Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Archive for April, 2008

Turkey Pot Pie

Posted by todblog on April 30, 2008

April 29, 2008

Jacob and I were blessed to harvest some nice turkeys this spring season and lots of folks wonder what do hunters do with those turkeys. One of our favorite ways of eating turkeys is to make pot pies with them. The kids love them and they’re easy to make. We’ve used this recipe for a number of different game birds and have had great results.

Turkey Pot Pie

Makes Two Pot Pies

4 unbaked pastry shells
1/2 C butter
8 Tb flour
3 C chicken broth
1 C milk
2 Tb sugar (+/- to taste)
3 C cooked turkey pieces cut up
1/4 tsp salt
Pepper (to taste)
1 pkg frozen mixed vegetables

Cut up turkey into small pieces and cook. Set aside when done.

turkey

Combine butter and flour in saucepan over low heat, add chicken broth and milk, stirring until thickened. Stir in cooked turkey, salt, pepper, sugar, and mixed vegetables. Mix well. Pour into two pastry shells.

Cover each pie with a second crust and pinch edges closed. Poke holes into top crust to let heat escape when cooking in oven.

Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until crust is golden. You can freeze one for later or cook both cuz it’ll get gobbled up quick!

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Losing Your Head Over A Girl

Posted by todblog on April 19, 2008

April 13, 2008

Once upon-a-time, I looked forward to hunting spring gobblers on Hawaii island. There were so many turkeys there with very little or no hunting pressure. I could count on very few hunters around and having lots of turkeys to hunt. Locals couldn’t see what the big deal was to hunt them since they were quite abundant. In local terms, “get choke turkeys”. I also held the same local mindset until I was paid a special visit by Rob Keck (National Wild Turkey Federation CEO) in 1992. Rob came all the way from South Carolina to spend a few days turkey hunting and it would be his first time hunting turkeys in Hawaii and a real eye-opener for me.

The entire hunting trip was an education I would not soon forget. Rob was an expert in turkey linguistics and was able to produce realistic calls from everything he carried in his hunting vest. It was neat to see Rob work birds with his various calls, knowing when to move, where to set up, what to say, and how to get them to finally work their way into range. That experience got me hooked on spring gobbler hunting. The attraction for me was calling the birds and getting them to come in close. I sure appreciated Rob’s skills after trying to call birds in on my own.

Hunting spring gobblers with Rob Keck on the Big Island of Hawaii.

I soon found myself trying to stretch each spring season in the field by finding other friends to hunt with and calling birds for them. It was a lot of fun calling turkeys not knowing what or how they would respond. No two turkey hunts were ever quite the same and each was a memorable hunt.

Fast forward to life in Roseburg, Oregon. Turkeys have the same reputation with locals in the area, lots of birds, they’re a nuisance in town, what’s the big deal about hunting them. There are so many turkeys in Douglas County that each fall/winter people call to complain about large flocks congregating in town making life miserable for the residents. It usually turns up that somebody is feeding the flock and that’s the reason for the trouble. Guess who they call? It gets old fast and my perspective on turkeys has been tainted. When spring season rolls around, there are lots of hunters who converge on Roseburg looking for a place to hunt and they’re disappointed to find very little public land with turkeys on it. What little public land there is gets pounded by hunters. So, having permission to hunt private land is huge.

As a result, getting excited about spring turkey hunting takes some doing now. I still get pumped about it but, it’s usually because I want to take Jacob out and give him more exposure to it. That opportunity comes around the weekend before the April 15th opening day of the spring gobbler season. It’s the statewide youth spring turkey season where kids under 18 get a crack at the birds before the adults do.

This year, we headed out east of town and got to a spot with a couple of parked trucks already ahead of us. Looking up the road, I could see a flashlight moving hastily as two hunters scurried along to claim their spot on the area. Hmmm… what kind of a day were we going to have. I know there are lots of birds in the area but, where were the other hunters going to be and can we steer clear of them? Those thoughts raced through my mind as we grabbed our gear and started walking into the area. We didn’t need a flashlight as the daylight was coming upon us fast. Birds were gobbling within a couple of hundred yards from the parked truck and we plowed on ahead. I didn’t want to chance setting up near other hunters and these birds were surely going to be hunted by someone else. I opted to go deeper into the area to get farther away from the parking area. The last thing we wanted was to work some birds and have another hunter slip into the area and mess things up by spooking the birds or potentially worse…

It was shaping up to be a great morning as the orange rays of light painted the green hillsides that were covered in wild flowers. We walked for over two miles along a gravel road that followed a creek. We stopped every 100 yards and blasted out a crow call to get Mr. Turkey to gobble. We could hear gobblers in the distance and we decided to make an attempt on their lives and headed in their direction. The birds were gobbling on top of a ridge and were getting further away. I told Jacob that they probably had hens with them and were not likely to leave their girl friends for some unknown unseen hen calling to them. We had to get closer. Did I mention they were on top of a ridge?

As we climbed the hillside walking along deer trails cut through poison oak patches, Jacob stated, “Dad, they’re only turkeys!” I knew what he meant. Here we were busting our butts like we were on an elk hunt scrambling up a hillside trying to get a peek at a herd before they got into heavy cover. I was breaking out into a sweat and my body kept reminding me that I wasn’t in shape for this strenuous climb. We continued on.

When we got close to the top, between breaths, I promised Jacob that we would not go any further if this didn’t work out. He knew better than to believe me. I told him to get set up and I would do some calling. The bummer thing was, we had no good spot to set up. We had about 15 yards before reaching the ridge top and there was no cover to conceal us. We were in the last few trees and now it was just a grassy ridge we couldn’t see over. I let out a few yelps and the birds gobbled immediately on the other side of the ridge. They were semi-interested but, the next time we heard them they were farther away. It didn’t look promising for us. Each time I called, the birds sounded a little farther and they were moving away. Finally giving up, Jacob crawled to the edge of the ridge to get a sneak peek and got busted. The birds saw him and walked off in a hurry. All that work to get here and now what.

It was a perfect time to get out the snacks and drink in the views from the ridge. It was a gorgeous day, nobody was around or dumb enough to climb up this hill anyway. We had just expended an enormous amount of calories getting up here to spook a group of birds off. I spent the time reminiscing about past turkey hunts and lessons learned. I told Jacob that sometimes a turkey has a short memory and if you give them a rest they will respond, sometimes. I also told him that sometimes it takes a different call with a different tone or pitch to crank a bird up, sometimes it works. After a 20 minute break on the ridge I got my favorite box call and cut loose a few loud yelps and clucks. I got an instant response from a hen. It sounded like she was with the birds we just spooked off. She was loud, noisy and wouldn’t shut up.

I told Jacob to grab his things and we’d set up under a large single oak tree where we’d have a great vantage point to see and call from. With face masks and gloves in place and his shotgun propped up on his knees I resumed calling with a short series of yelps and cuts. The hen continued her calling back to us. It was a lonely call asking us where we were. She would yelp and kee-kee over and over again. At 60 yards her head popped up and bounced around as she climbed upwards towards us. She was slowly walking up towards us zigging and zagging around downed branches and logs, “kee-kee, yelp yelp yelp…” Every now and then we heard gobbling below her, the boys were coming too. We just kept quiet and watched the show.

The hen zeroed-in on our location and kept walking uphill towards us. It was a great show. We could see her mouth opening and calling to us. At three yards to our left, she continued yelping and kee-keeing and she would stretch out her neck searching for the unknown hen who called to her earlier. I squinted my eyes because I feared she would see the whites of my eyes at that distance. She moved on and kept calling looking for the unknown hen. Four red heads soon popped up and were walking along a similar path. It was a group of four jakes feeding and gobbling along keeping the single hen within reach. They were partly obscured by downed tree branches about 35 yards away and they watched intently as the noisy hen kept calling and looking for the unknown hen. I finally let them all hear the unknown hen’s soft cluck. It got everyones attention and the hen came back and walked within yards of us. With both of my eyes squinting she passed us and walked to our right. Her yelps and kee-kees kept the boys in tow and they emerged from the downed branches to catch up with the hen.

The jakes were nervous about something as they weren’t quite sure what to make of the camo bushes against the oak tree. Jacob was well concealed and looked like a leafy bush with a shotgun perched on his knee. All he had to do was get a steady shot just below one of those red heads. They got to within 30 yards of us and I told Jacob to shoot. The leafy flage camo suit really helped conceal Jacob well until he moved his 12 gauge shotgun to take one of the jakes. Ka-roompppfff…. It was a total surprise and three of the jakes and the hen fled the scene immediately with a couple of quick wing beats while one red headed jake lay on the ground. It was one of the most exciting hunts Jacob had been on. He couldn’t stop describing the sights and sounds and sequence of events that just unfolded before him at so close a distance.

Jacob with his youth hunt turkey

Jacob is well concealed in his leafy flage suit. The proof is next to him.

With only a few weeks left before turning 15 years old, Jacob was a prime candidate for another valuable lesson about girls. I warned him that girls can sometimes lead you down a path to trouble. As if he doesn’t have enough trouble focusing, girls can be a major distraction from school work, sports, chores, etc. This spring turkey hunt was a prime example of a young boy who got distracted and lost his head over a girl. We had about three miles to think about that as Jacob carried the love-sick boyfriend back to the truck.

What a great day to be out turkey hunting with Jacob.

Posted in 2008, Hunting, Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Play Ball!

Posted by todblog on April 6, 2008

March 22, 2008

It’s a new year of baseball for Jacob and it’s a new experience playing at the high school level. Umpqua Valley Christian Schools is a small school and takes kids from 9th through 12th grade to field a team. Dave York is the head coach and has a great coaching staff working with him. Together, they do a wonderful job with the kids. In 2002, the UVC Monarchs took the state championship in their Division. Jacob is excited to work with his new coaches and he gives them his total respect.

On Easter weekend we followed the team six hours east to the town of John Day where they played in a 3-day tourney to get more experience playing and getting to know each other as a team. John Day is a cozy little town of 2,070 people (according to the City Limits welcome sign). When I worked there in 1981-82, the town population was 2,010, it’s grown! Actually, there are quite a few new homes in the hills surrounding the town that were built by retirees moving from California in search of peace and quiet, deer, elk, turkeys, coyotes, antelope,…

The pre-season tourney was on the chilly side with one day having a high of 53 degrees F. Most days were in the 40’s and if the wind blew at all, you surely felt its cold bite. Thank goodness for Under Armor thermal long sleeve shirts, long underwear, a foam cushion butt pad and a warm dog.

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Mele helped keep me warm.

The tourney took place on the beautiful Malone baseball field surrounded by gorgeous mountains. The snow capped mountains around us reminded us that winter still had it’s grip on this sleepy little town. The cold temperatures had a negative effect on the high dollar baseball bats used by the team. According to the Demarini bat care instructions, it isn’t recommended to use the bat at temperatures under 60 degrees F. The ball is too hard at that temperature and can dent or break the bat.

Coach York used the pre-season tourney as an opportunity to have the boys improve on what they’ve been practicing and to try them out at various positions. Jacob got to play second base, third base and pitcher. It was fun to watch the whole team gel and get to know each other better on and off the field.

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Beautiful Strawberry Mountains in the background
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Jacob pitching against a 4A high school team.

On the way back home, we stopped to inspect the shoe tree along the highway between John Day and Mitchell. It’s got a collection of various shoes that have been hung there over the years. Not sure how the tradition started or why but, you can smell the tree from miles away…

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