Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nine Tags

Pretty much locked in:
New Hampshire.
New York.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Publication Update

A full-time freelancer, my recent magazine assignments have included feature articles and photos for Outdoor Life, Turkey Call (NWTF), Realtree Outdoors (waterfowl and turkey special issues), Turkey & Turkey Hunting (F+W Publications), Turkey Hunting Strategies (Harris), Get in the Game (NWTF), and the Ruffed Grouse Society magazine (RGS).

As a newspaper columnist/photographer, I've contributed weekly hunting/angling/nature-related content to Foster's Sunday Citizen (Dover/Laconia, NH) since November 1997, and continue to enjoy a regional connection with readers. I provided writing on the outdoors for the Portsmouth Herald (1991-1997) before moving to Foster's ten years ago.

My credits over the past two decades range widely, and include Gray's Sporting Journal (both the print magazine and television, namely the "Wings from the Steppes" and "The Eastern Wild Turkey" films), Sports Afield (during their N.Y. City era), Fur-Fish-Game, Sportsman's Hunting Yearbook (now defunct, r.i.p.), Waterfowl Hunter, Shooting Sportsman, New Hampshire Wildlife Journal, New England Game & Fish, Flyfishing New England,,,, and, among many other online and print publications. You'll find plenty of my archived articles floating in cyberspace.

I've contributed content to books such as A.D. Livingston's Duck & Goose Cookbook (Stackpole Books), M.D. Johnson's Small Game Hunting (Krause), and Guide to Pheasant Hunting (Stackpole Books), plus Campsite to Kitchen (OWAA), along with mention in Bernie Taylor's Big Trout (The Lyons Press). Flyfisher's Guide to Northern New England (Wilderness Adventures Press) survived three printings, and I've a turkey hunting book in production for Fall 2007 release (Stackpole Books). Stay tuned.

As a "writer who teaches," and as part of my evening social life, I'm an adjunct for the University System of New Hampshire (1991-present), and hold writing-intensive degrees from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania (B.S.--no jokes about that acronym, please), and the University of New Hampshire (M.A.). My Granite State College "Writing Process" course meets Monday nights this 2007 Winter Term.

I'm a longtime member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and Ruffed Grouse Society, among other such pro-hunting, conservation organizations, and professional writer's groups as well. A Pennsylvania native, I fully intended to return there right after grad school (20 years ago), but still find myself in New England. Locals tell me I don't talk right, but hey. The son of a beagle man, I favor English setters these days.

Please contact me by email regarding assignments, writing solutions for your business, questions about the outdoors, or just to correspond. Thanks.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Spring Gobbler Seasons Coming

Hawaii's spring gobbler season begins March 1, for instance. Maine's, the latest in the country, ends June 2.

We, the hardcore turkey hunters of the world, will do some traveling, and yes, hunt right out of home. I'll start in Texas come April. Some 600,000 wild turkeys make that a good place to begin. Other seasons I've flown to Alabama or Florida spring gobbler camps in March, but this year it looks like deadlines and commitments will keep me here in this chair. So be it. Work is a good problem to have as the writing business goes, and the Lone Star State always fulfills its promise.

After the Texas hunt, I'll bear down and hammer some more deadlines for a few weeks (and even trout fish a little), before all the fun commences again in May.

I'll border hop to New Hampshire for Opening Day (May 3), then take another trip, this one to northeastern Wyoming, within view of Devil's Tower. After my Merriam's hunt, I'll return holding tags to Maine (B season; even birth year), possibly NH if I don't take one on Day One (which is likely the case), as well as Vermont, and New York State.

Six states total.

I dub some of these gravy hunts (particularly those here in Maine and across the border in New Hampshire), as a few trips for mesquite and mountain turkeys always seem to satisfy and last into summer . . . of course then we immediately begin thinking about fall trips.


(Steve Hickoff photo)

Pennsylvania Turkey Dogging?

The longtime status of Pennsylvania wild turkeys as "big game" might soon change.

Last spring hunters--in an effort to legalize the tradition of turkey dogging--approached the PA Game Commission regarding this issue. The strategy, which employs a trained dog to find and flush flocks, is prohibited by current Keystone State hunting rules (and has been since 1987), which state that it's illegal to use dogs to "pursue, injure, or kill big game." For the record, turkey dogs do pursue. Injure and kill? Well, that's never been a factor with my dogs during legal New York State and Vermont fall hunts over the past ten seasons. I pull the trigger, but yeah, I guess they're important accessories to the, um, harvest . . . (don't you just love semantics).

As a longtime turkey dogger, and Pennsylvania native living in New England (where the tactic is not yet legal; for that, I road-trip), I can tell you the move is appropriate. Word has it the PA wild turkey may be "declassified" (the word brings to mind a Bond film) as big game this month, and become "small game," making turkey dogging as legal as grouse hunting with canines in my native state.

As I write this, turkey dogging is legitimate in 23 states, with other proposals to legalize the tradition underway around the country.


(Steve Hickoff photo)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

SHOT Show Review: Turkey Loads

Winchester, Federal, and Remington lead the charge when it comes to shotshell development for the shotgun hunter, and EnvironMetal has been there in recent times. All offer reliable options, assuming you match the right load to your preferred firearm (I’ve used all on hunts over the years), and reach a comfort level through shooting and hunting with that marriage of product options.

Remington clearly has the most notable innovation for this coming ’07 spring turkey season. Their Wingmaster HD turkey load (a non-tox blend of tungsten/bronze/iron) is worth checking out (

Not to be outdone, Winchester Ammo offers a wide range of turkey loads from their Supreme Elite Xtended Range Hi-Density Turkey Loads to the now classic Supreme shotshells, including 1-3/4 oz. loads. (

Federal Premium Mag-Shok Heavyweight Turkey loads are available in 3-1/2 in. (1-7/8 oz.), and 3-in. (1-5/8 oz.) loads for 12 gauges in No. 5, No. 6, plus No. 7 shot sizes ( Check out other shotshell offerings there too. One note: Some spring turkey states limit the smallest legal shot size to No. 6. Routinely check regulations.

Misjudge your range a little? Available in both 12 and 20 gauge turkey loads, EnvironMetal’s Hevi-Shot boasts 40% more knockdown power and effective range than lead, along with buffered non-toxic pellets for denser patterns (


(Steve Hickoff photo)

SHOT Show Review: TransFan

Years ago, with my buddy Marc as a witness, I belly-crawled through tall grass with a hen decoy in my hand, slowly lifting that foam fake now and again to imitate a bugging bird as I slithered in the pasture field, trying to unleash a pressured spring gobbler some distance away that made like a fencepost with a red smudge on it in a clump of brush. It worked. Safety concerns aside--it was late in the Maine turkey season, and I'm afraid the responsibility for such a gamble was solely on my shoulders--the tom broke out of cover, and soon met its demise at the end of a sure shot coming from the near woods and my buddy's shotgun.

I'm pretty sure this sort of a move lacks the certain safety sense one should consider on most public lands (or private unposted ones). It surely isn't what the folks at TransFan have in mind. What is?

Their new decoy replicates a full-strut gobbler. Its use? To bring in silent toms, says Jamie Bulger, TransFan President, and open field birds, and gobblers that hang-up out of range. It's lightweight, compact, and might work in those situations when you need to try something new. You stake it in front of your set-up like a traditional deke.

I caught up with Bulger at the recent SHOT Show, talked to him some at their booth, and you can learn more about this new product at


Monday, January 15, 2007

Reprise: SHOT Show 2007

Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center hosted the event (Jan. 11-14), which previewed thousands of established and new products in the outdoor industry. I walked the aisles with 1,342 other press members from around the world, plus 20,390 product buyers, and even 494 guests. Some 19,990 exhibiting personnel fielded our many questions in individual meetings and press conferences, and yes, there was also plenty of talk about past hunts, and outings to come. The total attendance of 42,216 broke a record.

Yep, that’s a lot of glad-handing.

In truth, there’s no better way to get a feel for what’s collectively happening in the shooting and hunting industry than to attend this annual event, the biggest and best of its kind.

Stay tuned for more . . .

(Steve Hickoff photo)

Sunday, January 7, 2007

SHOT Show 2007

Hi all,

I'll attend the SHOT Show in Orlando, Florida from Wednesday, Jan. 10 to Sunday, Jan. 14, and check my email when time provides. See you on the other side with a full report . . .


Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year's View

Just to update blog readers . . .

I've work appearing in the near future: a lyrical piece in the Ruffed Grouse Society magazine, plus feature articles in Turkey Hunting Strategies 2007, Outdoor Life, Turkey Call, Get in the Game, Realtree Outdoors 2007 Turkey Special, and Turkey & Turkey Hunting. In addition to these national pubs, I've writing in some other places of print circulation, and online access. My weekly "New England Afield" column and photo support in Foster's Sunday Citizen (Dover/Laconia, NH) enters its tenth year. As bigger projects go, Stackpole is publishing my forthcoming turkey book . . . stay tuned.

Unidentified Floating Objects

Found these circular lids of ice floating on a southern Maine brook late last month while grouse hunting.

Steve Hickoff photo