Friday, May 30, 2008

The Places We Hunt . . .

"Badlands: Near Interior, South Dakota"/Copyright Steve Hickoff Photo

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Forthcoming Work

Cyberspaces: You'll find some of my recent writing at a variety of online locations right now, including Outdoor Life (their Strut Zone blog), Realtree, Hoyt, Yamaha, and Foster's Daily Democrat.

Articles:This week I'm working on feature articles for the September/October issue of Turkey Call (an NWTF publication), and the Fall '08 Turkey & Turkey Hunting magazine. I write the New England hunting/fishing destinations roundup for Cabela's Outfitters Journal as well . . .

Books: My NFL title "50 Greatest Plays in Pittsburgh Steelers Football History" (Triumph Books) is slated to be released in August '08, while my "Turkey Calls & Calling" (Stackpole Books) will be out a year later in August '09 or thereabouts according to the publisher's schedule.

Column: My "New England Afield" column appears in Foster's Sunday Citizen (Dover/Laconia, NH) each week.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Turkey Lingo

Check out my feature article "Turkey Lingo" in the Spring 2008 issue of Wheelin' Sportsmen, an NWTF publication (


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Knight & Hale's Glass Hammer

My first turkey call was a slate. Corncob-handled striker. Ash peg. White string for the sandpaper. I flat-out LOVE slate pot-and-peg calls. That doesn't mean an old dog can't learn new tricks.

My collection of turkey calls collected over the years could fill a museum--one friend has actually said that: "Your office is like a museum." That it is: a turkey call is just a reach away. I once even worked a group of birds from this desk that were regrouping after fly-down just out my window. Had the brood hen yelping away to my commentary. 

But I digress . . .

The new trick (or two): Over the years, I've used many calls, from Quaker Boy to Hunter's Specialties to Woods Wise 
to . . . well, just name it. this year Knight & Hale issued new pot-and-peg offerings--the Slate Hammer, Glass Hammer, Silver Hammer, and Yella Hammer, which predated the other three I believe.

At any rate, I ran them all--in this office; in the field. On my recent trip to the South Dakota Badlands, the Glass Hammer proved out to work to the demise of at least two gobblers (one I shot; one a buddy dropped). I'm impressed by the crisp sharp yelps you can get from the surface. The strikers rival some of the best I've used (coffee cups full of strikers fill this space). At any rate, all I can say is to get one. Get 'em all if you can afford it.

The slate is great for soft talk, and just yesterday I fooled a talkative live New Hampshire hen into crossing a cattle fence to my side while thinking she'd be pulling in a strutting gobbler with her. The last wish didn't happen, and she walked. The fall turkey hunter in me called her right back, before letting her drift away. It's all good.

The Silver Hammer is super loud and high-pitched and for those situations when you need to reach out and touch turkeys. Like the Glass Hammer, it will work for up-close stuff too.

The Yella Hammer awaits duty this October. Truth is, any of them might make the cut and go afield with me then. Oh yeah, I've still 10 days left in the New Hampshire season. Better get back to work . . .

--Steve Hickoff

(Photo courtesy Knight & Hale;

Two Seasons

It's funny the difference two turkey seasons can make: Last spring, a designated 2007 Maine "B Season" hunter, I returned to an area where I'd found gobblers while scouting between a successful run to west Texas for turkeys (April 9 tom), and before hunting the New Hampshire opener unsuccessfully. A Wyoming trip followed that (took a high-meadow strutter on May 8, then watched my buddy Jonathan Harling drop a 24# Merriam's, easily the prettiest and biggest of that subspecies I've ever seen). After that, Maine. The birds were still there. Here's the short of it: I hunted them (a fine longbeard and bull jake) on May 15, May 17, and May 18 during the second week of the B option. I passed on the jake, and nearly pulled the trigger on the longbeard numerous times the first two days. The third outing, a rainy one, I heard nothing, bumped a different jake, and actually watched a pair of Canada geese breed in the field in front of me--a first. The 2007 B season closed, and I could hunt the last (fifth) week of the season w/ the others still carryin' a tag. In the meantime, I chased Granite State gobblers--they survived that season as far as I was concerned. Maine's last week arrived: I hunted the 28th, the 29th, and June 1. Though it closed the next day (I had a writing class to teach), I called in those two that late June 1 morning, and with the longbeard hammering and popping into strut at 30 yards, heard but not seen in thick green foliage, I had to walk away when the curtain closed at noon.

Enter, the 2008 Maine spring turkey season: April 28. An "A Season" hunter, I got out late due to family duties (7:15 a.m.), located birds not long after that, called three in, and had the strutter  by the feet at 7:58. Forty-three minutes. It's been a season of calling jakes to the gun (and passing on them--Texas and South Dakota were like that this year), of taking a fine Badlands longbeard with my buddy Gary Sefton, and watching him drop one not long after that--his second of two on that Western trip. Yesterday in New Hampshire (closes May 31) I got a hen fired up, and called her across a fence, but she wasn't shadowed by a strutting gobbler as I had hoped.

Turkey hunting is like that.

--Steve Hickoff

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Badlands Gobblers

Spent May 4-8 in the company of nine shooting, hunting and outdoor trade industry buds in the South Dakota Badlands hunting wild turkeys. 

In short, we took a dozen gobblers during this period of time (11 longbeards and a jake). 

Stay tuned for product reviews of the gear I used on this hunt and others this spring, from new calls to loads to firearms to camouflage patterns.

--Steve Hickoff

(Steve Hickoff photo)

New From Winchester Ammunition

This just in . . .

Winchester Ammunition is now offering a way for hunters to keep track of product developments. I've been a longtime fan of their turkey loads, and have taken spring turkeys all around the country using those gobbler-stoppin' black-hulled shells. 

Check out "The Red W Club" at 


Friday, May 2, 2008

Four Weeks

After shooting hours close Saturday, exactly four weeks remain of spring turkey hunting around the country (May 31st is the latest anything is open anywhere as May gobblers go). Location depending, in some places it's winding down . . . in another (New Hampshire), regular season starts tomorrow.

I've tags for South Dakota where they got some serious snow today (2, prairie hunt), Vermont (2), and New York (2), after Texas and Maine hunts in April. Yep, New Hampshire opens tomorrow, but I'll have to wait until mid-month or so to give the Granite State a touch.

Stay tuned.