Thursday, April 17, 2014

spotted!

Well, hello chilly weather Thursday! I thought we had seen the last of you! Today's #tbt is in honor of a recipe I created back in early September. Remember these little guys? As it turns out, they have become quite a hit. With nearly 400 views from the blog and numerous activities on Pinterest, they seem to be a pretty popular recipe for both the readers of The Bright Side of the Road and internet combers alike.
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/69524387971173726/

I'm with you - I could eat 1,000 too. And then, you know what happened? I stumbled across my recipe on a site that did not require me to upload it myself. What site, you ask? Wide Open Spaces, a Texas-based site centered on creating a community for those who love all things outdoors. It's a great site - kind of a one-stop-shop if you're looking for some great shooting, hunting, and fishing info. As luck would have it, I was wandering around on the site when I spotted 9 Super Bowl Appetizers Featuring Wild Game. Sounds pretty delish, huh? WELL! Scroll on over to #3, and guess what you'll find? My venison cheeseburger bites! Needless to say, I was pretty excited. I know I'm a super small-time blogger and very amateur cook, but it felt good to know that Bright Side Outdoors was being recognized even a tad.

I think I'll make some of these goodies this weekend after our turkey & hog hunts. 
Oh yea - turkey and hog.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

an active unsuccessful morning

It's almost the weekend! Who's excited? Last weekend was my first turkey hunt of the season, and although we didn't bag a tom, we had a great time and quite an eventful morning. We headed  to Walterboro on Friday afternoon to our destination - Deux Cheneaux Plantation. It is such a beautiful place, and we made sure to get there a few hours before dark so that we could wander around and explore. There are dozens of guineafowl roaming the grounds - and I'm telling you - those are the silliest birds I have ever seen (or heard). They provided entertainment all on their own. We also spotted a pretty little blue bird, and another, more ominous creature.
 I'd say they have had some successful shed hunting!
 Guineafowl
 Can you spot him?
 Yikes!
 
After some exploring, we sneaked into the woods to listen for turkeys, hoping to roost a few and aid us in our hunt. I spotted one turkey fly up into his tree, but that was about it for seeing the birds. Then, it was time for a few cold ones by the fire pit, a delicious dinner of venison stew, and off to bed before our early morning. 
Bright Dark and early we arose, putting on our gear and heading to the woods. Once the decoys were out, we settled in to watch the sun come up and {hopefully} see a turkey or two. We were actually sitting in a ground blind set a few yards into some brush, which aided in our camouflage and comfort. You can fit a couple of these in there... Not too shabby, huh? Sure enough, about 5 minutes after it was light enough to see past the decoys, we saw a turkey fly down from its roost. It was a little too dark to tell if it was a hen or a gobbler at that distance, though. We watched it for a few minutes before it wandered off out of sight. Darn. 
Around 7:30, my dad spotted movement straight ahead of us. By the time I saw where he was looking, 3 turkeys came waddling out of the woods. They got close enough to tell that there were 2 gobblers following a hen, but stayed out of range for a shot. One gobbler lingered at the edge of teh woods for a minute or so - was he going to change his route and come to our decoys? I wish. Those gobblers only had one thing on their mind chasing after that hen, they hardly even noticed our decoys, much less had any idea that there were hunters in a blind nearby. Alas, they scooted into the woods after the hen, and we were left with our thoughts again. No matter what hen calls are hit, or what decoys you have out, sometimes it's just impossible to beat the real thing. 

Around 8:30 or 9 we decided to get out of the blind and go check out a few more fields, hoping to walk up on a few birds and maybe get a shot. But, after almost an hour of searching, we came up empty handed. Not one turkey was seen or heard. Still holding our heads high that we at least saw 4 turkeys, we headed back to the gators to ride back to the house. We were about 200 yards away from the vehicles, chit chatting away about the morning, when I spotted a big brown mass to our right through the woods. For a second, I thought I was seeing a dog or something, until the mass slowly rotated and I saw that tell-tale gobbler head amid the layers and layers of feathers when he's in a full strut. I dropped down and began frantically trying to whisper and wave at the others, most definitely looking like a crazy person in my excitement. We huddled down behind some bushes at the edge of the road to watch, hitting the call to see if we could turn him. A minute later, we spotted another gobbler in full strut, even bigger than the first. We sat for almost 25 minutes watching these two guys show off for the ladies. At about 300 yards (and across a ditch) away, it was hard to keep them all in sight the whole time, so we're not positive if we saw 3 or 4 (2 gobblers + a hen or two), or if those were the same turkeys that cruised by us earlier in the morning. Nevertheless, it was quite an entertaining morning, and there was ultimately no lack of activity. Once the turkeys wandered out of site, we called it a morning and headed in. Ahh... that's why they call it hunting! 

Even though no one pulled the trigger, I certainly am not going to complain about our hunt. I don't even have to take a gun with me to have a good time "hunting" - seeing is major part of the fun. Don't get me wrong, my trigger finger is extra itchy after this hunt. But, if anything, the lack of a kill just made me more excited to go again. Until next weekend, jive turkeys -  gobble, gobble!



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

mr. alligator & me - shooter #2

On to the second part of our day of gator hunting! It was back down to the duck ponds to hunt for my gator and, once again, we saw dozens of gators. After about 30 minutes of {carefully} exploring the banks and edges of the ponds, I saw an odd looking mass about 70 yards ahead of us through the reeds. I put the scope up to be sure of what could perhaps have been a log (yes, I've had that scare before - just about jumped out of my waders when I saw... a stump).
No stump this time! Once we confirmed he was over 8 ft, i refocused the scope and pulled the trigger. The gator made one move to the left, and didn't move again, so I was concerned for a minute that I had missed him. We edged closer and I took one more shot just to be sure. Again, he didn't move. Figuring we were safe, we headed on over to the big guy to see just how large he really was. Aaaand then his tail made a nice swipe across the bank, making everyone jump backwards as quick as we could move. Thankfully my rifle was still loaded and in hand, so I made sure to keep the cross hairs on him. Turns out, just like a snake, gators still move after they're dead. Yikes.
Then, it was time to drag this beast out and measure! And of course have a few photo ops. He was ultimately 9'1" and, as we quickly discovered, only had 3 legs! How strange... How he lost that one front leg, we will never know. He also had a hole in his top jaw that allowed one of his lower teeth to show through. Any idea what would have caused that?
I can't wait until we get these bad boys back... Where exactly does one hang two big gator skulls? 
Decisions, decisions...


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

dad & mr. alligator - shooter #1

If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember a certain photo from a few weekends ago... A photo of one large and in charge gator. Actually, my dad shot another (even bigger) gator earlier that day. You're about to find out why we didn't get our gators side by side for a photo op.

Many landowners are issued nuisance permits to take care of the many (many) alligators there are around the lowcountry and midlands. When there are 30+  gators (most of which are longer than I am) in 1 pond, I know I'd be afraid to let my dogs go anywhere close, much less if I had kids! We started the hunt on Saturday afternoon, walking around the ponds scouting for Mr. Big. Yes, those same ponds we duck hunt in every winter. Although we didn't intend to pull the trigger that afternoon, we brought our guns just in case. Trust me, you don't want to get caught on the bank with a 7 ft. alligator in front of you, and an 9 ft. one behind you. Yikes! We definitely had success when it came to spotting alligators, seeing little guys that were about 14 inches to one monster than had to be 12 feet. {Things that make you say bbblluuuhhhh, am I right?}

 
 
Wood duck sneaking by
Looks like someone caught a little snack

Back to the house we went, ready to take off the next morning on some serious gator hunting. We started off, taking a scenic walk to another location, with my Dad as the first shooter. Believe me, it didn't take long before we started seeing another kind of "shooter" - alligators 8'-9'+. Big guys, similar to how an 8 pt. buck, outside the ears, is a "shooter." 
{The bottom left photo is a huge alligator slide}
 
Then we saw this guy coming over to check things out... He looks so friendly, doesn't he?  
Well, that settled that. Dad got the rifle up onto the tripod, focused the scope, safety off, and let the big dog eat. The gator only moved a little bit (it was very much a direct hit) before going still, then slowly sinking to the bottom of the pond as the guys went out to retrieve him. It actually took much longer than we'd anticipated to find him, as the pond has an uneven bottom full of weeds and stumps and... well, more alligators. In fact, it took a day or two for him to resurface (still dead as a doornail, mind you). That might be a good thing, seeing as he was essentially the length of the boat...
He ultimately measured 9'5" and was one heavy son of a gun. I'd say my Dad is pretty good with a rifle, no?  We're hoping that his skull isn't tooooo messed up to make a good mount, but we're sure going to try! Nice work, Dad!

Well, 1 shooter down... Are you ready for round 2 tomorrow?