With deer seasons closed, many sportsmen have shifted their focus to gobbler hunting and fishing, or planning strategies for next fall's whitetail hunting. But you don't have to stop big-game hunting just because whitetail and mule deer seasons have closed.
A tangerine sun rose above Fredericksburg as I eased into the crisp, clear waters of the Rappahannock River. The air was chilly, but a thick wool shirt and neoprene chest waders kept me warm as I carefully worked out towards the head of a favorite pool.
Last week we delved into some of the preparations you can do ahead of time to make your spring gobbler season a successful one. These include getting in shape physically, preparing gear, checking your shotgun to make sure you have the best turkey load for it and practicing your calling. Now let's delve into the most exciting part of preparation: scouting.
If you haven't done so already, mark your calendar for April 13. And if you know a youngster who would like to get out in the woods and pursue a wary gobbler with the help of an adult, mark down April 6. The first date is the general opening of spring turkey season. The second is when a special one-day early season is held called the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day.
I generally refrain from straying into Gerald Almy's neck of the woods -- our weekly outdoors columnist does a bang-up job keeping readers informed about all things nature -- but this is one time I'm making an exception.
Virginia anglers fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, tidal rivers and offshore Atlantic Ocean waters hauled in 6,071 trophy-sized gamefish in 2012. This was only the eighth time more than 6,000 award-winning fish have been nabbed, according to Lewis Gillingham, director or the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.
Shenandoah Valley residents are lucky when it comes to outdoor shows. We have several easy-to-reach ones in western Virginia coming up soon. And we are within relatively close driving distance of what is actually the largest outdoor show in the country.
While it may be bitter cold out and hunting seasons are winding down, there are still plenty of things to do during mid-winter. One of the most popular activities for this "off season" is visiting the many fishing and hunting outdoor shows throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
I've had the good fortune to hunt bears in many Canadian provinces and western states over the years. But most of my experience with bears in Virginia comes in the spring when I'm not actually hunting them but instead repairing the damage they do to property and discouraging them from coming around the house.
If you enticed a wild gobbler into shotgun or bow range this spring, count yourself very lucky, very skilled, or perhaps both. This is one type of hunting where the majority of participants go home empty-handed, so wary and elusive are these big, majestic black and brown birds. But we keep coming back, because few thrills can match watching a big tom with its tail feathers spread wide slowly, cautiously sneaking in towards our hen calls.