Welcome to Florida Turkey Hunting!

Primos DPS Time Lapse Camera 2I have to say that I really get a lot of use and enjoyment out of my trail cameras. I run them year around in one state or another and every year collect some really special pictures.

Since my back ground is of a technical nature, I have always believed more information is better than less. Trail cameras provide a lot of valuable intel that you can incorporate into your hunting. With the advent of the new “Time Lapse” feature and being incorporated into the latest trail cameras, a whole host of new intel can be gained.

I recently add a new Camera to my stable of Trail Cameras…..the Primos DPS Time Lapse Camera!

This is a really neat little unit and can provide information that a conventional motion triggered camera just cannot do.

On one of my leases there is a historic turkey roost where the birds roost every night. This is a spot in the corner of a pasture that borders a creek swamp and I have never been there and not seen turkeys roosting there!

I have been running a Bushnell Trail camera there and decided to move the DPS unit there as well for a test run. I discovered that the birds are coming from a different direction to enter the pasture and are not using that roost right now. Since this camera is set to take a photo every 5 seconds, I get a clear sense of where the game came from, when, how long they were in the area and which direction they left in. The beauty of the camera is you collect data even when the game is too far away to trigger a standard motion sensing camera.

I found the photo’s to be pretty clear depending on the lighting. I would say the photo quality is average to slightly above.

The camera was easy to program and set-up. It requires (8) AA batteries for power.

One of the best aspects of this camera is the PRICE! You can buy (4) of these for what you’d pay for a plot watcher!

One negative is that this is a daylight camera only and does not take photo’s at night.

You can set this camera to take a picture every 5 or 10 seconds. I prefer the 5 second setting myself. A lot can happen in 10 seconds and an animal could walk past the camera without getting his picture made. You can always delete pictures but a missed opportunity is lost for ever!

You will need a pretty large card to store all of these pictures. The unit will handle up to a 32gb card and you definitely want to go with the 32gb. Otherwise, you will be servicing the camera every couple days if you use something like an 8gb. I am using the “Sandisk ULTRA” but the “Extreme” or “Standard” will do a good job also. The Kingston “Ultimare X” or “Standard” cards work well with the DPS camera also. As far as class of card….class 10 is great but I have used class 4 also and cannot tell any difference. For individual photo’s, the class is probably not a factor.

The camera comes with software to watch each days time lapse. You can watch a whole days activities in 3 minutes or less! The software is fairly intuitive and you’ll get the hang of it without to much trouble. Set up was the only place I had any issues with the software. There was not much instruction on installation.

As far as using the photo’s you collect…..That’s a whole other issue. The photo’s use an extension that is not supported by many photo editing software’s. I was able to use a free photo editor called “Irfanview” to edit the photo’s but you should make a duplicate copy of them before you open them with Irfanview as it will change the file extension. Once that happens, the DPS program software can’t read it anymore.

I was able to make the videos below from the time lapse collection by doing a simple screen capture with “Corel VideoStudio Pro x5“, a video editing package you can get for about $49. The DPS software has a share button but I could not get that to really do anything and there were no instructions that I found on how it works.

Primos DPS Time Lapse Camera 1

Here is a hot link to the technical data on the Primos DPS Camera. This is a link to Amazon. In the interest of transparency I do receive a minuscule commission if you decided to make a purchase. However, if you can find a better price somewhere else, by all means, save some money! You may even want to consider a used unit on eBay, just be sure it is the latest version as earlier units had problems using certain cards.

Here are a few videos made from the DPS time lapse photo’s….

Best of Hunts,
Larry Stephens
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Q – How long does a turkey beard get?

A – The longest recorded turkey beard measured 18″ thought the average is just over 9″. The beard length will vary depending on a few different factors such as diet and terrain. Turkeys that spend most of their time around pastures or open grass lands tend to have longer beards as thicker terrain or areas with a lot of rock, etc. tend to wear the ends of the beard off quicker. Bristles of the beard are also broken off from the tom stepping on it as he feeds. Also, Northern birds or birds in areas with high snowfalls will often lose the ends of their beards when ice builds up on them and they break off. The beard typically grows 3-5 inches a year throughout the life span of the gobbler.

 

Q- How many beards can a turkey have?

A – Generally, most turkeys will only have one beard. However, a small percentage can grow multiple individual beards. They will all be aligned vertically with a small separation between each beard. Typically, There will be one primary, normal sized beard with multiple smaller, thinner beards above. These extra beards will usually vary from a few hairs to approximately 1/4″ in diameter.  I have personally harvested (2) toms with triple beards.  Toms with more than 6-7 beards have been reported but are pretty rare.

 

Q - Can you tell the age of a turkey by its beard?

A – The turkey’s beard can be used as a general rule of thumb for aging a turkey though the spur is probably more accurate. A young male turkey that is born in the spring will be almost a year old by the time hunting season arrives the following spring. He is referred to as a “jake” and his beard length will vary from barely visible to a max of about 4-5 inches long. By the next spring he will be a 2 year old and sport a beard up to 9-10″. Beards over 10″ are typically found on birds of 3 years or older. Most toms will not reach a length longer than 11-11 1/2″. The length is measured to the tip of the longest bristle.

 

Q – Can Hens develop beards?

A – Short answer, Yes! A certain percentage of the hens in any population will develop beards. The percentage varies but can be up to 10-20%. I have personally taken three hens with beards that I can remember. However, that is over almost 3 decades of hunting turkeys. Typically, a hens beard will be short and whispy compared to a gobblers. They are seldom more than a 1/4″ in diameter and usually about 3-4″ in length. Two of the Hen I harvested with beards had pretty large ones that were about 7 1/2″ in length.

 

Q – What is Beard Rot?

A – There is another factor that can effect the length of a turkey’s beard. It is known as Beard Rot and is caused by malnutrition. Many believe that this condition is a result of a parasite or fungus but this is not the case.  Beard Rot is an interruption in Melanin production which gives the Beard it’s color and strength. This occurs when a turkey is stressed due to a poor diet. A turkey suffering from a Melanin deficiency will develop a light colored band around his beard. Some turkeys may have a completely blond coloration to the beard under severe cases. When a Turkey goes through a brief period of reduced melanin production and a discolored band develops on the bead it produces a weak area. When the turkey begins producing melanin again, the beard will return to its healthy black color. As the beard continuous to grow, eventually the fatigue from the flexing will break the beard off at this point, leaving a truncated end with a blond to reddish coloration to it at the tip. This gives the tips of the bristles a rusty or rotted appearance, hence the name, Beard Rot.

 

Q - Does a Turkey’s Beard serve any purpose?

A – A lot is not known about what purpose the turkey’s beard serves. However, from my own observations, I believe the beard is a visual cue, an identifying part of the turkey that allows other turkeys to recognise him as a male from long distance. If you have ever watched a gobbler strutting in a field or other place where he can be seen from a long distance, his beard projects out and is very much more pronounced then when he is feeding or milling around. Every so often a strutting bird will break out of strut and stretch out tall and make his beard stick straight out. He will almost always be looking at or for another turkey and I believe this is a signal just like the turkey’s fan and increased size when he blows up into a strut. Remember, turkeys have incredible eye sight and they put it to good use in just this way.

I recently purchased a new turkey hunting blind for next season, the Barronett Blinds-Grounder 250 blind. It is a 5 hub design and the setup and take down in the blink of an eye. You can set the blind up in a matter of a few seconds.

Of course, if you are going to sit in a blind for any amount of time and be comfortable, you need a chair of some type. I wanted it to be a light weight chair with a back support and decided on the “Alps Outdoors – Rhino Stool”. The chair only weighs 5lbs. and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Other than the back of the chair being a little straight up and down, it seems well built and provides a reasonably comfortable seat without excess weight to pack in.

If you are looking for a hunting chair I would definitely recommend it and here is a link where you can get more information or order one for yourself;

 

 

 

 

 

 


Best of hunts,

Larry S.

I have been looking for a new turkey hunting blind for next season and after a lot of research and consideration I have decided to go with Barronett Blinds-Grounder 250 blind. It is a 5 hub design and the setup and take down in the blink of an eye.

I also use the blind for filming archery hog hunts out of but when it arrived I realized the window sills were right about arrow rest height for me when I am kneeling. I am about 5’6″ so for a taller hunters this is most likely not be an issue.

Of course, if you are going to sit in a blind for any amount of time and be comfortable, you need a chair or stool of some sort. That started me looking for a light weight chair with a back support and I decided on the “Alps Outdoors – Rhino Stool”. I guess they refer to it as a stool as it only has 3 legs but I would call it a chair. It only weighs 5lbs.

Compared to the coil up blind I have been using the 5 hub design is a snap to set up. You just pull on the tag at the center of each panel until it pops out into place. Pop up the roof and your ready to hunt! You can set the blind up in a matter of a few seconds

The blind has one large window on each side with a center vertical zipper that will allow you to just open the left or right half of each window.

One of the major pluses of this blind is its light weight! At 14lbs. it is one of the lightest full size 5 hub blinds you can get. That is important when you consider all the other gear you will also be lugging in.

The blind has tons of room and measures 59″ square by 67″ tall!

  • Five-hub design is easy to set up and take down
  • Replaceable shoot through mesh camo windows  for archery
  • Ground skirt that contains scent and drafts
  • Includes backpack for easy carrying
  • BloodTrail camo pattern

I was impressed with the construction and compares to other blinds that cost considerably more.

If you want more information on this blinds or are looking to purchase one, just click on the Amazon link below.

Best of Hunts,

Larry S.


“A comprehensive look into the use of chairs and seats for hunting turkeys”

I was recently flipping through a fresh sales flyer I had received from Bass Pro Shops and since spring gobbler season is almost here, naturally it had a wealth of new turkey hunting gear. One of the first things I noticed was a selection of hi-tech chairs and seats for the turkey hunter.

If you have any experience in doing anything that requires the use of a tool, you have probably figured out by now that different jobs require different tools! So it is with turkey hunting, different types of hunts and hunting styles require different tools to achieve the best results.

O.K., you’ve seen some reviews on chairs and seats used for turkey hunting. This article picks up where the others leave off and fills in the information gaps you need to consider before selecting a chair or seat and describes where best to put each to use.

 

-What Styles of Turkey Hunting Chairs are Available?



There are basically three styles of seats for keeping your butt out of the dirt. The first is the chair with a back, the second is the backless seat or chair and finally, the seat cushion. From there, you have two types of hunts to consider, an open country hunt and a woods type hunt.

There are several styles of hunting chairs for hunting from within a blind. The best choice of these is a chair with a back. This is obviously the most comfortable choice and if you’re going to hump in a 20lb blind and a 5-10 lb. chair you’re going to be there for a while so get a chair with a back. This may sound obvious but Since the windows of most blinds are pretty high, be sure to select a chair that is tall enough that you can see from the blind. Obviously, a Hunting Stool can work in a blind and it will usually weigh a lot less but you will not be able to sit on one for long. In my opinion, stools have little use for hunting. Additionally, if you’re not in a blind you need to be sitting right on the ground with one knee up to rest your gun on, in a shooting position.

For hunting from a pop-up blind I prefer a chair with a back but one that is as light weight as I can get such as the ALPS RHINO or Primos Qs3 Magnum above.

There is a style of chair that probably is more properly referred to as a seat. Basically it is a chair without a back. In my opinion I see no benefit to using one. If you’re not going to use a chair with a back you might as well stay with the ol’ stand by, the cushion.

The third style of hunting seat is the seat cushion. This is by far my preferred choice and covers 95% of my turkey hunting.

-Hunting Seat Cushion vs. Hunting Chair!

Since we have pretty much narrowed the most useful choices for turkey hunting down to a chair (with back) and a cushion, this would be a good point to compare the two.

If you’re not hunting from a pop-up style blind, then the most useful hunting chair is going to be a short legged version. If you like using a chair this is what you want. Remember, the closer to the ground you can sit, the better. I cannot over state the importance of being low to the ground. It is very important to be able to sit in a manor that keeps you gun at the ready at all times. If a gobbler slips up on you, the chance of being able to lift your gun up from your lap and shoot, is not good. You cannot out draw a Turkey!

Each of these tools has its place in the turkey woods but the seat cushion is the most versatile. The only draw back is you have to have some kind of back rest to sit against. Of course, every turkey hunter knows the best way to break up you outline is to sit against a tree that is at least as wide as your shoulders. Sometimes this is not possible. If you have to sit against a small diameter tree, make sure it is a situation where you can shoot the turkey before he gets a chance to scrutinize you.

If you are hunting in open country that has few trees you are pretty much going to need something with a back to support you. In this case, a cushion is not going to work as well as a chair. Another possible choice would be a turkey vest with a build in back support. I would give this a serious look if I spent any significant time hunting open country.

As I spend the bulk of my turkey hunting time in the south, I am usually in a swamp or some kind of timber situation where a tree is almost always available to sit against.

How you sit can be critical to the outcome of your hunt!

 

-What Are The Drawbacks to Using a Turkey Hunting Chair.

-Difficult and bulky to carry

-Cuts down on your mobility

-You cannot back up to a tree to break up your outline.

-Difficult to sit with your knee up to rest the gun at the ready.

 

-What Are The Benefits to Using a Chair For Turkey Hunting?

-Keeps your butt out of the water if you have to set up in a wet area.

-It is more comfortable than a cushion.

-You are able to sit still for longer periods of time.

-Gives you a back rest when hunting an area with no trees to sit against.

 

-Does the chair design make a difference!

For the most part, a chair is much like another and serves the same purpose but when it comes to a turkey hunting chair, the leg design is something to consider, as well as size and weight. There are two leg designs to decide from and this is probably the main consideration. The first is a four individual leg design and the second it a “U” style design. Each has positive and negative points.

The difference in the leg designs boils down to how soft the ground is where you typically hunt. Here in Florida where I spend most of my time I am usually sitting on some saturated muck or soft organics. If you use a four leg chair, you are going to sink. right up to your butt. There is nothing worse than a wet butt. The “U” type leg is the best choice for this situation as it spreads the load over more area and provides more support.

The draw back of the “U” type leg is that you cannot sit close to a tree with it as a rule. If you hunt in any high water table areas, the trees will have somewhat of a swell butt to them. The ground is typically elevated at the base of the tree and the “U” style leg gets high centered on this or any roots or sticks that you cannot more. The 4 leg chair does not have nearly as much of an issue with this.

 

-What do I use and why?

OK, I admit I have them all! I have a variety of very hunting chair made, a 3 legged stool, a tall, four leg chair as well as several “U” leg folding chairs but for my hunting style, which is based on mobility, the cushion which is built onto my turkey vest is my number one choice!

This covers 95% of my hunting. If I use a turkey chair it is a “U” leg design and is actually a shorty beach lounge chair that is made of light weight aluminum tubing with a web seat that I adapted for turkey hunting. It is about the lightest chair you could get and sits very close to the ground so I can still sit with my knee up to support my gun. Again, I cannot over state how important this is. I seldom use a chair and sitting against the base of a tree is tailor maid for a seat cushion. Just make sure yours is waterproof and it needs to be attached to your vest to keep your hands free. Also, be sure it is at least about an 1 ½” thick.

In conclusion, whether a turkey chair is going to be a benefit to you is going to depend on your hunting style and the circumstances of the hunt. If you know ahead of time you are going to be parked in one location most of the morning or you are going to be hunting some kind of flat or open area that has no trees to back up against then the chair is going to be an asset.

However, in my opinion, the most exciting turkey hunting is when I can be on my feet and mobile, taking the fight to the bird. Sitting for hours on end and calling to the wind is a hunting technique that has little appeal to me. Give me light and mobile any day!

Best of hunts,

Larry Stephens

 

 

Tactics for Hunting Fall Turkeys differ from those of Spring!

If you plan to Hunt turkeys in the fall you need to know that there are considerable differences between spring and fall hunting. Many of the turkey hunting basics you have learned in the spring will apply to pursuing fall turkeys.

Though the hunting basics may be the same, the Calling and hunting tactics used during the fall differ from those used in the spring. The Fall turkeys typically consist of flocks of birds and their social interaction and daily movement patterns are different than in the spring. During the spring the Hens will be in singles and small groups of 2 to a max of about 5. During the fall the hens will be in large flocks of 10 to 15 birds and can be as large as 100. Typically, the hen will have all of her surviving brood and possibly a few other mature hens tagging along with her. The flocks will also usually have young toms mixed in known as Jakes. Jakes can also be found in their own bachelor groups and when split up are relatively easy to call up.

During the fall, mature Gobblers for the most part will only associate with other male birds. Typically, the birds in this group will all be mature turkeys but may sometimes have some jakes mixed in. One of the biggest differences you will notice between fall and spring hunting is the lack of gobbling. Mature Toms are less likely to respond to calling than Jakes and hens.

Locating turkeys during the fall is substantially harder than in the spring. The turkeys are less visible and generally cover more ground.

Typically, most states allow the harvest of hens during the fall, unlike the spring where only bearded turkeys may be harvested. Here in Florida, the harvesting of hens has not been allowed for several years now and has reduced the hunting opportunities to male or bearded turkeys only.

-Which Calls are best for Fall Hunting?

The fall hunter will need to add a few new calls to his turkey vocabulary that are not normally used during the spring season to be successful. During the fall hunting season the hunter is most often going to be imitating the calls of a young turkey that is lost and trying to locate other birds of its flock.

The most common call of a lost turkey is the “lost yelp”. The “assembly cluck” of an adult hen is used to call the flock together when scattered or after fly down. The “kee-kee” of the juvenile turkey is also used like a lost call, especially by jakes. The “coarse gobbler yelps” and occasionally, the “gobble”. are used by mature gobblers to re-group with each other. However, mature toms in the south almost never gobble at this time of the year.

Just as in the spring, the calls you use while hunting fall turkeys needs to match the type of turkeys you are calling to. You will find that young hens, and immature toms are the easiest turkeys to call in during the fall.

For immature turkeys, the “kee-kee” is a very important call but if you bust up a hens brood flock, using the “assembly cluck” to call the young back in is a deadly tactic! This is the primary tactic for fall hunting where the harvest of hens is allowed.

When calling to mature hens the best calls to employ are going to be the “lost yelp” and again the “assembly cluck”.

The best call to use for calling mature Gobblers during the fall is the “course yelp” of the gobbler. It is louder and less polished than that of a hen turkey.

-How to Identify Hens From Young Toms in a Fall Flock?

Many hunters have difficulty identifying young toms from hens during the fall, and both remain in family flocks throughout the fall. As long as both hens and bearded turkeys are legal game, I guess it is not that important to be able to identify between the two but if you plan to do much turkey hunting you really need to learn the differences.

As with most all species of birds the male is going to be more colorful. Being colorful and easily seen does not serve any purpose for the female. Since she will be the one sitting on a nest and raising little ones, she needs to be more camouflaged and less visible. Therefore, the female turkey is typically medium brown in color with a blue gray head. You will not find any iridescent colors that change with the sunlight on a hen. The caruncles or bumps and wattles on the hens neck can sometimes have a touch of red but very little. On the other hand a Jake will have significantly more red on his head and the wattles at the base of the neck. While not large and bulbous like the mature tom, they will be red. Additionally, hens are substantially smaller is size than Jakes and about half the weight of a mature gobbler. Mature hens in the South typically weigh about 8-10 lbs and hens in the North a little larger at 10-14lbs.

One of the first things to look for when you see a flock of birds are the ones that look black. Male turkeys will look almost black compared to the hens, particularly when viewed from the front.

Another identifying mark of the hen is the additional feathers that extend up the back of the neck. Typically, they have less exposed skin on their necks than males. It will not take you long to be able to recognize the differences between hens and Jakes once you have been around them a little.

-Locating Turkeys is the Key to Fall Hunting Success!

Locating turkeys during the fall is 75% of the battle and is a little more difficult than in the spring.

Pre-season scouting is one of the best tools you can employ to increase your odds of taking a fall turkey. The turkeys are usually a little more difficult to locate but once you have located where a few flocks are using they will probably not be to hard to re-locate again. The fall turkeys in the North are going to mostly be found on wooded hillsides and ridges scratching in the leaves for left over seeds and bugs. In the south the fall turkeys are located in a variety of places but locate the feed and that’s where they will be.

Locating turkey feeding sign is key to harvesting fall turkeys. With no mating going on, feeding is the primary thing on a fall turkeys mind.

Turkeys have substantially different habits during the fall than during the spring season but many of the same methods for locating them can be employed.

One of the main difference of the fall turkeys habits is where they spend the majority of the daylight hours. Food and safety are the primary driving forces behind the day to day movements of turkeys during the fall.

The food sources for turkeys during this time of year vary widely and are distributed over a larger area. Therefore, the turkeys must cover a lot more ground to fill their craw. The trick to locating turkeys in the fall is to know where the feed is located.

-Tactics For Hunting Fall Turkeys!

One of the most often used tactics for fall turkey hunting is to locate and scatter the flock, preferably in all directions. The hunter then sets up at the flush site if the birds scattered well or moves ahead a short distance in the direction the majority of turkeys flew and then sets up and attempts to call the birds back to the flush site. Turkeys at this time of year have a strong desire to remain in a group. Remember, most of these flocks will be comprised of a hen and her brood from the spring and they don’t like to be far from momma.

One tip to remember when calling fall turkeys and this is a good technique in general, is to answer the birds with the same call they are using. Use the same intensity and cadence, matching their every call. Often times this can really get the lead hen worked up.

Roostingis another tactic that can be employed to locate fall turkeys but it is very much different than in the spring. During the fall you need to have a good idea where the turkeys like to roost in the first place in order to find them. They will not be gobbling in the evening from the roost so long distance roosting is not an option. You will need to get into the area before the turkeys arrive to roost. The turkeys are prone to cackle when they fly up to roost but in the south are not quite as vocal as during the spring. Typically, you will need to listen for wing beats as they fly up.

Similar to deer hunting, the fall turkey hunter can use the Ambush method”. This technique does involve calling. but you need to have a good idea where the turkeys are using and feeding and loafing. Basically, you set up in one of these locations depending on the time of day and do some intermittent calling to try to lure a bird within gun range. Decoys can also be used and be very effective.

Just like turkey hunting in the spring, the fall hunter can utilizeA Rainy Day Huntto his advantage. When the wet weather moves in, the turkeys are going to head for an open field, powerline, graded road, very open woods or similar location, just as in the spring. As the turkeys will be utilizing open areas, they will be very visible and are much easier to locate. Actually Locating the turkeys during the fall is really the hardest part of the hunt.

If you couple these tips and tactics with the skills and knowledge you have gained from spring turkey hunting, you should have no trouble finding success on your next fall turkey hunt.

Best of hunts,

Larry Stephens

 

 

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