Steve Beckwith - Maine Hunter

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Trail Camera review Victure HC200 vs. Wild Game Innovations Cloak 12

I try to be thrifty and stretch my dollars so that I have more cameras available for my outdoor adventures, and sometimes I have to take one for the team...but I thought I would share a bad deal and a good deal on four cameras I recently purchased.

The bad deal was two at $59.99 each of the Victure HC200 Trail Camera 1080P 12MP Wildlife Camera Motion Activated Night Vision 20m with 2.4" LCD Display IP66 Waterproof Design for Wildlife Hunting and Home...with No SD card and No Batteries! The good deal, which was the two Wild Game Innovations, Cloak 12 Lightsout 12mp trail Game Camera with 8 Duracell Batteries and SanDisk 8G SD Card included which I purchased for $59.99 as well.

I purchased the Victure cameras first and after learning by using it that the Victure brand cameras were only fair for daylight photos, a tad bit blurry at it's best 12 Mega Pixel setting and the trigger speeds were slow even during daylight. The only part of the photo that was remotely light enough to see anything was in the center of the photo, the outer portion was black. Rendering this camera useless at night.

I have owned many WildGame Innovations cameras over the years, and every model I've owned always works great out of the box, some have worked for a year with no issues before failing and some I have had for four to five years and they still work like new today, WGI seems to be fixing issues when they make a new model and I continue to have better luck with newer models. I have been using their Cloak series in several different models for the past few years and they seem to all work fairly well. I am not experiencing any issues with the Cloak 12 models so far.  Let me also add that my cameras are in the woods,snow, rain, heat, moisture etc. almost all year long. They receive a lot of weather abuse and still keep operating.

I probably should just stay with using WGI cameras, but with all the latest and greatest technology coming out, I can't resist trying these new cameras hoping for something inexpensive, durable and that takes decent pictures so I can see a black bear at night and a squirrel by day! I am not looking for photographs for a contest with my cameras,  just show me what's in front of the camera day or night when it appears there, it's all that I require in a good trail camera!

Here are the results from my product side by side test on the same tree at night with these two model trail cameras. You decide for yourself which one you would buy for an inexpensive camera, to me it's simple, the WGI Cloak 12 for $59.95 on Amazon with the 8 Duracell batteries and the 8gb SD card is the best bang for my buck out of these two cameras!

 Cloak 12
 Deer is on far left of circle Victure HC200

      Cloak 12

Cat is on far left of circle Victure HC200

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Pre Rut...Rut...Post Rut Here We Come!

Once again I find myself working my calls during the rut here in Maine. Calling is not always a instant rewarding adventure, but when it works there's nothing like outsmarting any buck or doe, big or small, if you can call a deer into shooting range you are doing everything right!

Trail cameras can be your eyes while you're at work or sleeping the facts will be shown in the photos and the time and date stamps will be your tools to better chances! 

First you must reach way back into your memory bank and remember places where you have seen bucks, or that bucks are currently making ground scrapes, even scrapes & rubs from years ago or buck sighting from years ago in an area will be great places to return to do calling sequences later in life.

Doing your homework can pay off for calling during the rut! 

From my life's experience of being in the woods and observing everything to assist me with patterning buck and doe behaviors. I have found that each year or sometimes every other year deer will breed and "chase" during the pre-rut, rut and post-rut in the same areas of the woods, almost ancestrally. The best way to recognize breeding behaviors and the start of rut is by keeping a mental note of traffic in a given area, if yesterday the deer tracks were a single track or maybe two to four deer moving in a single line across the area and when you return the next day or two, three days later you begin seeing many random deer tracks all over the oak leaves or forest floor coming and going in all directions...chances are you have found the breeding or the "Chase" zone. Always remember these areas from year to year, as this activity is generally done after legal shooting hours by the darkness of night or moonlight, but these areas make great places to sit the fringes of during the rut.  Just sitting there might be productive for your hunt, but you will increase your chances of finding that dominant buck in that area if you do a little calling!

I have mentioned calling in previous blog posts, but my favorite calls to use during rut and post rut are "doe estrus bleat" calls. There are several I have used successfully, from the Lil' Can, Primos adjustable mini deer call, to electronic calls such as Extreme Dimensions Estrus Bleat and my now favorite my cell phone app called HuntPro, the Estrus Bleat works with or without a bluetooth speaker. The only time I use the Bluetooth speaker when calling is on very windy days, but, when all is quiet in the woods just use your cell phone on it's loudest volume setting with no remote speaker. It's perfect volume to call in a buck!

Okay.. you must be thinking... how often, how loud, when to call, how many bleats, do I use scents? The answer to scents is YES, use that doe estrus urine, I prefer the Wilderness Freaks brand and use it on every setup.
I also make mock scrapes using their buck urine inthe area deer travel and previously have made scrapes in from my current year and past scouting. Mock scrapes are simpl to make, I just use my rubber boots to dig up the scrape area down to the dirt and throw the dirt just like a buck would do when making it, I drizzle 1/4 of the bottle into the scape to start it off, then return daily or periodically to refresh it with buck urine and once a buck has visited my scrape, I start adding doe urine to it as well.

That same night I made this scrape, this buck below visited it!

When I hunt and call I keep my scent wicks about 18 inches from the ground, not up high in a tree branch because bucks travel with their nose to the ground and scent rises with the heat of a day, keeping it low is very important.
Calling Them In!

With calling... what has worked for me in the past is that you want to call as soon as you can see well enough to identify a deer and see them in your crosshairs or sights, you don't want to start too early and bring in that giant buck in the dark before you can see him coming, in my area of southern Maine, I like to wait until about 15 minutes before sunrise to actual sunrise to start my calling sequences.  I access the wind and noise in my area and if it's nice and calm, little or no wind, I use the estrus bleat call on my cell phone with the phone volume at maximum, or I will use the Lil' Can "Estrus Doe Bleat". Either one works great on calm days!  If the wind is blowing causing sound not to travel very far, I step up my cell phone call by using my Bluetooth speaker (I use a Bose SoundLink Micro Bluetooth® speaker, but you can use cheaper ones that do the same thing, I prefer the clarity of the Bose, plus it's waterproof. ) and start on mid volume.   My sequence is 3-5 bleats about every 5 minutes and I turn my volume up and down between each bleat, something like this, low volume on bleat one, bleat two up one notch, bleat 3 up two notches, bleat 4 back down two notches and bleat 5 down another notch of volume. This simulates the deer moving her head and body around as she bleats by changing volume.  On calm days I stick with about 3-4 bleats of the Lil' Can and do this about every 5 minutes until about an our after sunrise and then I stop all calling until 1/2 hour before sunset, I then use a "Doe Grunt" call with 1-3 soft grunts every 5-10 minutes until end of legal shooting time.

Below are bucks I have called in using Doe Estrus Bleat - electronic calls.

This deer above was called in using my Cell Phone Ap 

The deer above was called in on a very windy day using the 
Extreme Dimensions Estrus Bleat call on maximum volume!

The only calling I do between one hour after sunrise and 1/2 hour before sunset are buck grunts! When I am stalking through the woods (walking carefully and slowly)  I usually grunt about every 5-10 steps depending upon how quiet I have just walked, if I break a twig, I grunt and stop briefly before continuing on. When I jump a deer and physically see or hear deer running or blowing,  I grunt loud and quickly, many times deer will stop, look back or even start walking your way stamping their feet, trying to locate the buck they just heard!  When I am traveling to my to my stand after lunch time or if I am approaching open fields or powerlines in my travels, I will use a turkey diagram call and putt, yelp my way to where I am heading.

I have had very little success in Maine using the rattle call for big deer, but I have called in smaller bucks, does and yearlings using a fighting rattle sequence a few times when sitting powerlines just in the last 20 minutes of legal shooting time in Maine. Deer have jumped out of the woods looking up and down the powerline to locate the fight I simulated. I have filled more than one antlerless tag using this method in my life. So don't give up on using the rattling call for big bucks, because I know many hunters that have been very successful using rattling in Maine! But always remember when using the rattle call...there has to be at least a couple dominant bucks in the area you are rattling in for it to work, the more big bucks, the better this will work!

Well.. The rut is on and I hope some of my tips will help you out the next time you head into the woods to fill your deer tag! Always remember: Any person that fully enjoys the pursuit of his or her intended species with the end results being an accomplished and happy hunter regardless of sex, weights, bag limits or protruding extremities! Steve Beckwith - The Maine Hunter

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

To Hunt Fall Hens and Poults Or Not Is A Hunters Choice.

Let me start off this blog post with a favorite quote of mine that I live by:
Definition of a Maine Hunter:
Any person that fully enjoys the pursuit of his or her intended species with the end results being an accomplished and happy hunter regardless of sex, weights, bag limits or protruding extremities! 
Steve Beckwith - Maine Hunter

I had a client earlier last week and this client would only shoot a Tom, or the Boss Gobbler as he called it,  the client was 74 years old, with a bad leg and was limited on the type of terrain I could take him over, as well as being completely deaf and I had to communicate with him using texting sitting next to him. I enjoyed the gentleman immensely and he was an excellent sportsman, but it was a very trying experience for me as a Maine Guide. He only hunted with me for two days, sunup to sundown and each day the morning set ups were in a field/meadow that was picturesque and we even had a gobble on the roost the first morning, but both days the birds would not fly down into the wet grass of the field and they landed in the woods on dry ground. The land owner gave me permission to hunt only until 8 AM each day due to they had a horse riding stable that catered to disabilities and therapy riding lessons and started at 9 AM, so we could not stay or return when the birds hit the field in that area. We traveled for many hours and located many birds, most were hen flocks with poults and these birds were nothing this gentleman was interested in pursuing. We found several Toms but always on land we couldn't access or under someone's bird feeders. We sat fields in the evening hours for the roost, but of course they either didn't roost or were at the other end of the field from our blind. My client went home empty handed simply because he was not willing to harvest a hen in the fall, a choice he made and had to live with after paying my guide fees of two days. 


I haven't had much chance to get out and hunt this fall for myself, but between setting stands and scouting for clients, today Oct 10th, I got a morning to myself  and harvested two hen turkeys with one shot.  (In Maine you can shoot two birds in the fall of either sex.) It was an awesome adventure that after it was all over I thought, it sure would have been nice to have had a buddy along to see it all come together as I out smarted an entire flock of birds. My clients who wouldn't shoot a hen missed out on the excitement of the birds coming to the call, to each their own, but I love calling in any wild animal, male or female and outsmarting it, that is the challenge to me and always will be.
Many people ask me how I hunt in the fall. It's been many years of trial an error, but I have finally become quite good at succeeding on a flock of hens and poults in the fall.  First I locate a flock of birds by traveling the known areas birds live, travel and frequent, once I spot them I get ahead of them without being seen, usually I use the woods to get into what I call "The Zone" (Close enough to not be seen by the birds but not so far they can't hear my fall calling yelps and putts.) I set up quick and call like the audio file below. I will pause my calling 3-5 minutes between calling and don't call when I can see a bird, I let them hunt me down, with gun up and ready because there's too many eyes coming in quietly to move once you see them. I sit against a tree and if I can sit behind evergreens it helps to give me better cover.  Watch without moving a muscle and be ready, if I get busted and the birds alarm or run off, I will get up and try to move at them to bust them up, then sit back down for a few minutes and start to call again from a slightly different location, usually they will come back in to re-group with the flock and you may get your chance then. 

I have also shot many Toms in the past in the fall using a single Jake decoy in a field, (If I can get it set up ahead of a group of males without getting seen, I usually use the hills in the field to place the decoy when I can.) when they do see the decoy they will come running in at it so be ready if you try this set up! I know there are a lot of other methods for fall turkey hunting but this is just what works for me and I hope it helps someone else who is struggling with fall turkey hunting, I know I did for many years! 

(The audio is how I call fall birds in using my own vocal chords, no man made call used. It's rough calling but many birds have fallen for my "fall calling", some in the spring too!)

Good luck and Happy Fall Turkey Hunting!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

ThermaCELL Mosquitoe Unit Tips and a NEW Heated Product Video Review

I often speak at shows and online about ThermaCELL products. The main reason that I do is because the products work exactly as the directions state their products will work and that's why I am on the ThermaCELL Prostaff... I only represent products that work as designed! My reputation and word is something that I pride myself on in life and you will never catch me promoting a product that doesn't produce as promised! ThermaCELL is top on my list of products that I stand behind 100%!

If you have ever tried a ThermaCELL product and returned it to a retail store because it doesn't work, chances are that you simply did not read or follow the instructions properly! ThermaCELL products come with instructions of use....READ them carefully and use as directed to achieve the designed results from all of their products!  

ThermaCELL is well known for their insect repellent devices, if you haven't experienced and used these to keep mosquitoes away, you need to crawl out from under that rock and buy a couple of these for your personal protection from the many diseases and viruses that mosquitoes carry like malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis and Zika fever!  The list grows every year and ThermaCELL is helping in the fight to keep us safe and more comfortable in the outdoors! One tip is to always keep in mind when using the insect repellent devices is that it takes about 5 minutes initially for the units to disperse the repellent into the 15 foot radius of the unit. If the wind blows, that repellent will blow outside the 15 foot area and when the wind dies back down give it 2-5 minutes to re-establish that 15 ft radius of repellent again. Occasionally between wind gusts, mosquitoes may be more prevalent during that 2-5 minute window while the device catches back up the 15 foot radius, but usually the wind also pushes the mosquitoes away with it too!  

ThermaCELL also has a great line of Heated Products! They have Heated Insoles for your feet that keep your feet dry and comfortable in cold weather and they also have Heated Pocket and Hand Warmers to warm other parts of your body when out in the cold elements! If you would like to learn more about these products, how they are used and get some inside tips from myself, watch this video on the newest products introduced in the fall of 2016. I have been testing and working with the ThermaCELL engineers testing their new Bluetooth driven ThermaCEL Heated Products App for Iphones and Android smartphones, since last winter here in Maine and this video will give you some insight on this new technology and how it will make you warmer and more comfortable outdoors in the cold weather!

In closing..... If ThermaCELL makes it.... Follow their use instructions to the "T" and their products will do exactly what they advertise they will do for you! Tested and approved by all Maine Hunters TV Pro-staffers!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hunting The Fall Turkey As The Hunter

Always remember when reading my blog... I am not a professional writer, I tend to ramble, misspell and use bad grammar! In this article I will talk about both archery and shotgun hunting. I will also be talking about calling, stalking and tactics that have worked for me and that I use. Some conventional and some unconventional tactics, but keep in mind, I am a hunter and a hunter uses everything legal to achieve the ultimate end result which is food on our tables. My way may not be your way, but your way is not always the only way or the right way for another hunter! I am tired of the trash talk I see on Facebook and other social media sites from supposed hunters who think their way is the only way and talk down on new techniques or old traditions that they have never tried or that they simply don't like the concept. They trash talk new concepts without ever having tried them, they forget that some states allow methods that their state don't and immediately call it cheating, unethical, or unsafe! Anytime you set out to go hunting "always" check your local laws before implementing anything you read online! States like Massachusetts have no law against shooting turkeys off the roost, I don't like that law for my state, but maybe guys in Massachusetts like to hunt that way. In Maine we can hunt with electronic calls, not that I need them, but it's legal, therefore okay for those who use them here! Why bash others over legal hunting methods in the state we do it in? I say... to each his own, as long as it's legal to do where you hunt!    

I have had many ups and downs when it comes to fall turkey hunting. I do prefer using my shotgun but I have shot many fall turkeys with a bow over the years and I hate to admit this but many have also run off to die and never be found by myself, but instead by a fox, fisher or coyote that surely enjoyed my efforts!  Turkey hunting with a bow, from my years of experience tells me in order to be successful one must be very patient and select only the perfect shot angles. Shooting a turkey broadside with an arrow is in my opinion is a poor shot, there is a very small window of kill areas when a bird is broadside. (Yes.. it can be done, but more times than not they run away to die a slow death and can’t be found so I won't do it anymore.)   The best shots for me are either straight on with it walking directly towards you or walking directly away. Of course there are other good shots too like slightly angling towards you or going away angle shots that work quite well too, but this method gives a much bigger kill area and will easily disable a bird when you drive a broadhead through the spine, lungs, heart, neck or head!   

In my later years of hunting, I have made a choice in the hunting of turkey to use my 12 ga  Mossberg Ult-Mag 835 shotgun with 3 1/2” magnum with #5 shot (Heavy Shot or Federal Premiums patterned best in my gun.), mainly because I respect the animal and want to make sure I use a tool that does the job I am setting out to do, which is to kill a turkey and put him on my dinner table, not a coyote, fox or other critters meal! Using a gun of this caliber also allows longer range shooting which is often necessary in the fall. My gun has taken birds out to 80 yards, although 65 yards is my preferred maximum range. One does not need to use what I use, it’s just my personal choice for turkey hunting.  

There are too many ways to list them all but I have developed certain skills that help me to be a successful fall turkey hunter over the years. The first and foremost mission is that you have to locate birds and the easiest way to do that in the fall is to ride the roads and spot them in fields, backyards, (Bird Feeders) crossing roads and by frequenting areas where spring turkeys have been known to hang out, like oak ridges and old tote roads with landings or clearings. But, remember that fall turkeys have totally different habits and behaviors in the fall over spring turkey hunting. In the fall turkeys group into two flock types, hens and poults and Toms and  1 1/2 year old jakes, beards are with beards, and hens are still with their spring born broods. This requires different hunting tactics for each group of birds in the fall.

First I will go over hunting the hens and poults flock, calling fall birds is quite fun and this flock is the easiest to call, but yet not always will they respond. In order to call birds there are a couple methods that work, one is busting up the group, causing them to scatter into the woods ahead of you, either with a dog or by running at them yourself and forcing them to scatter. I don’t have a dog and I don’t like to chase turkeys although I have and it works! But after the birds have gone out of sight you simply set up close to where they dispersed and begin to call using a soft yelp and single putts or a young bird kee kee to simulate a gathering situation to which the birds will try to regroup and unfortunately to them, your calling is a fake part of their flock and when they appear looking for their friends the shot opportunity presents itself for you.

Another way I have been very successful calling hens and poults is by finding them in large fields or in areas you can easily predict their direction of traveling as a group, and I position myself about 100 yards ahead of that direction without getting caught, or busted, as we call it getting set up. Being stealthy and quick are keys to doing this. Using the woods and ridges make great cover while you get ahead of the flock. Once you are set up, again do some soft yelps and single puts and it won’t be long before that whole group is on the way looking for another flock or group to join up with and again you are not what they will be looking for! Being in camo and very still is crucial when flocks are approaching you in the woods, that many eyes all looking for the sounds you were making puts them on alarm of any foreign movement in their woods.

Recently I teamed up with a company called Blind Magnet, they make very light and easy to pop open blinds that gives me the added cover I need to prevent body movement. It carries easily in my pack or in my hand as I work my way through and ahead of birds in the woods and when I get to what I call “In The Zone”, which is about 100 yards or less from the flock, this blind pops open in two seconds and makes it perfect for run and gunning for fall turkeys. I will mention this blind again in this article for another awesome and fun way to get your turkey!

The male fall flock is quite a bit harder to call into range. Male birds in the fall do not want anything to do with females and their poults, I have been within 75 yards of flocks of male birds and let out a hen yelp, their heads pop up and two seconds later, they are running straight away from that sound they heard. Calling males in the fall can be done, but personally I have not mastered this call and I choose other methods for my hunting success. Males like to keep to themselves in the fall season. I personally believe it is because they know that the large groups of young birds are making too many sounds and predators go after them. The older wiser male birds don’t want these young poults giving them away and putting them in danger of coyotes and foxes, the male birds are no where near as vocal in the fall as the hen and poult flocks!  In my experience calling in fall Toms should be left up to only the most experienced turkey callers, a caller that can mimic only the male “yelp” something I have not yet mastered and probably never will for fall birds. But, I have called in male birds in the fall, using a deep yelp from the center of a slate call or a low pitched box call.

In Maine we can stalk turkey and it’s a lot of fun and is an adrenaline rush one has to experience but, I only advise this in open areas or fields to be safe. Open field or plains stalking is an ancient art of hunting that dates back to our ancestors using primitive hunting tools. In the past my fall tom hunting tactics of stalking have been finding a flock of toms and using natural elements to stalk and close the gap without getting seen by all those eyes watching for predators. I use trees, bushes, stonewalls, hills, valleys and anything that hides me while I close the distance for a kill shot. One of my favorite old time methods is to use a red headed jake decoy once I have located a flock in an open field, the trick is to find a hill or bushes across the field from them that I can get the decoy out in the field without being caught by the flock. Then set up against a tree with some good cover and wait for the flock to walk around the bush or hill and see the lone jake decoy, sometimes that single low pitched tom yelp makes them look quicker! They almost instantly run across the field ready to confront this new intruder in their area and will run right to the decoy. Now with the addition of the “Blind Magnet” in my backpack of tools I will be using that for a cover set up from now on rather than limited bushes and cover in setting up quickly in specific corners of a field!

This leads me to the recent discovery of use of the Blind Magnet for fall turkey hunting. Last spring I filmed the use of a Blind Magnet blind used to stalk three adult toms across a 500 yard field here in Maine and the shooter was able to stalk within 30 yards of these three birds that would not come to any call I had in my box of tricks. These birds stayed on the wood line on the opposite side of the field for hours, so we deployed the Tactical Blind Magnet and slowly worked across the wide open field, if the birds get a little nervous, you simply stop and watch for them to settle back down and start feeding or strutting, whatever they are doing naturally. These blinds have about a 3 inch circle hole in them above the handle you use to move the blind, which you can look out through and see everything ahead of you. Without the use of this new lightweight camo shield, stalking 500 yards to within shooting range of three weary toms would never happen! This new device should be in every turkey hunters bag of tricks. When your preferred method of calling just won’t work, deploy the Blind Magnet and try your hand at something that is very exciting but I will tell you that stalking skills are required to do this. You can’t just walk quickly across a field and shoot a turkey, you have to hunt skillfully behind this device, and that’s why it’s called hunting folks.

So in closing I hope you will give fall turkey hunting a try and that some of my experiences will help you to be more successful!  I hope you will consider giving staking turkey and other game a try. My late great friend Lane Benoit enjoyed tracking, stalking, learning the ways of the animal he was pursuing and he always told me that it is all part of why we all hunt. I had the pleasure of turkey hunting with Lane Benoit and he always told me great woodsman use all their skills and knowledge to be successful and to never leave any stone un-turned in achieving your end goal, which is food on your table!  I too live by the same words and use the tools available to me to achieve those goals!  So check your States game laws to be sure stalking game is legal in your area and catch the fever of fall turkey hunting and the many ways to be successful!

Maine Fall Turkey Hunting Laws

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wow.. The social media has exploded on the subject of stalking. Of course it's the age old everyone has their right of choice on how to think, act and do things in life! From my stand point it's up to the individual how one chooses to be successful as a hunter. The method used "as long as it is legal" in my opinion is part of developing useful skills as a hunter. New gadgets and inventions is what humans do to advance or be successful! It's kind of like fishing, I like worms, you like flies, and someone else likes lures, it's "choice" and it's "my" choice not yours!

It doesn't matter if you are stalking, turkey, deer, moose, antelope, elk, geese, or a woodchuck if it is legal to stalk an animal we fellow sportsman need to stick together and accept how others hunt and what they enjoy. If you don't want to do it? It's simple don't! But for the love of god stop arguing that your way is better than my way and vice versa!

For example you may like to sit in a treestand all day to shoot a deer, but another hunter may opt to be a tracker and run down that animal until he finally gets his intended target, another hunter may choose to aimlessly walk around the woods and take a dear by accident (by chance or jump shooting), while another favors calling in a deer using scents and a call, or maybe driving deer is legal in your state and you enjoy that type of hunting or hunting from a ground blind is your preferred method. If these methods are legal and effective, it's all part of developing your own hunting skills your style and method of being the superior predator. A hunter is the ultimate predator. From the development of rock fall traps, spears, clubs, slingshots, bows and modern firearms man has developed methods and improvised his skills into many weapons and tactics to achieve hunting success. 

Man created decoys, mouth calls, electronic calls, metal tree stands, pop up blinds and many other tools to add to our bag of tricks to be successful. Does it really matter if I call in a turkey with a fancy custom made box call or if I use an electric call downloaded to my cell phone to make the same exact sound to kill a turkey? No it don't! Because the guy that uses his store bought electronic call will have filled his legal tag, followed his local laws to do so and had his own personal satisfaction that he or she is happy with to accomplishing the same end goal as the turkey hunter who called in his turkey using a box call he purchased at a department store or maybe made himself. Any person that belittles another fellow hunter because they used one device over another is nothing more than....well..a jack ass! Not anyone I would want to associate with, call my friend or especially go hunting with! People I associate with respect how others accomplish the same end result, by following their local game laws and legally filling their tag and putting meat on their table regardless of their personal skill level. 

I personally use anything at my disposal to be successful as long as it is legal where I am hunting. So let me get back to the topic at hand, stalking! I recently have been seeing many videos of people using turkey tails to stalk a turkey and get up close. I've seen hunters bashing others doing this on forums and social networking sites and saying how unsafe this is etc., etc. Yes.. it is marginally unsafe in certain conditions to do this, in my area in brush or wooded scenarios it could be dangerous, but it's certainly not unsafe in an open field. It is the gun handlers responsibility to always identify their targets or face stiff fines and even jail time for shooting another human. If you have ever seen a 5 foot plus person crawling behind a two foot wide turkey tail, across an open field it is rather obvious what is going on, most of your body is exposed from any direction. As a turkey hunter have you ever just fired at a tail fan...NO, you wait until you see the head, neck, beard before taking the shot, even if the live bird is close to the "fanning hunter" you can easily witness the live bird moving towards the human crawling behind the turkey tail fan and know that it's unsafe, unfair and usually illegal to shoot game being pursued by another hunter. 

I will agree a very few people have been shot across the USA while wearing red, blue, or white, using gobble calls, or even simply using male bird decoys in a set up by inexperienced hunters desperate to kill a turkey. But... these people are breaking numerous laws and are the negligent hunters we need to put the blame on the negligent shooter not on the person using a legal method to hunt the intended animal. When "we" as "hunters" step into the woods we accept the risk that another hunter may in fact fail to identify his target, it's unfortunately part of going hunting and we hunters have to be aware of our surroundings while in the act of hunting. I honestly feel that if I get shot while hunting it will be because whomever pulled their trigger is not a responsible hunter and should be held liable for their actions. If I'm hiding behind a natural bush, against a tree, a ground blind, walk behind blind, a stake out blind, a cow blind, a mirror blind, or crawling behind a turkey tail in an open field and what I am doing is perfectly legal in that State, if you shoot me or at me you, I will certainly be having you prosecuted in court and going after everything you own for damages! It is ridiculous to put the blame on the hunter abiding by the laws of hunting in that area, when an accident happens!  

So please stop putting down a fellow hunter's legal hunting tactics because it's not your cup of tea and remember to enjoy hunting how you like it, enjoy the world around you as you would like to enjoy it and respect your fellow hunters out there using legal hunting tactics to become the ultimate predator. Be aware of your surroundings, local game laws, and identify your target before engaging your shot, hunters stand united!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Guns That Shaped The Monster!

My .308 Savage 99C has seen a lifetime of wear, yep both me and the gun and still at my side when I am hunting big game and probably will be until the day I die.  

I been hunting deer since I was 10 and I'm 55 now. I started out with a Winchester 94 in 38-40, it was my Grandfather, Frank Beckwith's gun, whom I am named after. You see I was the youngest son of five so when I turned 10 guess who got the old heavy boat anchor with open sights to lug around the woods!

After two years of using the old Model 94, my older brothers guns, Alan and Jim's they became available from the family gun cabinet as they were off in the military in the Vietnam War, so I started grabbing their guns when I could, they were Savage Model 340 bolts in 30-30 with open sights which I never cared for that much. By 1974, I started using my oldest brother Jerry's gun, he was in college at the time and his Winchester model 100 in .308 was available for a couple years. I threw that gun to the curb for it's constant jamming issues and the loss of an awesome buck. In 1976 my father announced he was all done hunting because Dad's knees, back, gout and heart just wasn't in it anymore and he used my turning 16 and being able to hunt alone now as his ticket out of hunting with his boys. So I decided to give my Dad's Savage 99 a try and at age sixteen fell in love with the balance and feel of it when carried in the woods beating the hillsides as a free spirit unleashed from adult supervision tracking and chasing whitetails on my own. I shot a couple deer with that gun and decided I should look into actually owning my own guns rather than using family guns. I guess I was growing up!

My first gun purchase was a Marlin 335 in 35 Remington at age seventeen and although it was a nice feeling rifle to carry and hold, I didn't care for the hammer firing mechanism of that model and make so it was off to Kittery Trading Post to by a Winchester Model 70 in .270, an old hunting friend swore by his and I needed to give one a try for myself.  It just didn't feel good carrying in the woods tracking deer and it wasn't quick enough for me for follow up shots and one day the bolt caught on some thick thorn bushes and pulled the thorns into my hands and that was the last day with a bolt action for me in Maine woods.

I then inherited my other Grandfather's gun, whom I am also named after, Edwin Pinkham, (Steven Edwin Frank Beckwith, we all share the same Birthday!) which was a Remington 742 Woodmaster in .308, which also faithfully jammed on a regular basis, but I did shoot a few deer with my one shot semi for a couple more years!

It was 1980, I had been hunting for ten years now and off to K.T.P. I went to attempt to find my ultimate hunting gun. I still liked the Savage 99 of my fathers, it was the Featherweight model but the only issue I had with the older 99's was the way they loaded and unloaded with it's rotary magazine design it was a pain in the butt to unload, you have to eject each shell every time you were done using it and chase your bullets underneath all the fall leaves and snow. At K.T.P. I looked at the Browning BLR clip version in .308, a truly sweet gun, but it was way out of my price range.  I then stumbled among the miles of guns at K.T.P. across a Savage Model 99C (clip version) it was a slightly used gun for $150, I had enough money to buy that and a Bushnell 1.5 x 4.5 scope on it! (In 2014 that old Bushnell scope was replaced with another 1x5 variable scope, the focusing barrel threads rusted through and broke in my hands when adjusting it not bad for a cheap scope!)  It's now been 35 years with the same gun in my hands and this makes it hard for this seasoned hunter to make a change to anything else, although I know there are a few great guns others use!

I did buy another great lever action one day from a guy needing some cash, which I hold equal respect for as I do the Savage 99's and that was the Winchester model 88 in .308, it is also a beautiful handling firearm for deer hunting in Maine's woods. But it stayed in the gun cabinet every hunting season and the Savage was what I always grabbed when I headed into the woods, finally one day the poor old Winchester 88 paid some bills for my family as it had increased greatly in value from when I bought it.

I have spent thirty five years with a Savage 99C in my hands it's been through more beatings than most guns will ever see, and it still works and shoots like a dream!  The only non-lever action gun, ever made, that I would consider changing to would be the Remington Model 760 in .308, I have always liked this gun and love the feel of a pump action. It's probably why I love my pump shotguns for turkey hunting, from my Browning to my Mossbergs! So for me, it's a hamerless lever action  or a pump for my big game hunting!

To each his own when it comes to the feel, action, and preference of a hunting rifle, it's not about what is the best caliber, highest quality or the most popular manufacturer of a hunting weapon! It's what carries, shoulders, and fits you as an individual that works consistently without flaws in adverse hunting conditions, that what makes your gun of choice the best gun out there!