ZEKE WILSON: Weather takes toll
As I sprang from my position in the corn stubble, the fluttering geese were in trouble. All of a sudden, setting up decoys in the dark and shivering with my back against the chilly ground were long forgotten on a frigid Monday morning.
On occasion I have gone 3-for-3 on honkers, and this scenario had all the makings for such an event. As the first migrator crumpled at the report of the Remington, I covered up the next beak and squeezed the trigger. Unfortunately, my semi-automatic 10 gauge had succumbed to the freezing temperatures. By the time I realized why things weren’t going bang anymore, the birds were well out of range.
A couple of days earlier I had hunted geese in the rain, and evidently sitting the gun beside the dehumidifier hadn’t worked well enough. Truth be told, I know the gun hasn’t been cleaned in some time, and waterfowling can take its toll on equipment.
Despite the knowledge that I was down to single-shot status, I did manage to bag another bird before the morning flight ended.
When the thermometer drops below the freezing point, guns can freeze up and ruin the hunt. Firing pins, bolts and ejectors can lock up when moisture or excess oil is present. Simply spraying down a gun’s action is not enough, and it is important to wipe off excess oil residue with a clean rag.
Routine cleaning can prevent the bulk of malfunctioning issues and prolong the life of the firearm.
• While I was hunting the fall turkey opener, it was hard to miss all the grapes that had come down with recent winds. Breezy conditions allowed me to still hunt up on two separate bucks, which were both bedded despite the upcoming rut activities.
Typically when I hunt turkey on the first Saturday I wind up wishing I had chosen deer, and for once I was glad I’d gone with the gun. Even with abundant food sources, I discovered only a handful of fresh turkey scratching, and I did not see a bird.
During the hunt I saw a number of gray squirrels, and for those looking for action, bushy tails appear abundant.
I heard shooting for much of the day, but it was evident that the popularity of hunting, and particularly small game hunting, is not what it once was.
Archery, however, continues to grow, and shots cannot be heard to gauge the hunting pressure. In my travels I have not seen a great deal of archery activity, although the best hunting is just picking up.
On Monday I called Bill’s Archery to see about getting some arrows cut. The cold morning had the buck chasing, and the shop was shut down until after dark. With this information I decided to climb a tree as well and witnessed a small buck grunting and persistently pushing a doe at last light.
• The extended season and use of crossbows should allow many a better chance of tagging their buck this year. For those new to archery, hunting during or prior to rain can be disastrous to a blood trail.
With so many outdoor options at the moment, hanging up the bow when the radar dictates can help prevent losing a trophy.