Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Lower Wetumpka Shotgun Sports Club (LWSSC) near Montgomery, Alabama, and I was truly impressed with the shooting complex. Whether you’re a beginner or professional, you’re sure to have an enjoyable time at LWSSC, as well as, get some great practice in.
LWSSC offers two sporting clays courses – a beginner and advanced course. We chose to shoot the beginner course to get a feel, and it was neither hard nor easy; I would consider it moderately challenging. I’m eager to get back and shoot the advanced course to see how I’d compare.
LWSSC offers two sporting clays courses – a beginner and advanced course. We chose to shoot the beginner course to get a feel, and it was neither hard nor easy; I would consider it moderately challenging. I’m eager to get back and shoot the advanced course to see how I’d compare.
The complex also offers a covered 5-stand, wobble trap, skeet field, and continental pheasant hunts. LWSSC is the perfect place to host a corporate event, family outing, bachelor or bachelorette event, or a fun afternoon with a group of friends.
At the shooting facility, you’re able to bring our own gear, or you can purchase the gear that LWSSC offers for a very reasonable price – ear protection, eye protection, shells, and more; they also have options to rent shotguns, too, for only $10. For this course, I brought my new TriStar Upland Hunter 20 gauge to knock the new off, so I chose not to rent a gun.
The Sporting Clays Course 100 targets costs $33 with the addition of a daily member pass which is $10, and a four person cart rental is only $12. LWSSC also offers special event and group pricing and will provide you with a custom quote for optimum savings offered. Something that I really like and appreciate is that the shooting complex offers special youth pricing, and I think that’s awesome to encourage children under the age of 18 to enjoy shooting with supervision, of course.
You do not need to call and make reservations to shoot; reservations are only required when the customers wishes to have a lesson or if it’s a special event.
LWSSC is closed on Monday and Tuesday but open Wednesday through Sunday.
Hours of Operation
Wednesday – Friday – 1 - 6:30 p.m.
Saturday – 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Sunday – 1 – 6 p.m.
After shooting at LWSSC, I’d definitely have to rank it a 10/10 – incredible customer service, clean facility, beautiful course, and of course, a lot of fun and good practice! What really makes it awesome to me is the fact that they offer special pricing for kids. For more information on LWSSC, please visit their website or call 334-420-3371.
With the engine roaring, the Parranda is heading back north towards Panama after four days of fishing near Piñas Bay. My skin is sun-burned, lips chapped, and my heart is completely full. The fishing has been nothing shy of incredible; in four days of fishing, we caught 44 sailfish, four blue marlins, one black marlin, five mahi mahi, and one tuna.
1 mahi mahi
1 blue marlin
1 black marlin
1 mahi mahi
2 blue marlins
1 mahi mahi
1 blue marlin
2 mahi mahi
Let me admit something first – I’m no angler. However, I luckily was able to fish with some of the best out there, the WildLIfers Crew: Dan and Stephanie Braman, Captain Andy Flood, Johan Pete, and Co Co. Each person has been so patient with me. I started out on, what I would imagine, the kindergarten level of offshore fishing, but I was eager to learn and improve throughout the week. Now, I’m clearly not a graduate of the course, but I will say, I’ve learned a lot and certainly improved over the last few days. Also, I’ve learned that I’m poorly out of shape – these fish are incredibly powerful, and at times, I felt for certain I was going overboard. So, before I board the Parranda again, I will be sure to enroll in Sportfishing Fit first. . . no, there is no workout built specifically for Sportfishing, but there should be!
My Role Model
Through all of my experiences, certain ones stand out over others. Watching Stephanie fish is truly remarkable. She’s strong and incredibly knowledgeable. In 18 days of deep sea fishing this season, Stephanie has caught 138 marlin total – no, that is not a typo. She has caught one hundred and thirty-eight marlin in roughly eighteen days. I’m not afraid to say that Stephanie is probably one of the best – if not the best – anglers in the Pacific Ocean. Stephanie is so humble, and she will probably kill me for bragging on her, but she deserves credit. She’s also an incredible teacher; patient, kind, honest, understanding, and a little tough-love mixed in, Stephanie certainly makes me feel capable. Sure, she could easily get frustrated, but instead, she encourages me through her teaching moments. I think that’s a special quality, indeed.
Luckily, I was able to double with Stephanie multiple times. A few times with sailfish, but I think she would agree, the one that sticks out the most was when we doubled on two mahi mahi – a male and female. Stephanie and I definitely had to do some dancing on the boat because they crossed over a time or two, and let me tell you, those jokers fight hard. My arms honestly hurt to type – embarrassing but true.
Paradise Found – Pinas Bay
From an epic teacher to an epic place, another experience that stands out for me is the beauty of Piñas Bay, which means Pineapple Bay. On September 10, we spent the first part of the morning rooster fishing around the coast, and I swear to everything I thought I was on set of Jurassic Park. The mountains are huge with luscious, green trees, hidden caves, pristine beaches and incredible waterfalls. It’s beautiful, and most of the parts are completely uninhabited. At one point, a group of pelicans flew by, and for a brief moment, I wondered if they could potentially be pterodactyls. While the fishing was somewhat slow, the views were truly magnificent.
While sitting on the rail of the boat, dangling my feet overboard, and looking up at all the mountains’ grandeur, I couldn’t help but feel so incredibly small. All of life’s problems, worries, and heartaches, slowly eased to the back of my mind, and in that moment, I found nothing but pure gratitude for existing – to experience beauty like that is life-changing. I wish I could explain it in words; I wish I could hand you a picture that perfectly depicted what my eyes had the opportunity to see. But unfortunately, I can’t do it justice. A picture can’t do it justice. A video can’t do it justice. One must simply be surrounded by all its beauty to truly understand it and appreciate it.
Another experience that stands out is a unique one – it’s certainly a contrast to the beautiful depiction I shared above. The same day we experienced paradise while rooster fishing, we then ventured over to Piñas Village to visit with some of the indigenous people who visited our boat on a regular basis while docked at Piñas Bay. While I wasn’t able to communicate well with them, I did share many smiles and laughs aboard the Parranda with our friends. The people are so kind, and they have a beautiful spirit about themselves. They seem to radiate happiness. From old to young, they all are remarkably happy and seem to be unaffected by their lack of fortunes – and by lack of fortunes, I mean what most people would consider a necessity.
Upon walking up to the village, I was somewhat aghast at the living conditions. Most of their homes were merely made of cinderblocks and where a door or window should be was just open. I felt like an intruder even though I was standing outside looking in, but nonetheless, the people smiled, waved, and said, “hola!” When walking through the streets – mostly dirt paths – we met Children wearing shoes that seemed to be six sizes too big. Most didn’t even wear clothes. Animals live peacefully together; dogs, cats, chickens, and even pet parrots co-exist within the village – not one single fight, snarl, hiss, or bark was heard while we were there.
ñAlso, the village has a zero-crime rate, which is likely due to the fact that they only have the bare necessities, and sometimes, I wonder if they even have those things. In saying this, I hope I’m not coming across harshly; I sincerely admire the people of Piñas Village, especially for their good spirits and kindness. But they do, indeed, live in extreme poverty. Walking through the village was certainly a humbling experience, and I will think twice before complaining again in the future. I know I take too much for granted, so this experience, while perhaps not beautiful compared to other portions of the coast, was one that I will learn the most from, even when I look back years down the road.
This trip is one that I will never forget. I’ve learned so much and seen so much over the past eight days, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Once I return back to the states, my first purchase will be aloe vera.
Thank you to Dan and Stephanie Braman for a trip of a lifetime.
Photography Credit : Dan Braman and Sydney Broadaway
I’ve visited many sporting clay facilities, but I must admit, Garland Mountain Sporting Clays is certainly a standout. You may ask how I even heard about the place? My longtime friend and owner of Outdoor Militia Joe Paget and James Eby are both from the Atlanta area and had done the course many times, so they certainly didn’t have to pull my arm too hard to road trip it on over to Georgia to come shoot clays. I had heard countless times from Joe how awesome the place was, so I was definitely eager to go check it out - he definitely wasn’t fibbing.
Garland Mountain Sporting Clays is a top notch facility located in Waleska, Georgia in northwest Cherokee County. Upon arrival, guests check-in at the beautiful lodge where one of the friendly hosts provide you with information necessary to take part in the course, and of course, safety rules and regulations are explained and a waiver is signed prior to beginning your experience.
I selected the Sporting Clays 100 targets option which cost $44.50. Also, I chose a gun rental option because I wanted to shoot an over and under. To rent a Beretta Silver Pigeon, the cost was only $20; all gun rentals are $20 and require a driver license to be held at the desk while the guest is in possession of the shotgun. Our group also rented a golf cart rental which was reasonably priced for $18. Garland Mountain also provides eye protection, ear protection, and ammunition for a reasonable price; however, you’re welcome to bring your own.
If you’re unfamiliar with the course, the hosts will provide you with a demonstration on how the target launching systems work. One of the most exciting features about the course is the epic view of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Also, the wildlife of Garland Mountain are used to shooters and people, so it’s very likely that you will see deer or turkeys on the course. We actually saw two mature toms that were not-at-all bothered by our presence on the course. We were able to watch them for several minutes before they slowly disappeared into the woods.
There are 14 shooting stations located throughout the course, and each station provides a different target presentation. The course typically takes around two to three hours to complete. Once the course is complete, guests can experience a wonderful meal at the grill. The menu looked phenomenal; however, we went too late in the afternoon, and unfortunately the grill was closing. A full bar is also available to guests after shooting. There’s nothing much like sipping on a good drink after shooting with good friends and playing a game of corn hole!
This is my first review of a facility, but I think Garland Mountain Sporting Clays has definitely set the bar high. So, I'm going to give my experience a 9 out of 10. You can learn more about Garland Mountain Sporting Clays here.
For as long as I can remember. . . yes, even before social media. . . It’s always been a dream of mine to inspire others – especially in the outdoors. Lately, regardless of how hard I try to express my love, passion, and interest in the outdoors and conservation, I’m ridiculed.
“She craves attention.”
“It’s all for the likes.”
“She can't call.”
The list goes on and on, and the words and accusations continue to get more hurtful. The negativity and hatefulness is causing me deep grief and resentment, and unfortunately, is beginning to sour something that I love dearly – hunting, fishing, and being outdoors.
Lately, I feel like my page is doing more damage than good. I feel like I’m potentially deterring women who are newly interested in the outdoors from trying out something new. I’ve received countless messages from these women saying the following:
“I really want to learn to shoot a bow, but I’ve seen the mean and nasty comments, and now, I don’t want to.”
“I want to learn to call, but women get made fun of.”
“I’m new to hunting but scared to share my adventures on social media.”
Their words of concern continue to echo in my mind; I lose sleep because my actions are backfiring. How do I respond to these women? How do I tell them that I’m merely an exception and the reason I receive this negativity is because people deem me as a “fake Instagram huntress.”
That label alone makes me cringe.
I genuinely don’t think this type of ridicule happens to everyone – and God knows, I don’t want it to, but by having my page, I feel that women view this behavior from other hunters as the norm, when in reality, it is not the norm.
Lately, I’ve considered deleting my account. Not for attention’s sake. . . and certainly not out of defeat. . . I want to bow out gracefully because I genuinely feel like I’m harming the statistics of female hunters.
On April 25, 2016, I posted a blog called Guiding Women to the Outdoors: How Women Can Contribute to the Rise of Female Hunters. Truthfully, I wrote that blog after I received hurtful comments from another woman on Instagram – calling me a fake – imagine that.
Back then, 2016 Sydney was much more positive than the person writing today’s blog. Today, I can’t find much justification in sharing my adventures any longer. My goal to inspire is dimming quickly, What began as a raging fire in my heart is now merely a flicker. All I can see is harm through my actions, and it’s devastating. . . I want to blow out that flame for the sake of others.
So, here I am. . . a little over two years later. . . still trying to be a positive role model but feeling like I’m failing miserably.When I express my defeats and worries to others, many of whom I look up to a great deal, I receive the following advice that is always a consistent message:
“You must have thick skin to survive in this industry.”
But truthfully, this venture isn’t about me. My efforts aren’t about me. It’s not about me getting thick skin and dealing with the people that seek to be cruel. I aspire to spark an interest in females that otherwise, might not care to hunt or fish or even break a sweat outdoors.
But I genuinely believe my goal is not coming to fruition; my actions are becoming more harmful than helpful, it seems. So, where do I go from here? That’s the big question. How do I combat the cruelty and exude positivity and continue to persevere despite the adversities. How do I continue to inspire with this deep, guilt-stricken feeling that I’m causing more harm than good?
And the answer is, “I don’t know.” I thought by the end of this blog, I would have the answer. I thought that through the soothing noise of methodical typing and spillage of emotions onto a word document that I would have an answer. But I don’t.
In conclusion, I still don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know what the right thing to do is – but I’m ever seeking. Over the next month, I’m challenging myself to find God’s path for me. If it’s not to document my journey outdoors, then so be it. I can gracefully walk away and feel full in knowing that he has a different plan for me.
I will always be a hunter, provider, conservationist, outdoor enthusiast, and adventure seeker. But unfortunately, I don't know if documenting my adventures is the right path any longer.
Have you ever shot a banded duck? If you have, count yourself as lucky because fewer than one out of 1,000 ducks wear “jewelry.” Duck bands are coveted by waterfowl enthusiasts. As tradition goes, most waterfowlers clamp the bands on their lanyard and proudly wear them on their future hunts. Maybe some wouldn’t admit it, but there is certainly some “sizing up” that goes on at duck camp when a hunter walks up with a lanyard full of duck bands—it can be intimidating.
Waterfowlers who harvest a banded duck and rightfully report the band information play a significant role in the conservation of waterfowl populations. Once reported, the band information provides important insights regarding the waterfowl harvested, and that data collected is crucial to the proper management of ducks and geese.
Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall explains how bird banding programs increase our understanding of waterfowl populations and their habitats
From the Arctic Circle to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, tens of thousands of waterfowl are marked each year with bands. Depending upon the climate and season, when banding ducks, the method of capture differentiates. Baited traps, drive traps, nest boxes, net guns, floating mist nets, or rocket nets are the most popular methods of capturing ducks for banding.
Check out Ducks Unlimited TV Episode 4: Big Sky and Banding Part 1 to see an exciting and informative episode of both hunting and a duck banding project.
Double Banded Ducks – Myths Debunked
Very rarely, waterfowlers harvest a duck with double bands. You’ll hear waterfowlers tell a multitude of stories on how the duck managed to be “double banded,” but usually, one band is a regular band while the other band is either a reward duck band or a special marker. Reward bands were implemented to encourage waterfowlers to call in their bands. The values vary, but the intent is to achieve a higher percentage of bands called in.
Learn more about conservation and how you can get involved at ducks.org.
Hey Y'all! It's the most wonderful time of the year, and I've got the perfect gift guide for the outdoors enthusiast in your family. Here are a few of my favorite gift ideas for the sportsman or sportswoman in your life and maybe even a gift for your retriever, too. Tripp asked me to throw that in! ;)
1. Orca Coolers - Chaser 27 oz. - For both the Sportsman and Sportswoman, the ORCA Coolers chaser is perfect. Whether you choose the collegiate chaser, high gloss, textured, or the original, the outdoorsman in your family will appreciate carrying a hot coffee to the blind or deer stand on early mornings. Pricing starting as low as $19.99.
2. Three Month Subscription to Sportsman's Box - What's better than the gift that keeps on giving? (And I mean that literally) The Sportsman's Box delivers 4-6 hand-picked, field-tested items that are perfect for stocking the mud-room or just discovering new items. Available in both Sportsman's Box and Sportswoman's Box. Pricing starting as low as $39 for a one month gift.
3. Drake Waterfowl Systems Guardian Elite Jacket - For the hardcore waterfowler in your family, you can't go wrong with this waterproof, fleece-lined jacket. Available in Mossy Oak Bottomland, Mossy Oak Blades, and and Realtree Max 5. You can't go wrong with this jacket! Price - $300
4. Piper Shooting Shirt from McKenna Quinn - For the stylish, upland hunter, the Sportswoman in your family will LOVE this tailored shooting shirt. Both fashionable and functional, the shirt is truly an amazing addition to her wardrobe. Available in multiple colors and prints. Price $188
5. 737 Duck Call - The 737 “No. 1” model was the call that started it all. This is the single reed call that doesn’t leave the lanyard. From vast open water setups to tight forested sloughs, the “No. 1” is a do-it-all, get-it-done call. With lots of range, it has the ability to get super loud for those high ringing hails, but still has a raspy bottom-end all the way down to those ultra soft confidence quacks. Also, a perk is that it can be customized with initials or a name. Price $145
6. Burlebo Live To Explore Long Sleeve T-shirt - One of my FAVORITE outdoor lifestyle brands, Burlebo T-shirts are super comfortable. The Sportsman or Sportswoman will be thanking you for this gift, no doubt! Price $36
7. MTN Ops Yeti Trail Pack - Talk about the perfect stocking stuffer, MTN Ops Yeti is the best pre-workout on the market. Also, it comes in these convenient packets for on-the-go purposes, and let's face it, the outdoors enthusiast in your family is typically on the go. Price $39.95
8. Hooyman Cordless 40 Volt Lithium Pole Saw - SERIOUSLY MY FAVORITE TOOL. This pole saw cuts through limbs and small trees like butter. It's also light and easy to use. Price $399.99
9. Moxie & Co. Sportsman Vest - Moxie and Co. is another favorite outdoors lifestyle brand. The Sportsman Vest is perfect for layering when the weather gets cold. Extremely soft and lightweight. The Sportsman in your family will LOVE this vest, and heck, I'd probably wear it, too! $99
10. Cazadora Patterned Bird Belt - If your lady is an upland hunter, she will adore this Cazadora Patterned Bird Belt. It's available in multiple patterns and also can be MONOGRAMMED! Seriously swoon-worthy! Price $150
11. Caldwell Shooting Supplies Lead Sled DFT 2 - The Lead Sled® DFT™ 2 (Dual Frame Technology) provides shooters with the industry’s best recoil reduction system and the versatility to fit virtually any shotgun or rifle, all built around a precision shooting platform. A key feature of the DFT 2 is the ability to slide the front cradle back and forth along the Dual Frame for optimal length adjustment. Price $259.99
12. Orvis Men's Uplander Shooting Gloves - Durable yet sensitive with long cuffs to protect wrists from briars, these shooting gloves will quickly become a favorite for any upland hunter. Price $79
13. Zeiss Terra ED 10x32 Binoculars - WORTH THE PRICE! The Zeiss' Terra ED 10x32 Binoculars deliver dependable observation with Schott ED glass enhanced with Zeiss MC coatings. The pure, vivid images produced are ideal for both scoring game or observing the finer features of nature, even in low light. Smooth and accurate focus wheel allows you to quickly zero in on wildlife. Remarkable close-focus distance of 5.25 ft. is excellent for viewing smaller objects at close range. Fiberglass-reinforced, waterproof casing. Nitrogen filled to prevent fogging. Compact, lightweight construction won't slow you down. Includes a Cordura®-nylon hard case. Price $399.99
14. Ramcat Broadheads - These Ramcat 100 grain three pack original broadheads are certainly some of my favorite to use. I'm definitely a fixed broadhead girl, and the performance can't be beat! Price $39.99
15. Higdon Decoys Battleship Mallard All Drake Pack - Package Includes: 6 flocked-head, foam-filled drakes. They're virtually unsinkable. They have swivel heads for multiple poses with highly detailed painting process for added realism. Price $99
16. Bog-Pod Rapid Shooting Tripod - The BOG-POD® RSR (Rapid Shooting Rest) is the perfect compact, collapsible, and portable shooting platform. Easy to store in a backpack, and quick to set up, this rest will give you the accuracy and range you need to make that big game shot on the fly. Price $44.99
Thank you for checking out my Holiday Gift Guide for the Outdoors Enthusiast! We wish you a happy shopping season.
Sydney and Tripp
It’s exciting to see the recent rise of female hunters. According to the Census Bureau statistics, the overall number of women hunters increased by 25% between 2006 and 2011. I truly believe that over the next few years, we will see the percentage of women hunters continue to grow.
As a female hunter, I’m constantly wondering how I can contribute to the rise. I believe women are perhaps hesitant to hunt due to one primary issue: a misunderstanding of information.
When I use the word “information,” I don’t necessarily mean that women don’t have access to proper education in hunting; I think a misinterpretation of the hunting industry exists for women. According to National Geographic, there are 13.7 million hunters in the United States, and guess what, most of those hunters are men.
Obviously, hunting brands are going to advertise to their target audience—men. From a marketing standpoint, that’s exactly who they should be advertising to; however, just because social media and advertising highlight men, that doesn’t mean the hunting industry is saying women aren’t capable hunters. I honestly don’t think that’s what’s being advertised at all. These companies simply just need to sale a product and a brand, and in what better way, than to appeal to their target audience.
Instead of feeling negative towards men being the primary focus in the hunting industry, I wish that would empower women instead. Enjoying the outdoors and hunting lifestyle should be something enjoyed by both genders. There is no need for women to feel overshadowed because at the end of the day, being in the outdoors and enjoying God’s creation is the ultimate goal and trophy in itself. My wish is for women to not feel incapable. Women need to understand the reasons we see men prominently in ads, social media, television shows, and beyond. It is simply because they are the target audience—not because we are inferior or designed to not hunt.
What Can I do?
I believe that getting more women involved in hunting truly lies in the hands of women that already have discovered the rewards of being a hunter. We can increase the number of female hunters by doing two things: providing encouragement and being a positive inspiration.
It’s easy to positively encourage those who already show an interest in hunting. When women ask me questions about which bow I prefer or which broadhead I use, I’m thrilled to answer. I think it’s so important to be kind and always remember to engage with others and share tips. Encouraging women who already have an interest in the industry is easy; however, you may ask yourself, “How do I approach women that haven’t approached me?”
For starters, approach women you feel comfortable with first—family and friends. You can start out with an easy conversation starter like sharing your favorite wild game recipe. This will certainly bring up hunting. After you engage in the conversation, you will be able to know if 1. She is against hunting or 2. She is interested. After that point, you will know how to gauge the conversation from there.
It’s crucial to actually listen to what she believes and what she is saying. Being forceful about hunting is not the right path. If she is willing to learn more and possibly even go hunting, then you’ve already reached your goal of being encouraging.
I think the overall best way to see the number of female hunters rise is by being a positive inspiration. Here are a few ways:
At the end of every day, I hope that I fulfill the tasks of providing encouragement and being a positive inspiration to women. I’m so grateful to those who have reached out to me with love and support, and I hope I provide others with the same incredible feelings I have received. Being compassionate is so easy, and It’s my goal to spread kindness when I can—will you accept the challenge, too? Will you help guide women to the outdoors?
First, let me get this out of the way. "Vidalia, Vidalia, Girl won't you tell me why! Sweet Vidalia, you always gotta make me cry!" Yes, I've had Sammy Kershaw on my mind ever since I found out I was going to be traveling to Vidalia, Georgia to hunt with Outdoor Militia®. The entire week prior to the hunt, I would randomly bust out singing the jam because I was so excited, and even though getting my first turkey didn't happen, Vidalia did not make me cry. I made forever friendships, shared countless laughs, and killed my first pig(s).
Destination - Vidalia, Georgia
I won't bore you too much with the recap of the drive down, but I will say this, it certainly included some calling and coffee. My drive was a short six and a half hours; I'm only kidding on the "short" part, but It was an enjoyable ride.
Friday Night Shennanigans
As soon as I arrived in Vidalia, I was greeted by Joe Paget and Conner Thigpen, two Georgia boys that are avid hunters. Joe owns Outdoor Militia® and Conner serves as Pro-Staff for the company. Also, Conner and his dad, Alan, own Gobbler's Ghost Custom Calls®. I will talk more about that later on.
Back to Friday night, the guys had a surprise in store for me; since I've never killed a hog either, the guys lined up a hog hunt for us to go on. After pulling up in the yard, I threw on my camouflage and we headed south to take care of a pig problem.
After getting settled in our prime time spot, about 50 yards from a corn feeder, it seemed to only take minutes for the pigs to arrive. Joe, Conner, and I were all holding an AR a piece, so we definitely felt like some annihilation was going to take place, and it most certainly did. Seventeen little piglets showed up. We waited on the sow to arrive, but after anxiously awaiting on her, we realized we were going to lose light, so we decided to unload on the little pests. Out of seventeen, we killed nine, so that's pretty good odds, I believe.
After our pig massacre, we took the piglets and skinned them. We had big plans for those little fellas, which included a smoker and some fine BBQ sauce.
Well, to be completely honest, we spent a little too much time around the fire on Friday night, so I can't promise you that we woke up chipper and ready to roll on Saturday, but we did manage to get to the woods prior to daylight, so I think that deserves some credit.
Conner's granddaddy allowed us to hunt in his little honey hole, and from what I hear, I should feel like a very special girl because he doesn't let just anyone hunt the property. As soon as we got out of the truck, it was like the woods awoke at the exact same time. The birds were chirping and in the feint distant, you could hear a turkey gobbling. Go Time.
Unfortunately, I think we all got a little too anxious because we scared a hen off the roost, and I'm afraid that may have also spooked the gobbler, too. We tried a few more places out that morning; however, we never had a gobbler come in commit. We were content with trying again the next morning. But until then, it was time to give some piglets a little attention.
Pork is What's for Dinner
Grilling good food with good friend
Wild Pork BBQ
Homemade Baked Beans
A selection of cold beer
Are you wondering what's on that pork?
Smoke over indirect heat with apple chips
Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
Spray liberally with vinegar periodically
After some time, wrap in tin foil, slather on BBQ Sauce, and let the magic happen. We used Hunters Pride BBQ Sauce in Original Flavor.
The Ghost Gobble
Another highlight from my weekend in Vidalia
I've heard of a ghost gobble before; however, I've never actually witnessed it happen. It's something I will honestly never forget. Conner, Joe, and I were posted up beside a very large field, and we had been sitting there for quite some time fantasizing about what we would be having for lunch. Suddenly, Joe says in a whisper, "There they are! Be still."
Sure enough, there they were; three jakes and one gobbler were walking into the field heading diagonally away from us. Conner started using the slate he had made personally for Joe to call them in closer to us. Conner is incredible using a slate and a mouth call. He is certainly one of the best I've ever heard. You can order a custom call here through the Instagram page by direct messaging the company.
When I say that Conner made those young turkeys put on a show, I 100% mean it. One was strutting and the dominant bird of the group was ghost gobbling. A ghost gobble is when the turkey makes the motion one would make when gobbling; however, a sound does not project from the turkey. It was so unique to see and made me giggle a little bit! Obviously, he didn't want the dominant bird of the area to hear him.
Sadly, we all noticed at the same time that the turkeys were distracted by a hen on the opposite end of the field. We were kicking ourselves for not having a decoy out there. Even though one didn't come close enough, it was still such an incredible experience to witness, and I will never forget it.
My trip to Vidalia, Georgia, didn't include me bringing home my first turkey, but in my opinion, it provided me with so much more. I will never forget the memories made and laughs shared between friends I plan to keep around for a long time.
Once again, I have to thank Outdoor Militia® for having me down for the weekend. These guys definitely understand the meaning of southern hospitality. This past weekend, I got to experience the true meaning of Outdoor Militia®; it's about the camardirie between family and friends that share the same passion for the outdoors. As the slogan goes, "whether it's killing deer, smoking pigs, busting birds or hooking fish, you can bet we are in." Will you join them? Check out their website and see what these guys are about and order some awesome merchandise!
Well, I hope you're looking forward to my next adventure. I will be back chasing the Alabama gobbler this weekend. Thank you for reading about my experiences in the outdoors!
Anticipation. A word that certainly sums up my mindset ever since deer season ended in February. For months, hunters have anxiously awaited the 4:30 a.m. wake up call, walking in the woods before daybreak, and the subtle hoot of an owl through the trees. So, when Alabama's youth season rolled around, I had waited long enough. I had to get out in the woods and do a little recon. The weekend prior to Alabama's Turkey Season opener, I spent my Saturday and Sunday in the woods scouting.
The Shock Gobble
On Saturday morning around 5:30 a.m., we headed out towards the property. It had rained the night before, so it was a little warm and muggy, but I still had hopes we would stumble on a turkey sign and maybe locate a few in the process. As I was walking down the dirt road, I discovered a fresh turkey track, where the ground had just been kicked up slightly. The track led down into a ravine, so I pulled out my crow call in hopes of a shock gobble. As soon as I blew the crow call, he answered loud and proud. I couldn't contain my excitement.
Spring Break: Beards over beaches
Luckily, since I work at a University, I get a week long vacation like the students. Needless to say, I had big plans for Spring Break, plans that didn't include a pretty tropical drink or swimwear. My plans, for the most part, played out pretty much how I wanted them to. I hunted eight mornings out of the nine and even four afternoons. However, there was one minor mishap. I didn't harvest a turkey. For the entire week, I struggled. At first, they would be hot in the tree and once they flew down, they would shut up. Then, I'd finally sit down on one and he'd get henned up. One morning, I had two gobblers coming my way, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt I would get one, and then, without a reason in the world, they disappeared.
But.... there was a morning where I had an opportunity. As I write this section, a part of me feels the tinge of defeat all over again, but I think it's so important for hunters to share both their victories and adversities. No one is perfect, and I'm most certainly not...
The Pain of a Missed Opportunity
I guess you never expect it to happen. Maybe that's why it hurts so much when it does. The morning was perfect. The sky was clear. The temperature was cool enough that you could see your breath but not too frigid. It was the kind of morning you get in the truck with your hot coffee in hand and say, "This is going to be a good one."
We started out in a few different places, but strangely enough, we didn't hear a peep. As we were about to call it quits, we stopped by a fairly large green field on the way back to the truck. I got out my crow call and loudly and proudly, gave it a blow. Bam! Two gobbled at the exact same time. You can imagine my excitement! They were maybe 150 yards away, if not a little closer, in the woods just beyond the patch.
We quickly assembled the decoy and found a seat across the patch facing the direction they would be coming. We started out with soft yelps on a Woodhaven mouth call, and let me tell you, they were hot on the trail. They were coming. There was no doubt about it. My emotions were everywhere. Then, within about ten minutes, I saw that blue head pop up deep within the woods. I'm really not sure how I even saw him that far away. I was staring very hard! Anyways, the moment I saw one head, I saw the other head pop up behind him. They were certainly on a mission because they made a lot of ground up quickly and were strutting the entire time. As I watched them strutting, I promised myself I'd be patient.
As soon as they got about fifteen yards or so from entering the field, they put on the brakes. They sat there for a good twenty minutes gobbling their heads off, but they wouldn't take a single step closer. My mind was racing. My heart was pounding. I knew they didn't want to come in the field. They wanted the hen to come to them. To the right of me was a clear cut and both gobblers began to make their way in that direction. They continued to gobble and strut, but I knew what was about to happen.
They got to the far end of the field, about 60 yards away from me, and once again, they put on the brakes. They were giving my decoy one last opportunity to follow along with them, it seemed. There was structure all in the way. I could barely see the top of their heads at this point. One gobbler turned to head towards the clear cut. This was it. The moment I had to decide, to shoot or not to shoot. It seemed like an eternity. I took my safety off and slowly pulled the trigger. He stumbled on the ground for only a moment, and as I was getting up to chase after him, he flew.
Failure washed over me like a flood. I immediately bursted into tears, not because I'm weak but because I'm strong-willed. I don't accept failure well, and I know that is most certainly a flaw. I sulked for a while, but then I was back in the woods that afternoon. A missed opportunity, most certainly, but a lesson learned, most importantly.
A New Journey on the Horizon
The elusive Alabama turkey hasn't been too kind to me, and now, I have a new adventure in sight. Let me say this in the most cliche' way possible: Georgia is on my mind. I'm excited to announce that I will be hunting with Outdoor Militia® over the weekend in Vidalia, Georgia. Two weekends ago, the guys of Outdoor Militia® were hammering on the Georgia birds, and now, they are so kindly giving me an opportunity after my lack of success over Spring Break. So, that being said, I hope you look forward to The Quest for a Limb Hanger Part II.
Hey y'all! I'm Sydney Broadaway, and I hope you choose to follow along in my outdoors journey. The most important thing you could know about me is my love for God. He has given me the skills to pursue my passion of being a conservationist and hunter. If anything, I hope I can inspire others to grow closer to God and to the outdoors.