Saturday, September 29, 2007

PA Game News

As a Keystone State native, the cover of this August 1975 issue of Pennsylvania Game News really takes me back. A heavy dose of nostalgia, as with the beer ads mentioned some posts ago. PGN is one of those publications you would find stacked and collected at hunting camp, or simply kept at home on an endtable for quick reading. That's still the case, no doubt, especially in northcentral PA where I grew up. You'll note the emphasis on fall turkey hunting, and a gobbler at that. Great stuff.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fall & Winter Turkey Hunter’s Handbook

My "Fall & Winter Turkey Hunter's Handbook" (240 pp.; 150 color photos) was just released last month by Stackpole Books. I'm happy to say that between my seminar appearances from Maine to Kansas, phone calls, and both radio and magazine interviews, there's been some steady interest.

In the book, I examine fall and winter turkey behavior and vocalizations. I also provide details on locating, scouting, and calling autumn wild turkeys, with tips for patterning birds and identifying changing flock composition. Also discussed here is the strategy of hunting turkeys with dogs by using them to flush flocks before hunters call scattered birds back to their concealed setup. As a bonus, the material on firearms, ammunition, and archery tackle will benefit all turkey hunters—fall, winter, or spring.

To all of you who've bought the book: thanks. Others can contact me at for further information.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nutshell: New Hampshire Hunting Seasons

Get that calendar out and start blocking off days . . . NH blackpowder season falls during the peak rut; waterfowl seasons are posted elsewhere:

Archery: Sept. 15-Dec. 15 (closes Dec. 8 in WMU A)
Youth Deer Weekend: Oct. 27-28
Muzzleloader: Nov. 3-Nov. 13 (opens Nov. 5 in WMU A)
Firearms: Nov. 14-Dec. 9 (closes Dec. 2 in WMU A)

BLACK BEAR: Sept. 1 (end varies by WMU)

GRAY SQUIRREL: Sept. 1-Dec. 31 (Closed in WMUs A, B and C1)

RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 1-Dec. 31

WOODCOCK: Oct. 6-Nov. 4

MOOSE: Oct. 20-28 (by lottery only)

Archery: Sept. 15-Dec. 15 (Closed in WMU A)
Shotgun: Oct. 15-19 (in certain WMUs only)

SNOWSHOE HARE: Oct. 1-March 15 or 31 (end dates and bag limit varies by WMU)


Monday, September 24, 2007

Outdoor Life Road Tour: Kansas City

Just in from Kansas City and the Outdoor Life "Road Tour" last night . . . some highlights of the trip:

Kids running box and glass friction turkey calls at our encouragement while their parents looked on. In several instances, one or the other adult said: "Grandpa has one of those." (Dad didn't in both cases, nor did mom.) I suggested that they make great stocking stuffers, realizing the first time I offered that notion it was likely Santa's secretive business; better than a plush toy that repeatedly utters psycho-babble . . .

Talked to one teenage kid who kept circling around our booth inside the Cabela's store. Turns out he was a turkey hunter, and he wanted to know more about hunting fall flocks. After learning also owns a mixed-breed dog (Shar Pei/Chow) that flushes the big birds, we talked quite a bit about that tradition, covered extensively in my recent book, "The Fall and Winter Turkey Hunter's Handbook" (Stackpole). It's an approach that's legal in Kansas and many other states (the dog finds and flushes flocks before the hunter attempts to call those scattered birds back to the blind where s/he and the canine are concealed). Makes me optimistic when I have a conversation like this. Here's hoping he and his buddies have some great hunts this fall.

Barbecue at a downtown Kansas City eatery/gas station with F&S/OL/SB Sales Development Manager Chris Jette, along with our new buddy Stuart--a KC police officer and recent sweepstakes hunt winner--and gear guy Peter B. Mathiesen. Apart from doing a great job at sales development, Brooklyn boy Jette knows everyone in the competitive eating world, and can hold his own as well. Rock on, Kitchen. Rock on.

This Steelers lifer and NFL fan got so caught up in the Browns-Raiders game on one of the many televisions at the Cleveland airport that I nearly missed my plane back to New England. Seems my watch decided to stop at 6:10, then restart and drag again at 6:15, and again at 6:15, and . . . it was 6:15 the longest time as I glanced at my wrist between commercial breaks (duh!). Second sense told me the 7:10 flight was closer than that.

"What time is it?" I said to the Continental attendant as she stood by the closed ramp door at Gate D7. "6:57," she replied . . . "I'm on that flight," I smiled, "my watched stopped! I like Cleveland but want to sleep in my own bed tonight." Whoever you are, thanks for letting me on after last call . . .

All's well that ends well.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

View From Here

The thermostat creaked into action, and the baseboard heater ticked on, as it heated up the house this morning with the deck thermometer reading dead on at 40 degrees. Nearly fired up the woodstove before that, and might tonight . . .

Meanwhile, it looks like the Heartland is still locked in summer mode. I'll be talking about fall turkeys at the Kansas City, Kansas Cabela's store soon as part of Outdoor Life's "Road Tour," leaving New England's early fall and heading into a lingering faux July . . .


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Enjoy After the Hunt

The new Miller High Life box stirs up some nostalgia for those HUNTERS WELCOME signs that used to stand posted outside roadside taverns during my Pennsylvania years . . . I'm told sales also benefit the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, and Whitetails Unlimited, as suggested by the busy colorful packaging. All this aside, it's been a decade or so since I enjoyed a real beer of any kind after any sort of hunt--the occasional N.A. brew notwithstanding . . . I do know one thing though, my old friend the fuzzy-headed, pre-dawn hangover can R.I.P. for all I care. I'm too busy climbing a ridge toward roosted birds or out with my English setters most of the time to notice what I missed the night before. Cool looking box though, for sure . . .

--Steve Hickoff

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Year In Review

One of my professional writer's organization memberships just came forward with a credentials audit, a regular feature to maintain the integrity of its members . . . as a result I was asked to review my publications over the past year. Here's the skinny on that effort . . .

Stackpole Books published my Fall & Winter Turkey Hunter's Handbook last month (240 pages/150 photos).

Additionally, in the previous 12 months, I also sold 52 “New England Afield” newspaper columns (Foster’s Sunday Citizen).

I placed well over 200+ photographs in publications such as my recent book, my newspaper space, and assorted outdoor magazines.

I published 19 magazine features in the past year (most of them at 2,000 wds. an article), and in no particular order . . . Outdoor Life (two feature articles), Turkey Call (five features), Turkey & Turkey Hunting (four features), Turkey Hunting Strategies (two features), Get in the Game (one feature), N.H. Wildlife Journal (one feature), Ruffed Grouse Society Magazine (one lyrical essay), Realtree Waterfowl Special (two features), and Realtree Turkey Special (one feature). I forgot to list the RGS piece in my official review, but hey . . .

In the interest of journalistic integrity, three of these fine magazines have since ceased publication, though I now write for two new markets not on the list . . .

Oh yeah, I also sold 55 Internet articles on hunting and fishing as well.

Total? One book, 126 articles, and well over 200+ photos.

--Steve Hickoff

Kittery Trading Post Book Signing/Talk Today!

And Sunday . . .

The dates and times at their Route 1, Kittery, Maine, KTP location:

Friday, Sept. 7: 1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 9: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

The topic: Fall turkey behavior and vocalizations, locating, scouting, and calling . . . along with tips for patterning birds and identifying changing flock composition.

I'll also be signing copies of my Fall & Winter Turkey Hunter's Handbook.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Old School

I'm fall turkey hunting four states this fall between the mid-September and mid-December period of time, and carrying five tags all told . . . one option is bow-only, but that turkey season lasts a generous, low-key 101-days (New Hampshire). With any luck I'll be able to go along with tag-carrying buds too, before and after I use my handful, assuming I do. It's all good.

Five tags. Several thousand road miles to come.

Our fall turkey tradition evolved out of a period of time when resources seemed limitless (as indicated by the image). Still, I have to wonder: What the heck was it like living at that time? Moreover, what was it like to be part of that particular hunt? (Which no doubt resembled many back then.) Such a take wasn't illegal at all, as modern game management had yet to develop . . . fact is, this model has only been achieved as of the late twentieth century, and we're still tweaking it as other challenges arise in the twenty-first.

These are the good old days of turkey hunting, folks.

--Steve Hickoff

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Maine Hunting & Fishing

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Despite a national downward trend in hunting and fishing license sales over the past ten years, Maine is bucking the trend, with hunting licenses stable, and fishing licenses increasing over that same ten-year span.

“Maine is known as a destination for hunters and anglers, and even though fewer licenses are being sold nationwide, more people are choosing Maine as a place to hunt or fish,” said Roland D. Martin, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

1n 1996, there were there were 267,158 licensed anglers in Maine. In 2006, that number grew to 279,262, an increase of nearly 5%. In 1996, Maine had 210,183 licensed hunters, and in 2006, that number was 209,165, a decrease of one half of one percent. Over that time, the sale of hunting and fishing licenses across the nation dropped 15%.

(News release material sent to this desk.)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sunday, September 2, 2007

S.I.'s NFL Predictions

Not sure why I read this stuff but I do . . .

S.I. has my Steelers going 8-8 (same record as last year). Creative thinking there, folks. (Do I need to remind anyone that Pittsburgh had the best '07 pre-season record in the NFL at 4-1? Yeah, I know, it doesn't count, but I am counting, and we're winning so far.)

What finish is S.I predicting? They've put the Colts-Chargers in the AFC Championship game, and the Saints-Eagles in the NFC deal, with New Orleans meeting San Diego in Super Bowl XLII and winning it.


--Steve Hickoff

Kittery Trading Post Hunting Seminars/Book Signings

I'm talking about fall and winter turkey hunting, and signing copies of my new turkey book, "Fall & Winter Turkey Hunter's Handbook" (Stackpole), this coming Friday, September 7 & Sunday, September 9. The times: Friday: 1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m., and Sunday: 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. The talk will include wild turkey behavior and vocalizations, locating, scouting, and calling along with tips for patterning birds and identifying changing flock composition. See you there . . .

--Steve Hickoff

Hoppe's No. 9 Aromatherapy

My Foster's Sunday Citizen newspaper column from July 29 presented the following tongue-and-cheek lead anecdote regarding aromatherapy:

"Nearly a decade ago my wife and I sat in a birthing class as the new age instructor spoke of aromatherapy, passing various scented ointments and assorted fragrances among the group of us parents-to-be. These, she told us, might be used to handle the rigors of delivery (over 13 hrs. in our particular case, all done without aromatherapy, though caffeine played a role in my case as the pinch-hitting nurse . . . but I digress).

Yes, I behaved just fine in our little seminar. My then-pregnant wife on the other hand remarked with a conspiratorial whisper: 'Your version of aromatherapy is Hoppe’s No. 9.'

Say what?

You folks who handle hunting firearms, and shoot sporting clays for pleasure just nodded and possibly laughed. Don’t know Hoppe’s? It’s the storied gun-cleaning solvent used to remove anything from rust, powder, lead or metal fouling from your favorite firearm. It’s been around forever (1903, in fact), and the sweet smell of it after an October bird hunt provides a mix of nostalgia which takes me back to my teenage hunting years [even the recent spring turkey season].

Any warm and fuzzy feelings stirred up for you hunters? No doubt. All sportsmen and outdoors types associate certain smells with their time hunting, fishing, hiking, whatever."

Funny thing is, a handful of random online "aromatherapy" sites have linked this outdoors column, which is surely an ironic twist of fate. Wonder if they actually read it?

--Steve Hickoff

Last Year's N.H. Fall Turkey Season

According to the 2006 N.H. Fish & Game Wildlife Report: "The first-ever limited fall shotgun turkey season, October 16-20, 2006, saw 824 hunters purchase the $11.00 permit and harvest 122 turkeys (81 hens and 41 gobblers) from the 8 WMUs open to fall shotgun hunting in the western half of the state.

"Given that the total area open to hunting measured 3,347 square miles, this represents a harvest of only one turkey per 27.4 square miles. The modest harvest of 122 turkeys was only 3.4% that of the May 2006 spring season and will have little impact on the state’s turkey population. A total of 208 turkeys (120 hens, 88 gobblers) were registered during the 2006 fall (September 15-December 15) archery turkey season.

"The statewide population estimate as of August 2006 was 33,000 wild turkeys . . . Turkey numbers continue to show annual growth in northern and eastern areas of the state."

--Steve Hickoff

(National Wild Turkey Federation courtesy photo)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ah, September

The Labor Day tourists that clogged the northbound arteries of I-95 all day yesterday likely see this northern New England weekend as the end of something, while some of us know it's just the beginning.

For the record, I did not hop the border to the N.H. side to squirrel hunt this morning, though it was cool enough, for sure . . . part of me wanted to, but instead I wrote about fall turkeys for one of my markets, and checked out my bookmarks online.

Sports, and hunting: In short, the Steelers look sharp at 4-1 (though that pre-season slate is unfortunately wiped clean), the Celtics have a decent group on paper that is either the best men's league team in the country, or a real-time contender, and wild turkeys seem to be everywhere. The Red Sox are sliding (just 5 games ahead of the Yankees as I write this), but you can't have everything . . .

Writing: I've one book project underway, and another I'll likely sign on for this month. My magazine assignments are going out steadily, and my "New England Afield" newspaper space (Foster's Sunday Citizen) offers a regional foundation in this my tenth year of providing column/photo content--their online links to my column often appear internationally as well. Just Google my name and check it out . . .

Seminars, signings, and classes: I'll be talking fall turkeys and signing books next week at the Kittery Trading Post's Septemberfest, and other venues as well this autumn. I'm teaching two Granite State College writing courses that will get me out of the home office a couple nights a week as well.

Gotta run now though . . . I smell bacon frying in the kitchen.

--Steve Hickoff