting for a turkey to show its ugly head.
Today I carried both my 12 gauge shotgun and my Martin bow along with the guillotine broadheads that I just purchased a few weeks ago. Again, since I wanted to shoot my bow - I was in the blind. However, my hopes of shooting a turkey today with a bow quickly faded as the wind was just too strong for me to take an ethical shot...looks like I will have to wait until next year to show 'em what a girl with her bow can do to a turkey (unless a turkey walks out while I'm deer hunting this fall).
By about 8:00 I was thinkin' "this kinda sucks." No birds yet - I couldn't hear anything above the roar of the wind and I decided I would sneak around a little and see what I might find. So...I closed up the blind, got out, turned all my gear around from the black I have to wear in the blind to the camo I wear in the field and started to sneak around my blind. I peaked around slowly and quickly popped my head back because there was a hen walking the field edge right torward me and my decoys -- and she was only about 50 yards out. I quickly unzipped the blind - crawled back in - zipped back up - got all my stuff arranged and waited while sighting down the barrel. It didn't take long before the hen appeared around the corner. I was hoping that she might have a tom with her - but she was all alone. I started to put my gun down when I saw it -- SHE WAS A BEARDED HEN!! Perfectly legal to shoot and not all too common to see. Now my heart started to pound as I slowly re-raised my gun to put a bead on her. At about 10 yards she finally emerged from the brush of the field edge and she was quietly talking to my decoys as I pulled the trigger on my 12 guage and she dropped right where she was.
I quickly gathered my things (gun, bow, decoys, bucket, turkey) and started my mile hike out to meet Paul and Skyler -- boy was I glad she wasn't a big tom by the time I got done carrying everything out!
When I was butchering her -- I could tell the meat on this hen is so much more tender than all of the toms I have butchered this year. I went ahead and kept her whole and we will bake the whole turkey for supper soon -- I'm super excited about that!
One important item to note is that Paul and I set up my blind last night at about 10 o'clock pm -- we wanted to be sure we didn't spook any birds when we went in to set it up. So, it was pitch black and we just felt our way around in the dark -- no flashlights. This morning, after basically wallowing around in the blind for a few hours, I looked down and realized that I was sitting in a patch of poison ivy the likes of which I have never seen before. EVERY piece of green, save a few blades of grass here or there, was poison ivy. I am pretty sure I am gonna pay for getting this turkey by being covered in itch -- we'll see how lucky I am!!
Here is a picture of my latest run. I am going to start making these solar lamps and either selling them at my Etsy Shopor just giving them as gifts. If you know me well - you know I have a fear of my house burning down. Because of this I decided that the next best thing would be to have a little lamp/lantern/nightlight that could be placed just about anywhere - give the effect of a flame or nightlight -- without fear of fires.
These actually throw out quite a bit of light -- and mine was still glowing this morning until the sun came up. The fact that the batteries are recharged daily by the sun and are therefore energy efficient just makes it all the better. I think these would make great wedding reception centerpieces...
Yesterday was Skyler's 10th Birthday! I snuck out in the pre-dawn hours with my friend Megan and tried to call in a turkey for her before Skyler woke up. We didn't have very long to hunt and on our way walking back to the truck I did a few calls to see if anything would respond. One did and we quickly set up on him. He was coming on a string until he hit a fence. He came in to, at most, 50 yards away - but because of the landscape Megan never got to see him. All of you who know about turkeys know that the turkey then just walked along the fence gobbling like crazy until we finally gave up (she was already late for an early morning appt. and I needed to get home to Skyler). If we had had more time I know we would have been able to make something happen but we were both late as it was and we didn't get to let it all play out -- I was pretty bummed.
When I got home we had a great day just spending time as a family and doing things that Skyler wanted to do. We of course went out hiking in the woods for a while and we all played in the creek for a while after doing some exploring. Skyler made a birthday bouquet out of the beautiful wild flowers that are blooming in the timbers this time of year.
Skyler always requests that her birthday "cake" be cheesecake (she doesn't like regular cake) -- so her and I made up her cheesecake on Saturday to be ready for Sunday. Skyler's big present this year was a new bike. She had outgrown her old one and has been riding mine a lot lately. Paul and I did a scavenger hunt for Skyler to find her bike -- which was a lot of fun too. We had hidden the bike in the shed and here is the priceless look on her face after she opened the door on the shed and saw the bike:
Skyler originally wanted me to make her a special birthday supper like I always do -- but with a little coaxing -- we talked her into going out to eat (whew! - I had been up since 3:15 and I didn't really feel like cooking a full meal today). So we went to Applebee's and then to Whitey's for dessert -- all a very special treat in our family. Skyler and I went for a bike ride as well and tried out her new wheels - I figure we will get at least a good 5-6 years use out of this bike before driving a car takes center stage.
Here she is with her new bike - she still had pajama bottoms on for her scavenger hunt! Skyler's birthday will get to drag out for a while as we will let her have a sleepover in a couple weeks (because of our turkey seasons we talked her into waiting until our lives were a little less busy). Happy Birthday Buddy! I can't believe we were just holding our beautiful baby in our arms for the first time 10 years ago already -- how time flies!
Well - I get to brag on Skyler some more...this morning we got up at 3:15 and got ready to head out into the timber -- leaving our house at 4:00 a.m. We were in our blind by 5:15 (we had a long drive to our hunting ground and a long walk in) and would not have wanted to be any later. Turkeys were on the ground by 5:45 but we were having no luck -- again! We waited it out in the blind for quite a while, then decided we had had enough. Turkeys were not gobbling at all and we've been hunting pretty hard for a few weeks now. Paul wanted to check out one other area before we left - so rather than have 3 people trying to sneak up on a bird, we decided that I could haul everything to the truck (lucky me) while he and Skyler checked out this last area. Paul and Skyler were actually on their way out when Paul called and heard a turkey gobbling in the timber to their left about 300 yards away. Skyler and Paul made 3 different set ups on this bird and A LOT of aggressive calling before this bird made its way about 25 yards from the end of Skyler's gun barrell. That was as far as it got when she made an excellent shot and put this bird down in its tracks!
You can see from the pictures how excited Skyler is -- she could hardly contain herself! We couldn't be more proud of Skyler for being such a trooper and getting up early 3 days in a row for just this season alone! Great job to Paul for calling in a tough bird. I am bummed that I was at a different end of the timber for this hunt -- but sometimes you gotta do what is best for that particular hunt -- and I don't believe Skyler would have a bird down now if we would have been trying to conceal 3 of us by a tree. The stats on this bird are 24.1 pounds, 1 1/16 inch spurs and 11 inch beard -- he'd been around a while.
Our life can only be described as a hunting focused family. We spend the entire year with a drive many consider above and beyond preparing for those few moments when flint meets steel or arrows are set to fly. The final product is always worth the countless hours of preparation. Welcome to our lives.